If you’ve been following the whole saga of life being Luis Castillo, you know he’s been through a wringer as of late. An ill-advised question regarding his race and a $6 million tag have drawn a bit of ire from Mets fans. There’s (most likely) other reasons. Well, Mets fans, he’s no longer your concern. At least from a roster standpoint. Castillo was given his walking papers yesterday. And he is happy to oblige.
While it’s no secret that Castillo has lost his range, his glove, his bat, well, you get the picture, he could be among the unemployed baseball players for only a brief period of time. He must pass through waivers, which is tomorrow, and then he will be able to negotiate with any club. It would be a shocker if he were to receive anything other than a minimum deal. If he were to get a deal other than that minimum, many baseball pundits would be doing one of two things…rolling at the hilarity of the signing team’s apparent desperation or delivering a golf clap to Castillo’s agent for pulling off one of the best baseball heists ever.
But far be it for me to talk ill of Castillo. Many have already weighed in on that as you will later see. And, no, I’m not referring to some of SI’s Jon Heyman’s tweets.
There are rumors (and they are just that) that at least three teams could be considering his services. This is according to Ken Rosenthal. The three teams (hold your breath) are the Phillies, Cubs, and Marlins. If it is a “one year and we depart” deal, all three make sense from a personnel standpoint.
We all know of the recent worries surrounding Chase Utley‘s knee. Utley visited a specialist (which isn’t always a positive sign) and a series of exercises was all we could glean from the visit. Phillies Assistant GM Scott Proefrock was mum on anything else related to Utley’s status. But how does Charlie Manuel view Castillo as a “replacement” for Utley? (via Delaware Online’s David Hale):
“His game in the last couple years, it’s dwindled some,” Manuel said. “I don’t know how much is there, but he used to be a hell of a player. I know at one time he was real good. If possible, yeah, he might be someone we’d take a look at.”
Dwindled some? That’s a bit understated, Charlie.
Utley is now back in camp and the Phils brass will have to play it by ear. According to ESPN’s Jayson Stark, David Eckstein‘s name has been mentioned. Eckstein has been a subject previously “debated” here on the Call.
Chicago appeared set on using a platoon of Blake DeWitt and Jeff Baker. DeWitt has struggled this spring, but Baker is quite the opposite. If you look at the Cubs depth chart, second base appears to be the biggest hole the Cubs need to fill. But can anyone state with affirmation that Castillo is a big upgrade? I highly doubt that.
Now I grant you that the market for second basemen isn’t all that deep. The only other potential would lie with the aforementioned Eckstein.
This makes a little more sense than the Cubs for more than one reason. Castillo got his big league start with the Marlins. He became an All-Star while donning the Fish uni. He also won three consecutive Gold Gloves (’03-’05) as a member of the Marlins. As has been previously stated, Castillo’s skills have declined since those days.
Another reason the Marlins makes sense is that Castillo could man second and Omar Infante move to third while Matt Dominguez matures. If Dominguez can put together an early portion to the season similar to the 2010 Buster Posey rise, Castillo may not be around the whole season. Dominguez does have some pop, but the question is the defense.
But if you scan the FanSided landscape for the Phillies, Cubs and Marlins blogs, at least two of the three have already weighed in and emphatically state they do not desire for Castillo to be a part of their team’s roster.
Justin Klugh (who I know you’re familiar with) of That Balls Outta Here, put in his two cents (it may be worth more, actually) on this.
Anyone who jumps into that starting second base role and has anything close to comparable success to that of Chase Utley has stumbled upon a nest of miracles in the dirt between first and second. Luis Castillo has proven he’s not only incapable of such a feat, he actually smothers the chance for a miracle just by standing on the field.
Jordan Campbell over on Cubbies Crib offers his perspective.
Not to mention that at age 35, Castillo’s best days are clearly behind him. Last season was just a terrible year for Castillo no matter how you look at it. In 247 at bats he hit .235/.337/.267, and he looked lost defensively. While I have not been singing the praises of Blake DeWitt, I would take him any day over Luis Castillo.
So, if I were Jim Hendry and Castillo’s agent came calling, I would just simply say no. Besides, the future could be this season as Darwin Barney should be able to take over the second base position at some point this season.
While all three of the teams Rosenthal mentions could use a second baseman (either as insurance or a stop-gap), I’m not sure Castillo would actually be a welcome addition in any of the cases. Philly has other means from what is currently in camp. The Cubs, as Jordan mentions, could survive for now with the platoon while Barney matures. The Marlins could get by with Wes Helms at third and keep Infante at second. They do have Emilio Bonifacio who can play multiple positions, not that he’s an exceptional option, but may be still better than Castillo.
And these teams could also play the waiting game as in wait for a better option once rosters are thinned.
Or is Eckstein’s agent already working the phones.