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  • Career of lost opportunities for Alexi Casilla

    As the offseason is approaching, there are plenty of decisions the Twins will have to make in the coming months. The team needs to address some gapping holes in the starting rotation, there are issues with the middle infield, and even the training staff might need to be replaced. There are plenty of things the Twins could do to make some subtle improvements for the 2013 campaign. It isn't like the club's revenue stream is going to allow them to go out and spend a ton of money on the open market for free agents. There will be tough choices that have to be made and one of those decisions could surround middle infielder Alexi Casilla.
    When he made his debut with the club back in 2006, the expectations weren't off the board for him but there was hope that he could develop into a decent regular for the team. He had only joined the Twins organization in 2005 after a trade with the Angels to get JC Romero out of town. Since that point, it has been a career of more downs than ups on his roller coaster ride. He has yet to appear in more than 100 games with the Twins and the most games he has started for the club was 94 contests back in 2008. There was hope at the beginning but it hasn't resulted into many positive performances on the field from Mr. Casilla.

    It's not like the Twins didn't give him plenty of chances over the years because the organization has turned to him on multiple occasions to earn a starting role with the club. Since 2009, Casilla has been in the Opening Day line-up at second base or shortstop in three out of the four seasons. The only year he didn't crack the Opening Day line-up was 2010 when Orlando Hudson started at second base and Nick Punto was the starting shortstop. So the Twins have wanted Casilla to show that he could be a starter but to say he hasn't performed up to expectations is an understatement.

    In his career, Casilla has hit .248/.303/.331 with 95 extra-base hits over the course of 1566 at-bats. He is a middle infielder so the lack of power can be expected but his low on-base percentage and his inability to hit for a higher average have hindered him in his career. The 2008 season was his best as he hit .281/.333/.374 with seven home runs and 15 doubles but he also had a career high 437 plate appearance that season. There is a good chance for Casilla to set a career-high in games played with the 97 appearances he has made in 2012. But he hasn't been at his best in the batter's box because he is hitting .228/.269/.305 with 18 extra-base hits as a 28-year old.

    One of the problems for the Twins organization has been their ability to develop middle infield talent over the course of much of the last decade. This has given Casilla more than one opportunity to prove his worth to the club but his time with the organization could be running out. He is currently in his second year of being arbitration eligible and that means he could still be under team control for next year. The earliest that he could reach free agency is 2014 but his paycheck most certainly would go up for next year. In 2012, he is making $1.382 million to be a below average at the plate and adequate in the field. Mr. Casilla could be looking at a deal between $1.5-$2.0 million for next season and that might be too much for a back-up role with the club.

    As the season is winding down, the Twins are getting a look at some of the other infield options that could have a place with the team in the future. Pedro Florimon and Eduardo Escobar have gotten the opportunity to show they belong with this team next year and the price tag might be right for each player. These two players combined will be making less than Casilla would earn if the Twins went to arbitration with him. It seems that the team is becoming more comfortable with Florimon having the opportunity to earn a starting spot for next season and Escobar could back to serving in the utility role he had with the White Sox earlier this year.

    With the holes the Twins have to fill, it seems unlikely Casilla will make a return trip with the organization. Besides Florimon and Escobar, there are other options like Brian Dozier and Jamey Carroll to fit into the middle infield picture. There's always a chance the club would go out and sign a middle infielder but it looks to be a weak crop of free agents and hopefully the Twins aren't going to outbid other teams for the services of a mediocre player. It seems like the Twins middle infield picture is already overcrowded and Casilla might be the man pushed to the side.

