Cubs Position-by-Position Analysis: Shortstop

Cubs Position-by-Position Analysis: Shortstop
Happy Birthday Starlin Castro!!

A true shortstop is a rare commodity in baseball.  We saw the Diamondbacks give up a premium arm in Trevor Bauer to acquire a good defensive SS in Didi Gregorious.  We've seen Texas and Atlanta refuse to give up a young SS (Jurickson Profar and Andrelton Simmons, respectively) for a big bat in Justin Upton.

The Cubs are fortunate to have as many as 5 potential MLB shortstops in their organization, starting with their two time all-star, Starlin Castro.

Offensive outlook (Bill James projections)

  • Starlin Castro: .304/.346/.448 with 12 HRs, 24 SBs, and .341 wOBA

James predicts that Castro will have his best offensive season yet and I'm not sure he's not selling him short.  As we've mentioned before, projections can only go based on past trends.  They do not account for a change in approach, a gain in physical strength, or any other kind of unmeasured improvement.  Castro began to change his approach last year and struggled with it at times, but still put up a league average offensive year -- which is more than adequate considering the position he plays.  He also appears to be maturing physically and the added strength allowed him to reach a career high of 14 HRs.  His doubles were down slightly, but Castro really started to drive the ball into the gaps as the season wore on.  Now that he has had some reps with his this new approach, it's not outlandish to expect an improvement beyond what the statistical trends project for him if he can sustain and build on those individual improvements.

Defensive outlook

The change in approach wasn't just limited to his time at the plate. Castro made great strides as he improved his footwork on ground balls and became more aggressive on softly hit grounders.  There was an adjustment period in the first month or so and then some fatigue toward the end of the year that caused some sloppy errors.  Castro had 7 errors by April 21st (just 15 games) and then made  5 more from Sept. 11th (and 8 after Aug. 27th) until the end of the year.  In between he made just 15 errors in 126 games.  Over 162 games that translates to 19 errors in a season, more than acceptable.

I only mention the errors because they are highly visual and a source of frustration for many fans, especially since well over half of them occurred at the beginning and end of the season.   We tend to remember beginnings and endings more than we do middles, so the lasting impression of Castro is as a talented but error-prone SS.  The numbers say that is only partially true over the full season.  Moreover, we know errors are an archaic way of measuring defensive performance.  Overall this past season, Castro improved his range and even if we take into account the 27 total errors, he put up a UZR/150 of -0.9, which is roughly an average defensive SS.  Of course, if we take out those first and last couple weeks out of the season, Castro played well above average defensively in that time frame.  Considering the offense he brings to the position, that's a huge asset for this team.

We can expect Castro's defense to continue to improve as he now has a full year of experience with his new and improved defensive approach.  Hopefully, the Cubs can give him a few more days off to keep him from wearing down at the end of the year.

Overall

We forget that Starlin Castro is still just 22 years old.  That's younger than almost every rookie you'll see next season, yet Castro is entering his 4th season.  We saw some increased maturity, both from a physical and mental standpoint, though he still has some ways to go in both categories.  We tend to nitpick at everything Castro does wrong and forget about just how good a ballplayer he is right now-- and he is still 4-5 years away from his peak seasons.  Castro has a chance to get a whole lot better and considering how good he is now, that's an encouraging sign for the Cubs at a position which is among the toughest to fill in baseball.  The fact that Castro signed a team friendly extension makes him even more valuable to a rebuilding team.  He was the first player Theo Epstein identified as a core player and the recent extension only confirms that status.

Depth/Outside Help

The Cubs have virtually no depth at the MLB level at SS, which explains why Castro played 162 games last year.  That hasn't changed much as the Cubs have only added Edwin Maysonet and Alberto Gonzalez as non-roster players.   Considering what a vital part Castro is to the team, it's hard to imagine either getting a lot of playing time.  Darwin Barney started the only game that Castro didn't last year and the benching/rest didn't even last the entire game.  Perhaps Luis Valbuena, who played some SS at Iowa last year, can fill in on occasion now that the Ian Stewart signing may relegate him to a utility role.

Given the lack of talent at the SS position left in this FA class and the cost to acquire a true SS through trade, even a backup, it seems the Cubs are going to roll with what they have right now.

