It has been widely overstated by fans, media outlets, and blogs like Cubbies Crib that no where on the Chicago Cubs roster is there a true leadoff hitter. Which is why right fielder Kosuke Fukudome remains in the starting lineup, as he gives manager Mike Quade the only viable leadoff option. One player that some fans like to speculate as a potential leadoff man is Starlin Castro. Many look at Castro’s speed as the leading reason why he should bat leadoff instead of Kosuke Fukudome, or on some days Jeff Baker. However, Cubs officials along with manager Mike Quade have refrained from inserting Castro as the leadoff hitter, as they fear that they would mess up his psyche going into at bats.
Well apparently Mike Quade has reconsidered his earlier beliefs, as the Cubs’ manager decided to insert Starlin Castro into the leadoff spot today against the Pittsburgh Pirates. While Castro in the leadoff spot is certainly the biggest change to the Cubs lineup today, it is not the only one. Second baseman Darwin Barney replaces Castro in the #2 hole in the lineup, and right fielder Tyler Colvin is in the lineup for the second straight day.
Back to Castro, I am indifferent about Castro as a leadoff hitter. I have never been a big supporter of Castro being the catalyst in the lineup, as I feel his best spot is either as #2 or #3 hitter. Especially for this season, where I think it is very possible that Castro will have 15+ home runs. The biggest concern that I have about Castro batting in the leadoff spot is the fact that he does not possess the stereotypical traits that a typical leadoff hitter has. He is an excellent hitter but he is not selective at the plate; and while he does have speed, he is not at the point where he is considered to be a threat on the base paths. Last season Castro played one game while batting leadoff and went 0 for 4.
As long as Castro continues approaching things as he always does no matter where he is hitting, it should not be a problem that he is hitting leadoff. I just hope that instead of flip flopping Castro in multiple batting spots in the lineup, manager Mike Quade should just pick a spot and keep Castro there for the rest of the season.
Speaking of Quade, here are his comments about Castro’s move to the leadoff spot in the lineup…
"“Some wise man told me a long time ago adults have the right to change their mind,” Quade said. “To me, it’s a heck of a compliment for him.”Quade said Castro could eventually become a No. 3 hitter, but again, he doesn’t want to put too much pressure on him this early in his career.“Let’s hope so,” Quade said. “One and three is good. Two is good. Somewhere at the top of the lineup. He’s got the ability to be a real special player, both offensively and defensively.”Quade told Castro not to change his approach. He said it’s almost certain Castro will be back in the No. 2 hole Monday against Arizona right-hander Barry Enright. Chicago Tribune"
I understand where Quade is coming from, as he wants to see the hot-hitting Castro set the table for the Cubs lineup. Today will be an interesting test, though, to see what Quade does going forward during the season. Lets say that Castro keeps up his stellar pace and has a successful day out of the leadoff spot, does that mean that he will get more opportunities as the leadoff hitter going forward? I do not know the answer to that question yet, but, I still insist that Castro’s future project as a #3 hitter and not a leadoff hitter. Then again, if a player can hit, then a player can hit no matter the spot of the lineup he is in.