Tag Archives: Starlin Castro

Philadelphia Phillies in the MLB 2020 free agent market

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Super agent Scott Boras again finds himself in the middle of much of the big Hot Stove season action

 

Welcome to the latest episode of the ‘Ring the Bell‘ podcast. For those simply reading this piece at the website, it doubles as the script for today’s episode.

As I discussed in yesterday’s episode which evaluated the Phillies current roster and payroll situations, the ball club has a number of important needs. General manager Matt Klentak will find himself increasingly under the glare of the spotlight as this Hot Stove season moves along and he attempts to fill those needs.

First, let’s take a minute to run down the list of what I see as those Phillies needs this off-season, in order of importance:

  1. Starting pitching
  2. Starting pitching
  3. Center field
  4. Bench
  5. Bullpen
  6. Third base (?)

That was not a typo in listing ‘Starting Pitching’ twice. It is simply that important, first of all. And also, the club needs two new proven winning veteran starting pitchers, at least one of whom should be an “ace” level rotation arm. Now, let’s take a look at who is available on the free agent market.

STARTING PITCHING

There are two big names here, Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg. They should and will be the Phillies top two targets in free agency. Principal owner John Middleton has made the addition of top-level starting pitching a priority for the team, and is prepared to spend top dollar to secure such an arm.

The problem is not going to be one of either money or will power. The problem for the Phillies will be that they are not the only team in search of this level of pitching talent, not by a long shot.

The world champion and division rival Washington Nationals and their World Series opponents, the Houston Astros, are not simply going to let Strasburg and Cole respectively walk away from their ball clubs without a major effort to retain them.

Also, it is publicly known that the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Angels will be shopping aggressively for this type of arm as well. Speculation is that the San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago White Sox, and Atlanta Braves are among any number of other teams with the desire and money to land one of these top two starting pitchers.

It’s hard to know what is going through Strasburg’s mind. There has been some speculation that opting out of his contract with the Nationals was purely a strategy to get more money from the only organization he has ever known.

The 31-year-old, 10-year veteran was due to make another $100 million over the next four years in Washington. Some have speculated that he could get another $50 million and another year, at least, on the open market.

While it would not be a surprise to see the Nationals and Strasburg announce a new deal at any point, that is far from a given. The longer he hangs out there on the market, the more clubs are going to his agent, Scott Boras, with interest.

Cole is also represented by the Boras Group. The 29-year-old is the biggest name on the free agent market this winter. I expect to see Boras take him on a tour of interested teams and cities, similar to what we saw happen last year with Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. Don’t expect to see Cole sign with anyone until February.

While the Phillies will be in the mix for both, their money and genuine interest making them legitimate contenders, they should not be considered the favorites for either pitcher. Cole, a native of Newport Beach, is said to be interested in either a return to SoCal or a spot at the top of the Yankees rotation. Strasburg, a San Diego native, may also go the SoCal route if he doesn’t return to D.C.

It is going to be curious to watch the Phillies pursuit of a top arm, because as I said, what the rotation really needs is two more experienced, proven, veteran starting pitchers.

The longer that Cole remains unsigned, and Strasburg as well for that matter, and the longer the Phillies genuinely believe that they are in the mix for one or the other, then it becomes a somewhat dangerous game.

There is a large group of talented starting pitchers just below the talent levels of Cole and Strasburg. Most if not all of those pitchers are going to sign somewhere earlier than at least Cole will be signing. The Phillies are going to have to commit to one of the next level of pitchers by Christmas, possibly even within the next few weeks.

The most obvious target would appear to be 2008 World Series MVP Cole Hamels. Turning 36 years of age two days after this coming Christmas, Hamels has already said that he would be open to a return to the club with whom he broke into the big-leagues and first became a star.

Judging by social media, Hamels remains popular with the fan base. And judging by his comments, the feeling is mutual.

MLB Phillies insider Todd Zolecki quoted Hamels earlier this week:

I know Philly is finally trying to make that push. They’re building their roster. If I fit on their roster and their plans, I’d love the opportunity to come back. It’s probably more on their end, though, to reach out and see if I actually do fit in their plans. It would be difficult for me to say, ‘Hey, I want to play there, can you guys make it happen?’ But I’m always willing to play for that team and city and attempt to win a World Series. That’s where I am right now. I just want to have the opportunity to get to the postseason, just so that I can try to win.

