Monday, December 7, 2009

Can the Mets Swap Luis Castillo?

The great Adam Rubin attempts to answer that very question in today's column and at best, it looks like trading Castillo will be a struggle:
"Castillo was unmovable last offseason, when he had three years and $18 million left on his ill-advised deal. Now, another year has been shaved off the contract, and Castillo has two years and $12 million remaining. The Mets desperately want to trade the second baseman to free space to sign free agent Orlando Hudson. Good luck.

Castillo did stay reasonably healthy, aside from a fall down the dugout steps at Citi Field. And he did hit .302. But that average was somewhat inflated. After all, official scorers loved crediting Castillo with sacrifices when he bunted with runners on first base. Meanwhile, one caveat with Hudson: Dodgers skipper Joe Torre continually started Ronnie Belliard over him in October."
It's amazing that even after a productive year at the plate that the Mets are having such a tough time moving Castillo, then again, the fact that the Mets have been trying so hard for over a year now to trade Castillo speaks volumes as well. But then again, no matter what Rubin's source says about Castillo's inflated batting average, if the sluggers in the Mets lineup were healthy, then Castillo easily would have scored 100+ runs in 2009. If that happened, then I doubt the Mets would be trying so aggressively to move Castillo and replace him with Orlando Hudson.

The reality is that Castillo's 2 year/$12 million dollar deal makes him a very difficult sell in this economy unless the Mets are forced to take on a bad contract as well. The names Juan Pierre, Eric Byrnes, and Pat Burrell constantly pop up in trade discussions for Castillo, but there are problems for the Mets in acquiring any of those three for Castillo. Does Juan Pierre hit enough to be the Mets left fielder? What role would Eric Byrnes and his $11 million dollar salary serve? And where would Pat Burrell play?

Can anyone else envision a scenario where the Mets finally suck it up and stop trying to move Castillo? They simply have to realize that there is no market for Castillo and unless a deal falls into their lap involving a big money player, then teams are going to continue to shy away from Castillo and go after cheaper options on the free agent market, who unlike Castillo can play solid defense and hit for power.

But would holding onto Castillo be a bad thing for Mets? Defensively, I say yes. But if the offense gets healthy, then I think Castillo could be primed for a big season offensively with the Mets, especially if he puts up numbers similar to his 2009 campaign.

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