Lawsuit Trouble and Starlin Castro’s 2013 Performance and Other Bullets

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.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

183 responses to “Lawsuit Trouble and Starlin Castro’s 2013 Performance and Other Bullets”

  1. Everyman Two

    Are so many of you so insecure that the only way to climb out from under the heap is to trash a very young man?

    1. Rizzovoir Dog

      He’s a rich Dominican kid who was banging hot chicks from Lincoln Park. That alone made him a lot of enemies apparently.

  2. Mike F

    complete nonsense. Castro is responsible for Castro. He can buy alcohol, buy anything he wants, drive a car and on and on. He is not some victim or child. What planet are you on to talk about insecurity. He and he alone is responsible for the abortion his season was. Quit insulting people because you see him as a victim. Who wouldn’t want to be a victim of a 70 million dollar contract and then bitch about how his performance is not his responsibility? This is getting absurd, just have the decency and intelligence to admit Castro is responsible for Castro…..

    1. Carew

      I respect your opinion and post but does the term abortion really have to be used?

  3. robert

    You know you guys are ruining this website. Please try to be respectful in the comments. Ever since Brett let on that the snarky comments were bothering him, a lot of you turned it up a notch. This is the best cubs website by far. I seriously doubt Brett makes any real money off this. You people seemed almost determined to break Brett’s spirit. Clearly he cares about the comment section. It’s fine to disagree but it has gotten to the point where it’s just trolling on every article. Respect Brett’s website please or continue on your quest of making him shut it down. Don’t bitch when you have to go back to espn.com for your cubs news though.

    1. roz

      The comments on this story are just appalling.

      1. When the Music's Over

        First the front office was beyond reproach, but apparently now the players have earned that liberty as well.

        1. Rodrick

          Theo is so smart that none of you are smart enough to understand how he’s smart. So you have to watch and learn because he’s going to do smart things with the team and we will all learn about baseball.

          1. YourResidentJag

            Oh boy, here we go. Fan projection of the FO. Worst comments out there.

        2. mjhurdle

          how does not whining and complaining about something that we have limited knowledge about somehow equal making players beyond reproach?

          1. When the Music's Over

            Brett wrote an article about how Castro’s situation might have been a reason he had a horrific season.

            Some people believe this to be the case and absolve him for the year.

            Other people believe this to be the case and don’t think it’s valid for him to use this issue as an excuse for his struggles.

            A third set of people reject that off-field issues should impact a player’s on-field performance whatsoever.

            In all cases, no one knows anything. Like Brett’s article, everyone is simply stating an opinion. I don’t see how negative opinions about Castro get people in such an emotional bind. They don’t know personally know Castro. That’s why I said that now players appear to also be beyond reproach (eg, beyond negative opinion/criticism).

            1. mjhurdle

              I might buy more into the “the players appear beyond reproach” if there weren’t (by my quick count) 10 Thread starting posts that blamed Castro for blaming his season on the stress and Cubs fans for making excuses as opposed to 2.5 thread starting posts that stated that at least part of Castro’s struggles were due to this stress (i give a .5 to one because they said they imagine it was stressful, but never mentioned his performance, so wasn’t sure if that was an excuse making post or not).

              When you combine the fact that most of the thread starting posts were bashing Castro for making an excuse (even though as Brett explained this was probably from his lawyers, and not him personally blaming last year on the stress) with the fact that many of those posts were disrespectful in tone (Castro makes me want to vomit); i have a hard time buying the mantra of “players are beyond reproach”

              1. When the Music's Over

                Sure, most don’t feel that way, but calling negative comments about Castro “appalling” would suggest people were sending death threats his way. That comment, and a few others, were what caused my comment.

                As for the # of starting posts, the article itself was more or less opining that Castro’s situation was to some degree a cause of abysmal season. By creating a baseline opinion on side, it lends itself to rebuttals.

                Also, thread starting posts are a good way to aggregate opinions in a simple manner, but it fails to take into account the responses to those posts. Many of these were of the “how dare you talk negatively about Castro” variety.

                1. mjhurdle

                  Well, you seem to be pretty set in your ways, so no sense just repeating ourselves.

