Luis Castillo and Danys Baez With the Philadelphia Phillies: Two Epic Failures

Luis Castillo was originally traded from the New York Mets to the Philadelphia Phillies to play in the minor league for a while as a potential replacement for Chase Utley should he go out of the season due to a patellar issue.  Well, to start off the wrong foot, Castillo arrived two days later after attending to his family problems.  However, he did not notify Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel or his staff of the changes in his schedule.  Luckily, the New York Mets organization absorbed much of his last year’s contract, a healthy sum of $6 million for 2011, prior to his transfer to the Philadelphia Phillies for spring training.  Lastly, with great relief to his potential teammates and the Phillies fans, general manager Ruben Amaro is only auditioning Luis Castillo so if he doesn’t make the cut, he doesn’t make the cut.

Statistically, Luis Castillo isn’t altogether bad, but he isn’t altogether good either.  Recently, with the Mets, he’s kept a respectable .269 batting average.  However, Castillo is no home-run hitter which may be beneficial for the Philadelphia Phillies ball club which seem to favor solo home run shots over the past few seasons.  Over the past three seasons with the Mets, he’s averaged 28 RBIs and 15 stolen bases per season.  However, his irresponsible nature is particularly questionable since he has demonstrated it to both managers of the New York Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies.  Even if Castillo demonstrates he is capable of starting, I imagine Charlie Manuel would remain skeptical of him during the entire 2011-2012 season.

And then there’s Danys Baez who still carries a $2.5 million dollar payout this season and still on the Phillies roster. Baez is not worth $2.5 million statistically speaking as he has one of the worst pitching statistics for any pitcher.  Although he has improved somewhat since his departure from the Baltimore Orioles, in 2010, Baez had a whopping 5.48 ERA which is only slightly better than his other whopping 6.44 ERA in 2007 when he was with the Orioles organization.  Baez has been the shell of what he was since leaving Tampa Bay in 2005, and he hasn’t improved since.  In fact, he’s gotten remarkably worse generally.  Baez’ footwork, sloppy pitching mechanics and overall telegraphing of incoming pitches are all marks against him.

The Phillies are currently contending with injuries to their major players before the season even opens with the Houston Astros in about a week.  With both Luis Castillo and Danys Baez, they will have to contend with both of these depressing failures.

Philadelphia Phillies Starter Roy Oswalt Sidelined: Enter the Theater of the Absurd

Now another Philadelphia Phillie may be injured, and it’s starting pitcher Roy Oswalt‘s turn.  He was sidelined yesterday by a hard hit liner by Tampa Bay RaysManny Ramirez in a pre-season game.  Yet another one gone, but this may not be a pressing concern — hopefully.  From the x-rays given soon after the incident, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel gave the thumbs up that Oswalt will most likely start in his next scheduled game.

Now the touted Philadelphia Phillies roster in the beginning of the pre-season is already depleted with the regular season beginning in a week or so against the Houston Astros.  With Chase Utley, Placido Polanco, Dominic Brown, Brad Lidge and now Roy Oswalt, the Phillies may be working on a skeleton crew against the Houston Astros in their season opening.  Philadelphia Phillies fans might begin to pray that a MLB 2K video game curse doesn’t begin with Roy Halladay, and this ridiculous injury bug doesn’t sideline Cliff Lee, Carlos Ruiz, Ryan Howard or any other prominent player that might go down before the regular season even begins.  This has become the theater of the absurd.  With the way things are going at this point, even the mascot, the Phillie Phanatic, should get concerned that he might get hit by a runaway golf cart.

Philadelphia Phillies Placido Polanco Injured: Another Bat Strikes Out

With third baseman Placido Polanco of the Philadelphia Phillies out due yet another injury, another significant batter for the Phillies offense will be sidelined temporarily.  Luckily, it’s not serious as it is a mere hyperextension of his elbow.  Wilson Valdez came in to replace him during  the pre-season game with the Toronto Blue Jays.  With closer Brad Lidge out as well for tendenitis, the roster for the Philadelphia Phillies is disappearing, even before the season begins. These injuries are seriously testing my patience, but there is a silver lining in these dark days. Fortunately for us fans, the MLB is not having a lockout as well.  Otherwise, sports fans would be in for a long season.

Philadelphia Phillies Dominic Brown and Chase Utley Injured: Bats Out of the Bag

Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Dominic Brown and second baseman Chase Utley have both suffered injuries before the regular season has even begun.  Dominic Brown injured his hamate bone in the wrist during  a swing and had surgery for his wrist recently, and it will take at least four to six weeks to heal, according to Phillies trainer Scott Sheridan.  In the meantime, it appears that Ben Francisco will take over for the regular season until Dominic Brown can be somewhat healed.

Then comes the big whopper that hasn’t been resolved yet, second baseman Chase Utley. He has right patellar tendinitis, chondromalacia and bone inflammation which “non-operative care,” including a cortisone shot, did not resolve.  Now Chase Utley and the Phillies are looking for medical answers elsewhere. Unexpectedly, Chase Utley is not approaching any medical doctors for surgery of his knee.  Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro hasn’t held out that Chase Utley might still be available opening day, but Utley’s medical situation might not hold out that long.  Phillies fans and others are hoping that Utley returns to full health as soon as possible, and this knee tendinitis won’t put Chase Utley out for most of the regular season.

With two of Phillies better batters potentially missing the beginning of the regular season, it will be time to lean on the starting rotation of Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels to pull off some miracles on the mound without help on offense. Given the offensive firepower declining at least at the start of the season, first baseman Ryan Howard must be the man to lean on, but the Phillies and their fans, including myself, will see if he can live up to his five-year, $125 million contract extension from April 2010.  His contract, as well Roy Oswalt’s, closed the salary cap for the Phillies and ultimately ousted one of the Phillies better batters and players Jayson Werth to the Washington Nationals.

The opening of the regular season begins in a couple of weeks with the Philadelphia Phillies facing the Houston Astros at home in Citizens Bank Park.  This will be somewhat good news as the Houston Astros is not a particularly stellar team, despite the camaraderie between Phillies general manager Charlie Manuel and Houston Astros general manager Ed Wade.  Both general managers have been given two-year extensions recently, but Charlie Manuel has had the better upside with his four NL East titles, a World Series Championship and his dominating starting pitching rotation for the next few seasons.  Now it’s up to Charlie Manuel to work some miracles to generate some offensive firepower in the first few weeks of the season and for the Philadelphia Phillies fans to believe.