Castillo and Free Agency

The more I think about it, the more I think the Twins should re-sign Lius Castillo.  It has been sort of a forgone conclusion in the Twins blogosphere that Castillo will not be a Twin come 2008.  He's a free agent, and there's a young speedster named Alexi Casilla that will be ready to take his place next season.

But should we dismiss him so easily?  He's been one of the best leadoff hitters in baseball as a Twin.  He draws walks, he works deep into counts, he can steal bases, and he gets more infield hits then Ichiro on caffeine pills.  He's the one "piranha" who you can count on to use the piranha attack consistently and effectively.

Then there's his defense.  His 143 game errorless streak that just ended a week ago was a Major League Record for second basemen.  Go back and read that last sentence again.  How he didn't win a Gold Glove again last season, I'll never understand.  When you consider both sides of his play, it should be obvious that he is one of the best and most valuable second basemen in all of baseball.

It's not re-signing like Castillo would break the bank either.  A 2-year, $11 million contract could probably keep him.  Perhaps even a 1-year, $6 million contract would.  If you are counting Hunter as gone in 2008, the Twins could afford to work out a contract with Castillo.

Granted, Alexi Casilla's ability is going to eventually demand a full time spot in the lineup.  -But there's no reason that his position couldn't be shortstop.  We really don't know if Bartlett is good enough to deserve to start in the long term.  Yes, he had a good offensive season last year, but that was only one good season.  You know who else has had exactly one good season at the plate?  Nick Punto and Lew Ford.  I wouldn't and don't think either of them should be playing on an everyday basis.

So far this season, Bartlett is reminding me of Luis Rivas's futility at the plate as a middle infielder.  OK, maybe not that terrible, but he's certainly been bad.  Bad enough to allow Casilla to challenge his job next spring?  Maybe.  Perhaps the two of them could even platoon.  At the very least, keeping Castillo would provide insurance that you will likely get good production from BOTH of your middle infielders in 2008.

Obviously if Bartlett turns it around in the second half, things could change.  Castillo is getting older, and his batting average and on-base percentage will begin to dip as he is less able to beat out infield hits.  However, he's not yet past his prime.  For what he gives the Twins at the cost of his salary, there's no reason to think that the Twins should just let him walk away.