"It's kind of a low-risk situation," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said on Monday morning, a few days after the deal was officially announced. "We'll see if he's somebody who can help our club."
Of course, the Phillies already have a pretty good idea of the skill-set the 35-year-old Castillo brings to the table. They have scouted him extensively during his career with the Mets, and have had eyes on him throughout spring training.
Non-Phillies scouts who have watched Castillo play last year and this spring paint him as a player who has lost a considerable step, which has made a noticable impact on his defensive range.
Last season, Castillo hit .235 with a .337 on-base percentage and .267 slugging percentage in while battling a foot injury that limited him to 86 games.
But two years ago, he hit .302 with a .387 on-base percentage and 20 steals in 142 games for the Mets.
Amaro acknowledged the questions about Castillo's defense. But, he said, "he's a veteran guy who's had some success in the past. He takes pitches, can do some things on the bases, extend an inning offensively."
But Amaro also did not guarantee Castillo anything, at least publicly. Essentially, Castillo will spend the next 10 days participating in the competition to either start at second base or fill a role on the bench. Utley is expected to miss significant time with what the team has described as patellar tendinitis, bone inflammation and chondromalacia in his right knee.
"I think it's best to get him into camp and get familiar with him and get to know him as a person," Amaro said.
The Mets released Castillo partly because he had become a focal point for their fan base's anger about a series of highly-paid, under-performing teams. But Phillies back-up catcher Brian Schneider, who was teammates with Castillo in New York, gave the signing a thumbs-up.
"I think the change will be good for him," Schneider said. "I respect him as a player, but I respect him more as a persons. I think he'll fit in great in this clubhouse."
At the very least, the competition to fill the void left by the uncertainty over Chase Utley became a lot more interesting last night.The Phillies do not have to purchase his contract and add him to the 40-man roster until March 31.
Castillo has always been known for his high on base percentage and lack of power. He has just 28 home runs in 15 major league seasons and carries a paltry .351 slugging percentage for his career. In 2009, he tallied just 16 extra-base hits in 580 plate appearances, the lowest total for a player with as many PAs since 1978.
He is expected to reprt to Clearwater today and play in his first game tomorrow.
"His game in the last couple years, it's dwindled some," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said on Friday. "I don't know how much is there, but he used to be a hell of a player. I know at one time he was real good. If possible, yeah, he might be someone we'd take a look at."