Starlin Castro May Not Be Perfect, but He's Plenty Good

Starlin Castro May Not Be Perfect, but He's Plenty Good

I was one of the leaders of the "Trade Starlin" movement two years ago.

To this day, I think there were good reasons to do so.  I am a believer in having the strongest defensive shortstop possible at the position.  Castro has worked hard and become average to slightly above average but that is his ceiling.  I also didn't think he would ever become a patient hitter.  There are mixed results on that.  While the walk rate is up, it's still nothing to write home about at 6.2% and that's come with higher strikeouts (17.2%) and a lower batting average than in his early years.  However, his ISO of .164 is the highest of his career by 17 points and he still seems to be growing into his power.

How do the changes shake out?  If you look at Starlin's wOBA -- a good "catch all" offensive statistic -- it's currently sitting at .335.  3 points lower than it was in 2011 before he was "fixed."  If you want to take an optimistic viewpoint, you can argue that the changes to his swing make it more likely that his offensive production will increase as he grows into his power.  If you want to be more cynical, you could say that the Cubs went through an awful lot of trouble to get the exact same offensive production out of Castro at the end of the day as they had going in.

Having said all that, when I hear calls to trade Castro as soon as this offseason for young pitching (a Mets package including Zach Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard being the most popular), it makes me more than a little uneasy.

We have all seen the plan coming together and putting this team right on the verge of being relevant.  Rizzo and Castro have emerged from their cocoons (also known as the 2013 season) and both earned -- and I truly mean earned -- their place on the All Star squad.  Alcantara gives the offense a dynamic catalyst at the top of the order and big, middle of the order bashers Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, and Jorge Soler appear to be on the verge of Wrigley.  The bullpen is almost unrecognizable and the free cash resources should bring in the pitching currently lacking at the minor league level.

The timeline to be competitive changes if we trade him this winter.  We would be getting rid of a guy who has already gone through major league growing pains and can be counted on to deliver consistent, above average (indeed, All Star level) production right now.  How good has he been?  His .335 wOBA (John's favorite offensive stat) makes him the 4th best shortstop in the league.  If you look at RE24 (my favorite stat for looking at past offensive performance), his 8.34 ranks him 5th in the league.  With the Cubs on the verge of being relevant, and perhaps 2 years from Juggernaut status, getting rid of the 4th or 5th best offensive shortstop in the game for guys who may or may not contribute meaningfully at the major league level is a bad idea.

I can foresee a time when it might make sense to trade him.  When our prospects have graduated, and we're lucky enough that Bryant, Baez, Russell, Soler, and Alcantara have all become offensive contributors that equal or exceed Castro, then it makes sense to trade him to open up space.  But that is a long way, and a lot of luck, in the future.  Even if you think (as I do) that Addison Russell will be the starting shortstop in 2017, if Baez and Alcantara (for example) don't fully make the adjustment to the majors, the team can still extract a lot of value from Castro by simply sliding him over to second base.

We are on the verge of competing.  We have a legitimate offensive weapon in Starlin Castro.  Unlike Samardzija, if we do nothing and pick up his option he will be a Cub for six more full seasons.  This is a guy who we can ride, cost controlled, through multiple playoff runs.  He has some holes in his game, but this is exactly the wrong time to make the perfect the enemy of the good.  Sign me up for six more years of an infielder who will hit .270 to .290 with 20+ home runs.

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    Mike, I must say i'd never thought i'd see the day you would come aboard the Castro train. But, you weren't like the other "trade Castro" crowd. The ones who wanted him gone no matter what he did and simply used 2013 as fuel to keep the fire burning.

    That said. Not even the haters can deny what Castro has done. All-star game appearances might not be the end-all-be-all to judge player performance but lets face it, 3 all-star trips in 4 years. All before the age of 25. That's impressive in itself. You have to be good to go to the all-star game. Especially as a SS. That much most people can agree on. Even if he stays at his current production rate the contract will still have good value. If he improves like most think he will then were getting into "steal" territory. If were not already.

    Im not at all worried about a position switch anymore. John sold me in his last article about looking at the future infield as 3 Shortstop positions rather than 3B SS 2B. Doesn't matter where they line-up with all the shifts going on. Im sure the FO could sell Castro, Russell, and Baez on this as well. It's a great Point-of-view.

    Good article, Moody.

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    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    We might have 3 SS's to place where best fit comes into play. I can't see Castro as a 3rd.Base guy,he fits better bat wise at 2nd.Base especially if Russell is all we hear he is.Baez/Bryant can fight it out for 3rd.Base with the loser taking a corner outfield spot. Soler RF, Alcantara/Almora CF and Bryant LF sounds good to me.

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    I'm not so sure. OK, we keep Castro as well as all these other prospects that everyone is so high on. Where does the pitching come in? I'll give you Arrieta as a strong #2 type and I'll even go as so far as to say that we really don't need a typical #1 type of pitcher, as long as we have 2 or more #2 types on the rotation.

    I also hear the cries from folks that remind us daily that not all prospects pan out as expected. But it seems to me that Theo and company are putting all their marbles into that prospect basket. They recently stated how they know that they shouldn't expect all their prospects to pan out but they feel real good about the crop they have.

    It's also been fun to create future lineups with our prospects. But how many times have those projected lineups change for all of us? Every draft and every trade deadline many rush to their keyboards to "update" those projected lineups.

    I'm of the school that says someone is going to be gone. I don't think Addison Russell is gone, or why didn't we see a 3 team trade where we got pitching and AR went somewhere else? So that leaves us Starlin or Javy. Of the two, I would have to believe that Starlin's rebound season would bring back a better package.

    So if it is Starlin Castro that is the object of other teams needs, we have to ask ourselves (if we're going to play GM), are the Cubs better off with trading Castro for those two legit TOR type of arms or standing pat and assume we can land pitching in the free agent market.

    The only other thing that could happen is that we develop those TOR guys. I like our crop of low level guys but they are at least 3 years away, imo. By holding each and every prospect as well as Castro you are basically saying 2015 is going to be another "be patient" season. So I guess Theo will just flip the switch in 2016 and we'll never look back....

    Com'on, I just can't buy that. The Cubs are ready to start playing competitive baseball, imo. And I'm not saying just trade Castro for the sake of trading him. But either him or Baez are the currency we will use to start filling in the voids.....

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    My response is this:

    If the last two seasons have proven anything, the Cubs have been able to find pitching that would be adequate if the team could just score runs. I'm not sure that Theo and Jed go after the high profile guys this off-season, but I have pretty good faith that they can pull out another Hammel or Maholm.

    The other thing is that they have attacked pitching the past three drafts in force. Maybe not with the first pick, but with a lot of depth. They are farther away than the bats, but you might be seeing those #2 and #3 type pitchers coming in full force before two long with arms like Edwards, Johnson, Tseng, Underwood, etc. Again, they are a few years away, but the FO has shown over the past two seasons that they can find value on the free agent market.