                  However, I would call attention to the posts that say that Castro makes them want to vomit, or that insinuates that Castro was guilty of the charges against him last year, were the type of posts that the poster thought were “appalling”. I personally find the sheer number of posts that seem to think that Castro held a press conference to announce this excuse as opposed to it being something the lawyers are using in a legal proceeding appalling.

                  “As for the # of starting posts, the article itself was more or less opining that Castro’s situation was to some degree a cause of abysmal season.”
                  Actually, Brett went out of his way to say that, while it was probably stressful and *might* have had some slight effect, it was not the main or a major reason he struggled. To say that it affected him is true, seeing as how everything that we do or that happens to us ‘affects” us to some degree.

                  Lastly, there is not, by my count, one single post that states “How dare you talk bad about Castro”
                  I left the responses out of my count because the majority of them were simply people asking posters how they knew the details of Castro’s situation, how they knew how much it affected them, and how their reading comprehension got so bad that they couldn’t tell that this came from the lawyers and not Castro.
                  I read 1 post that blamed Castros season on the legal troubles. 1.
                  If that is your support for the “players are above reproach”, then we just have to agree to disagree.

                2. hansman

                  No most of the rebuttals of the rebuttals are of the:

                  “Well, of course it would negatively impact him. He is a human being no different than you or I”

                  1. When the Music's Over

                    I’ll leave it at this.

                    Some people are better at not letting issues impact their lives than others. If high caliber athletes let personal issues negatively impact their performance for a whole season, then they won’t find themselves I professional sports anymore. Also, there are alot of excuses and I guess some people find them more valid than others.

                    I, and this is just me, grew up in a household where most excuses weren’t tolerated for poor performance, whether in athletics, academics or as a person. If I had a bad day because some chick dumped me or my parents wouldn’t let me go to an event, that didn’t mean I could be an asshole to people, or fail a test, or put forth a shit effort on the field. It’s not like I had robots as parents or an asshole home life, my parents were very loving, they just didn’t want to hear my sob stories about the injustices in my life. Suck it up and move on.

                    1. Rebuilding

                      What don’t you understand about the following? You are correct EXCUSES don’t matter in sports. All that matters is production. However, EXPLANATIONS can help the team/FO make better decisions going forward.

                      No one gives a damn why Castro put up a career low OPS last year – EXCEPT that figuring out why it happened helps the FO judge what he might do over the next few years. That is what is important. If he performed poorly this year because of lack of talent then they make one set of decisions, but if they think he performed poorly for personal reasons it might lead to other decisions.

                      It’s not about making EXCUSES. On many levels I could give a crap about Starlin Castro’s problems. The FO figuring out the EXPLANATIONS though is very important for the Cubs.

                    2. When the Music's Over

                      Well, if every issue is going to render him mentally unstable, then yes, the front office needs to determine if he’s worth keeping around. That outcome could prove to be very similar to the lack of talent outcome.

                    3. Rebuilding

                      Indeed. Everyone knows his production was crap last year. Sports is pretty unique, much like sales, in that you have raw numbers to judge. If he performs terribly next year I don’t care if his puppy got stolen. People are just discussing if there are issues outside of baseball talent that caused his crap production. I don’t think people are defending his honor

      2. Rick

        I believe a big portion of these comments spring from bigotry, jealousy, or people simply being unable to empathize with others. God forbid if Baez, Soler, Alcantara or any other of the Latin players screw up simply by being kids.

    2. Sparks

      Robert,
      I agree with you completely. For a while I read and sometimes posted on the Tribune’s Cub site. It got so negative that I stopped even going there to read comments. On the other hand, some years ago I quit reading Vine Line because it was so positive that. to me, it was worthless. I personally appreciate a site where both sides are presented, but with respect. We all have our opinion, and should be able to express it politely.

      1. Rodrick

        R-E-S-P-E-C-T!!! LOL I think that we should be respect for the owners decisions because it is his team and because we pay him to see the games. Good work.

  4. woody

    It’s obvious that we have some bottom feeders posting today. Hopefully after Jan 1st. things will be better.

  5. Bunch of Bums

    I find it funny that people believe Jan 1st will bring change. Honestly not hard to make multiple accounts and sign up for a account.

