CASTRO COMES TO WASHINGTON? DON'T TELL STATE!
[May 31st] -- The Nats lost to the Phillies 4-2 on Tuesday, and have now lost the first two games on their road trip. Tony Armas pitched pretty well, but, besides Marlon Byrd's two-run homer, they really isn't much to write about.
So I won't.
As many of you know, I have been pushing for the Nationals' management to "begin anew" this summer by trading away as many of their marketable veterans as they can. Prospects - prospects - prospects; that's my mantra, baby. This isn't my first choice, however. I still believe that the Lerners, and Stan Kasten, owe, yes owe, Nationals' fans a winner, now, not five years from now. If they would only sign one super-star free agent (ala Alfonso Soriano), one near-star free agent (like Nick Johnson) and a couple of solid players (along the lines of Esteban Loiaza from last year), and the team could easily finish second in the NL East. But that's not going to happen. So if Kasten is going to "partially" blow up the Nats, he might as well go all the way. It'll hurt just the same.
The first player the Nationals should trade is Jose Vidro. Why?
Because you know, and I know, that sooner or later, that gimpy, surgically-repaired knee is going to give out. It could happen next week, or it could happen next month. But it's going to happen. Vidro is at the top of leader board in batting average right now, so his value cannot increase; it'll only go down. Vidro will be 32 this August, and has missed far more games the past few seasons than he has played. A half a dozen teams would make a deal tonight if Bowden (or Kasten) would be willing to pull the trigger. The Mets have been trying to get rid of Kaz Matsui pretty much since the day they signed him; acquiring Vidro could just be the final piece needed to once and for all dethrone the Atlanta Braves as NL East mega-demons. The Nationals could easily get a special prospect as well as a solid 3rd outfielder type for Vidro, perhaps even more. But if Vidro goes, who would play second?
The first reaction would be to play Marlon Anderson, or Damian Jackson, or both for the remainder of the season. But what about Bernie Castro? If the Nationals are really intent on rebuilding, wouldn't now be the right time to find out if this kid can play at the major league level? Castro spent some time on the DL this year, but he's been lights-out when healthy. He's hitting .360 in 75 at-bats, and is sporting a .400 on base percentage. Castro has also swiped 8 bases without being caught. These kind of numbers are nothing new for the 26 year old. Over six minor league campaigns, Castro has amassed a .288 career batting average and 238 stolen bases to go with a .370 on base percentage. In an 80 at-bat "cup of coffee" with the Orioles last season, Castro hit .288 and stole 6 bases. Projected over a full season, Castro would have garnered 21 doubles and 7 triples to go along with 42 RBI's. He was on pace to steal 44 bases.
Look, there is no question that the player-personnel guys that work for the Nationals know what they're doing, but Castro seems to be another Rick Short, someone whose extensive minor league success demands at least an opportunity to show what he can do. The franchise has been looking for a "true" leadoff hitter since their days in Montreal; why not give this "true" leadoff hitter a chance as the team begins to down-shift from a team laden with major league veterans to a younger, cheaper franchise?
It makes too much sense not to do.
Links to this post: