Tag: luis castillo

Mets Trade for Anderson Hernandez

anderson-hernandez_thecatchTwo weeks short of the anniversary of the trade of Anderson Hernandez for Luis Ayala, the Mets have reacquired the slick-fielding middle infielder from the Washington Nationals.

Almost immediately upon arriving in Washington last year, AHern swatted the baseball like he never did before, batting .333 with a .409 OBP in 28 games and 91 plate appearances, walking 10 times and striking out only 8. That offensive outburst was enough to make us wonder if the Mets made a mistake in giving up on the previously light-hitting Hernandez — who perennially leads the Caribbean winter league in batting but flops upon returning to the States.

However, Hernandez went right back to his expected offensive output this year — .251 AVG, .310 OBP, 41 Ks in 255 times to the plate. So we can presume that 28-game hot streak was an aberration.

So it’s interesting that the Mets would bring him back to Flushing, considering he is redundant to Wilson Valdez and Argenis Reyes — both of whom remain in Buffalo. Though, personally, I always enjoyed watching AHern and given the choice of all three, would take him over Reyes and Valdez.

In return for AHern, the Mets sent A-ball infielder Greg Veloz to the Nats. Veloz is sort of a 21-year-old version of Hernandez (or Argenis Reyes) — a switch-hitting middle-infielder with above-average speed. He doesn’t have the fielding prowess of AHern nor Argenis, and in fact there was a time that the Mets felt he’d hit enough to move to 3B (he was their #16 prospect in 2008 according to Baseball America). However, he hit a disappointing 6 HRs in a little less than 600 plate appearances last season, and is hitting only .232 with 2 HR through 91 games thus far this year.

For a moment, I questioned why the rebuilding Nationals would trade away a still-young, Gold-Glove caliber second baseman but I guess they don’t see AHern hitting enough to ever be a regular. And, they have acquired a youngster who is quickly becoming a non-prospect but still has time to rebound. It’s not like the Nats are going anywhere in 2010 nor 2011, so they have time to wait.

With the arrival of AHern, I’m guessing that Luis Castillo’s “mild ankle strain” is worse than originally indicated.

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Castillo Out, Reyes Out Longer

In case you missed it, Luis Castillo slipped going down the dugout steps and injured his ankle. The Mets are terming it a “mild strain”, and not surprisingly, are listing him as “day to day”.

No, this is not a joke. Castillo really did hurt himself in the dugout, off the field of play. Which begs the question: in this brand new stadium, why are the dugout steps and floor not covered with some kind of porous padding, such as you might find on a running track? I could be completely mistaken, but it looks like the dugouts and steps at Citi Field are bare concrete — which makes cleanup easy but is not the safest platform for metal spikes. Again, I could be wrong — I haven’t been inside the dugouts and am only trusting what I’ve seen on TV and views from the stands. For all I know there is a rubber covering on top of the concrete, or maybe they put down some kind of runner or mat.

But back to Castillo’s injury. With him out, but not on the DL, means Angel Berroa will be getting more playing time, and/or we’ll be seeing Fernando Tatis at 2B. Tatis’ hustle, professionalism, and occasional homerun power are wonderful additions to the lineup temporarily, but if he starts then your top RH bat off the bench is Berroa. Twelve of one and a dozen of the other.

Luckily, this situation is only “day to day” (ha!), which reminds us of another middle infielder whose injury status was once described similarly — Jose Reyes (silly me, I thought he’d be out for the season!). The latest on Reyes is that he’s had a setback, he feels “discomfort” in his leg, and has flown up from Port St. Lucie to be re-examined by the team’s doctors. If nothing else, Jose is racking up the frequent-flyer miles with all these trips back and forth between Florida and NYC.

After Reyes is seen by the Mets’ doctors, one has to wonder — is it time for a second opinion? Further, is it time to forget about this season, shut him down, and make sure he’ll be ready for 2010 and beyond? Surely, the similarly ill-advised returns of Carlos Delgado and Carlos Beltran will be enough to sell tickets in September — so let’s put the brakes on Reyes and make sure there will be reason to buy tickets next year.