    I agree that Russell is probably the least likely to be traded. I'm not sure, though, that we don't overvalue some of our prospects a bit too much. As much potential Baez has, he has not done anything in the major leagues, and is hitting .240 in AAA, and he has not come close to duplicating his power numbers from last year (yet). I agree with Mike that trading a proven offensive middle infielder is risky when his potential replacement has not shown that he can stick in the major leagues. At the same time, prospects are valuable right now, and might be used to pick up proven pitching talent.

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    In reply to TheSinisterUrge:

    I can agree with you and hope that the Cubs can find another pitcher like Hammel out there. I also stated that I like our pitching at the lower levels so we have that going for us. But I'm just not fine with sitting on our hands this off season waiting. I was on the side of don't trade Castro from the very beginning. Now I'm not so sure as things have drastically changed, imo. Those waves have been sighted and will be hitting the shores of Wrigley within the next 12 months.

    I also don't think Baez is a .240 hitter. It's just taking him a bit longer to realize that his approach won't work as well at these higher levels. He really hasn't had to make any changes until this season. I think we'll see a different guy next year.....

  • I would definitely rather keep all our prospects until their isn't room in the starting lineup. There is no reason to trade anyone before that. I think with some of the young talent being cheap, we can afford to buy our pitching in free agency.

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    Our recent attempts with Tanaka, Annibel Sanchez, Darvish, Hyun-Jin Ryu and probably others says that it's easier to say that we'll just buy pitching than it actually is. Many think (including myself) that we should make a strong push for Lester. But does Lester really want to leave Boston, much less pitch for the Cubs? There is a lot of risk there as well.....

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    It is a valid point, but I will also point out that Price just stated he would love to pitch for the Cubs. I think we get a young lineup that can mash, and we won't have a problem getting the arms to flock to Chicago. There is a difference between going to a team that is 2-3 years away, and one with a young lineup that is full of talent.

    And while I agree that a Lester type might not want to leave Boston, I would rather overpay for a pitcher with money than with prospects (in a trade). And as we have seen plenty of times in free agency, money talks.

  • I agree with paying for it now in terms of money, not prospects, mainly because the team has the payroll flexibility and can absorb some of the pain better. Once the prospects start coming up and hopefully earning long-term high $$ deals, the ability to absorb a bad contract goes away. If you take a shot at a 30 something top pitcher who fails or becomes injured, and you already have a high payroll, you are in trouble.

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    Just want to let you know that Price never once said he would love to pitch for the Cubs. He said it would be cool to win a championship there. That's is it. Why do people always add more to what was said.

  • In reply to RClax3:

    It would be rather difficult to win a championship there if you don't pitch there.

  • Welcome to the dark side Mike. If you look at his defensive metrics, he's gotten better every year. he displays as much or more range as anyone else in the game, has a penchant for the exceptional plays, itjust the throwing errors and mental lapses that prevent him from being a plus defender. But those negatives are trending in the right direction so I wouldn't say average to slightly above average defense is his ceiling.

  • Some prospects won't work out and there may be a time to pull a reverse Shark trade. What we give up certainly can't be forecasted a year or two before hand. Some one smarter than me said that it's difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.

    I will just try to enjoy watching each team succeed and some individual performances in Chicago.

  • Guys - do other shortstops not make throwing errors? Or even mental miscues? And every time any other SS makes a mental error does the local and national media focus on it for days and weeks. Castro is a work in progress like many other ball players. Let the kid - yes, he is still a kid - alone. If and when we can do better, then we will. Until then, we've got a pretty good one.

  • Give me a SS with Castro's range, and his physical skills defensively (barring the ever more rare mental lapses), who can also potentially go out there 150-160 games a year, hit >0.280 BA, and give you 20-25 HR/Year and 175-200 hits,......

    I'll take that guy any day of the week,.... especially on a team that is otherwise formidable on offense as the Cubs are likely to be in a couple of years,.... stick him in the #6 or #7 slot in the order behind the likes of Rizzo, Bryant, Baez, and Alcantara,.... or the #2 slot if his BB-rate continues to climb,.... and call it done.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:


  • Totally agree, Mike. Awesome piece!

    I was never really on the 'Trade Starlin' train but there's no doubt I screamed at him from my couch more than any other guy last year (the position players, that is. Ahem..Edwin Jackson). He's so talented that he has to be our guy. He really looks like he's got most of his between the ears issues ironed out and he's really having a nice, nice year. Sometimes I have to take a step back and remember that there are several guys in Cooperstown who's resume's don't look as good on the front end as Starlin's does. Not too many 24 year olds floating around that have the inside track to 3,000 hits!

    Junior Lake has now firmly grabbed the mantle as the most despised position player in my household. Three quarters of every JC and DIII team in Southern California has a better approach that Junior does. He's proof positive that you can have loud tools and still hurt your team several times a week.

    Speaking of trading guys, how about putting a line in the water for Tyson Ross?? Anybody have any speculation as to what he might cost?

  • Amen, Mike. Well written, well reasoned. Lets not treat Castro as merely another asset to acquire more assets, especially if it means pushing back the timeline that is oh so tantalizingly close. Trade him if and only if we know sure we have an even better SS.

  • A Cubs Den commentor made a great point a few days ago after the brawl game with the Reds. As soon as things escalated when Rizzo got to first base, Castro was the first one running over to help his teammate.
    This team is starting to get leadership from these two young AllStars. It feels like it's their team. Castro is starting to bring some intangibles to the Cubs that many thought he'd always lack. Sometimes there is more to building a team than just the numbers and I think it would be a huge mistake to trade him now

  • So the cubs will have allocated about 50 to 60M in payroll next year for 18 to 22 players -- depending on how many they call up from the minors and/or resign of those under control. Some of that will be spent on players not likely to be in the majors. Nevertheless, that leaves quite a war chest to go hunting next off season. Even if they don't go after Scherzer/ Lester quality, there's still a short term solution to pitching out there.

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    Agree 100% Mike. Well written indeed.

  • Anyone should (and probably is) available for the right price. I just think that the price for Castro should be very, very high. I don't like the idea of trading him for TOR potential, but rather pitchers that already have a proven track record (i.e.--Price if he agreed to an extension, or others I may not be privy to). Otherwise, pass on trading him.

  • Anyone think Matheny gets Rizzo or Castro in?

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    In reply to Naf023:

    Was wondering the same but I think Castro is in at short.

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    In reply to Naf023:

    Either I've been flagged for some odd reason or the spam filter is pretty bad on this site but Castro is in at short.

  • Mike, since you threw out the hypothetical: if Sandy Alderson called you up and offered you Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard for Starlin Castro, would you really say no?

    I'd take that deal before Sandy finished his sentence.

    Wheeler's 3.42 FIP ties him with Matt Garza and has him narrowly ahead of Yordano Ventura and Julio Teheran. He just turned 24, he's a former 6th overall pick, he has ace stuff, and he's controllable through 2019.

    Syndergaard entered the year as a consensus top-five pitching prospect in all of baseball. Yes, he has struggled mightily at AAA, although perhaps he should have had more than 23 starts total between A+ and AA. Further, the only reason he'd be a realistic target is because of the struggles this year, and it's obvious that 6'6", 240 lbs. righties who work in the mid-90s, have relatively low walk rates, and strike out better than a batter per inning don't grow on trees.

