Tag: Wilson Valdez

San Francisco Giants: 4 Battles Within the Team to Watch for in Spring Training

For the second time in three years, the San Francisco Giants will enter spring training with the feeling of being World Series champions. 

However, there are still some questions that need to be answered and some concerns about the defending champions.

Tim Lincecum and Hunter Pence were among the players who struggled last year, and while they both stepped up in the playoffs to help the Giants win the World Series, both have a lot to prove in 2013. While the Giants didn’t make any major offseason moves, they gave out a lot of minor-league deals.

What does that mean? Every player who received one of those miniature contracts has a lot to prove in spring training.

Here are four battles within the team to watch for in 2013.

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Philadelphia Phillies and Luis Castillo: Pros and Cons

Well, it looks like it may be a reality: Luis Castillo is reported close to signing a deal with the Philadelphia Phillies. Quite frankly, I am not sure how I feel about this. One would assume that there are some pros and some cons so let’s take a look at some of them

One major pro is that he is most likely going to be very, very cheap. He is already guaranteed $6M from the NY Mets, so the Phillies would be able to sign him for his qualifying league minimum, approximately $485,000. Cheap labor of this caliber is always a good thing and of course it makes it a very low risk/high reward proposition for the Phillies. Added Bonus: how great would it be to watch Castillo play against the Mets while they are paying him? Does it get any better than that?

Another pro would be that Castillo was, at one point, a very good hitter. His last full uninjured season was as recent as 2009 and he managed a very respectable .302 avg, .387 OBP and 77 runs scored. He has a very low strike out rate which would help what is currently a very K-prone lineup. His ability to put the ball in play could come in handy on a team like the Phillies who put a lot of runners on base and often only need a ground ball out or sacrifice fly to score a run. Also, he can still run, swiping 23 bags in 2009. Whether or not he can regain that form remains to be seen, but for $485K, don’t you almost have to take that shot?

He was hurt most of 2010 so any numbers from that year may be skewed but I assure you they are not good. Also, you have to take into account he was a Met and quite frankly it really seems as though most of those guys, especially the veterans, just flat out gave up.  

Let’s throw in a con: Wilson Valdez won’t get the much-deserved shot he has earned at second base. Valdez has been on fire this spring playing nearly every day and hitting over .400. He is playing several positions defensively and has been really impressive at all of them. He has even played some outfield this spring and done a very fine job at it. I personally would be slightly upset if Valdez didn’t at least get the opportunity at the job. The only thing that scares me about Valdez is his propensity to hit into the double play.

Another con is no one really knows his clubhouse attitude. The Phillies are known to have one of the best clubhouses in all of baseball; just ask Cliff Lee. They have taken tremendous care in achieving this chemistry. When Pat Gillick took over the team in 2005 he made it a point of contention to trade away great talents that were disruptive clubhouse members and it’s a philosophy that appears to have really worked. There is a rumor that the Phillies grade clubhouse attitude in their scouting reports and very seriously consider that grade when deciding on a player. There are many who believe, myself among them, that this is the reason the Philles are as successful as they are, despite injuries, despite slumps, despite poor outings–the Phillies always endure.

How about a pro: he hits from both sides of the plate. He could offer a right-handed bat in what is considered a very heavily weighted left handed lineup. Similar to Shane Victorino, he hits about equally from both sides; with a career .298 as a right-handed batter and .294 as a left-handed batter. Given the fact that most of the teams in the NL East have adjusted their bullpens to deal with the Phillies left-handed attack, this could prove extremely valuable.

All in all I would have to say it’s a good move for the Phillies however it is totally dependent on what they will pay him. As Ruben Amaro has recently been quoted as saying the team is completely tapped out financially, my guess would be the only way he becomes a Phillie is at the bare minimum price. I would further assume that Castillo would take that. He is, after all, still earning his $6M from the Mets this season and he would be playing for a contender. So if it happens: Good for you Luis Castillo, and welcome to the Philadelphia Phillies.

Let me know what you think. Is signing Luis Castillo a good move? Do you have another pro or con? Leave a comment and let me know.

UPDATE:  It’s a done deal.  Minor league contract which minimizes financial damage if t doesn’t  work out.  Good move by Ruben Amaro as he has managed to put the team in a win/win situation.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Philadelphia Phillies: 5 Players Who Could Fill in for Chase Utley

News of Chase Utley’s tendinitis in his right knee has spread around the baseball world over the past week. While Utley doesn’t look like he’ll need any serious treatment, he’s already received a cortisone shot in the knee, but it didn’t have any effect. He’s rested and stayed off the knee as much as possible, but that was to no avail. He’s even suggested that he could receive either a steroid injection or lubricant injection to speed up the process, but neither are certain as of yet.

Regardless of whether it’s been because of being hit by a pitch or simply overworking himself, Chase Utley has definitely felt the impact of an injury on playing time. Over the last few seasons, Utley has been riddled with injuries, from the broken hand to the torn thumb ligament last season, and now the tendinitis.

ESPN’s SportsCenter recently showed a statistic about second basemen that displayed the amount of additional wins a team has when a second baseman plays every day over his replacement. Chase Utley led this statistic with roughly 21 wins. Boston’s Dustin Pedroia came in second, but by a long shot, only providing roughly 14 wins.

Even though this statistic is both astounding and heartbreaking to Phillies fans, it’s not like they’ve seen replacements at second base in the past. If Utley won’t be ready for Opening Day or even beyond, someone will have to replace him temporarily.

Utley is doing all he can to avoid surgery to help his tendinitis, chondromalacia (cartilage deterioration), and bone inflammation.

But if surgery becomes inevitable in the future, which is still extremely rare, who would fill his shoes?

In no particular order, here are five players who are the most likely to fill in for Chase Utley if needed. 

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