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Reality Check

Mike SteffanosThursday, February 26, 2009
By Mike Steffanos

I've been writing a lot of real long posts the last couple of weeks. I like doing it, but sometimes it's nice to make a simple point that doesn't require quite so many words.

I've written about Luis Castillo fairly extensively, and I think most of us are in agreement that Minaya gave him too many years in the contract he signed. The odds of Castillo being worth anything close to the $6 million he will be paid at age 35 in the final year of the deal seem rather small.

On the other hand, there is an incredible pessimism in some quarters among the faithful that seems to accept it as a given that Castillo will fail to bounce back and provide decent production this season.

Castillo is 33 years old and has had a nice career. He was overweight, gimpy, and just plain not good last season. Keep in mind, though, that he actually was very good the season before, including his 50 games with the Mets. In September he was one of the few who played well down the stretch.

He's in shape, has something to prove, and there simply is no reason that he can't provide solid production at second base. At this point, how much he is being paid is moot.

A friend and fellow Mets fan told me a couple of weeks ago that he thought it would take a miracle for Castillo to survive the season in New York. While I agree that it will be very tough for him to overcome the animosity built up last season, I'm thinking that even without divine intervention it can be done.

I've heard a lot of comparisons to Kaz Matsui, but Kaz had no major league track record of success to draw confidence from when things went bad here. Castillo has been a very good player -- a three-time All Star and two-time World Champion.

I do think he has a tough road back into grace, but I do think that sometimes we get so negative here -- understandably, perhaps, given the last two seasons -- that we tend to give more credence to why things could go wrong rather than the other possibility that they could actually go right.

I'm just saying.

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 (5)

mike, the castillo saga continues.yes, he is 17 pounds lighter, his knees feel better, he is showing more range in the field.that's the good news.the bad news is that if uncle jerry leaves him at leadoff all year, he leads the team in at bats.not a great thought.i watched the game today on sny and saw reyes go deep twice.i still think he is a born leadoff man and as such, puts tremendous pressure on the opposition when the game starts.i don't know what u get from reyes in the 3 hole long term.we do know what we get from reyes at leadoff in the long term.close to .300 b.a./120 runs scored/65 plus stolen bases.do we really want to give up that production so management can salvage a year of castillo's contract.i think it's a mistake.if castillo had 2 years left at 2 mill a year, we would have cut him in the offseason and probably gave hudson a multi year deal.but a least we would have a real 2nd baseman.on a positive note, danny murphy looks like the real thing and the mets seem dedicated to doing the little things that help u win games.it was nice to see a baseball game again..just one more thought on castillo.no matter where he is in the lineup, he must have a good april..if he's hitting below .240 and not fielding well, he'll never survive the season..let's hope he still has something left in the tank..

Gary, my point isn't that there isn't a chance that Castillo won't make it, it's that some people aren't giving him a chance to make it. There's nothing you've said here that hasn't been said plenty in the papers and on talk radio. As for the talk of Reyes hitting third, I'll believe that when I see it in a regular season game.

You mention Kaz Matsui. The reference reminded me of what I always think when his name comes up: how in God's name could all those scouts not notice that Matsui couldn't, or wouldn't, reach across his body to field a grounder to his right? We're talking observors that included Bobby Valentine.

In fact, that trait was rather a well documented trait of Japanese infielders. Japanese players were also known to disdain diving for batted balls. These are limitations that matter.

This, and items such (among countless examples)as the brief lovefest the scouting community had with Jeremy Reed a few years ago, should serve as a warning to us, I guess: sometimes the scouts are just like us, seeing what they wish to see.

I think I am looking at Castillo as our new second basemen and hope he is better than our last one.If he was the new guy we would be full of hope that he is going to repeat his all-star years and help us to a W/S.In that way Iam ready to cheer him on.

I think Castillo has a chance to make it, and his stats do point in that direction for this year. If healthy, he'll easily have a really good OBP, with alot of walks and stolen bases. He'll also make the infield very happy if he can field like he used to (and it'd actually help Reyes out alot; he hasn't had a stable 2B partner since Valentin went down).

The three big problems? The first is that he has a history of getting injured in the past few years (both with the Mets and Twins), and that's just as much of a statistical constant as his.....well, his hitting stats. The second problem is that we don't know how well he'll react to a new season with the Mets- will he sulk, will he thrive under pressure, and will Jerry Manuel work well with him (let's face it: under Jerry, Castillo was persona non grata)? The last problem is that if Castillo does good- does Minaya trade him? That's not really a problem for the Mets, because they can get rid of his salary, but it's an issue if it means lineup and fielding problems with his replacement (and it's likely NOT to be Murphy, sadly).

Only time will tell, and it's America: you're innocent until proven guilty. Or until you hit .200 with more strikeouts than Adam Dunn.

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