Is Starlin Castro A Part Of The Cubs' Problem, Or The Solution?

ATLANTA : Starlin Castro #13 of the Chicago Cubs throws out a runner against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

Starlin Castro leads the National League with 164 hits.

Monday night against the Braves, Starlin Castro was benched. His manager called it "a mental day," which is a euphemism for "We're going to give him a day off to think about what he did."

What did he do? This:

Benching a young player for a game or two isn't anything new. Maybe it doesn't happen as often as it used to, but B.J. Upton's been benched for failing to hustle and so has Jimmy Rollins (when he wasn't even so young anymore). Certainly, when your shortstop is staring off into space (or wherever) when a pitch is being delivered and it's on national TV and Bobby Valentine spends seven minutes ripping the shortstop, management has to do something.

Thus, the benching. Which was fair.

If you're a Cubs fan, though, you have to hope management doesn't overreact.

Aramis Ramírez has probably been the Cubs' best player this season. He's 33, he's making $15 million this season, and if he's still around next season he'll make $16 million.

Starlin Castro has probably been the Cubs' second-best player this season. He's 21, he's making virtually nothing this season, and he'll make virtually nothing next season.

There are legitimate questions about Castro's focus, and there are legitimate questions about Castro's defense at shortstop. But there aren't any questions about his youth or his performance or his practically nonexistent salary. All things considered, he is the most valuable property the Cubs currently own, with the exception of Wrigley Field. There's going to be a lot of loose talk in the next few days, and perhaps all winter long, about Starlin Castro's future with the franchise.

Which is all fine and dandy, as long he has a future with the franchise. And that future should be at shortstop until he absolutely proves that he can't play there without completely embarrassing himself.

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