Castillo Stays – Now What?
A bevy of sources are reporting that the Associated Press is reporting that Luis Castillo has signed a 4-year, $25M deal with the Mets.
Funny, isn’t it, what a Yorvit Torrealba deal gone bad can do to a media outlet? Now instead of being “first to the scoop” when it comes to Mets news, everyone is “reporting” what someone else is reporting. Or something like that.
For the moment, we will temporarily accept this turn of events as factual, for the purpose of filling our afternoon with useless blogging.
Four years seems like a long commitment for a 32-year-old second baseman with a bad knee. And considering that he’s from the Dominican Republic, there’s at least some reason to believe he could be a few years older than 32. But we won’t go there.
The funny thing is, in 2003, the Mets likely would have balked at a 4-year deal for the then-27 year-old second baseman with a healthy set of knees. Now though, the Mets had to overpay — there really wasn’t much of a choice. It was either 4/25 for Castillo or 4/25 for David Eckstein, and which would YOU prefer?
Luis Castillo proved he could handle playing in New York, and that counts for something. He proved that he still has a great glove and can turn a double play with the best of them, even if his range is now severely limited. And he proved he could still put the bat on the ball, as well as take a walk, and made an ideal #2 hitter — those are not so easy to find. And even with a bad wheel, he proved he could still steal a base. And he played hard and focused. Further, there is some hope that he’ll regain some of his Gold Glove range and his basestealing speed after knee surgery. Compare all that to Eckstein, who has always played in small markets, has never had the speed of Castillo, never takes a walk, hit .300 for the first time in his career last year (Castillo has done it 7 times), would have to change his position (with no guarantee he’d turn a DP well from the second base side), and has had two consecutive injury-marred seasons.
The Eckstein consideration, in fact, looks worse and worse the more you examine it. He’s been a leadoff hitter the last few years, despite an average OBP and little speed. With Albert Pujols hitting third, you’d think a leadoff batter would score 100+ runs on an annual basis, yet Eckstein hasn’t done that since 2002 with the Angels. Because he doesn’t walk very often — strange, you’d think that he did — his OBP is directly reliant on his batting average, which makes him, effectively, a shorter and quicker version of Paul LoDuca. The idea that he would easily transition to second base was taken all too easily — the double play turn is completely different, as are the throws. Yes, he can probably do it, and probably will be required to make the move eventually, but there’s no guarantee he’ll be a defensive whiz at the position. Jose Reyes didn’t look so great on the right side back in ’04, did he? And Reyes is much more athletically gifted than Eckstein.
Considering the alternative options, the Luis Castillo signing looks good. Three years would have been more comfortable but hey, sometimes you have to overpay. Now that second base and the #2 spot in the order is settled, Omar Minaya can get back to the plan of finding a catcher and a few pitchers.