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Article updated: 9/3/2012 8:05 AM

A lot of upside to Cubs with the new deal with Castro

By

Q. What's your take on the Starlin Castro contract extension?

A. I think the Cubs hit a home run.

Yes, a seven-year commitment is a long one, but when you consider what he could have made year-to-year in arbitration and then in his early free agency years, this should be a great bargain for the club.

What Castro gets out of it is immediate financial security for himself and his family and now can just go out and play ball without any outside distractions on that front.

Look, I'll be the first to admit that I've been guilty at times at looking at what he hasn't done yet as opposed to what he has already accomplished at such a young age. The tools he possesses -- a great ability to make contact and hit for average, a ton of athleticism and speed to go along with some above-average defensive skills -- are things you can't teach.

And he's proven that he will work hard to improve at all facets of the game, particularly on the defensive side.

I can't really encapsulate it better than my friend Joe Sheehan, who wrote last week in his newsletter, "Castro has so many baseball tools that he's been able to, in his early twenties, be an average baseball player without possessing very many skills. If he's able to learn skills -- better focus and decision-making in the field, better technique when fielding and throwing, better choices as to when to swing and when not to swing, better swing mechanics -- he could be, no exaggeration, one of the best players of his generation."

For a $60 million commitment spread over seven years, this contract is a no-brainer for the organization.

Q. You will get your first look at the Nationals this week since the opening series of the season. Are you surprised they are leading the NL East?

0 Not one bit. I am a terrible predictor and generally try to avoid making any assumptions in spring training about certain teams because so much can happen over the course of the season, but when we saw the Nationals early, I just really liked their roster, particularly the starting rotation.

And remember, this was before Bryce Harper was called up.

How they will fare in October remains to be seen, especially with Stephen Strasburg sitting on the sidelines, but they have had a mighty impressive regular season.

Q. As we hit September, are you in favor of the current roster expansion rules?

A. Not at all.

Brewers' GM Doug Melvin came up with the idea a few years ago of having a game day cap on the active roster. I like that idea. It's strange that during the most important month, teams play games under different parameters.

I think a 25-man roster forces a manager to really manage. When you add five, seven, maybe 10 extra guys to the mix, it creates a different strategic game. Now, the counter is that 1) it's important to add pitchers because guys are tired by September and 2) you want to give young players some experience late in the season.

I get that, but what bothers me the most is the imbalance of rosters. Why is it right that one team should have 32 players available and the other has 29?

Melvin's idea would be to bring up as many guys with a complete roster of 40, but that you have to submit your active roster on a daily basis. This way, you can rotate relievers in and out every day to keep guys fresh, plus the nonactive guys would still get service time credit and big league pay.

Len Kasper is the TV play-by-play broadcaster for the Chicago Cubs. Follow him on Twitter @lenandbobwww.wgntv.com/lenandbob;http://www.wgntv.com/blogs/lenandbob/[URL]. Subscriber Total Access members can email him [/URL]questions;mailto:cubsquestions%40dailyherald.com?subject=Reader%20question[URL] each week via our online link.[/URL]

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