Jason Castro’s season is over before it even began, as the Astros catcher has been diagnosed with a torn anterior cruciate ligament and torn medial meniscus in his right knee.
Castro, who suffered the injury Wednesday while running to first base, is expected to be sidelined for at least six months. That leaves some chance that he could return in September, but with the Astros likely to be well out of contention by that point they’ll have no reason to rush the 24-year-old former No. 10 overall pick back into the lineup.
His injury leaves the Astros with the same catching situation they had prior to calling up Castro from the minors in the middle of last season. Humberto Quintero is now atop the depth chart and one-time “catcher of the future” J.R. Towles now seems likely to make the team (and get one final shot at sticking in the majors) as his backup. Carlos Corporan, Brian Esposito, and Rene Garcia are the other catchers in camp.
Towles is still young enough to potentially step up and show that his solid minor-league numbers are for real, but so far he’s hit just .189 in 101 games in the majors. Quintero is a 31-year-old career-long backup who’s hit just .232 with a ghastly .271 on-base percentage and .322 slugging percentage in 300 games. Among all the players with at least 800 plate appearances since Quintero’s debut in 2003 his .593 OPS ranks third-worst ahead of only Tony Pena (who has since converted to pitching) and Jeff Mathis.
Castro’s development was one of the few things Astros fans had to look forward to this season, but instead they may not see him again until 2012 and an already bad team just got even worse.
ESPN’s Howard Bryant is reporting that Major League Baseball has approved a rule allowing for a dugout signal for an intentional walk. In other words, baseball is allowing automatic intentional walks. Bryant adds that this rule will be effective for the 2017 season.
MLB has been trying, particularly this month, to improve the pace of play. Getting rid of the formality of throwing four pitches wide of the strike zone will save a minute or two for each intentional walk. There were 932 of them across 2,428 games last season, an average of one intentional walk every 2.6 games. It’s not the biggest improvement, but it’s something at least.
Earlier, Commissioner Rob Manfred was upset with the players’ union’s “lack of cooperation.” Perhaps his public criticism was the catalyst for getting this rule passed.
Unfortunately, getting rid of the intentional walk formality will eradicate the chance of seeing any more moments like this:
Earlier, Craig covered Rob Manfred’s comments in which he accused the Major League Baseball Players’ Association of “a lack of cooperation” concerning some proposed rule changes. The union would need to agree to any such changes, which have included automatic intentional walks, limiting mound visits, pitch clocks, and swapping batting practice times for home and visiting teams.
Manfred went on to say that MLB will impose those rule changes unilaterally next year as allowed in the latest collective bargaining agreement.
Tony Clark, the executive director of the MLBPA, responded to Manfred’s comment. Via Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports:
“Unless your definition of ‘cooperation’ is blanket approval, I don’t agree that we’ve failed to cooperate with the Commissioner’s office on these issues.”
“Two years ago we negotiated pace of play protocols that had an immediate and positive impact. Last year we took a step backward in some ways, and this off season we’ve been in regular contact with MLB and with our members to get a better handle on why that happened.”
“I would be surprised if those discussions with MLB don’t continue, notwithstanding today’s comments about implementation. As I’ve said, fundamental changes to the game are going to be an uphill battle, but the lines of communication should remain open.”
“My understanding is that MLB wants to continue with the replay changes (2min limit) and the no-pitch intentional walks and the pace of Game warning/fine adjustments.”
Clark’s response isn’t anything too shocking. Manfred’s accusation was pretty baseless, but it’s behavior to be expected of a commissioner who comes down on the side of the owners over the players almost always.