    I'd trade Castro for a package headlined by Wheeler or Syndergaard. I like Castro a lot, but I'm not blind to what he is. He's an average defensive shortstop (not criticism - average is average) with emerging power and average on-base skills. At his peak, perhaps he can put together some .300/.345/.475 seasons with average defense at shortstop (possibly a bit worse as he continues filling out). That's really, really good. Of course, that does require some continued projection, even if it's reasonable.

    But if Castro is playing shortstop for us, that means we're filling in behind Arrieta with the likes of Travis Wood, Edwin Jackson, Dallas Beeler, and Kyle Hendricks for another couple of years (barring an unexpected Lester/Scherzer spending spree that I'd totally support). Those starters and "juggernaut" don't belong on the same website.

    We've got to find potential TOR arms somewhere. If some team is really willing to pay a ridiculous premium for Castro like both Wheeler and Syndergaard, we'd be nuts to turn it down. If I could do something like Castro and Vogelbach for Wheeler and Syndergaard, I'd do it in a flash. Castro and one of Blackburn/Paniagua/Underwood for Wheeler and Syndergaard, same deal.

    Perhaps people are missing that the cost of Addison Russell plus two interesting filler pieces was an All-Star ace-caliber starting pitcher and a guy hitting his #2 starter ceiling, even if only for two combined seasons between the pair.

    I'd be very surprised if the Mets traded Castro for only one of Wheeler or Syndergaard, straight up.

    I like Castro. That doesn't make him more valuable than he actually is: an above-average, non-star shortstop. At least until he needs to move to second base.

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    In reply to Rob Huff:

    I would absolutely say no. You're getting two guys who may or may not be impact players at the major league level (Wheeler currently sports a 3.42 FIP) for a cost-controlled All Star. It sets the team further back from competing.

    The trade I could see -- and would do -- is Baez for Syndergaard. Classic deal from strength for both teams.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    That floors me.

    You're getting two guys who may or may not be impact players at the MLB level for one guy who isn't an impact player at the MLB level. He's a good player; he's not an impact guy.

    Again, Wheeler is 24, and his FIP ranks 37th among qualified starters. Fifth hardest average fastball (94.7), plus power slider (88.8), plus curve, usable changeup...and his WAR (1.3) in his first full season trails Castro (1.8) by a relatively insignificant amount.

    And as a way of compensating us for our minimal downgrade, we get one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball, a 21-year-old with 16 AAA starts under his belt already?

    How does that possibly set the team further back from competing? Wheeler steps into the rotation immediately and Syndergaard is in there by mid-2015. You trade one above-average starter for two. The only impact on the timeline is to accelerate it as we find 40% of our rotation in one fell swoop.

    Trading Baez for Syndergaard but not trading Castro for both Syndergaard and Wheeler just makes no sense to me. Would you trade Castro for Baez and Wheeler? I think just about everyone would (maybe I'm wrong).

    If the Cubs traded Castro for Wheeler and Syndergaard, by mid-2015 they'd sport the following lineup:

    C Castillo
    1B Rizzo
    2B Alcantara
    3B Valbuena
    SS Baez
    LF Coghlan
    CF Ruggiano
    RF Bryant

    With Addison Russell and Jorge Soler ready to knock Valbuena and Coghlan/Ruggiano out of the lineup on a moment's notice and Kyle Schwarber not too far behind.

    More importantly, the rotation would be:


    With Hendricks and Beeler competing for the swing job/pushing Edwin at the five.

    By not making the trade, the lineup figures to be:

    C Castillo
    1B Rizzo
    2B Baez
    3B Valbuena
    SS Castro
    LF Coghlan/Ruggiano
    CF Alcantara
    RF Bryant

    You've replaced one of Coghlan/Ruggiano with Castro. That's an upgrade, something in the 2ish WAR order. But the rotation:


    Tsuyoshi Wada provides the depth. Obviously the Cubs could sign a big starting pitcher or two and dramatically change the feeling of this second alternative. If they signed Max Scherzer and Jon Lester (strictly in hypothetical land), they'd roll with those two, Arrieta, Wood, and Edwin. That's a great rotation with a really strong lineup.

    But wouldn't you substantially prefer to go Scherzer-Lester-Arrieta-Wheeler-Syndergaard? I mean, that rotation plus our emerging bullpen would be the class of the league with Wood/Edwin sticking around as the long guy or shipped out of town to add a few lower level pieces. The lineup in alternative one is a bit weaker in the short-term and it requires some defensive shenanigans when all of the top bats arrive. Something like:

    C Castillo
    1B Rizzo
    2B Baez
    3B Bryant
    SS Russell
    LF Schwarber
    CF Alcantara
    RF Soler

    Nobody is playing out of position and all of those guys could be here by the latter portion of 2015. That lineup playing in front of Scherzer-Lester-Arrieta-Wheeler-Syndergaard? Sheesh.

    I'd sell Castro to an NPB team to put that roster together.

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    In reply to Rob Huff:

    You are spectacularly underestimating Castro. He is one of the the best shortstops in baseball. You say Wheeler's FIP is 37th among qualified starters? Castro's wOBA is FOURTH among shortstops. And the three above him are all in their prime years. He is an elite offensive shortstop. It also puts him 8th among second baseman and 9th among third baseman, so he is a top offensive player there, too.

    Another way of thinking about this: Zach Wheeler's FIP puts him in the top 38% of all MLB starters. Castro's wOBA puts him in the top 16% of all MLB shortstops.

    You're also assuming that all prospects make it and reach their ceilings. The odds are not only good but overwhelming that one of Baez, Bryant, Russell, Schwarber, Alcantara, and Soler plays well below the offensive output that Castro currently has. And that's before you consider that it's likely to keep getting better.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    There are 30 starting shortstop positions; there are 150 starting pitching spots. Apples and oranges.

    He's a very good offensive shortstop; calling him elite goes too far. Going by wRC+, Castro (110) trails third place Jhonny Peralta (120) by 10 percentage points. Tucked into the next 10 percentage points? Erick Aybar, Brandon Crawford, Jose Reyes, Jimmy Rollins, and Ian Desmond. Way less exciting than the Tulo-Hanley-Peralta trio.

    He's above-average at second and third.

    Qualified starters versus all starters. Obviously qualified starters aren't making 100% of starts.

    What have you seen from Castro that suggests he's going to keep getting better? The power increase is encouraging and the walk rate is up a bit. Unfortunately, the strikeouts are up too and his defense has trended downward significantly over the last three years.

    The defense is where I get really concerned. His UZR has been negative in four of five years and only +2 in the one positive year.

    And I just don't know how you figure that it's "overwhelming" that one of those guys plays well below Castro's offensive level. They may have less value overall (for example, Schwarber may prove unplayable defensively), but all of them project to get on-base as well or better than Castro and all have significantly better power already before any additional projection. Schwarber is also the only one below AA, and the offensive track record for the top overall college bat in his class is tremendous.

    Anyway, the basic point here is that folks are way overvaluing Castro. He's being confused as a star-level player when he's in fact just an above-average regular. Plus bat, average on-base skills, emerging power, average (and declining) defense yields 1.8 WAR so far, 7th among MLB shortstops with Hardy, Simmons, Desmond, and Alexei all either tied with him or 0.1 back. Tulo is a superstar. Peralta and Aybar are giving star-level production; Hanley could get there. Castro's just not there.

