Chicago Cubs: Is Extending Starlin Castro Really the Right Move?

Tuesday August 21st, 2012

Jake Dal Porto:  Starlin Castro is one of baseball’s best young shortstops at the ripe age of just 22 years-old. Apparently, the Cubs’ front office feels the same way. While the speculated contract extension is still impending, there’s a good chance that Castro remain a Cub for a good portion of the next decade. A wealthy Cub for that matter. The rumored deal is said to be a seven-year, $60 million contract extension. Should the deal be completed, it will take him through arbitration.

Is general manager Theo Epstein and his staff pulling the right string by signing Castro?

Castro is a rare commodity. That’s pretty obvious statement given his unique skill-set. However, he’s nowhere near perfect. In fact, he was on the verge of being benched back in early June for multiple mental lapses. A game-changing error against the Giants was really the tip of the iceberg for skipper Dale Sveum. But since being put on notice by his manager, mental lapses haven’t been much of a common occurrence for the raw shortstop.

Then again, he’s not even 23 years-old yet. The average prospect would still be honing his skills in the minor leagues. Castro isn’t an ordinary prospect, though, and with the age factor comes often hiccups. His steady bat makes up for the hiccups, though.

Offensively, he’s about as consistent as a shortstop you can find. Although, his pedestrian 2012 numbers might not speak to that bold statement.

The gifted shortstop is hitting for a triple slash of just .277/.308/.423. His WOBA is also bleak at just .308. Compared to a 2011 campaign in which he hit for a triple slash of .307/.341/.432 with a .338 WOBA, it’s safe to say that he’s in the midst of a down year. However, he has minimal protection around him. Alfonso Soriano has provided some unexpected power, Bryan LaHair’s stats have practically fallen off a cliff since the All-Star break, and Anthony Rizzo has provided a mini spark. Yet none of the three contribute consistently, which is putting a dent in Castro’s numbers. Castro’s highly respected 2011 season essentially put him on the map, and opposing teams don’t want to test him when they can test a much weaker number three or four hitter. Due to that, he doesn’t get much to hit.

Quality shortstops in general are hard to come by, though which is particularly why Castro has always been highly considered. Ian Desmond, Jose Reyes, Elvis Andrus, and Asdrubal Cabrera are some of the other quality shortstops outside of the aging veterans. My point is, good shortstops are scarce. Case in point, the Cubs did well to lock Castro up now while he’s cheap. Who knows what his price tag would’ve been had the Cubs let him reach arbitration and eventually the open market.

The consensus amongst baseball people appears to be that Castro isn’t ready to take on a massive contract such as the one he will soon be signing. Why not? He’s a piece Theo Epstein can build around the Cubs’ franchise around for the future. He’s a cornerstone piece that plays at a cornerstone position. And best of all, given his young age, his upside has no limits. Granted, he isn’t a leader quite yet, but that will soon change because the Cubs are becoming his team. Castro just doesn’t have enough experience under his belt to officially win that role. He is not a captain yet…but he could get there one day.

When his skipper was asked if there was any added pressure to signing such a hefty extension, he had this to say:

“I think the fame is already there,” Sveum said. “You’re playing in Chicago and are the front-line guy on the Chicago Cubs. I think he’s done well. But obviously when you get that kind of money, it’s a whole other (thing) to understand that there is a big responsibility that comes with that kind of money and not get carried away.

So now, the next question that Epstein is facing is whether he pulled the trigger too soon? Even without an extension, Castro wouldn’t have been eligible for free agency until 2017. Sooner is better than later, however. Handing Castro a huge contract could take a turn for the worst, or for greatness. For one, he could endure a career-changing injury. On the other hand, the Cubs won’t have to deal with potential bidders for his services one day as a young free agent. It’s a high-risk, high-reward proposition

Cubs’ fans need something to be excited about as management attempts to build a future winner. And the thought of Castro being the face of their franchise for the next seven years might ease the process into the next era of Cubs baseball.

Whether or not you agree with the extension, signing Castro appears to be a step in the right direction for the Cubs.

(*The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com*)

Jake Dal Porto is a high school student from the Bay Area. He is a big time Giants fan and his favorite players are Matt CainTim LincecumBuster Posey, and Sergio Romo. Jake’s favorite sports moment was when the Giants won the World Series back in 2010. He loves to use sabermetrics in his work. He thinks they are the best way to show a player’s real success compared to the basic stats such as ERA, RBIs, and Wins. Jake also enjoys interacting and debating with his readers. Follow him on Twitter:@TheJakeMan24

 

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About Jake Dal Porto

Jake Dal Porto is a Featured Writer at Beyond the Box Score

Posted on August 21, 2012, in MLB Player Profiles and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Chicago Cubs: Is Extending Starlin Castro Really the Right Move?.

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