Cleat Geeks

What Should The Cubs Do With Castro?

starlin-castro-is-only-24-years-old-and-has-been-in-the-mlb-for-five-seasonsStarlin Castro was benched on August 7th and lost his job, at least for now, to rookie Addison Russell. Maddon made it perfectly clear this was not just giving Castro a day off or a “breather.” “You do not paint any kind of obscure picture that he has to read between the lines, and you’re very upfront about it,” Maddon said. “He’s a man. He can deal with it. We’ll be better for it. He’s going to be better for it too. Yes, you’re always concerned about the emotional component. But at the end of the day, it’s about the Cubs winning.”

Castro is hitting .238 with a .274 on-base percentage and ranks last among major league shortstops with a minus-0.8 WAR. But would Castro be out of the lineup if he were still hitting? “Probably not,” Maddon said. “That’s a fair assessment. If he’s playing his normal offensive game, you probably don’t do something like this. But under the circumstances — and I really like Starlin a lot … he’s done some really good things for us, even recently — we’re presented with a new set of circumstances based on personnel.” Cubs President Theo Epstein said the benching would not be permanent and wouldn’t affect Castro’s future in Chicago. The decision was based on Miguel Montero returning from the disabled list and keeping Kyle Schwarber’s bat in the lineup. Schwarber will be playing more in left and Chris Coghlan forced to Russell’s old spot at second base.

“The way Schwarber is swinging the bat, there are going to be a lot of options for Maddon, and he has to be able to play the match-ups, play the hot hand and put the best team on the field,” Epstein said. Castro has found himself in trade rumors, especially before the non-waiver deadline last month despite the impressive resume and a reasonable contract that keeps him under club control through the 2020 season. Castro needed a solid season to keep his spot at shortstop, but instead carries a .575 OPS. His struggles have left the Cubs at a lost for words.

“Yeah, of course it’s puzzling,” Epstein USATSI_8526773_154664732_lowressaid. “A 25-year-old, for as talented as he is, usually gets better and puts up good seasons. He’s shown some streakiness in his career. Even within the course of a good season, he’ll have a couple months where he’s not performing well and then he’ll get really hot. And we’ve benefited from that hot streak. But it’s just a year that he hasn’t really gotten comfortable at the plate for whatever reason. I think maybe this will help him – a little bit of time off, a little bit different look out there on the field and maybe Joe can put him in a position to find it and get hot.”  The Cubs moved Russell to second base before his promotion to the majors, but with Castro struggling, the rookie is back at his natural position, where he’s always pictured himself playing. “I’ve been playing shortstop ever since I was a little kid and all my dreams are coming true,” Russell said. “That’s great and all, but I just want to help out the team now that I’m in the big leagues. Wherever they need me, I’m going to try to get the job done.”

Castro said nobody from the organization has talked to him yet about possibly switching positions, but Maddon said they have started discussions about different possibilities. The team is more focused on Castro getting back to the player he is capable of being instead of adding more to his plate.starlin-castro-mlb-chicago-cubs-milwaukee-brewers-850x560 “Maybe a little break, a little rebooting can help,” Maddon said. “I really like this kid a lot and I want to see it work out for him and for us.” Theo Epstein thinks the move of Coghlan to the infield could help out for the stretch run, freeing Maddon to give the rookies a day off here and there to keep them fresh. “It’s going to finally allow Joe to get a little bit more rest for the Bryants and Russells of the world, guys who have never played a six-month season before,” Epstein said. “And then for Starlin, too. It’s going to give him days off that will hopefully allow him to find it.” Castro was upset at first, but said winning is more important. He also said he is trying not to focus on the future and stay positive, but wouldn’t mind having a conversation with the front office about a possible position or role change. “Yeah, if I have a chance to talk to them, I will,” Castro said. “Whatever they can do, they know why they do it and they know what is best for me and the other players. Whatever decision they make, I’m in.”

What should the Cubs do with Castro? I think the Cubs should keep him until the end of the season and see what happens within these next two months. Only a handful of teams would be looking to trade in the waiver process. The team could reevaluate in the off-season when they’ll be more teams in the mix who might be willing to take a shot.

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