Castro back in fold (updated)

After surveying the field, the White Sox returned to their old backup catcher, signing Ramon Castro to a one-year, $1 million deal.
If you despite Castro with your coal-black heart and are looking for a reason to like this deal, don’t think of his name as “Ramon Castro.” Think of him as “Not Tyler Flowers.”
The Sox brass expressed confidence in Flowers’ abilities, but I’m glad to see it was nothing more than positive reinforcement.  Flowers still has much to learn, both at and behind the plate.  We’ve heard a lot about his defensive improvement and the progress yet to be made, but he could use offense reps as well.  Though he hit well in Charlotte (.286/.364/.438), but he can hit for more power than that, and strike out less.
So now A.J. Pierzynski’s backup is Not Tyler Flowers, buying the Sox an extra year of time while Flowers finishes off developing his game at Triple-A.  That’s encouraging news.
A few other reasons why this makes sense:
No. 1: $1 million is about the going rate. Chris Widger was the last journeyman backup catcher the Sox used at the start of a season, and he made $650,000.  Adjusting for inflation and factoring in Castro’s solid track record before 2009, and only a complete no-name would be noticeably cheaper. Henry Blanco signed with the New York Mets for $1.5 million, and it would’ve cost more to bring him to the American League. There really isn’t that much of a difference — half a win at best, if you believe WAR.
No. 2: The law of averages is on his side. Castro probably isn’t as bad as he showed at the plate in 2009, so unless he’s truly lost it, he should be in for a rebound of some sort.
No. 3:  He knows the pitching staff. Despite spending half a season on the South Side and getting a fraction of the playing time behind Pierzynski, Castro caught three of the Sox’s seven best starts in 2009. He wouldn’t be back if Don Cooper and Ozzie Guillen didn’t think he prepared well enough.
No. 4: The backup catcher is going to suck anyway. Blame it on Pierzynski’s culture of fear. If the Sox tried somebody else, we’d probably be complaining about him, too.
The only way to definitely improve the situation would be, as knox suggested, to trade for somebody like Ryan Doumit, and that’s an entirely different animal with its own set of concerns.  As long as the Sox were looking for a low-cost backup catcher who wouldn’t upset Pierzynski in a contract year, Castro’s just about the best they could.
At the very least, it’s Not Tyler Flowers.
******************************
Castro’s acquisition could mean happy trails for Cole Armstrong, who was DFA’d to clear a space on the 40-man roster.  The Sox have passed two catchers through waivers in previous seasons — Corky Miller last season, and Donny Lucy before him.
I think it’s far unlikelier that Armstrong will remain in the Sox organization.  There are a million Millers and Lucy wasn’t healthy, but Armstrong’s combination of left-handedness and solid defensive skills could lead a team to give him a shot.

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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knoxfire30

Disagree Jim, sensible is not repeating what already didnt work. This was lazy, dumb, and frustrating. Wait a second, lazy, dumb and frustrating could also describe… CASTRO

sars

ahhah…awesome, jim.
should aj magically get injured, do you think the sox would immediately go to flowers if he has a strong spring/strong start to the season at aaa until/if AJ gets hurt?

knoxfire30

actually it was me calling a jewish owner and black gm lazy, dumb, and frustrating for bringing back a horrible player and paying him a mil for some reason
not sure i have a clue about why you brought race into the debate though

knoxfire30

You have really short sighted me here
Do you remember my page long rant about Castro not scoring on a double from 2nd base with a full count and 2 outs? (lazy and dumb)
Or how he never knew the difference between when a count should determine his hitting technique, guy on third 1 out just need a fly ball and he takes fastball down the middle then strikes out on crap offspeed stuff swinging for the fences. (Mostly just Dumb)
This has nothing to do with being latin, I have no idea where this is coming from with you.
I understand stereotypes, but I dont use them, dont think I have ever called pods a grinder, and if anyone on this board blasted dumb play from pods more then me I would like to meet them. And although getz made some poor plays, alexei was the most braindead ball player I had seen in a long long time.
I do undestand if this was a low skilled white guy in the nba he would be called an “energy guy” and sometimes guys in the mlb get labeled. THATS NOT WHAT IM DOING

knoxfire30

The only positive here is flowers staying in AAA.