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Castillo In the Two Hole

manuel-ghandi-smBespoketh Jerry Manuel during last night’s postgame, in regard to Luis Castillo:

“The thing about Luis, we have found a way to fit his game in to what we’re doing and we’ve kind of worked around him as well. He’s been very good, a lot of energy, a lot of enthusiasm, he’s playing tremendous baseball… When he’s batting eighth, he’s not the same as when he’s batting second. When he’s batting second, he’s in his game-mode of taking pitches, seeing pitches, moving runners, running the bases well.”

I’ll tell ya, that Manuel sure knows how to get the most of his talent. I don’t know how many other managers would’ve figured out that the second spot in the order is an ideal spot for Luis Castillo — and to come to such a conclusion in less than 100 games.

By the way, what exactly is Manuel referring to when he says, “we have found a way to fit his game in to what we’re doing” ? That statement insinuates that the Mets have a plan of some sort — a method. Who knew?

The Mets should consider another contract extension … no make that, extensions … for both Manuel and Castillo. Lock these guys up until 2020, before someone else snaps them up.

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Mets Fire Sale

firesaleIt was only a week ago that Omar Minaya claimed the Mets to be “buyers” rather than “sellers” but that was as much hogwash then as it is now. The Mets have 11 more losses than the NL East-leading Phillies and are 7 1/2 games out of the Wild Card with 65 games to play. Mathmetically, yes, they have a chance to reach the postseason. Realistically, though, it’s not likely.

With four days before the trading deadline, it’s time to see where the Mets can cut their losses and bring in some talent for 2010. Unfortunately, the list of trade bait is pretty short.

Pedro Feliciano

“Pedro Lite” is one of the most sought-after lefthanded relievers right now, in a mix with Joe Beimel, George Sherrill, and John Grabow. But how much will a pennant-starved team give up for a LOOGY? Would it be more than an A-ball suspect or AA filler material? The Mets may be better off holding on to Feliciano, who is showing no signs of slowing down.

Sean Green

Teams need pitching, and are willing to part with talent in return for quality arms. The question is, do other teams consider Green a quality arm? His stock has fallen due to a terrible first half and the fact that his performace drops considerably with overuse. The White Sox recently gave up a slugging first base prospect to pry Tony Pena from the Diamondbacks, and Pena was in the midst of a similarly down season. But, Pena is 27 and has a better track record. Can the Mets obtain a decent player for the 30-year-old Green? It’s worth trying.

Luis Castillo

After a horrible 2008, Castillo is in line for Comeback Player of the Year, and currently sizzling at the plate. There are a few pennant-contending clubs who might be in the market for a second baseman, most notably the White Sox, Twins, and Cubs. The Rockies and Giants might also have room for Castillo’s .400 OBP. However, there is the issue of Castillo’s unbearable contract, which still has two years and $12M remaining after this season. The Mets would certainly have to eat all or most of that money to get anything of value in return — much like the Red Sox’ dumping of Julio Lugo for Chris Duncan.

If the Mets are willing to continue paying Castillo, they might be able to get a prospect or two. For example, the Giants have a switch-hitting second baseman in AA named Brock Bond who is an on-base machine like Castillo, but is already 24 and has no power and only average speed — though, Mets fans would get excited over his currently .350 batting average (he’s projected to be a Jeff Keppinger / Brendan Ryan utility type of guy). The White Sox have some intriguing pitchers at AA and a big young catcher named Tyler Flowers, who was caught with PEDs in 2007 but has done well without them — whether they’d give him up for Castillo, though, is another story. Most likely, the Mets can get a mix of A and AA borderline prospects — similar to what they gave up to get him back in 2007.

Livan Hernandez

In two weeks, Livan went from nearly getting booted from the rotation to emerging as their second-best starter. Everyone always needs pitching, but would anyone give up anything of value for Hernandez — particularly since he projects as a #5 on any contending club?

