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On second thought, Luis Castillo is a pretty popular guy

Mar 19, 2011, 8:55 AM EDT

Castillo_Luis

Luis Castillo became symbolic of the failures of former Mets general manager Omar Minaya, so most expected him to be cut loose prior to Opening Day, even though he was arguably the team’s best option at second base. But when someone is cut based more on perception than reality, we shouldn’t be surprised when said player draws interest once they can be had for the league minimum.

According to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, the Phillies, Cubs and Marlins are at least three teams “thought to be in” on Castillo. The rationale is pretty simple here. The Phillies need insurance for Chase Utley, the Cubs aren’t thrilled with Blake DeWitt and Jeff Baker and the Marlins could use Omar Infante at third base and start prospect Matt Dominguez in the minors.

As Castillo tells Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes, he hopes to sign with the major league team shortly after he clears waivers on Sunday.

“I feel calm, confident that I will be in a major league roster on opening day of the season,” Castillo said in phone call in Spanish with ESPNDeportes.com.

“Until Sunday I can not talk of contract, but I’m sure I have options. I am not finished as it has been painted,” Castillo said, adding he did not hold a grudge against the Mets.

If anything, being released could be a liberating experience for the 35-year-old. The three-time Gold Glover doesn’t have the range he once did, but he knows his way around the second base bag better than most. And while he’s just a Punch-and-Judy-hitter, he makes good contact and knows how to draw a walk. For $6 million, he wouldn’t make any sense. For $414,000? Sure, why not?

I, for one, look forward to reading Jon Heyman’s reaction when Castillo signs a contract before David Eckstein.

  1. Old Gator - Mar 19, 2011 at 9:15 AM

    Ah my dear DJ, life must indeed offer barren sources of amusement if one looks forward to reading John Heyman.

    • D.J. Short - Mar 19, 2011 at 9:16 AM

      Touche.

  2. purnellmeagrejr - Mar 19, 2011 at 9:35 AM

    Seems to be a lot of jealousy of Jon Heyman this morning.

    • mrfloydpink - Mar 19, 2011 at 11:37 AM

      Jealousy is not typically the word used to describe one’s feelings about a douchebag.

    • Old Gator - Mar 19, 2011 at 11:54 AM

      I would have to be hosing down fuel rods in Fukushima to be jealous of John Heyman.

  3. Mark - Mar 19, 2011 at 11:41 AM

    Think you mean punch and Judy hitter.

    • D.J. Short - Mar 19, 2011 at 11:47 AM

      Ha, weird. Auto correct, maybe? Thanks.

  4. chrisny3 - Mar 19, 2011 at 12:05 PM

    D.J. Short, aren’t you a Mets fan? If so, how can you say: “…he was arguably the team’s best option at second base. But when someone is cut based more on perception than reality

    Last year Castillo had a wOBA of .285. That was the third lowest of all second basemen with at least 270 plate appearances in the majors last year. In 2009, he ranked 24 out of 25 second basemen in UZR/150 (min. 600 innings), though his defense did rebound last year.

    Watching the Mets regularly over the last few years, it was clear to see how much Castillo had declined and was struggling mightily, both offensively and defensively. I see all four remaining 2B candidates as being able to easily provide at least an equivalent WAR (or higher) than what Castillo is likely to put up this year. Which is why I smh at the number of reporters who are all of a sudden trumpeting Castillo’s virtues now that he is out.

    • D.J. Short - Mar 19, 2011 at 12:14 PM

      I am a Mets fan. But I can recognize that Castillo is a decent player, albiet on the down side of his career. Fan sentiment played a significant part in why he was released. He’s not a $6 million player, but it’s not his fault that Minaya was dumb enough to give him that contract.

      I completely understand why the Mets let Castillo go. I don’t disagree with it, either. I’m actually rooting for Emaus to win the job. Have been all along. But none of the remaining candidates are a sure thing to have success. I wouldn’t be surprised if second base was a revolving door all season.

      • chrisny3 - Mar 19, 2011 at 12:32 PM

        reply below

      • proudlycanadian - Mar 19, 2011 at 7:04 PM

        Is that the Brad Emaus who was a former Jay’s farm hand before they decided that he was not a great prospect?

      • Travis Reitsma - Mar 19, 2011 at 9:04 PM

        Yeah, he was a Rule 5 pick. That gives him an edge to win a job on the big club too.

  5. chrisny3 - Mar 19, 2011 at 12:31 PM

    I don’t disagree that fan sentiment played a part, but I think that sentiment (the perception part) was about 20% and the reality part was about 80% … so I disagree that it was more perception than reality.

    I think that Alderson considered both reality and perception plus numerous opinions around the front office and from Collins and his staff and this is the best option he came up with for the club going forward. To paint it like it is mostly a capitulation to fan sentiment is where I disagree. Klapisch is one reporter who tried to do this.

    I agree that it will likely be a revolving door at 2B this year, but I don’t think that this is any worse than having Castillo there all season. His WAR at this point in his career is pathetically low, so the others can hardly do worse and one or two just might do better. It’s time to move forward and put the Omar era behind them. They can hardly do that while Castillo is running crooked on his gimpy legs while constantly hitting weak popups and grounders that fail to leave the infield.

    • D.J. Short - Mar 19, 2011 at 12:40 PM

      I don’t think our opinions are far apart. Just because there was an argument that Castillo may have been the “best” option for second base didn’t mean he was the “right” one. I think we agree there.

    • aburns77 - Mar 19, 2011 at 3:21 PM

      I agree that Castillo is clearly not the player who he once was and trotting him out there as a starter would be a move in the wrong direction, but if this was primarily a baseball decision why not just make him the backup infielder? Sure, Castillo leaves much to be desired at this point, but when compared to the replacement-level or worse options out there for backups I think he represents an upgrade in that capacity. The fact that the Mets didn’t consider this as an option makes me believe that the decision was more of a symbolic gesture to the fans than a baseball decision because if you’re already paying him for this year and if he can still provide some utility it makes no sense to let him leave and provide no production for you. That said I can see how as an organization they needed to make a break from past poor decisions.

    • chrisny3 - Mar 19, 2011 at 11:05 PM

      why not just make him the backup

      Not a viable option. Last year when the Mets were out of things and Castillo was having a poor year, they wanted to give Tejada a look at 2B. Well, Castillo wasn’t happy and sulked. He’s sullen anyway, even when playing everyday, so you can imagine how unpleasant it was when he wasn’t playing.

      Having a sulking Castillo on the roster is counterproductive. Also, he’s barely above replacement level at this point in his career.

  6. macjacmccoy - Mar 19, 2011 at 4:29 PM

    Heck for the minium I wouldnt mind the Phillies giving him a shot. He could be helpful as a backup to Valdez or even compete with him for the job if he starts to struggle. But the way he looked last year and this spring I dunno if thats going to happen. Im sure the Mets would have kept him if it wasnt for that huge salary so it isnt like the guys a scrap heap player. Its just when your that disliked by the fan base its just sometimes better to eat the money and cut the guy then to keep him around and piss off the fans. Even if it ends up hurting the team in the long run.

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