You hate Luis Castillo – I get it.
We all thought that Omar Minaya was out of his mind for bidding against himself and giving Castillo a 4-year, $25M contract. We all knew it was a bad decision before the 2008 season even started, and we continue to suffer through the frustration that Castillo will be paid by the Mets through the end of 2011 – assuming Sandy Alderson can’t find a similarly bad contract to swap with this winter.
Although Castillo had a pretty decent year in 2009 (.302 AVG, .387 OBP, 20 SB), he was nowhere near the level of “acceptable” in 2010. Dogged by injuries from the outset, Castillo finished with a career-low .235 batting average and .337 OBP. Further, his defense took another step backward.
A completely healthy Castillo – meaning, his legs are 100% — is not a terrible solution at second base. However, if Castillo doesn’t have his legs, he doesn’t have anything, and IS a terrible solution at second base. Castillo’s game is to slap or walk his way on base, then run around them toward home plate. Similarly, his legs are key to his defensive prowess, in regard to both his range and his ability to turn a double play. Without healthy legs, Castillo has nothing else to offer a Major League Baseball team. Which is a shame, because as much as you may hate him, he’s really not a bad guy, is a team player, a smart ballplayer, and a hustler. But at this point in his career, it’s hard to justify his having a job – much less paying him $6M.
Despite the fact that Moneyball glorifies OBP, and that is Castillo’s traditional strength, there is no doubt that Sandy Alderson will try to either swap Castillo for another bad contract or release him outright. Either way, it probably doesn’t make a difference since the Mets are going nowhere in 2011. If by chance he can get his legs back, and the Mets manager can play him sporadically enough to stay fresh, he could play well enough in the first three months of the season to delude a playoff-contending team into giving away a prospect for his services come July. It’s not much of a risk from the Mets’ perspective, considering that 2011 is a rebuilding year and neither Ruben Tejada nor Reese Havens belong in MLB yet.
Read the 2009 Analysis of Luis Castillo