Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Chris De Luca and Gordon Wittenmyer

Cubs' Epstein answers Castro critics with pending extension

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The fact the Cubs are on the verge of signing Starlin Castro to a long-term extension not only signals another key step in the new front office's long-term rebuilding plan, but also should quiet much of the growing criticism of the All-Star shortstop.

Not to mention stop the blather about this guy not being a legitimate, high-quality, big-league shortstop talent.

``I know he's one of the more elite defensive shortstops that's played the game this year,'' manager Dale Sveum said.

As for the guy who'll be on the hook for the deal that could range from four to six years, depending on option years, team president Theo Epstein says he's been impressed by Castro's big defensive improvement, his ``sky's the limit'' hitting ability and his leadership potential.

And as for the critics who seem to come out of the woodwork in numbers every time Castro commits an error or strikes out in a big situation: ``I think people forget how young this guy is,'' Epstein said.

``He's at an age where he'd be appropriate or even young for his level if he was at AA right now. I think we all know what kind of numbers he'd put up if he were in AA right now. He continues to mature at a very young age at the big-league level.

``It's the easiest thing in the world to look at a very young player like this in the big leagues and point out what he can't do or what he doesn't yet do consistently. I think it's important to acknowledge those things and identify them as areas for continued growth and development.

``Then you have to step back and look what the player can do. He's extraordinarily athletic at shortstop. He's proven he has the range; he has the arm, and then some. He has the hands, when he has the proper footwork to go with it. ...

``Sure, he's made a few careless errors through the course of the year, and lately, as all shortstops do. But he's showing he can make every play that we need him to make, and he's showing that, as we've demanded of him, that he can show greater growth in his consistency.

``Offensively ... obviously patience and discipline at the plate have not come yet, but what he's doing even without that at his age is still impressive. And you take someone who's done what he's done at age 20 to 22 and project what they're capable of doing in their mid-20s and late-20s, I'd be shocked if he's not an impact offensive player for the position.''

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This page contains a single entry by Gordon Wittenmyer published on August 17, 2012 10:24 PM.

Spoiler Alert: Here come the Cubs ... and there they go was the previous entry in this blog.

Report: Cubs, Castro agree to 7-year, $60-million deal is the next entry in this blog.

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