Astros After Castillo
According to the Houston Chronicle, the Astros have Luis Castillo on their list of free-agent targets.
Strange, since they have publicly committed to moving Chris Burke back to the keystone after spending some time as an offensively challenged outfielder the past two years.
Per the Chronicle,
“The Astros have started dialogue with the agents for Castillo and center fielders Torii Hunter and Aaron Rowand, but the talks are exploratory.”
This is something I don’t quite get; according to the “rules”, a team can’t negotiate salary with free agents other than their own until November 13th. Yet the Astros are speaking with Castillo’s agents, the Mets are speaking with Scott Boras on Thursday, and myriad other teams are yakking it up with agents all over the GM meetings. The technicality is that the teams can’t discuss dollars until the 13th. So presumably all these meetings are “exploratory” or “just dialogue”. We’ve heard that Omar Minaya and Boras are getting together to find out what it will take to get A-Rod in orange and blue — but per the rules they can’t discuss money. So what are they talking about, if not money? The weather? The Queens public schools? Where to pick up the #7 train? Bunch of bunk. All that November 13th date means is no one will officially sign with another team until then.
But I digress … back to the Astros and Luis Castillo.
So the Astros are interested in Castillo, and the Mets haven’t yet made any hard offers to him — though they retain exclusive rights to negotiate with him for another week. By not taking advantage of this exclusivity, what are the Mets saying? That they’re seriously considering moving Jose Reyes or David Wright to second to make room for A-Rod? That they’re comfortable going into 2008 with Ruben Gotay and Damion Easley platooning at second base? That they’re planning to make a deal for Orlando Hudson or Jeff Kent?
Though I’d prefer to see Luis Castillo retained, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to lose him to the Astros. That scenario would likely make current Astros free agent Mark Loretta available — a guy I’d seen as a nice pickup on, ironically, this day last year. Back then, my argument was that he’d make an ideal platoon partner for Jose Valentin, who was a good hitter from the left side in 2006. This year, Loretta is still a good fit — as a platoon partner with Ruben Gotay. Gotay kills righties, Loretta kills lefties — perfect combination, offensively. Defensively, of course, they might not match Castillo, but we’re working this theory on the idea that Castillo is unavailable. The next-best free agent second base options are Tadahito Iguchi, Marcus Giles, Kaz Matsui, and Miguel Cairo. Considering that Kaz will not be brought back, and Iguchi is overvalued, the Loretta-Gotay scenario suddenly looks pretty good.