Cubs

Castros 200 hits just the beginning

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Castros 200 hits just the beginning

Friday, Sept. 23, 2011Posted: 7:20 p.m. Updated: 11:51 p.m.

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com Cubs Insider Follow @CSNMooney
WATCH: Soriano happy for Castro

ST. LOUIS Starlin Castro has made it look easy.

It doesnt matter if Castros staring at a Cy Young Award winner or aSeptember call-up. Hes going to attack and be aggressive and go withhis instinctual feel for hitting.

Castro fouled off the games first pitch on Friday night. He drove thenext one from Chris Carpenter into center field. The line drive landedon Busch Stadiums green grass.

Someone threw the ball back into the dugout, which Castro plans to giveto his father back home in the Dominican Republic. Thats just one ofmany mementos that will be collected during what Castro believes couldbe a Hall of Fame career.

With that natural swing, Castro notched his 200th hit this season. Itcame during the first inning of a 5-1 victory that seriously damagedthe playoff hopes of the St. Louis Cardinals. He became the youngestCub in franchise history to reach the milestone, and the sixth-youngestto get there in major-league history.

Castro essentially has a Yeah, sure, why not? attitude to just aboutanything in this game. But hes definitely in elite company now. Since1900, only nine other players have reached 200 hits at the age of 21 oryounger, including: Alex Rodriguez, Al Kaline, Joe DiMaggio and Ty Cobb.

You got a potential superstar, Ryan Dempster said. He sure can hit.Its incredible his hand-eye coordination, his ability to put thebarrel of the bat on the ball. (Hes) just going to get better andbetter. The skys really the limit for him.

On this night, Dempster pitched six innings of one-run ball, andAlfonso Soriano blasted the go-ahead, three-run homer in the eighththat left the Cardinals (86-71) three games back in the wild-card racewith five to play. But very soon this entire Cubs team will revolvearound Castro.

(Its) performance on the field, Soriano said. You dont have totalk to be a leader. If he plays good, all those young guys around himare going to want to play like him.

Castro needed only 264 games and less than 1,000 at-bats in the minorsto prove that he was ready. The Cubs tried to downplay his offensivepotential and talked up his defensive range when he was promoted on May7 last year.

Castro then went out that night in Cincinnati and smashed a three-runhomer in his first at-bat and finished with six RBIs, a record for amajor-league debut.

The kids not afraid of the big moment. But even Jose Serra the scoutwho signed Castro out of the Dominican Republic almost five years ago had to admit: I didnt think at this time he was going to be in thebig leagues and doing the things that hes doing right now.

READ: Introducing the Cubs scout who found a huge Star(lin)

Castro has done it at Wrigley Field, on national television and infront of a demanding fan base. The All-Star shortstop was called out byESPNs Bobby Valentine and media members have speculated about a moveto another position. He keeps coming back for more.

Hes a really tough kid, bench coach Pat Listach said. He lovesplaying the game and he took it personal when he was criticized (and)I would have, too. But all he can do is (play). The people that aresaying these things about him and writing these things about him dontknow how hard it is to go out there and play that game every day.

Manager Mike Quade has pushed and disciplined Castro, the same way heonce coached up future American League MVP Miguel Tejada in Double-Aball. With Aramis Ramirez set to leave as a free agent, maybe the Cubswont need a traditional power-hitting third baseman. At the veryleast, they have a player to build their lineup around for the nextdecade.

No matter how good Cassie is andor becomes, you still want tosurround him with the best people available, Quade said. Were stillin projection mode with him. I think we have a really nice player. Fromthe power standpoint, it looks like hes heading in that direction. ButIm kind of a Missouri guy: Show me.

Castro feels like he has it all mapped out. Bat .300, get 200 hits andmake the All-Star team. Every year. He knows he has to cut down on hiserrors (28) to win a Gold Glove. Hes learned English because he wantsthe clubhouse responsibilities and the marketing opportunities.

Im working hard, Castro said, in preparation to be a complete superstar.

Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Cubs Talk Podcast: Is Kris Bryant the new Curt Flood?

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Is Kris Bryant the new Curt Flood?

This has been the offseason of Kris Bryant rumors and with his grievance still unresolved Cubs fans can only speculate what will happen to the MVP. Is Kris Bryant trying to change the system like Curt Flood did? Host David Kaplan is joined by ESPN Chicago's Jesse Rogers to discuss Bryant's future as a Cub, and the lackluster offseason the Cubs have had.

(1:50) - Why the Cubs have not made any moves so far

(3:32) - Is Kris Bryant the new Curt Flood?

(6:26) - Cubs need upgrades, specifically in the bullpen

(9:10) - Will the Cubs make a big move before the season starts?

(11:30) - Does Javy Baez get the big extension?

(14:45) - Will the Cubs get to 86 wins this year?

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

Cubs Talk Podcast

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Cubs close to deal with free agent outfielder Steven Souza, per report

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USA TODAY

Cubs close to deal with free agent outfielder Steven Souza, per report

The Cubs have made a roster move.

According to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, the Cubs are reportedly close to a deal with free agent outfielder Steven Souza.

Souza, 30, missed the 2019 season after suffering a torn left ACL and LCL at the end of spring training. He also missed a chunk of 2018, playing 72 games while hitting the injured list on multiple occasions.

Souza had a career year with the Rays in 2017, slashing .239/.351/.459 with 30 home runs, 78 RBIs and a 121 wRC+. Those figures were career-bests for Souza, minus his batting average. He sported a walk rate (13.6 percent) above league average (8.5) that season, though his strikeout rate (29 percent) was worse than the MLB average (23).

The signing of Souza likely rules out a return of fan favorite outfielder Nicholas Castellanos. The Cubs have been linked to Castellanos throughout the offseason, but since they're looking to stay under MLB’s luxury tax threshold, re-signing Castellanos would require some financial maneuvering.

Souza has spent most of his career in right field (3,608 career innings) but has minimal experience playing center (33 1/3) and left (20). He’s above average in right (career 6 Defensive Runs Saved) and posted a career best 7 DRS in 2017.

The Cubs have a five-time Gold Glove right fielder in Jason Heyward, so Souza will see time at all three outfield spots. Heyward moved to center full-time last season after the Cubs acquired Castellanos and has played center at times throughout his career.

Assuming he stays healthy, Souza is a low-risk, high-reward move for the Cubs. He’ll add power to the middle of the order and add a proven bat to an outfield with some question marks. Albert Almora Jr. and Ian Happ have each struggled offensively at times since 2018. Souza offers another bat in case those two slump again.