Saturday, March 19, 2011

Castillo Fits in Philly

The Mets have finally released second baseman Luis Castillo, and there are a few teams that could use his services at second base.  Castillo, coming off of a poor 2010 season in which he batted .235 in 86 games, can still contribute on a major league team.  In 2009, Castillo batted .302 in 486 at-bats.  He doesn't have much power, having hit only 28 homers in 15 seasons, but he does hold a .290 career batting average and a .368 career on-base percentage.

While the Marlins may currently have the upper hand when it comes to signing Castillo, the Phillies should try and make a push to acquire the second baseman's services.  As I wrote yesterday, Philadelphia second baseman Chase Utley's health may keep him out of the lineup for an extended period of time.  As of now, the Phillies will start Wilson Valdez at second base.  He did have a better season than Castillo did last season (hitting .258 in 111 games), but he has not shown the same long-term consistency.  In 263 career games, Valdez only has a .240 batting average and a .289 on-base percentage.  Castillo's production should bounce back this season, as he only had a .259 average on balls in play last season (BABIP).  That denotes a certain amount of bad luck for Castillo, who has had a BABIP above .300 in 10 of the past 12 seasons.  Castillo walks more than Valdez, and is projected by many to have a better OBP than Valdez.

Obviously, Luis Castillo is no Chase Utley.  However, with the possibility of Utley being out for a decent amount of time, the Phillies should jump at an opportunity to pick up a second baseman who is better than the backup that they already have (Valdez).  There is no financial risk, as the Mets will pick up almost all of Castillo's $6 million salary this season.  The Phillies need to act quickly, however, as the Marlins already seem to be making headway in their pursuit of Castillo.

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