New York Mets 2009 Rundown: Luis Castillo

Andrew WhartonCorrespondent IMarch 2, 2009

Meet the guy that everyone in New York loves to hate, Luis Castillo.

In 2008, Luis Castillo was much more than a disappointment to Mets fans—he was an abomination. A victim of various injuries all season long, Luis just never seemed able to shake out of his slump and regain his old ways. One has to question whether all the "boos" finally got to him, just as they did Aaron Heilman.

In the 2007 offseason, Mets general manager Omar Minaya signed Luis Castillo to a four-year, $25 million contract in hopes of finally securing a solid second baseman. And why not? He did hit .296 with 10 stolen bases, 20 RBI, and 37 runs for the Mets in 50 games, as well as hitting .316 in September during their infamous collapse.

In 2008, the wheels fell off the "Slappy McSingleton" bandwagon. For the first time since 2001, Luis Castillo's batting average was below .291, and he also played his fewest number of games since becoming a full-time player in 1999.

Unable to trade him in the 2008 offseason, the Mets are forced to support Castillo 100 percent in 2009 and hope he can once again become the player his career numbers say he is.

The players and front office may be somewhat forgiving of Castillo's woes if he shows determination and desire, but the only way he can escape the boos from the Shea—I mean Citi—faithful is by producing.

So far in spring training, Castillo has been a pleasant surprise. In the first four games as a leadoff hitter, Luis is hitting .462 with four RBI and three runs scored. However, it is just four games, and this type of production is going to have to carry throughout the entire spring and into the 2009 season if he is going to get back on New York's good side.

Personally, I think he can do it. Call me naive if you like, but I think if he stays healthy (which he really has no control over), he can become the close-to-.300 hitter he is known as being. He's focused, he's in shape, and most importantly, the fans will actually be cheering for him deep down inside.

2008 Stats

87 G, 297 AB, 46 R, 3 HR, 28 RBI, 17 SB, 50 BB, 30 SO, .245/.355/.305


2009 Prediction

135 G, 535 AB, 82 R, 2 HR, 33 RBI, 15 SB, 65 BB, 48 SO, .292/.350/.360