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CASTO LEAVING?

[July 28th] -- Where or where has Kory Casto gone, where oh where can he be?
dd
Well, that was a rhetorical question, of course. He's playing pretty well for the Columbus Clippers this year. After averaging .283-20-83 over the last three seasons, Casto was given the opportunity to show what he could do at the major league level.
dd
It wasn't pretty, was it?
dd
In 54 at-bats for the Nationals this spring, Casto batted just .130 with an even worse .325 OPS. He looked over matched in virtually every at-bat during his short time in D.C., kind of like that kid who batted last for your Little League team. He was soon back in the minor leagues, plying his trade at 'AAA' Columbus. In 278 at-bats, he's hitting .255-11-40 with a solid .350 OBP. Had he remained in the minors all year, he would have likely had a year very similar to his previous years; about 20 homers, 80 RBI's and a batting average somewhere near .270.
dd
So why does is he now longer part of the team's future? Many hall-of-famers looked horrid early in their careers but were able to eventually hit big league pitching. It's not that the Nationals have lost faith in Casto, it's more like he's a victim of bad timing.
dd
With Ryan Church, Nook Logan, Ryan Langerhans (and the rest) doing so poorly, and with Alex Escobar still unable to mend properly, it would seem logical to give Casto another chance this year. My guess is, however, that the powers-that-be have put themselves in the position of creating a good team by next season, and they just don't have the time to give to Casto.
dd
The Nationals have promised an increased payroll next year and Barry Svrluga said earlier this week that he believes that it might reach upwards of $70 million next season. It's almost a certainty then that the team is going to upgrade left field after Ryan Church finally got the chance to show what he could do (and didn't do it very well). Heading into the new stadium, I don't think the Nationals can take the chance of going into spring training with an open competition between Church and Kory Casto in left. They need someone with a track record, someone who has produced corner outfielder numbers in the past and who will again. Casto can't play center and Austin Kearns, for better or worse, is set in right. He's not going to play third, and though he has played second, he didn't look particularly good there. That leaves first, and while he's not playing there now, Chris Marrero is likely the team's first basemen of the future.
dd
That said, Casto's future is not with the Nationals.
dd
The 2-year deal that Dmitri Young is about to sign tells me a couple of things. First, the Nationals' are still not comfortable with Nick Johnson's health. Johnson said this week that he's not going to return to the Nats until he gets the opportunity to play some rehab games, and the minor leagues close down in about a month. If he's not ready by, say, August 15th, then he's not going to play until next year, making first a very big question mark. Young, then, becomes insurance at first for Nick Johnson if he doesn't fully recover. He also becomes a logical choice for left field next year if Nick does return. Young has said several times that if the team is willing to resign him, he'd be willing to lose 25 pounds and play the outfield for the Nationals. I actually saw Young play the outfield years ago for the Cardinals, when he was much slimmer (and much younger). He wasn't as bad as you might think.
dd
If that happens (and there is no reason to doubt it at this point), Kory Casto has no future in Washington. If, as we are hearing, Jim Bowden is "buying" and not "selling," then Casto could be trade bait. There is no question that Casto isn't going to be a major league all-star. He has never been able to hit lefties, and that isn't something that changes out of the blue. But he does have the talent and ability to be a very strong platoon player. Remember, Mike Epstein hit 30 homers in 1969 in just 403 at-bats. Lefty platoon players play a great deal.
dd
If - somehow - Jimmy boy pulls off one of those "building" and not "burning" trades before the deadline, look for Casto to be at least one of the pieces heading out of town. With four solid years now in the books, Casto has proven that he can get it done; he just has to go out now and do it.
dd
I'm certain that Kory Casto will be nowhere to be found come next spring. That's very sad, because he's the guy we all rooted for to come save our embarrassingly bad team over the past couple of years. However, that the team can now get better without him says a great deal regarding how far we've come as a team.
dd
See ya Kory.

Comments:
Hmmm...

"That the team can now get better without him says a great deal regarding how far we've come as a team."

Better? Really? Bottom team in the league is better? Casto's ten days with the Nats was evidence more of the organization's sloppy knee-jerk style then of the ballplayers Major League chops. It's a total cop out to write him off for his performance given the abruptness of his call-up/send-down and the desperate nature of the teams handling of the situation. Sorry, but if the Nats don't play Casto, it'll likely be to their detriment next year.
 
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