Saturday, March 19, 2011

Why the Florida Marlins should NOT sign Luis Castillo

March 19, 2011

With both Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post and Joe Frisaro of MLB.com reporting that the Florida Marlins may have interest in their former second baseman Luis Castillo, it's only natural that I post my desenting opinion.

Castillo was let go by the Mets yesterday. Interestingly enough, Castillo was listed in the starting lineup for New York's spring training game. Mets fans were excited about the move, and that's one thing that has me worried about any potential future for Castillo with Florida.

The cash-strapped Mets are going to spend 6 million dollars to have Castillo sit on the curb in 2011, at best. With the Marlins and Philadelphia Phillies potentially interested, they may be paying him $6 mil to play AGAINST them, which would be even worse for the team that is dealing with the fallout from the Bernie Madoff ponzi scheme. That should be a red flag right there.

The Marlins have a few problems right now. Although they won't admit it, there is a chance that both Chris Coghlan (the starting center fielder...makes me cringe saying that) and Right fielder Mike Stanton will not be ready for opening day. Also, there are fears that Matt Dominguez might not be ready to hit at the big league level. His batting average PLUNGED from .353 to .219 in just a week and a half.

the Marlins believe that a solution could be to move Omar Infante to third base. With the potential of having Emilio Bonafacio start in centerfield and Logan Morrison moving to right should Stanton not be ready (and that's just guessing on my part, but if Stanton is not ready but Coghlan is, Coghlan would most likely go to leftfield first, where it is easier to get throws off as you're not trying to get the out at the plate as much), a problem is created at second base and, potentially, left field.

For the outfield, there are a few options. John Raynor is having a great spring, and could get a second chance after the Pirates were forced to return the rule 5 pick to the Marlins last year after taking him off the 25-man roster. Also, having not as good of a spring, but a name well known around baseball is DeWayne Wise. Wise is an acrobatic fielder (note his perfect game saving catch in 2009), with the speed and range to patrol the vast center field at Sun Life Stadium. I posted earlier this week that he would make a great defensive replacement in late innings. It would be worth sacrificing the bat for a few weeks to get the best defense possible out there. But I digress...Bonifacio or Infante can both fill the "super sub" role and be placed in the outfield.

So, let's say the worst case scenario plays out. Coghlan, Stanton, and Dominguez are all not ready. Raynor starts in right and Bonifacio in center. Omar Infante is your third baseman, but who plays second? Castillo? I say NO!

The Marlins have options in camp. There's a guy you may not have heard of to start the discussion. His name is Osvaldo Martinez, and he appears to almost be a lock to start this season with the big league club. Martinez hit .326 and posted a 1.000 fielding percentage at shortstop, one of the hardest positions, after stepping up in September to fill in for Hanley Ramirez for 11 games. Martinez has played a bit of second base in the spring, but he is young and his highest level of consistent experience was in AA. But, hey, the same could be said for Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis. Anything is possible, right?

Ok, not a huge fan of Martinez? How about Greg Dobbs? Well, he only has 7 innings of experience at second base, but he can play third. Hmmm....you have to wonder if his .400 batting average this spring will be enough to convince Marlins management to give HIM a chance to start this season with the big club. Maybe even at third base, putting Infante back at second? (And, as a plus, he's a former Phillie! Payback, anyone?)

Not sold yet? How about exhibit C? Joe Thurston may not be the best option at second, but he can do the job. He's also batting .333 this spring, and although he spent 2010 in AAA with the Atlanta Braves organization, he spent the whole 2009 season with the St. Louis Cardinals, so he has big league experience.

Are any of these solutions "good"? No. Save Martinez, none of the players I mentioned are clear cut projections to make the 2011 roster, and even Martinez is on the fence. It all goes back to the Mets cutting Castillo. If a team like that is willing to pay someone $6 million to stay on the curb, there's a more to this story. He hasn't won a gold glove since 2005, and, in fact, his defense has been ridiculed since he arrived in New York. Also, his career .290 average has been well below that in two of the past three seasons. And, while it would be nice to see Castillo back in the teal and black pin stripes, I would only like to see the 35 year old on my team if he was days away from retirement. Otherwise, no thanks! Stay positive, Luis. I hear the Phillies might need someone to replace Chase Utley, and when their pitching staff throws no-hitters 4 out of 5 days, who cares if you struggle at the plate?

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