Jason Castro Rumors
A few items of note on the club formerly known as the Colt .45s as Albert Pujols smacks a walkoff homer, his second jack of the day:
- The Astros continue to deny any rumors that they've been trying to work out a pre-draft deal with Stanford pitcher Chris Reed with the intent of selecting him at No. 11 overall, tweets Stephen Goff of the Houston Examiner. Goff predicts the Astros will take Archie Bradley (Twitter link), and ESPN.com's Keith Law writes in his latest mock draft that they'll take prep shortstop Francisco Lindor or Bradley if he's still available.
- The Astros have improved their farm system under GM Ed Wade and his stable of area scouts, according to Goff. Wade's first draft as Astros GM was in 2008, when Houston selected Jason Castro and Jordan Lyles, both of whom have reached the bigs.
- In contrast to their relative improvements in drafting and developing minor league players, Wade admitted that releasing Bill Hall represented a failure in judgment, writes Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle.
Blue Jays' rookie third baseman Brett Lawrie has been raking this spring but the 21-year-old might not start the year in the majors, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The club might send him to the minors to work on his defense - and to prevent him from becoming eligible for a fourth year of arbitration. Here's more from Rosenthal..
- One scout following the Tigers says the team is deep enough in young outfielders to possibly move one for a starting pitcher. Right now, Brennan Boesch, Clete Thomas, Casper Wells, and Andy Dirks are all vying for reserve spots. Wells appears to be a lock to make the big league roster as he is the only right-handed hitter of the bunch and plays all three outfield positions.
- The Marlins are talking about signing second baseman Luis Castillo once he clears waivers, but they also have in-house options. The club could decide to go with Emilio Bonifacio at second and Omar Infante at third if they choose to demote rookie third baseman Matt Dominguez.
- If the Astros go with Carlos Lee over Brett Wallace at first base they would like to add a left-handed hitting outfielder to platoon with Jason Michaels. However, the club is at the payroll limit and the team's greater need is a replacement for catcher Jason Castro.
Links for Friday as Jake Peavy prepares for his first game action since last July. Peavy faces the Angels in Arizona this afternoon...
- Chris Richard, an outfielder/first baseman who spent parts of five seasons in the majors with the Orioles, Rays, Rockies and Cardinals, has announced his retirement, according to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times (on Twitter).
- The Angels offered Carl Crawford $108MM with an $18MM option, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter). No wonder the outfielder accepted Boston's $142MM offer.
- Vernon Wells would have accepted a trade to the Yankees, not just to the Rangers or Angels, according to Heyman (on Twitter).
- Rangers higher-ups want Neftali Feliz to make the team's rotation, according to Heyman (on Twitter).
- Astros catcher Jason Castro could miss the entire season, after tearing his right ACL, according to MLB.com's Brian McTaggart.
- Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle thinks the Astros should completely look to the future and start looking to trade the likes of Lance Berkman, Brett Myers, Matt Lindstrom and other notable players. Justice sets 2012 as the date when Houston "might be good again" and says "if [Astros GM Ed Wade] thinks a player would still be capable of contributing in 2012, then he ought to stay."
- Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle dismisses a reader's tweet about any possible interest from the Giants in Oswalt, replying that San Fran needs hitting, not (another) ace pitcher. In another tweet, he mentions that Berkman is an Astro who would "make more sense" for a Giants trade, and adds that it wouldn't take a prospect the caliber of Madison Bumgarner or Buster Posey to make it happen.
- An unnamed Reds official "was intrigued" at Oswalt's availability, reports John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Fay is doubtful a trade could be worked out due to Oswalt's contract, but he notes that Oswalt's 2010 salary isn't much larger than those of Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo, both of whom can be bought out of their 2011 contracts for $2MM. (Harang's buyout is worth $500K more if he's traded.) An NBA-style deal for a semi-expiring contract might interest the Astros since it would free up a lot of payroll space.
- Wade tells MLB.com's Brian McTaggart that catching prospect Jason Castro still needs some more time at Triple-A before Houston thinks about calling him up. Castro, the 10th overall pick in the 2008 amateur draft, has a peculiar .259/.390/.295 line in 136 plate appearances for Triple-A Round Rock this season.
- The Astros will have a hard time getting full value back for Oswalt, says R.J. Anderson of Fangraphs. Anderson notes that only the Padres were able to get a good return on a pitcher in a similar situation when they dealt Jake Peavy to Chicago.
