The Cubs offered Starlin Castro a 7-year, $60 million contract extension because of his potential to become one of the game’s premier shortstops.
By accepting that offer Castro essentially signed away any and all excuses for his many in-game mental lapses over the past 2.5 seasons.
That’s a huge change for a kid who’s largely been given a free pass on mental gaffes because of his youth, inexperience and talent.
If the Cubs didn’t think Castro’s mental makeup was capable of maturing they wouldn’t have offered the deal. But it does require some growing-up from Castro this offseason to prove Team Theo right.
Starlin turns 23 in March. He’s still a young man, even by baseball standards. But expecting Castro to keep his head in the game for 9-innings isn’t too much to ask. That’s part of being a professional and unquestionably comes with signing a big-boy contract.
Castro’s mental makeup will be of chief concern if his inability to stay focused isn’t improved upon in 2013. It’s unlikely he would remain a core piece of the rebuild, let alone live up to his hefty contract.
Inevitable, the Cubs would have to come to terms with trading Starlin to a team more lenient with the development of his mental game. Even this long-range rebuild can’t wait for everybody.
The hope of course is Castro’s physical game simply matured sooner than his mental one, which isn’t so unusual for a male in his early 20s. But when you’re being paid the money Starlin is, the grace period for mental miscues is quickly eliminated once you’ve signed the dotted line.
Sometimes growing up is hard to do. In Castro’s case, it’s the one thing he has to do.