  6. DarthHater

    Okay, I’m starting a new “Castro is beyond reproach” thread, just to mess with mjhurdle’s numbers. :-P

    1. mjhurdle

      no worries, once i get my new postermetric system finished, tracking your PPAR (Positive Posts Above replacement) will be a snap!

  7. X The Cubs Fan

    Bundy’s already throwing from 40+ feet. I think since he may be available and The Orioles need for an immediate upgrade on the MLB club. A Samardzija for Bundy and Eduardo Rodriguez deal would be very big for both sides.

    1. Steve R

      I’d love to see us turn shark into Bundy and Rodriguez. I haven’t looked at their roster, but maybe we can expand the deal from both sides and maybe come away with a OF that’s a major leaguer too. We need top of the rotation arms for sure but we also desperately need to add someone that can contribute offensively.

  8. caryatid62

    What’s awesome about this whole thing is that clearly this statement:

    the allegations are, for our purposes, nearly meaningless…apologists will say, “See! Now he’ll rebound!”, while Castro haters will say, “See! He’s a mental midget!”…I feel very confident in saying that if you take yourself in either of those directions, you’re going way too far.

    was pretty much ignored by everyone in the comments section.

  9. since52

    When you contract the services of a professional…medical, legal, tax accountant, etc. do you care how their personal lives are going? Or are you more concerned with the competence of the service? When you go out to a restaurant, does your dinner conversation include the kind of day the server is having?

    Why would evaluating the performance of a 60 million dollar SS be any different? If it’s true Castro’s performance was affected by off the field distractions, why couldn’t it be just as true baseball was the ideal refuge from those distractions?

    The Castro believers here are making a very big assumption: namely if all the distractions go away, Castro’s performance improves. There’s no factual reason to believe that, but let’s take it on faith. But if and when they do go away, and he’s still underachieving, then what? What’s the next excuse?

    1. Rebuilding

      “Why would evaluating the performance of a 60 million dollar SS be any different?”

      Your question pretty much answered your question. Yes, it’s a lot different. Considering there are only about 30 people in the world qualified to do what he does and they have already invested $60 million guaranteed in him. The FO figuring out what is going on with Casteo is about the most important thing they have to do in 2014

      1. since52

        You missed the point the same way Starlin misses down and away breaking balls.

        Really? The entire fate of the 2014 Cubs lies in Theo’s et al evaluation of one under performing player? Really? Then I repeat. What happens if Castro continues to under perform? Who gets thrown under the bus then?

  10. cubs2003

    This is the definitive Cubs website as far as I’m concerned. I don’t post all that often, but when I have I’ve been agreed with or refuted with tact and civility. I guess I’m lucky in that regard. It’s important to deal with every post like you’re dealing with an actual human being. This is a community of Cubs/baseball fans and it makes such a better place for everyone. If Cubs fans can’t get together, I’m not sure who can. I’ve made my fair share of bad posts. Hell, I wanted the Cubs to sign Cano. I don’t know Brett, but I want his site to succeed because it’s a good one. If this is off topic, I apologize.

    As far as Castro, I just hope the legal stuff gets solved ASAP. If it was hanging over his head last year that must be tough. I’m not sure if that was the reason for his down year, but I’m sure it didn’t help.

  11. Ballgame

    First off, thanks Brett and Luke for all you do. Your consistent quality work is appreciated by your true followers. I understand the back and forth, but for how big or small the impact I think its fair to say his performance was affected by this. I personally think you can only blame this for so much. Yeah, he has a long term contract but this was his 1st year on the extension. It’d be tough for anyone his age knowing you’ve made it to the big leagues, earned an extension but you can’t see any of that $? Who knows, what if he promised his family a house once he signed a big deal and now this lawsuit is holding it up. Although, his dad is the reason he’s in this mess, so maybe not the best analogy. His actions both on/off the field need to improve, but he usually mans up and admits when he makes a mental mistake during a game and is hard on himself. Castro gives a crap and I’m anxious to see him turn things around for himself this year…

    1. cubs2003

      I’m excited to see Castro this year. I have no real basis, but I think there’s a chance he puts up 300/340/450. A guy can hope, right? I’m an eternal optimist, though.

      1. TOOT

        You sure are! You just saw him this year didn’t you?

