While we’re waiting for the Cubs to fire their manager _ What’s that, they haven’t hired one yet? These political campaigns sure do take a long time _ we’ll continue with our informal little series on Cubs players and their 2010 performances.
[UPDATE: John Heyman of Sports Illustrated reports today that the Seattle Mariners have hired Eric Wedge their new manager. Wedge interviewed with Cubs GM Jim Hendry and owner Tom Ricketts. Perhaps the Cubs will accelerate their process now. Or not.]
Today, it’s shortstop Starlin Castro. The Cubs brought him to spring training with no real intention of having him make the club, and before the Cactus League was over, they sent him to Class AA Tennessee. With the team floundering in early May, they brought him up, and he exploded onto the scene in Cincinnati, hitting a 3-run homer his first time up and a 3-run triple later.
A Starlin was born and all that.
Overall, it was a very nice season for Castro, who was in the hunt for the batting title for a while and in the conversation for Rookie of the Year. He won’t get it, but he’ll get votes.
The overall line was .300/.347/.408 for a .755 OPS. The BABIP was .346, and the ISO was .108, fueled mostly by doubles, as Castro hit only 3 homers. The OPS-plus was 97.
Of course, there were some rookie growing pains along the way. Let’s not forget the kid turned 20 years old in the spring.
The one interesting thing I heard from some baseball people was that the Cubs believed Castro’s defense would be fine but that his hitting would be the problem, if there were any problems. Turns out just the opposite was true. Castro made 27 errors. His defensive ratings were all over the place, depending on which ones you believe. His UZR/150 was –3.0. Castro had more trouble with routine plays than he did with the flashy ones. (Another blog pointed out that was the opposite of former Cubs shortstop Ryan Theriot.) He also had trouble at times with positioning around the second-base bag and with making tags. That’s something coaches Alan Trammell and Ivan DeJesus worked with Castro on throughout the year. Clearly, the defense must get better, and there’s no reason to think it won’t if the kid continues to work.
When Lou was the manager, he rode Castro pretty hard, playing him virtually every day when maybe a day off would have helped. Castro’s two roughest months were June and September.
Still, he managed to finish at .300 for the season (important symbolicly) and in the top 10 in batting. New manager Mike Quade gave him the final day of the season off after Castro regained the .300 mark. I found nothing wrong with that. The kid played a long season and earned the .300. Q also sat Castro for a few games to give him a mental break and to remind him about some of the mental aspects of the game.
At Wrigley Field this year, Castro’s line was .340/.402/.458.
It’s way too early to make any predictions about superstardom, but at this early date, it looks like the Cubs have a nice, homegrown position player at a key spot they can count on for many years and maybe one who can play in some All-Star Games.