Cubs didn’t wait around to make their Winter Meetings interesting, huh?
When viewing the Zobrist in/Castro out maneuver, and they are linked, you have to look at both the baseball terms and then the emotional. The emotional doesn’t play into the baseball aspect for the organization, and nor should it beyond any possibly clubhouse/chemistry problems. And Zobrist isn’t going to provide any of those.
I guess the angle I can’t escape, after looking at it over the night, is that if we agree Starlin’s best season was 2014, and it was. that’s basically Zobrist’s average season. Stalin had a .339 OBP. Zobrist’s career OBP is .355. Starlin slugged .438. Zobrist’s career slugging is .431. And while those numbers for Castro came at shortstop, that position is now closed to him. At the moment, right now, Zobrist is the surer bet.
The debate comes in whether you think the difference of nine years in age, will Zobrist’s decline and any ascent from Castro cause them to pass each other on the graph? That’s harder to say. I’m not sure which argument I side with. One says Castro is still just 25 and maybe August and September show a player where it all finally clicked and he’s got room to grow. Another says he’s been in the league six years and we basically know what he is. I honestly don’t know which is right, which probably means it’s somewhere in the middle and he has a little room to improve but is going to look like what he’s going to look like.
Adam Warren’s part in this probably plays a bigger role than we think. Perhaps one of the reasons the Cubs kept running Jason Hammel out there even if he was hurt is they didn’t like the fill-in options. They didn’t want Richard or Wood starting games regularly. Now, if the rotation is as is currently, there’s Warren, Wood, Cahill, and perhaps one or two kids in the minors that can come up and get you out of a DL stint for the other starters. And that’s probably going to happen at some point, because that’s what pitchers tend to do.
I also am slightly curious that the fourth year of this deal is the one that Zobrist doesn’t have trade protection for. That would depend on how quickly you think he’ll fall off due to aging, but I doubt it’ll be the next year or maybe even the one after that. And even if he slips, he can be put in more of a part-time role if Baez or La Stella or Torres down the road earn ABs over him. And aging won’t stop him from walking and not striking out, and lord knows the Cubs need more and more of that.
Of course, you can’t just wave goodbye to Starlin if you’ve been a Cubs fan for any length of time. Starlin basically showed up at the wrong time. He was the best player on the team for years because the rest of the team sucked. Watching the team sucked, so fans took it out on him because what was the point of ranting and raving about whatever other joker was suiting up in 2011 or ’12. Managing the Cubs sucked because you had to watch that shit every day and know it would take years to get that stain off your resume, so Dale Sveum took it out on Starlin. Starlin has always been a complementary player forced into a leading role due to lack of options. When he finally got to be what he was supposed to be the last third of last year, he blossomed.
He was fun. He kept you on your toes both good and bad. His teammates loved him. He acted like a pro when he got demoted after being told he was the center of the team for his entire career. He pissed the ever living fuck out of the Cardinals, and even more so when he finally got to stomp them in games that mattered. He got to come out clean on the other side after crawling through the river of shit that was Cubs baseball 2010-2014. I’ll miss him.