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    In reply to Rob Huff:

    "And I just don’t know how you figure that it’s “overwhelming” that one of those guys plays well below Castro’s offensive level."

    I'm honestly not sure how to respond to this. Can you find one time, in history, that all 6 of a team's top position player prospects reached their ceilings? Going a step easier: can you find one time that all of them played at least one full season in the majors?

    It's clear that you love prospects and the minor league game but this is overvaluing them to extreme levels.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    This is an interesting debate. I have just a question for Rob: Do you still trade Castro if Baez morphs into some combo of Lake and Olt, say 0.220 with 20 HR?

    I am not saying Baez will become that player, and I sincerely hope he does not. But he struggled after his promotion to AAA. He has of course adjusted, but his power numbers are still laging behind his monster AA numbers. What if he fails to adjust to MLB pitching? And even if he does, what if it takes him 2-3 years? How does that impact our future competitiveness?

    I can see, like many people, a much more competitive Cubs team in 2015. Thus, to paraphase an old adage, I prefer an above average, cost-controlled SS on the base than two in the bush.

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    Yeah, I'd still trade Castro for Wheeler/Syndergaard even if Baez wasn't in our system. I'd do it if neither Baez nor Russell were in our system. You're giving me the choice between the following pairs:

    Starlin Castro and Dallas Beeler
    Zack Wheeler and Noah Snydergaard (and you get to keep Beeler too - you just don't rely on him)

    It's not a debate. Should I turn one 3 WAR, cost-controlled player and a fringe MLBer into a different 3 WAR, cost-controlled player and an elite prospect who is already at AAA? Yeah, absolutely.

    Would it help if I changed the names? Would folks feel better dealing Castro for Tyler Skaggs and Lucas Giolito? Or George Springer and Jon Gray? Maybe Carlos Santana and Miguel Sano? Those first names are Wheeler's comparables by WAR while the second names are Syndergaard's comparables by prospect rank.

    Would you prefer 3.5 WAR (Castro at 3.0ish, Beeler at 0.5ish) or 4.5 WAR (Wheeler at 2.5ish, Syndergaard at 2.0ish)? I tried to stay pessimistic for the two pitchers, but it's hard as Wheeler should reach 2.5 in his first full season this year.

    I prefer more talent to less talent. Even if Baez has a nasty adjustment phase next year, he's going to play for at least a few months. If it's not working out, Russell is there to give it a shot. If both of them fail, we're in big trouble whether we have Castro or Wheeler/Syndergaard because we've already put all of our eggs into the prospect bat basket.

    This is not specific to you CubsFanInNorway (killer handle, btw), but folks are missing the boat on the value of Castro's cost control. Yes, we know what Castro's salaries will be from '16-'20 (assumes option exercised): $6M, $7M, $9M, $10M, $11M, and $16M. That's $59M over six years, a serious bargain.

    You know what's an even bigger bargain? Zack Wheeler for $520K in '15, $525K in '16, Arb 1 in '17, Arb 2 in '18, and Arb 3 in '19. If he follows the Kershaw path as the best pitcher in the game, he makes roughly $9M in '17, $13M in '18, and $22M in '19, accounting for inflation. Castro makes $43M over that span while Wheeler would make about $45M...BUT THAT'S ASSUMING HE PITCHES LIKE CLAYTON EFFING KERSHAW! If Wheeler morphs into Kershaw, the trade would be among the greatest in Cubs history.

    If he turns into, say, Rick Porcello instead (another solid 3 WAR guy), he makes something around $21M over his arb seasons accounting for inflation or $22M over five seasons of control. That's cheaper.

    But that also doesn't include Syndergaard in the math. Even if we call him up in late April and he gets Super Two status, Syndergaard would be on a minimum deal in '15, '16, and '17 before earning arbitration raises in '18, '19, '20, and '21. He's controllable longer than Castro (or as long if we promote him the moment he is acquired).

    Castro's contract is a good one for the Cubs, one that currently produces surplus value and projects to do so well into the future, especially with the market explosion. But that doesn't make him more valuable than a similarly useful player on a minimum deal.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I probably can't find that. But I guarantee you that you can't find me a time where a team had four (likely going to be five) straight top-ten draft picks that they used exclusively on bat-first players, then traded away all of their major league talent over two years (all of it) to add to that minor league stockpile. If you can find me a team whose six top position player prospects consisted exclusively of top-ten picks (and one huge international signee), five of whom were at least at AA, then we can look to a solid comparable.

    Off the top of my head, I checked on the '99 Yankees. Their top six:

    Nick Johnson
    Alfonso Soriano
    Drew Henson
    D'Angelo Jimenez
    Jackson Melian
    Wily Mo Pena

    They had one guy who had already made the Majors (Soriano), just like us and Jimenez got 20 ABs late in the season. Johnson had a full season at AA under his belt. Neither Henson nor Melian had played above A-ball, and Pena was an 18-year-old with a month and a half of short-season ball. By the end of this year, only Schwarber figures to not be slated for AAA or Chicago next year, and even he is a college bat who will have a month and a half in the FSL done by that point.

    Can you find one time, in history, that all six of a team's top position player prospects were this advanced with ceilings this high? You have to find teams who are actively trying to lose at the MLB level, thus converting their MLB talent into minor league talent while gobbling up top picks. That's going to be tough to find.

    Here's the better question: can I find one time in history when three top-ten prospects - two of them in AAA and the other in AA - a top-20 prospect with MLB experience, a top-50 prospect who was the top bat chosen in his draft class, and a $30M amateur free agent all made the Majors? That's what we're talking about with Bryant (3rd), Baez (5th), Russell (6th), Alcantara (18th), Schwarber (approx. 48th), and Soler (unranked - thanks hamstrings!) from last week's BP Top 50. Obviously this doesn't even include Almora (37th) or McKinney.

    Not all prospects are created equal. Their risk profiles differ. I fully recognize that Baez is high risk and Soler's injuries make him volatile. Alcantara's risk profile is through the floor given an all-around game with plus attributes across the board. Bryant's might be lower. Schwarber looks like a 3 WAR kind of player to me unless his defense can make multiple grade jumps, but projecting him to hit at the MLB level is hardly ambitious. Russell may have made the Majors this year were it not for his own hamstring injury.

    But all of this misses the point anyway: if you can trade one non-elite player who has shown a good bit at the MLB level and has the chance to be an impact player if every part of his game takes another step for another pitcher who basically fits the exact same description AND a top-five pitching prospect whose already at AAA, how in the world do you pass on that?

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    In reply to Rob Huff:

    The 2011 Royals come to mind, whose top 3 were Eric Hosmer, Wil Myers, Mike Moustakas, and 2010 4th overall pick (and college bat) Christian Colon 6th. So you have 4 elite prospects, 3 of whom were top 10 picks, Moustakas appears to be a bust, Colon just made the majors (and admittedly has good numbers through 6 games -- but we're now fully 4 years after he was drafted -- Hosmer (by WAR) has had one excellent year and a bunch of replacement level years, and Myers is going through sophomore slump, for another team. They couldn't do it with four such players but we're supposed to do it with 6?

