Before the beginning of a Saturday double header word began to spread that the Cubs and shortstop Starlin Castro had agreed on a 7 year/$60 million extension. While the deal is not official because it is still in the process of being finalized it is a great sign for the Cubs organization to lock up their young All Star long term. The reported contract seems to be favorable for the Cubs in that they lock up their best young hitter for a reasonable price. While many would argue the rebuilding process for the Cubs started when Theo and the gang showed up, or when Anthony Rizzo was called up, or Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters, it is the signing of Starlin Castro to a long term deal that officially starts the rebuilding process.
Starlin Castro is the face of the Chicago Cubs. He's their best hitter and their most touted prospect. He has been in the league for three seasons and has made back to back All Star appearances. He has a career .297 batting average and last season led the National league in hits. Did I mention he's only 22? Despite his suspect defense and an occasional ADD moment caught on national television he has been everything the Cubs had hoped for.
Even though he has been productive and consistent there is still plenty of room for improvement. He needs to learn to take more walks. As of this writing he only has 21 walks this season in 471 at bats. He must learn to be more patient and get on base in other ways besides the swing of his bat. Castro also needs to learn to focus on the field. He was ripped on national television by current Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine, who at the time was a color commentator, when Castro was caught on camera not focusing on the batter at the plate but getting sunflower seeds from his back pocket, looking down and and one point turning his back to home plate. Earlier this season he had another in game gaffe when he didn't know how many outs there were in the game and started jogging back to the dugout with the ball. There were only two outs and the opponent ended up scoring because of his mental error. Even manager Dale Sveum has publicly stated Castro needs to show focus to avoid getting put on the bench.
The good thing about this is Castro is young and can get rid of those mental mistakes. The Cubs will need him to if they expect to contend for a title one day. Most Cubs fans know the rebuilding won't just happen overnight but Theo and the gang have made strides by getting young, highly touted prospects like Anthony Rizzo, Jorge Soler, Javier Baez and Albert Almora. Rizzo is all ready showing upside and talk in the minors is that Baez has been ultra impressive. If Cubs management hits on these top prospects then the combination of Starlin Castro with the rest of the young guys can be a team that not only wins a lot of games in the future, but contends regularly for a postseason spot.
Locking up their best player through the 2020 season(that seems like forever from now) means the Cubs have their best asset locked up and can continue to build around him. The relatively low price of $60 million over seven years gives the Cubs plenty of room to give out deals to other players on the roster as well as land some big names in free agency. If everything goes according to plan then the Cubs will hopefully be in contention around the same time as The Avengers 2 comes out(2015). Now THAT sounds like a pretty fun summer to look forward to.
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