Byrnes for Castillo?

Eric Byrnes of the Arizona Diamondbacks
A few days ago, MetsToday reader “Isuzudude” pointed out a suggestion by an Arizona writer that the Diamondbacks could consider trading outfielder Eric Byrnes to the Mets in return for Luis Castillo. The article has since been referred to and discussed by MetsBlog, and I think it merits conversation here.

Though it’s only speculation by a journalist, it does appear on the surface to be a fitting deal for both clubs. The Mets would rid themselves of both a bad contract and a guy who hometown fans have grown to hate. In return, they get a much-needed righthanded-hitting corner outfielder and a guy who enjoys and seeks attention — something they desperately need in a clubhouse full of camera-shy introverts.

On the other hand, the Diamondbacks get a veteran second baseman to fill the hole that will presumably be left behind if/when Gold Glove winner Orlando Hudson goes to the highest bidder on the free agent market. Since Castillo is owed another $18M through 2011, and Byrnes has $22M over 2009-2010, the money situation is close to a wash. It would seem to be a perfect match.

Personally, I’d love to see hard-playing Byrnes come to the Mets, and believe he would jump at the chance to be in the media capital of the world. He already has his own TV show in Arizona, regularly appears on ESPN, and does a radio show on XM … imagine how his career might take off in New York?

Of course, it would also be great if he can play some left field — he missed over 100 games in 2008 with injuries to both hamstrings. That’s a major issue for a guy who plays at only one speed — full — and will be 33 years old by spring training. Especially considering that his ability to run is a major part of his game, both offensively and defensively. Yes, he’ll hit for occasional power, but at this stage of his career I don’t see him being more than a 15-20 homer guy. If he doesn’t have his foot speed, he won’t have the added benefits of 30-40 stolen bases, singles turned into doubles, and robbing the opposite team of hits to the outfield. In other words, he might evolve into a righthanded, egocentric Shawn Green — which wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, but it wouldn’t necessarily be an upgrade, either.

If Byrnes is no longer an everyday player, or has difficulty staying healthy, then the Mets are placed into a similar quandary they had with Moises Alou the past two years. Except this time, they should have Nick Evans, Daniel Murphy, etc., as a backup plan. I like the idea of bringing in Byrnes as part of a platoon / as a fourth outfielder. Counting on him to be the starting leftfielder, playing in 140 games, and expecting a season like he had in 2006 or 2007, however, is irresponsible.

Naturally, there are many fans who believe any deal that rids the team of Luis Castillo is a good one. To me, getting back Byrnes is a great plan, assuming the Mets will also be the top bidder for, ironically, Orlando Hudson. Unlike most, I’m not convinced Daniel Murphy is the answer at second base. From what I’ve seen of him, he doesn’t have the feet nor the quickness to play the position well. But more on that in a future post. I suppose the ideal situation is to trade Castillo for Byrnes, have Murphy platoon with Byrnes in left field, and sign Orlando Hudson (or another second baseman … Mark Ellis? David Eckstein? Rafael Furcal?).

Or perhaps the Mets are better off finding someone else to play left field, or looking to Fernando Tatis, Nick Evans, and Murphy to man the position again. Maybe they’re already committed to forcing Murphy into becoming a second baseman, and it will make sense to keep Castillo around as a backup plan.


Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. isuzudude October 2, 2008 at 6:15 am
    As I stated on another post, I love this proposal, and am partial to any deal that rids us of Castillo. If the D’backs are willing to swap Castillo-for-Byrnes straight-up (which is an assumption in and of itself), the options for the Mets become limitless. The hard part is figuring out what to do with Delgado, which is a decision that willl need to be made before any other offseason transaction. If you pick up Delgado’s option and trade for Byrnes, it leaves Murphy’s only posible starting position in 2009 as 2B, which is still a questionable decision. But, if the Mets let Delgado walk (at least initially), they can trade for Byrnes and let Murphy play 1B, thus also opening the door wider to sign Orlando Hudson. However, if the D’backs balk or Hudson opts to sign elsewhere, you can likely go back to Delgado (if his feelings aren’t too hurt) and sign him at the $8-to-$12 million he’s owed for 2009, and add an option for 2010 to appease his ego.

    Playing GM only gets us so far, and it’s usually frustrated and confused when Omar decides to do something completely different than what we want. But the bottom line, to me, is that Byrnes is the type of player we’re looking for: a hard-nosed, get your uniform dirty, give max effort on every play, team first, good attitude guy. And it just so happens A) we need a right hand bat, B) we need a LF, and C) the D’backs will be in the market for a 2B this offseason. It seems as though the stars have aligned just right for this deal to go down…let’s just hope Omar is reading the same astrology page.

  2. debmc October 2, 2008 at 8:14 am
    I like Byrnes, always have. I think he’s a gamer, a nice bat, and a fun guy who would do very well in New York.

    However, since it does appear that the Mets will pick up Delgado’s option for next year, I’m not sure how the personality mix works. But I would not let that stop me, since Byrnes is a player for now and the future, and Delgado is not the future.

    Besides, maybe a couple of fireworks in the clubhouse is EXACTLY what this team needs.

