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Cheap Move: Astros Draft Jason Castro

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I want to give Bobby Heck the benefit of the doubt. Really I do. He seems to have done wonders with finding players for the Milwaukee Brewers, but damn, Jason Castro? Is he really the best the Astros could do with the tenth pick of the amateur draft? An

American Idol

reject? Heck, the dude

can’t even remember the words

to one of Bob Dylan’s most famous songs, and you’re expecting me to believe this dude can make it as a major league catcher?

Sorry, I’m not buying it. No way.

(Excuse me a second. Someone’s tapping me on the shoulder… What do you mean not that Jason Castro? It’s not the Idol dude? Thank God, because that guy sucks.)

So the Astros drafted Jason Castro out of Stanford yesterday. Another catcher. The second in three years. The second number one pick used for a catcher in three years. Damn, I hope he’s good. I wonder what the experts are saying?

Well, Keith Law over at ESPN says, “Castro was expected to go in the second half of the first round. He's a contact hitter; he will not hit for a lot of power. He's an average regular catcher in the big leagues. But I don't see him as a star.”

Hmmm. Contact hitter. Kind of average. Not a start. The Astros drafted another Brad Ausmus.

The guys with Baseball Prospectus had some colorful thoughts regarding Castro being picked by the Astros. For instance, “Are you f-ing kidding me? Words can not describe how dumb this is. They just can't. I'm utterly speechless. At least I get to rip Houston's drafts once again. I'm rambling to myslef [sic] here it total disbelief.” Then there’s an echo of Keith Law: “Here's the thing. Castro is a really nice catcher, don't get me wrong. But that's a late first round talent and JUSTIN SMOAK [a stud power hitting switch hitter that the Rangers nabbed with the next pick] IS STILL ON THE BOARD. Maybe the Astros just didn't notice this.” Then finally, to sum it all up: “I'm still totally floored, by what Houston did. I know I shouldn't be at this point with the Astros.”

Keith Law and the guys at Baseball Prospectus are well-respected for knowing their stuff, but surely the Astros didn’t blow it again. So I went over to MLB.com for its perspective and found it saying, “Castro was rated by most reports as a probable pick later in the first round…” That’s not exactly a glowing endorsement.

But these guys don’t know what the Astros need. And Bobby Heck did a great job with Milwaukee. So why don’t I let him weigh in: “First he's an athletic catcher,” Heck told the Chron. “This past year in the Cape [Cape Cod Summer League] he played first base, he played center field. He was on the same club with (Florida State catcher) Buster Posey [who was the fifth pick of the draft], so his catching was limited due to a minor injury he had that he's been slowly cleared from our doctors with.”

Translation: He’s okay, but he’s not good enough to beat out quality competition, but at least we can use the “he was injured” excuse.

And Ed Wade said that Castro was the best available player at that position – like the Prospectus guy said, I guess Bobby and Eddie didn’t see Justin Smoak sitting there. But here’s the amazing thing. You have to really read between the lines of his blog post, but even Jose de Jesus Ortiz seems to think Castro was a crappy draft choice, using language like “difficult to gauge college hitters” and “replenish[ing] their farm system.”

When the Astros lose Ortiz, you know they screwed up, because this guy’s never negative about the team.

I had high hopes when the Astros hired Bobby Heck, because of what he did with the Brewers. And truthfully, I don’t think he was to blame for this pick. And do you know why? Because during the Astros-Pirates game last night, the Astros ran a clip from an interview with Heck after the pick, a clip where he makes this telling statement: “This is a smart business decision.”

A smart business decision is code for: Drayton’s a cheap bastard. The Astros didn’t take the best player left because the Astros didn’t want to pay the cash for the best player available, so they drafted someone they could sign. Like when they drafted Phil Nevin instead of Derek Jeter. Or Max Sapp instead of Joba Chamberlain. Or when they passed on Carl Crawford.

We’re not going to know whether this guy’s really a flop or not for several years. And “smart business decision” aside, the Astros still have to sign the guy. So maybe, just maybe, the Astros will luck out on this pick.

If not, maybe we can always get Jason Castro to sing “Somewhere Over The Rainbow.” Just keep him away from Bob Dylan.

-- John Royal

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