Angel Pagan

I know, I know — he’s one of the few exciting and dependable players the Mets have in the lineup right now. But he’s also most likely playing the best baseball he’ll ever play in his life — so it may be a good time to “sell high” (i.e., like when the Mets traded Tsuyoshi Shinjo and Desi Relaford). With Carlos Beltran presumably coming back for 2010 and 2011, Pagan’s value to the Mets is diminished. The Tigers and White Sox could be trolling for an outfielder with Pagan’s skillset, and if he can bring back something of value, it’s worth exploring. On the other hand, if you believe Beltran’s knee woes are only beginning, then it makes sense to hold on tight to Pagan, and pencil him into centerfield for next season — because there are no centerfield prospects in the Mets’ minor league system ready to step in.

Brian Schneider

I’m not seeing it. Schneider is a fairly solid defensive catcher with occasional pop, but what is a contending team going to give up for two-month rental who can’t beat out Omir Santos for a starting job? The Mets would get MAYBE an A-ball suspect, and then we’d have Robinson Cancel back in Flushing.

Gary Sheffield

He can’t go anywhere as long as he’s on the DL. If he passes through waivers in August, maybe the Mets can get a AAA guy who was once a prospect but now a suspect.

Conclusion

I keep looking at the Mets’ roster and seeing nothing of value to other teams — a frightening parallel to their minor league system. Veterans not mentioned, such as Fernando Tatis, Tim Redding, Alex Cora, Cory Sullivan, Brian Stokes, and Jeremy Reed are all key contributors on this fourth-place team, but to a contending club they are basically worthless — other organizations have similar talent stocked at AAA, so why trade for it?

More disconcerting, even if the Mets are able to pull off a few trades, will they get anything worthwhile in return?

Consider this: the last time the Mets held a fire sale was July 2003, when they unloaded Jeromy Burnitz, Roberto Alomar, Rey Sanchez, Graeme Lloyd, and Armando Benitez — you can argue that those players were as or more more valuable then, than what the Mets have to offer now. The total return on those trades? Jeremy Hill, Jason Anderson, Kenny Kelly, Royce Ring, Victor Diaz, Kole Strayhorn, Joselo Diaz, Edwin Almonte, Andrew Salvo, Anderson Garcia and Ryan Bicondoa. Victor Diaz and Ring made minor contributions, and the rest never made it to Flushing.

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Who Is Jeremy Reed and Other Mysteries

jeremy-reed-nohatQuick quiz: who is the man in the picture to the left?

I’ll give you a few hints:

1. He was part of the trade with Seattle that brought J.J. Putz and Sean Green to New York.

2. He led the team in batting average during spring training.

3. He’s currently .313 and has played excellent defense in the outfield.

4. For about a 48-hour period, he was the team’s starting first baseman.

Give up?

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Mets Game 59: Loss to Yankees

Yankees 9 Mets 8

castillo-oopsJust pack it in, Mets fans.

The score went back and forth all night, and in the end it was a combination of poor fundamentals / bad baseball vs. all-out hustle that was the difference.

After going ahead 8-7 in the top of the eighth — against the immortal Mariano Rivera no less — the Mets appeared poised to take the game, with their perfect closer Francisco Rodriguez heading to the mound.

Indeed, K-Rod dispatched of Brett Gardner to get the initial out of the ninth, gave up a single to Derek Jeter, then struck out Johnny Damon for the second out of the inning. However, Jeter stole second on the strikeout, putting himself in scoring position and leaving first base open — giving Rodriguez the luxury of pitching around Mark Teixeira, which he did. That brought up Alex Rodriguez, who was ahead of the count 3-1 when he popped a routine fly ball to short right field. It appeared to be an easy out, but Luis Castillo stumbled a bit, lost sight of the ball, and the horsehide bounced off the side of his glove, falling safely on the outfield grass. Meantime, Mark Teixeira took nothing for granted, and was busting it full tilt on contact, and scored easily from first base on the dropped ball. Just like that, game over, Yanks win. Ouch.

Notes

What a shame … Luis Castillo seemed to have finally found his way back into the hearts of Mets fans with his slick glove work and much-improved offense. But all that has been erased thanks to one little popup. Honestly, he should be traded as soon as possible — not because he’s a bad ballplayer, but because the fans will never, ever forgive him for this one.

