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posted: 6/10/2012 9:34 PM

Kasper: Draft was important to Cubs' future

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  • The development of Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro as a major-leaguer continues to be a process.

      The development of Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro as a major-leaguer continues to be a process.
    Associated Press

 
 

Q. You have said last week's draft was the most important three-day period of this entire year for this organization. Why?

A. Really since the day Theo Epstein took over, this organization has been in a huge talent-procurement mode. And what better time to add a ton of young players to your organization than draft week.

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Keep in mind that we won't know how good this draft was for several years down the road, but the Cubs know they need to hit a home run on a couple of these picks.

Q. Some fans believe Starlin Castro has been unfairly picked on by a couple of his managers for defensive lapses considering he is so young and isn't the only one who makes mistakes. Why have Mike Quade and Dale Sveum been so pointed in their criticism of his occasional focus issues?

A. I think it's pretty simple: Everyone believes he has a chance to be one of the great players of his generation. He has all the tools to be a superstar.

But at 22 this is when the groundwork and foundation are laid for long-term success. So when certain mental mistakes are repeated, it is frustrating for his manager to watch.

The thing is, Starlin is very coachable. He wants to be the best and is eager to work as hard as it takes. But it is a process.

In terms of the other part of the question, most managers are a little more hesitant to rip veterans in the media because they have built up more equity than younger players have.

Those conversations tend to be held more behind closed doors than out in the open. Is that fair? Probably not.

But it's almost like raising and teaching kids. You tend to be more diligent and hands-on with the youngsters because you feel you can have a greater impact on their development.

Q. As we get into the third month of the season, the trade rumor mill really starts to heat up. Is it safe to say all the current Cubs veterans are available at this point?

A. I would say so, yes. Ryan Dempster will be at the top of that list considering he is a free-agent, top-of-the-rotation guy who has been terrific this year.

Assuming he's amenable to a trade to a contender, I'd be really surprised if he's not dealt this summer.

On Matt Garza, the Cubs have him under their control through next season, so there isn't nearly as much urgency there, although I would assume teams will be inquiring about his availability.

At some point, the Cubs will have to decide whether they want to move him or look to lock him into a long-term deal.

On Alfonso Soriano, with his contract running through 2014 at a very high price, dealing him is problematic. Plus, until his knees get healthy, I would have a hard time believing a contender would take a chance on him.

Q. Every team gets at least one all-star. Your top Cubs choices?

A. Castro is the likely all-star at this point. Dempster has made a great case based on his performance, but he probably won't have enough wins to make an impact. Also, if Bryan LaHair gets red-hot again, he could be an intriguing candidate.

Q. Are you looking forward to Red Sox weekend?

A. No doubt. Theo's former team coming in for a mid-June weekend, Bobby Valentine in the visiting dugout it should be a lot of fun.

Plus, we have our Hot Stove Cool Music concert with Peter Gammons, The Smashing Pumpkins and many other celebrities Thursday night. I doubt I will get any sleep for about a week!

•Len Kasper is the TV play-by-play broadcaster for the Chicago Cubs. Follow him on Twitter @lenandbob and check out his blog entries at www.wgntv.com/lenandbob. Subscriber Total Access members can email him questions each week via our online link.

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