  • In reply to Rob Huff:

    (Accidentally pressed the "comment" button)

    To fulfill my criteria above, I have to go all the way back to 2013. Top-10 prospects - two of them at least at AAA - who make the Majors: Wil Myers, Jurickson Profar, and Oscar Taveras. Check. Top-20 guy from AAA: Xander Bogaerts. Check. Finding the 40-50 guy in A+ ball who made the Majors by the next year should have been really hard, but there's Gregory Polanco to save the day! Check. That leaves me needing to find a comp for Soler. Can I poach Puig (79th), figuring that Soler would have checked in somewhere around there had BP done a full midseason Top 100? Check-ish.

    Point is, nobody has collected this much high-level AND timeline-advanced talent because most teams (1) like to be good at the MLB level, (2) like to diversify their risk more by grabbing big-time hitting and pitching prospects (not just one instead of the other), and (3) cannot acquire top-ten prospects who are at least at AA. Russell was dealt this year, and Wil Myers (7th) last year before him (Dayton Moore has been pilloried for the move and rightly so). The year before, Jesus Montero (7th - typical Yankees helium guy) went to Seattle. Then, we're back to 2008 when Cameron Maybin went to Miami (10th). The last time a top-five guy got moved was, well, before 2007 and before BP published a Top 100 list (at least before 2005 - I stopped looking). Teams don't get to acquire this many guys from the high levels of the minors.

    Yes, I do love prospects. Young, cheap players with a chance to be really good are extremely valuable. Duh.

    By the way Mike, here's a question: if you think I'm "overvaluing them to the extreme" to suggest that I'd trade a 3 WAR (with maybe a 4 WAR ceiling) SS for a 2.5 WAR (with maybe a 4 WAR ceiling) SP and a top-five prospect, do you think that we got horribly ripped off in the Samardzija/Hammel-Russell trade? If Syndergaard moves the needle for you so little that you won't trade a SS (Castro) for a SP of comparable value (Wheeler), do you think we traded Shark and Hammel for a glorified bag of peanuts?

  • In reply to Rob Huff:

    Mike, the system won't let me reply to your 2011 Royals post, so I'm placing it here. Hopefully you find it.

    They're a useful comparison because of how much we heard about the Royals then, but it's not hard to differentiate.

    Here's what Keith Law said about Colon in his draft prep:

    "Fullerton shortstop Christian Colon has been, in the scouting vernacular, "a guy" since he was a high school senior, when he was one of the better players on the summer showcase circuit but went to Fullerton due to signability and concerns about whether a player as slow-footed as he is could play shortstop in pro ball. Since then he's established himself as a likely first-rounder in 2010 because he has shown he can play the position despite his lack of foot speed - he's a 30 runner - with good range and great hands to make up for the lack of quickness.

    At the plate, Colon is usually pretty short to the ball with below-average power and a sound approach, although he occasionally gets into trouble when he lengthens his swing to get coverage on the outer half, at which point he's more likely to hit the ball in the air instead of spraying the field with line drives."

    Does that sound even vaguely like an impact bat? Another scouting report: "When you look at Christian Colon’s overall package, you don’t find any one tool that blows you away." This is a pretty different type of player than Schwarber. Colon made one appearance on the BP Top 100, at 88th in 2011. Schwarber already has a top-50 showing and I'll be very surprised if he doesn't find himself in the top-50 again this winter.

    Hosmer has been up-down-up-down with the bat. He's a terrible defender. Baez will almost certainly have some up-down in his career, although Hosmer never showed anything close to the kind of power that Baez has. Hosmer was also never a top-ten prospect according to BP, once dropping entirely out of the top-100.

    Moustakas scares the crap out of me. He always made more contact than Javy and showed good power with more limited strikeouts. Moustakas' glove will keep him around for a while and he's still only 25; still, I'd agree with the bust characterization. Moustakas was #7 in 2011.

    Myers is dealing with a nasty sophomore slump, but he also showed elite skills in the Majors as a 22-year-old last year: his 2.5 WAR prorated over 162 games would have given him 4.6 last year. Also, injuries are clearly playing a role this year. Injuries are a risk for every player at every level. But based on what we've already seen and the fact that Myers is only 13 months older than Bryant sure suggests that his star is still glowing brightly.

    The Royals MLB roster compares well to our current MLB roster: they had Alex Gordon as a young star, Alcides Escobar as a 2 WAR player, and Salvy Perez as a 1.5 WAR guy. We've got Rizzo and Castro as well as Welly Castillo as a 1-1.5 WAR guy (obviously Perez got a bit better).

    - Moustakas compares to one of Bryant/Baez/Russell as a top-ten bat. They have no comparable for the other two.
    - Alcantara compares to Myers as an 11-20 bat.
    - We have no comparison for Hosmer as another 11-20 bat.
    - They have no comparable to Schwarber as a 41-50 bat.
    - They have no comparable to Almora as a 31-40 bat.
    - As for 51-100 bats, they have Colon (88th) while we have Soler (?) and possibly McKinney.

    The Royals had tons and tons of pitching prospects (Mike Montgomery, John Lamb, Chris Dwyer, Danny Duffy, Jeremy Jeffress, and Jake Odorizzi all made the top-100 - wowzers). Lamb had 33 IP at AA, Montgomery had 59.2 IP at AA, Dwyer had 17.2 IP at AA, Duffy had 39.2 IP at AA, Jeffress was used exclusively in relief in 2010, and hadn't been to A+ yet, even though he ended up being the best of the class. Good God, pitching prospects are scary.

    But there's one way in which they don't compare to us at all (or at least, hopefully they won't): cash. We have the ability to fix some problems by buying talent; the Royals didn't and don't.

    Some of our guys won't work out, but we have the ability to fill in around the ones that do. And we've loaded up on the safer commodities, not lower-level guys and particularly not lower-level arms.

  • In reply to Rob Huff:

    I couldn't reply to you above, so I will do so here. BTW, no hard feelings in civilized debate!

    I totally agree with your last paragraph above, but I feel it misses the temporal aspect. If the Cubs are set on competing - nay, contending - in 2015, I am still hard pressed to deal Castro. I am not convinced Baez as a starting SS will give the Cubs a shot at the playoffs in 2015. Regardless of the pitching upgrade in the deal. For a playoff shot in 2015, I prefer the known over the unknown.

    Now, if you as armchair GM (unless you are Jed Hoyer under an alias!) are willing to consider 2015 as another development year, then I will concede to your rational. In that scenario we would be able to see if Baez can handle SS, and Russell will be closer to the Show in case Baez become Lake-Olt. For really competing in 2016.

    I can also see a scenario in which TJ are unable to fill the pitching holes created by the Shark deal during the FA feeding frenzy, in which case I think this Castro deal makes more sense. 2015 would then be more of a development year, unfortunately.

  • In reply to Rob Huff:

    I liked your post CubsFanInNorway.

