Another team’s treasure: Phillies sign Castillo as Utley insurance

David Brown
Big League Stew

It's often amusing when the Philadelphia Phillies raid the New York Mets discard pile for a player.

The tactic worked out famously in the cases of Tug McGraw, Lenny Dykstra and Rico Brogna.  And to a lesser extent for Pedro Martinez, Wilson Valdez and others. Whatever happens, the cross-pollination usually gets the teams' respective fans sniping at each other.

But with star Chase Utley on the shelf for an unknown period because of a knee injury, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro seems willing to reach a little deeper into the deck for possible fixes to the second base problem.

Enter: Luis Castillo.

The Mets had cut Castillo on Friday, still owing him $6 million of the $25 million they paid him since 2008. The Phillies, who signed Castillo to a minor league contract, won't have to bother with any of that. If Castillo makes the major league roster, they'll pay him the league minimum — $414,000.

If Castillo doesn't make the Phillies opening-day roster — possible considering the negative reviews of his performance in Mets camp — Philly probably will go with Wilson Valdez (another ex-Mets player) at second base. Josh Barfield, Pete Orr, Michael Martinez and Delwyn Young also are in Phillies camp.

One tidbit from Todd Zolecki's blog about Castillo signing with Philly: Utley has shown enough improvement in recent days that a June return might be possible.

"You know what? He's getting a little better," Charlie Manuel said of Utley this afternoon. "It's not coming real fast, but he's showing — according to the doctors and trainers — he's starting to get better. It seems like it's going to take a while, though."

June is a long time to go without your second baseman. But here's the real question: The Phillies have been in the market for a lefty reliever for a while. Does that mean they'll be in on Oliver Perez?

The Mets made more news Monday, announcing they were releasing Perez, who is owed $12 million on his contract. This has been a painfully expensive 72 hours for the Mets.

Stranger things have happened. The Phillies need a lefty. They've always shown a willingness to take what the Mets no longer want. Imagine if the Phillies sign Oliver Perez and it works out?

But Amaro can't possibly be that desperate, can he?

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