After a humbling sweep to the Pirates in Pittsburgh this week, the Cubs felt it necessary to make a desperate move by calling up stud shortstop Starlin Castro to start tonight against the Reds in Cincinnati. Will this desperation move come back to hurt the Cubs franchise in the long run.
First, let’s talk about the sweep (which won’t take too long). Randy Wells who had pitched so well in his 1st 5 starts looked lost out there on Thursday night — 2IP, 6ER, 5 hits, 3 walks, 1 K. Ouch. His ERA (4.86) and WHIP (1.50) are now painfully average.
Jeff Gray is an awful reliever – 2 IP, 4 runs (2 earned) on 3 hits and 2 walks.
There were 2 positives out of the Cubs pen. James Russell has really pitched well of late and seems to have regained his spring training form. He pitched 2 perfect innings and lowered his WHIP to 1.11 and his ERA to an even 3.00. Look for Manager Lou Pinella to use the lefty in “big” game situations from now on. Justin Berg pitched a scoreless inning, making it 5 straight scoreless appearances in a row. His ERA is 3.00 and his WHIP is 1.31.
But back to Starlin Castro. Castro shined in spring training, so much so that they gave Ryan Theriot time at 2nd base just in case they made the mid-season call up for Castro. So much for waiting until July to make the move. GM Jim Henry and Pinella are so frustrated with the team’s poor hitting and fielding thus far, they figure they might as well make the move now. Castro played 26 games at Double-A Tennessee this season, hitting .376 with 8 doubles and 5 triples. He is also an excellent fielder, so Cubs brass figures that even if he has trouble hitting major league hitting, he should at least helping the fielding woes that the Cubs have experience thus far this season. Castro is in the lineup tonight against the Reds – batting 8th and playing shortstop. At the ripe young age of 20, Castro becomes the youngest shortstop to play a game in franchise history. Theriot moved over to 2nd base but will still bat lead-off.
Although I think Castro will succeed this season, I don’t like the move. This team is a middle of the road team at best, and they are a long shot to make the playoffs – whether it be winning the NL Central or the wild card. The team is too inconsistent offensively, and adding Castro won’t really change that. I’d love to see Castro get some more time in the minor leagues. One more season can’t hurt and bringing him up and watching him struggle early could have a negative affect on the franchise’s top prospect. Plus, from a financial standpoint, bringing him up this early means that he can become a free agent one year earlier. That means having to spend more money on Castro earlier in the arbitration/free agent process. Sure, if he is worth it, it’s not a big deal. But after all the horrible contracts that Hendry has bogged the team down with, it’s time to be a little smarter here. Do I think bringing up Castro is going to lead to a 10-game winning streak? No. I think he’ll make the team more exciting to watch and maybe help bring more people to Wrigley Field everyday, but I don’t think we’re going to see any major difference in the outcome on the field over the long course of the season. I hope I’m wrong, but we’ll have to wait and see.