Hamels then went on to say, according to Zolecki, that he would even be willing to play on a one-year contract:

I’m not there to handcuff somebody or an organization…I can do one year here and there and just play as long as I can play. I think that’s what will help give me an opportunity to play on teams that are trying to go to the postseason. If you need one guy, I can just kind of bounce around. Obviously, if the Phillies were interested in longer than one, I’d entertain that, too. But I think I want the opportunity to have as many opportunities to get to the postseason and try to win. I’ll go every year. I’ll prove myself. I don’t mind having my back against the wall. I think I perform better like that anyway. It just keeps me more accountable.

This just seems to make too much sense. Hamels is clearly interested in a return to the Phillies. The fans would love to have him back. He has the talent and experience that the club is looking for, and he has something else going for him – Hamels is left-handed. The club has not had a truly effective southpaw in their rotation since, well, since Hamels left in 2015.

No longer in his prime, this could absolutely work on a one-year deal with a club option for another year or two. The Phillies, as long as all the medicals check out, should waste no time with this decision. Klentak should be on the phone with Hamels agent today.

If they just can’t work something out, or don’t want Hamels for some reason, there are other interesting arms.

Available free agent left-handers include 30-year-old, 4x NL All-Star and former World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner…32-year-old, 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel…33-year-old Korean native and 2019 NL All-Star Hyun-Jin Ryu…29-year-old, 2017 NL All-Star Alex Wood.

Available right-handers would include 29-year-old, former first round MLB Draft pick Zack Wheeler…31-year-old, 2016 AL Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello…30-year-old, 2019 AL All-Star Jake Odorizzi.

There are a few dozen other possibilities as well. But frankly, anyone other than the pitchers mentioned already would be a disappointing addition.

The Phillies would be wise to take Hamels up on this word, and wrap him up to fill the 3-4 slot in their starting rotation for 2020. Then they can concentrate all of their efforts into trying to land one of the really big fish.

CENTER FIELD

There are a lot of Phillies fans who seem to think that the club is okay here with either Scott Kingery or Adam Haseley. Frankly, if you truly want to be a contending team, I think that is just crazy talk.

Kingery has handled himself admirably out there for someone who is not a natural outfielder. Haseley deserves much credit for rising from Double-A to a regular big-league role last season.

But neither is the answer for a contending Phillies ball club.

Kingery needs to be handed his natural second base position and allowed to play it every single day, barring some situational need or emergency. Haseley would be well served getting more everyday plate appearances at Triple-A or serving a fourth outfielder apprenticeship in 2020.

There has been some chatter on social media about the team bringing back free agent outfielder Corey Dickerson, who excelled with the Phillies following his arrival from Pittsburgh at this past season’s trade deadline.

Yes, Dickerson hit .293 with eight homers and 34 RBIs in just 137 plate appearances with the Phillies. Extrapolate those numbers over a full season and you have something like a 35 homer, 120+ RBI campaign.

However, the 30-year-old Dickerson is a free agent for the first time. He is going to parlay that performance into a nice, well-deserved payday. And he is, unfortunately, not a center fielder. Just 27 of his 571 big-league games in the outfield have been played in center.

If you are thinking of putting him in left field and having Andrew McCutchen slide over to become the everyday man in center field for the Phillies, you really need to think again.

McCutchen is now 33-years-old and has not played center field regularly in either of his last two seasons. He is coming off major knee surgery as well.

While he can spot-start or slide over temporarily during a situational or emergency need, as he did for 10 starts and 15 total games this past season with the Phillies, he is no longer the player who won a 2012 Gold Glove Award as a center fielder.

Roman Quinn is also not the answer. I love Quinn’s tool set and have been publicly in his corner for a few years now. But even someone who is as big a fan as I am has limits. Quinn has proven that he simply cannot remain healthy long enough to be a reliable starting option.

No, what the Phillies really need is a new center fielder, someone from outside the organization. Unfortunately, there really are not quality options available this year in free agency.

You have a premier defender such as Juan Lagares. There is pure base stealing speed in Billy Hamilton. There is an aging veteran such as 34-year-old, 5x AL All-Star, 4x AL Gold Glove Award winner Adam Jones.

None of those is a realistic option. Jones played just one game in center last year for the Dbacks, and two years ago with Baltimore he was rated as one of the worst regular center fielders in the game defensively by Fangraphs.