        1. cubs2003

          Alright. Next year.

          1. TOOT

            I know what you meant, just having a little fun. Don’t know how to do the smiley face thing. But I do hope you’re right, and the kid can bounce. For me, I just don’t see it. On top of that, the Fo seemed to suggest, Baez is the man at SS.

            1. cubs2003

              Baez is a great talent, but I think Castro has abilities that have yet to be shown. He was called up too early and had to be developed at the MLB level, which sucks for all parties involved. I still believe in him. Having Castro and Baez isn’t a bad problem.

              1. TOOT

                “Having Castro and Baez isn’t a bad problem.”

                No it’s not. But how this all shakes out could be.(Lawsuits, position change, etc.)

                1. cubs2003

                  It’ll be cool, I’d guess. The Cubs need to worry about pitching quality and depth. Castro or Baez could slide either way. Bryant’s there. Olt maybe? You’ve got Valbuena and Barney. Pitching and outfield is what I’d be worrying about.

                  1. TOOT

                    Yes! We have some of the best talent coming up since I’ve been a Cubs fan(All my life, but not giving age. Starts with five and doesn’t end in zero) I really believe it’s right around the corner. Yikes! How many fans have said that and since passed? I’m still sayin yes 2015!

  12. Cardfan

    …so, let me get this straight. 3% of his earnings are earmarked for a prior commitment. Hmmm…Personally, I am now looking at an additional 3.8% surcharge thanks to this disastrous ACA debacle on top of a retroactive 40% increase we inflicted on ourselves in California last year. 3% does not rise to the significance of keeping me up at night anymore – especially if I would be fortunate enough to be sitting under a $70M contract. Why is there so much emotion being wasted on this? If his performance was impacted by this, stick a fork in him – he is done.

    1. TOOT

      I’m afraid I have to agree with your point. Not fly away! You guys didn’t win crap either.

    2. TOOT

      *Now you pesky thing.

    3. Rodrick

      I think we can trade Castro for Chris Carpenter. We need pitching and the Cardinals are a good team.

  13. cubs2003

    I’m pretty sure it’s basically all his money. He’s only played one year under his current contract as far as I know.

  14. sven-erik312

    I’m with you Brett, it’s time to create a membership system here. Have a Merry Christmas! Here in Sweden, we have 50F and no snow, can you believe it! After Christmas, it’s just around 6 weeks until Spring Training! Can’t wait! Next year is almost here…

  15. Jon

    While its unfortunate and Castro should use his legal team to navigate and resolve this issue, that’s the extent of my care. The reality is he stills makes a yearly 7 figure salary and can still live a priveleged live, even with 3% taken away.

    Talk to families living on 50k a year and suffering a much bigger income drop via loss of work, insurance costs, etc

    I’m politely trying to say I don’t give a f** about Starlins problem here

  16. Barroof

    Castro is a punk kid. Hope he has a good season so we can trade him at the deadline . This will not be the last issue with this guy. Hell it wasn’t even the first.

  17. KC Cubs Fan

    I don’t think anybody is going to deny that he is paid well and that he has responsibilities to that contract. In the end, he is still a human being and even more so, still a kid. He does need to mature quite a bit but no matter how much money you make, when a large portion of it is taken from you it becomes a huge stresser. Like Brett said a lot of this is lawyer talk and in my opionion a scare tactic to force them to give back the money and drop their suit or face a battle. Hopefully, Castro will be more prepared to focus on baseball and put some of his past behind him!!!

  18. Starlin Castro is in Great Shape, Did Some Hitting, is Ready to Go, and All That Good Stuff | Bleacher Nation | Chicago Cubs News, Rumors, and Commentary

    […] blame Castro’s down season on a variety of factors – the failed plate approach changes, the money lawsuit thing, some bad luck, etc. – but you can’t ignore that he, himself, represents a possible […]

  19. Everything’s Coming Up Starlin and Other Bullets | Bleacher Nation | Chicago Cubs News, Rumors, and Commentary

    […] last year because of the approach changes, because of coaching communication issues, and because of that lawsuit back in the Dominican Republic. With all of that behind him, perhaps he can just be himself again. And perhaps that’s a damn […]

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