June has arrived, and there will be no June Swoon for the Cubs, who got their swooning out of the way early this year.

  • Nothing gets the Internetz into more of a tizzy than a rumor that the Cubs are shopping Starlin Castro (well, maybe a rumor that they’re calling up Anthony Rizzo), and so it was yesterday when Bob Nightengale suggested that the Cubs have informed teams Castro could be had for a couple “impact” prospects. A number of local and national folks offered their responses to the rumor, and Theo Epstein offered one of his patented “denials” (the gist: Castro is a core player we’re building around, we want more Castros, not fewer). Gordon Wittenmyer cited a number of sources who told him the Cubs aren’t moving Castro. Danny Knobler cited a team who recently spoke to the Cubs and was told Castro is at the top of the list of players they won’t trade. Jon Heyman cites a Cubs source who tells him that the Cubs have never mentioned Castro’s name in trade talks (think about how artfully worded that denial is). Dave Kaplan says the Cubs should be shopping Castro as part of a reworking of the entire roster. ESPN’s duo of Bruce Levine and Doug Padilla do perhaps the best job of sussing out the nuanced truth that the Cubs may not be “trying” to trade Castro, but might “consider” trading him.
  • What can you glean from all of that, if you assume all reactions are true? Well, it’s exactly as I said yesterday: the Cubs aren’t affirmatively looking to move Castro. But they’ll listen, as any smart organization would. If some team wants to step up with an insane, can’t-turn-down offer? Well, the Cubs will stand ready to cross that bridge if they ever come to it.
  • Paul Sullivan offers his thoughts on when you might still want to pay attention to the Cubs, even if you’ve accepted that they’re going to be terrible the rest of the way.
  • Kerry Wood talks to Sarah Spain about his retirement.
  • So, my understanding is that the Illinois General Assembly’s final day of the Spring Session is today, and, if they don’t approve a funding plan for Wrigley Field, the time line of construction (hoping to break ground as soon as the season ends) could be delayed. That could have been a negotiating tactic by the Cubs, or it could be a legit concern. In any event, it’s been extremely quiet for the last week.
  • BN’er Myles dropped a great Baseball Prospectus article on us in the comments yesterday, and here it is, in case you missed it. It’s dense, but really impressive – the gist: if you’re going to take a high school player in the Draft, shoot for the younger ones.
  • Reminder: you can win a sweet pair of Chicago Cubs headphones from BiGR Audio if you enter by 3pm today. Details here.
  • BN’er SirCub drops some awesome on the Message Board about the luckiest fan to attend a game at Wrigley Field in recent memory. It’s a story in pictures.
  • The MLBullets at BCB note Matt Kemp’s once-again-injured hamstring.
  • hansman1982

    “Castro is a core player we’re building around, we want more Castros, not fewer”

    If you can trade him for two “Castros” then you do it or even 1 castro, 1 rizzo and 1 jackson – stew it for 3 hours and you have a tasty treat!

  • Stephen

    Please don’t stone me…but I’m not sold on Castro. Maybe I’m being short sighted but I have an eerie feeling about him.
    Pitching and defense is my goal. Yet it has been said you take a position player over a pitcher with all things being equal, as the position player is out there every day.

    • Kyle

      Not going to stone you. Just politely disagree. :)

      “Pitching and defense” is a cliche. Run scoring matters just as much as run prevention.

      And Castro’s defense is already bordering on good and will certainly get there someday. He has all the physical tools to be a plus defensive SS, he just needs time to refine his skills. His bat carried to him to the majors while his glove still had some work to do in the minors.

      The reason you take don’t trade quality young position players for young pitchers, as a general rule, isn’t because one plays every day and the other doesn’t. It is because every pitcher is possibly one pitch away from a catastrophic arm injury. The attrition rate is frightening. TINSTAAP is a saying for a reason.


        Ok, I’ll bite; what the heck is TINSTAAP? And don’t make me sorry I asked.