Lagares will turn 31-years-old in spring training and has just a .254/.297/.361 career slash line in 2,119 career big-league plate appearances. With a slash of just .242/.297/.326 over 3,089 plate appearances, Hamilton is even worse with a bat in his hands.

There is no answer available in free agency. If the Phillies want to improve in center field, it is going to have to come via trade.

During this past season, I wrote that a worthy trade target could be found in Boston Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. He turns 30 years of age early in the 2020 season and can become a free agent after next year.

If I’m Klentak, I’m on the phone looking to see if we can find a reasonable match in trade for the 2018 Gold Glove Award winner and ALCS Most Valuable Player.

THIRD BASE

Don’t count me among those who feel that the Phillies need a third baseman. Again, this is assuming the club does what I think it should do – give second base to Scott Kingery, and cut ties to Maikel Franco by not offering him arbitration.

If I’m running things, top offensive prospect Alec Bohm is starting at third base on Opening Day 2020. I let him know that right now.

When Bohm’s season ends following the conclusion of the Premier 12 tournament, at which he is Team USA’s starter at the hot corner, I tell him to go home and enjoy the holidays. Just keep working out and stay in shape. Don’t report to Clearwater until early February. And be mentally ready for your role as the Phillies starting third baseman.

Now, that’s me. The club could actually go in a number of directions. They could offer a contract to and bring back Franco as the starter, at least to begin the season. Then let him try to hold off Bohm for as long as he can.

Or the club could offer a contract to Cesar Hernandez, cut ties with Franco, give the third base job to Kingery, and fill center field some other way. Once Bohm is deemed ready, they could either slide Kingery back to center if no good option has emerged, or work out some king of position-sharing scheme involving the players. That option seems too messy.

Another option would be to cut ties with Franco and sign a free agent. There are a handful of interesting options if the Phillies try to take this route.

In order of talent, those free agent options would be Anthony Rendon, Josh Donaldson, and Mike Moustakas.

Rendon will be expensive and would tie up the position for years, meaning that the Phillies would either be banking on the NL getting a DH as soon as the 2021 season, or they would be considering a trade of either Bohm or Rhys Hoskins. I love Rendon as a player, but with Bohm nearly ready, this just doesn’t seem like the right move.

Donaldson just played on a one-year deal with Atlanta at a $23 million salary. He’ll turn 34-years-old a month from today. Perhaps the Phillies could lure him with a similar one-year offer? That would mean Bohm at least starts the season back at Triple-A.

The 31-year-old Moustakas is a bit trickier. He played with Milwaukee this past season at $7 million and received a $1 million buyout of his contract for next year, rather than the Brewers committing to his $11 million mutual option.

Moustakas is going to be seeking a multi-year offer from some team. He is still young enough that someone is likely to make that kind of offer in order to add a 35-homer bat to their lineup. I am betting it won’t be the Phillies.

Again, my choice here is to give the job to Bohm, spend your free agent money on pitching, and move on from the old, losing Franco-Hernandez infield combination.

BENCH

Putting together a bench group that includes at least a few veteran options for new manager Joe Girardi, preferably options that can hit the ball, will be another Klentak challenge.

The Phillies are already slated to have Jay Bruce return. He should help out as a pinch-hitter, on the outfield corners, and could even turn out to be a lefty-hitting backup first base option, giving Hoskins a blow against a few tougher right-handed pitchers. Girardi should be able to get him plenty of at-bats to keep him sharp and happy.

Assuming the Phillies move on from both Franco and Hernandez, as well as Odubel Herrera, that leaves other outfield depth options as Roman Quinn and Nick Williams. The infield would need help. There are a bunch of interesting options who could fit the bill:

The club could try to re-sign 30-year-old Brad Miller, who appeared in 66 games with the Phillies this past season. Miller played four different positions, mostly at third base and in left field, and produced a dozen homers in just 130 plate appearances.

38-year-old Ben Zobrist can play second base and an outfield corner. He even covered shortstop for one game last season with the Cubs.

Starlin Castro turns 30 at the end of spring training. He played both second and third this past year with the Marlins, and even held down shortstop, where he was a former starter, in three games.

At age 36, Howie Kendrick showed just how valuable he can be in a part-time role while helping the Nationals win their World Series. Kendrick, who played in 39 games with the 2017 Phillies, saw time at first, second, and third this year in Washington.

