Chicago Cubs v San Francisco Giants

Is Starlin Castro the next Derek Jeter?

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While the headlines from Cubs camp this spring have focused on Carlos Zambrano and Carlos Silva, Patrick Mooney at CSN Chicago has a nice feature on the guy who, more than any other, may catapult the Cubs back into relevance in the NL Central: Starlin Castro, who is being compared to Derek Jeter in Chicago, both from a marketing perspective and from a developmental perspective:

The marketing department at 1060 W. Addison St. wants to promote Starlin Castro as the next Derek Jeter. They paired the two homegrown shortstops on billboards modeled after heavyweight prize fights: Cubs vs. Yankees, June 17-19 at Wrigley Field … Cubs baseball staffers use the Jeter analogy in a much different context. They tell you to look up how many errors Jeter committed in the minors. That tension between patience and expectations can be felt through the entire organization.

The marketing stuff is fluff. Ultimately he’ll be no more marketable than his on-field performance allows him to be.  As for that performance: despite some defensive struggles and a come-to-Quade meeting regarding his focus this spring, Castro seems ready to break out. He was hitting .485 with a .500 on-base percentage and an .848 slugging percentage through this past weekend.

More significantly, he destroyed Double-A pitching last year and more than held his own as a 20-year-old in the bigs.  That’s roughly the same course Jeter took, though he didn’t truly produce in the bigs until his star-making age-22 season. In terms of production, Castro is a bit ahead of Jeter, actually.

There are big things coming from this guy.

Josh Johnson retires from baseball

PEORIA, AZ - FEBRUARY 21: Josh Johnson #55 of the San Diego Padres poses during Picture Day on February 21, 2014 at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
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Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.

Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.

Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.

Report: Angels close to a multi-year deal with Luis Valbuena

HOUSTON, TX - JULY 08:  Luis Valbuena #18 of the Houston Astros hits a three run walkoff home run in the ninth inning to defeat the Oakland Athletics 10-9 at Minute Maid Park on July 8, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.

Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.

Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.