David Murphy offers up an insight into the Phillies issues this week, stating that the Phillies will likely be far less active than last year, when they signed Raul Ibanez, set their sights on Chan Ho Park, and extended Jamie Moyer. The Phils have already signed Placido Polanco, Brian Schneider, and Juan Castro this offseason, leaving general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. with fewer needs during his trip to Indianapolis:
- Despite locking up Brad Lidge, Ryan Madson, and J.C. Romero over the past few seasons, the Phillies find themselves in need of relief help. As we all know, Lidge was dreadful in 2009 and is coming off arthroscopic elbow surgery. Romero is coming off surgery as well and could miss a month of the season. Brandon Lyon is the team's primary target.
- Amaro has said adding a bench bat is bottom on his list of priorities, as the spot could be filled by recently-signed minor league free agent Dewayne Wise, or prospect John Mayberry Jr. Still, a move shouldn't be ruled out, according to Murphy.
- In regards to a No. 5 starter, the Phillies haven't ruled out a return for Pedro Martinez, but Murphy feels it is unlikely. While Kyle Kendrick was impressive late in the season last year, an alternative to him and Jamie Moyer wouldn't hurt.
- Murphy is interested to see the outcome of the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday this week, given the Phillies' success there in the past. Perhaps you've heard of Shane Victorino? He turned out to be an OK selection.
Richard Justice of The Houston Chronicle writes that the Astros are "unlikely to be significant players in free agency this winter." The team is trying to lower payroll and get younger, something signing free agents generally won't accomplish. Justice does say that the club would like to retain relievers LaTroy Hawkins and Jose Valverde, both of whom will be free agents after this year.
Houston started the season with close to a $103MM payroll according to Cot's, but they could shed $17.75MM by letting Miguel Tejada, Mike Hampton, and Darin Erstad walk as free agents. However, a significant chunk of those savings will probably end up being redistributed to Wandy Rodriguez and Hunter Pence, both of whom should receive big raises in arbitration (Pence will likely qualify as a Super Two).
In their effort to incorporate more youth into their lineup, Justice says we could see third baseman Chris Johnson, shortstop Tommy Manzella, second baseman Edwin Maysonet, and catcher Jason Castro in the Opening Day lineup next year. The team will also probably ask reliever Wesley Wright to come to camp next year prepared to compete for a rotation spot.
Some preferences, tendencies and opinions from around the majors as Tuesday's draft draws closer:
- John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that the Reds like Aaron Crow, but don't expect him to be available when they select eighth. Fay says "there's a good chance they'll take him" if he's available.
- Keith Law and Jason A. Churchill of ESPN.com break down the drafting tendencies of each MLB team. For example, the Braves like local high school players and the Mariners lean towards college talent.
- MLB.com's Brian McTaggart says the Astros could go after pitching with the 21st pick, or maybe high schooler Everett Williams. One thing's for sure: the Astros aren't looking for a catcher after selecting Jason Castro last year.
- The Rangers have one of the strongest systems in the game in part because they've drafted well. Jamey Newberg looks at 20 top Rangers prospects in a report for MLB.com.
- ESPN.com's Jayson Stark argues "the most dysfunctional draft in professional sports" needs to put a cap on player bonuses.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that Clay Daniel, the scout who oversaw the signing of players such as Ervin Santana, was fired. He was apparently dismissed because of the "improper activities" of some of the scouts he hired.
- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution keeps asking whether the Braves should trade Mark Teixeira.
- Bill Ladson of MLB.com reports several teams have inquired on the availability of Jon Rauch.
- The Astros signed first-round draft pick Jason Castro.
- Royals claimed Josh Newman off waivers. Newman had been DFA'd by the Rockies.
Today's draft links.
- Rany Jazayerli looks at possibilities for the Royals at #3. He hopes they don't take Eric Hosmer.
- MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo has new projections for the top 30. He's switched the Orioles from Brian Matusz to Aaron Crow at #4, among other changes.
- Keith Law has tons of good stuff...the Giants are eyeing Gordon Beckham, the Reds are considering Brett Lawrie, Jason Castro could go to the White Sox, the Dodgers like Zach Collier, and much more.
- Ken Davidoff is hearing that the Padres are in on Brett Wallace and the Twins like Christian Friedrich.
- Pedro Alvarez would be honored to be picked by the Pirates. Dejan Kovacevic continues to say they're leaning that way.
- I am considering live-blogging Thursday's draft, posting each pick here as soon as it's announced (you would not have to refresh). Would that be helpful?