2006 Stats: .296/.358/.370, 3 HR, 49 RBI
Will Castillo be here all season?
Potential Backups: Jeff Cirillo, Alejandro Machado, Alexi Casilla, Luis Rodriguez
At $5.75 million, Luis Castillo is one of the better bargains around. He isn't the best leadoff hitter and there is some reason to believe that the Twins would be better off with Jason Bartlett or Nick Punto at the top of the order; however, Castillo provides decent defense at second, he hits around .300, he has some speed, and he takes walks (as shown by his career 0.76 Isolated Discipline).
Now, Castillo obviously doesn't have much power, as his total of 29 extra-base hits from last year will attest, but at the second-base position, he gives more than the expected offensive production. He isn't the .334 hitter with 62 stolen bases he was in 2000 and he won't have another 35-game hitting streak anytime soon, but he can still get the job done at age 31.
Castillo also provides the team with some needed skill against lefties. He regressed last year, hitting .310 against righties while hitting .270 against lefties with only a .370 slugging percentage. However, in the last three years, he's hit .321/.380/.469 with 8 home runs and 40 RBI in 458 at-bats against lefties.
Castillo's main enemy has been injuries, as he battled through them last year and it appears he'll have to again this year. His injury this spring has been a sore back. Hopefully, he'll get through it and be healthy for the start of the season. Assuming he does, I wouldn't expect a spectacular year, but he could come up with a higher average and more walks as he has had a year to adjust to the AL now. I'd predict around a .305/.380/.385 line with a few home runs and probably around 25 stolen bases again.
With his contract expiring after this season, there is a good chance Castillo could be traded during the season, and if he does, it will likely be for pitching or even a hitting prospect. Terry Ryan may do it if he thinks Alexi Casilla is ready and if he thinks the Twins have no chance to keep Castillo, which they probably don't. If Casilla is up by July or so, he'll probably have around 100 or 200 at-bats and hit .250 or so. Otherwise, its likely that Rodriguez will take over or Machado if he makes the team. Cirillo can play second, but he is primarily a backup corner infielder.
Overall, regardless of what happens with Castillo, second base will be a fairly strong position for the Twins, especially from the outset of the season.