Pirates cut Castillo
NASHVILLE -- Jose Castillo, the Pirates' one-time second baseman of the future, was unconditionally released Thursday to clear roster space for a minor-league relief pitcher.
The Pirates filled Castillo's spot with right-hander Evan Meek, whom they selected yesterday from the Tampa Bay Rays in the Rule 5 draft.
General manager Neal Huntington tried to trade Castillo during the Winter Meetings, which wrapped up yesterday morning. When there were no takers, the Pirates cut Castillo.
"He does have some talent and ability," Huntington said. "We inherited a very difficult situation and tried to see if we could work through it. Ultimately, we decided it wasn't in either party's best interest to continue the relationship."
Castillo, 26, was signed as a non-drafted free agent as a Venezuelan teenager in 1997. In 2004, he jumped directly from Double-A Altoona to the Pirates' roster and hit .256 with eight homers.
Castillo's stock plummeted when Jim Tracy became manager in 2006. Tracy was unhappy with Castillo's work ethic and slashed the infielder's playing time. Last season, Castillo got just 221 at-bats and failed to homer.
Castillo made $1.9 million last year and is due for a raise through arbitration. He became expendable when the Pirates on Monday claimed infielder Josh Wilson off waivers. The Pirates also are close to finalizing a one-year deal with free-agent infielder Chris Gomez.
Yesterday, the Pirates picked up five players in the Rule 5 draft. Two players from the Pirates' farm system -- shortstop Smelin Perez and right-hander Clayton Hamilton -- were chosen by other clubs in the minor-league portions of the draft.
Meek, 24, last season went 2-1 with a 4.30 ERA in 44 relief appearances for Double-A Montgomery. In 67 innings, he had 34 walks and 69 strikeouts.
Meek has a plus fastball -- actually, a cutter -- that's been clocked up to 98 mph. He's learned that dialing it down to the low 90s and mixing a hard slider, curveball and splitter gives him better command.
"Until last year, I always tried to throw every pitch through a wall," Meek said. "Toning it down has really helped me become more consistent. It's something that I wish I'd done three years ago."
Meek will attend the Pirates' minicamp in early January in Bradenton, Fla.
Originally drafted by Minnesota in the 11th round of the 2002 draft, Meek has a career mark of 16-12 in 114 minor-league outings. He posted a 0.93 ERA in nine appearances this year in the Arizona Fall League.
"He's a power arm who gets a lot of ground balls and who can strike guys out," Huntington said. "He had a 3-to-1 ground ball-to-fly ball ratio. When you throw hard and get a lot of ground balls, you give yourself a chance."
The Pirates paid $50,000 to claim Meek. They must keep him in the majors the entire 2008 season or offer him back to Tampa Bay for $25,000.
In the Triple-A portion of the Rule 5 draft, the Pirates took right-handers Josh Hill (from Minnesota's system), Mauricio Mendez (from Boston) and lefty Corey Hamman (from Detroit).
In the Double-A portion, the Pirates snagged righty reliever Rafael Cruz Chavez from the Los Angeles Angels' system.
|Last season's stats for Evan Meek, the right-handed reliever the Pirates claimed in the Rule 5 draft from the Minnesota Twins:|
"In the past, this organization signed a lot of minor-league free agents who were older and pushed them back," Huntington said. "We're trying to change the philosophy a little bit. We're trying to get guys who have a little bit more of an upside and give guys more of an opportunity. These guys we selected today, we felt there's a lot of upside."
The claims in the Triple- and Double-A portions cost $12,000 apiece.
"It may look like I'm throwing our owner's money around," Huntington said. "But all we have to do is hit on one of these claims and the return will be a hundred-fold. These are low-risk moves. If one guy hits, we're in great shape. If two guys hit, we're phenomenal."
Notes: Huntington said he is "confident" Gomez will sign within the next few days. When the deal is finalized, the Pirates will have to clear a spot on the 40-man roster. ... The Yankees and Astros remain interested in trading for lefty reliever Damaso Marte. ... Trent Jewett will return as manager of Triple-A Indianapolis. Jewett was a finalist for the Pirates' manager job, which went to John Russell. ... No replacement has been named for former Indy pitching coach Jeff Andrews, who now is on Russell's staff.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates sign Corey Hart to 1-year deal
- Pirates tender deals to 11 players, cut ties with Sanchez
- Ex-Pirate Parker fights against Parkinson’s with optimistic attitude
- Pirates notebook: New catcher Cervelli eager to bond with staff
- MLB notebook: Pirates’ Liriano gets $2 million bonus as part of 3-year, $39 million deal
- Pirates trade for left-handed reliever Bastardo
- Pirates re-sign Liriano to 3-year, $39M contract
- Pirates’ struggling catcher Sanchez sent home from Dominican Winter League
- Pirates notebook: Pirates open to signing Walker to extension
- Pirates notebook: Team ‘more relevant’ as Winter Meetings end