The shortstop position may be one of the most important positions in the game of baseball. From little league through Major League Baseball, the general idea is that your best fielder typically plays the shortstop position. Prior to 2010, the Cubs were in search for a long-term fixture at their shortstop position. Then Starlin Castro debuted. From the day that Castro debuted for the Cubs in 2010, there seemed to be the belief that Castro was the long-term solution for the Cubs at the shortstop position. However, since Theo Epstein took control over the Cubs’ baseball department there has been endless speculation that Epstein may not view Castro as the long-term solution at the shortstop position and could look to trade the 22-year-old shortstop.
During the 2o1o season, Castro’s rookie season, the shortstop hit .300/.347/.408 in 506 plate appearances. Castro followed his rookie season with a strong season in 2011 by hitting .307/.341/.432 in 715 plate appearances. 2o12 was the first time in Castro’s career that the shortstop struggled at various points in the season. Castro finished the 2o12 season hitting .283/.323/.430 in 691 plate appearances. There were plenty of suggestions as to why Castro seemed to have struggled at times during the 2012 season, but the answer is fairly clear. Castro appeared in all 162 games for the Cubs last season and that may have impacted his offensive output.
Castro started the 2012 season on a high-note as the shortstop had a batting average of .333 in the first month of the season followed by a batting average of .304 in May. Castro’s struggles began in June as the shortstop hit .264 and those struggles continued when the he hit .235 during the month of July. Castro had a resurgence during the final two months of the season by hitting .252 in August and .311 in the months of September and October. The months of June, July and August are the perceived “dog days of summer” and generally that is when fatigue begins to impact baseball players. Though it is also worth noting that the Cubs fired hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo during the 2012 season and replaced him with James Rowson, and that may have played a role in Castro’s performance during the 2012 season.
Castro also finished the 2012 season with a new contract. In August, Castro signed a six year, $70 million contract extension with the Cubs. On the surface, it would appear that Epstein dispelled any notion of the Cubs potentially trading Castro by handing the shortstop a six year extension. However, the $70 million contract that Castro has would appear to be very movable, especially for a shortstop that likely will enter elite status in the next couple of seasons. The Cubs certainly have no intention of trading Castro, though that does not mean that team won’t entertain the idea. There is merit to the idea that Castro does not have the mold of an Epstein-type player, and that could be why when Javier Baez is deemed Major League ready the Cubs could look to trade Castro as opposed to moving either player to third base. One thing is certain and that is that Castro will start the 2013 season with the Cubs and could solidify his long-term positioning with the team with an impressive season.