It’s a dilemma that teams face this time every year: a youngster comes along, puts together an impressive Spring Training, suggesting to the world that he’s ready for the Majors, but there is no starting room at the inn. Just a lowly bench spot. Does the team bring the kid along with them to the bigs, hoping to get him enough bats in a reserve role to both help the Major League team and continue the youngster’s development? Or does the team send the kid down to the minors where he can play every day, until such time where there are more at bats available?
Such is the dilemma facing the Chicago Cubs with respect to Starlin Castro and Tyler Colvin. As for Castro, the Cubs made the (right) decision weeks ago: he’ll start out in the minors, where he can continue to develop by playing regularly, until such time as he’s ready to take over the starting spot at shortstop.
As for Colvin, the Cubs still have to make that decision.
Whether that puts [Colvin] on the road to greater fame with the Cubs anytime soon, he certainly has the attention of manager Lou Piniella, who is looking for a good-hitting bench outfielder able to play all three spots.
”He and [shortstop Starlin] Castro have been our two most impressive young players here,” Piniella said. ”Colvin’s a good-looking player. It’s made a big difference, that weight he’s put on. He’s stronger. He’s got more bat speed, and the ball’s jumping off his bat. He looks like a major-league player.”
If Colvin keeps up his spring pace, this might be the Cubs’ only question: Have one of their top prospects playing every day at Class AAA awaiting an opportunity to start in the majors, or have him toiling as a bench guy in the majors and missing out on hundreds of would-be at-bats?
”Jim and I haven’t sat down and talked about what the organization wants to do,” Piniella said, referring to general manager Jim Hendry. ”We haven’t broached the subject. But [if] he keeps going the way he is, the subject will be broached sooner or later.” CHICAGO SUN-TIMES.
What may be making the decision more difficult for the Cubs is the fact that, until this Spring, Colvin had fallen way down on the Cubs’ prospect radar. After his surgery, he struggled a bit, and had gotten into repeating-level-mode, which sometimes suggests a guy just isn’t going to make it. Then again, Colvin raked late in the year last year, despite the repeating-level thing. And then he packed on some lean muscle in the offseason. So, it’s hard to know what to make of Colvin right now, in terms of his future Major League starting potential. Until this breakout, the Cubs probably would have been fine considering him for a bench spot – but now that his future looks so bright, they may not want to risk stunting his growth.
If the Cubs didn’t have Xavier Nady, the decision might be obvious. But Nady – at least once he’s ready to play in the field – is going to hoover up virtually every outfield start available that falls off the starters’ plates. As he should.