The Young Cubs
Interesting times for the young Cubs. Castro, Rizzo, Samardzija…these are the rotating names we see in the daily headlines right now. And that makes sense. Those three are considered the center of the “core” moving forward.
The Jeff Samardzija contract talk is probably premature at this point. He is under the Cubs’ control for two more years, so there isn’t really a sense of urgency yet. He has given no indication that he is itching to sign a long-term deal. I would imagine the two sides will talk over the winter, but until then, it’s kind of a moot discussion.
Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo already have their deals, which has pointed the spotlight directly on both.
I wish I could tell you both will rebound next year and their careers will take off. My “gut” tells me that Rizzo will get a lot better the next couple years and that this season is all just part of the maturation process at this level. His numbers aren’t terrible, aside from his batting average. He is taking walks, he is hitting for power, although that has been inconsistent. I do anticipate him becoming more consistent as time goes on.
With Castro, I leave all options on the table. I do think this year will be the worst of his career. I would be really surprised if he doesn’t bounce back next season. Have we seen him at his best already? Possible, but highly unlikely. If he’s capable of 207 hits at age 21, he should be able to do it again, hopefully several times. But as many have said, it’s up to him now. The difference between now and then is he is highly-paid and he is an established big leaguer. I can’t say he became too comfortable because I’m not in his head, but I have to think he will come to spring training next year hungrier and more motivated than ever to prove to himself and everybody else that he is going to be a cornerstone guy for years to come.