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Tunneling Through Time: The Effects Of The Vinny Castilla Trade On The Space/Time Continuum

[November 6th] -- I just got back from a trip into the future [and boy are my arms tired]. I was curious to see how the Vinny Castilla for Brian Lawrence trade worked out. Take a deep breath. Everything's going to be ok.

In 2006, Brian Lawrence threw his usual 200+ innings, going 12-13 with a 4.04 ERA. He did exactly what was asked of him: plug the "four" slot in the rotation and stay healthy. The worst part of Vinny Castilla's season was the way he looked in those tan pajamas the Padres are still wearing. He played in 130 games, batting .272 with 21 homers and 79 RBI's. He was flawless in the field. The Padres didn't go to the post-season, but they won seven more games than in 2005 and were a much better team. Trouble is, so were the Dodgers and Giants. Sean Burroughs was traded before the season started, and there are no 3rd baseman in the minor leagues who are ready to take Vinny's place in 2007. Looks like the Padres will have a 39 year old at the hot corner again.

Ryan Zimmerman didn't match Castilla's offensive production. He started slowly, limping into the all-star break at .247-6-33. There were many Nats' fans that began to question the trade that sent Castilla to the Padres at this point. He did much better the second half, however, finishing the year .263-16-69. The Nationals offense was much better in 2006, and the team won four more games, although they still finished in last place.

I took a quick peak into 2007 to see how the trade continued to play out. Lawrence won another 12 games. Vinny Castilla, his ability finally sapped by both age and injury, was released before the all-star break. He hit only .203 with 5 homers and 22 RBI's. The Padres had no one else to play the position and were forced to trade a couple of their better prospects for another older, veteran player. Ryan Zimmerman, with a year of experience under his belt, had a break-out year, batting .292 with 28 homers and 91 RBI's, and flashed leather that would have made even Vinny proud.

Sometimes, to get ahead, you have to take a step back, and that's what happened in 2006. Ryan Zimmerman, had he stayed in the minors in 2006, or perhaps rode the Nats' bench, wouldn't have been ready to be a team leader in '07. The Nationals, with Zimmerman at third, Larry Broadway at first, and a couple of REAL free agents signed by new owner Fred Malek finally ended the Braves championship streak at fifteen. They lost to the Dodgers in the first round of the playoffs, but the pieces were in place to contend for the next decade.

And it all started with a trade back in the fall of 2005.

Well, it could happen ... couldn't it?

Yes it could! Very good story.
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