starlin-castro-batThanks to various family visits and travels over the last few days, all writing has necessarily been harried and surrounded by screaming children. It’s fun and all that, but you’ll have to forgive any analytical or grammatical oversights.

  • Following up on the Starlin Castro lawsuit story, which involved a school in the Dominican Republic suing Castro for failing to pay an agreed percentage of his big extension with the Cubs, based on a contract his father allegedly signed with the school, Paul Sullivan reports that Castro’s countersuit includes allegations that the whole drama affected his performance last year with the Cubs. Apparently this has all been playing out since last offseason. The operative language in Castro’s complaint, according to Sullivan, is that the lawsuit and the seizure of $3.6 million of Castro’s money have had a “direct impact on his duties as a professional ballplayer, leading to one of his worst-ever statistical performances.”
  • I want to be clear about two things: (1) Good work by Sullivan in reporting the allegations in the countersuit – they are highly interesting, and merit a read; (2) the allegations are, for our purposes, nearly meaningless. I’m thinking that Castro saying that the lawsuit negatively impacted his performance in 2013 is going to get a whole lot of play in opposite directions (apologists will say, “See! Now he’ll rebound!”, while Castro haters will say, “See! He’s a mental midget!”). It’s rare that I can bring a little bit of the past-life lawyering experience to bear on a situation involving the Cubs, but here’s one where I feel very confident in saying that if you take yourself in either of those directions, you’re going way too far. The allegations in a lawsuit are, for one thing, tailored to the specific legal claims you’re making – thus, you might describe something in a way that, outside of the legal process, you would describe entirely differently. For another thing, every “bad thing” the other side did was the worst possible kind of “bad thing” imaginable, causing the worst, most extensive injury in the history of the world. This is not to be confused with “lying,” however – in a complaint, you have to stretch things to their furthest possible limit to protect yourself later in the case. If you give an inch in the complaint, you’re never getting that inch back later in the case.
  • How do we apply that background knowledge here? Well, I’m sure that Castro had the lawsuit on his mind last season – having virtually all of your money (the first real, big money you’ve ever had) seized is going to weigh on you. And I’m sure it’s possible that, on any given day, he may have been distracted by those financial troubles. So, would he have performed better in the 2013 MLB season if he’d had no money seized or no lawsuit to worry about? Probably. But the phrasing “direct impact on his duties as a professional ballplayer, leading to one of his worst-ever statistical performances” is the kind of logical extreme you’d see only in a lawsuit complaint. Castro’s lawyers have left open that argument should they want or need to make it later on in the case. They are, in essence, saying, “hey, Judge, Castro was dealing with this bogus lawsuit all year, we know it impacted his performance at times, and he wound up having one of his worst seasons ever. We’re not sayin’ … we’re just sayin’.”* In the end, the point here is: it’s very interesting to know that Castro was dealing with this issue all of last year, and it likely did impact his focus in some ways. But were his numbers so bad because of it? Not exclusively, if at all. (The change in plate approach, which was well documented and supported by statistical analysis, probably played the biggest role; together with natural regression and variance.)
  • *(And I’ve got to imagine that saying that the lawsuit hurt the performance/reputation of an otherwise popular local player is a pretty good pressure point in the DR.)
  • The Tribune has additional details about the suit and countersuit here.
  • The Vine Line Blog has been recapping Cubs performances in the various Caribbean offseason leagues this year.
  • Jeff Passan digs into the spending this year, which could wind up a record for MLB.
  • It’s a big, big football day for the Bears, and Jay’s got your preview Bullets up here.


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