In the wake of his trade to the New York Yankees last month, I tried – in fits and failed spurts – to put together my “Farewell, Starlin Castro” piece.
Whether it was logistics of that time (Ben Zobrist was also signed, Adam Warren was new, Jason Heyward was on the way, other rumors were flying), or whether it was Castro’s unique position in this organization, especially at this time, I never could get a cohesive piece together. It was just tough. There were so many good memories, spanning his incredible debut in Cincinnati some five and a half years ago all the way until he homered twice in September against the Cardinals and netted his first ever curtain call at Wrigley Field.
How do you fill in that time with something that isn’t glib? Especially when you consider the ups and downs, the weight of expectation on a player so young, and the corner the organization was turning without him? When you consider how unfairly divisive his presence was among fans and observers?
I might never get it done.
But Castro beat me to it anyway.
Today, The Players Tribune published an article from Castro, “Thank You, Chicago.” You should read it.
As for this past season: Getting replaced at shortstop was a struggle for me at first. Change is never easy — especially when it is a change away from something you took pride in. But I also took pride in the fact that I was not going to be one of those players who lost his spot and then brought the team down with him. I knew that I had been taught — by veterans like Alfonso [Soriano], and other great leaders in the Cubs organization — to be better than that.
And the pride I felt about my own job had a lot to do with the pride I felt about what we were building as a team. I was a Cub when we lost 101 games in 2012. I played in every one of those games; I lived those 101 losses. For us to finally start winning was very satisfying to me. It didn’t matter if I was at shortstop, or second base, or watching from the bench. I would have been proud no matter what.
Castro’s many moments in a Cubs uniform included impressive feats. What he did this year after losing his job at shortstop, however, will remain to me the most impressive – both in how he handled the change, and then how he performed down the stretch.
Good luck in New York to Starlin Castro, and thank you. His time in Chicago will, in the end, be remembered fondly.