conor

Knox makes me scratch my head a lot, but I think you jumped the gun, Jim. Knox’ illogical hatred is obvious, but he’s never given any indication that his posts are racially motivated. He might hate Castro because he’s yet another dumpy back up who admires Karkovice more than Pierzynski. These qualities exist independently of his ethnic heritage. Look at Toby Hall after that ill-fated experiment with 1st base. His awful soul patch and “automatic out” skill set suggested many things, but none of them were “Latin”. Alexei gets more heat than Getz because while he is new to MLB, he isn’t wet behind the ears and he has demonstrated on numerous occasions that he is capable of great things, like game winning grand slams when the season is on the line, and stellar glove work. Getz was a new guy, and his ceiling would appear to be much, much lower. Juan Uribe did a lot of dumb stuff too. If Juan was an AAA player on the active roster because we didn’t have anyone else to fill the spot, that’s one thing. When he’s our starting shortstop who helped win a World Series with two amazing plays in game four and refuses to take pitches no matter how many times his manager calls him out publicly for it, that’s something else. Ramirez has much more in common with Uribe than Getz. Should we question that awesome Uribe t-shirt with the bullet holes you made some time back as racially motivated? No. But an oversensitive type could make an arguement.
Do you think Armstrong has a chance to crack the Majors? I always figured he would shipped off to the NL West in a box full of other spare parts (never to be seen by anyone again)for a midseason pen arm or something. I don’t like giving up perceived value for nothing.

Chris Pummer

Castro is a backup catcher. What were we expecting? A trade for Joe Mauer to back up? Maybe just a three-year deal for Bengie Molina?
How much imagination were we looking for? Castro in his career has hit lefties pretty well. That makes him a fine player to give Pierzynski a rest 30-40 times a year. He might still have some pop in his bat, and that’s handy for a pinch-hitting option.
If Castro were starting, he probaby wouldn’t be the worst No. 1 catcher in either league. As it happens, isn’t starting for the Sox.

knoxfire30

I hate that arguement, castro will still get about 120 at bats, thats meaningful, and honostly would their be 1 or 2 worse catchers out their starting if AJ ever got hurt? You know how amazingly healthy despite logging a ton of innings aj has been?
Trade for ryan doumit, low risk, switch hitter who could dh sometimes and add lefty pop (a role the sox could use) and he could hit righty and catch when aj needs a rest and then andru jones could dh.
If we didnt expect anything out of the back up catcher, why pay a million instead of league minimum wouldnt that have been the difference in bringing carrasco back? Wouldnt that be a positive.
Im always surprised that fans of a team who just went to the playoffs in 08 on the strength of an extra play in game, dont value every position on a baseball roster, everyone has a role the better the player at any role the better the chances for more wins. EVERY WIN COULD MATTER

Chris Pummer

Except that while Doumit is a good hitter for a catcher, his bat probably isn’t potent enough to justify playing as a semi-regular DH. Especially if he’s going to make close to $4 million next year, with a commitment locked in for about $5 million in 2011. If Doumit’s down year wasn’t just a BABIP problem, the Sox are giving up talent and more than $9 million for a crappier version of Craig Wilson (the C-OF-1B guy, not the IF the Sox drafted).
If the Sox are close to their payroll ceiling — and I’ve been a skeptic of that, but for the sake of argument we’ll say it’s true — then I’d rather spend that money on a real DH or corner OF option.
If you want to maximize your wins, that’s a much better place to start. Especially since that DH-OF would probably be getting at least twice as many at-bats as Castro will barring a Pierzynski injury.

bigfun

Chris is absolutely right here – it makes zero sense to trade prospects and take on salary for a backup catcher who is going to mean the difference of a fraction of a win. Every win matters, but would you rather pay $4 million for a tiny slice of a win, or the same money for maybe a ~3 win gain you could get at DH/corner OF?
Then again making moves for fractional gains (the deepest, oldest, grindiest bench in baseball) seems to be the offseason plan, so it wouldn’t have been a surprise if they had done something nuts like that.

