Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Return (Plus Trade Discussion)

As mentioned in the last post, I have reportedly gone missing or I've simply been lazy. Although some of this is true, it doesn't dispute the fact there haven't been many Twins stories to cover this winter, and I've been extremely busy in trying to get into law school. (I believe that in some ways, to be a great blogger, you need to be a lawyer. See this site and this site.)

However, after a long wait, I have returned. Though there aren't many things to talk about before we get started with spring training and the usual round of analysis and predictions before the season, there is a subject I haven't heard much about. That is the possiblity of trading Luis Castillo this season.

After a crazy off-season that has seen money flying around in a way that should scare the Twins, the organization has to consider its future. Castillo isn't making a ton of many and is most definitely a discount in this market at $5.75 million. However, as with Torii Hunter, I don't see it being highly likely that Castillo returns after 2007.

Last year, Castillo ranked third amongst AL second basemen in batting average at .296 and was second in OBP at .358. His lack of power hurt him, though, as his OPS of .728 ranked seventh among ten qualifiers. However, selling another team on a guy who can play solid defense (it would seem, at least, when he is motivated to), hits for average, and has patience at the top of the order shouldn't be hard.

The good news for the Twins is that they seem to have a guy waiting in the wings in Alexi Casilla. Casilla might not be quite ready at this point, but that doesn't seem like an issue since Terry Ryan likely won't consider trade options until the middle of the season anyways.

Hopefully Ryan considers the option soon, while teams get increasingly desperate for players below market price. It's highly unlikely that the Twins will keep Castillo and they may not have the requisite pitching and hitting required to compete in the AL Central. No offense to any optimists out there, but Sidney Ponson and Ramon Ortiz are a long way from serious solutions to making a playoff rotation. You don't round out a pitching rotation for a competitive team by getting three of the worst starting pitchers in the majors from the previous year all together.

Having said that, the Twins may be able to get some minor league pitching prospects for the future or some of the hitting they desperately need by trading Castillo. Since the team seems desperate to trust experience over youth, they may not even consider such a trade. But at this point it seems that it may be worthwhile to look to 2008 for a realistic run instead of 2007.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nick M.

Welcome back...

The Twins will likely keep Castillo through the season, barring injury. Casilla is at least a year away yet.

On another note, look for Jeff Cirillo to get some major playing time at 3B, along with Punto. Look for Matt LeCroy to come north with the team as a reserve – one of Gardenhire's big concerns last year was about Joe Mauer and Mike Redmond both playing (one as a DH) because a potential injury could force the loss of a DH that game. With LeCroy waiting on the bench, it gives the team an adequate backup catcher, first baseman and pinch hitter – and puts another .300 hitter (Redmond) into the lineup. And really, Morneau didn't have a good back-up last year. Even though Cirillo has played some 1B, I think he's better suited for 2B, SS or 3B.
Regardless, LeCroy gives Gardy some options he didn't have in 2006.
Look for Redmond to DH/Catch, and Mauer to Catch/DH.
Ponson won't go north, but Ortiz will. He was pitching for a poor team last year, and I think he'll turn it around in 07.
Surprise: The Twins will again contend, and will again take 1st in the division.
Pirannhas Prevail!!!

Nick N. said...

Lee, I love your optimism. But I have to voice a qualm with one of your contentions.

I wouldn't call LeCroy an "adequate backup catcher." He's such a poor defender that I wouldn't want him catching unless there was an extreme emergency. I'd sooner have LeCroy at first base and Morneau catching. I do agree that LeCroy has a decent chance of making the roster though, as a backup first baseman and as a DH against lefties.

Anonymous said...

Even if Casilla isn't ready next year they could possibly still trade Castillo and play Punto at 2nd and Cirillo at 3rd, if both are playing well.

And as for LeCroy, he doesn't have to be a decent backup catcher, just a decent emergency catcher. Mauer and Redmond would still split the catching duties, but Gardenhire would no longer be terrified to DH Mauer when Redmond is catching. Mauer could DH a whole lot more, and possibly not fade like he did last year. Personally I would risk a few innings of losing the DH if Mauer had to fill in for a Redmond injury (and vice versa) -- they could just pinch hit for the pitcher until they could fly in another catcher from AAA by the next day. But if having LeCroy on the bench gives Mauer 200 at bats at DH, it would be worth it -- as well as providing a great pinch hitter. I'm rooting for Matty!

Lee Henschel said...

My sentiments exactly. I know LeCroy hasn't been the best catcher, but he's adequate. Certainly Mauer and Redmond are better. And I'd never move Morneau from first to catch, to put LeCroy at first.

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