Countdown to Camp: Who needs big year?

February, 13, 2014
Feb 13
9:00
AM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
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Cubs/PhilliesReid Compton/USA TODAY SportsStarlin Castro had career lows in batting average, on-base percentage and RBIs in 2013.
MESA, Ariz. -- There is little doubt the Chicago Cubs need shortstop Starlin Castro to have a big year -- more so than anyone else on the roster.

And it has nothing to do with wins and losses.

If Castro can return to All-Star form, it settles a lot of issues and puts the Cubs in a good position moving forward. Especially in the infield.

SportsNation

Who needs to have a big year besides Starlin Castro?

  •  
    64%
  •  
    6%
  •  
    18%
  •  
    3%
  •  
    9%

Discuss (Total votes: 1,321)

Castro’s natural talent speaks for itself. In 2011, when he was 21, he had 207 hits. That doesn’t happen by accident. But his batting average has slid the past two years, from .307 that year to .283 in 2012 to .245 last season.

The Cubs are hoping a managerial change gets Castro back to being Castro. He’s a free swinger, but one who made good contact in achieving back-to-back All-Star appearances his first two full years in the league.

The Cubs have a slew of infield prospects getting close to making it to the major leagues. None is closer than 2011 first-round pick Javier Baez. He plays shortstop as well. If Castro struggles again, it leaves the Cubs in a position of deciding what exactly to do in the middle of the infield.

A solid Castro opens the door for a position change for Baez and the potential for a deadly infield. Otherwise, the Cubs would be starting over at shortstop. It’s simply the last thing anyone wants to see.

If Baez takes over there, the Cubs would be hard-pressed to move Castro to somewhere else on the diamond. It would mean he's struggling and the potential to lose him for good would be high. His trade value would be lower than ever and the Cubs will have simply wasted years developing him. Plus, the weight of the world then falls on Baez, who is still developing his own game. This is all a worst case scenario that's not likely to happen.

A big year out of Castro restores his confidence and the confidence from the Cubs and the fan base. It sets up the infield with cornerstones at shortstop and first base as the Cubs envisioned heading into last season. And it opens the door for heavy competition at third and second base.

First, it's about Castro but then it's about the rest of the team. Either way, he needs a big year.

Jesse Rogers | email

Chicago Cubs beat reporter
Jesse joined ESPN Chicago in September 2009 and covers the Chicago Cubs for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN Radio 1000.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Jason Hammel
WINS ERA SO IP
8 2.98 104 108
OTHER LEADERS
BAA. Rizzo .283
HRA. Rizzo 25
RBIA. Rizzo 58
RA. Rizzo 71
OPSA. Rizzo .912
ERAJ. Samardzija 2.83
SOJ. Hammel 104