A Tale of Two Cubs: Starlin Castro and Edwin Jackson Going in Different Directions?

A Tale of Two Cubs: Starlin Castro and Edwin Jackson Going in Different Directions?

It was the best of teams, it was the worst of teams.

It was a tale of two Cubs, each seemingly going in a different direction.

One Cub had the kind of night that reminded many why he was once viewed, and paid, as a core piece for the organization going forward.

The other Cub, unfortunately, reminded most of the mistake the organization may have made in doing the same with him.

Patrick Mooney had just posed the question of whether Edwin Jackson could still salvage the deal the Cubs gave him a little over a year ago. After a pretty efficient first outing in his season debut, Jackson looked like the potential bust of last season again tonight.

Jackson struggled early and often, digging his team a 4-0 1st-inning hole. Enter Starlin Castro. I had just mentioned recently that it looked as if Castro was starting to find himself at the plate. He has had the look of a hitter who knows what he wants at the plate; he's looking for a pitch he can do something with. He did some things with a couple of pitches last night, as a matter of fact. Castro spoke to Mark Gonzales after the game about his approach:

"I'm trying to get my feeling again at home plate, and that's what I'm doing right now," said Castro, who extended his hitting streak to five games and is batting .450 (9-for-20) during that span after starting the season 0-for-9.

"I'm just trying to hit the ball on the barrel every time. I don't want to try to hit a home run. I know the homers are coming. I didn't even try (to hit a homer), and they come."

It doesn’t always look right, mind you. In Castro's first AB, he lunged at ball four to poke a hit into right field, beating the shift. Yet, that is exaclty who Castro is as a hitter: so much plate coverage.

Castro’s night only got better from there. He battled Pirates starter Charlie Morton (who doesn’t get beat by the long ball often) and took him deep, twice. Both blasts were impressive.

For Jackson, Rick Renteria says the Cubs starter elevated his pitches much more tonight than he did in his first start in Pittsburgh. Its a shame of sorts; the Cubs starters have kept their team in the game without the benefit of run support so far this season. Yet, on a night when the Cubs offense again looked effective in back to back games, their starter let them down.

Theo Epstein’s front office hasn’t done much wrong up until now. However, making  a mid-to-back-of-the-rotation candidate (Jackson) their first big free agent signing (four-year, $52 million contract) seemed an odd move after losing out on Anibal Sanchez. Sanchez, a clear top-of-the-rotation talent, would have most certainly been a major piece of the core. 
Jackson will now likely get dealt in a hurry if he straightens out.

Speaking of core pieces, Castro’s stock also took quite a hit the last two seasons. However, with new skipper Renteria seemingly pushing the right buttons, and maybe finding a comfortable spot in the line up for him (sixth), Starlin is looking once more like the phenom who electrified Cubdom with 6 RBI in his debut (when he became the first MLB player born in the 90s).

Renteria surprisingly said postgame that he may move his shortstop back up to the two hole. Either way, Castro looks to be focused on getting back in the spotlight, and back into the plan. Much of the spring, the talk on Twitter had been focused on the other shortstop in the organization, one Javy Baez.

Tonight, even in Twitterverse, it was all about the Star(lin) of the game.


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  • I wouldn't jump to conclusions about Castro. He may not hit another homer until July.

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    Doubt that, looks pretty locked in.

  • I need to give "The Ricker" a little more time, but thoughts such as this, "Renteria surprisingly said postgame that he may move his shortstop back up to the two hole," are starting to kill me. Don't over think it Ricky. Oh by the way, Junior Lake and Mike Olt are on your team and should be playing against both righties and lefties--it is for the good of the franchise Rick.

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    In reply to JayO:

    Lake and Olt need to be in there every day. I can understand if they're still trying to give Olt's shoulder time to heal fully though. But good hitters are going to hit, regardless of the handedness of the pitcher. Valbuena and Sweeney are not the future, so sit 'em and then go heavier with a platoon if the would-be core guys start to struggle. But they almost can't help but struggle if their ABs are erratic.

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    In reply to Evan Altman:

    I think you are being a little short sided on Lake and Olt. There is no question that they are both part of the future but right now they are on the "show me" side of the argument. For once I am totally in agreement with the handling of the kids. When they deserve it they get another shot. The learning curve is now to the point of making them the show positives in every chance they get. Renteria wants them to force his hand and right now in APRIL that is the smart move.

    Now this conversation could change if they continue to produce in June and July and sit the bench then.

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    In reply to Richard Hood:

    Oh, I get what he's doing; I just don't necessarily agree with it. Baseball is such a timing game that it's hard to find a groove when your PT is erratic. Again, I think some of the deal with Olt may well be the tender shoulder. But I think both of them looked okay last night and will only continue to get better. Rizzo's performance has been a huge help too; I just wrote about last night and what his continued hot hitting could mean.

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    In reply to Evan Altman:

    If they were playing once a week when they were not starting I would agree with you. But they are playing in every game. They are seeing live pitching in places where their skill sets would be best utilized. I see no problem with this approach. Creating a situation for a young player to succeed is probably as important as keeping the grove going of playing everyday.

    I actually trust these very smart baseball people in the Cubs FO to be honest with the kids and say "hey you would only play once a week right now so we are sending you back down to keep you sharp." You know like they should have done last year with Watkins.

  • In reply to JayO:

    I really like Renteria so far. He has a plan, yet line up thing is puzzling with Castro.

  • I really like the quote from Starlin, the "put the barrel on the ball and the homers will come" thing. I've always thought that in his physical prime he'll fall into 15+ homers by accident. He's not some small, weak looking shortstop. He's a pretty big dude, and if he's barreling up a lot of pitches, enough of them are gonna go out of the park.

  • In reply to Tommy Cook:

    For sure, it reminds me of when Sandberg started to look for a pitch to drive. Not saying Castro needs to go that far, the 15 you said would be fine with me.

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