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March 18, 2011

BP Unfiltered

Life After Luis Castillo

by Christina Kahrl

Getting flushed from Flushing might seem like no easy matter, not when price was an object, not when the rules require the employment of some sort of ninth player somewhere on the field, and not when convention demands that it involve some warm body standing between the shortstop and the first baseman. But none of that could spare Luis Castillo the axe. With the daintiness of Anne Boleyn on the block, the Mets' second baseman was prepped, placed, and whacked, with almost inevitable celebrations.

It was interesting that Sandy Alderson's comments on the matter seemed to indicate this was as much a surrender to market pressure than it did with an evaluation of Castillo's ability to contribute. Not market pressure in terms of anything related to supply and demand, but market pressure in the form of New Yorkers who, if they felt anything beyond malaise for the Mets, had come to positively loathe Castillo. That there is the (ideally) transient suggestion that they'll employ Luis Hernandez might reflect the possibility that the Mets have hopefully not yet found their Opening Day second baseman.

The question of perception with Castillo, however, is also something worth applying to evaluating his actual performance doing stuff involving, you know, baseball, not whether or not people thought he was making too much money, or whether he was a bad defensive player. At the plate, his True Average in his three full seasons with the Mets zig-zagged from an adequate .261 in 2008 to a good .281 in his healthy 2009 campaign, dropping to .246 in his injury-abbreviated 2010. Paradoxically, 2010 was his best season in the field, per Colin Wyers' new FRAA:

2008 1936 -7.7 12.4 -6.3 10.2
2009 3344 -21.3 16.6 -17.4 13.6
2010 1637 16.1 11.1 13.4 8.9

PAA is Plays Above Average, RAA is Runs, and the MOE for each is the Margin of Error, or basically the range to the positive and negative that you might find him at. Since both 2008 and 2010 were injury-shortened seasons, the best sample's 2009, and that season rates among the worst seasons delivered by any second baseman in the last three years. The only ones among full-time players that rated below it were Neil Walker, Chone Figgins, and Howie Kendrick in 2010, and Brian Roberts in 2009.

As much as any single season is supposed to sum up a player's contributions, that one season of full-tiime play is what speaks to the legion of Castillo critics. Add in Castillo's compensation--a matter of basic envy--plus the injuries, the little things like tactlessly skipping a team visit to Walter Reed Hospital, or being called out for bad body language and "visible sullenness" by Terry Collins, and you wind up with a guy with a target painted on his back, one to which he'd contributed several brush strokes.

Going forward, the Mets really have no out-and-out good choices, but they do have acceptable ones, assuming that they accept the attendant risks for any of the non-Hernandezes:

Brad Emaus .250 .332 .371 .259
Daniel Murphy .270 .328 .409 .267
Luis Hernandez .239 .278 .304 .216
Jacob Turner .261 .322 .360 .252

With Murphy, the question is whether he could handle the position, which seems a bit dubious given that he started his career getting moved towards the corners and positions of less and less defensive responsibilities. Hernandez can't and won't hit, ever, but he might be an adequate defensive replacement for Murphy if they work up the nerve to go that route and risk a repeat of the Castillo experience in the field. But perhaps the best, albeit middling solution for their up-the-middle problem position is Emaus, the Rule 5 pick from the Blue Jays. Not that he'll be the next Dan Uggla, but there's nothing wrong with exploiting free talent now that they're free of the bane of so many Big Apple residents.

Christina Kahrl is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Christina's other articles. You can contact Christina by clicking here

Related Content:  Luis Castillo

10 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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Cutting Luis Castillo will in no way solve the myriad of problems facing the Metropolitans. But for all the fans who have suffered through watching his fading limp imitation of a Wee Willie Keeler start the bat and the body toward first before the pitch is released swing, it is one less painful image to endure.

I cannot count the number of times I banged my head against the wall trying to understand what team had offered Luis 4 years at $20 mil in order to force the Mets hand to top it--until one day the urban legend that the signing was the fulfillment of a promise to Santana was floated.

As much as that sounds absurd to me, I cannot for the life of me replace it with a more rational explanation.

Bring on the grandson of Felix Milan!

Mar 18, 2011 19:31 PM
rating: 1

On down. One to go (Ollie)

Mar 18, 2011 19:34 PM
rating: 0
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Felix Millan. Two 'l's.

And has a GM ever before 'fessed up that 'yeah, the public made me do it'?? Supposed to pretend they're impervious to that type of thing, aren't they?

Oh, and "one" down. And you forgot the period after your second sentence.

And now on to Christina. Optimally ought to put apostrophes around 'Big Apple'. And rather than Anne Boleyn, I would've cited Monty Python eating their minstrels among much rejoicing. You're beginning to date yourself. And I'll need a photograph to help you out with your shortcomings there. Unless you want me to just speculate.

Mar 18, 2011 20:49 PM
rating: -16

Gee wichie, our u so sad u not right 4 yer gwade-skool nezpapar?

Mar 19, 2011 07:50 AM
rating: -1
Joe D.

> Optimally ought to put apostrophes around 'Big Apple'.

Optimally ought to take the stick out of your ass.

Mar 19, 2011 09:33 AM
rating: 6

Useful once in awhile to find out just how many people can't recognize a joke unless you put the Steve Martin arrow through your head. Up to 7, so far.

Mar 19, 2011 10:20 AM
rating: 0

Make it eight. Someday I hope to be able to identify "real" humor.

Mar 19, 2011 12:05 PM
rating: 0
BP staff member Christina Kahrl
BP staff

No worries, Richie, I certainly took no offense. I guess after the broadcast of The Tudors, I figured that's actually much more current than Monty Python.

For pics, I'd just look me up on Wikipedia, since somebody nice went to town on my listing.

Mar 19, 2011 12:53 PM

Richie - I appreciate your humor, but as the scion of a family of journalists, as much as I cringe when folks write 'pretty unique' or confuse it's and its, I recall that on posting boards--even one as full of erudite and educated individuals as this one--there is a spontaneous quality that forgives minor transgressions.

In my mind's sentimental Mets eye--the one that sees only grainy images of Shea and moments from Kiner's Korner--I will always spell Milan with one 'L', thoug I'll never forget how he he tugged to the bat to his ear leaning in over the plate.

Mar 19, 2011 15:22 PM
rating: -1
Sal T

Christina you are much too kind.I suspected Ritchie was trying to emulate Steve Martin's humor but I had it pegged for "the Jerk".

Mar 21, 2011 14:08 PM
rating: 0
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