Tag Archives: Jason Castro

Bad Year to be an Astro Especially for Catchers

The other day The Houston Astros added another catcher to their roster.

Normally this would not really be news worthy since teams often add a third catcher in September when the rosters are expanded.

What makes the latest Astros addition of a catcher newsworthy is the fact that it is the third catcher the Astros have added to the roster since August 20th due to injuries.

Carlos Corporan was injured August 19 when he took a foul ball off of his facemask. Max Stassi was called up to replace Coporan and he was hit in the head by a pitch two days later and hasn’t played since. Both Corporan and Max Stassi remain on the seven-day concussion disabled list.

The latest injury to an Astros catcher occurred Monday when Jason Castro was pulled from the game after an RBI single in the second inning with a sprained right knee. It should be noted that it is the same knee Castro had surgically repaired in 2011.

Jason Castro meets with Manager Bo Porter and the athletic training staff before being pulled from the game with a sprained knee. The injury is being called day to day leaving the Astros without their only All-Star representative for the foreseeable future. Photo R. Anderson
Jason Castro meets with Manager Bo Porter and the athletic training staff before being pulled from the game with a sprained knee. The injury is being called day to day leaving the Astros without their only All-Star representative for the foreseeable future.
Photo R. Anderson

So with two catchers out with concussions and Castro deemed day to day with a cyst on the medial side of his right knee, the Astros were left with only Cody Clark on the roster as a catcher.

Clark is a real life Crash Davis having spent 11 years bouncing around the Minor Leagues before being called up August 23.

The Astros don’t want to call up a third catcher from within their farm system since their Triple-A affiliate in Oklahoma City and Double-A affiliate in Corpus Christi are both going to the playoffs and probably want to have someone available to catch balls that are thrown by the pitchers.

So with no more catchers to promote from within, the Astros were forced to look outside the organization for back stop help.

The team acquired Minor League catcher Matt Pagnozzi from the Braves in exchange for cash considerations.

In announcing the signing of Pagnozzi the Astros press release noted that Pagnozzi was beginning a drive to his home in Arizona from Gwinnett, Ga., and had just changed a bulb on the headlamp in his truck at a Walmart when he got the call he had to head to Houston.

After reading that it reminded me of the movie Major League when the potential manager gets a job offer while working at the tire store and thinks at first that the offer is a joke.

It also reminded me that some reporter likely asked a question along the lines of, “So Matt, what were you doing when you found out you had been traded to Houston?”

First base coach Dave Clark reminds catcher Cody Clark to stay injury free as he is the only able bodied catcher at the time. Photo R. Anderson
First base coach Dave Clark reminds catcher Cody Clark to stay injury free as he is the only able bodied catcher at the time.
Photo R. Anderson

As an aside, if one is ever asked that question the correct response is never, “Well, I was in the bathroom checking my e-mail and saw that I had a message from my agent.”

Even if that is what you were doing, it does not make a good quote and will inevitably lead to the follow up question of “did you wash your hands before replying?”

Although, it should be noted that Walmart bathrooms are certainly a nice place to stop during a road trip, especially if you need to get a bulb for your truck as well.

It is likely that Pagnozzi’s time with the Astros will be short as Corporan will begin a Minor League rehab assignment on Wednesday for Double-A Corpus Christi with the hopes of rejoining the Astros on Monday in Seattle.

I just hope that his time is not shortened by injury since the Astros really are running out of places to find catchers.

Now if you’ll excuse me I am off to the sporting goods store to get a catcher’s mitt and mask since at this rate I very well could be the next catcher called. I just hope they don’t call me while I am at Walmart.

Copyright 2013 R. Anderson

Castro the Astro Named All-Star Cuz Someone Had to Be

Saturday night Major League Baseball announced the starters and reserves for this year’s All-Star Game.

With the exception of a final fan’s choice vote for each league, and some players to be named later by the managers, the rosters are pretty much set.

For the most part the rosters seem sound and despite the ill conceived notion of fan voting, the bulk of the players seem to have gotten on the team through merit.

Of course since the introduction of the “all teams have to be represented by at least one player rule” some of the reserve players would not be on the team were it not required for someone from their team to be there.

Jason Castro was named to his first All-Star game Saturday. Photo R. Anderson
Jason Castro was named to his first All-Star game Saturday.
Photo R. Anderson

This brings us to Jason Castro, catcher for the Houston Astros. Castro was named to the All-Star game as the sole representative of the Astros.