        • Cubbie Blues

          TINSTAAP = There Is No Such Thing As A Pitching Prospect

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

            I don’t quite buy into TINSTAAPP.  I understand the thinking behind it, but at the very least it is greatly overstated.  There very clearly is such a thing as a pitching prospect, and some pitching prospect do in fact have a great deal of value.  TINSTAAPP makes for a nice Heinlinian sound bite, but I think “There Is No Such Thing As A Pitching Prospect With A Higher Degree Of Project-ability And Probable Longevity Than A Similar Non-Pitching Prospect Resulting In All Pitching Prospects Coming With A Largely Non-Avoidable Higher Level Of Risk” is more accurate.


            TINSTAAPP is much easier to remember, I’ll grant it that.

            And I say this remembering clearly the Cubs of ten years ago.  This team was on the edge of having a dream rotation of Wood, Prior, Guzman, and Cruz.  Two of them went into the bullpen, and the other two have had so many injuries they have spent much of the past decade trying come back.

            On the other hand, baseball history is littered with teams who built a high degree of success on the backs of pitching prospects.  They are definitely a risky investment, but I wouldn’t avoid them altogether.

            • MichCubFan

              As we get into draft season, you half to remember the other part of growing orgainizational talent into major league talent…development. You need the right coaches in the minor leagues to teach these guys to get to the next level. They also need the right throwing programs to keep them healthy as well as a plan for each pitcher so they don’t continually get pushed from the rotation to the pen and back.

              I do think that getting good pitching prospects is important, but also keeping a good amount of pitching depth in the minors. You never know who can work there way up into a good major league pitcher.

              An organization I look at is the Rays. They have had Matt Moore and David Price, but also guys like Jeff Neimann and Wade Davis. They have done a great job in developing their pitching.

              And back to the development point. That is something we have sucked at for a long time. With our pitching prospects always getting injured or shuffled around, or just crapping out in the upper levels….then the horrible hitting approach that many of our top hitting prospects have come up with.

              I think development is one of the areas the new front office will really improve on and i am excited about that.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Everybody must get stoned!  Whoops, sorry.  I’d take Kyle a step further.  It is not just that all sports are half point scoring and half point prevention; it also is that the latter is far more pitching than fielding.  Your first and biggest line of defense in baseball is your starting pitching, then your bullpen and then your fielding.   All of that combined is half the game: offense (mostly hitting, some base-running) is the other half.

        Castro can hit well, even if he does not get on base as much as we’d like.  He also is becoming a very good fielder: he’s on pace to save 12 runs for the Cubs this year.  That means that he’s contributing positively to about half of the game nearly every game.  A starting pitcher contributes more to any one game, but to a smaller part (less than 50%), and only once every five games.

        • Scotti

          Doc, a position player, on average, contributes 1/9 of 1/2 of a game. So, while Castro may be “contributing positively to half the game” it is, in reality, a small fraction of that half. Of course, a SS contributes more than a LF (or P for that matter) and a #3 hitter more than a #9 hitter but the same is true of an ace over a #5 starter.

          The real value that a plus everyday player has over a plus every fifth day pitcher is in durability. Even if a plus player goes down (far less likely) he can move to a less demanding position. A starter is lucky to recover enoughto move to the pen.

          • hansman1982

            really, SP have more impact on the game than any other position, in terms of PA affected.

        • Adventurecizin’ Justin

          Completely agree with you and Kyle. I’d like to add that I think Castro has the tools to be special at SS…but its all about him getting The Focus. I have been very impressed with him of late..I feel like we’re seeing some defensive progress.

          To be as good of a hitter as Castro is, it takes great reactionary skills among other things. I’ve contended that if he cannot find The Focus at SS, maybe 3B would be a better position for him as it is a more reactionary position, in my opinion. But, I hope he finds a way to stick at SS!

  • Chef

    I would trade Castro for Trout and Harper. Not much else would garner my interest.

