Castro Is Bruntlett's Replacement

castro.jpgThe Phillies have found their replacement for Eric Bruntlett.

They have agreed to a one-year deal with Juan Castro, who hit .277 with one home run and nine RBIs in 112 at-bats last season with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Castro’s agent, Oscar Suarez, said today that “we’re closing in on something.” But a source said an announcement could come next week after Castro takes his physical.

It is a one-year deal worth less than $1 million, plus a 2011 club option.

“Who doesn’t like the Phillies as an organization?” Suarez said. “You want to win. And who doesn’t like Juan Castro? You want to have a superb utility man to back up the guys you have up the middle. We’re trying to put this thing together. I think we’re going to get it done.”

Castro, 37, is a career .230 hitter in 15 seasons in the Majors with the Dodgers, Reds, Twins and Orioles. He played shortstop, second base, third base and left field last season with the Dodgers. He has played 538 games in his career at shortstop. He also has played 251 games at third base, 241 games at second base, seven games at first base and three games in left field.

The Phillies have needed somebody who can play shortstop for a significant stretch since they recently removed Bruntlett from the 40-man roster to allow him to become a free agent. They currently have no other player like that in the system who is big-league ready.

Other teams had expressed interest in Castro, according to Suarez. FOXSports.com reported the Dodgers and Phillies were Castro’s top pursuers.

“If you look at the Phillies, they have a hell of an organization,” Suarez said. “And they probably need a guy who can play shortstop if Jimmy Rollins needs a day off or he gets thrown out of a game or he needs a break at the end of a game. It makes a lot of sense. When you’re a veteran player you want to win. That’s why he is enjoying the Dodgers. The last two years for the Phillies speak for itself.”

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Ryan Howard finished third in NL MVP voting. Albert Pujols won unanimously. Hanley Ramirez took second.

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19 Comments

No surprise to see Pujols win MVP. Both NL & AL MVPs were well deserved. Howard finishing a respectable 3rd. The real crime was the Mgr of the Year award & Charlie finishing 6th was ludicrous! I couldn’t understand how Torre, Cox, Bochy finished ahead of Manuel.

Seems like Castro might be an expensive upgrade from Brunlett.

To all here at the Zone: Happy Turkey Day!

Let’s not get confused here with Castro’s gaudy BA from last year. He is a career .230 hitter whereas Bruntlett’s career BA is .231. But if you can get Brunlett’s equal cheaper, why not?

I agree, a bit more versatility at a cheaper price. Works for me.

I’m Luke warm on Castro. I’d have preferred Orlando Hudson (also a Free agent I believe) , if the dollars were not obscene.
This move tells me that De Rosa is probably NOT coming here because he is more of a super- SUB who CAN play 3rd base as opposed to an everyday Third Baseman. I’m thinking either Beltre or Feliz’ (on a reduced salary) is your 3rd baseman for next year. And I’m NOT buying that agent generated ” hurt feelings” story from Feliz’ camp. He’s still remotely in the mix as he may not have that great a market for his services.

This signing has no impact whatsoever on who the sign to play 3B. Castro is just defensive inurance in case somebody goes down. He’s an upgrade defensively over Bruntlett, but won’t play much otherwise.
Orlando Hudson is a GG second baseman who will almost certainly get a chance to start somewhere.

How many unassisted triple plays has Castro made?

Yawn. Not exactly a flashy name, but we’ll see if the we get what we need out of Castro.
I still would like DeRosa or Scutaro, as they can play any infield position, as well.

Yawn. Not exactly a flashy name, but we’ll see if the we get what we need out of Castro.
I still would like DeRosa or Scutaro, as they can play any infield position, as well.

Scutaro and DeRosa will both get starting jobs somewhere, so if they’d be utility men in Philly they’re not going to sign that deal. Also, Scutaro is a type A free agent, meaning he would cost the Phillies a draft pick to sign, which is a tall order for a backup. As for the everyday 3B, I’m still hoping Beltre. Let the Orioles or somebody else sign Feliz.

