What has Starlin Castro taught Chicago Cubs fans?


On Tuesday evening, the Chicago Cubs traded infielder Starlin Castro to the New York Yankees in exchange for pitcher Adam Warren and infielder Brendan Ryan.

Starlin Castro taught us that one day young talent could make the Chicago Cubs relevant again. Prophetic wasn’t it.

When a 20-year-old Starlin Castro made his Major League debut with the Chicago Cubs in May 2010 something special happened. The baby-faced shortstop knocked in an MLB record 6 RBIs in his debut, and added some excitement to a season where the Cubs recorded only 75 wins. Castro ushered in the youth movement in Chicago. The Cubs hoped that he would eventually become a cornerstone of a winning franchise. Five and a half years after his spectacular debut, Castro is gone. It is a shame.

In order to make room for the 4-year, $56 million deal that they recently used to sign utility man Ben Zobrist, the Chicago Cubs shipped Starlin Castro to the New York Yankees in exchange for pitcher Adam Warren and infielder Brendan Ryan.

Oct 31, 2015; New York City, NY, USA; Kansas City Royals second baseman Ben Zobrist (18) celebrates with teammates after scoring a run against the New York Mets in the sixth inning in game four of the World Series at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Starlin Castro taught us that there are many ways to commit an error.

Castro’s inconsistencies, especially defensively, made him a polarizing figure in Chicago. He ended his Chicago Cubs career as a three-time All-Star and a .281/.321/.404 hitter. Yet, the 138 career errors, with some egregious ones mixed in there, made him the recipient of heavy criticism. Through all the ups and downs, he brought a positive attitude and a smile to Wrigley Field and went about his baseball business without causing drama.

Okay, maybe some of his errors did cause a little bit of drama. Picture watching a mid-August Cubs game. The score is 5-0 with the Cubs down and you are kind of bored as a result. Nothing better to add some excitement to the game than a Starlin Castro error. Screaming at Castro on the television screen certainly adds drama. In some instances, he deserved to get yelled at. Just look at some of these errors that he committed during his time with the Chicago Cubs.

Starlin Castro taught us that perseverance is what really matters.

Castro’s Chicago Cubs story is about so much more than the errors. After all, the Dominican-born shortstop was a three-time All-Star selection during his time in Chicago. He had to have done something to offset all those miscues in the field.

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Castro’s Chicago Cubs story was about perseverance and achievement through adversity. According to a Chicago Tribune interview, the infielder grew up poor in Monte Cristi, Dominican Republic. He was “the oldest of five children raised by a fisherman who worked hard to provide shoes and a glove for him.” He began his rapid ascension through the Chicago Cubs minor league system at the age of 17. At age 20, he became the youngest shortstop in franchise history to make his MLB debut with the Chicago Cubs.

Success found Starlin Castro quickly. In 2010, he slashed .300/.347/.408. The next season, he made his first All-Star appearance, and he repeated this feat in 2012. The Chicago Cubs signed Castro to a 7-year, $60 million deal on Aug. 28, 2012.

October 20, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs second baseman Starlin Castro (13) loses his helmet swinging in the eighth inning against the New York Mets in game four of the NLCS at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Castro faced his first real baseball adversity during the 2013 season. He had a career low slash line of .245/.284/.347 and struck out 129 times. But, in what became a common practice during his life and baseball career, Castro created opportunity out of failure. The next season, he slashed .292/.339/.438 and was once again selected as an All-Star.

Overcoming adversity took on a whole new meaning in 2015.

Castro struggled during the first half of the season. He slashed .247/.283/.321 and after a July where he slashed .170/.194/.202, Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon decided to bench him on August 7. The demotion was a hard pill to swallow for the former All-Star. However, he handled it in the best way possible and didn’t create drama and become an unnecessary distraction.

"I feel a little frustrated, especially yesterday when they tell me I’m not going to play for I don’t know when. In the beginning, I take it like really personal, but after that I think about it and you can’t put those guys in the bench. They’re really hot right now, and I understand."

–Quote obtained by the Associated Press, content published by Fox Sports

Castro used the demotion as motivation to work harder. This approach paid dividends once he returned to action on August 11.

According to baseball reference, Castro had a slash line of .296/.315/.437 in August and .369/.400/.655 in September and October. From his first game back after getting benched on August 7 to the end of the regular season, Castro hit .353/.373/.588 and recorded 23 RBIs and six home runs.

Even if you hate Castro, at least respect his perseverance. He sacrificed for the good of the team and then worked hard so that he could contribute down the stretch. That at least deserves appreciation. Perseverance has been the calling card of Castro’s Chicago Cubs career.

Starlin Castro taught us that you can succeed in a city that doesn’t always like you.

Chicago wasn’t always nice to Castro. It endlessly ridiculed him for his mistakes and management seemed to constantly dangle him as trade bait. According to his agent Paul Kinzer, all of these things were tough on Castro because of his love for Chicago.

"It would crush [Starlin] to leave Chicago. He loves it here. —–Quote obtained by ESPN writer Jesse Rogers"

Even up to the day when the tandem decided to trade Castro, President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein and General Manager Jed Hoyer maintained that Castro was part of the Chicago Cubs 2016 plans. They didn’t exactly treat Castro fairly in parting either.

You either loved Castro or you didn’t, there wasn’t really a middle ground. The three-time All-Star had his share of  high highs and low lows and that is what made him such a polarizing figure in Chicago. Love him or hate him, you have to respect how he carried himself.

October 20, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs second baseman Starlin Castro (13) throws to first in the fifth inning against the New York Mets in game four of the NLCS at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Starlin Castro taught us that baseball can be fun and unpredictable

Errors and strikeouts aside, Castro’s enthusiasm for the game was second to none. He smiled a lot, and although many of errors were due to a lack of focus, I think it would be hard to prove that this lack of focus stemmed from a lack of desire to play. His boyish enthusiasm for the game made the 90+ loss seasons bearable because it is more enjoyable to watch something when the people who are participating are having fun.

Castro was quirky but fun. You never knew what to expect from the guy. He made baseball unpredictable with his inconsistent play but also made it fun.

His easygoing, silly personality certainly fit the Chicago Cubs clubhouse and manager Joe Maddon well.

Next: Starlin Castro traded to New York Yankees

We, the fans, media and even Cubs management, didn’t treat Castro right during his time in Chicago. Now that he is gone, we are forced to reflect on what was lost. Castro was a talented, enthusiastic player that overcame tough circumstances to find success with the Chicago Cubs. He was unassuming, selfless and a fun player to watch at his best and at least an entertaining (although in a bad way) player to watch at his worst. He represented the beginning of the youth movement in Chicago. Unfortunately, he can’t stay long enough to see if the Cubs investment in young players, which started with him, pans out. Safe travels Starlin Castro. We will miss you man.