Monday, November 16, 2009

Cubs Shouldn't Trade Castro for Granderson

In his blog post today, ESPN's Keith Law (Insider only) suggested that the Cubs could easily land Tigers center fielder Curtis Granderson if they were willing to deal shortstop Starlin Castro and third baseman Josh Vitters in the same package.

I, for one, am very against such an idea for the Cubs. While that deal would certainly improve the 2010 Cubs, given their long-term contractual obligations, they simply shouldn't be looking to deal those kinds of players. The Cubs already owe significant money to Zambrano, Ramirez, Soriano, Dempster, Fukudome and Bradley, and they need a productive farm system to fill in the gaps.

Castro, 19, is the Cubs' best prospect and arguably the best shortstop in the minor leagues. He could potentially take over as Chicago's everyday shortstop in 2011, enabling them to move current everyday shortstop Ryan Theriot to second base, improving the team at two positions.

While Vitters, 20, hasn't developed as quickly as Castro since being picked third overall in the 2007 Rule IV draft, he's still one of the best pure hitting prospects in the game. His biggest flaw is a developing approach at the plate, he rarely walked in A ball in 2009, although his relatively low strikeout rate reflects his impressive hitting ability. He's not great defensively, but he should be able to stick there if his bat develops properly.

Given that Granderson is a pretty flawed player, he's essentially only playable against right-handed pitchers, I just don't see how the Cubs can afford to gut their farm system to get him, especially if it means including Castro, the kind of piece that the Cubs should build around.

At the core though, the Cubs need to focus on keeping Castro. Vitters still has a lot of development left, and if his bat doesn't pan out then it's not likely that he'll offer very much, compared to Castro, who's already good enough to play in the majors defensively.

If the Cubs could tempt the Tigers without including Castro or top pitchers Andrew Cashner and Jay Jackson, then I could certainly see a deal working out. The Cubs have other young shortstop prospects, Hak-Ju Lee, Ryan Flaherty and Junior Lake, specifically, that could entice the Tigers, and certainly Detroit could have some interest in using Jake Fox in the DH role.

Could the Cubs interest Detroit with an offer based around Vitters, Lee, Fox and a pitcher, such as Esmailyn Caridad, Jeff Stevens or Aaron Shafer? The big idea though, is to keep an eye on Starlin Castro.


  1. scribble - Agreed. I for one am a little more ready to trade Castro but I do understand and agree with your stance that they should try to keep him. That said, Castro still has a way to go and we don't know if he'll actually get there. Here's hoping he does but if he is the difference between getting Granderson or not, depending on what else is included, I would probably do it. I do think Vitters is the one to move and I think there are enough other quality prospects, pitching and otherwise that the Tigers would find interesting. I believe that if Jim Hendry is properly motivated and if ownership is willing to take on salary, perhaps including a higher payroll than they planed for '10 then there's definitely a deal to be made.

  2. From what I've read, Castro doesn't have THAT far to go.

    He showed a good approach at the plate, posting 10 walks and 12 strikeouts in 31 games in AA, after showing good bat control in High A ball. He has developing power, and most scouts believe that he should be able to hit for average power once his body fills out, adding to the ability to hit for average, walk some, and steal lots of bases.

    But the big thing with Castro is defense. Already regarded as an above-average defensive shortstop, he could have an impact very by 2011 given his glove, and the Cubs will likely consider the defensive improvement from bringing him up to move Theriot over to second base.

    Granderson just isn't the kind of player that the Cubs should deal a potential cornerstone shortstop for, given that he's underpaid but not necessarily cheap and he doesn't belong in the lineup against left-handers, ever.

    Vitters is a different story, because he's essentially not a prospect if he doesn't take big strides with his plate discipline and pitch recognition. He's still young and raw, so the upside is still there, but he has a lot of development left and it's tougher to get value of the guy if his bat doesn't move forward.

    I still think that the Cubs could get a deal done without Castro or Andrew Cashner, if they're willing to include Vitters, Hak-Ju Lee, Chris Carpenter and Jake Fox in an offer.

    That would still leave the Cubs with a solid Top 3 of Castro, Cashner and Brett Jackson, who hopefully isn't Tyler Colvin 2.0.

  3. I went back and looked at Castro's stats again, he was a little better with the bat than I remembered. With the thought of pushing Theriot off SS and to 2b I think you may be right, the Cubs probably shouldn't trade him. Or if they did they shouldn't have to include much more to get a player like Granderson. I do like Granderson and even though he can't hit lefties he has shown the ability in the past (2008) to at least be playable. The Cubs did hire one of the best hitting coaches in the majors after all.

    Point taken though. I'd still like the Cubs to look in on Granderson but I believe they should do it without sacrificing Castro.