Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 8/18/12

It's not exactly an eyebrow-raising development that the Chicago Cubs have talked about a contract extension for shortstop Starlin Castro.

But the timing of the story does raise some questions.

To wit:

Why now?

What is Castro worth?

What kind of player will he become?

And what about all that criticism, veiled and mild as it might be at times, from manager Dale Sveum and others within the organization?

Whatever the case, the Cubs obviously think Castro is a building block for the future of their organization. One report had the Cubs talking about a possible six-year contract extension that would take Castro through his arbitration-eligible years and into his free agency period.

Much of the talk appears to have come from Castro's side, through agent Paul Kinzer, but Cubs president Theo Epstein acknowledged to reporters in Cincinnati before the Cubs' 7-3 loss Friday that talks are under way.

"I'll confess that he speaks the truth," Epstein said. "We are talking. It's something we would like to get done. I think it would be a good thing for Starlin and for the ballclub."

Castro, 22, entered this season with one year plus 150 days of service time to his credit. He led the National League in hits last season and has had an up-and-down 2012.

The biggest knocks against him are that he suffers lapses of concentration in the field and that he is overly aggressive at the plate. Sveum has said more than once that Castro can be as good as he wants to become, which might be the manager's way of saying Castro is not getting everything from his immense ability.

For his part, Castro said he wants to remain a Cub for a long time.

"It's very important for me," Castro said. "My (feeling) is that I want to be here and I want to be with the team for a long time."

Even Sveum seemed to soften some of what has been perceived as critical rhetoric toward Castro.

"The other day, he had three hits and a two-run homer," Sveum said. "He's got about nine RBI since I put him in the fifth spot. Sometimes we get caught up with averages and all that, but he's been driving in runs in that spot, too, with his two-run doubles."

This one bears watching, but a deal might not be done until the end of the season.

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