Thursday, September 20, 2012
Career of lost opportunities for 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.