starlin-castro-batIs there a single player at whose feet more of the disappointing 2013 season seems to be laid, while simultaneously also being the guy on whose shoulders more of the 2014 hope is placed, than Starlin Castro?

Fair or unfair, Castro is the face of the evolving Chicago Cubs organization at the big league level. Set to turn 24 next month, Castro was supposed to take his next step toward superstardom last year on the back of a new contract, and a team on the rise. Instead, Castro took a huge step backward, and, arguably, the Cubs right along with him. We could 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 four or five-game swing in the Cubs’ 2014 results. From a sub-replacement-level player in 2013 to the four or five-win player the Cubs likely projected when they extended him in August 2012, Castro could go a long way to changing folks’ minds about the prospects for the 2015 Cubs by breaking back out in 2014.

Castro met with the media for the first time today, and among the notable items he shared:

That’s all good stuff, and at least some of it is a little more specific than the usual “worked really hard, best shape of life” type stuff you see about virtually every player in Spring Training (though that stuff is in there, too).

Hopefully some physical changes, those contacts, and getting back to an approach at the plate the works for him will be the keys to getting Castro back to where he was a few years ago. Of course, that’s not the ideal scenario – which would have him leaping forward into the guy we all hoped he’d be when he broke out as a 20/21-year-old – but I think the Cubs would take it for 2014.

Whatever the future holds for someone like Javier Baez, and whatever the Cubs’ chances of being anything but a last place team in 2014, only good things can come from success for Starlin Castro this year.



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