UPDATE: Confirmed by Jim Salisbury. Luis Castillo is a Phillies.
Reports Sunday night indicated that free agent second baseman and Pop-up Dropsmith Luis Castillo was on the verge of signing a deal with the Philadelphia Phillies.
You might remember Luis Castillo from the 2003 Marlins when he formed an incredibly disruptive top-of-the-lineup combo with Juan Pierre that broke something in Larry Bowa's brain, and compelled the Phillies to try to make Jimmy Rollins into a slap hitter for a couple seasons, a terrible program that didn't get reversed until Charlie Manuel took over as Manager.
You might also remember Luis Castillo from his recent tumultuous tenure with the New York Mets, perhaps distilled into his famous above-referenced dropped pop-up that cost his team a game against the hated Yankees.
Castillo's not particularly good anymore. He has no power (and never really has), his defense has regressed, he's not the baserunning threat he once was. However, he has one key virtue over any of the other options not currently on the roster: He's very cheap.
When the Mets released Castillo, they took responsibility for the balance of the $6 million remaining on his contract. The Phillies could theoretically sign Castillo to a deal for the Major League minimum, and the Mets would still be on the hook for over $5.5 million. And the Phillies won't have to send any prospects out of town to bring him in.
Other things Castillo is good for: He can draw a walk. Even during his otherwise poor 2010 season in New York, his 13% walk rate was quite good. Takes a little bit of the stink off his .604 OPS campaign.
PECOTA is bearish on Castillo, projecting a .254/.335/.294 line in 2011. However, it looks better than PECOTA's .259/.308/.331 forecast for Wilson Valdez, if only for the big advantage in all-important on-base percentage. Bill James likes Castillo even more, projecting a .275/.361/.325 line, and .258/.306/.360 for Valdez.
There are added issues, of course. Talk about Castillo's poor attitude and work ethic, and the consensus take from observers that Castillo's foot speed has deteriorated, troubling for a player whose primary skill is his speed.
As a side note, this whole thing does kind of telegraph how the team is assessing Chase Utley's recovery prospects, doesn't it?
And if nothing else, all those talk radio callers who think the Phillies should play more small ball, bunt, run, etc., will get to see that philosophy in action with Mr. Castillo.