BTW, where was Ryan Church on that popup? He should have been nearby, maybe close enough to back up the play. Instead, he assumed — like the rest of us — that the game was over and thus he was jogging toward the dugout. Maybe, just maybe, had he continued charging in and been nearby when Castillo dropped the ball, he would’ve been in position to pick it up and keep Teixeira at third base. Then, who knows?

People wonder why I get on certain Mets for dogging it on occasion, and make such a big deal about hustling 100%, all the time. Well, Teixeira showed you why — because although 99% of the time it may not make a difference, at least 1% of the time it wins you a game (in truth, the percentage is much higher than that).

Yes, Castillo is clearly and obviously the most visible goat of this game. However, I had a major problem with intentionally walking Teixeira, who represented the winning run, particularly with Alex Rodriguez coming to bat. It’s just bad baseball to put the winning run on base. Let the guy beat you with a two-run homer — the odds are in your favor if you make him swing.

Speaking of other goats grazing in the pasture, new LOOGY Jon Switzer allowed a three-run homer to Hideki Matsui on the third pitch he threw as a Met to give up a two-run lead. Switzer threw six balls total — three were balls, three were hit into play. Next!

Home plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth made it tough on all hitters and all pitchers, for both sides, with his remarkably inconsistent strike zone. Pitches in particular spots that were called strikes one minute were called balls the next, and vice-versa.

Strange move by Joe Girardi to bring in Mo Rivera with two outs in the eighth inning of a tie game. Obviously he wanted the matchup of Rivera’s cutter against Beltran from the left side, but it backfired when Beltran walked, setting up David Wright to drive a double to put the Mets ahead. Talk about managing for your job.

Another strange move by Girardi was allowing Brett Gardner to lead off the bottom of the ninth, rather than replace him with veteran Johnny Damon — who came in two batters later as a pinch-hitter for Nick Swisher. Personally, I’d have preferred to have the two veterans — Swisher AND Damon — face K-Rod in that situation. Further, I’ll take Damon any day of the week, against any pitcher, to lead off an inning in a game where I absolutely need a baserunner. The guy has been and remains an on-base machine.

Early in the game, Joba Chamberlain seemed to be giving away the contest — and boring everyone to sleep — with his inability to throw strikes to the least-dangerous hitters in the Mets lineup. I don’t know what was going through that young man’s head, but he wasn’t focused on making his pitches. How in the world do you walk Alex Cora twice in consecutive innings without coming near the strike zone once — knowing full well that the two best hitters in the NL are looming on double-deck? If I were Jorge Posada, I might have choked Chamberlain.

All told, Yankees pitchers handed nine free passes to the Mets. From that standpoint, the Bronx Bombers had no business winning the game. But they did.

The Mets left nine runners on base, the Yankees left five.

Ryan Church had only one hit but drove in three runs and stole a base. Wright had two more hits and a walk, lifting his average to .364 and his OBP to .461.

You can’t keep saying, “well the Mets would’ve won if only … (fill in the blank: so-and-so didn’t make an error, did make a play, didn’t allow a hit, was called safe / out, etc. etc.)” Because here’s the bottom line: whereas winning teams seem to find ways to win night in and night out, losing teams seem to find ways to lose. Guess which side of the fence the Mets are on this year?

Next Mets Game

Somehow, some way, the Mets will suit up again on Saturday in the Bronx to face the Yanks. Fernando Nieve makes his first start as a Met against Andy Pettitte. First pitch is at 4:10 PM and will be broadcast on FOX. Could it get any worse?

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Mets Series Preview: Cardinals

st. louis cardinals baseball logoThe New York Mets visit St. Louis for the first time in 2009 to play the Cardinals in a three-game series.

Pitching Matchups:

Game 1: Oliver Perez vs. Todd Wellemeyer

Which Ollie will show — Dr. Perez or Mr. Hyde? Nobody knows. Wellemeyer is a prime example of why Dave Duncan cannot be paid enough to be an MLB pitching coach.

Game 2: John Maine vs. Joel Pineiro

Will John Maine ever get past the fifth inning? Pineiro, another scrap heap success story for Duncan’s resume, has a perfect 2-0 record but a 5.40 ERA and a 1.80 WHIP thus far. Last year, the Mets battered him for 21 hits, 2 homers, and 9 runs in 9 innings, so perhaps this can be the game in which they finally send some runners home.

