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The Return of Luis Castillo...

Mike SteffanosSaturday, August 23, 2008
By Mike Steffanos

... won't be today.

I guess this will be cause for celebration for those fans who somehow became convinced that the veteran second baseman is the Antichrist. As for me, I actually believe a Castillo who is reasonably healthy would benefit this team.

Don't get me wrong. I'm a big fan of Damian Easley -- in a part-time role. I also very much respect the energy and intangibles that Argenis Reyes brings to the table. But look at the numbers:

Easley  271   28   37   13   .262   .312   .347  
A. Reyes       871131.264.297.299

Easley doesn't even have much of an advantage in slugging %, which is the one offensive area I would expect him to be an upgrade over Castillo. Moreover, while Castillo's defensive range is down considerably from his heyday, Easley doesn't cover much ground either.

Reyes is by far the best defensive 2B of this group, but his offensive numbers are a throwback to what we expected from starting infielders in the seventies and eighties. That just doesn't cut it in the offensive game of today.

He doesn't get on base enough for a table setter, and he doesn't hit for any power at all. He's been a nice story, but to my mind the jury is still decidedly out on his viability as even a backup player in the majors -- particularly since he doesn't appear to play shortstop. A limited offensive infielder with only one real position is a tough guy to fit onto a 25-man roster.

I find the chemistry argument compelling to a point, but I think the run of success is much more to do with starting pitching than any contribution from Easley or Reyes. And again, Easley makes the bench better while Reyes, if demoted, will be back September 1. Moreover, his fellow players liked Castillo.

Some, such as the New York Post's Larry Brooks, try to make an illogical point that because the Mets' record was worse when Castillo was playing that this somehow Castillo's fault. It reminds me of when Tim Marchman used the Pythagorean Win-Loss metric to make a case against Willie Randolph when a closer look revealed it be actually make a case in favor of the departed skipper.

Castillo's numbers in September 2007 were very good. If everyone else on the roster performed that well the season would have continued into October. As for this year, I suspect Delgado's hitting woes impacted the Mets more earlier this year than Castillo's.

If Luis was truly the clubhouse cancer and malcontent that some fans, bloggers and media types have allowed themselves to be convinced that he is, I doubt very much a true winner like Johan Santana would have thought as much of him as he does. Unfortunately for Castillo, when he does return there are going to be a lot of folks looking to jump on every personal or team failure as "proof" that the team is better off without him. I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

If he comes back and is obviously not physically ready to play and the Mets continue to roll him out there I will criticize them for that. If, on the other hand, he comes back and performs to his capabilities the Mets will be a better team and I, for one, will be very happy.

About Mike: I was the original writer on this web site, actually its only writer for the first 15 months of existence. Although I am grateful for the excellent contributions of my fellow writers here, I have no plans of stepping back into strictly an editorial role. I started this thing in the first place because I love to write and I love the Mets, and blogging here keeps me somewhat sane. If you haven't had enough already, more bio info can be found here.

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Comments (3)

I believe Castillo coming back will help. Though I am not a big fan of Luis, his stats are better than Easley and Reyes. While his range is limited, his batting style just drives me crazy as he looks like he wants to walk rather than hit the ball. Every at bat, he will take at least 1 strike and possibly 2. He fakes a bunt while taking a pitch and just looks like he doesn't want to swing. He almost never swings at a first pitch. I think pitchers have caught on to his hitting style and that's why he seems to always be in a bad hitters count. He needs to change it up a bit so he is not so predictable and start swinging earlier in the count when he gets a strike to hit. Be more aggressive and slap those singles by the drawn in corner infielders. He is close to a lifetime .300 hitter so i know he can hit. He is a useful player but I don't know about signing him for 4 years.

Castllo's biggest issue is that from the left side he is not capable of drivibg any one unless they are on 3rd base- OF play shallow as he has No power from the left side-He has great hands at 2nd base, but not much speed nor range at second anymore

Stan -- Signing him for 4 years looks like a big mistake, I agree. As for his batting style, if he hits I could care less if he looks like a Little Leaguer. He's a pretty good number 2 hitter as long as he can run.
lui -- Reyes has no power, either.

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