  • ETS

    I just finished the Jazayerli piece. Interesting stuff. My 2 questions are should you make some sort of adjustment for natural development and maturity (Junior Lake is still growing!) or perhaps the earliest to mature are going to project better throughout their careers?

    Also, I find his draft value formula adjustment interesting. For one thing, the variation is ridiculous. For another, I suspect that the consistently positive returns seen in younger players has much to do with them being drafted lower overall. Definitely something that could be exploited.

  • Beer Baron

    While I am in the camp of you don’t trade him unless its an offer that blows you away, another factor to consider is that by the time the Cubs are competitive he will be nearing free agency. I think best case scenario for the team to be making a legit championship run (not just fielding an 85 win team) is 2015. He is a free agent following the 2016 season. If he truly is the foundation for your championship team, then that leaves you at best a 2 year window before they have to open up the vault and pay him a huge contract. Not a major factor, but a factor none the less and if they are intent on doing a complete rebuild it is something that has to be taken into account.

    • Dave

      The only thing that should matter to the Cubs as far as a player fitting into their future plans is his 1) age 2)ability
      How much money Castro makes in 3-4 years should not be a factor other wise we are no different then the Pirates or some other small market team.

      • Beer Baron

        Its not money, but team control. Once he hits free agency he can theoretically go wherever he wants, and if he is the foundation of your team and then leaves, that isn’t good either. I’m not saying he will, or that they wouldn’t overpay to keep him, just that it is a factor should a viable trade offer occur. On paper, two star players for 6 years is better than 1 for 4 years…on paper.

  • rbreeze

    Castro is now in his third year.  He started hitting from day one.  He has his ups and downs like all players.  His fielding is improving (knock on wood if you can find it). When the Red sox traded Hanley Ramirez they did so to get Josh Beckett who helped them win a WS.  Castro is an ideal building block. we’re not ready to win the WS.  He is going to be around for 10 to 15 years whether its at SS, 3B, 2B or wherever.  If you trade him for two or three so called impact guys, they better be impact guys or else this end up being Brock for Broglio, letting Greg Maddux go free, trading Bruce Sutter, etc.  These guys were all huge assets (impact players).  I think Castro can be that impact player as he matures.  Castro is real and playing at a high level.  If you get two so called impact players, there is always the chance that they don’t make it.  Then what?  Leave Castro alone and let him continue to mature.

  • Webb

    According to the baseball prospectus article, Carlos Carrea has the greatest likelihood of success over all other HS hitting prospects at the top of the draft, and should be considered over Byron Buxton. He was born a full 10 months after Boxton in September of ’94, making him one of the youngest players to graduate HS in the draft. I wonder how many teams will take the information in that article into account in this year’s draft. It could be a gold mine.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      In the past week, Correa has gone from a projected pick in the 6-10 range to a projected pick in the 1-4 range.

      Stay tuned.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      There are some pundits – Goldstein is one of them – who say Correa should be the top pick.

    • Scotti

      FWIW, Vitters was drafted very young…

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        … and is one of the youngest players in Triple A, and is playing quite well.

  • Webb

    Who does that leave out of the top five? Zunino? Zimmer? Would it have to be one of the Big Three?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Probably Zimmer.  There are some concerns there because his velocity has been down somewhat this season.  If that scares off the Cubs, they’d likely take Fried or Almora.  If the Cubs aren’t worried, I think a lot of us would be very happy to see Zimmer on the roster.

  • Ivy Walls

    Question, the value of Castro on or not on the club?

    Answer, what is the value of the return?

    Castro could be Lou Brock, he has speed, developing power, hits for average, but also is undisciplined at the plate (5 walks) with an OBP at .329 and a wOBA .336 (2011 it was .338 and 2010 .325). His defense appears to be improving with the tutoring of Sveum (last year was wasted–damn WTF was his name as Cubs manager), or he could be Jimmy Rollins, Hanley Ramirez or Jose Reyes, very good to almost super stars but there.

