Castro's gaffes provide reason to pay attention to Cubs
Let's dismiss right now the notion that there's no reason to watch the Cubs the rest of the season.
Starlin Castro remains a one-man vaudeville act.
What might this man do next? Come out for an inning wearing a bow tie and Groucho glasses? Use a frying pan for a glove if he hasn't already?
Castro has used up most of the customary oddities at Wrigley Field, so he invented an odder one Saturday.
Without Castro the Cardinals' 4-0 victory would have been just another Cubs shutout loss, which has become pretty predictable by now.
But Castro made a fielding play at shortstop that would have been stranger only if he peeled the baseball, buttered it and swallowed it whole.
Castro caught a popup in short left field, held the ball, dropped his head and turned a harmless out into a sacrifice fly.
Seriously, folks, not every baseball team or baseball player offers that sort of intrigue. A fan in the stands at Wrigley Field has to keep his head in the game if for no other reason than Castro doesn't.
It's said that you see something new every day in baseball, and it's said primarily because of Starlin Castro.
Some believe that more and more Castro looks less and less like a foundation piece in the Cubs' rebuilding process.
Those people are missing the point. To be honest, I have been among them.
Despite being anointed general manager emeritus of Chicago baseball, I failed to see the value in Castro's brain cramps.
Instead I have been trying to trade him for years now. The most recent proposal was this spring: Castro in a package to Miami for slugger Giancarlo Stanton.
Castro still was attractive enough that the Marlins might have bitten, but they chose to hold on to Stanton.
The more relevant suggestion was a couple of years ago, the idea being that Castro was inflicted with the Cubs bug that had prevented them from winning a World Series since 1908.
Castro was a leftover from the previous management regime. He was in the major leagues before Cubs baseball president Theo Epstein could install the Cubs Way throughout the minor leagues.
I'm not too proud to admit being misguided in my attempts to flush Castro from the Cubs' system.
A year ago, Epstein ignored my counsel. He gave Castro a seven-year, $60 million contract to provide comic relief during an otherwise drab few years as the club's makeup is being made over.
Castro could be the attraction while the Cubs wait for prospects like Javier Baez, Albert Almora, Jorge Soler and Kris Bryant to arrive in Wrigley Field.
"Step right up, ladies and gentlemen," the carnival barker at Clark and Addison could bark, "and buy your tickets to see the confounding Mr. Castro!"
Heck, the Cubs could make him multidimensional: Move him to the outfield so he can miss the cutoff man; use him as a pinch runner so he can be caught by the hidden-ball trick; ask him to pitch so he can cross up the catcher's signs.
The Cubs could splice together a montage of Castro mess-ups to show to minor-leaguers as the Cubs No-Way.
Tell me, what fun would it be if Castro still were batting .307 like he did in 2011? His current .244 average and .278 on-base percentage add to his growing legend as a Cubs throwback player.
Dale Sveum removed Castro from the game after his gaffe Saturday, and we can only hope that the Cubs manager's sense of humor returns by Sunday.
Wrigley Field wouldn't be the same without Starlin Castro in the lineup to add suspense over what folly he might perpetrate next.
I'm guessing a stroll to third base on a walk.
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