30-year-old Derek Dietrich ripped 19 homers in 306 plate appearances while covering first, second, and left field this year in Cincinnati. He even appeared in one game at the hot corner, and has played in 146 career games there.

33-year-old Eric Sogard hit .290 while playing five different positions between stops in Toronto and Tampa Bay this past season.

Former popular Phillies outfielder Hunter Pence turns 37 in April, and enjoyed a bounce-back campaign in which he was named to the American League All-Star team. His bat, outfield glove, and infectious enthusiasm could be a perfect mix for this team’s bench group.

The Phillies could use a reliable backup catching option, and yesterday I mentioned one of their former prospects as a possibility. That would be 31-year-old Travis d’Arnaud, who finally stayed healthy this past season and showed off his fine combination of offensive and defensive skills.

More veteran backstop options who could add an alternative to Andrew Knapp include 37-year-old Russell Martin, 34-year-old Matt Wieters, 32-year-old Bryan Holaday, 36-year-old Robinson Chirinos, 34-year-old Jonathan Lucroy and a half-dozen or so others.

These are just a representative sample of the dozens of names who could fill out a veteran bench for the Phillies.

BULLPEN

As I mentioned on yesterday’s podcast, assembling a bullpen is a tricky proposition from year to year. The Phillies pen was decimated by injuries this past season, but most of those arms should be back in 2020.

They could do nothing, and still end up with an effective group. However, adding someone as a strong, veteran back-end option couldn’t hurt. Dellin Betances, Will Smith, Steve Cishek, Will Harris, and Pedro Strop are just a few of the couple dozen veteran relievers available.

And how about this possibility: lefty Jake Diekman? Wouldn’t it be sort of ironic if the Phillies brought back both Hamels and Diekman, who they traded away together in 2015, in the same off-season? Diekman turns 33 in January, and struck out 84 batters over 62 innings this past season as a southpaw out of the pen.

Again, as with third base, I don’t feel this is an area of desperate need. But if the Phillies want another bullpen arm, there are plenty from which to choose.

WRAPPING IT UP

Well, that’s a look at the free agent market. The Hot Stove season is officially underway. Free agents can sign with any team at this point, though signings of the bigger names are likely to take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.

And those free agent ranks are only going to swell when the December 2 deadline passes for teams to offer arbitration, which is the decision that the Phillies will need to make on Franco and Hernandez.

As we move through the off-season, this podcast will focus occasionally on rumors regarding the club, and I’ll certainly be talking and writing about any big signings.

I hope you’ll come back tomorrow, when I’ll be talking about the MLB Award winners to this point, as well as the nominees for the major awards to be handed out next week, including the Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Awards in each league.

Remember, you can follow any written pieces or podcast episodes through links at the Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram feeds @philliesbell. I hope you’ll stop by and enjoy. Until next time, God bless you and yours.

Phillies hope to turn it around against last-place Miami Marlins

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Derek Jeter is trying to turn around the Marlins fortunes

The Miami Marlins (27-46) carry the worst record in the National League, third-worst in all of baseball, and the second-lowest scoring offense in Major League Baseball in to Citizens Bank Park this weekend.

On the face, the Fish would appear to be the perfect opponents for the staggering Philadelphia Phillies (39-35), who are trying to snap a four-game losing streak as the series opens.
But while the Marlins attack has indeed been anemic, ranking at or near the bottom of nearly every offensive category you could imagine, their pitching has been just the opposite.
Miami pitching has been among the best in the National League all season. Marlins pitchers have allowed the third-lowest batting average against in the league this season. They are tied for the third-fewest home runs allowed.
None of that seems welcoming to the Phillies, whose hitters have struggled to consistently produce runs for weeks now. While Citizens Bank Park is normally considered a hitter’s haven, that may not prove the case this weekend.
One thing is certain, the Phillies desperately need to get back to winning series. They could really use a series sweep. To accomplish that, those bats are going to have to wake up and begin producing runs. This weekend would be a great time to do so in front of home crowds that are beginning to grow restless.


