Why Luis Castillo was Released

There are several reasons Luis Castillo was released by the Mets:

1. His skills have diminished with age
2. Because of his advance age and diminished skills, he does not factor into the team’s long-term plans
3. His presence prevents younger players with upside from developing at the position
4. He is not a fan favorite; i.e., keeping him on the team will not necessarily “put fannies in the seats”

There are also many reasons why Luis Castillo was not a favorite of Mets fans:

1. That dropped popup against the Yankees
2. His performance did not seem to substantiate his high salary
3. His propensity for hitting into double plays frustrated fans
4. His tendency to strike out looking with runners in scoring position frustrated fans
5. Chicks dig the long ball, and Luis doesn’t hit the long ball

Surely there are reasons I missed on both lists. Just as surely, not one of the reasons was related to race, as Andy Martino suggested in a recent newspaper column.

I’m not sure what is more telling about that article — that Martino is an extreme leftist with a warped view of reality, or that the New York Daily News is so desperate to sell papers and attract online eyeballs that the editors are encouraged to publish such unsubstantiated trash. We know the Daily News is not a bastion of editorial integrity, and has always relied on shocking headlines to sell papers, but suggesting that the release of Luis Castillo was racially motivated is a desperate and irresponsible stretch.

If it’s true — as Martino suggests — that the Mets released Castillo because they felt that the fan base has a racial bias against Dominican infielders, or Latin-American players in general, then why do so many Reyes jerseys get sold? Similarly, why at any Mets game do we see so many jerseys and t-shirts emblazoned with the names “Santana” and “Beltran”? And why, if the fanbase is racist, did the Mets bring in Ronny Paulino, Pedro Beato, Manny Acosta, Luis Hernandez, and other Latin Americans to compete for spots in camp? Why are they continuing to give Oliver Perez every chance to make the team?

Are there people among the Mets fan base who have a “problem” with players who come from backgrounds different from themselves? Of course. Are the number of racists among the fan base so significant that it would motivate the Mets to release a player to sell more tickets? Please.

Here is the extent of Martino’s “evidence” that Mets fans don’t like Luis Castillo because of his race:

In a sampling of recent Twitter posts, he is described as “lazy” and “hated.”

The shocking truth, eh? If Twitter was around when Kevin McReynolds played, I bet he’d be similarly described in tweets. Would that mean fans hated him because he was white and Irish?

Martino is getting grilled for the story in many outlets, both in mainstream media and in the blogosphere. Imagine if a blogger wrote a post that suggested the Mets released Castillo because of his race … what would be the backlash from “professional” journalists? No doubt the “pros” would rip bloggers and dismiss blogging in general as unreliable, amateurish, and unworthy of being read. Thankfully, it wasn’t a blogger who pulled the race card — otherwise it may have set the blogosphere back by five years. I’d like to hear Buzz Bissinger’s take on Martino’s column.

What do you think? Do Mets fans hate Luis Castillo because of his ethnicity?

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. Steve S. March 19, 2011 at 11:25 am
    Thank you, Joe, for your many excellent points made about Castillo and Martino’s article!

    Castillo, last year, had power numbers that were worse than Tejada’s and hasn’t fielded well since he was a Marlin.

    • Joe Janish March 19, 2011 at 11:32 am
      Thanks Steve. I haven’t seen professional journalism that off-base and irresponsible in a long time. I guess Martino is trying to make a name for himself.
      • Mike March 19, 2011 at 12:52 pm
        This a response to this article, and your comments to me in a previous post.

        Yes this is probably the most extreme example of crummy “journalism” and anti-Mets agendas, but can anyone even for one second think that the same piece would be written about any other team? Honestly at this point anything written about the Mets is just to try and sell papers or get hits, not legit journalism or an attempt at fostering decent conversations. 90% is self inflicted, but I just can’t take this sort of coverage anymore. There is no redeeming qualities to constantly judging, slandering, and spinning every detail of the team. Sandy has the hardest job in sports.

        • Joe Janish March 19, 2011 at 1:22 pm
          Agreed, Mike. There are too many people writing and competing for eyeballs. Additionally, too many people reacting to the shocking headlines.
  2. GD March 19, 2011 at 11:45 am
    I defended Luis for years, then his lethargic attitude got to me. Why do we need a light hitting 2nd basemen who plays no other position, and needs 2 days off after every game he plays ‘cus his feet hurt? Maybe mets fans are feetists, but last time I checked, latins were pretty accepted in NY…
  3. NormE March 19, 2011 at 11:46 am
    Joe,
    The NY Post is journalistic trash—but doesn’t Martino write
    for the Daily News? Yes, another paragon of journalism.
    The best reporting on the Mets is done by the blogs, and
    (when they have space) the WSJ and the NYT.
    • mrtasan March 19, 2011 at 12:30 pm
      …think about what you’re saying though…why would people want to write about the mets in the last few years? blogs only seem sensible because of die hard mets fans. media is still business.
    • mrtasan March 19, 2011 at 12:33 pm
      #4 should really be #1 for his release. #1-3 were valid the last 2 or 3 years of his contract. He didn’t have a horrific spring.
    • Joe Janish March 19, 2011 at 12:48 pm
      Woops … Norm, thanks for pointing out the Post / News error. If I had an editor, he/she would be FIRED!

      Funny, though, that I got those two rags confused. They’re not that similar, are they? Ha!

      I guess I have a racial bias against tabloid-shaped newspapers … shame on me for generalizing.

