One of the things Jed Hoyer has said is that one of his goals is to add some of the veteran leadership the Cubs have lost in the past couple of years. The team has seen Aramis Ramirez, Ryan Dempster, and most recently, Alfonso Soriano depart as the Cubs try to shed contracts and get younger.
One of the things Epstein said at On Deck in a response to a question about Starlin Castro is that he needs to stay focused and that you need to stay on some players a bit more than others.
While the Cubs desperately needed to shed that payroll and begin the rebuilding process, Ramirez and Soriano were the guys who stayed on top of Castro. The Cubs need to replace that.
This is where someone like Juan Uribe can be a great fit depending on the price. Uribe is 34 and is coming off perhaps the best season of his career, hitting .278/.331/.438 with 12 HRs and playing excellent 3B defense. It added up to a 5.1 WAR season for the free agent.
I don't expect him to repeat those numbers, but Uribe can add some defense, pop from the right side and, as mentioned, fill that veteran leadership void.
In fact, he is already familiar with Starlin Castro, as this article from Mark Gonzales notes,
"A bad year?" Uribe said of Castro's .239 batting average. "Everyone can have a bad year. He can come back. He's a good player. Sometimes he's thinking too much."
He understands that Castro needs to mature with his approach at the plate, especially when it comes to things like situational hitting,
"When the team needs a run, they want you to get it," Uribe said. "Just think about getting that run and not worry about what happened in the game. I want to hit but I want to win."
Perhaps that is a lesson Castro can learn from the 13 year veteran. And there are similarities between the two. Both were highly touted shortstop prospects and like Castro, Uribe struggled with focus early in his career and once received a 7 game benching from then White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen in 2006.
"Sometimes when you're not doing something you need to do, you're thinking too much about something. That's what happened to me before. You know you can do it but don't."
What makes this even a better fit is that Castro admires Uribe,
"He's a guy who looks happy to play," Castro said.
The Cubs need Castro to bounce back and be the kind of player they thought he was going to be just over a year ago when they signed him to an extension that could take the 23 year old into his age 30 season. Uribe, for one thinks he can.
"I think the Cubs will be all right with him."
I agree, but just to help it along, maybe the Cubs should stick Uribe at 3B and see if he can help Castro relax, simplify, and enjoy the game again. I think it would be worth the investment.
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