Heading into this season, one of the bigger issues facing Dale Sveum as he took over this Chicago Cubs squad was the defensive state of the club.
And by “the club”, I mainly mean Starlin Castro. Obviously the new front office regime attempted to upgrade the defense with some of their acquisitions, replacing Aramis Ramirez with Ian Stewart and bringing in David DeJesus to man left field.
But Castro’s defense has been held under a microscope since he’s been in the bigs. We know he has the bat, but the glove hasn’t really come with it. A position change was expected to be in Castro’s future before he even reached the Major League level.
In 2010, his first action with the Cubs, Castro committed 27 errors. That number jumped up to just a bit, to 29, in 2011. In 2010, most were of the fielding error variety, while in 2011 more of his errors came through throwing errors, which is where we’ve seen the issues with Castro this season.
Sveum, a former shortstop himself, spent extra time working with Castro this spring. The focus was on Castro coming to ground balls, rather than sitting back and waiting for them. Sitting back and waiting left Castro with less time to make the play, which is certainly likely to lead to more errors.
And in the spring, those adjustments worked. But with four errors in nine games this season, it’s clear that Starlin definitely needs to work more on that defense, especially if he is to remain at shortstop.
However, many don’t see his future there. It’s a possibility that we could see Castro move to second base at some point in his career, probably within the next couple of years. That’s especially if Darwin Barney proves to be nothing more than a stopgap player at the position.
I don’t think that a position change is something we’ll see this year, or even next year though.
Castro’s still young and has time to work on his game, especially with this Cubs team still a couple of years away from serious contention. But if Castro wants to take that next step and really be mentioned with the game’s elites, which his bat already is, he’s going to have to advance his game defensively.