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.