Philadelphia Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro announced earlier today that the team had cut ties with veteran second baseman (but extremely new Phillie) Luis Castillo.
Luis Castillo had just been cut by their division rival, the New York Mets and was given what turned out to be a very inexpensive and short trial with the Phillies.
Ironically, the 35 year old second baseman—who some observers thought would be the Phillies everyday second baseman until Chase Utley was healthy enough to regain his position—had his best game of the spring yesterday.
In four at-bats, Castillo singled twice, scored two runs and even stole a base for good measure in the Phillies 8-5 exhibition win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Alas, this good performance figures to be the only game he will play at Citizens Bank Park while donning the red pinstripes.
The three-time all-star and four-time Gold Glover had been coming off a frustrating 2010 season with the Mets. In a season restricted to 88 games and 299 at-bats, the lifetime .290 hitter managed an anemic slash line of .235/.337/.267, the final two numbers giving him an OPS of .605.
While never (to put it mildly) a power hitter, at his best, Castillo gave his teams (all of his All-Star appearances and Gold Gloves were earned as a Florida Marlin) plenty of speed and terrific defense.
Just two seasons ago, Luis put up fairly good numbers as a Met: .302/ .387/.346 (for a respectable .736 OPS) with 20 steals.
In the final analysis, it was likely that the Phillies saw enough of Castillo to feel that he had lost a lot of his defensive range and that he would more resemble the 2010 version than the 2009 one.
One wonders if Castillo regrets stealing that base yesterday, unless he uses that clip to catch on with another team.
As for the Phillies, the release is not a shocker and should not be criticized too harshly by their fans. Because the team signed the veteran to a minor league contract, they had a very small investment in him.
They may have lost some brownie points with Castillo, however. If by some miracle, he is enshrined in Cooperstown, one doubts he will be inducted as a Phillie.
NOW, WHO’S ON SECOND?
Nobody, including Utley, knows the timetable for the All-Star’s return, but the release of Luis (kind of rhymes) is a vote of confidence for super utility man Wilson Valdez and, apparently, Rule 5 pick Michael Martinez.
Valdez is expected to see the majority of starts at second base; Martinez is also likely to make the team and make an occasional start.
Rounding out the expected Phillies reserve core will be catcher Brian Schneider and outfielders Ross Gload and John Mayberry, Jr.
The final spot on the Opening Day roster appears to be a battle between infielder Pete Orr and infielder/outfielder Delwyn Young.
Young, on paper, has a little more pop at the plate, while Orr is a better fielder and baserunner.
The Phillies bench does not figure to inspire too much insomnia among opposing managers this year, but the game of baseball does have a way of churning out surprises.
Very few people outside of the Valdez family expected him to be such a major contributor last season. Mayberry looks closer to being a finished product and can certainly punish mistakes by opposing pitchers.
Schneider and Gload are solid professionals, on the field, and in the clubhouse.
Skipper Charlie Manuel has been known to go with his starting eight as much as any manager in the game.
That may be harder to do with a core group that is among the oldest in Major League Baseball.
With the release of Castillo, the Phillies may have gotten just a hair younger.
Will Valdez and Matinez contribute more than the former All-Star would have? That’s why they play the games—all 162 of them, starting Friday at Citizens Bank Park.
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