On this day ten years ago, Starlin Castro made his historic major league debut for the Cubs in Cincinnati against the rival Reds.
The anniversary of Castro’s historic debut is really the quintessential throwback Thursday for Cubs fans. The state of the franchise was in some limbo at that time, and fans were uncertain where the franchise was heading.
The 2010 Cubs were on a downswing after two successful seasons in 2007 and 2008 that saw the team capture NL Central titles. In that season, Lou Piniella was stepped down after 125 games, amassing a 51-74 record. After that, Mike Quade took over and the team went 24-13 down the stretch. Staples such as Ted Lilly, Derrek Lee, Mike Fontenot, and Ryan Theriot were all dealt mid-season, the team didn’t have much of a pipeline, Marlon Byrd was the team’s major offseason acquisition, and the Cubs had no sense of direction. However, Starlin Castro provided some hope for what the future could bring.
Castro’s start was over the moon in comparison to any expectations. Castro homered in his first at-bat, making him just the sixth Cub to ever do so. He also drove in six runs, setting a major league record for a player’s debut.
It’s safe to say Castro’s debut was really the first piece to the eventual World Series team of 2016. Castro obviously was not on that championship team, but he was the first piece of successful Cubs baseball that included names such as Javier Baez, Addison Russell, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Kyle Schwarber. Fellow Cubs’ prospect Jorge Soler also made his debut in Cincinnati and had a magical performance. However, no Cubs’ debut compares to Starlin Castro’s ten years ago today.
Starlin Castro is still a favorite to many Cubs fans. He had a fun personality, a big smile, and he developed into a mainstay for many years in Chicago. It’s safe to say if fans could pick one player that was on the team during the Theo Epstein era (from 2013 to present), Castro was one that fans wished could have won the World Series with the team.
However, baseball is a business, and trades are part of the industry. The Cubs sent Castro to the New York Yankees during the 2015 Winter Meetings. In his place, the Cubs signed Ben Zobrist to be the everyday second baseman. Castro was originally the starting shortstop, but after Addison Russell’s promotion in 2015, the two quickly flipped spots in the infield. Javier Baez was not at the same place in his development, so the Zobrist signing was necessary with Castro no longer in the mix. Things worked out for the Cubs, but Castro was a huge part of their success and building structure prior to the World Series title.
On a personal note, Castro will always be a fan favorite. He has now been all over the place, from New York to Miami to recently signing with the Nationals after their World Series victory. Hopefully Castro can play for a long time and have a chance at personal milestones such as 3,000 hits and a World Series title.
It’s hard to believe that this debut was ten years ago. Talk about a true throwback Thursday.