    WAR last year was 3.4 (with a big minus for defense) his WAR this year should be over 4.0 and might approach 5.0 depending on offensive production.

    He is a super two but I don’t think that comes into much play in a major market. What comes into play was the off field issue, his leadership and his on field production.

    Question, do the Cubs have an adequate replacement (Lake?) or what can they get in return?

    Oh BTW the Cubs are in last place.

  • @cubsfantroy

    You guys and your advanced stats. You all are turning me into an advanced stat guy.

    • Myles

      Come to the dark side, and my dark side, I mean the side that is ridiculously better informed.

  • http://bleachernation loyal100more

    when was the last time the cubs had a 200 hit a year guy at short. looking naround the league there is a shortage of those types of players. at the tender age of 23, castros great natural hitting, has put him at the major league level to iron out his defense. premium defensive positions such as short stop are so insanely hard to fill with great hitters in baseball. if you are luckey enough to have one you hold on to him for dear life. you dont start shopping them around for unproven players… top prospects or not, they are unproven. castro is so very proven and in my opinion right on the cusp of elite. all he needs is a little maturing.

  • http://bleachernation loyal100more

    ive been a cub fan for about 30 years… and as bad as we have been at times ( okay allot of the time) we have always had a player to entertain us with his great talent. from dawson and sandberg and sosa and derrick lee… we now have castro to get us through another bad period. just one cub to fallow through the league leaders and hopeful all-star guy. this has always got me through the bad times… its tough to loose but a great player takes some of the sting out of it right?

  • sven-erik312

    All I can say is, I am looking forward to looking back after 5 years and see what has happened

  • Dustin S

    “Starlin Castro is the type of player we’re looking to build around,” Epstein said. “There has been no trade consideration with him whatsoever.”

    Sounds like this whole thing was just Bob Nightengale looking to come up with a big headline out of nothing. It’s something that happens a lot with many of the Chicago sportswriters. I’ve seen it enough to not get too excited about these types wackier rumors anymore unless there is some good confirmation. That’s also why I think BN has more accurate Cubs news/talk than a lot of the other (cough cough Tribune) outlets.

    Playing along for a minute anyway, as a hardcore lifelong 30+ year fan trading Castro would be pretty frustrating. It would mean that they are really targeting at least 4-5 years out to be playoff-level competitive. At that point even I would have a hard time keeping interest in the major league club’s games for the next couple years. It would be saying the next couple of years at a minimum will be a throwaway and all the players on the current roster will be long gone before they get close to being good. I would be more likely to hit up a A or AA game and at least see some guys that will be in the mix by the time they rebuild. I’m fine with rebuilding if we’re at least planning to be competitive in a couple years and some of the younger guys we’re seeing now like Castro will still be around. But if we’re talking a 5+ year plan and rebuilding from the very bottom almost like an expansion team, it would test even my patience. Fortunately it sounds like that isn’t the case and Epstein still wants the Castro/Samardzija/Rizzo (and probably Jackson) guys to be the foundation of the rebuild.

  • JoeCub

    Yes, by all means, let’s trade a 22 y.o. SS w/ an insane hit tool, who is improving significantly on the defensive side, provides value on the base paths, & is missing plate discipline & power–two things that tend to come w/ age/experience, especially if the player in question has the aforementioned hit tool. So we can MAYBE, perhaps, wind up w/ a 2 years younger player(s) who have what % of being almost as valuable as Castro?

  • Assman22


    Ummm, shit.  Didn’t see this coming.  You have to wonder if this is what’s slowed Soler down.

    • college_of_coaches

      The link just brings up the main page for Baseball America. What is the information?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett


      A very interesting theory. At least Soler wasn’t one of Mercedes’ guys, but yes, this could absolutely have slowed things down. And could slow them down further. I’ll have to write this up in due time.