In 2013 Jason Castro had the breakout season we’ve all been waiting for. In what was arguably the best season ever enjoyed by a Houston catcher, Castro posted a 4.3 WAR and a 130 wRC+. But the injury prone backstop missed the last month of the season with a knee injury, once again prompting the question — can he stay healthy?
Castro established career highs in almost every offensive category, as well as games played (120). Jason also found his power stroke in 2013. His 18 homeruns tripled his previous high of six. The number that I think best reflects Castro’s ability was his 25.2 % line drive rate, which ranked eighth in the A.L. and is right in line with his career total.
Castro is such a prolific line drive hitter that there is no reason to expect his offensive numbers to decline. But can he stay on the field? The easy answer is — as a catcher, probably not. Given his history of lower body injuries, squatting behind the plate five or six days a week can’t exactly be a recipe for success.
For this reason, there has been a lot of talk recently about moving Castro to another position. Some argue that his offensive production as a catcher is what makes him so valuable. True, it’s nice to have a productive hitter in what is usually considered more of a defensively oriented position. But, Castro is the best hitter on the team — and that’s what makes him valuable! Who cares what position he plays?
I think Castro’s bat is good enough to play at any position. I say he should be the everyday DH. Which scenario do you like best? Having your best hitter in the lineup — or on the disabled list? To me it seems like a no-brainer. Why are we trying to complicate things?
Granted the Astros don’t have another top notch offensive contributor to insert behind the plate if Castro is moved to DH. But, that can be said about almost any position on the team. Carlos Corporan has proven to be an above average defender and has also shown improvement with the bat. A switch-hitter, Corporan could easily be platooned with either Rene Garcia, Carlos Perez, or Max Stassi. Although none of them are ready to take over behind the plate on an everyday basis, there are plenty of catching prospects in the pipeline. Stassi may be the best long term solution but he has played only 79 games above the High-A level.
The Astros haven’t had a problem running AAA players onto the big league field over the last couple of seasons. So why is the Castro situation even an issue? Castro has shown that he has the potential to be one of the best hitters on this team for years to come. It would be a shame to see such a promising career continually sidetracked or even cut short due to the organization’s stubbornness over a position change.
Trade rumors surrounding Castro have been popping up around the internet lately as well. If the Astros aren’t going to get Castro out from behind the plate, then trading him now would make sense. Keeping him at the catcher’s position is not going to do anything to raise his trade value, in my opinion.