To hear Theo Epstein – yes, who’s done a whole lotta talkin’ the last few days (and that’s a good thing) – talk about Starlin Castro, you’d think the Cubs are sitting on the next best player in all of baseball.

And maybe they are.

“Being around him now and seeing the kind of kid that he is and seeing some of the progress that he’s made defensively, (I) actually have even more conviction about his importance to us and the fact that we’re going to build with him and build around him in a certain sense,” Epstein said Wednesday on ‘The Waddle & Silvy Show’ about Castro. “He is 22. To me the biggest issue coming in to the season was can he play major league shortstop? We felt like he was gifted enough physically to do it, and he would have to make a few fundamental adjustments. There were some high-profile examples of him losing focus so we wanted to get a handle on that.

“He hasn’t been perfect but for the most part he’s made the fundamental adjustments that we’ve asked. He’s moving his feet much much better, especially on routine ground balls, and really to me looks outstanding at shortstop. He’s still had a couple of instances where he’s lost his focus. That’s going to continue to be an area of emphasis for him, but this kid cares, and I’m convinced that he’s going to get there and his tools are going to show up consistently on an everyday basis as he refines his mental game.”

So, Epstein agrees that Castro has the talent to be a quality defensive shortstop in the big leagues long-term. Many of us have believed the same for some time, but it’s always great to hear it from a top-notch talent evaluator like Epstein.

As for Castro’s offense, that, too, is only going to get better.

“At the plate he’s a work in progress,” Epstein said. “He’s going to be one of those kids who gains discipline as he moves into his prime. He’s still five years away from his prime. Twenty-seven is the age which most players reach their prime in the big leagues. As he starts to hit for more power, which will happen as he fills out, he’s going to be pitched to more carefully. It will be on him to make that adjustment and be a little bit more selective at the plate. You’ll see his slugging and on-base increase.”

In short, Castro is a great young player who will soon become a quality defensive shortstop with great offensive numbers. That pretty much would make Castro one of the most valuable players in baseball. Which would be awesome, especially if the Cubs can soon lock him up to a team-friendly, long-term deal.

And it’s what you’d expect Epstein to say about Castro, whether or not he’s, you know, listening to offers.

(Not to re-open that can of worms.)

  • MaxM1908

    Ha ha. Your last line was exactly what I was thinking. But, I do think the Cubs would be foolish to trade him. Unless they know of some major impediment he has to becoming one of the greatest shortstops ever to play the game, I don’t think any trade deal would be worth it. He has the potential to be the “face” of the Cubs for many, many years.

    • HuskerCub

      If he is going to be the face of the Cubs he needs a better haircut or else a sponsership from the fine folks at Q-tip.

      • Cyranojoe

        Ah, racist humor. So much fun!

        • Cara

          how is that racist?

          • Patrick W.

            Yeah, as one who generally thinks people can make racist comments without realize they are doing it, and as one who thinks that racism is way more prevalent than people think it is, this isn’t racist.

            Racial, maybe, but not at all racist. Racist to me implies that you are denigrating a racial based inherency over which the target has no control. Starlin can get a better haircut, regardless of his race.

  • Patrick G

    Koyie Hill designated for assignment….thank god

    • cjdubbya

      The Hill you say!

    • Fishin Phil

      Party at the Puppet Pad!

  • EricR

    I like Castro, I really do. It’s nice to see some home-grown talent make it big. That said, my greediness can’t help but dream of what we could get for him in trade…

    • Lance Dickson

      Do you think that we can get in return a shortstop prospect in return that hits .300 or better in the major leagues at age 20, or that will be the youngest player to ever lead the NL in hits?

  • ETS

    I really like what Larry Bowa has said about Castro numerous times on different MLB network shows. It’s nice to hear good things from people who know, but until you see it actually come to fruition, I’ll still be, at least a little bit, nervous.

  • Pingback: Cubs Notes: Valbuena, Castillo added to roster; Cain, Rizzo, Castro, and quick Dempster trade? | Cubs Den()

  • RWakild

    I like Castro as long as he hustles out every damn play. If not trade him before he grows up to be another Soriano. Not that I am complaining about this year’s Soriano, just the past few years of the not hustling and not working on his defense Soriano. This year’s Sori has been great.

    • Jared

      not to say that it isnt important to hustle out every play but if thats the only thing u think is important i can get you 9 reed johnsons and i bet u dont win to many games

      • Dob2812

        Well said Jared. Honestly, hustle, hustle, hustle. Seems all some people are interested in?

      • Ogyu

        Yea, and I’m sure you’d have a real dynasty with 9 Starlin Castros and a team OBP of .308 …

  • Brady

    All I know is if you see the diving stop and subsequent throw he made in yesterdays game, in addition to how well he bats, I would completely agree he is going to be outstanding for years to come! Gonna cost the Cubs a hefty sum to keep him but I hope they lock him up.

  • Spencer

    fluff fluff fluff. it’s not as if Epstein is going to disparage any of his players publicly.

    • ETS

      While I believe Theo here, it does seem like the more he talks about players being a key part of the team, the closer he is to trading them. ūüėČ

      • baldtaxguy

        I’m trying to think of the chatter before prior trades…Can you remind us?