Prospects

Most MLB Ready Prospect: The Cubs top SS prospects all played at A ball or lower so we'll say it's 21 year old Arismendy Alcantara....for now.  He should start the year in AA with Javier Baez at high A Daytona.  Alcantara has true SS skills with good range and a strong arm.  At the plate he's an aggressive player who makes consistent hard contact with some gap power (.302/.339/.447)  He is also a threat once he is on the base paths (24 SBs in 28 attempts).  Logan Watkins and Junior Lake are ahead of both players but neither are considered "true" shortstops and, barring an emergency, neither is expected to get playing time there on a full-time basis.

Best MLB prospect: Javier Baez could also pass Alcantara up as the most ready by the end of this season.  Right now he is an exciting, but very raw baseball player who was exposed somewhat in the fall league by more experienced pitchers.  Offensively Baez is a potential monster with a 70 rating on the scouting scale for both his hit tool and power.  That translates to a potential .300 hitter with 30 or more HRs.  Despite the rawness to his game, Baez possesses surprising natural instincts both on the bases and in the field.  Defensively, he doesn't possess the same kind of range and fluid actions as some of the other Cubs young shortstops, but he makes up for some of that with those instincts/intangibles, and surprisingly soft hands.

Others to watch:  Of the players not mentioned so far, Marco Hernandez is the most intriguing.  He's a natural, instinctive, athletic SS who flows through the ball and possesses an above average arm.  He shows good contact skills and the ball carries well off his bat.  I expect him to have as much as 10-12 HR power as matures.  Though not a burner, he has good speed and should be able to steal some bases at the MLB level.  In short, he's a good all-around SS with defense potentially being his biggest asset long term.  Carlos Penalver is another good athlete with strong defensive SS skills.  The question for him will be how much offense he can provide.  He shows a good eye at the plate and makes contact, but hasn't shown much in terms of even gap power yet.  With Penalver, it's about getting physically stronger without losing range and quickness at SS, where he would have the most value given his skill set.  Tim Saunders burst on the Cubs scene hitting .381/.431/.536 across three levels.  He spend most of his time in Peoria, though he also held his own in Daytona, hitting .310 with a .362 OBP there.  Despite the surprisingly good numbers, Saunders is more of a grinder than a toolsy prospect and more of a utility guy than a true shortstop.  Still, guys like Saunders seem to find their way to the big leagues, so he certainly bears watching if he continues to hit.  Frandy De La Rosa was signed as a SS but his arm and range may be a bit short for the position.  The Cubs are most impressed with his bat, which should play well at 2B and possibly even 3B or LF if he develops as hoped.

Bonus Feature: Tools summary

Writing this piece was a lot of fun, not just because of the top shelf talent the team has in Starlin Castro and Javier Baez, but also because of the types of all-around toolsy players the Cubs have at the position.  It made me start thinking about who rates the best in each individual category.  It turns out it spreads out quite nicely if you were to rate the top Cubs shortstops strictly on the five/six different tools, so I decided to add an extra feature just for this position based on who I think is best long term in each area.

Best Tools

  • Hit: Starlin Castro
  • Power: Javier Baez
  • Speed: Arismendy Alcantara
  • Defense: Marco Hernandez
  • Arm: Junior Lake (Baez for full-time SS)

Not much on that "6th" tool, plate discipline, unfortunately.  Logan Watkins is a 2B but could see time at SS, and he'd be the hands-down winner if he were a full-time guy there.  Tim Saunders also showed decent plate discipline. But if we were to go with just true shortstops, I'd go with Carlos Penalver, though he's only done it so far at the lowest levels of the system.

Comments

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  • Where can you find Bill James' projections at? I've looked and can't seem to find them.

  • In reply to jh03:

    You can find them on the players' pages over at fangraphs.com.

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    We started this conversation on prior thread, but may as well start again.....a big key is whether Baez sticks at SS or not.

    Scouts expected him to be moved quickly to another position, likely 3B, but Baez turned in a surprisingly strong season at SS, and now many scouts think he can stick. Jim Callis cited Baez's defense as one of the most surprising aspects to the Cubs minor league season.

