Cubs need to consider moving Castro from shortstop

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Cubs need to consider moving Castro from shortstop

There is no denying that Starlin Castro is a sensational hitter and an offensive force that will continue to get better and better as he matures physically. However, after making 27 and 29 errors, respectively, over the past two seasons and watching his slow start defensively this season (4 errors), I have come to the conclusion that he is not the long-term answer at shortstop and that a position change is a necessity in the future.

While the Cubs minor league system is not at the level that Theo Epstein is expecting it to be at when his staff has had a handful of drafts to work with, they do have a handful of shortstop prospects that are considered major-league caliber players in the near future.

Junior Lake is currently at Class-AA Tennessee and while he is still raw, he possesses all of the necessary tools to be a solid major leaguer. In addition, last Junes No. 1 pick Javier Baez is a shortstop and while he may outgrow the position eventually, he is a major talent as a hitter and currently projects as an infielder in the big leagues.

Castro is a tremendous talent but his defense is far behind his offense and he appears to lack concentration in the field, which is evident in the simple throwing mistakes he has made over the first week-and-a-half of the 2012 season. His bat will be the facet of his game that makes him a star, so why not move him now on a team that does not appear to be a contender?

Darwin Barney is a natural shortstop and would give the Cubs better defense there than Castro does, including better concentration on the routine plays that Castro often makes a mistake on. Castro is an excellent athlete and could make the move to the OF much like Robin Yount did during his stellar career in Milwaukee.

Whether the move comes now or next winter, I believe it is in the Cubs' best interest to put Castro in a position where he can use his athleticism defensively while he continues to develop into a run-producing hitter who will eventually be one of the best hitters in baseball. However, his defense keeps him from becoming a truly elite player at his position.

Marist 2018 DT Elijah Teague pledges to Minnesota

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Marist 2018 DT Elijah Teague pledges to Minnesota

Chicago Marist three star ranked defensive tackle Elijah Teague (6-foot-3, 292 pounds) made his first visit to the University of Minnesota this weekend and earlier this evening gave head coach PJ Fleck and the Gophers his early verbal commitment.

"I'm excited, or as Coach Fleck would say, I'm elite," he told Rivals.com's The Gopher Report. "(The coaches) were excited themselves. They really wanted me, so they were excited -- more excited than me I believe."

Teague has seen his recruiting stock soar over the past few months. Teague, who is the first known State of Illinois verbal pledge to Fleck and the Gophers in the Class of 2018 and the fourth Minnesota pledge overall chose Minnesota over 30 plus verbal offers from Power 5 schools from across the country.

"Everything made it the right place," he said. "Just looking at (Fleck's) background and what he did at Western Michigan, I think he can do the same thing (at Minnesota). I'm excited to be a part of it."

Blown out by Iowa, Maryland stumbles to third straight loss

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USA TODAY

Blown out by Iowa, Maryland stumbles to third straight loss

It's been a tough week for the teams at the top of the Big Ten standings.

Maryland and Wisconsin both lost earlier this week, and Purdue lost on Saturday afternoon. Saturday night, the horrors continued for the Terps, who suffered their third straight defeat in a blowout 83-69 loss to the visiting Iowa Hawkeyes in College Park.

Maryland's last lead came near the midway point of the first half before Iowa sprinted away on a 22-10 run to build a double-digit lead, an advantage that grew as big as 22 in the final minutes. All in all, the Hawkeyes knocked down 16 3-pointers. The Terps weren't too far behind with 11 deep balls of their own, but they shot just 40.7 percent in the second half, unable to keep up.

The high-scoring Hawkeyes were powered by freshman Jordan Bohannon, who scored 24 points on a whopping eight made 3-pointers. Fellow freshman Tyler Cook joined him with a 20-point night, finishing with 21 points, while Peter Jok and Nicholas Baer each ended with 11.

Iowa, not completely out of the NCAA tournament realm of possibility, helped its shaky case greatly with this victory.

Maryland, meanwhile, is a lock to make the field of 68 teams, but much like the other presumed conference powers, its struggles are hitting at the most inopportune time.

The Terps have lost five of their last seven and three of their last four at home. Back-to-back home losses this week against Minnesota and Iowa have featured big days for opposing offenses. Prior to the Hawkeyes' performance Saturday, the Golden Gophers dropped 89 points on 50-percent shooting.

The woes of Maryland — plus those of Purdue and Wisconsin — set up not just an interesting final week of the regular season but an interesting Big Ten Tournament that could feature a dark horse like Minnesota entering as the favorite. A surging team like Michigan might be more capable of making a deep run than the top three seeds given their recent struggles.

The Terps will have as good a chance as any to make noise in that tournament and the one that follows throughout the month of March. Winnable games against Rutgers and Michigan State remain, but they're on a bad stretch right now, one that should only elevate the panic after Saturday's defeat.