Luis Castillo Could Help the Phillies

The New York Mets released second baseman Luis Castillo yesterday, ending his tumultuous three and a half-year tenure in Queens.

Over the last few years, Castillo dealt with a slew of lower-body injuries, as detailed on his Baseball Injury Tool page. Last year, he spent 47 days on the disabled list with a left foot contusion. His poor offensive showing only added to the growing displeasure of Mets fans. Per Steve Popper:

Castillo and Oliver Perez entered camp as the albatrosses in the payroll, totaling $18 million this year between them and facing the anger of the fan base as symbols of the Mets’ troubles. Whether it was the too-big, too-long contract or simply the dropped pop-up in Yankee Stadium that did it, Castillo was booed at every turn by the home fans. [General manager Sandy] Alderson admitted the off-field perception factored into this decision.

The Phillies are dealing with some injury problems of their own. The future of Chase Utley is unknown and the Phillies must create contingency plans. Currently, they are auditioning largely unproven, relatively inexperienced infielders in Rule-5 pick Michael Martinez, Pete Orr, Josh Barfield, and Delwyn Young. None of the four players have had much success at the Major League level.

Also in the mix, of course, is Wilson Valdez. Valdez endeared himself to Phillies fans last year, filling in admirably as the Phillies’ infield succumbed to the injury bug. Overall, he finished with a .294 wOBA and played slightly above-average defense. Valdez and Castillo are very similar players in terms of general offensive output, but Castillo has better on-base skills, a factor the Phillies need to consider.

PECOTA projects Utley to post a .376 OBP. The second-highest among starters is Ryan Howard at .351. The Phillies simply do not have many players with good on-base skills. Valdez is projected at .309 and Castillo at .335.

Despite his injuries, Castillo set a career-high walk rate at 13 percent last year. Additionally, from 2002-09, he never finished with a wOBA lower than .315. Even in a dismal 2010, Castillo’s wOBA was at .285. In 732 Major League at-bats, Valdez has a paltry .271 career wOBA. Going forward, Castillo will be the better hitter even considering his age.

The Phillies can pick up Castillo for the Major League minimum (about $400,000) and use him in Utley’s stead if needed, with Valdez behind him on the depth chart. Castillo is not without risk, but for his cheap price, it is a risk worth taking. The combination of Castillo and Valdez is much better than Valdez and the winner of Martinez/Orr/Barfield/Young. And in the event that Utley is healthy, Castillo would serve as a useful pinch-hitter and pinch-runner.

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24 comments

  1. Danny

    March 19, 2011 07:57 AM

    You bring up solid points, but he complained openly in New York about playing time.

    It’s not really possible to predict if he would still complain if he served in a backup role with the Phillies, but is it worth the risk to pick up a possible distraction?

    I suppose he could be cut if he acts out at all.

    In my mind, the difference between Castillo and Valdez is pretty negligible. While this is certainly story-worthy, I’m getting really antsy for the regular season when this won’t be much of a story anymore.

    I just want to talk about regular season baseball and results rather than projections. I am openly complaining about this, just like Castillo openly complained about playing time. That’s what I do.

  2. Kyle

    March 19, 2011 09:21 AM

    I’m sorry but there’s no way he could help us. I don’t think his attitude fits this locker room. I make fun of other teams for having players like this, especially the Mets. The last thing we need is another injury prone second basemen. Above all else, I don’t see Ruben convincing the fans that Luis Castillo is any type of answer, short or long term, to help fill in Utleys spot.

  3. Chris

    March 19, 2011 11:03 AM

    This whole Castillo thing reminds of the Gary Sheffield situation. So, he’ll end up signing with the Mets. Wait…

  4. Dan

    March 19, 2011 11:27 AM

    An overlooked factor in this situation is that Martinez is indeed a Rule 5, meaning if we pick up Castillo we’d almost certainly have to offer him back to the Nats.

    You can say we don’t really lose anything if they take him back, but we really do. He’s been playing pretty well in ST (I know it doesn’t mean that much, but that’s all we have to go on at the moment), and if he does turn out to be a serviceable big league IF, he’d be one of the very few we have in our minor league system.

    So really, I don’t think Castillo offers enough to us that I would want to risk losing Martinez without getting a good, long look at him in the Majors. I’m sure there will still be a Castillo or two around if we find out that the Martinez experiment is a failed one later in the season.

  5. hk

    March 19, 2011 12:28 PM

    In Castillo’s last full season (2009), his UZR/150 was -12.7. Last year, in a partial season it was better. If 2009 is more of a reflection of his current defensive ability, I’d sooner see the Phils pass.

  6. Scott G

    March 19, 2011 12:32 PM

    We shouldn’t get a player who gets on-base a good amount because people make fun of players/teams with players like that.

    People were worried about Pedro Martinez being a distraction, yet he was pretty good here. I like the idea of adding him. Granted, I am under the mindset that our offense will be pretty average though (especially without Utley).