MIAMI MARLINS

TOP LINEUP THREATS

Garrett Cooper: 28-year-old who splits time between first base and right field is slashing .313/.385/.496 with six homers, 11 extra-base hits, and 21 RBIs over just 148 plate appearances.
Miguel Rojas: 30-year-old, six-year veteran shortstop is hitting .275 with 15 doubles and leads the team with five steals.
Harold Ramirez: a 24-year-old rookie who has played all across the outfield and is hitting .316 with 10 extra-base hits over the first 139 plate appearances of his big-league career.
Brian Anderson: tied with Alfaro for the club lead with nine homers, his 32 RBIs and 23 extra-base hits both lead the team.
Starlin Castro: 29-year-old second baseman is second on the club with 30 RBIs.
Jorge Alfaro: the former Phillies catcher is tied for the team lead with nine homers, and his 27 RBIs are third. However, he has just been placed on the IL under the seven-day concussion protocol and will miss the series.

SPOTLIGHT PLAYER(S)

Bullpen righties: one of the primary reasons that the Marlins pitching stats are so strong has been the work of four key right-handers coming out of the bullpen. Sergio Romo, a 36-year-old veteran, has filled the closer role. He has 13 saves and has allowed 24 hits over 27.1 innings.
Romo has combined with a trio of 27-28 year-old relievers in Nick AndersonTayron Guerrero, and Austin Brice to produce the following cumulative numbers: 98 hits (14 homers) allowed over 115.2 IP with a 130/59 K:BB ratio. While those numbers may not be completely shutdown quality, they are strong enough to present a challenge to the Phillies hitters at the end of each game.

SCHEDULED STARTING PITCHERS

FRIDAY – Sandy Alcantara: 23-year-old, third-year big-league right-hander is 3-6, 3.73 ERA, 1.390 WHIP, 76 hits allowed over 82 IP across 14 starts with a 58/38 K:BB
SATURDAY – Elieser Hernandez: 24-year-old, second-year big-league right-hander is 0-2, 3.95 ERA, 1.171 WHIP, 14 hits allowed over 13.2 IP across three games (two starts) with a 13/2 K:BB.
SUNDAY – Jordan Yamamoto: 23-year-old rookie right-hander from Hawaii is 2-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.643 WHIP, five hits over 14 IP across two starts with a 12/4 K:BB.

THE SKIPPER

Don Mattingly is a New York Yankees legend who played his entire 14-year big-league career in the Bronx. As a ballplayer he was one of the top players of the second half of the 1980’s. He was the 1985 AL MVP and runner-up for the award the following year. Mattingly made six consecutive AL All-Star teams as a first baseman from 1984-89, and won nine AL Gold Glove Awards at the position. He also won three straight Silver Sluggers 1985-87.
Mattingly is noted for having the longest tenured career as a Yankees player without ever appearing in a World Series. The club reached the Fall Classic in the year prior to his arrival (1981), and then also in 1996, the season after he retired.
After several seasons as a special instructor at Yankees spring training, Mattingly was hired as the Yankees hitting coach for the 2004 campaign and served in that role for three years. Included in that run was his first 2004 season, during which the club produced a franchise-record 242 home runs.
In 2007, Mattingly became the Yankees bench coach and was a finalist for their managerial position after that season to succeed Joe Torre. The job went instead to his former teammate, Joe Girardi.
Mattingly left the Yankees to become the hitting coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers for the 2008 season. He finally received his first managerial opportunity when he succeeded Torre as the Dodgers skipper in 2011. Mattingly’s squads in LA went a combined 446-363 over five seasons, winning the NL West in his last three years from 2013-15. When the team was eliminated in the playoffs for a third straight year, he and the club agreed to mutually part ways.
Mattingly wasn’t unemployed for long. The Marlins scooped him up quickly, and he has put together a 246-311 cumulative record in now his fourth season at the helm in Miami. He has not registered a winning campaign yet with the Fish, who suffered through the death of star pitcher Jose Fernandez at the end of his first season and then saw ownership and management trade off a number of star players including Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich.

SERIES WEATHER REPORT

Hallelujah! After a horrendous weather week (among other things) in Washington, the Phillies return home to great weather for baseball. All three games this weekend will be rain-free with virtually no chance of precipitation.
On Friday night, temps will be in the low-mid-60’s. However, brisk windy conditions will make it feel cooler. It’s a jacket night, maybe even a heavier jacket night, especially after sundown at Citizens Bank Park.
Saturday and Sunday afternoons will be mostly sunny with high’s in the low-80’s, moderate humidity, and light winds. Nearly perfect baseball conditions.

