It may be lost on some, but Starlin Castro is the longest tenured member currently on the Chicago Cubs roster. At just 25-years old, he his already in his sixth season in the league. In a Cub uniform, Castro is already a three-time All-Star, finished in the top-five in Rookie of the Year voting in 2010, and led the league in hits during the 2011 season. So why is Starlin Castro one of the most polarizing players not only in Chicago, but across the league? It is because with every good Castro play, there is a bad Castro play lurking.
There is no question, that Castro has the raw talent to be a consistent, All-Star caliber player. At times, it is not the physical abilities that are the problem, but the mental aspects of the game that can get Castro into trouble. But at 25, even he is still developing and refining his game at the big league level. While Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, and after last week, Kyle Schwarber are the “young guns” receiving all of the praises, Castro is at times an after thought. Yet, with his abilities, Castro has every claim to still be included with that group as the next wave and future of the Cubs.
Over the years, Castro has appeared to have those defensive lapses on the field that have raised speculation of if he truly is a long-term fit in Chicago. However, in his six years, Castro has already played for five managers. That alone is a lot to put on a young player being asked to carry a team. Now, with the addition of Joe Maddon this season, the manager’s chair in Chicago appears to be set for the foreseeable future and a consistent development with the core of the roster can now be developed.
On Friday against the Minnesota Twins, the latest Castro lapse saw him misplay a ground ball, forget the play was not over, and allow an extra run to score while he was looking toward the outfield in frustration. Castro is just as likely to also turn in a sparkling play with the glove as well. To Castro’s credit, when he has had a bad play this year, he appears to be rebounding quickly with a good short-term memory. That alone will always play into the good graces of Maddon, who has had only encouraging things to say about Castro this season. Perhaps that big-time managerial influence, along with talent around him was just the motivator that Castro needed. It may be lost on some, but already this year, Castro has had three walk-off hits and seven game-winning RBIs to his credit.
With Russell, and Javier Baez also in the mix, the hot-topic debate will continue to be whether or not the Cubs will eventually move one of them or Castro to make room? Will Castro be the long-term fit for the future? An argument can be made that Castro has really been the second best player from that 2010 NL Rookie class behind only Buster Posey. Is that something that can just be parted with? The ability of Castro cannot be questioned, and would the Cubs really be better off without his presence?
Lately in Chicago, the city has celebrated a third Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks. The goalie on the team, Corey Crawford is also often criticized for his play and persona. But what may be forgotten, is that Crawford has also been the guy that has guided his team to now two championships. For Cub fans, the last time the Stanley Cup was won in Chicago was 1938, and in that same year the Cubs found themselves playing in the World Series. Might that history repeat itself in 2015?
If it does, expect to see Starlin Castro be one of the guys to help guide Chicago to that point. Chicago can be a difficult place to play, but for the mentally strong, good things can come to those who persevere. Starlin Castro has the ability to be in that group, because with every bad play, a good play is not to far behind.