Why the Mets Want to Trade Luis Castillo

castilloThere is an excellent column written by Ben Shpigel in The New York Times explaining why the Mets want to trade Luis Castillo.

Shpigel lists a number of statistics supporting the desire to move Castillo, but it’s doubtful anyone in the Mets front office would understand the ones cited, much less use them in decision-making. So we’ll focus on the real reasons Omar Minaya and co. are hell-bent on trading the second baseman.

From Shpigel’s article:

For one thing, the Mets are trying to further change the clubhouse culture. This is not to say that Castillo was aloof or divisive, or that he was a bad influence. He played hard and got along well with teammates, who respected his determination and commitment to bouncing back from a terrible 2008. In fact, players were particularly impressed with his professionalism after he muffed that ninth-inning pop-up at Yankee Stadium …

But the Mets recognize a need for an energy boost, both on the field and in the clubhouse. That is why someone like Orlando Hudson is so appealing to them. In trying to find the right mix of players, the Mets are not going to deal David Wright or Jose Reyes or Carlos Beltran. Perhaps they could improve in right field, but the Mets so value Jeff Francoeur’s personality and “great burst of energy” – to steal a quote from Wright – that they are happy to bring him back. Castillo is not the only major leaguer the Mets could move, but he is the one who may make the most sense.

If you read this blog regularly you know I’m of the old school, and do place value on intangibles such as attitude, approach, and leadership. But in this case, I’m not understanding how replacing Luis Castillo with Orlando Hudson is going to make that much of a difference in the clubhouse, much less the team’s won-loss record.

Yes I like the fact that the Mets are looking to change up the attitude and the personalities on the team — it’s already at least two years overdue. But the clubhouse culture starts at the top, with the manager — and last I checked, the hands-off, teflon-coated, ineffectual Jerry Manuel remains at the helm. Whatever Hudson adds to the team’s personality will be negated by the overall attitude of nonchalance and responsibility shirking that Manuel fosters. The fascinating thing about this is that it would have been a lot easier — and cheaper — to replace Manuel with a stronger personality than to jump through the hoops necessary to trade Castillo and sign Hudson.

Further, while I agree the Mets need more players with Hudson’s makeup on the roster, they first need to find pitching — lots of pitching. They need at least two starters (probably 3), a setup man, a second LOOGY, and probably another middle reliever if they want to sniff the playoffs in 2010. All the attitude, leadership, energy, and grittiness on the field ain’t worth a hill of beans without standout pitching — particularly when your home park is cavernous Citi Field.

Replacing Castillo with Hudson might be a step in the right direction, but you’d think the Mets would have much more pressing concerns at the start of the offseason.

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.