OK. Maybe the ideal second base situation would be to go after Orlando Hudson, which could very well happen, but there are still some reasons to have some faith in Castillo and the whopping $18 million that comes with him. Last year, I was disgusted with Luis Castillo and lost confidence when he came up in big situations, but we have to remember last year was just one year.
Here are several reasons why settling for Castillo is not so terrible of a move.
In 1999 and 2000 Luis Castillo had tremendous years at the plate, batting .302 and .334 in each respective year. The following year, 2001, Castillo's average dipped down to .263. (Sound familiar?) The next SIX years he batted over .300 multiple times, and his worst of the six years was an impressive .291.
Last year he had a down year. History shows he is at least CAPABLE of picking himself up and getting back to the Luis Castillo of old, the Castillo that Omar Minaya signed with high potential.
Last year, Castillo struggled with injuries. Also, he seemed to struggle with conditioning as he appeared out of shape when he returned, and the New York media was all over it. I personally believe Castillo realized his mistake and vows to fix it. He clearly wants to stay in New York and will certainly work hard this offseason to try to restore his old ways.
With RBI machines Carlos Beltran, David Wright, and Carlos Delgado behind him in whichever order, Castillo is a very patient hitter who is willing to take many pitches and try to draw walks. Also, he adds a notch of speed (when properly conditioned) to the top of the lineup to go along with Jose Reyes. If Castillo can get his average back up and combine it with his patience, he could drastically improve the Mets' offense.
Let's face it...Omar Minaya did what he had to do in Las Vegas—he spent $37 million on K-Rod and traded for J.J. Putz. That was clearly the primary concern of the team. Instead of factoring in the $18 million of Castillo and trying to find someone else while still paying Luis, we could give him another shot and spend the money on a need for now like a starting pitcher.
All of the negativity regarding Castillo is basically generated towards his performance in 2008. Castillo has had an off year and recovered before, and it is very possible he can do it again.
There are cons to him, of course, as there are most players, but I believe he will be a man on a mission in 2009. If he does not get back to .300, he will at least increase his average from last year if he can stay healthy and stay in shape.