Cubs fans, don’t run away and hide just yet. The day you’ve been waiting for all season has finally arrived, and it’s when the Cubs most desperately need it.
Starlin Castro is on his way to Cincinnati where he’ll join the big boy club and make his major league debut tonight against the Reds. He’ll be making the jump from AA, but it’s been done before.
I have to wonder is this is a move of desperation on the Cubs’ part. They know where they stand on offense, and they’ve just been swept by the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates aren’t that bad, really, but come on…it’s the Pirates!
Ryan Theriot is an average major league shortstop when it comes to defense, and some would argue below average. That being said, he’s hitting .341 and among the National League leaders in hits. He’ll be moved to second base to allow Castro to play shortstop. It’s a move that would have happened eventually, so I guess they might as well do it now.
Chad Tracy is the odd man out, being sent down to AAA Iowa. That move makes it seem as though Lou Piniella will stick with Aramis Ramirez at third until the bitter end, though he could plug in Jeff Baker or Mike Fontenot now that Theriot is at second.
Castro will bat eighth tonight, probably just to get him comfortable. In that spot, he might get to see more fastballs, giving him more chances to hit. At Double-A, he was hitting .376, and slugging a healthy .569. He’s also got a high OBP, at .421. If that translates to the big leagues, the Cubs will be more than pleased that they brought him up.
I think, ideally, Castro will lead off one day. It’s been a long time since the Cubs have had a prototypical lead off man, a guy with a high OBP and speed. Castro has the high OBP, but does he have the speed? He’s only 4 out of 9 in stolen bases at the minors, and catchers only get better as you move up. Castro was 0-for-1 in Spring Training.
If I’m Lou Piniella, here’s my ideal lineup….
- Castro, SS
- Theriot, 2B
- Lee, 1B
- Ramirez, 3B
- Byrd, CF
- Soriano, LF
- Fukudome, RF
- Soto, C
- Dempster, P
If everyone is hitting to their normal stat line, I think that’s a very potent lineup. Plus with the pitching they’ve been getting, that would make the Cubs a legitimate playoff contender. I hate leaving Soto down there in the 8 spot, but he’s been successful thus far. He’s hitting over .300 and taking a lot of walks.
Not too long ago, I was listening to David Kaplan’s postgame show on WGN Radio, and he said that he’s talked with multiple major league scouts about Castro. They all said that, in their opinion, if the Cubs brought Castro up too soon, they’d have another Cory Patterson on their hands. Cubs fans know all too well about the likes of Cory Patterson and Felix Pie.
That’s why I have to wonder if it is a move of desperation. Let’s face it, would I be writing this article if the Cubs swept the Pirates or even took two of three? Probably not.
Let’s hope that Castro is the can’t-miss prospect everyone thinks he is. The Cubs’ luck has to turn around sometime, right?