Game 3: Livan Hernandez vs. Kyle Lohse

This is a day game, 1:40 PM start. Before the season, I predicted Livan would be the Mets’ third-best starter before it was all said and done. He’s currently #2, which is as much a credit to Hernandez as it is due to the erratic performances of the other Mets starters. Lohse is off to a hot start, with two wins and a 2.57 ERA. Lohse was 1-1 vs. the Mets last season.

Offensive Concerns

The Mets are hitting .236 with RISP, with David Wright going 2-for-13 by himself. Wright, however, is 5-for-7 lifetime against Wellemeyer, and could shake his slump in the opener. Luis Castillo is currently leading the Mets with a .389 AVG while Ryan Church leads the team with 6 doubles, a .477 OBP, and a 1.018 OPS.

The Cardinals still have Albert Pujols, and surround him with a fairly balanced attack of LH and RH hitters. Ryan Ludwick is so far showing that 2008 was not a fluke, leading the Cardinals in the three major offensive categories. He’s batting .405 with 5 HR and 15 RBI through 10 games. However, another player to watch is 3B fill-in Brian Barden, who has slugged 3 dingers and 19 total bases in 22 ABs and is hitting .409.

Conclusion

Hard to say which way this series will go. Much depends on the efforts of Perez and Maine, who have become the poster children for inconsistency.

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Mets Game 6: Loss to Marlins

Marlins 2 Mets 1

Johan Santana and Josh Johnson hooked up in a good old-fashioned pitcher’s duel, and at the end, Johnson was the one left standing.

In a remarkably quick, 2 hour, 4-minute game, Johnson emerged as the victor and owner of MLB’s first complete game, dispatching of the Mets hitters through the use of a 96-MPH fastball and a filthy slider.

Santana, meanwhile, was no slouch, striking out 13 hitters and allowing only three hits and one walk. Unfortunately, he also allowed two runs — both unearned — and that was the difference in the ballgame.

The Marlins’ two runs came with two outs in the bottom of the second, when Danny Murphy dropped a Cody Ross fly ball, allowing Jeremy Hermida to score. Ronny Paulino followed with another single to score Ross.

The Mets’ lone run came in the bottom of the ninth, with two outs, when Carlos Beltran singled up the middle to drive in Carlos Delgado, who had doubled. Delgado’s double came after what looked like a called third strike — which would’ve ended the game — but home plate umpire Bob Davidson called it a ball.

Game Notes

Marlins starter Josh Johnson did not allow a hit until Luis Castillo managed a broken-bat blooper in the sixth, and he threw a first-pitch strike to 19 consecutive hitters. His 101st pitch of the ballgame was clocked at 98 MPH. He was downright nasty all day.

It almost looked as if Johan made the decision to take it upon himself to retire the Fish on his own after Murphy’s error. After the error, Santana struck out 8 of the next 13 hitters he faced.

David Wright has collected a base hit in every game this year.

Ryan Church also has a hit in every game, as he hit yet another double. He now has 6 and is batting .478.

Kevin Burkhardt spoke about Ramon Castro’s offseason running program, which was a daily, intensive routine. Castro ran every single day and dropped a grand total of 15 pounds … I hope that means he gained some muscle weight, because he looks like the kind of guy who could shed more weight than that over four months of training. Burkhardt said he wasn’t sure why Castro decided to partake in such a regimen in this past particular offseason — apparently he’s never worked out hard in the winter months before. Here’s a hint, Kevin: contract year.

Cameron Maybin might strike out 200 times this year. He does look to have a world of talent, though. The Fish might strike out 1500 times as a team before it’s all said and done.

Not much to say about this game, other than the Mets ran into a very hot pitcher. Sometimes you just have to tip your cap, as they say.

Next Mets Game

The Mets play their first-ever regular season game at Citi Field against the San Diego Padres on Monday night at 7:10 PM. Mike Pelfrey takes the ball against 32-year-old Mexican League journeyman Walter Silva. Tom Seaver throws out the ceremonial first pitch to Mike Piazza. Apparently Sandy Koufax and Joe Pignatano were unavailable.

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