Although I reference that the Cubs did sign Castro to an extension, perhaps it wasn't clear that this was written as if Castro would instead go through the arbitration process. This was the time at which I read these articles.
This is something I've been meaning to write for at least a month, but just haven't gotten around to it. About 4-6 weeks ago I read in more than one place about how Starlin Castro would become a super-two eligible player, which means he'd have 4 years of arbitration eligibility rather than 3. The articles I read, some of them blogs, said flat out that Jim Hendry was a moron for calling Castro up when he did. People said that because the Cubs were trying to win games in early 2010 when they likely wouldn't contend they should have waited.
Winning games is kind of what teams try to do. Even last week we heard Dale Sveum talking about trying to win games and the Cubs are 300 games out of first place. You're never going to find a team in any sport who freely admits that they're not trying to win games. Of course they should try to win games. Especially in early May when all kinds of things could wrong for your opponents and the Cubs could have taken advantage of that.
Because of Castro becoming super-two, he'll earn more money than if the Cubs had waited 6 to 8 weeks to call him up. It may have been a factor in whether or not the Cubs decided to extend him already.
Calling up as early as the Cubs did undoubtedly cost them a couple million bucks, but when you consider the likelihood that a player that young stays on the roster for good, the risk in calling him up is minimal.
Furthermore, the Cubs have money. I don't want the Cubs to act like the Tampa Bay Rays or Kansas City Royals when it comes to spending money. The Cubs have a whole hell of a lot more money than those teams. They have more than those two teams combined. The Cubs payroll this season isn't double those two teams, but it's pretty close. Combined the Royals and Rays are paying their players about $128 million to the Cubs $108 million. Last season though, the Cubs payroll was closer to $130 million and those two combined paid less than $85 million. The Cubs are not the Rays or Royals and they shouldn't act like they do.
Are Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer idiots for calling up Anthony Rizzo at the end of June? Rizzo had 68 days of service time in 2011 and he'll finish the season with exactly 100 days this year. He'll have 0 years and 168 days of service time. The expected cutoff for super-two at this point is 2 years and 139 days of service time. The Cubs could have waited a month to call up Rizzo and avoid him being a super two, but they didn't. Are they also stupid?
Are the Nationals stupid for calling up Bryce Harper at the end of April?
Then there's the issue of when to call a player up. Do you call him up in the way that most benefits the team or do you call the player up when he is ready to contribute? While I can respect the Rays for what they've done since it's been necessary, I don't like it. A player should be called up to the big leagues the moment he is ready to contribute to the MLB roster and not a moment later.
A lot of things can be said about Jim Hendry. He had the statistical knowledge of a fly. He overly relied on scouting info when statistical info was also necessary. After becoming GM he allowed the very farm system he build into the best in baseball to fall apart. He didn't hire the right development personnel in the minors, which has led to the Cubs getting little contribution from the minor leagues. His love for signing relievers to 3-year deals was ridiculous. He was passionate about having as many 2nd basemen and left fielders on the roster as possible.
What can't be said about Jim Hendry is that he wasn't fair to the players. He called them up when they were deserving of a call-up. He paid his own free agent well, but not as well as they'd have been paid in free agency.
Castro was more than deserving of the call-up. Ryan Theriot was off to a decent start, but he was a poor fielder and Mike Fontenot was OPSing under 700 at the time of Castro's big league debut. Even more important, Castro was posting a 155 wRC+ in AA after skyrocketing through the minors. He had little else to prove by staying in the minor leagues and he was clearly the team's best SS at that moment. Calling Castro up only made sense.
If your argument is that it cost the Cubs a couple million bucks, it's a weak argument. That's a couple million bucks over a 6-year span by the way. I'm pretty sure the large market Cubs can afford it so the only question is this: is the player ready and will he be replacing a lesser player? If the answer is yes then the player should be called up regardless of future salary implications. We ain't rooting for the Pittsburgh fucking Pirates here.