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Can Castillo overcome blunder?

Jun 13, 2009, 3:31 PM EDT

To understand the severity of Friday night’s costly drop by Luis
Castillo, one must first remember that he entered 2009 as one of the
more unpopular players on the roster. With his patient, sometimes
passive approach at the plate, Castillo became the perfect whipping-boy
for frustrated Mets fans, as he batted just .245/.355/.305 in the first
year of a truly awful four-year, $25 million contract. Out of shape and
hobbled by a bad hip, Castillo appeared in just 87 games, and was at
his worst down the stretch, batting just .111 in another lost
September.

After the season, Mets fans were ready to see him leave town,
much like Scott Schoeneweis and Aaron Heilman were shown the door,
however his big contract was largely undesirable around baseball. In
November, Castillo had a meeting with team brass, insisting that he
would rededicate himself to getting back in shape. And true to his
word, he reported to Spring Training at 193 pounds, down from 210 last
spring.

This season, Castillo has again been a pretty marginal
player at best, batting .277/.376/.335 with 14 RBI and seven steals in
173 at-bats. According to FanGraphs,
he has a 0.3 WAR (Wins Above Replacement) and 3.0 (Runs Above
Replacement). Still, Castillo has a walkoff-hit to his credit and with
the unusual amount of injuries for the team, he’s pretty much been
given a reprieve from the fans. Until Friday night. Against the
Yankees, of all teams. Only a drop against the Phillies could be any
worse.

The Mets have no choice but to keep running him back out
there, as awful as it was. I mean, who else is left to even play second
base? Jerry Manuel knows he can’t hide either. That’s why he’s batting
him leadoff today.

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