A first round pick in the 1994 amateur draft by the Houston Astros, Ramon Castro has become a mainstay in New York as a Met. Twice he has seen himself become the front-runner to become the Mets' starting catcher, but both times Omar Minaya has traded to bring in a catcher from another organization (Paul Lo Duca, Brian Schneider). Castro is now considered one of the best backup catchers in the league.
Coming off the best season of his career in 2007 (11 HR, 31 RBI, .285/.331/.556), Castro was once again hampered by a series of injuries that would cause his numbers to decline in 2008. However, despite the drop-off, his slugging percentage is still very impressive, and each season he makes a case for being the primary backstop. If only he could stay healthy enough to accumulate more than 150 at-bats in a season, it might be possible.
There is no doubt Castro is the better hitter between he and starter Brian Schneider. However, one concern with him is that his defense is below average and he struggles to throw runners out consistently. That, along with the fact that he runs slower than a sumo wrestler, is the main reason why he continues to serve as the Mets' number two catcher.
So far in the 2008 offseason there have been outcries from fans to attempt to trade Castro in order to clear the books of the $2 million he is owed in 2009, while bringing in a catcher like Ivan Rodriguez to compete with Schneider for the starting spot.
The Mets have indicated numerous times that they have been interested in acquiring another right-handed bat for the bench, but with Spring Training underway and Castro still in a Mets uniform, any scenario of this sort is highly unlikely.
The 2009 outlook for Ramon Castro is simple: He needs to stay healthy. If he can stay active for more than two-thirds of the season, he could provide some quality production off the bench for the Mets whenever Schneider needs a rest. This, in turn, keeps Schneider healthy and gives skipper Jerry Manuel more flexibility when penciling in the lineup against certain pitchers.
However, as a witness to events of years past and a follower of certain patterns, the chance of Ramon Castro staying healthy for a good portion of 2009 is slim.
52 G, 143 AB, 7 HR, 24 RBI, .245/.312/.441
48 G, 129 AB, 9 HR, 27 RBI, .256/.325/.485
This article is also featured at Dom D's Mets Fan Blog