Should Starlin Castro Move To Second Base?

Allow me to create a hypothetical situation.  What if Starlin Castro made a transition to second base?  It would create an opening at shortstop, which with a trade, could provide the Cubs with a legitimate lead-off hitter. 
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A switch to second base could provide the remedy to Starlin Castro‘s defensive woes.  Castro has excellent range and could develop into a solid defensive player.  Playing second base would allow Castro to make shorter throws thus cutting down his throwing errors considerably.  It would also allow room for a shortstop that can lead off and ignite the offense.  But who?

What we’re looking for, is a player that can lead off, has a high OBP, steals bases, and plays solid defense.  That’s it.  Any player that fits that description is worth consideration.  I may miss a few.  There are many minor leaguers who could meet the requirements but, for all intents and purposes, I will focus on established veterans. 

Let’s examine shortstops with a combination of these attributes.

While there are many “untouchables” out there with high on-base per centages, here are some players that may be fair game.

Hanley Ramirez of the Florida Marlins.  His OBP last season was .378.  He also stole 32 bases.  The Marlins have a history of cleaning house and Ramirez could easily be on the trading block.  He is an all-star caliber player. 
thumbnailCAE370K0.jpgHanley Ramirez and Starlin Castro would make a lethal combination up the middle and a powerful and speedy 1 – 2 punch at the top of the order.  I wonder if Jim Hendry could pull off such a deal.

Consider this:  The Cubs have a highly touted shortstop in the minors.  Hak- Ju Lee will be ready for the big leagues in a couple years and the Cubs will have to decide whether or not to move Castro to second base anyway, so why not make the transition now and acquire a shortstop that can leadoff and provide defensive prowess?

Jose Reyes is another possibility.  The New York Mets may want to trade Reyes.  Like the Cubs, the METS have paid a ton of money and have been disappointed by the results.  Perhaps a contract for contract trade would work out for both teams. 
thumbnailCAEGE919.jpgJose Reyes hit .282 and had 30 steals last season.  Starlin Castro could benefit by having a veteran double play partner, someone that can also teach him to lead off.  Castro needs a mentor to inspire him.

Rafael Furcal is another possibility.  The Los Angeles Dodgers are in turmoil and it sounds like they are prepared to clean house. 
thumbnailCAYPAO5Y.jpgThe time may be right to swoop down and pluck Furcal from the Dodgers.  In 2010, Furcal batted .300 with a .366 OBP.  He stole 22 bases.

There aren’t any fits on the free agent market so a trade would have to happen.  Possibly a better solution to the leadoff dilemma would be a free agent second baseman, but that’s another blog.  For now, I will have to explore the possibilty of adding a shortstop and moving Castro to second base, a position that Castro may be better at.  We have to explore the possibilities and wonder…What if?

16 Comments

You know, you might have something putting Castro to second. There’s no doubt about it, Castro is one hell of a player. He has a lot of maturing to do, but he’ll get there. Actually, I thought sending Theriot to the Dodgers was a reason to move Castro to second, but I was wrong.

Hey, Jeter’s on the market…

–Mark Gauthier

I like your thinking on this one. The long term plan is to move Castro to second so might as well move him now. I think Furcal would be a good move. He could hold down the position until Hak-Ju Lee is ready. I think Lee is a legitimate leadoff hitter and I think Castro is a good 2 hole hitter at this point. I would definitely stay away from Hanley. He’s got a terrible attitude and we don’t need anymore guys like that.

Ron

The Cubs have too many needs right now, and SS is not one of them. Why create another need by shifting him to 2nd?

Don’t move Castro to 2nd unless there is definitely someone to replace him at short. Hanley Ramirez would be nice, though I don’t see the Cubs giving up a ton to fill a position that they believe that they are strong in the minors with. Reyes has been a disappointment to the Mets because of big contract and lack of production, something the Cubs have enough of already and should stay away from. Furcal can’t seem to stay healthy and when given the opportunity to play for the Cubs a few years ago, he screwed them, so forget him.

I think the Cubs would have to overwhelm the Marlins with an offer to get Hanely. Might be too much.. idk.. Reyes is probably more realistic.
http://shortrightfield.blogspot.com/

yeah… the Marlins would want Castro as part of the deal for Ramirez and its likely that any team trading a veteran SS would ask for Castro and not make the deal without him being included.

Castro is still 20 years old. His defense will improve with more experience.. Derek Jeter made, what 25 errors in AA when he was a 20 year old? (maybe not the correct age, but in the ballpark).

If the Cubs want a veteran double play partner for him, sign Orlando Hudson for one or two years. Hudson could lead off at least some of the time and is a gold glover at 2B. Of course Hendry has maxed out the budget and right now I doubt they have anyone at 2B other than the affordable Blake DeWitt in 2011.

There is one problem. Unless Hak-Ju Lee has remedied his arm from when I saw him playing Minor League ball two years ago, he is a lot like Castro. Hits for average, quick, great range, horrible throwing accuracy. Lee was air mailing it to first quite a bit, including on DPs.

