There has been some talk about the possibility of the Cubs trading Starlin Castro. That’s not talk I think is relevant. Castro has the tools, physically, to be a great everyday player. But the mental side of the game seems to escape him at times. So earlier in the season when Castro was failing on every fundamental level in the field, I thought, “Why not move him to third?”
At that particular time I was looking at Junior Lakes numbers and hoping he wouldn’t get stonewalled at the opportunity to play in Chicago this year. He wasn’t, but only due to a move to the outfield. And this thought wasn’t because third base was unproductive. On the contrary, Luis Valbuena, Cody Ransom, and Donnie Murphy gave the Cubs solid production at the hot corner. But you hope to not count on three guys to get you through a season.
Now, however, this is a more clouded theory. Castro did level out his play towards the end of the year. Hitting the ball to the opposite field more consistently again and playing smart in the field. But enter Mike Olt in the Garza deal. Kris Bryant and his rapid success in the Cubs organization. And Javier Baez, who I believe is going to be sensational, torched the minors this year. That leaves us with two promising third basemen, and a shortstop right on the horizon. This isn’t unusual as generally the best athletes out of high school play short. Then as they progress through the system, skills are identified and position changes take place.
Moving Lake to the outfield eliminated one bit of the traffic jam on the left side of the infield. But Olt was major league ready last year, but no place to put him, then an injury set him back. Bryant is young and still needs time, but is showing his ability early and often in the Fall league. And Baez is going to have the chance to force the Cubs hand in spring training.
How this pans out in the spring will be interesting, but my fear is that one of my favorites, Darwin Barney, could be a victim of this overload. His glove is worth its weight in gold, pun intended. But a sub .230 average makes it a tougher call. But no matter what, Castro will need to have a bounce back campaign in 2013 to show the Cubs he was worth the investment.