Kenny Williams Takes A Gamble on Castro in Quentin Trade


Kenny Williams continued his restructuring of the Chicago White Sox yesterday when he dealt Carlos Quentin to San Diego in exchange for RHP Simon Castro and LHP Pedro Hernandez. The Sox are making an effort to deal for more talent that are relatively close to helping at the big league level. By sending Quentin out of town, Chicago increased their depth a bit and shed some salary, while San Diego gets a middle of the order bat who gets on base and hits for some pop.  Clearly Castro (the former top prospect for San Diego) is the center piece of this deal, but did Williams get enough in return or is this the second trade of the 2011 offseason where he failed to get full value in return?

Simon Castro is a big guy with a power fastball and nothing else that really jumps out at you. He’s got decent command on the 4-seamer with some life, and a slider that helps keep opposition off balance but isn’t a real put-away pitch against advanced hitters. Castro’s K-rate has dipped progressively as a starter, the role he has been in throughout the minors. Without a real “out” pitch, Castro will suffer as a starter at the big league level. Guys who can’t strike people out and don’t get a ton of ground ball outs can have success in the minors, but that will not work against veteran hitters who will sit on the fastball. However, Castro who was ranked as the top prospect in the San Diego system in 2010-’11 offseason according to FanGraphs, would likely be useful in a bullpen role especially if he can improve the slider. If he improves his secondary pitch, he could be a very effective reliever who will likely hold together over the course of a long season.

The alarming thing with Castro to me, however, was not the drop in his K/9 but his walk rate jumped alarmingly while making 6 starts in AAA in 2011. In fact, although small sample sizes, Castro’s performance in general has been poor while above AA.

As you can see the sample sizes aren’t ideal here, but the numbers are hard to ignore. Although suffering from abnormally high BABIP’s in his AAA performances, that doesn’t excuse him for the WHIP that jumps sharply to over 2 in both of his times in AAA. The walk rate spikes to over 6 and 5, while posting a walk rate no higher than 2.5 over large sample sizes in AA in 2010 and 2011. These type of numbers point to regression rather than advancement, at a point in his career where he should be showing the final touches of improvement. To say that 2012 is a big season for Simon Castro would be an understatement. He needs to prove that he’s worth the hype he received after signing as an amateur from the Dominican Republic. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m not a fan of this deal if I’m a White Sox fan, but Kenny Williams was quoted as seeing Castro in a different light:

"“There are some similarities we see in him that remind us of Jose and some of the issues he has had this past year that he didn’t have before,” Williams said of Castro’s disappointing 7-8 season with a 5.63 ERA at both Double-A and Triple-A. “Sometimes guys get out of whack. This guy is 6-foot-5, throws 90-95 [mph], a lower three-quarter angle and gets around balls but can drop a hard split and he can locate, when he’s right.”-Via"

Maybe Kenny’s right and he see’s something I don’t, but I still don’t think that explains the underlying numbers that only seem to jump when exposed to better, more patient hitters. That’s a gamble he’s willing to take, but one I would not have done myself because it’s hard for me to believe that there wasn’t a better market for a player like Quentin who is cheap and can help a lot of teams.

Bill King is a graduate of Bridgewater State University where he majored in Journalism and Public Relations. He can be found working in the marketing and advertising industry out of Providence, RI. He is a columnist at Seedlings to Stars, part of the FanSided network. He also founded MLB-Perspectives, a blog dedicated to general MLB news and analysis. Bill was a finalist for CBS Boston’s 2011 Most Valuable Blogger, and can be found on twitter @MLBPerspectives