    Casilla etched his place in Twins lore with his hit in Game 163 against the Tigers but the rest of his career was full of plenty of lost opportunities.
    This article was originally published in blog: Career of lost opportunities for Alexi Casilla started by Cody Christie
    Comments 19 Comments
    1. gunnarthor's Avatar
      gunnarthor -
      Yeah, I've always liked Casilla and after 2010, I really thought he'd play well at TF but it hasn't happened. He'll be non-tendered.
    1. Thegrin's Avatar
      Thegrin -
      I remember his clutch hits fondly. That is the only thing about him I think of fondly.
    1. stringer bell's Avatar
      stringer bell -
      I will be sad if Casilla is non-tendered, but he hasn't justified a million+ dollar contract with his performance at the plate. However, Casilla has had his best season in the field (a few too many errors but great range and a number of web gems plus an excellent turn of the DP) and if he could get on more he would be a real force on the bases (17-18 in stolen bases this year) so it is disappointing that he just hasn't hit enough to merit playing time.
    1. Willihammer's Avatar
      Willihammer -
      Brian Dozier, come on down! Jamie Carroll, come on down! Pedro Florimon, come on down! Eduardo Escobar, come on down! You are the first 4 contestants of the 22nd season of Stop Gap at Short Stop!
    1. Rosterman's Avatar
      Rosterman -
      I would say Luis Rivas II...steals bases, has some pop when plays a lot, but totally inconsistent at the plate. You could make an argument about why you pay Carroll $2.5 million to do pretty much the same (yes, there are subtle positive differences with Carroll). Casilla will grab on with someone at a reduced salary, probably bounce between the majors and minors. I doubt that he'll ever start fulltime...unless he sets his sights on say Houston for 2013. Major leagues rules and such priced him out of the Twins marketplace for next season. So, who is going to be the translator now for Florimon?
    1. Rosterman's Avatar
      Rosterman -
      Oh, we could bring Jason Bartlett (and probably Orlando Hudson) back into the mix, too. And maybe a Mr. Guzman is getting hungry again!
    1. notoriousgod71's Avatar
      notoriousgod71 -
      While completely inconsistent, I will at least have good memories of Casilla. He has come up with two of the bigger hits in Twins history and despite all his other flaws those were two exciting times. There's not too many players left that I can remember getting big hits in big games.
    1. ltwedt's Avatar
      ltwedt -
      Yeah - I know I'll be in the minority here, but I believe that a share of Casilla's problems can be laid at the feet of the manager. Gardy did pretty much everything to insure that Casilla would never play the same position more than 3 times in a row, and if Alexi screwed up (as Alexi does) Gardy would bench him for and extended time. No consistency in either Alexi's play OR in Gardy's handling of him. What's the quickest way to insure that a young player develops no confidence in his abilities??? Jerk him around like Casilla has been jerked around by the manager.

      Now - having said that, do I think he belongs on the Twins 40 man roster??? No - But does he belong as much as about 1/3 of the players that ARE on teh 40 man? Yup
    1. nokomismod's Avatar
      nokomismod -
      I think Casilla played best when he had a mentor in OCab (think that was 2010). I've always rooted for him (my kids too). He's a goofball and usually wears his emotions on his sleeve. He also comes up with some slick fielding plays more than any current infielder. But yeah, he has never been consistent/confident/comfortable enough to pull it off.
    1. stringer bell's Avatar
      stringer bell -
      Quote Originally Posted by ltwedt View Post
      Yeah - I know I'll be in the minority here, but I believe that a share of Casilla's problems can be laid at the feet of the manager. Gardy did pretty much everything to insure that Casilla would never play the same position more than 3 times in a row, and if Alexi screwed up (as Alexi does) Gardy would bench him for and extended time. No consistency in either Alexi's play OR in Gardy's handling of him. What's the quickest way to insure that a young player develops no confidence in his abilities??? Jerk him around like Casilla has been jerked around by the manager.

      Now - having said that, do I think he belongs on the Twins 40 man roster??? No - But does he belong as much as about 1/3 of the players that ARE on teh 40 man? Yup
      I'm a pretty big Casilla fan too, but I can't blame the manager. Gardy stuck with Alexi a long time and he didn't progress. The thing that I am lamenting is that as the seasons have gone along, Casilla has matured. The mental errors have diminished and he has made quite a number of hustle or heads-up plays. He just hasn't been able to produce the amount of offense necessary to be a regular player and by choice has limited his versatility.

      If the Twins had a competent SS both offensively and defensively, I think Casilla could fit in fine as the ninth starter, hitting 9th, playing good defense, stealing bases and having his contribution with the bat considered a bonus.
    1. Montecore's Avatar
      Montecore -
      Quote Originally Posted by stringer bell View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by ltwedt View Post
      Yeah - I know I'll be in the minority here, but I believe that a share of Casilla's problems can be laid at the feet of the manager. Gardy did pretty much everything to insure that Casilla would never play the same position more than 3 times in a row, and if Alexi screwed up (as Alexi does) Gardy would bench him for and extended time. No consistency in either Alexi's play OR in Gardy's handling of him. What's the quickest way to insure that a young player develops no confidence in his abilities??? Jerk him around like Casilla has been jerked around by the manager.

      Now - having said that, do I think he belongs on the Twins 40 man roster??? No - But does he belong as much as about 1/3 of the players that ARE on teh 40 man? Yup
      I'm a pretty big Casilla fan too, but I can't blame the manager. Gardy stuck with Alexi a long time and he didn't progress. The thing that I am lamenting is that as the seasons have gone along, Casilla has matured. The mental errors have diminished and he has made quite a number of hustle or heads-up plays. He just hasn't been able to produce the amount of offense necessary to be a regular player and by choice has limited his versatility.

