In the midst of an off-season bereft of anything resembling a significant move from the Orioles, there have been three goals. Stockpile as many left fielders as possible, stockpile as many relievers as possible, and stockpile as many crappy middle infielders as possible. They delivered on the third of these yet again on Friday when they announced that failed pinch runner Alexi Casilla was signed to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.
Get out your Dan Duquette Platitude Bingo cards and let's see what we get this time around, as Duquette spoke to MASN's Roch Kubatko about the signing.
"Alexi is a skilled player," said executive vice president Dan Duquette. "He's a good defender. He's very good at second base and he's good at short. He's a switch-hitter and he's a talented basestealer. And he brings a lot of energy to the team. And he understands his role."
Hmm. Did any of those show up on your card? "A lot of energy" is fairly standard Duquettesque fare. And, as anyone whose misspent formative years included an unhealthy level of interest in professional wrestling can tell you, it is very important to know your role.
"Alexi Casilla is a qualified and skilled major league player, and he's ready to play when he comes to the ballpark," Duquette said. "He's solid. He gives us another infielder and he has major league experience. Plus, he fits in on our ballclub. He knows the organization.
There it is! Qualified! "Ready to play when he comes to the ballpark" is a new one. It's good to be ready to play when you come to the ballpark, to be sure. Even better is to be ready to play when you are inserted as a pinch runner in the bottom of the ninth inning with your team trailing by a run. One might be ready to play by actually paying attention to the game and not getting thrown out on the basepaths like a nincompoop.
Casilla batted .214/.268/.295 in 125 plate appearances for the Orioles in the 2013 season and had nine stolen bases in 11 attempts. He may have some marginal value as a defensive replacement, but he had such soul-searingly horrible miscues on the bases that it would be impossible for me to ever feel good seeing him running again. You had one job, Alexi.
The big tell in Duquette's assorted quotes is probably that he mentions Casilla can be a shortstop. The team could use a backup for J.J. Hardy and despite having a plethora of infielders on the roster, they don't really have a second shortstop.
Players like Ryan Flaherty and Jemile Weeks have played nearly all second base. Rule 5 pick Michael Almanzar has only played at the corners. Prospect Jonathan Schoop, if he makes the team, would probably be the starter at second, rather than a backup for short.
With the Orioles seeming to have a steadfast dedication to not spending any money, that makes a player like Casilla look pretty good. So he will be reporting to spring training with all the rest and may well prove to be the least terrible option for what he does.