This morning when I woke up and went online I did not expect to see any major news regarding the Mets. However, I was stunned when the headline on Metsblog read, “Mets release Luis Castillo.” I thought this day would never come. And then the thought hit me: Maybe this new front office does have a clue.
Now to start off, it is not Castillo’s fault that Minaya gave him an awful contract back before the 2008 season—I mean more power to the guy for securing the best possible future for himself. And when he was healthy, he actually managed respectable numbers, including a nice 2009 season where he hit .302 and stole 20 bases.
However, Castillo is an injury-prone player and as he ages the risk of injury increases even more. In 2008 and 2010 Castillo was hampered by injuries and his numbers were just awful.
To make matters worse, he seemed nonchalant about his performance, as his overall play was uninspired. Last season he was clearly out of shape and appeared completely uninterested in the game and his numbers reflected this.
Met fans don’t like when a player does not produce, but they can usually let it slide if the player looks like he is doing everything he can to win. Castillo simply did not seem to care and so Met fans responded with animosity.
Over time, he became synonymous with the general malaise that seemed to characterize the Mets play on the field. People believed that as long as he was manning second base, the team would never change.
The fact is Castillo was not a serviceable starting second baseman last season as injuries and natural aging limited his defensive abilities and sapped his only useful skill—speed. Without any power, he was reduced to a singles hitter who could not even steal a bag.
This spring, nothing seemed different with Castillo as he had nine hits with the Mets and all of them were singles. He had no stolen bases.
Throw in the fact that Castillo pulled an Oliver Perez early in spring training and insisted on starting, and it was time for him to go.
One must credit the new Mets front office for recognizing when a player should be let go once he can no longer produce regardless of his contract. Either way the Mets have to pay the contract so they might as well be receiving production from the position.
The Mets knew what the ceiling was for Castillo’s production, and there was the high probability that he would not even be able to reach that.
Now with Castillo out of the picture, the Mets can give more at-bats to younger players and see whether any of them can capitalize on their potential and secure the starting job. At the very least, they will have more of an opportunity to develop.
This is a very smart move by the Mets as it improves the team on the field as well as their image with the fans. Alderson and the rest of the front office are trying to usher in a new era with the team, and this is the first major step they have taken to do so.
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