Forecast from The Weather Channel

MLB 2017 All-Surprise Team

We are now more than two full months into the 2017 MLB regular season. At this point, sustained success can usually be considered more than a simple hot streak.
A look across the statistical leader boards of Major League Baseball reveals some surprising names. 
As fans vote for their favorites to appear in the starting lineups at the 2017 MLB All-Star Game, few of these players have a shot to win.
However, if they can keep up their strong performances of these first two months, some will undoubtedly find their way on to the rosters of the NL and AL squads at the mid-summer classic.
Surprises don’t stop with individual player performances. A look at the current standings reveals a number of surprise teams across the Major League Baseball landscape.
For instance, who would have predicted back in March that the Minnesota Twins would be leading the AL Central Division at this point? Or that the Angels and Rays would still be squarely in the AL Wildcard race this late?

The Milwaukee Brewers are tied with the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central. The Colorado Rockies are on top of the NL West heap. The Arizona Diamondbacks are in that western race, and are solidly in control of an NL Wildcard spot.
Who knows how long these surprise teams will continue to impact the 2017 MLB season? But while they are producing at such an impactful level, let’s take a shot at naming some players to an “All-Surprise Team” in Major League Baseball.

Starlin Castro reaching his full potential in the Bronx

To the surprise of some, the New York Yankees are on top of the American League East Division standings
The Yankees current 24-13 record has the club 1.5 games up on the second place Baltimore Orioles.
One of the biggest keys to the surge by the latest incarnation of the Bronx Bombers to the top of the standings has been the play of second baseman Starlin Castro.
Castro was dealt by the Chicago Cubs at the 2015 Winter Meetings to the Yankees. In exchange, New York received pitcher Adam Warren and a player to  be named later. That PTBNL turned out to be infielder Brendan Ryan.
Castro was always seen as having dynamic offensive potential. The Cubs hierarchy simply believed that he had reached the peek of his skills, and that they had better in-house options.
At the time of the trade, the Cubs had both Javier Baez and Addison Russell ready for full big league opportunities. In fact, Russell broke into the starting lineup on the North Side as a second baseman in 2015, as Castro had been established as the Cubs starting shortstop.
Castro was signed out of his native Dominican Republic, and in 2010 made his big league debut. He finished fifth in the NL Rookie of the Year voting that season after hitting .300 with 31 doubles, 10 steals, and 41 RBI over 503 plate appearances.
The following year of 2011, Castro led all of Major League Baseball with 207 hits. And in three of the four years between 2011-14, Castro was a National League All-Star.

FROM WINDY CITY TO BIG APPLE

With the development of Baez and Russell, the Cubs saw an opportunity to bring in a valuable arm in Warren for a player they believed was unwilling to change his approach in order to improve his game.
For the Yankees part, they saw that dynamic offensive package in a player who was still young. The then 25-year old was plugged into a retooling Yankees lineup at second base in the first season of the post-Derek Jeter era.
In his first season in pinstripes, Castro hit .270 with 21 homers and 70 RBI. This year, the now 27-year old is entering his prime, and his production has exploded. He is currently hitting for a .351/.387/.545 slash line with seven homers, 26 RBI, 29 runs scored, and nine doubles.
Those statistical figures are either first or second in the Yankees regular lineup. As quoted by Billy Witz for the New York Times earlier this month, Yanks GM Brian Cashman commented on his approach and production:
“If you focused on the negatives, you can get tripped up and frustrated, but if you focus on what he does well, you’ll appreciate what he brings to the table. You watch his at-bats play out, and you see he’s not Wade Boggs working the count. But he is a tough out. You get him 0-2, 1-2, that’s when the at-bat starts. He’s a tough out and a very dangerous hitter, and I don’t think he’s a finished product.”
While he is never likely to be a Gold Glove defender, Castro holds his own defensively at the Keystone position. Teaming with defensive whiz Didi Gregorius helps, as does his own offensive value.

CUBS WIN SERIES, YANKS GET YOUNG TALENT

The trade with Chicago has proven a bit convoluted. The Yanks reacquired Warren last July, along with a package of highly considered minor league prospects, in exchange for closer Aroldis Chapman.
That deal certainly worked out for the Cubs. Chapman proved to be a lights-out closer on a World Series championship team. But the Yankees may benefit greatly in the long run.
One of the prospects received in last summer’s deal is shortstop Gleyber Torres. He is now the top prospect in the system and one of the top prospects in baseball.
The New York Yankees are already at the top of the divisional standings. If Cashman is proven correct that Castro can still improve, he may prove pivotal in helping them stay there.