Here is my problem with your blog. We did this 5 years ago with Ronny Cedeno and we see the result to that. Cedeno’s defense is awesome but it’s always been his bat that keeps him from being a preformer.

What everyone and there brother seems to forget is that Castro is ONLY 20! Geez louise! Lay off the kids throwing errors, he will pan out and more than likely be the SS of our future. Just because Hak Ju Lee is ok, he still has a LONG way to come. Castro came in 4th in the ROY voting and if you look at the company he holds there you should know this kids gonna be a star.

Please leave him at SS and lets talk about why Hendry has not made many moves yet?

In response to your comment, lukobravo, this blog was in no way intented to knock Starlin Castro’s defense. He is 20 and will improve as he gains experience. I believe that. The idea behind moving Castro to second base is to open up a position for a legitimate lead-off hitter, usually one can be found at shortstop. Starlin only stole 10 bases last season and he is probably the closest thing the Cubs have to a bonafide lead-off hitter. No current Cub player was able to be successful leading off. Castro may prove that he can do it someday, but right now, he is not ready. He is better suited to bat second. The Cubs’ outfield is tied up and unless Jim Hendry can work out a trade to make some room, the Cubs will again be without a legitimate lead-off hitter to spark the offense and put pressure on the opposing pitcher and the defense. I like Starlin Castro. He has great potential, but I have to woner if he is not better suited at second base. The important thing is that the Cubs acquire a bonafide lead-off hitter that can get on base a wreck havoc. The Cubs offense has been sleeping and somebody needs to come along and ignite the spark.

Hanley Ramirez is not a leadoff hitter. Putting him in the leadoff spot would significantly deminish his value. A guy that hits 20-30 HRs and drives in 80-100 every year is not a leadoff man, regardless of how many bases he steals. I have no problem getting him and shifting Castro to 2nd, but Hanley would need to be the #3 hitter. He’s hit over .300 in each of the last 4 seasons and averaged over 100 K’s. He’s a run producer, not a table setter.

Also since your biggest knock against Castro is his defense, maybe you should look at Hanley’s. At 22 years old(his fist full year) he made 27 errors which is one more than Castro made this year. He’s improved, just like every other young player does.

Just wanted to chime back in. The Cubs have plenty of guys to play second right now. Baker and DeWitt are the main two and Darwin Barney is a good utility infielder option. However, I still like the idea of moving Castro to second now because that’s the longterm plan anyway. Why not put him there?!?! To me it’s not about his defense, but more about the longterm plans for the team.
Also, congrats on the shoutout on MLBTraderumors.

Ron

http://strictlycubsbaseball.mlblogs.com/

Personally, I don’t see it. I just don’t see Castro as a long term solution for anything more than a roster spot. I do not believe he’s a .300/.347/.408 hitter. I think his closest equivalent is Yuniesky Betancourt, but with some speed and range. He benefits from hitting in a hitters park, .340/.402/.458 at home versus .258/.284/.356 away. He has no power, speed but can’t steal, range but can’t throw, doesn’t draw many walks and puts the ball on the ground for GDPs often. I think a .285/.325/.385 line is more likely going forward. With that defense and lack of OPS he’s actually a detriment to the team. Could he develop more? Absolutely. But he’ll still be replacement level.

Responding to Cubs2123, you have the 2 flipped. Castro had the 27 Errors while Ramirez had 26. I also believe it’s a stretch to say his defense has improved. There is more to defense than just the errors. Over the years his range has shrunk, less Put Outs each year, less Assists each year, less Double Plays each year and overall his dWAR is in the negative each year. In fact, if you were to go by the dWAR metric then he’s actually gotten worse, 0.1 versus -1.0, from his rookie season to this past season. And for those that aren’t into all the stats, the eye test would be enough to show he hasn’t improved. After all, he was benched for his lack of defensive effort and hustle.

Ok, I’m not a saber nerd so you got me on all that. What I did get from your post is, Ramirez sucks defensively. He sucks defensively and isn’t a leadoff man, which means the Cubs should stick with what they have unless they can acquire him and stick him in the 3 hole. Regardless of his defense, he can rake.

The Cubs are not trading for a shortstop….They already have one and it isn’t Castro or Barney. South Korean Hak-Ju Lee who just turned 20 earlier this month is in low A ball (Boise) and is twice the defender Castro is and his arrival WILL make Castro a second baseman. He just has to season as an offensive player.

I’m with you on that bubbalupe. But I don’t think it’s the offense that needs seasoning unless they can find a way to squeeze more power out of him which I highly doubt at 6’2″ and 165lbs. It’s his defense that needs some real serious work. 61 Errors in 179 MiLB games is really really bad. But he’s shown elite range and speed to go with a very good eye at the plate and very good contact. Not to mention he can actually steal bases successfully. I do think he’s the real deal. A .299/.370/.375 slashline might not look so impressive but throw in the 57 Stolen Bases and 17 Sacrifice Hits and you get a good idea of what role he’ll fill. We’ll just have to wait a year or two to see how he develops.

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