Chicago Cubs’ Starlin Castro struggles again after vowing that he’d play better


Castro promises better play, but will he deliver?

Prior to the 2015 All-Star break, Chicago Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro vowed that there wouldn’t be any “more jokes in the second half” of the season. After a disappointing first half, Castro looks to get back on track and reclaim the form that made him a three-time All-Star selection earlier in his career. However, in the Cubs first game of the second half of the season, nothing has changed and Castro’s pre All-Star break promise remains void.

In the Chicago Cubs 4-2 loss against the Atlanta Braves on Friday night, Castro went 0-4 at the plate with two strikeouts and a groundout that led to a double play. In the bottom of the fifth inning, he bobbled a routine ground ball that led to the first base umpire calling pinch-hitter Jonny Gomes safe. The umpires reviewed the call and they overturned it, however; had Castro cleanly fielded the ball it would have likely been a routine play.

On Friday against Atlanta, the same old Castro showed up despite his adamant promises that things would be different during the second half of the season.

"No more jokes in the second half. I have to finish strong. We know how it is. Keep playing hard and try to help my team.—-Quote obtained by CSN Chicago reporter Patrick Mooney"

Castro failed to pinpoint the reason for his struggles in the first half of the season.

"I don’t think I’m doing anything different. I don’t think I’m thinking too much. It’s not happening right now. But I know those kinds of things — especially when you start slow — they have to turn around, no matter what. The balls that we hit hard — the balls right at them — we can’t control that. The only thing that you can control is: Go out there and have a good at-bat. Things will turn around. It’s like one click off to get hot again. You can’t be at .300 in two days or whatever. Just keep grinding it out, and come back in the second half to do the thing that we always do. —-Quote obtained by CSN Chicago reporter Patrick Mooney"

Castro noticeably struggled during the first half of the season. At the plate, he slashed .247/.283/.321, all of which were well below his career averages. He continued his impatient approach at the plate, totaling 58 strikeouts to only 15 walks. In the first half of the season, Castro grounded into a double play 15 times. According to baseball reference, Castro grounded into a double play on almost 20 percent of plate appearances in which a teammate was on first base with less than two outs.

In the month of July, Castro’s batting woes reached new lows. In 13 games and 49 plate appearances this month, Castro slashed .152/.184/.196 from behind the plate.

Perhaps even more disconcerting than Castro’s struggles at the plate were the mental errors in the field during the first half of the season. He is now ranked number 21 among MLB shortstops with 15 errors. His DWAR(defensive wins above replacement) hovers at a forgettable 0.1. On top of all the errors, Castro continued to make head-scratching mental mistakes that cost the Chicago Cubs runs in the first half of the season.

If there is a silver lining for Castro’s struggles, it would be that he continues to hit well late in games that are close. According to baseball reference, Castro slashed .303/.343/.424 in ninth-inning at-bats and .600/.692/.600 in extra inning opportunities. In games categorized as late and close, his .246 batting average and .300 on base percentage exceeds his overall averages in these categories.

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Is Castro’s clutch gene enough of a reason to keep him around for the rest of the season? He was a three-time all-star so the potential to help this team win is there. The Chicago Cubs front office has some tough decisions to make as they approach the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. However, as Castro’s trade value continues to dwindle with each passing strikeout or error, the Cubs will be hard-pressed to find any deal with substance involving Castro.

CBS-Chicago reporter Dan Bernstein reported that “what’s being proposed in exchange for Castro is underwhelming the Cubs.” The Chicago Cubs may have to keep Starlin Castro simply because they can’t find anybody else that wants him.

Next: Where does Castro's tradevalue sit?

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