        • Dane

          Zambrano, Sean Marshall

  • JulioZuleta

    5th rounder Prieto signs for 200K, about 57 K underslot.

    • Brett


  • Deez

    We all like Castro, but we all like the Cubs winning more. Castro is our strongest asset. I “think” he’ll eventually be moved for the good of the organization. This seems like what the new Brass would do when they have a piece as valuable as Castro is. Plus, he’ll bring back a lot of value if this comes to fruition.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      It is almost impossible to envision moving Castro as being good for the organization. ¬†Yes, he’ll bring value in return: but much less value than the Cubs will be sending to the other team.

      In short, you’d be sending away a couple of victories a season.

    • Jeremy

      Why would you move him when you can move others and build around him? Trading Castro sets the team back at least 2 more years.

  • Noah

    The question with Castro to me is always going to be a matter of patience. I’ve really liked the defensive improvements since the first couple weeks of the season, but the fact that his offense plateaued and he has shown no patience whatsoever this season concerns me.

    • die hard

      Looks like you didnt drink any of the kool-aid this am which is good…clouds the judgment on Castro and others…I too agree hes nearly plateaued hitting and fielding..this is it over the next 5 yrs before the beer belly starts downhill struggles….his trade value will never be higher…and hes not someone to build team around…Barney is though..maybe Campana

      • Drew7

        After reading that last sentence, I’m convinced youre joking. Good one, Mr. Hard.

  • True(ly) Blue

    I can’t understand folks thinking that sending away an excellent major league shortstop (Starlin Castro, who happens to be 22 years old) who has the potential to be a super star, for two good minor league players who MIGHT make it to the majors makes any kind of sense. Those are the same guys who think that a 29 year old first basemen who had a great 2 months and has now been figured out by major league pitchers will bring back two potential super stars. Grow up guys! Other teams see what we can see.
    Koyie Hill was always a good catcher, not a hitter. Expecting more from him was always looking for fools gold. He came in this year and filled a real and unexpected need very well. Who could envision losing 3 catchers in one month.

    • Edwin

      Not a single person is suggesting the Cubs trade Castro for two good minor league players. Stop making straw man arguments.

      • MaxM1908

        Agreed. If someone offered their top 5 MLB ready prospects, all in the top 40 of MLB prospects for Castro…who wouldn’t listen? It would definitely jump start the rebuilding process. No one is probably dumb enough to offer that, but if they are, why wouldn’t you consider it?

        • Kyle

          Does anyone have five top 40s?

          I guess it would depend on who the five were. I can see combinations involving 5 top-40 guys I would take, and I can see a lot of combinations I wouldn’t.

          • MaxM1908

            You’re probably right that it doesn’t exist for one team. Any one team top 5 that you’d take for Castro?

            • Luke

              Toronto’s is tempting. ¬†That’s D’Arnaud, Gose, Marisnick, Syndergaard, and Norris according to Jonathan Mayo. ¬†Baseball America swaps Nicolino for Syndergaard.

              Edit:  Arizona has a nice Top 5 as well.  Bauer, Bradley, Skaggs, Davidson, and Owings/Pollock.

              • Jack Weiland

                I think I’d do that Arizona deal. Three potential #1 starters. And I’m a huge Davidson fan, as well.

              • Kyle

                Those are nice, but I don’t think I take any of them. Too much pretty good, not enough great in the Toronto package. I’m a D’Arnaud skeptic (I think he’ll be a major leaguer, and an above-average one, but not a star).

                Arizona’s makes me flinch a little. We are so, so short on power arms.

                • Jack Weiland

                  Bradley has struggled a lot lately, but boy is that ever tempting.

                • Luke

                  Bauer and Skaggs being in the high minors makes that one even more tempting. ¬†It’s easier to imagine success for a guy in AA or higher than a guy in Low A.

            • Jack Weiland

              I imagine Sanchez would be in there now.

              *EDIT* – These are out of order now, but this comment was regarding Toronto’s system. I assume the rankings you’re talking are preseason? I think Sanchez would make most top 5s for them as of today.

            • Cubs Dude

              I love Castro but I would trade him for most teams top 5 prospects. That would be a ridiculous haul. Well except the White Sox..

  • djriz

    Come on, Starlin is this generations Shawon Dunston. And you can’t trade a Shawon Dunston!

    You’d obviously take 5 top prospects (what team would do that?) if offered, but why not wait a few years and find out what’s happening with Lake, Baez and Hernandez. Castro will still have value, maybe more.

    We are putting a lot of pressure (expectations?) on a kid who is 4-5 yrs away from his prime.

  • Deez

    I will start this comment off by saying I like Castro & I like him as a Cub now yet, you have to always taking a long range organizational approach towards building. You want to keep the Cubs viable “every year.”
    Castro is a “great hitter” IMO. he’s 22 & has had 2 MLB seasons of 200 hits. Will he develop 20 to 25HR Power & become a run producer or will he remain a sort of a defensive liability/hit machine?
    Plus, if an organization is snooping around & want to pay the bounty to have him, why not give him up!?

