Castillo Agrees to Minor League Deal

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Luis Castillo has agreed to a Minor League contract with the Phillies, although it is not finalized, a source said tonight.

The Mets released Castillo on Friday and the Phillies immediately expressed interest. Castillo cleared waivers this afternoon.

Interesting move.

The Minor League contract certainly suggests the Phillies are not prepared to just hand a Castillo a job. He will have to earn one, although there is not much time. Just 12 days remain before Opening Day.

If the Phillies had offered Castillo a Major League contract they would be on the hook for $414,000 of his $6 million salary, regardless of his ability to play. The Minor League deal guarantees Castillo even less money, which means if the Phillies feel Castillo cannot play they can let him go at little cost. Of course, if they decide he can help and place him on the 25-man roster they would have to pay him $414,000.

But repeat: If he cannot play the Phillies are on the hook for less than $414,000. How much less? I’m not sure, but it’s a low-risk, high-reward move the Phillies like to make. If he can play, bonus. If he can’t, buy-bye.

Castillo hit .286 with no extra-base hits in 28 at-bats this spring with the Mets. He committed one error and made other notable misplays in the field. Mets manager Terry Collins called Castillo into his office at one point for what he perceived as sullen behavior. 

Conversely, the five infielders already in Phillies camp with a chance for playing time at second base have fared better:

  • Wilson Valdez, who I believe remains the favorite to be the Opening Day second baseman, has hit .439 (18 for 41) with three doubles, one home run and six RBIs.
  • Josh Barfield has hit .344 (11 for 32) with three doubles, one triple and three RBIs.
  • Pete Orr has hit .333 (12 for 36) with three doubles, three triples and two RBIs.
  • Michael Martinez has hit .292 (14 for 48) with three homers, two home runs and six RBIs.
  • Delwyn Young, who is more of an outfielder than a second baseman, has hit .292 (14 for 48) with two doubles, one home run and three RBIs.

Castillo hit just .235 with a .337 on-base percentage and a .267 slugging percentage in 86 games last season with the Mets, although he hit .302 with a .387 on-base percentage in 2009. He has had trouble staying healthy because of knee problems and had fallen out of favor amongst Mets fans for memorably dropping a popup in a 2009 series against the New York Yankees, costing the Mets a victory.

Scouts who have seen Castillo play in the past year think he has lost speed and quickness, which essentially is his game.

The Phillies will get a chance to see if those views are accurate.

The Phillies still think Utley will be back this season — I’m guessing sometime in June (that’s just a guess) — so Castillo could be a short-term solution if he earns a job.

“You know what? He’s getting a little better,” Charlie Manuel said of Utley this afternoon. “It’s not coming real fast, but he’s showing — according to the doctors and trainers — he’s starting to get better. It seems like it’s going to take a while, though.”

And that is why they are bringing Castillo aboard.

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7 Comments

Once Utley gets feeling better, why not swap Utley and Polly? We know Polly can play second; playing third will require much less movement for Utley. Is this something the Phillies have or would consider?

Utley doesn’t really have the arm for third base.

Valdez has the arm for third and scoops up most everything. Polanco is best at 2nd. With the starting pitching we have, sometimes it is most important to be solid defensively. Charlie will decide who stays on the roster and will mix them in to the line-up. Stick with the “hot hand;” the line-up that wins.I would say that if Castillo becomes a factor several guys did not come through; he is a last resort and a headcase. Fix Chase!

Does anyone else think this is a bad idea. I know it sounds like it’s relatively not a lot of money, the minor league contract. But seriously, with the games before the the 25 man roster, what is Castillo going to do? Does anyone seriously think he is going to come in and hit a homerun or 2 every game, go 4 for 4, steal a base or 2 a game, play amazing defense, and just play so amazing that in only a few games left of ST he can be an obvious choice? It would be different if the other players haven’t played well. But not only has Valdez more than adequately won the job, if for no other reason, for his defense! For as we all know, with the starting pitchers, they are going to need Valdez back there, NOT Castillo! Do you want these star pitchers not to have the best defense back there? And Valdez seems to be able to hit enough these days. And the others have been able to swing the bat ok enough until Utley returns. Why waste the money on someone the Mets don’t even want! I think it doesn’t make sense. Maybe the guy can go back to his 2009 form. But I doubt it. Why take a chance now, with of his present issues. It takes playing time away from the others. It’s almost time for the season!

I would think that Utley’s return is not going to be within the next few months. Must feel they need to platoon Valdez and that they other contenders aren’t ready.

PhilliesfanIllinois is ON TARGET. This is a BAD idea. Castillo is over the hill , has greatly reduced speed and quickness, can’t hit above .250 anymore and is a terrible clubhouse guy. Valdez , Barfield and Martinez all are younger, more athletic, have played well and at least have upside. Face it, this is another Charlie prefers ” veteran ” guys move ( even when it’s clear that the veteran cannot play) because he does not trust younger upside players. It’s not a platoon situation because teams RARELY platoon a middle infielder ( lefty/righty) because of the continuity on defense needed for SS and 2nd base.
The other 2nd base players have hit plenty well enough. This move is all about Charlie’s paranoia with respect to younger players. Not a good early sign.

I loved reading everyone’s comments on this issue. Personally, I don’t want Castillo on the team because at the very least he has character issues in regard to his work ethic and his willingness to give 100% or even 90% in spring training. I’m really looking forward to Valdez playing anywherein the infield. He has more range than even Chase and he will be throwing guys out from centerfield a la Robinson Canoe. The Aces and Joe will love having him in the infield.

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