Friday, May 7, 2010

Starlin Castro arrives

We've heard about him, we've seen him hold his own in the Arizona Fall league, Major League Spring Training, and now at AA Tennessee. There's little question by now that Starlin Castro can hit. So is this a good move? Let's look at the players involved:

Ryan Theriot - Theriot moves to 2b where his arm should play a lot better defensively. Theriot can get to balls in the hole but often can't make the throw. The Cubs can keep his valuable leadoff bat in the lineup and improve the defense.

Mike Fontenot - The player most hurt by this move in terms of playing time. Theriot takes his job and relegates Fontenot to a guy who comes in and gives an occasional breather to Theriot at 2b or Castro (with Theriot subbing at SS). He becomes another lefty off the bench to go with Chad Tracy, Tyler Colvin and Koyie Hill. Fontenot is hitting a respectable .296, but it's a soft .296 and a good example of why average isn't a telling statistic. His OBP is only .333 as his walk rate has gone down. His power is absent. He only has 3 extra base hits all year -- all doubles. Overall, he's a below average offensive player.

Jeff Baker - His future with the Cubs is clouded. The Cubs may try to dump him off for a player to be named later, minor leaguer, or just cash. He'll have a hard time finding playing time behind Theriot, Castro, and Fontenot. He'll probably have to fill in at 3b.

Chad Tracy - He gets sent down to AAA. He and Colvin were the only players with options but Tracy was most likely to see his playing time affected by the move. He's been struggling to get ABs as it is. The Cubs still have their A-Ram insurance policy, he'll just be at Iowa for now.

Starlin Castro - The star attraction. Castro is expected to upgrade the range at SS significantly while anything the provides on offense will be a bonus. Don't expect him to carry the load. He'll bat 8th and the Cubs will be happy if he hits .260-.270 with more pop than Fontenot has showed so far. If you are an advanced stat guy, the Cubs will need about a .330 wOBA and a +5 UZR rating for this move to help the Cubs overall.

There's a lot to digest right now but I know that I'll be watching closely tonight. We'll probably have a more in-depth profile on this move once we see how Castro handles the promotion.

In related news, the Cubs promoted Josh Vitters to AA and Andrew Cashner to AAA. We've talked about Cashner a lot and we'll address Vitters soon, whom I think has made some strides at the plate albeit in a small sample size.

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