    • Kyle

      I’d take a bounty. But 5 top prospects aren’t automatically enough. Quantity < quality when it comes to young players.

      Fun fact: Castro will certainly (barring injury) enter the top 20 all-time list of hits in a player's age 22 season and younger.

      17 of the current top 25 in that category are in the Hall of Fame.

      • baseballet

        I hope Castro can change his approach at the plate and realize his potential. He has regressed a bit this year. He currently ranks seventh in OPS on the Cubs, behind Darwin Barney and Joe Mather.

  • Cheryl

    Do any of the rest of you feel that Friday is Dempster’s last game as a cub? Supposedly ten different teams have expressed interest in him. Also, I’d be a bit worried when Theo talks up players a lot. Don’t forget he wants to forge his own team.

    • Jonski

      Well I will say this the Brewers are looking more and more like sellers so they might want to move him before Marcum and Grienke possibly hit the market.

    • die hard

      bet the house he joins Tigers…imo

  • TakingWrigleyToSaoPaulo

    Cheryl, I agree there is something odd about this. If a team on the bubble was going to give up something significant for dempster they would want him ASAP. As long as Theo was happy with the deal I could see it going down very early. Or it could just be extra rest… For the Shark.

    • Boogens

      “Or it could just be extra rest‚Ķ For the Shark.”

      I agree. This is probably all it is. No sources or crystal ball, but I think Dempster won’t be moved until sometime in July.

  • Cheryl

    I agree with Deez. Castro is well on his way to being a very valuable player. But if a good deal came along that in Theo’s opinion helped build a dynasty he’d take it.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      You build dynasties with guys like Castro. Trading for prospects is a far riskier business than many people realize. We need only look at what the Rays got for Garza: and that really is not unusual.

      • Cheryl

        Are you absolutely certain that Theo wouldn’t trade him, Doc? I’m not. In reality none of us know what Theo will or will not do.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          That does not make it a 50:50 proposition. At any rate, Theo has no history of making trades like this. Indeed, I am trying to remember any trade like this. Theo has stated what he wants: a core of talent that will be around for a few years. He is trying to get guys like Castro. As MaxM notes, that’s in hand, not n the bush.

          Gambling away veterans who will not be with the team in a few years is acceptable: even though most of the prospects will not amount to anything, in 5 years time it will be the same as if they had kept the vets. In 5 years time, Castro will just be hitting his prime.

          • Cheryl

            Don’t forget that Hoyer traded Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox for four players. He will probably have some say in what happens with the cubs as an advisor to Theo. But my point is and has been that we can’t foresee what will happen. Theo could very well make Castro the center of his plans for the cubs, but we don’t know if that will be the case.

            • Drew7

              You realize Hoyer is the GM, right?

              • Cheryl

                Right. But in a major decision I’d expect Theo to have some sayso.

            • DocPeterWimsey

              Adrian Gonzalez was a 28 year old firstbaseman who was going to leave the Padres in 12 months for free agency.  He was close to his prime at that point and not part of the Padres future plans.  Castro is 22 years old with several more years of team control, who still half a decade or more from hitting his prime.

              So, what Hoyer did with AGonz is about as relevant to what Theo & Hoyer might do with Castro as the position of Mars in the sky is to how my stocks will do tomorrow.

              Again, a flipped coin might land on its side.  That does not make it just as probable as landing on one of its faces.

              • Cheryl

                Let’s just agree to disagree.

      • MaxM1908

        I think I tend to agree with you, Doc. Look at how we treat Rizzo’s success in the majors as a foregone conclusion. But really, all we know is that he is having a superb season at AAA (much like LaHair had last year). We also know that he struggled the last time he came up to the majors. While it might be easy to think that a guy like Rizzo is as close to a “sure thing” as it comes, the truth is that he’s still unproven at the MLB level. A proven MLB’er in the hand is worth two “sure things” in the bush.

        • LEO L

          well that was Hendry’s philosophy wasnt it?

  • http://It'searly Mike F

    Color me suspicious. I think Epstein is a brilliant communicator. He communicates with a purpose and intent. He has a motive. Take into account he has complained this week about OBP and lack of hitter judgement and then accompanied that with the firing of the hitting coach and explanation.

    In considering the machine pr, they have made clear, Dempster, Garza and Soriano are all great players awesome talents. They have also made clear that LaHair is a great hitter and talent. Unlike what we are used to and the handling of the media, they are talking up people they want to move. Jeff S, even Rizzo and Jackson they are far less talkative about.

    In this light, and even more importantly with so many of you throwing in this whole element of Rizzo and controllability, I find this extreme, and it is pretty extreme praise of Castro in light where he is, some of his issues with both defense and OBP fascinating. Especially when you think that in arbitration and contract negotiations this whole media piece would end up used against the organization and used in the large binders presented to the arbitrator. It strikes me as some of the effort to talk up people they are seeking maximum value from. Yes I think he believes to some extent what he is saying about Garza and Castro and maybe more so Castro, but I also believe it’s no coincidence he’s talking him up too at this time.