So the dust has finally settled, I’ve collected my thoughts and am ready to walk through this trade and the fact that we woke up this morning without Starlin on the Chicago Cubs. I have Carl writing an in depth blog breaking down Warren and Zobrist later today and Fred doing the ultimate “Starlin being Starlin” compilation but first, I’m going to take a stab at it.
Obviously these deals are interlocked. Theo has come out and said that the Zobrist signing was dependent on the Starlin trade, which makes sense, because as of right now Zobrist will be the Cubs every day second baseman on opening day. I know on paper you’re probably thinking to yourself, the Cubs just got 9 years older at second base, what the hell. And while I have some minor concerns about Zobrist’s age and wear and tear, last year was his first year that this started to show, Zobrist fills a need the Cubs had. Situational hitting, quality base running, getting on base in front of Rizzo, Bryant, and Schwarber. His skill set gives the Cubs a more well rounded roster and lineup, and while his numbers aren’t necessarily flashy and he’ll never be a big power guy look where he ranks in WAR from 2008-2014
4th! Look at the names around him in the top 10. Ben Zobrist is a good baseball player and he’s going to be great on this team and that’s all without mentioning his defensive versatility if Baez is still on the roster opening day, fighting for second base time.
As for the trade, I’ll let Carl get more in depth on Adam Warren’s skill set but here is what I’ll say to the people pissed off or underwhelmed. Do you not remember around the All-Star break when the Cubs couldn’t even get anyone to pick up the phone for Starlin Castro? You don’t think Theo and Jed shopped him around to all potential suitors and tested the market? Come on, if this is what Starlin is worth this is what he’s worth, I trust our guys to get max return on any and all trades. Just look at the haul the Braves got for Shelby Miller. The Diamondbacks gave away a ton of talent, they completely mortgaged part of their future for today. Our Front Office has no reason to do something like that, I mean the Braves wanted Kris Bryant for christ sakes, I would have loved to hear the reaction on the other side of the phone when they asked Theo for that. The point is, Adam Warren, given a fair chance and coaching (oh shit we have one of the best pitching coaches in the league) should be a good asset either as a starter or a bullpen arm that could possibly give us one of the best pens in MLB. Every Yankee fan I’ve talked to has said the same thing, he should have been in their rotation but was log jammed by CC. He’ll have a chance to flourish with the Cubs and earn a spot as a starter, I don’t expect him to be an ace, but again, Starlin doesn’t come wart free either. This is one of those trades that you truly won’t know a “winner” for a couple of years. Oh and would anyone really rather have a 32 year old centerfielder that can be replaced on the open market over a pitcher that could grow into a dependable rotation guy? I feel like Theo did the old switcheroo on Cashman, asked for something he never wanted at first and then “settled” for Adam Warren.
As for Starlin. This one hurts. The list of polarizing athletes in Chicago in the past 5+ years is Jay Cutler, Derrick Rose, Starlin Castro. You walk into any bar in this city and say any of those 3 names and you’ll get a wildly different answer ranging from he’s a bum and needs to be traded to he’s a star and you can’t win without him. But what people forget about Starlin is that he was all we had for some really really tough years. He was our “can’t miss prospect” in an organization where the can’t miss prospects ALWAYS missed. Corey Patterson, Rich Hill, Mark Prior, Felix Pie, Juan Cruz, Josh Vitters, Brett Jackson, we could go on forever. But Starlin actually was the real deal. He was our lone bright spot, the guy who had 207 hits on a 91 loss team in 2011 and 183 hits for the 101 loss 2012 squad, a team full of absolute GARBAGE. Yeah he could be incredibly frustrating when he would flub a routine grounder or zone out on a double play or not run hard to first in the middle of August when his team was losing for the millionth time in a row, but when you looked at the sum of the parts and not just every little piece, he was great. He didn’t come up on a veteran team surrounded by talent, in an environment where he could grow. He came up on an old team in the middle of a colossal rebuild, an organization basically starting from scratch, and he was great.
I think this year was the perfect Starlin year. He was awful, people dogged him relentlessly, and Joe had him switch positions. What did Starlin do? Did he check out and give up? Did he mope and talk about how he was the veteran on the team and should get respect? No. He sucked it up, went to work, and finished the season RED HOT. People who say Starlin didn’t work hard or didn’t “want it” are flat out wrong. If you watched 2015 Starlin Castro and came away thinking anything other than “man I respect the hell out of that guy” then you let your own stupidity cloud your judgement. I know when you trade a guy there is a part of you in the back of your brain that roots against him so you can say you won the trade, well not this time. I want Starlin to flourish in New York, I want him to win and have 180 hits a year, I want the fans of New York to love him, even though he’ll do a few things that will make them lose their minds, I want Starlin to never be bad again until the day he retires. I will always root for Starlin Castro. #0Haters.