Also, this is a garbage signing. This guy is not significantly better than Bruntlett by any means. He’s had an OBP over .300 twice in 14 seasons, and one of those was his aberrant 2009, where his BABIP was 80 points above his career average. I wonder if Rube bothered to wonder to himself what will happen when that normalizes in 2010. A minor league contract I could understand, but this is Eric Bruntlett 2.0, and it’s not worth Castro’s passable middle infield defense and abysmal 3B defense.

This strikes me as change for change’s sake. Bruntlett had run out his clock here, and Castro is just another “guy.”
They still need an everyday 3B.

A little Heads-Up to season ticket holders. I got an e-mail from the Phillies today that wound up in my spam folder. It said they’re sending out season invoices this week, and I’m hearing that prices have gone up by 2 bucks. The cost of success?

Bruntlett was eligible for salary arbitration. He made $800,000 this past season. What would he gain by going to arbitration? Nobody knows. But the Phillies are going to have essentially the same role filled for less than a $200,000 increase.

Here’s an interesting fact about Juan Castro. In 14 major league seasons (through 2008) he had never earned more than $1,000,000 in salary in a year. That has to be some kind of record in today’s game, wouldn’t you think?

I’m not sure what that says about the current state of the game when a .230 hitting utility player can make a million bucks. Maybe that’s more outrageous than ARod’s salary or other stars who sign big deals?

Although it’s probably not more outrageous than Adam Eaton’s Phillies contract.

muleman: I do not know how outrageous it is when the minimum salary is now close to $400,000. And, I would not place it anywhere near what A-roid is getting in outrageousness. It probably does prove the guy is no dope by not pricing himself out of the business. It is tough finding work that pays close to $20,000 a week for 52 weeks and only requires you to work 7 months out of the year, at most.

It’s not really a role being filled though. It comes from the notion that you need a middle infielder on the bench and it’s OK if he can’t hit worth a damn because he’s a defensive replacement. But that doesn’t get you anywhere if the guy in question can’t manage to be above replacement level when you combine his bat and defense, when you could get a replacement level guy for cheaper. It just seems like Rube is expecting to get his 2009 production for cheap, but he’s not going to have another 2009, he’s just going to be Juan Bruntlett.

It is a balancing of talent and bucks. If you can swap out one player for another, not lose any talent, and save on the bucks, it is a no brainer to me. Had Bruntlett gone to arbitration and won, the Phillies would have been paying more for the same thing. If the Phillies won, what do the Phillies get other than a p i s s e d player? Of course this is all contingent on the Phillies spending the money saved wisely elsewhere.

Even though Bruntlett made an unassisted triple play, his defense was noticeably worse this year than last. In fact, he made two errors (ok, one error and a bad play) before the triple play, so he simply bailed himself out. Since he had a season-long hitting slump, cutting him was a no-brainer. Some of you guys think Bruntlett’s replacement has to be a decent hitter. I think Ruben expects Ben Francisco to fulfill the role of right-handed bat off the bench, when he’s not starting. It’s virtually impossible to sign a bench player who can field and hit well because they are either going to start somewhere or platoon. We are lucky we have Ben Francisco coming off the bench. He should be starting somewhere. I think he will be the “Jason Werth” of 2010- a guy whose skills peaked as a result of coming to the Phils and getting a chance to excell. Castro was signed as a defensive role player, so who cares if he can’t hit. You can’t have everything, although FIJ tries….

Suarez mentioned Castro being able to replace Jimmy Rollins if “he gets thrown out of a game”, which got me thinking……When was the last time Jimmy got thrown out of a game? I can’t remember even one time. Can anyone out there find out?

erichh: I thought that myself when I read Suarez’ comment. It can’t be more than a few times in his career, but I can’t find a site that lists the statistic. Somebody must keep that stuff.

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