    And by going back and forth with Mike and talking to a few other friends, I think I've come to realize three things:

    1. I don't like Castro as much as many other folks do. I don't see meaningful projection left in him, so in my eyes he is what he is.
    2. I like Wheeler quite a bit more than others do.
    3. I'm more risk tolerant when it comes to prospects than some others are as I'd be entirely content to build a team with 22-year-olds and a few pricey free agents.

    I've known the first one for a while. I like Castro; many really like or love him. That's fine. We'll disagree about values.

    Wheeler is trickier. I see a power arm with a good mix and good enough command, a #3 right now with a legitimate #1 ceiling. And Syndergaard has been like my illicit lover since he played in Lansing; it's part of the problem of getting attached to particular players. To me, Syndergaard is a #4 if he completely falls apart and shows no command. Otherwise, he's a #2 with the chance to reach that elite ace tier. I think most folks see Wheeler as a solid MLB starter with some upside and Syndergaard as a guy struggling at AAA. We just don't see the same players.

    As for the window, it's only tricky because of the composition of the 2015 free agent class. There are a handful of attractive pitchers, but basically nobody with a bat. The Cubs could certainly hold Castro and splurge on pitching to make a good rotation, but I'd be comfortable taking the massive gamble on giving Baez the full-time gig if it meant I could have a rotation with Wheeler-Syndergaard-Arrieta-Free Agent X. I love our lower minors pitching depth; the entire Kane County rotation is interesting at least and enticing at best. Those guys are just a long way away.

    In the aggregate, I see the Castro for Wheeler and Syndergaard deal improving our 2015 chances to compete (and obviously improving them in the medium- and long-term too) as we'll more than offset the loss at SS with gains at SP.

    Still, that boils down to (1) projection, and (2) risk tolerance. I see more of it with those pitchers than some do and I've apparently got more of the latter than I realized.

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    In reply to Rob Huff:

    I'm with you Rob! I make that deal as well. You both have arguments when comparing Wheeler to Castro. But the deal also throws in Syndergaard. If you then can convince Lester that Chicago is the place to be, your rotation is set until some of that younger pitching can catch up to our position players.

    Losing Castro would hurt. Period. But the gains in the rotation would be greater in my opinion. If Theo and company truly believe that the young positional players are in fact going to mash we can afford to lose 1 guy like Castro because the remaining guys in the lineup more than make up for Castro's offensive production.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Baez for Syndergaard is a no for me. Pitchers are far too risky to go straight up top ten prospect pitcher for a top 10 prospect SS. I don't know exactly what kind of package it would have to be, but I'd need more than just one pitcher, even a really good one like Syndergaard.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I have always been a Castro fan. Even through the dark days of last season, I saw a talent player would could be extremely good when he gets his head on straight. Castro is likely to become an extremely good player.'

    But Baez has the potential to be a "once in a decade" player. He has the potential to do everything that Castro does, and double his home runs. I might include Baez in a trade for a signed Stanton, but not too many others come to mind. I have never used the term untouchable with respect to any player, but Baez and Bryant come about as close as possible.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    Watching the HR derby the other night and was really disappointed in the NL showing.... Then I got a little giddy at the notion that in the very near future, we could see Baez/Bryant/Soler all participating in that.

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    In reply to Rob Huff:

    It would be really hard for me to say no to that deal. It all really depends on what Jedstein thinks of Noah Syndergaard. If they believe he's a TOR arm, then I think you have to make the trade especially as a possibly cost concious organization. ( or at least until the revenues are coming in)

    I think a deal of Syndergaard, Wheeler, Granderson, and 1 lottery ticket for Castro, Schierholtz, Olt, and one of our change of scenery players perhaps Brett Jackson is solid for both sides.

    We get a lefty veteran home town power hitter ( whose a better clubhouse guy then the grandy man ? ) and 2 starting pitchers.

    Basically we have 3 really good cost controlled starters all of a sudden w Wheeler, Noah S, and Jake. I think dollars for dollars for the nxt 5-6 years, I like these 3 better (and value wise ) then Jeff, Hammel, and Jake.

    If jedstein believes in Baez and Russell as well as the ceiling of Noah S, they pull this deal in a second.........

    Yes, I know hitting has been our problem but it might be easier to get a free agent bat w Granderson here.

    With either Lester, shields, or Mad our ace.....look at this rotation ......cough cough.....playoff caliber rotation

    Lester / mad max / shields
    Noah Syndergaard

    I really love Castro too.....

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    Dee Gordon can play some baseball, heck of a play at second.

  • I think the saving grace of this rebuild is the front office. The front office has shown that they can scout talent, which has been proven in the draft and free agency. They obviously know more than us, and I feel safe in saying that they will find the most efficient way to distribute the talent we have accumulated; whether on the field or through a trade.

  • Completely agree.

  • I admit I've never been a Castro follower but there is a definite change in him this year. Yes, he still makes mental errors and yes sometimes his mind doesn't seem to be on the game but he's improved and his game shows it. However, I do think that one of the shortstops will be moved. I had thought it might be Castro but am now of the opinion that Baez may be the one. If Castro continues at this pace the cubs will be very lucky to have him.

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    Well Harold just dumped some gas into the trade Castro fire. The Fox guys obviously spent a considerable amount of time putting content together on the cubs players.

  • In reply to Restless:

    My impression is that Harold was talking out of his ass and there wasn't any kind of preparation behind his comments.

  • In reply to Eric:

    H Reynolds has become a pot stirrer too.. guy has become almost unbearable to listen too..

  • In reply to Eric:

    Harold seems to spend the majority of his time talking out of his ass.

  • I'd trade Castro for Harvey and a minor leaguer. (Top 10 organization guy)

    There's no reason to trade him now but if you do, it can't be for more prospects. You need producing major leaugers.

    Someone is eventually going to be traded. While moving positions will work Baez/Russell (2B-SS-3B) Bryant (3B-LF-RF) Contra (2B-CF) the Cubs need front line pitching in the near future.

  • For all the hand wringing about TOR pitching I ask, how good would the Cubs be right now if they had consistent, and timely, hitting this season? Pitching was not the problem. A lack of hitting and a horrible bullpen in April and the start of May were. You start out the season with AA and Bryant in the line-up. You add in the bullpen as it is configured now and I think you have a vastly different 2014 record. This FO has displayed the ability to go out and find quality pitching. Quality hitting, as has been noted many times on this site, is the problem with major league baseball in general and this FO is stockpiling that talent. I have little doubt that they will go out this off season and find one of two pitchers that surprise us. Combine that with the waves of talent really starting to hit next year and I think the calls to trade Castro for TOR pitching will quiet down. Or I could be totally wrong. Anyway, go Cubs.

  • In reply to Chicago TARDIS:

    Pitching was not the problem but now it's a legitimate concern now that they traded their two best pitchers.

    They're going to be very hard pressed to find replacements for Shark/Hammel in the free agent bin.

  • It's amazing reading out of town news sources like that NewsDay article today and then seeing the feed back comments. Since the Samardzija trade I've seen many commentors on several out of state city daily papers make statements like they wouldn't want Castro because he seems lazy or he is overpaid....

    Unbelievable, I'm not sure how many people truly understand how difficult it is to break into the majors at such as early age. And from every story I've ever seen on Starlins progression through the minors, it was accomplished with an incredible amount of hard work which continues to this day.

