Ah, spring. Every team's a contender and every hot prospect's ticketed for Cooperstown. As FanGraphs' Bryan Smith notes, however, maybe we should temper our expectations for young Starlin Castro. At least for the moment ...
- Just between Muskat and Sullivan’s articles, we have been thrown comparisons to Edgar Renteria, Hanley Ramirez and Miguel Tejada. That’s 13 All-Star games between the three of them, for a man that has just one year of full-season baseball under his belt. Castro hit .299/.342/.392 between the Florida State and Southern Leagues last season (a brief aside to link to Justin Inaz’ great article at the Hardball Times yesterday concerning Minor League run environments. There, you’ll see Castro was narrowly above-average in both leagues.) But I think we can do better than lazy comparisons to three Latin shortstops, none of whom mirror Castro’s developmental path.
The Cubs should follow the Templeton model out of Spring Training, and re-assign Castro to the Southern League. It’s simply not fair to assign him to face older pitchers after 122 decent plate appearances and a great BABIP-driven Arizona Fall League sample. But for a team that doesn’t figure to be 25 games back on August 9, calling up Castro for more than a September cup of coffee doesn’t seem prudent. Let’s keep the talk of Castro, the Major Leaguer, to a minimum, and see if the Templeton comparison still holds water a year from now.
Templeton was statistically similar to Castro in the minors, and returned to Double-A after a short stint there in the previous season. Four months and three outstanding (for a shortstop) slash stats later, the Cardinals jumped Templeton past Triple-A into the majors, where he soon established himself as a young star.
The Cubs aren't a joke. They should be trying to win games. At this point, Starlin Castro's probably not their best shortstop; Ryan Theriot is. But if Castro plays well in the minors and the Cubs are out of the race -- as the Cardinals were in 1976 -- then sure, call the kid up and let him get started. Right now, though? There's absolutely no reason to rush things.