The Chicago Cubs are having a rough season. Heading into a game with the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday, August 28, the Cubs had a 49-78 record, playing 6-19 baseball in the month of August. As difficult as 2012 has been for fans, though, the team has announced some good news in the form of a contract extension for star shortstop Starlin Castro.
Castro has been one of the team's most solid players since arriving in Chicago in 2010. Still only 22 years old, he was selected to the National League All-Star squads in 2011 and 2012. Both his .296 career batting average and his .334 on-base percentage were higher until he began to struggle some this season. As a Cubs fan, I am hoping his recent slumping is at least partly due to being distracted by these contract negotiations. Either way, things should be looking up soon.
Castro is now under contract for eight more seasons, a central piece for the organization to build around. One player will not make this team a World Series contender, but this is definitely a start. As Castro continues to grow and mature, it will be great for fans to watch him become a veteran leader himself, hopefully leading the team to success in multiple seasons.
With young talent already being placed around Castro at the major league level, the Cubs also have pieces for the future advancing in the minors. Players like Anthony Rizzo, Brett Jackson, Jorge Soler and Albert Almora are all parts of the plan, with Rizzo and Jackson already playing in Chicago. Soler was recently promoted to A-Peoria, where he is hitting .316, while Almora is hitting .318 for A-Boise.
Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer continue to make the moves that seem to put the Cubs in a better place for the future. While potential does not guarantee results, fans can at least respect the effort here in the beginning of this massive rebuilding venture. By stockpiling young talent and instilling consistency within the organization from the bottom to the top, Cubs fans should expect improvement in the near future, at the very least. Then again, at 49-78 it will be difficult to not improve.
Mike Patton is a sports fan who grew up in New Orleans cheering for the New Orleans Saints, Chicago Cubs, and LSU Tigers. As a kid in 1987, he made his first trip to Wrigley Field and also slept outside of the Louisiana Superdome to purchase playoff tickets for the Saints' first postseason appearance. Follow Mike on twitter @MikePattonGBS.