    And the bonus is, of course, ridding ourselves of the ball and chain that is Luis Castillo’s contract! 🙂

  3. Schmidtxc October 2, 2008 at 9:34 am
    I’d love the deal, besides getting rid of luis we would actually get a useful part in return. I don’t know if the diamondbacks will actually do that deal however. I think that even though the salaries are a wash, byrnes performance, hustle, and personality make him a much better player to have for either team, and I get the feeling we would have to add another player to the deal to get him. The dbacks have quite a few free agents in their bullpen, I’d be interested to see who they might want from that mix. Up until last night I kind of thought burgos might be a fit there. The availability of byrnes also depends quite a bit on what happens with adam dunn. There is still a good chance they need to use connor jackson at 1st next year. I just don’t think castillo alone would get us eric byrnes…if it did I’d be a big fan of the deal, I’m just a skeptic.

    As for murphy, I’d like to see how he does at 2nd in arizona this fall to see how he does. From what I saw of he at third in the several times I’ve seen him, he looked much more fluid there than he ever did in the outfield. The reports coming out of binghamton were that he looked pretty good at 2nd. If we pick up delgado and byrnes, and he’s not ready or fit for 2nd, I’d have no problem with him starting the season at buffalo and getting reps at 1st and 2nd to get a little more comfortable there. He’d be a nice backup plan if delgado starts poorly, and we only have carlos for one more year anyway. I really like the thought that guys like a. reyes, evans, murphy, niese, parnell, and kunz may start the season stashed in buffalo to be called up as depth.

  4. joe October 2, 2008 at 9:50 am
    I’m with you on the last sentence … all of those players are ideal AAA depth for ’09. However many fans probably think they should all be on the 25-man roster come April.
  5. Andrew Vazzano October 2, 2008 at 10:48 am
    I absolutely despise Byrnes as a person, but I would personally drive to Arizona to pick him up and bring him to New York.

    Castillo is, if he hasn’t already, going to get run out of town by Mets fans. I’ve never seen one player the focus of so much hatred. I bet you couldn’t find a Mets fan who thoroughly likes Castillo.

    If they can get anything, anything at all for him, it would be considered a huge success.

  6. joe October 2, 2008 at 11:03 am
    um … I actually like Castillo quite a bit, and have faith he can turn it around and be a decent contributor. Not the near All-Star he was four years ago, but a solid second baseman / #2 hitter.

    But, I know that the fan base has no tolerance for that opinion ….

    I’d say, though, that Kaz Matsui had built a similar legion of hatred … another guy I liked, though only after he was moved to 2B.

  7. Schmidtxc October 2, 2008 at 11:38 am
    I’d love to get eric byrnes for castillo, but I’d be curious to see what you guys thought of trading castillo for andruw jones. I’m sure la would jump all over that, as their commitment for next year would go from 15 mill for jones to 6 mill for luis. This might give them room to go after cc and manny. For us, it reduces the commitment to one year, and ultimately cost 3 million less. I doubt that jones will be much more than a fourth outfielder, but personally I’d rather have one year of him than 3 of luis. Just tossing that out there to think about.
  8. joe October 2, 2008 at 11:44 am
    I’d do Castillo for Jones in a heartbeat.

    Jones may have been awful this past year, but he is one of the few players in MLB who have the potential to put a team on his back and carry them.

    Intriguing call, Schmidt!

  9. isuzudude October 2, 2008 at 12:12 pm
    Wait a minute. Isn’t Andruw the same guy who lolligags in the outfield, spectates on flyballs off his bat, and has a self-centered ego? Isn’t this the type of attitude we should be avoiding? Andruw’s also just as injury prone as Castillo and has three times the girth. I hate to say it, but I think I’d rather Castillo. I know Andruw only has 1-year left, but this is not the type of personnel we need being introduced to Reyes. Props to Schmidt for trying to be creative, but I’d beg Omar to pass.
  10. joe October 2, 2008 at 1:21 pm
    I don’t think Jones is as bad as all that. He had some attitude issues early in his career, and tended to hot dog a bit, but I don’t believe he’s a cancer. He has an easygoing personality, for sure, but so does Carlos Delgado. The big difference is that Jones has been to the postseason ten times — he knows what winning is about.

    Someone I know whose opinion I respect greatly and worked directly with Andruw this year said that he has an excellent work ethic, and is a model teammate. In fact, he had a positive effect on some of the Dodgers’ younger players.

    As for his health, this year was the first he ever was on the DL, and he probably came back too soon from knee surgery — not surprising, as he’s played through injuries and pain many times before.

    I will agree that if he doesn’t keep his weight down, the knee will never get better. But an outfielder with 35+ homerun power can get along with a bad knee much more easily than a second baseman who has no power and whose value relies almost exclusively on his speed and mobility.

  11. sincekindergarten October 2, 2008 at 11:34 pm
    I’d be all for trading Castillo for Byrnes. Orlando Hudson is probably going to walk, and the D’Backs would have a need at 2B. Byrnes’ attitude is what’s needed here. Andruw Jones’ attitude, at least the one we see, is not. Perception matters. How would Jones’ presence affect, say, Reyes? Joe, your friend may have noted that Jones had a positive effect–but would that hold true for young Jose?

    I should probably go back to bed now . . .

  12. joe October 3, 2008 at 1:41 am
    Well, my friend said Jones had a positive effect on Ethier and Kemp, for example. I don’t know what more you need to hear — I have firsthand knowledge that Jones busts his ass in trying to improve himself and preparing to play. I haven’t witnessed any of the non-hustling that isuzudude claims in at least the last five years. He makes things look easy, yes, and hotdogs a bit, yes, but I’d never accuse him of lack of effort. His coy smile drives me nuts, and makes him appear to be less than intense, but the truth is, he’s far from being a bad personality for a team — in fact, quite the opposite.

    But who cares … there’s little chance of the Mets trading for a guy who hit .158 and is due to make $15M next year.