Monday, July 30, 2007

The 8-Ball Answers: Moving Castillo

It’s being reported by both local and national sources that Luis Castillo is being traded to the Mets for a couple second-tier prospects, C Drew Butera and OF Dustin Martin. The trade raises all kinds of question, so let’s grab the Magic 8-Ball and see what it has to say….

Is this the best Terry Ryan could do?
Definitely Yes

Castillo's value has been apparent since Friday, when Tadahito Iguchi and Kenny Lofton were each traded for an A-ball prospect. You could argue that Ryan got twice as much as he probably should have.

Yeah, but I looked at these guys stats, and don’t they suck?
Ask Again Later

Butera is a 23-year-old in AA who was promoted earlier this year after having some success at High-A ball. He’s taking it on the chin in his exposure there, hitting just .195 so far in 113 at-bats. Of more concern is his history, because he hasn't hit for average in his two-year professional career.

Martin is hitting .287, but he's not hitting for power, and he's also 23, and he's doing so in High A ball. Again, he doesn't profile as anything close to a top prospect.

But as someone who has criticized Ryan's trades in the past, I gotta say, you do NOT pass judgement on these things right away. I ripped Ryan several years ago for giving away Brian Buchanan for a utility infielder in A-Ball. That ended up being Jason Bartlett. I wondered aloud if they couldn't get something more substantial for JC Romero than a middle infielder way down on the Angels' organizational depth chart. That ended up being Alexi Casilla. And I wondered why they bothered to include a fragile left-hander in the AJ Pierzynski trade, who was obviously Francisco Liriano.

After you wear enough egg, you learn. When Ryan makes a trade that he isn't forced to make, and he gets guys low in the minors that look suspect, keep your mouth shut and give him the benefit of the doubt. He's certainly earned it.

Does This Mean They're Giving Up On The Season?
Don't Count On It

Castillo certainly was valuable in his role. His defense was overrated due to his errorless streak, but he did two things well - got on base and raised his level of play when he became interested. But there are a couple things to consider:

1. Ryan may be trying to walk a fine line. The team isn't good enough, and the players available on the trade market aren't impactful enough, to convince him that any deal is necessarily going to be a difference maker. By moving Castillo, he leverages an asset that he feels he can replace with one of several different pieces - Nick Punto, Alexi Casilla, Brian Buscher or Matt Tolbert. He also helps the team in the future (albeit the distant future) without sacrificing much for the present.

Personally, I don't see a suitable substitute on the roster, which brings us to the next point....

2. The other shoe may soon drop. Why would trading away Castillo be necessary for a different trade? Well, he may see another available second baseman that is a better fit for the Twins, providing more power or better at-bats, and at a smaller price tag. I certainly do. Or (and I think this is more likely) he felt like he needed to free up some payroll dollars to pay someone a little more expensive that could have a greater impact.

You'll recall that Ryan went this route in 2001, trying to shuffle players to upgrade his pitching staff, bullpen and right fielder, but failed after completing 2/3 of the trades. Rumor had it that the last piece - trading for Shannon Stewart - fell through because the Blue Jays delayed until they just ran out of time. If this is the plan, let's hope Ryan has found a more competent trading partner than Gord Ash.

So is this a good trade or not?
Outlook Not So Good

It doesn't do anything to improve this this year, and it doesn't do anything to improve next year, and those should be issues 1A and 1B on any list of priorities. The franchise seemingly hasn't made up it's mind, with less than 24 hours to go. Or at least, if they have, this trade doesn't indicate it.

If they're going for it this year, then announce that, and commit moving a prospect for an impact player. If they're looking to the future, they should be finding out if they have a realistic chance of keeping Torii Hunter next year, and that means entering into negotiations quickly to find out if Hunter and the Twins are in the same ballpark. If not, they need to shop him in a hurry.

They've done neither with this trade. Unless it is followed by another, it feels like a wasted opportunity, and will likely be interpreted as a white flag by the fans and the team. And waving a white flag with 60 games left to go should get a team more than a couple of minor league sleepers.


Anonymous said...

IMO, it's a "we're going nowhere with Castillo, let's find out if some of our kids can play & get something in the process" trade.

