By Dave Wischnowsky –
(CBS) The Cubs still don’t have a manager.
They apparently might not have Jeff Samardzija for much longer. And rumor also has it that the organization could part ways with Starlin Castro some time soon, too.
Personally, I’m not terribly worked up about any of that.
While the team’s managerial search has indeed become terribly tiresome, the fact is that Cubs’ skipper simply doesn’t matter much until the talent on the big league roster does. With Samardzija, for all his hype and hair, he’s never been as good as he’s been cracked up to be. He might make sense as valuable trade bait.
And then there’s Castro. Well, if the team’s supposed “cornerstone” can help bring an actual championship-caliber pitching arm to Chicago’s North Side, I’d likely be on board with trading him.
But not to the St. Louis Cardinals.
In the name of Lou Brock, the Cubs can’t do that.
Last week, ChicagoNow.com’s Tom Loxas reported that he’s heard whispers about the Cardinals having called the Cubs regarding Castro’s availability. According to Loxas, rumor has it that “the Cubs would want a package to center around (young pitchers Carlos) Martinez, Shelby Miller or Tyrell Jenkins and possibly a shortstop.”
He then added, “Supposedly the Cards didn’t exactly hang up the phone, I’m told.”
Well, the Cubs should have when it comes to making a deal with the Cardinals involving a young hitting prospect who’s flashed 3,000-hit potential – even if Castro didn’t flash that this past season with a .245 average.
About Castro landing in St. Louis, Loxas wrote: “You just know Castro becomes a perennial All-Star there. Not to mention the boon he would receive being under Yadi Molina and Carlos Beltran’s wings. However, the Cubs front office won’t and can’t concern themselves with that.”
I’d argue that they absolutely should and they certainly can. After all, how exactly does anyone think that the Cubs will actually get to a division championship, let alone a World Series?
By climbing over the Cardinals, of course.
If the Cubs really do “know Castro becomes a perennial All-Star” in St. Louis, then there’s no way you make that trade. Strengthening yourself while simultaneously strengthening your archrival doesn’t actually make you any stronger at all. Loxas did point out that, “At the end of the day, the Cubs need arms. They need pitching prospects.”
And they absolutely do. I’ve been saying that myself for two years. But you also have to be smart about where you get those arms from and what you give up in return for them. If the Cubs were to make such a deal with St. Louis there’s certainly the possibility that they could end up fleecing the Cardinals in the deal. But based on two franchises’ history, I’m much more fearful of the Cubs getting shorn.
After all, back in 1964 the Cubs also were in need of pitching and they thought they had the perfect plan to acquire it. Tired of the lack of development they were seeing in their 24-year-old outfielder, who had batted only .260 over his first two seasons, the Cubs decided to deal Lou Brock. They ended up sending the kid to St. Louis for a package built around pitcher Ernie Broglio, who had won 18 games for the Cards in 1963.
Broglio then won seven for the Cubs. In three seasons. And he lost 19, before retiring with arm troubles at the age of 30.
Brock, meanwhile, went on to help the Cardinals win the 1964 World Series and ultimately compile a Hall of Fame career that included 3,023 hits, a .293 career average and 938 stolen bases.
Just one year ago, Castro looked like he was well on his way to a 3,000-hit career himself. I’m far less confident about that happening now, and with hotshot middle infield prospect Javy Baez in the Cubs’ pipeline, I’m open to the idea of trading Castro for pitching.
But look for it somewhere other than St. Louis.
If nothing else, Dave Wischnowsky is an Illinois boy. Raised in Bourbonnais, educated at the University of Illinois and bred on sports in the Land of Lincoln, he now resides on Chicago’s North Side, just blocks from Wrigley Field. Formerly a reporter and blogger for the Chicago Tribune, Dave currently writes a syndicated column, The Wisch List, which you can check out via his blog at http://www.wischlist.com. Follow him on Twitter @wischlist and read more of his CBS Chicago blog entries here.