My original title for this article was "Luis Castillo: Accept My Apology." That would have been the title had he got a hit in his last at-bat today, giving him an 8-for-15 on this home-stand. But instead, he made out and my memory is long and forgiveness has to be earned.
Now maybe I'm being a little hard on him since the Mets have played 49 games already and Luis has made some significant contributions to the team this year. I do want to give him credit, however, on two fronts where if he had not done what he has accomplished, I would absolutely feel we would be way more than half a game behind the Phillies.
First and foremost has been his leadership on the field. His play at second base has been nothing short of All-Star caliber. Since Reyes and Delgado have gone down, Luis has completely taken charge of the infield.
If a pitcher is struggling, it is Luis, not David Wright, who goes to the mound to steady the nerves of the pitcher. He did today with both J.J Putz and Bobby Parnell. He is making the call on all balls hit to any infielder except for those hit close to Wright around third. He has been aggressive on the base paths and has showed power from the right side of the plate and tremendous discipline from the left side.
He is definitely more comfortable in the two-hole and his average still is hovering around .300. He may not be the same player from the early 2000's, but his presence on the field has certainly been a positive factor.
I've already addressed earlier this week my pleasure of watching Gary Sheffield play on a day to day basis. He is, in my humble opinion, still one of the most feared hitters in the league.
What is there to say that hasn't already been said about Omir Santos? His energy and enthusiasm are not only refreshing, but contagious, as the entire Mets bench is on its feet every time he comes to the plate. Now that's respect.
How about Bobby Parnell? Once thought to be in the running for the No. 5 starter, he has been absolutely fantastic coming out of the pen in either the seventh or the eighth and blowing 95 to 97 mph fast balls by quality hitters. Given the current situation with our starters, I would like to see the Mets move Parnell into the rotation and put Redding into a long relief role.
Feliciano is showing once again that he can get both left and right-handed hitters out and can be the seventh-inning guy with help from Stokes. To think the Mets bullpen blew 29 save opportunities last year and now has the No. 1 bullpen in baseball a year later. Kudos to Omar on that one.
F-Mart is the real deal. Did you watch his hands today? He may have the fastest hands I've seen since Hank Aaron. Now let's not get ahead of ourselves here, but if he stays healthy you are looking at a third of the Mets outfield for the next 15 years. That's very nice. He made great contact on three high fastballs around the letters today and to me looked like Lou Brock, who was the best highball hitter I ever saw.
More good. John Maine looks like the John Maine of 2007 and Pelfrey looks even better than he did last year during his great run.
Seven more games now against very beatable foes before inter-league play and the Subway Series. We could use a 5-2 mark on this trip. The matchups look good, the players have to stay loose, Jerry has to not try to over-manage this team, and we need to get healthy. When we do, we have the ability to play at a .600 pace the rest of the way and if we do, there won't be anymore Septembers to worry about.