Starlin Castro had a very good season before he suffered a high ankle sprain on an awkward slide into home on Sept. 2. Castro bounced back from a subpar 2013 campaign in which he hit only .245/.284/.347 while looking very lost in the field. Castro earned his third trip to the Mid-Summer Classic in four years.
The front office sees Starlin Castro as the team’s shortstop even with the likes of Javier Baez and Addison Russell in the organization. And while the Cubs could move Castro off short at some point during his career, that is not the front office’s immediate plan for him.
“Anything is possible over the course of a long career,” Theo Epstein said during his season ending press conference. “But we are making our plans for 2015 certainly with him [Starlin Castro] at the shortstop position.”
As far as Theo Epstein is concerned, right now, the team on the field begins with Anthony Rizzo. But Starlin Castro goes hand-in-hand with Rizzo. And not only did Castro re-establish himself on the field last year by posting a .292/.339/.438 line with 33 doubles, a triple and 14 home runs, but he also became a leader in the clubhouse at just 24 years old.
“One of the best shortstops in the game,” Epstein said in regards to Starlin Castro. “I witnessed this from a far and now from close up. I do think Starlin at times gets taken for granted. People focus more on some of the small things that he can’t do instead of what he can do. Look at National League shortstops. Take Starlin out of it, National League shortstops this year hit .245 with a .306 on base and a .363 slugging percentage. Starlin hit .292 with a .339 on base and a .438 slugging, that’s 47 points higher Starlin hit than the average NL shortstop and 108 points of OPS over the average NL shortstop.”
“That’s how you win. You get that kind of separation from our competition,” Epstein said. “I’ll take that any day of the week from Starlin. Sure there are things he could do better. He’s still a young player. He’s 24 years old. He’s developing. But that sets us apart to have that kind of offensive shortstop.”
Theo Epstein pointed out that it is nice to have those “two staples,” Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro “to build a lineup around.”
“It gives us a head start in building the kind of offense that we want to have.”
Justin Masterson is coming off a bad, injury-plagued season (7-9 in 28 games, 25 starts, with a 5.88 ERA, 1.63 WHIP, 4.50 FIP) that began in Cleveland and ended in St. Louis. Masterson is expected to have his fair share of suitors this winter, including the Cubs.
The front office has a connection with Masterson from their days in Boston. Jason McLeod selected Masterson in the second round of the 2006 draft. Masterson is very familiar with the front office and it sounded like Masterson was interested in signing with the Cubs at the end of the season when he was asked about the possibility.
According to a report from Nick Cafardo, Masterson “feels he’s going to be healthy by the time free agency rolls around.”
Masterson had three different injuries last season (rig cage, knee and shoulder impingement) and recovered from all three without surgery. Cafardo reported Brett Fischer “worked out the scar tissue in his rib cage, which has restricted him.”
Justin Masterson is 29 years old (turns 30 on March 22) and could be looking at a three-year contract. If he’s healthy, the contract he ends up signing could be viewed as a bargain according to Cafardo.
Bijan Rademacher, arguably the best prospect in the Cubs system that no one talks about, is having a good stint in the Arizona Fall League. Rademacher is 5-for-11 in three games with three runs scored and two stolen bases. Rademacher stole home in Saturday’s game.
Rademacher was not upset, according to a report from MiLB.com, when he was moved to the Taxi Squad in the AFL, which means he can only play twice a week (Wednesday, Saturday). Rademacher went 2-for-4 with a RBI and a stolen base in Saturday’s 8-4 victory against Salt River.
Rademacher is okay with being the underdog and he’s accepted the challenge.
Since he reported to Arizona, Rademacher has been working on his baserunning with Cubs baserunning coach Mike Roberts (Brian Roberts’ father). Rademacher has been trying to show what he can do and take advantage of every opportunity.
Keep an eye on Bijan Rademacher …
News, Notes and Rumors
The Smokies will unveil a new logo this week.
A.J. Pierzynski told Nick Cafardo he would be surprised if David Ross did not return to the Red Sox. Pierzynski said Boston wanted Ross to catch more than he did and he was treated as a “second manager.”
The Red Sox and A’s could talk trade this winter for Jeff Samardzija. Boston wanted Samardzija from the Cubs last summer but Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer asked for a package of players that included LHP Henry Owens and the Sox would not pull the trade according to a report from Nick Cafardo.
Nick Cafardo confirmed the multiple reports from the Cubs beat writers that Bill Mueller decided to re-sign as the Cubs hitting coach after Mike Brumley was not asked back. Brumley “acted as Mueller’s comfort zone.”
Speaking of hitting coaches, one of the rumored names for the Cubs’ job before John Mallee was hired was Chili Davis. Boston hired the former big leaguer to be its hitting coach Sunday. Bill Mueller was rumored to have interest in the Red Sox job.
All the headlines, updates and links from the weekend with news, notes and of course rumors.
- The Daily CCO: Cubs Trying to Find the Right Media Deal – Oct. 17
- The Cubs Front Office Has an Off-Season Wish List – Oct. 17
- Cubs Position Analysis – First Base – Oct. 18
- The Daily CCO: Royals Reportedly Will Not Be Able to Re-Sign James Shields and Other Cubs Rumors – Oct. 18
- Baseball America Grades Addison Russell, Ranks Kyle Schwarber and News from Down on the Cubs Farm – Oct. 19
- The Daily CCO: Cubs Have the Two Most Important Currencies in the Game – Oct. 19
This Day In Cubstory
2008 – The Cubs and Jim Hendry agreed to a four-year contract extension. Hendry was rewarded with an extension after back-to-back NL Central division titles and the best record in the NL in 2008.
2007 – Cubs signed free agent Josh Kroeger
1980 – Jose Veras, born
1980 – Cubs released Bill Landrum
1977 – Cubs granted free agency to George Mitterwald
1972 – Cubs traded Tom Phoebus to the Braves for Tony LaRussa
1886 – Chicago National League Ball Club beat St. Louis 11-4 and took a 2-1 lead in the Championship Series against the Browns. John Clarkson picked up the win and both King Kelly and George Gore homered at West Side Park.