To think that his level of play reaches the level of an All-Star leads one to have to make a quantum leap of reasoning.

Even given the notion that someone from the Astros has to be selected as an All-Star, Castro does not even lead any offensive categories on the team. Which means that he is not even the best of the worst team in baseball.

Castro ranks second in batting average behind Jose Altuve (last year’s Astros All-Star representative) and also ranks second on the team in runs scored and home runs.

Granted Castro had a “see I belong in the game” moment Saturday night when he hit a three-run home run against the Rangers as part of a shocking upset in Arlington but the case remains puzzling as to why he is heading to the All-Star game as a reserve catcher.

To be fair I have nothing against Jason Castro despite the Astros seeming to have a man crush on him since drafting him with the 10th pick of the 2008 draft and repeatedly shoving him down the throats of the fans despite the presence of better catchers on the roster.

While there have been some catchers through the years that have swung the bat well those are usually few and far between. And in the case of former Astros catcher turned second baseman Craig Biggio catchers that can hit are usually moved to other positions to prolong their careers. Had Craig Biggio remained a catcher it is very probable that he would not have had the long career that allowed him to obtain over 3,000 hits.

So to me the job of catcher first and foremost is that of a defensive player that works well with the pitchers and can throw runners out at second base. Through the years prior to Jason Castro arriving at the Astros there were a string of such players who while not known for consistently driving in runs they definitely minimized opposing teams scoring through their work behind the plate.

Future Hall of Famer Ivan "Pudge" Rodriquez spent only part of a season with the Astros before being traded to the Rangers. Photo R. Anderson
Future Hall of Famer Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez spent only part of a season with the Astros before being traded to the Rangers.
Photo R. Anderson

To me the best catcher to ever wear an Astros uniform was Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez. With a young team and a future Hall of Famer behind the plate, it seemed like a no brainer to keep Pudge in the Astro pinstripes for as long as possible to allow him to mentor the pitching staff and provide veteran leadership in the clubhouse.

Sadly the Astros traded Rodriguez to the Rangers midway though the 2009 season. But during his time there he was definitely fun to watch and showed Astros players and fans what a real catcher looks like.

J.R. Towles was another catcher who called a good game but fell short at the plate. Towles and Castro were both competing for the starting job at the same time. Towles beat out the injury prone Castro twice in spring training for the job and received high praise from many of the Astros pitchers for his presense behind the plate.

For my money former Astro J.R. Towles was twice the player Jason Castro is where it counts most, defensively. Unfortunately for Towles the Astros disagreed and kept sticking with the error prone Jason Castro behind the plate. Photo R. Anderson
For my money former Astro J.R. Towles was twice the player Jason Castro is where it counts most, defensively. Unfortunately for Towles the Astros disagreed and kept sticking with the error prone Jason Castro behind the plate.
Photo R. Anderson

Unfortunately Towles struggled mightily at the plate generating far more outs than hits. After a few seasons of battling between the Majors and Minors, and with Castro still the anointed catcher of the future, Towles was finally let go paving the way for the Jason Castro era to begin.

Still even after Castro was anointed the starter he still faced injury issues and actually missed the entire 2011 season with a knee injury received during Spring Training.

It seems that he is finally showing the offensive spark that they had hoped was there but there are still glaring defensive issues visible in his game in the amount of passed balls that get by him. His ability to call games and be in sync with his battery mates is also an area that is still in work.

I certainly hope that I am wrong and Jason Castro can become a successful every day catcher for years to come and help the team with both his bat and his glove. I just have not seen enough evidence of that to date to give me confidence in his ability to be that player down the road.

Granted, as a reserve there is no guarantee that Castro will take the field at any point in the game. The rules say a member from every team has to make the roster but it does not say that the managers are forced to use every player like some Little League pay to play situation.

I truly hope that both fan voting and guarantee representation from all teams are removed from the All-Star Game landscape in the coming years to return the game to its roots where the best players, regardless of team affiliation, are battling each other for bragging rights and home field World Series advantage.

Until that day comes the All-Star Game will carry a virtual asterisk next to it meaning that the accomplishments made within it should not be judged the same way as the the pre fan vote era.

Now if you’ll excuse me I need to start planning my All-Star Game menu.

Copyright 2013 R. Anderson