Castillo's time in Minnesota was coming to an end; his legs simply didn't allow him to be the offensive threat we hoped for & he was going to cost too much to keep (especially for a team with other far more significant priorities). Rather than just have him leave as a free agent, we traded him & got something - we'll find out later if it was a "box of balls" or if we did better than that. This SHOULD result in Casilla & Buscher (hope I spelled that right) getting a lot of playing time so we can see what we've got.

Unless we're willing to move Nathan or Neshek (Mauer, Morneau & Santana being untouchable and Hunter won't bring as much with impending free agency), the Twins won't be offering anything that'll bring a premium return from a team trying to improve for a playoff run.

So we should play the kids, get an idea of who can help down the road, commit to signing someone SIGNIFICANT as a free agent & then trade from our surplus of pitching for additional help.

John said...

Well, OK, but if your focus is on looking towards next year, then go a little further...

Find out if Hunter is in your plans. There is no WAY he doesn't have significant value. Teixeira's impending free agency didn't scare anyone away.

Trade Silva. Eveyone is looking for pitching.

See what you can get for Rincon. He's in his last year of arbitration and likely getting expensive.

There is so little benefit to a couple of hundred MLB at-bats to Casilla. That can't be the primary reason for this move. It's not enough for the hit they take in this year's race.

John Sharkey, Esq. said...

I'm going on a killing spree if Ensberg or E. Encarnacion isn't on the roster tomorrow. Just a fair warning to those in the Twin Cities area: stay in your homes...

Ryan Eichler said...

This move is the dumbest move the Twins could make! Why in the hell would they move a guy that is consistently on base, plays good defense and can move when he wants to? I realize that he wouldn't have been around next year, but he at least gave us a reliable bat and glove for the stretch run. I don't buy the garbage about moving numbers around to sign a bigger impact player. Alfanso Soriano anyone?

Anonymous said...

Agree on looking to move Silva & Rincon.

I'm afraid we're gonna have to wait on Hunter - there aren't enough options out there to justify a "tell me now or I'm trading you" ultimatum. When everyone's healthy & he's hitting out of the #6 hole, which is where he belongs, it'll be tough for us to find someone better who'll come to Minnesota to play.

Unknown said...

The other thing that the Castillo move did was piss off Johan, especially since they didn't pick anybody up. Read this article, Santana's pretty blunt that he's probably done here:

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

is it true that the rockies offered atkins for slowey and rincon?

Anonymous said...


Saw that; Santana's a competitor, I wouldn't want him looking into the mirror of this club and saying "Luis being here or being gone isn't going to make a difference; this isn't a championship club."

That's Ryan's job.

Was Castillo going to be here in 2008? Doubtful. So trading him July 31st means he misses 1/3 of the season for a team that has to pass three teams to get to the Wild Card.

While there's a reasonable chance of "the" team ahead of you hitting a bad patch when you're chasing them, the likelihood of all three of them doing it is far lower; passing three teams would typically require that you get extremely hot for an extended period of time. That would require a level of offensive consistency far beyond anything this year's team has demonstrated.

If we're unlikely to win with Castillo and he's not going to be here next year, then what? Do we let him go and get nothing? Or would we be better off trading him for what we could get, even if it isn't much?

I appreciate what Luis did while he was here, but he wasn't going to lead the charge to the postseason.

As for Johan - if the Twins are able to resign Hunter (or comparable), sign Morneau to an extension, add another middle of the order type bat this offseason, and otherwise demonstrate their intentions to pay what it takes to field a contender in the new ball park (meaning "payroll takes obvious steps toward what the ball park will support"), then I think we'd have a chance to get him to stay.

If not, then someone might be willing to give up something significant for him next July.

I don't want that to happen, but no one player is bigger than the team.

Brian said...

We may have to pass three teams to get the wild card, but we only have to pass two to win the division.

Just sayin'

Anonymous said...

Maybe it doesn't look as dumb as it looks. We have a player who seems to have a great range than Luis. He seems able to run the bases more than Luis. He might have some extra base hit power which Luis wasn't showing this year (game winning double)

Jason Tyner seems to be this year's Nick Punto playing over his head. He seems able to run the bases better than Luis which is needed as a leadoff hit.

Maybe if Johan had taken care of buisness (critical starts against Detroit, Cleveland, and Toronto where we lost) we would be in first right now or at least a lot closer than 4.5 games.

Plus the move was coming anyway in 2008 so make the move now. They seemed to dump more than Luis recently with Jeff and Lew being dumped to try to make the team better.

Walter Hanson