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Sunday, June 18, 2006

Juan Castro returns to the Reds

On Thursday, the Reds re-acquired utility infielder Juan Castro from the Minnesota Twins for minor league outfielder Brandon Roberts. Roberts was a 7th-round selection in the '05 draft and had a good year at Rookie-league Billings, hitting 0.318/0.386/0.438 (0.824) w/ 32 steals in 39 chances. Not a huge prospect, but not half-bad either. In contrast, Castro has a reputation as a classic all-field, no hit middle infielder. The reputation is well deserved. Recent Stats:
2003/CIN 341 5.9 18.9 37.9 2/40% 0.290 0.388 0.678 --- 0.228 0.232 -0.5
2004/CIN 314 6.2 22.4 62.8 1/100% 0.277 0.378 0.655 0.657 0.219 0.224 -3.5
2005/MIN 283 7.3 31.4 56.6 0/50% 0.279 0.386 0.665 0.692 0.222 0.237 -0.9
Offensively, Castro has been lucky to reach replacement level the past three years. He doesn't walk much, strikes out fairly often, and doesn't hit a whole lot of homers (though he did hit 9 in half-time work in '03). Defensively, Castro saw most of his innings last year at shortstop, and was 9 plays above average last year according to the fielding bible, which would translate to 21 plays above average in a full season's work. So yeah, the guy can pick it.

So we've got a solid defensive option in the infield for late innings. Frankly that's what I thought we'd have with Phillips before he showed what we can do, and I have no problem with having someone like that on the roster. But carrying 12 pitchers and three catchers does put a premium on roster spots, so it will be interesting to see what happens when, say, Edwin Encarnacion returns from the disable list. Like many, I feel like we're bound to see another trade soon. If only LaRue was hitting... Maybe someone'd be interested in Aurilia? Package with Milton while he's still throwing well for a starter? Or maybe straight up for a reliever? We shall see...