Allow me to create a hypothetical situation. What if Starlin Castro made a transition to second base? It would create an opening at shortstop, which with a trade, could provide the Cubs with a legitimate lead-off hitter.
A switch to second base could provide the remedy to Starlin Castro‘s defensive woes. Castro has excellent range and could develop into a solid defensive player. Playing second base would allow Castro to make shorter throws thus cutting down his throwing errors considerably. It would also allow room for a shortstop that can lead off and ignite the offense. But who?
What we’re looking for, is a player that can lead off, has a high OBP, steals bases, and plays solid defense. That’s it. Any player that fits that description is worth consideration. I may miss a few. There are many minor leaguers who could meet the requirements but, for all intents and purposes, I will focus on established veterans.
Let’s examine shortstops with a combination of these attributes.
While there are many “untouchables” out there with high on-base per centages, here are some players that may be fair game.
Hanley Ramirez of the Florida Marlins. His OBP last season was .378. He also stole 32 bases. The Marlins have a history of cleaning house and Ramirez could easily be on the trading block. He is an all-star caliber player.
Hanley Ramirez and Starlin Castro would make a lethal combination up the middle and a powerful and speedy 1 – 2 punch at the top of the order. I wonder if Jim Hendry could pull off such a deal.
Consider this: The Cubs have a highly touted shortstop in the minors. Hak- Ju Lee will be ready for the big leagues in a couple years and the Cubs will have to decide whether or not to move Castro to second base anyway, so why not make the transition now and acquire a shortstop that can leadoff and provide defensive prowess?
Jose Reyes is another possibility. The New York Mets may want to trade Reyes. Like the Cubs, the METS have paid a ton of money and have been disappointed by the results. Perhaps a contract for contract trade would work out for both teams.
Jose Reyes hit .282 and had 30 steals last season. Starlin Castro could benefit by having a veteran double play partner, someone that can also teach him to lead off. Castro needs a mentor to inspire him.
Rafael Furcal is another possibility. The Los Angeles Dodgers are in turmoil and it sounds like they are prepared to clean house.
The time may be right to swoop down and pluck Furcal from the Dodgers. In 2010, Furcal batted .300 with a .366 OBP. He stole 22 bases.
There aren’t any fits on the free agent market so a trade would have to happen. Possibly a better solution to the leadoff dilemma would be a free agent second baseman, but that’s another blog. For now, I will have to explore the possibilty of adding a shortstop and moving Castro to second base, a position that Castro may be better at. We have to explore the possibilities and wonder…What if?