      If the Twins had a competent SS both offensively and defensively, I think Casilla could fit in fine as the ninth starter, hitting 9th, playing good defense, stealing bases and having his contribution with the bat considered a bonus.
      No, Iwedt had it right. Recall when Gardenhire denigrated Casilla and Carlos Gomez as "The Loose Cannons"? Does anyone think Jim Leyland just for instance would use that kind of "humor" as a motivating tool?
      .
      . edited per comment policy
      .
      But, I'm sure a decent mgr. would have gotten more out of him.
    1. Snortwood's Avatar
      Snortwood -
      What are the splits on Casilla? Looks to me like he was one of those guys who hit okay right-handed but was real fast so they said, you know you ought to try switch hitting. He's never looked good enough long enough batting left-handed to see why that should have continued for so long. From the right side of the plate he swings with some evil intentions - left-handed he's just trying to not strikeout. My take is, he would have been better served in the field and at the plate as a straight-up right-handed hitter. Now we'll never know, but he wouldn't have been the first and won't be the last (Florimon?) forced down the same path.
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Quote Originally Posted by Montecore View Post

      No, Iwedt had it right. Recall when Gardenhire denigrated Casilla and Carlos Gomez as "The Loose Cannons"? Does anyone think Jim Leyland just for instance would use that kind of "humor" as a motivating tool? Gardenhire has always been too stupid and too classless to manage a major league team. What percentage of Casilla's failures are attributable to the moron mgr? Who knows? But, I'm sure a decent mgr. would have gotten more out of him.
      The "moron mgr" gave Casilla something along the lines of a half dozen opportunities to keep a starting position.

      If Gardy's a moron, it's because he gave Casilla too MANY chances, not that he didn't give him enough.

      Sheesh.
    1. joeboo_22's Avatar
      joeboo_22 -
      Its not that Gardy is a moron for giving Casilla way too many opportunities its how they developed him. They called him up early, then sat him, then never let him struggle and play through it. Then he hurt his thumb and they rushed him back. Its not that Casilla has deserved more, or that he doesn't have some blame, its not like he was making it hard for Gardy to bench him. But its that Gardy seemed like he would rather put a Nick Punto at 2B then a Casilla. And that would be one thing if Punto was batting .280 but he wasn't. Put your self in that position, where any mistake you make, any slump you have, and Nick Punto and his .218 .ba as just taken over your position.

      And that goes with damn near all middle infielders the Twins have had, Gardy (and Terry Ryan) would rather go out on the market and get a .230 (decent obp and good club house guy) and block the middle infielder. That just doesn't work.
    1. CDog's Avatar
      CDog -
      Quote Originally Posted by joeboo_22 View Post
      But its that Gardy seemed like he would rather put a Nick Punto at 2B then a Casilla. And that would be one thing if Punto was batting .280 but he wasn't. Put your self in that position, where any mistake you make, any slump you have, and Nick Punto and his .218 .ba as just taken over your position.
      Nick Punto's batting average with the Twins was .248. His OBP .323. Which are all of one point off his career numbers. As an aside, Alexi Casilla's career batting average is .248. His OBP is .303.
    1. 70charger's Avatar
      70charger -
      Quote Originally Posted by Rosterman View Post
      You could make an argument about why you pay Carroll $2.5 million to do pretty much the same (yes, there are subtle positive differences with Carroll).
      Let's talk about this for a second. What are the positive differences? Carroll hits about the same, is usually in the .650-.700 OPS range, and while generally more consistent than Casilla, is certainly not so much better that we think of him as much of an offensive upgrade. Then there's the defensive side. Casilla's got better range, isn't 93 years old, and makes the slick play. Give me a choice, and I think I might take Casilla.

      Alternate opinions welcome.
    1. stringer bell's Avatar
      stringer bell -
      Quote Originally Posted by 70charger View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by Rosterman View Post
      You could make an argument about why you pay Carroll $2.5 million to do pretty much the same (yes, there are subtle positive differences with Carroll).
      Let's talk about this for a second. What are the positive differences? Carroll hits about the same, is usually in the .650-.700 OPS range, and while generally more consistent than Casilla, is certainly not so much better that we think of him as much of an offensive upgrade. Then there's the defensive side. Casilla's got better range, isn't 93 years old, and makes the slick play. Give me a choice, and I think I might take Casilla.

      Alternate opinions welcome.
      Carroll has been a late-bloomer and with a bat in his hand, he has undoubtedly been better than Casilla. Carroll at 38 has been versatile and a good defender, not great. Casilla has played almost exclusively at second, where I believe he is the best middle infield defender the Twins have. Casilla will be 29 at midseason next year while Carroll will play 2013 at age 39. Casilla can be a threat on the bases, Carroll not so much. Carroll has never had a disabling injury, Casilla has spent at least four stints on the DL. If I had to pick one to start 140 games at second base in 2013, I would pick Casilla, but if the Twins are looking at those two as utility options, Carroll is the better choice despite his age.
    1. Wolfy's Avatar
      Wolfy -
      Good luck to Casilla, but this team won't miss him. This organization already has 45 Casilla's and will likely draft 20 more over the next 4 years.
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