Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Giants Solve Third Base Problem (/sarcasm off)

This weekend the Giants grabbed Pirates and Marlins cast-off Jose Castillo off of waivers. Castillo once hit a game-tying home run off of Armando Benitez (but hey, who hasn't?) that led to a loss that essentially derailed the Giants' 2006 season. Unfortunately, that's one of the very few bright spots in his career, as he has hit only two more dingers since and has offered very little in other areas that would keep a player in the major leagues, such as patience, speed, and defense. His career .256/.297/.380 batting line is atrocious, but if you're into silver linings, that'll fit right in with the Giants' lineup this year.

So this is hardly the most exciting pick up in the world, but if it prevents the Giants from trading a pitching prospect for Joe Crede or Brandon Inge, then it has its merits. Better to throw Castillo out there and hold your nose as he stinks up the joint for pennies than trade another Francisco Liriano for a veteran who won't make much of a difference in the standings, anyway.

Sadly, with Frandsen now likely done for the season, there's still the danger of the Giants just having Castillo settle in as a utility infielder and then still going out and trading for one of those crap third sackers. Since Rich Aurilia is likely penciled in as the regular first baseman, and given Brian Sabean's penchant for veteran acquisitions that make no sense, I don't think we Giants fans should believe for a second that we're out of the woods on this ridiculous scenario.

I guess I shouldn't sign off without at least being fair to Castillo. In his defense, he was rushed to the majors and the Pirates, the team that drafted him, are perhaps the worst organization in the world when it comes to developing young players. Last year he was also jerked around from position to position and never got consistent playing time, although the whole argument for positional switches being a hindrance to plate production has never seemed to hold much water (see Pedro Feliz, 2005).

Also, perhaps in dissing on Castillo's paltry major league production, I'm not staying true to my own bizarre free-talent obsession. As you know, I'm all about filling in roster holes with low-cost, reasonably high-upside players. At $850,000, Castillo is about as low-cost as you can get. As for the upside, I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for Castillo to become a good player, but if he does, it'll look like a brilliant little signing. Castillo once upon a time was showing up on Top Prospect lists, so maybe he's just a late bloomer. Maybe he's got some Jose Guillen in him. Er, the home run-hitting part, not the 'roided-up clubhouse cancer.

--Lest we forget, at the news of the Castillo signing, somewhere Justin Leone looks around and wonders what in the hell he and his .363 career minor league OBP did to piss off Sabean and co.




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Why the Leone love? he is 31, his (small sample size) career OBP is under 300 and his fielding is atrocious. Two years ago (when he was 29) maybe a look. If anything, he should be a DH.
And, I think your take on Castillo is a little off. The guy has clear talent; it is just that his attitude makes Messenger look like Rowand. Maybe the Giants think they can teach him a little maturity and work eithic.
And, I think, his cost is only $650 K. Pretty cheap insurance. And, unlike Leone, who can only play (and I use the term in its widest meaning) 1b and 3b, Castillo can play 2b, 3b, and SS.
Where are you getting that Leone is such a bad defensive player? I honestly can't find any articles or scouting reports to support such an assertion. Care to provide a link? Seriously, because I honestly don't know and would love to read something, anything, about his defense. What I do know is that he has experience in the minors at every position on the diamond except catcher, which seems to speak well to his athleticism.

I'm not saying that Leone is the next Mike Schmidt. What I am saying is that the Giants' lineup is bloody awful, and anybody they can add within the system to make it not so awful can only help. Leone has been productive in the minors his entire career and just has never been given an extended shot. He's not going to put the Giants in the playoffs, but he'd likely be a decent hitter, and I'd bet my car that he'd outhit Jose Castillo.
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