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    In reply to Northside Neuman:

    The New York media is helpfully publishing the Mets and Yankees talking points that are designed to drive the price down. (It won't work.)

  • Pete Rose through 5 complete seasons;
    PA - 3,362 Total hits - 899
    Castro through almost 4.5 seasons
    PA - 3,019. Total hits - 795

    Castro's career started at age 20 while Rose was a rookie at 22. Castro is probably one big hot streak off Roses hit pace.

  • In reply to Northside Neuman:

    Nice point of comparison Neuman. Very nice.

  • Hopefully or your sake you don't play the stock market and good thing for the Cubs sake you weren't the GM last year.

  • I was hoping that Castro would get back to where he was two years ago so that he would be worth more in a trade. Now that he has, I'd kind of like to keep him for awhile, even though the Cubs have picked up another top shortstop. Baez has struggled some and Russell is a couple years away. I think some top right hand hitter prospect gets moved for TOR pitching at some point.

  • technically we will trade whoever gives the cubs the best offer for the club. they wont be looking to trade anyone for another year at least, so unless someone floors us with an offer for whoever it is they want.. no one is going anywhere

  • A lot of good stuff on this thread about trading Baez for pitching. My two cents is this... Should they decide to move him, it should be for the best PITCHER they can get rather than the best pitching prospect. Someone like Price or Hamels that will be capable of starting game 1 of a postseason series in 2015, 16, and/or 17 and not a guy who may be striding into his prime in 2017 or 2018.

    In a mega-prospect swap situation, my favorite hypothetical would be Baez to Seattle for Taijuan Walker. I feel like if I were Jack Zduriencik that would at least be worth exploring considering the dearth of offense up there during his tenure.

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    My O my how a year changes things. Last year I remember how so many had Baez as our shortstop of the future because he was mashing at AA. They also wanted Castro run out of town.

    I was one of the few that said Baez needed work especially on the defensive side of the game. I also felt that Castro was just having a bad year. It happens. Now that Baez is struggling, folks may have decided he is the guy that may be the object of a trade. And Castro's rebound season puts him on the HOF ballot before he retires. The truth about both guys is probably somewhere in the middle.

    I'll say one thing, this winter sure is going to be exciting! Some decisions are going to have to be made very soon, imo......

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    Two winters maybe?

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    In reply to 44slug:

    Personally I think this winter is going to see a lot of Cubs action. I just can't believe that the Cubs will wait longer for the magical switch to be turned on. I think we add a free agent or two and I think we see at least one major trade go down. 2015 is going to be a playoff year imo. And if that is true we have some voids to fill.....

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    I think you will find this off season disappointing. They will pursue free agent pitchers hoping to sign one or two. Beyond that, not much will happen.

    Just my opinion.

    Also, I do not think much needs to happen. Shore up the starting pitching, jiggle the bullpen, add Arismendy from day one, add in Baez and Bryant as the year goes on and that team will contend for a playoff spot.

  • In reply to Richard Beckman:

    This was Hoyer's response when Dave Kaplan asked him if they would be more active this winter then last winter:

    “I think it probably will be. It’s hard to say. Certainly we’ll be a popular team that teams will come to if they’re trying to address hitting needs, there’s no doubt about that. But also we have some money to spend. Obviously we don’t have a lot of long-term contracts on our books, and I expect to be active. You can never force it. I feel really good about the health of the organization, and the last thing we want to do is try to be overly active and hurt that. But that said, I think if the right things come about, there’s no reason to think we can’t be really aggressive this Winter or the following Winter at some point.”

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I see nothing there that means my take on it is wrong.

  • In reply to Richard Beckman:

    Didn't mean to imply that either of you were wrong. For me personally, I share your view more so than Bobby's. But he boldly predicted a trade. The only way I see that happening is IF someone comes to us and blows us away. Hoyer said they would "be active". But all that means is they'll be on the phones juggling a lot of variables... doesn't mean they sign Scherzer, Lester, or Shields, etc...

    But if you listen to the whole interview, Jed speaks about timing everything up. That they don't think they sustain the sign n flip deals and they have to find some more pitching. So I'd be looking for more E-Jax type deals (hopefully with better results) than the Maholm/Feldman/Hammel type deals...

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    they arent gonna "flip the switch".. they still dont know what Baez and Bryant are gonna do at the MLB level.. doubt they do "ALOT" this offseason.. they will fill pitching holes, maybe add a Catcher and maybe even a Vet OF.. if the team does well - they will look to upgrade where they can

  • I think where the patience has paid off is that his O-Swing is down to below 30% for the first time in his career and a full 3 points lower than his 2011 season.

    Remember when pitchers used to relentlessly throw him sliders away. He has been getting fewer sliders than he ever has in his career simply because he isn't chasing them as much anymore.

    All of that means nothing without tangible improvements and where it shows up most is his ISO%, which is at a career high .164 and about 40 points higher than his 2011 season.

    I think what we see is the Cubs adapted him to a player that is more about power and less reaching out and making contact to make singles -- especially since pitchers were finding they could get him to chase further and further outside the zone and even those singles were beginning to become less frequent.

    Castro has reversed that trend significantly and getting pitches to drive -- and he may just be scratching the surface right now if he continues to improve in that respect.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Good points John. He also on pace to have his fewest errors in his career.

    Doesn't make sense that we could polish him up offensively and defensively, sign him to long term high value contract just to trade him.... lol

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I disagree slightly here. If they were planning on trading him, signing him to a long term contract without a no trade clause is a highly logical thing to. It's also highly logical if they have no intention of trading him.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I disagree... getting a "core" player to give you a hometown discount just to be flipped within a year or two sends the WRONG message to every player in your system....

    They could have just as easily traded him and let his new team negotiate a new deal....

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    While I agree that it could lead to long term problems negotiating future extension, I don't think it's as cut and dry from the other team's perspective. It's entirely possible that he wouldn't give a "hometown discount" to a new team. Being able to trade for cost certainty has much more value than trading for a guy you can potentially extend cheap.

    How big a deal is trading someone early in the contract? I fully admit the scenarios are not directly comparable, but fear of turning off future free agent signings to NTCs does not appear to have kept Edwin Jackson off the market in year 2 of a 4 year deal.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I made my point. Your first sentence agrees with it. Castro's motives were financial as he was making league minimum and originally signed for $50K. Any team acquiring him could have offered him the motives to sign long term.

    But making him a long term core piece, only to flip him would do irreparable damage to our FO's reputation among players. The one constant from Dempster, Garza, Shark, Feldman, Sori, Hammel, Maholm, etc is that this FO is respectful and honest. All of that is gone if they immediately flipped Castro.

    Now, "IF" Baez/Russell out play him - at the MLB level, then that's different to both the FO & players alike. But that's a cpl years away, and still a very BIG "IF' it ever happens.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    As I look at it, I probably could have been more clear, but I agree on the patience. The improvement in ISO that we both mention was the "mixed result" for me. The walks aren't where you'd like them to be for the "perfect" player, but the the ISO 17 points above his career mark suggest that he's being better about waiting for a pitch to drive.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I was just trying to add some of my observations, not contradict you. I like the balanced take you wrote.