alwayssox

He knows the staff and evidently the pitchers like throwing to him. That may be reason enough to bring him back.

soxfan1

Doumit is a horrible catcher who can hit a little bit. He makes Castro look like Johnny Bench behind the plate.
I’d rather see Flowers as the backup.

ricksch

I think it’s tough for the Sox to land a good back-up catcher, what with AJ playing 120-130 games. Still, I would have loved to have seen Blanco — or someone who can throw out a runner — as the back up. Watching AJ whiff time and again — and then listening to Hawk blame it on the pitcher — has gotten old. AJ’s poor production with guys on base is another huge minus that everyone seems to conveniently overlook. He should be batting 8 or 9. AJ’s shit taste in music (Creed & Jimmy Buffett are his “faves”) is enough reason to put him in a platoon situation with his old pal Josh Paul. Anyhow, Flowers should not be rushed, especially if you want this kid ready to start next year.

knoxfire30

I dont want to harp on this much more but come on, Doumit had an 850 ops in 2008 and is still on the right side of 30 years old , I actually think he is only 28. For a team with little to no lefty pop you guys really dont want to have him as a part time dh and backup catcher???? His contract is pretty affordable if he just splits the difference between his 08 and 09 seasons, let alone if he is back healthy and repeats his 08 campaign.
As of right now our lefty thumb is teahan and aj, with a little occasional kotsay dh’ing thats not good enough for a team playing at the cell so i hope jim thome does come back or a branyan or delgado is brought in at this point as troubling as that may seem

blah

I’m gonna go ahead and agree that all the money/prospects having Doumit here out weigh what he can do for the club. I mean $4mm for a backup catcher who might DH? I don’t see JR signing off on that move.
If were gonna dream, dream big. I’d like to go back in time and sign Matsui. He would have cost the Sox less (if you assign prospects $ amounts)and would have been a huge asset in bringing the Sox from the second worst offensive team in the Big Kids League.
If the Sox limit themselves to just FA, really the only ones I can think of are Hank Blalock, Russell Branyan, Johnny Damon, Carlos Delgado and Adam LaRoche are really the only decent LH DH types left that could be good. Maybe when Feb. roles around something happens with them.
And yes, I know all of these players have negatives. Delgado is old as hell. Delgado and Blalock’s recent injuries are a problem. Branyan strikes out too much. Damon probably can’t patrol the outfield too well and maybe too expensive. LaRoche just isn’t that good and maybe too expensive.
Of these names, the one I like the most (again read of these names) is Branyan as he can play 1st, 3rd as well as DH and he provided a lot of pop in a pretty mediocre lineup. He’s not realistic though as he would probably make Kotsay and Nix expendable and he also had some back problems last year.
At the end of the day, all I hope is that we don’t see too much Kotsay in the DH spot.

blah

I agree, but IMO with Ozzies comments on wanting to rotate guys or DH’s that can play the field coupled with KW and JR’s endorsement of this plan, I don’t see the Sox signing a DH that can’t play a position, if they sign for anyone at all.
But I digress. I am merely a member of the landed gentry that cannot afford to go to spring training games.

bigfun

OPS-wise, CHONE and Marcel project Doumit at .762 and .788 respectively. That’s OK for catcher, but it’s not exactly the kind of bat you want DHing.

paul

Jim,
Do you use Chrome at all? The Soxmachine icon doesn’t show up in the Bookmarks bar, just a place holder. I’m wondering if I something is broken in my chrome install that I need to clean up, or if the icon just doesn’t show up in chrome at all. I do see a little silver wheel looking icon in Firefox, although I suppose that could be a corrupt icon in Firefox and perhaps there’s isn’t a site icon at all…
Thanks,
Paul

paul

Sounds good. Chrome is pretty damn fast loading pages, and also starts up 2-3 times faster than Firefox. It actually even works better for a few sites when it comes to processing payments and such. With the exception of 1 website, I’ve basically dumped Firefox after using it for 3+ years.