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Who Are The Cubs’ Core Players?

By bullpenbrian at 11.20.2012 2 comments.

With the Cubs in full rebuild mode the term ‘core-player’ is thrown around quite frequently.

It could be interpreted any number of ways, but I simply view it as meaning the players who are already being counted on as long-term solutions of the Cubs’ rebuild.

Anthony Rizzo, for example, is one such player. He’s young, affordable, super talented and has all the characteristics of a winning player. He’s unquestionably a core-player of the Cubs’ rebuild.

However, when I set out to make a list of all the Cubs I would deem core-worthy I quickly realized there are too many uncertainties, especially with the younger prospects who have yet to reach the major leagues.

Another problem arises with players such as Matt Garza, Jeff Samardzija and Darwin Barney because their future standings with the club is uncertain, despite their talents being well qualified as core-players.

Meanwhile, the Cubs have committed long-term contracts to Starlin Castro (7-years, $60M) and Jorge Soler (9-years, $30M), but neither player appears an absolute lock.

Will Castro’s questionable mental game prevent him from being the long-term solution at shortstop? Will Soler reach the high potential he’s been praised for in the minor leagues?

We just don’t know…and the list of questions go on and on.

In the end I used good judgment to devise a list with three separate categories: “Core Players,” “Should-Be Core Players” and “Could-Be Core Players.”

Here’s the list. Did I miss anyone? Agree or disagree?

Core Players

  • CORE-PLAYERS: These players appear essential locks to be a part of the Cubs’ rebuild.
  • SHOULD BE CORE-PLAYERS: These players appear in position to become core-players in the near future, others unofficially qualify as core-players but haven’t fully been committed to by the Cubs.
  • COULD BE CORE-PLAYERS: Many of these players are the Cubs’ top prospects who have mostly shown only the potential to become core-players.
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2 Comments

  1. jdgershbein says:

    BB,

    Fine work.

    I move Darwin Barney to the CORE list. You just don’t give up on or trade a Gold Glove 2b. Too important a position. You win with guys like Barney. He not only has a terrific pair of hands, he is always in position, always thinking. I think he will eventually hit better and maybe settle into the 2-spot.

    I also move Wellington Castillo into the CORE list. It’s clear they are committing to him at C, and given the dearth of catching talent in the Big Leagues, you’re not going to supplant him at this point. He has shown signs that he could be a leader (as catchers should be). Good pop, too.

    I think Jeff Russell is correctly placed. He may make us forget that we traded Sean Marshall.

    • bullpenbrian says:

      Thanks for the comment, JD.

      I fully agree Barney should be a core player. However, my decision to place Barney in the Should-Be category is because we continue to hear grumblings the Cubs could move him this offseason in a trade.

      Barney’s Gold Glove appears to be a double-edge sword, as well. On one hand it reaffirms his value as one of the Cubs’ core players. On the other, it seemingly raises his trade value. Which direction the Cubs move with Barney, I don’t know. But if the decision were left up to me I’d make sure Barney remains a staple at second base alongside Starlin.

      Welington is another interesting case. He finished 2012 strong behind the plate and continues to show a ton of potential to be the everyday starter. Epstein is on the record as saying Castillo could prove to be a core player. Dale Sveum says he envisions the possibility of Castillo becoming a Gold Glove catcher.

      Unfortunately, the sample size for Castillo at the big league level is limited–he’s appeared in just 63-games over parts of three seasons with the Cubs. For Welington to establish himself as a true core piece of the rebuild I believe the Cubs will further evaluate his consistency, especially at the plate, over the course of a full season in 2013.

      If Castillo proves to be another Bryan LaHair he’s certain to fall out of the core category unless his defense does, in fact, turn out to be GG worthy. In the meantime, (as you mentioned) the options at catcher are limited so it appears Castillo will get every opportunity to prove himself a legit core player by season’s end of 2013.

      The thought of Castillo, Rizzo, Barney and Castro as a core infield is pretty exciting. Solid defense and plenty of offense. Opening Day cannot come soon enough!

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