  • I am chiming in late on this. Castro is good but of the 3 SS he has the lowest talent level. Baez and Russell still have some work to do and Castro is already in the Majors. I also know everyone is hearing Russell will out grow SS but we also heard the same things about Castro. All I am saying it is to keep an open mind.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    You could definitely make an argument that they have higher ceilings or more talent. but Castro has easily the highest floor. But Castro is also a significant talent in his own right, he was also a top 10 prospect in all of baseball at one time. They talk about Russell being a perennial all-star one day. Castro has been an all-star in 3 of his 5 seasons, so his floor is at least as a semi-perennial all-star and he still is 24 and has room to get better. He is also cost controlled until he is 30. An all-star player willing to sign a team-friendly deal through his prime years is something that the Cubs already have with Castro, there is no guarantee with the other players. We know from their draft philosophy that they highly value floors as well as ceiling, so we cannot disregard that Castro has the highest floor at this point with a significant ceiling to go with it.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    As I said just be open minded on both sides. I am not sure there is a right move right now. I am just pointing out a scout view which was the same view every scout I know. That they view Russell will surpass Castro and that Baez's ceiling is huge better then anyone else in the minors.
    There is also still concerned the Castro will out grow SS still.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    He's 24yo, isn't he done growing?

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Yes he is still filling out.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    Baez is 1" taller and 10lbs heavier at age 21, and Russell is same height and 5lbs heavier at age 20.... Thats assuming that MiLB & MLB ht/wt measurements are accurate. Wouldn't that make him the least likely of the three to outgrow the position?

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    No he has been getting thicker over the last 4 years. It's like Hanley Ramirez he really shouldn't be playing SS anymore. His body out grew the range he needs.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    Hanley Ramirez is 6'3" and 225lbs.

    His UZR shows he's below avg. at the position. But this is the first year his RngR has substantiated that. Didn't he lead all SS in PO & Assists previously? So I think some regression there should have been expected, as no one believed he was Ozzie Smith. Still he's on pace to have the fewest errors in his career and career best marks for DP/DPS, Fldg %, etc...

    Neither of us are really saber guru's so I'm not trying to go there, just that the #'s may show he's lost a step with his range but he is clearly more consistent with what he gets to now.

    But the eyeball test says Castro is still the smallest of the three SS we have and at 24, still the least likely to outgrow it. IMO. Not that all three wont eventually... but IDK how much projection he has left.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    I think there has to be concern that all 3 will eventually outgrow SS. But I have to think at least one of them will be able to handle it for the next 5+ years (and maybe by that time we won't need to worry because it will be Gleyber Torres time).

    I want to keep all three. An IF featuring 3 shortstops should make for a solid defense for years to come regardless of which guy mans which position.

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    In reply to mjvz:

    I like Gleyber in that role, as well.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    Agree it is possible all 3 out grow it. But out of the 3 Russell has the best hands which gives him an advantage over the other 2.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    Castro is an all-star a high value shortstop young and cost controlled. Baez could easily be a bust strikeouts tend to rear there ugly head at MLB level. Russell hasnt torn up AA yet as Castro did at the same age? Castro isnt going anywhere they will need to sign 2 veteran pitchers over the next 2 years and let these prospects weed themselves out.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    To be honest All star appearances are very subjective. I am not saying get rid of him or even trade him. I said keep an open mind. A lot could happen and maybe none of the prospects work out. But maybe they all hit (highly unlikely) and Castro become the odd man out. All and all they are in a very good position.

  • Filling out yes.

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    Oh man this is exciting. Just gotta "hurry up and wait" as my grandma used to say.

  • In reply to Phil James:

    Sounds like the military, but I think this is the best and perhaps only path to follow. There is a lot of guesswork at this time. The cream will rise to the top.

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    Keep the offense together. Sign shields(4/56) and beckett(2/28) to go with arrieta wood and Jackson. If you don't like like those two names there are plenty to choose from. I would be shocked to see this front office sign any pitcher over 30 to anything longer than 4 yrs though. Starting pitching has been readily available each off season.

  • In reply to marcf:

    with the chicken and beer situation in boston. not sure epstein messes with Beckett anymore

  • There's no need to make any long term decision at this point. As they come up it'll sort itself out. SS's can play just about anywhere. As everyone knows Castro has a very friendly contract and there's little doubt he'll happily play where ever asked if and when that day comes.
    The Cards have been moving their guys around the field as needed for as long as I can remember. Seems to have worked out fine for them. It's a model worth noting.

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    Indians are looking for controllable pitching. Why don't we trade Arrieta for Francisco Lindor? Then, we'll have all the shortstops, and anyone who wants one will have to go through us.

    My plan is flawless

  • With the following seven players in mind (Baez, Russell, Bryant, Soler, Almora, Schwarber, Alcantara) and the following positions in mind (2b, 3b, RF, CF, LF), we need five of the seven to pan out. I went through several different scenarios and found that as long as one these results don't happen, we're more than fine.

    If Soler and Bryant fail, I ended up with Alcantara in RF
    If Soler and Schwarber fail, I ended up with Alcantara in LF
    If Almora and Alcantara fail, I ended up with Russell in CF

    Maybe there are more possibilities out there but the point is that we need to let this shake out first.

  • It's absolutely pointless to make up future lineups. One FA signing and we're back to the drawing board.
    I don't agree that there is/was a groundswell of "trade Castro" support. I think fans were reaching for an explanation of why the Cubs added yet another shortstop prospect to the system and a trade of a current SS or SS prospect was/is a possible answer.
    Remember, we Cubs fans aren't used to having multiple options at each position.

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    I'll once again add the point that signing a big name free agent pitcher is just not that easy. The Cubs do not have a bottomless barrel of cash. Or the could have upped their offers to all the pitchers we recently lost out on. This FO will but limits to the money they will spend on any player including a pitcher.

    I've also stated the the pitcher has to want to be a Cub. Many immediately say that the Cubs are an up and coming team due to all the big name prospects. But then in the next sentence they say we can't trust that Baez or Russell will work out because their prospects so we must keep Castro.

    That seems like you just argue on both sides of the fence. If you say the prospects can't be trusted to become the impact talent we all hope for, wouldn't the free agent pitchers think that very same thing? Therefore stating that any free agent pitcher would love to be a Cub is false. There is a risk of landing your guy.

    If I'm open minded as Kevin speaks, I gotta be open to trading anyone. It's about what makes us a better organization as a whole.

  • Hey Mike're the BEST! I love it when you toss around "acronyms" like WOBA, ISO, RE24, LSMFT....etc etc..Hopefully in an upcoming post, you'll actually provide definitions for each acronym. Your comments are spot on. I believe that all we need is just one more shortstop and we're good to go.

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    In reply to Hey Hey:

    The article links to the definitions of WOBA and RE24.

  • Been reading all the Castro trade discussion. Some great stuff. Very tough call either way, but I really see alot of value in someone 24 years old that will be approaching 1000 hits at the major league level. That just doesn't happen very often. He is an elite MAJOR LEAGUE TALENT.

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