Chicago Cubs’ shortstop, Starlin Castro is in the middle of his fifth season in the big leagues and, on the whole, his career has been marked by drastic inconsistency. Castro has played like the best shortstop in baseball at times, between a 200-hit season, back-to-back 20 stolen base seasons and his ability to make acrobatic plays in the field. But Castro has also shown us his other side; mentally weak, unfocused, and immature. If the Cubs, indeed, plan on competing as soon as 2015 or 2016 they need to figure out if Castro is more Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde.
Even this year alone we have been able to see Castro reach dramatic highs and lows:
(stats per ESPN.com)
Peaks and valleys are normal throughout a 162-game season, but Starlin Castro undulates so dramatically, from stud to dud, (seemingly) every month and that he becomes almost useless to the Cubs. Starlin Castro will be a leader on the field for the Cubs as they make the push for a world series title and if he cannot stay more consistent he will not be able to contribute the way that we expect him to. Here is another way of looking at it; how many times have we said that Starlin Castro is carrying the Cubs’ offense? On this site we have noted multiple times that Castro & Anthony Rizzo have carried the team or that Rizzo has carried the team, but not once have we written about Starlin Castro’s ability to carry an offense.
Don’t read this the wrong way; everyone wants Starlin Castro to succeed. We would love to see him hit .300 with 200 hits again. But how realistic is that? Castro is in the middle of eight-year, 60.5 million dollar deal that is very team-friendly, given he performs at a high level, but if is performance does not rebound he will become expendable. The biggest reason for that is the presence of Javier Baez and Addison Russell.
The Cubs’ unbelievable depth at the shortstop position is a “great problem” to have, but eventually all problems have to be resolved, even “great problems”. And the way to solve this problem is to either change positions or change teams.
A quick poll of Cubs’ fans would probably indicate that they would rather keep Starlin Castro because we have watched him grow up in Chicago for the past five years. How Castro finishes this season will have an impact on his future in Chicago; it will dictate how much rope he is given by the front office. Over the last three seasons, Castro has been a .267 hitter in the month of August and a .302 hitter in September. Who knows what Starlin Castro’s future might hold, but one thing is for sure; he has the ability to shape the future of the Cubs with his play over the next few months and the next few seasons.
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