    Shortstop is clearly taken by Castro for the foreseeable future, so if Baez does stick, it gives us a very valuable commodity, in having 2 star shortstops. Organizations will trade ALOT for a good SS, so if we don't move or keep Baez, he would bring back major return if he continues to develop. (Or Castro would, if we go in that direction).

    If Baez sticks, and can show power and contact to boot, he will start to draw comparisons to Miguel Tejada.....not a bad thing!

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Agreed. The Cubs are in a great spot if Baez develops as hoped.

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    Of the other guys, there is alot of scouting love for Marco Hernandez, even though he basically failed this year at A-ball before turning it around at Boise. If he can hit, he figures to be a starting SS in the majors, yet more trade bait. If he doesn't, we always need utility guys

    Arismendy Alcantara does not get tons of love, though, from scouts, even though he hit well in Daytona and was a little young for that level.....not sure why he doesn't get more consideration

    Saunders obviously had an excellent year, but would like to see a repeat. First, small sample size may have had something to do with it, and also he was old for alot of the levels he played in

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Alcantara may have dropped a bit as he had a significant leg injury in July which cut his season short. That, and the fact I think he had 134 errors leadys me to think he has some work to do defensively.

    OK, it wasn't 134 but he had a TON of errors last year. Still only 21, he is behind Castro and Baez at this point.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    I think you really have to see Hernandez play to appreciate his skills. If you get a chance to go to Kane County, he's a guy to watch. Even when I saw him in Peoria early in the season, he stood out to me. And don't forget that 1) he was going from AZ to the MWL, which is something of a pitchers league and 2) he was starting to turn things around when the Cubs had to make room for Baez.

    Alcantara is liked by scouts as well, perhaps not as much as Hernandez, but he does have their attention. He was always on the radar but finally broke out a bit this season.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    We should do a Cubs Den day at Kane County next season.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I'm all for it. Have season tickets, so just about any day works for me!

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    Last comment, sorry.....John, can you project where all the middle infielders will start this year in the minors? When I start trying to do that, I run out of middle infield slots....a good problem to have! Also shows the depth we have in middle infield

  • In reply to Zonk:

    I don't like it, I know it can't be helped sometimes, when 2 good
    prospects at put at the same level. With so many good SS,2nd
    or 3rd prospects how can this be handled? What are the
    chances of the Cubs signing 1 of the 2 new Cuban prospects?

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Possibly. Diaz is a good prospect, Alvarez more of a backup OF type, but both will likely require a roster spot. Not sure Cubs want to do that at this point.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    No worries...sorry I haven't been able to respond. I've been out all day. Wife is on vacation and the brother in law is in, so finding time has been tough.

    It really is going to be tough to squeeze everyone in. The Cubs are going to use Bruno and Saunders' versatility to the fullest and perhaps DeVoss sees some time in CF to get some more ABs too. The last part is just my speculation, though.

    It could shake down like this...

    AAA: SS-Lake/Gonzalez, 2B- Watkins
    AA - SS: Alcantara, 2B - Torreyes
    A+ SS: Baez, 2B - DeVoss with Bruno, Saunders playing all over.
    A SS: Hernandez - 2B Amaya
    Boise: SS: Penalver - 2B Lockhart, Bote

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Exactly, it's crowded, and you already have guys for Boise, before we've even drafed

    I would be surprised if we took a middle infielder anywhere in the first 15 rounds or so; we don't have a place for them to play this year!

    We need pitching obviously, catchers for sure, and corner IF/OF. But mostly pitching.

  • john, I would like to say good job on all the Position-by-Position Analysis so far and keep up the good work. I think castro power is a bit underrated, it was a lot of times castro hit a ball and the wind took it and it would hit off the wall. And he hit a couple of homeruns to right center in PNC park which is not easy to do. He has power but I think when he hits his pitch he can hit the ball a long way. I like the comparison rowson gave between castro and cano, cano's power numbers went up when he waited for his pitch.

  • In reply to seankl:

    Thanks Sean. It did seem he was driving the ball better and had a bit of bad luck. I hope Rowson is right about Cano and Castro, that would be enormous for the Cubs.