  4. gary s. March 19, 2011 at 12:57 pm
    Joe, i have to admit that i am biased.I CANT STAND BALLPLAYERS TAKING UP ROSTER SPOTS WHO CAN’T HIT OR FIELD.There, i said it and now i feel better.
    • mrtasan March 19, 2011 at 1:00 pm
      don’t forget players who can’t pitch
  5. JoeBourgeois March 19, 2011 at 2:04 pm
    Nope, fans don’t hate Castillo because of his ethnicity.

    They hate him because of his involvement in the JFK assassination:

    http://www.trutv.com/conspiracy/assassinations/jfk-trail/luis-castillo.html

    • Joe Janish March 19, 2011 at 2:19 pm
      Brilliant!

      Thanks for sharing

  6. Mike S. March 19, 2011 at 2:26 pm
    Joe — Great points in this piece. I would take issue with only one.

    I am a liberal who you might consider quite far left politically. My political inclinations don’t cause me to believe that Castillo was the victim of anti-Latin bias on the part of the vast majority of fans, and I don’t believe that Martino really believes it, either.

    I think he saw an opportunity to generate a lot of buzz and attention by writing something that was sure to generate strong reaction on the part of fans. Even the negative attention works — Wally Matthews has made a career out of it.

    We’re all talking about Martino and his article today, and I believe that’s exactly what he wanted. I’m sure he can care less about Luis Castillo as a person or the way Latin players are perceived by white fans.

    I honestly don’t know why the Mets didn’t cut both Perez and Castillo before camp. There is so much negativity surrounding both players and no real sound baseball reasons to keep them. The Mets won’t compete in 2011 and neither had any chance of being here beyond that.

    • Joe Janish March 19, 2011 at 2:55 pm
      Thank you for the feedback, Mike.

      You’re probably right — Martino’s article was likely fueled by needing to be noticed. Matthews is a good example; Mike Lupica might be another. All PR is good PR, or something like that.

      Just because you are a liberal doesn’t mean you have to believe that the move was racially motivated. Similarly, I tend to go toward the right, but that doesn’t mean I think like Sean Hannity or support everything Rush Limbaugh says.

      What if I wrote an article stating the Mets should cut a player because he is homosexual? (I wouldn’t, by the way.) Would you surmise that I was a conservative thinker? And would you expect all conservatives to think similarly?

      After reading that article, I would be very surprised to find out that Martino tends toward conservative values — his accusations are simply not something that would occur to someone leaning toward the right. If he came up with that nonsense without already having some kind of personal agenda or overly sensitive, liberal viewpoint, then he’s more creative than people realize and it is stunning that he’s toiling as a mere beat writer for a tabloid publication — he should be writing novels and movie scripts.

  7. Mike S. March 19, 2011 at 3:39 pm
    I don’t think opportunism or stupidity have any particular political bent.

    I don’t really care which way you lean politically. I read you because I enjoy your thoughts on the Mets. I don’t care for Martino’s coverage of the Mets that much, and wouldn’t even if he agreed with everything I believe politcally,

    • Joe Janish March 19, 2011 at 4:54 pm
      Aren’t politics, stupidity, and opportunism, synonyms?

      🙂

      BTW, nice to see you’re writing again!!!!

      Folks, please check out http://mikesmets.com/ … one of my all-time favorite Mets bloggers is back!

  8. Bob Sikes March 19, 2011 at 4:09 pm
    Any media account regarding Castillo always included the dropped pop-up against the Yankees and it created a Bill Buckner-like perecption. If it had happened against any other team it wouldn’t still be a Sports Center highlight. Castillo was a professional and a stand up guy who became a symbol of Mets mediocrity. He’s acquisition at the time was an understandable move, but the decision to sign him long term was not. Omar Minaya’s judgement – on a number of levels – proved to be faulty. Coupled with the Wilpon’s colleagueal management style, conditions were ideal for dysfunction.
    • Joe Janish March 19, 2011 at 4:52 pm
      Agreed, Bob. Luis was never embraced by fans nor media even before the popup, and though it was probably because he was grossly overpaid, I agree he was a professional and a standup guy. Too bad; it seemed from this angle that for most of his time in NYC, Castillo did the best he could do, and what more can you ask from a person or a player? It’s not necessarily his fault that his best was nowhere near congruent with his paycheck.
  9. Joe March 19, 2011 at 6:35 pm
    Good points.

    The article cited was moronic but overall the columnist is okay and the sports coverage of the paper is generally sane. Given that, it was disappointing that they ran with it though they probably gave the guy some discretion and maybe figured that sort of thing would excite readership. See also, all the attention given to the guy overall along with Perez as if nothing else is happening.

    [For instance, there are two new starters. You hear very little about them. Instead, we get tons of stuff on Perez and Castillo, both who by now are unpleasant subjects that I want to hear LESS about.]

  10. Rob March 19, 2011 at 6:40 pm
    Great post, Joe. Totally agree with your assessment on Martino. When I read that article, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

    One issue with your reasons to dislike Castillo. It wasn’t his fault that he was overpaid. He negotiated the best deal that the market would bear and the Mets were willing to pay him despite his advancing years. That’s not his fault…it’s the Mets’. So that shouldn’t be among any reason to dislike Castillo. Your animosity is amply supported by his declining skills.

    Nuff said.

    Thanks and keep up the great work!

    Rob

    • Joe Janish March 19, 2011 at 10:55 pm
      Rob, I agree it is not Luis Castillo’s fault that Omar Minaya overpaid him with an insane 4-year contract. However, the reason many fans dislike Castillo has nothing to do with my or your perspective of the deal — bottom line is that there are people who see his paycheck, compare it to his performance, and feel angry.

      Personally, though I think Castillo’s contract was way over his market value, I personally harbor no hatred for him. If anything, I supported Castillo and feel that he’s been given a raw deal by the general Mets audience — fans and media included.