I'm jumping the gun a bit here, because there has been no official confirmation from the Cubs, no press release (will update with press release link here when it comes out), but it appears (via several tweets and this story at ESPNChicago.com) that the Cubs have recalled Starlin Castro from Double-A Tennessee, and, in a corresponding move, will send Chad Tracy to Iowa.
Castro is not on the 40-man roster, but that roster stands at 39, so when you hear later that the Cubs have "selected his contract" from Tennessee, it simply means the 40-man roster will be full.
Other moves were made by the Cubs today, and these are confirmed -- Andrew Cashner was promoted to Iowa, and Josh Vitters and Marwin Gonzalez were promoted from Daytona to Tennessee. Ryan Flaherty was sent from Tennessee to Daytona. There may be other corresponding moves to make room for Tracy and Cashner at Iowa. After the jump, my reaction to this move.
I've been saying since spring training that Castro "wasn't ready", despite the fact that he pounded Double-A pitching at a .376/.421/.569 rate. He's only 20 years old, still raw defensively, and with barely over 1000 minor league plate appearances -- none above Double-A -- I believe he needed more time to polish his skills.
Nevertheless, there is no doubt that Castro has major league talent. Recently, the Mets recalled Ike Davis from the minor leagues -- Davis played college ball and had roughly equivalent experience to Castro. Davis has hit major league pitching well (.292/.386/.438) and the Mets are 11-4 since his recall.
It's clear to me that the sweep at the hands of the Pirates was the wakeup call the organization needed. Completely "ready" or not, Castro is being recalled to provide the intangible "spark" that this club needs. It is, of course, impossible to measure the value of such a move to a team, but there are times when such moves do exactly what the Ike Davis recall did to the Mets -- get a team to start winning.
If I may make another comparison that's a bit of a stretch -- but maybe not -- on June 20, 2003 the Marlins, floundering at 36-38, recalled 20-year-old Miguel Cabrera, also from Double-A, where he had similarly hammered pitching at that level (.365/.429/.609). Installed in left field, Cabrera hit eighth in an interleague game vs. Tampa Bay that night. He hit a two-run walkoff homer in the last of the 11th inning.
Obviously, hoping that will happen for Castro is wishful thinking. But he will be installed as the eighth-place hitter tonight, starting at SS, with Ryan Theriot moving to second base. If nothing else, this will immediately improve the infield defense. What the Cubs need to do is stick with this plan, not bench him for a couple of days, start him, etc. If Castro is the future, the future is now. Play him. I hope he succeeds beyond our wildest dreams and is the 2010 NL Rookie of the Year.
Welcome to the big leagues, Starlin Castro, and good luck. Help bring the Cubs some wins.