AKA Vinny the Poo, Vinny Cash-steala, Vinny Canthitta, Hasbinny Castilla, and many more. John Scheurholz has done many dumb things as Braves GM — many smart things as well. The dumbest is undoubtedly the Castilla signing. Some have been more damaging — the trade for BJ Surhoff, the three chain-reaction trades with the Royals, Reds, and Padres in which he turned Ryan Klesko, Jermaine Dye, and Denny Neagle into essentially Mike Remlinger and Keith Lockhart, the Kenny Lofton fiasco, Javy’s current deal, etc. — but they were all defensible at the time. The Castilla acquisition marks a rare occurrence in which Scheurholz did something that was completely indefensible for no visible reason at all.
To reiterate the points against Vinnygate, I quote myself at the time of the signing:
Every time I think John Scheurholz is doing a good job, he does something unbelieveably stupid.
Today, he signed Vinny Castilla to play third base, moving Chipper Jones to left field. This is boneheaded on a number of levels. First, it prevents the Braves from bidding on Scott Rolen, if he becomes available. Second, with Chipper in left field, there’s no spot for a free-agent outfielder. Third, the Braves already have a comparable player to Castilla in Wes Helms, and they won’t give Helms a job!
All three of these statements have been borne out. Rolen did become available, and could have been had for a reasonable price in prospects, but the Braves couldn’t bid because the position — and money — were tied up by Vinny. When the Braves needed another bat last year, they couldn’t add one, because what was available were outfielders and third basemen, and there was no place for one. (And, again, Vinny took up the money.) Wes Helms actually outplayed Vinny last year — he wasn’t good, mind you, but he was basically Vinny with a few more points in the BA and a little more power — and even managed to bench Vinny for a couple of games before he got hurt.
But Helms is gone now, for Ray King, and Vinny is stuck on the Braves’ payroll for another year. Maybe Mark DeRosa will beat him out in spring training, but if that happens will Bobby bring Vinny back as soon as Mark makes an error?
Actually, that’s not fair. Bobby has always been willing to sacrifice defense at third base for a bat. He’s had basically four third basemen in his career, Bob Horner, Rance Mulliniks, Terry Pendleton, and Chipper Jones. TP was the last of the great glove men at third, but the others were never more than average at their best, and Horner was historically bad. But they could hit. And when Terry stopped hitting, Bobby didn’t try to save his job, but promoted Chipper… Vinny’s overrated as a defensive player anyway. He makes few errors but doesn’t have a lot of range.