Castros 200 hits just the beginning

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Castros 200 hits just the beginning

Friday, Sept. 23, 2011Posted: 7:20 p.m. Updated: 11:51 p.m.

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com Cubs Insider Follow @CSNMooney
WATCH: Soriano happy for Castro

ST. LOUIS Starlin Castro has made it look easy.

It doesnt matter if Castros staring at a Cy Young Award winner or aSeptember call-up. Hes going to attack and be aggressive and go withhis instinctual feel for hitting.

Castro fouled off the games first pitch on Friday night. He drove thenext one from Chris Carpenter into center field. The line drive landedon Busch Stadiums green grass.

Someone threw the ball back into the dugout, which Castro plans to giveto his father back home in the Dominican Republic. Thats just one ofmany mementos that will be collected during what Castro believes couldbe a Hall of Fame career.

With that natural swing, Castro notched his 200th hit this season. Itcame during the first inning of a 5-1 victory that seriously damagedthe playoff hopes of the St. Louis Cardinals. He became the youngestCub in franchise history to reach the milestone, and the sixth-youngestto get there in major-league history.

Castro essentially has a Yeah, sure, why not? attitude to just aboutanything in this game. But hes definitely in elite company now. Since1900, only nine other players have reached 200 hits at the age of 21 oryounger, including: Alex Rodriguez, Al Kaline, Joe DiMaggio and Ty Cobb.

You got a potential superstar, Ryan Dempster said. He sure can hit.Its incredible his hand-eye coordination, his ability to put thebarrel of the bat on the ball. (Hes) just going to get better andbetter. The skys really the limit for him.

On this night, Dempster pitched six innings of one-run ball, andAlfonso Soriano blasted the go-ahead, three-run homer in the eighththat left the Cardinals (86-71) three games back in the wild-card racewith five to play. But very soon this entire Cubs team will revolvearound Castro.

(Its) performance on the field, Soriano said. You dont have totalk to be a leader. If he plays good, all those young guys around himare going to want to play like him.

Castro needed only 264 games and less than 1,000 at-bats in the minorsto prove that he was ready. The Cubs tried to downplay his offensivepotential and talked up his defensive range when he was promoted on May7 last year.

Castro then went out that night in Cincinnati and smashed a three-runhomer in his first at-bat and finished with six RBIs, a record for amajor-league debut.

The kids not afraid of the big moment. But even Jose Serra the scoutwho signed Castro out of the Dominican Republic almost five years ago had to admit: I didnt think at this time he was going to be in thebig leagues and doing the things that hes doing right now.

READ: Introducing the Cubs scout who found a huge Star(lin)

Castro has done it at Wrigley Field, on national television and infront of a demanding fan base. The All-Star shortstop was called out byESPNs Bobby Valentine and media members have speculated about a moveto another position. He keeps coming back for more.

Hes a really tough kid, bench coach Pat Listach said. He lovesplaying the game and he took it personal when he was criticized (and)I would have, too. But all he can do is (play). The people that aresaying these things about him and writing these things about him dontknow how hard it is to go out there and play that game every day.

Manager Mike Quade has pushed and disciplined Castro, the same way heonce coached up future American League MVP Miguel Tejada in Double-Aball. With Aramis Ramirez set to leave as a free agent, maybe the Cubswont need a traditional power-hitting third baseman. At the veryleast, they have a player to build their lineup around for the nextdecade.

No matter how good Cassie is andor becomes, you still want tosurround him with the best people available, Quade said. Were stillin projection mode with him. I think we have a really nice player. Fromthe power standpoint, it looks like hes heading in that direction. ButIm kind of a Missouri guy: Show me.

Castro feels like he has it all mapped out. Bat .300, get 200 hits andmake the All-Star team. Every year. He knows he has to cut down on hiserrors (28) to win a Gold Glove. Hes learned English because he wantsthe clubhouse responsibilities and the marketing opportunities.

Im working hard, Castro said, in preparation to be a complete superstar.

Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Tyson Ross could be one of the final pieces for Cubs’ offseason puzzle

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AP

Tyson Ross could be one of the final pieces for Cubs’ offseason puzzle

Tyson Ross could be one of the final pieces of the offseason puzzle as the Cubs try to defend their World Series title while still planning for the future.

The Cubs left this week’s winter meetings in Maryland still involved in the Ross talks, sources said, monitoring an intriguing pitcher they had targeted before the 2015 trade deadline.

The San Diego Padres didn’t really buy or sell during that pennant race and made another curious decision last week when they didn’t offer Ross a contract for 2017. MLB Trade Rumors projected Ross would have made $9.6 million during his final year in the arbitration system.

After issues involving his right shoulder wiped out almost his entire season, Ross underwent surgery in October to address thoracic outlet syndrome.

Ross was San Diego’s Opening Day starter during a 15-0 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers, but didn’t pitch again, clouding a future that once had him looking like a trade-deadline chip and one of the best pitchers in the free-agent class after the 2017 season.

That’s when Jake Arrieta will be looking for his megadeal and John Lackey might be in retirement and Jon Lester will be turning 34. That’s why the Cubs are so focused on pitching this winter and trying to balance out an organization tilted toward hitters.

[SHOP CUBS: Get your World Series champions gear right here]

Kyle Hendricks proved he will be a pitcher to build around – and the Cubs believe Mike Montgomery can evolve from a swingman into a fifth starter and maybe something far more valuable – but depth is a real issue.

Ross made 30-plus starts in 2014 and 2015, when he earned an All-Star selection and accounted for almost 400 innings combined. He will turn 30 in April and is seen as a positive force within the clubhouse. He has a 6-foot-6 frame, a second-round-pick pedigree and a Cal-Berkeley education.

Reports have already linked the Texas Rangers and Pittsburgh Pirates to Ross and not completely ruled out a return to San Diego. During an offseason where the free-agent market is essentially devoid of reliable frontline starters, there could be sticker shock, even with a rehabbing pitcher.

Trading for Wade Davis meant the Cubs were out of the bidding for Greg Holland, another All-Star closer who helped turn the Kansas City Royals into World Series champions. Holland spent this year recovering from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, but he will still be in position to capitalize after Mark Melancon, Aroldis Chapman and eventually Kenley Jansen reset the market for closers.

With Ross, the Cubs will have to get a better sense of the medical picture and the price for all that upside.

Beyond a winning culture, the Cubs can sell the pitching infrastructure that helped turn Arrieta into a Cy Young Award winner and transform Hendricks into an ERA leader and keep the rotation remarkably healthy.

“Those really talented pitchers are going to be in demand, even those that are coming off an injury,” Cubs president Theo Epstein said this week at National Harbor. “We’ll stay engaged on some of those guys, but they’ll have to be just the right talent.

“We’ll have to feel good about the medical and the return to play. And the fit on the club would have to be right, too. But the true elite guys have a real market, even if they’re coming off down seasons.”

Cubs' MVP Kris Bryant signs multi-year extension with Adidas

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USA TODAY

Cubs' MVP Kris Bryant signs multi-year extension with Adidas

Kris Bryant just keeps on winning in 2016.

Two months after leading the Cubs to their first World Series title in 108 years, Bryant signed a multi-year extension with Adidas.

"It's a phenomenal time to be partnered with Adidas with all the energy and momentum that the brand has right now," Bryant said via a press release. "Adidas embraced me as part of the family from the start."

Bryant was named National League MVP after hitting .292 with 39 homers and 102 RBIs. He hit .308 with three homers and 8 RBIs in the postseason.

Bryant first signed with Adidas in 2014 after the Cubs made him the No. 2 pick in the 2013 MLB Draft.