  • In reply to seankl:

    Sean, I strongly agree. We've seen Castro's power, and he's only going to get stronger. He exhibited two problems last year, besides his customary over-aggressiveness in general. Repeatedly swung at low "pitchers' pitches" for groundouts, especially early in counts. Lay off those, work the count a little better, and force the pitcher to get the ball up more for "hitters' pitches." Also, there are two distinctly different Castro swings. Bad one is the lunge, especially on low, outside, offspeed, and we saw it way too often. Good swing is wonderful. Balanced, all sorts of power there. The 12-HR James projection is just plain stupid. 17-18 if he improves in one of the above areas. 20-24 if both. .

  • All I can say is - there are far worse things to have than a glut of good middle infielders in the minors as well as a very couple of them already established in the majors.

    If Barney can continue to be stellar defensive player and develop his hitting and especially his OBP (man,... take a pitch once in a while dude) then he will be very hard to uproot from that spot,...

    If Castro can be more Derick Jeter-like at bat and in the field (many people forget that Jeter wasn't as smooth early in his career in the field) then he will be very hard to uproot from that spot,...

    Which means,... that's when we really get to see how good a management team we have bought into. Keeping the right players and flipping the right assets for other prospects at the right time is something that the Cubs almost never have been consistently good at (that stray trade for Sandburg from the Phillies aside,...).

    Build a good Farm system,... and you don't have to overinvest in FAs in order to be consistently competative,

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    Castro's defense is superior to Jeter's right now. The metrics will tell you that. Jeter is very overrated when it comes to his defense.

  • In reply to KSCubsFan:

    Agreed KSCubsFan - Jeter always has been overratted on defense. Just that is probably among the closest potential comparsions to Castro offensively (assuming he continues to develop offensively) of those regarded as 'elite' SS currently playing.

    Given - Jeter is on the dowside of his career now.

  • Last fall, the Geneva IL newspaper re-ran an article about a young SS from 10 years or so ago who played at Kane County (Cubs new A affiliate) and how his season went. He was considered a top level SS prospect for the Marlins at that time as he was fast, strong and had all 5 tools.

    Fast forward to 2012, that skinny SS developed into a Triple Crown winner as a 1B playing 3B. Gone was the skinny fast kid and what had developed was a big strong man.

    The point is, I thin the FO has to see how Castro and Baez physically develop as that might dictate what position these two (and LAke for that matter) wind up playing. For now, i think you do keep them where they are at.

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    In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    Miggy was such a little young buck when he came up in 2003 w his Marlins took us out. He was put into LF because they had Alex Gonzalez at SS whose a wizard.

    Miggy got so big so fast. He must of not had a lot of food to eat in Venezuela.

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    Barry Bonds' head got big real fast as well. Just sayin'.

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    Jim, your commment might lead people to believe Miggy played LF in '03 postseason. You are correct that he played in LF as a call-up late in that regular season. And most of first three seasons. In '03 postseason, J McKeon wanted both the bats of aging J Conine and Miggy in the lineup. He put Miggy in RF, where the 20 y/o had never played before. That included, obviously, games at Wrigley in Oct, about the toughest RF assignment imaginable. Miggy played RF consistently well. That could have backfired really badly. Very bold move by J McKeon, and I still don't think he's gotten enough credit for that. As Cubs fan, pains me to re-live that episode, but credit where due.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    Lake already looks to big to play the position full time. Baez may outgrow it as well. Agreed too that you keep them at SS for as long as you can to keep their value high. For me, Lake ends up in the OF. But like you said, time will tell.

  • I like the part about rest days. I believe all regulars benefit from a day off at least a couple times a year. Castro and Barney both wore down toward the end of the year. A timely rest can prevent that and it is not just physical, but a mental strain to go to the well 162 times a year. Not only does a player stay sharp, but will be injured less. Also, this approach keeps the bench from getting rusty and they will be able to do the job when called upon. Good managers have a feel for this and instinctively know when. The only losers are guys like me who show to see Castro on a rest day.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Agreed. Castro appeared to get a little sloppy again at the end of the year, wonder if not having any days off had something to do with it.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I don't disagree with you guys, but I liked the approach of Cubs management specifically toward Castro last year. You're gonna play every darned day. You're gonna learn to get your rest off the field and be ready on regular basis. You get better by playing, and that includes your concentration level play to play, day to day. You're going to be a cornerstone and a leader for us, so we want you to show the ability to play through both fatigue and small hurts. He's still a very young player, but now he knows what it takes to play a full schedule. I do not agree with one of John's comments, that he played every day because of lack of good backup. There were countless opportunities for Barney to shift to short, and Valbuena, Baker (in first half) to play 2B. I strongly believe the Cubs had a very definite plan Castro, and it had everything to do with ramping up his experience, toughness, commitment, maturity. Liked it.