  7. Kyle

    March 19, 2011 02:05 PM

    Can’t we all agree he doesnt fit in with our clubhouse? All ive heard from scouts, via reporters, is that hes just done. They guy can’t play anymore, he would be a huge waste of time….oh and lets not compare one of the greatest pitchers of all time, Pedro Martinez, to Luis Castillo. Adding Pedro at the time made sense, this is just not a good fit.

    My best opinion would be to move Polanco to second, and Valdez to third. If this doesn’t seem to work then maybe D. Young…..but PLEASE, NO LUIS CASTILLO.

  8. Bill Baer

    March 19, 2011 03:03 PM

    NL average 2B last year: .265 AVG/.333 OBP/.387 SLG.

    Luis Castillo’s 2011 Marcel projection: .257 AVG/.345 OBP/.321 SLG.

  9. Andrew

    March 19, 2011 03:07 PM

    I would like to see Delwyn Young and/or Barfeild get a shot – they both have some good pop, with Young being the higher reward guy… He veraged over a .300 BA in the minors and hit 20HR a year… He projects to about a .275 and 15-20hr guy at CBP if given a chance, I dont see a reason to get a guy who has zero pop when we have a few guys who could easily put up 15-20hr and are 5-10 years younger….

  10. Andrew

    March 19, 2011 03:09 PM

    Also, what about moving Polanco back to 2B and trading a pitcher for CHris Davis of the Rangers, he could easily hit 30hr at CBP and provide some much needed power off the bench… plus hes only 24, a few months older than D. Brown… Hes still got some potential and the RAngers have no room for him…. I bet theyd take Blanton for him, or maybe a combo of Kendrick and Bastardo?

  11. Andrew

    March 19, 2011 03:11 PM

    Id just really like a young guy whop could potentially hit 40HR in a few years at this ballpark, form the right side too. He seems like a perfect fit, and if we only need him a few months then that would be perfect, we give him a chance to get his feet wet with a winning ballclub and if he turns out to be the same guy who can hit dinbgers but cant hit over .250 then we just send him to AAA, its not like we are using either of those pitchers anyway.

  12. Nik

    March 19, 2011 07:21 PM

    The slight upgrade in OBP is offset but sub-par defense and terrible attitude.

  13. ????

    March 19, 2011 07:36 PM

    Hey guys, I heard Jayson Stark say earlier TONIGHT, That the Phillies ACTUALLY LOOKING for Outfield help RATHER then infield help. What do you guys think of that? I found that kind of instructing. What your take on it?

  14. Nik

    March 19, 2011 10:36 PM

    I think it says the Phils think Utley will be back at some point and are happy with their internal options.

  15. Scott G

    March 19, 2011 11:44 PM

    Did Luis Castillo curse at you people before? He was on both Marlins’ teams that won the WS. Apparently his attitude didn’t hurt them.

  16. hk

    March 20, 2011 07:18 AM

    If there was ever an issue with Castillo in other clubhouses, it was over playing time. However, if the Phils bring him in, it will be to play while Utley’s out. If Utley returns, they can either release Castillo if he’s a clubhouse distraction or keep him if he’s on board with a reserve role. Guys on minimum contracts don’t have a lot of leeway to cause distractions. Having said that, I still am not sure his seemingly declining defense warrants taking the chance that he can provide a better OBP than one of the in-house options. I also think that the Phils would be better off seeking a young 3B with more upside and power like Alex Gordon (my preference), or Chris Davis (as mentioned above). Doing this would enable them to move Polanco to 2B where his bat plays better.

  17. Sean Cunningham

    March 20, 2011 10:54 PM

    According to Zolecki, Castillo signed a Minor League deal. So, I guess all we can do at this point and is play the wait and see game at this point.

  18. jroo

    March 21, 2011 06:49 AM

    I wonder why they wouldn’t go for David Eckstein instead. Good fielder, and he’s been very consistent with his bat. You at least know what you’re getting. He’s the same age as Castillo too.

  19. Scott G

    March 21, 2011 09:04 AM

    I sincerely hope you’re joking. Eckstein has a weaker arm than Charlie Manuel, and rarely hits the ball out of the infield.

    Eckstein career wOBA: .316
    Castillo career wOBA: .328

    All of the projections have Castillo’s wOBA > than Eckstein’s this year

    I would seriously consider not watching the Phillies if Eckstein ever donned their uniform. That would mean that on top of Wheeler’s usual annoying comments that I’d have to hear about how great of a little guy Eckstein is and how big his heart is (sounds dangerous to me).

  20. hunterfan

    March 21, 2011 09:27 AM

    Scott, Eck probably has greater range at 2nd. I’m not as concerned by the arm at 2nd as I am about the range. Castillo can barely move laterally.

  21. Scott G

    March 21, 2011 12:22 PM

    What good is getting to the ball if you literally need to run it to the bag because you can’t throw?

  22. sean

    March 21, 2011 12:39 PM

    i’d take castillo over any option the philies have at 2nd currently. that includes valdez who profiles better at SS or third. the other guys have options, and when chase comes back you cut/trade luis depending on how he performed during the time since he’ll most likely want to continue to start(francouerlike). man if they could keep him as a bench option that would be great because of his on base skills he’d be great pinch hitter

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