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"Lou is not talking about mechanics when he goes out to the mound,"
~Chicago Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild

Friday, December 02, 2005

Twins Trade For Castillo

It should be fun trying to name the Marlin's starting lineup next spring. First, Beckett and Mike Lowell were sent to Beantown. Then, Delgado was shipped to the Big Apple. Now, Luis Castillo is on his way to the Twin Cities in exchange for minor league pitchers Travis Bowyer and Scott Tyler. If the Marlins don't re-sign Alex Gonzalez they will have a brand new starting infield. Juan Encarnacion won't be back and it's still possible, if not likely, that Paul Lo Duca and Juan Pierre will still be traded.

As a Twins fan, I'm very excited about this deal. Castillo brings good defense, speed, and a high OBP to a postion that has been a glaring weakness for the Twins ever since the Luis Rodriguez experiment began 4 years ago. At age 30 he comes at a fair price, $5 million in 2006 with a club option at $5.75 for 2007.

Bowyer spent most of the year in AAA, but he did pitch 8 games for the Twins last year. His stuff looks good as seen by his 96 strikeouts in only 74 innings at Rochester. He'll likely get the opportunity to compete or the Marlins closer role this year. It's tough to let a pitcher with his promise go, but considering the Twins pitching depth and what they got in return, it's hardly damning.

Here's what Minor League Ball's John Sickles had to say about Bowyer and Tyler in his review of the Twins farm system:

17) Travis Bowyer, RHP
Relief sleeper, saved 23 with 2.78 ERA and 96/40 K/BB in 74 innings at Rochester. Very strong K/IP reflects plus stuff. Still needs to refine his control a bit, but another good option as a middle reliever and possible future closer.
18) Scott Tyler, RHP
Another live arm, would be considered a top prospect in some systems. 3.95 ERA with 109/48 K/BB in 118 innings for Fort Myers. Needs to improve the consistency of his breaking ball, and may be better-suited for relief down the road.

I expect both these guys to have fine careers, but what team wouldn't trade it's 17th and 18th rated prospects or a proven veteran like Castillo? It's nic to see Terry Ryan actually use this depth to acquire players that fill more pressing needs.

Ryan may not be done yet. The Twins are said to be "seriously considering" signing Frank Thomas. He would bring the Twins their 1st true power hitter since Kent Hrbek. The only question is whether the aptly named "Big Hurt" can stay off the DL. Thomas only appeared in 34 games last year and 74 games in 2004. If he could stay healthy, the Twins could finally have a lineup that wouldn't drive the pitching staff nuts.

1-Shannon Stewart
2-Luis Castillo
3-Joe Mauer
4-Frank Thomas
5-Torii Hunter
6-Justin Morneau
7-Lew Ford
8-Mike Cuddyer
9-Jason Bartlett

It's not exactly Murders Row, but even a league average hitting team would be enough to make the Twins contenders. Of course, that lineup hinges signing Thomas and him staying healthy which is 2 fairly large "ifs". It's not out of the realm of possibility. Replacing Thomas with Piazza, who the Twins have expressed mild interest in, would still be a major upgrade to the offense. Once the White Sox traded for Thome and re-signed Konerko, it was looking more and more like the Twins would be playing for 2nd in the AL Central. Now with Castillo on board and the possibility of a big time DH, the Twins will could have the fire power to compete with the Sox next year. For everyone not living in Boston or New York, the AL Central could be the most intersting division in 2006. Maybe the most competetive too. Something we haven't seen in quite some time.

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