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    So assuming Alcantara hits in AA next year, does he have legit trade value? Is he a realistic option at second base?

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    This is what I was wondering. When do these prospects gain much in their trade value? It would seem to me if they do well AA, then that's a major leap.

  • In reply to KSCubsFan:

    AA is a good place, not just because of the level of competition and proximity to the majors, but also because statistical evaluation becomes more relevant, making it easier to make a more objective evaluation. One new school scout told me that stats finally become 50% of the equation at the AA level. I think Theo said something similar.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Yes. If Alcantara continues to hit at the AA level, he'll have decent value. I think that's where the line is -- once guys show they can hit there, teams have reasonable confidence they can do it at the majors. It's also easier to predict statistically once they reach that level, so teams have more objective info.

    Alcantara's greatest value is as a SS. He could play 2B, but I don't think he'd be special. A true SS with a good bat and good speed, however, isn't nearly as common.

  • John, great post on Castro. My God, he's only 22!

    The excitement grows! It's gonna be a fun year. Contenders for the post season. Just watch!

    Let's Go Cubs!

  • In reply to Nondorf:

    Thanks Nondorf. And I like the optimism! I get the feeling that even if they're not contenders, the Cubs are going to show us long flashes of good baseball where we can finally start to see this thing come together.

  • John, nice post, nice series. Thanks.

  • In reply to SFToby:

    Thanks Toby!

  • John, might be a bit early but any chance you might share your thoughts in the coming weeks on how the minor league rosters might look? Curious to see who might be in Kane County this year.

  • In reply to cubsfan:

    It is something I'm planning on doing. Was thinking spring but I don't really have a set date for that. Maybe I'll do it earlier.

  • Great series so far, John. Looking forward to the outfield. I'm curious, though - haven't seen Lake mentioned much in the infield analysis. Already assuming he needs to move to a corner outfield spot? Not yet a huge fan of him, but saw in a thread he is having a great winter league season.

  • In reply to TokyoCraig:

    Thanks. I think his best shot to play the IF is at 3B but I wonder if he's best suited for the OF. Problem is corner OF'ers have to hit and that puts even more burden on Lake's bat, something that some scouts worry about already.

  • Garza won't be ready for Spring Training or Opening Day.

  • Where did you hear that?

  • In reply to DaveP:

    He just likes to predict stuff. It's like Asperger's.

    http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2012/12/28/matt-garza-vows-to-be-ready-for-opening-day/

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    In reply to Carne Harris:

    lol

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    lmao.... that was priceless, thanks!

  • In reply to DaveP:

    Not sure. But Kap had article where Garza says the opposite. Says he could start spring training if it started today.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Bruce Levine is reporting Cubs will go after Marcum due that Garza will not be ready at Spring Training

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    In reply to CubsTalk:

    Levine says some crazy stuff once in a while. But take that at it's face value. If Garza were to miss opening day, he wouldn't like be out longer than a month, max, and he's been shopped by the Cubs for the last year. Why would they spend millions to go sign another injury prone SP to replace him for 2-3 starts?

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    You're wrong. Levine reported that the Cubs might be interested in a pitcher like Marcum IF Garza is not ready by Opening Day. Nice try, though.

  • Good stuff. If Saunders continues to hit, I wonder if they'll put him on an accelerated track to try to help find playing time for this logjam of shortstops.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    Cubs are so deep that there really is nowhere for him to go. Best thing Saunders has going for him right now is that versatility to help him get ABs at multiple positions.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Great job, John. If enough people are reading this blog, our minor leagues' stands are going to be filled to capacity every game. Other than pitchers, I can't think of a better position to have a glut of talent than SS. Just think what this likely is going to mean as to deals down the road. Once we get that pitching talent in the system - and I do believe the FO is keying in on doing just that - we're going to be one very exciting organization.

  • In reply to cubs1969:

    Thanks. I hope I could help those teams out that way. Maybe I can generate some interest when I go club to club with the rosters.

    The pitching has improved in the minors by a lot. They're still far away, but they have more potential impact guys then they've had since the early McPhail/Hendry days, though we know those guys didn't develop.

  • John, great job with all the positional breakdowns.

    I'm curious, why do you grade Castro's hit tool higher than Baez's? Obviously, he's more accomplished, at a higher level, and Javi needs a more disciplined approach, but everything I've seen with my own eyes and read from scouts have Javi as a pure #3 hitter that has plus/plus grades on his hit and power tools both. I'm not saying Castro isn't a plus/plus hitter, because he is. Just curious when we are talking about long term, why you rank him over Javi?

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Well, Castro is 22, and is already a .297 career hitter over 1700+ ABs......that's a 70-hit tool already! He has already hit Baez's ceiling there. Baez has more power potential, though.

    The only questions I have seen on Baez is his approach and selectiveness at the plate; he walked hardly at all last year. Scouts aren't overly concerned yet, as he's only 19 and part of that might just be ridiculous contact skills. He'll have to adjust at higher levels, though, and that will be key to making his ceiling as a hitter.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Thanks Hoosier.

    Castro had a 70-75 hit tool in the minors. 70 is the most optimistic grade I've seen for Baez. Moreover, Castro has carried it into the major leagues while Baez has yet to do much above low A ball.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Who's an example of an 80 hit tool?

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Not sure there is on right now. Neither Harper or Trout have an 80 hit tool for example, but historically you're looking at guys like Pujols, Cabrera, Mauer, Ichiro, Jeter. Castro pretty close in terms of pure hitting.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Thanks.

    Didi Gregorius must have an 80 hit tool then, right, since he's a young Jeter? (That will never stop being funny to me.)

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Ha! Not sure what he was thinking, but he's been in the game a long time. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt for now, not just on Gregorius, but also on him thinking Bauer may not reach his potential.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    The more I've thought about that deal, I think you can make an honest case for it, and I wish that's what Towers had done.

    That is: "We think we can compete next year. We had to get a shortstop. We tried to get Simmons and Profar, (and probably Castro, though that didn't really leak) and they said no. Very few guys have the tools to be a plus defender at shortstop, Didi is one of them and we think that his bat has more upside than its shown -- best case is a contact hitter who will get on base and not give away at-bats. We hate to lose Trevor, but we're pretty sure in a year or two we'd be falling over ourselves to make this deal, so we should also make it now."

    The problem with his comparison goes a little deeper than me poking fun at him on a Cubs board (the best Cubs board, admittedly), when he does that, he gives the media a bar to compare Gregorius to. In the likely even Gregorius falls short, he's going to get to hear the "what a big disappointment" stories. We know Starlin survived the "he doesn't pay attention" flap that Bobby Valentine and Bob Brenly started, but you'd really rather your young shortstop not have to deal with that.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Good point there. I think in his zeal to justify that trade to the media/fans, he may have put unfair expectations on Gregorius.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Hey Cubs den, long time listener; infrequent caller. Happy holidays and happy new year to you all! John, I am not a stats guy or new school guy. Very much old school; still miss seeing the BA HR and RBI stats for every batter:) But I'm learning from U guys. As far as Starlin goes, I'd be interested to see his stats for his short career in each position in the order he's batted in. It seemed to me that he always did best in the lead-off spot. I remember when this kid came up I never heard of and hit everything near the plate, put it in play and rarely missed anything he swung at. He did not walk much and did not strike out much, all he did was hit. Now he's 22 and maybe for the 1st time has some real coaching, and considering the black hole that is the Cubs lead-off spot, why not Starlin? And as Zonk pointed out, 297 career avg in 1700 AB's. Walks and K's would work I think. Speed is there with coaching. Taking pitches, he has the ability. And some power to keep 'em honest definitely. Lastly, this site has spoiled me and helped me break away from mainstream Cubs sports media! any tips on Bulls Bears and Hawks site you guys feel compare?

  • Castro isn't selective enough on the pitches he swings at to hit leadoff. Doesn't draw enough walks and isn't patient enough. I still feel his best position in the lineup is in the 2 hole.

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