Monday, February 01, 2010

The Castillo Situation

I feel like this issue has already been discussed to death, but since it seems to be making the rounds again, I figure I might as well put the Fonzie Forever treatment on it. Here is a sampling of what has been said recently on the topic:

…like Matt has said over and over again, it would have just made baseball sense for the Mets to sign Hudson and bench Castillo… -

If we cannot afford to release Luis Castillo and pay his salary without handcuffing the team on the field than we probably have bigger issues as an organization
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Can't the Mets just go out and upgrade 2B, bring in Hudson, and put Castillo on the bench. $6 million on the bench may not be worth it, but isn't it about putting the best product on the field?
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I hate to say this, but let's be a little more like the Yankees, call Castillo a bust, move him, eat the money and do what we have to do to WIN. - Caught Lookin'

The Mets would love to have Hudson, but they're still hamstrung by the absurd 4-year, $25 million contract GM Omar Minaya gave to Luis Castillo in Nov. '07, rendering him completely untradeable. - Sports Illustrated

Guys, come on. The Luis Castillo Situation ISN'T A PROBLEM. Allow me to explain.

Luis Castillo was was quite useful last season.

We discussed the Castillo Situation here in November. Nothing has changed since then:
Castillo, who looked rejuvenated last year, is coming off a season where he hit .302/.387/.346 and stole 20 bases. He is only due $12 million over the next two years . . . According to fangraphs, he was worth approximately $7 million last year -- and that his contract expires in two years is a good thing as well.
Listen, on a personal level, I am NOT a huge Castillo fan. I don't like his style of baseball. He has no power. He appears lazy. But to try and run him out of town now would be a huge mistake.

CHONE projects him to post a .367 OBP next season, while Marcel is at .360 and the fans at fangraphs are very optimistic at .375. He was worth 1.6 wins-above-replacement last season. If he can duplicate last year, he'll be worth around the same. He is an asset.

Castillo is signed to a reasonable two year, $12 million dollar contract.

The time to be mad about Luis Castillo's contract was WHEN IT WAS SIGNED, not now. The four year deal given to Castillo was madness at the time - a huge waste of resources and a bad gamble on a chunky second baseman with bad knees. But that was then. This is now.

A two year deal for Castillo isn't crazy. Six million a year is not a huge sum. The contract was bad when it was signed, but things change. He posted a good year last year, and is as good a bet as anyone else to repeat last year's performance. Get over it. Things change. His contract is reasonable.

Signing Orlando Hudson and benching Castillo would be incredibly bad.

This is the worst case scenario. By doing this, we would be taking the ONE valuable thing about Castillo and completely negating it. His only value right now comes from being a second baseman and playing every day.

He's not a good defensive replacement. He would be an awful pinch hitter. He'd be an expensive waste of a roster spot - and that's not even mentioning how LITTLE of an upgrade Hudson would be over Castillo. For the record, we addressed that in our November article:

Orlando Hudson is a good player- but for all intents and purposes, he is not really that much of an upgrade over Castillo. He is turning 32 (Castillo is turning 34) . . . His OPS over the last four years has been 809, 817, 817, and 774. His line last year was a paltry .283/.357/.417 with 9 home runs and 8 stolen bases. He was basically Luis Castillo with 30 less points in on-base percentage and 70 more points of slugging. A few more home runs, and a dozen less steals.

Hudson is a superior defensive player, but spending a great chunk of money on Hudson to attempt to upgrade the rotation would be silly. Why not spend the money directly on a pitcher?

Nobody knows just yet how much Hudson is going to command on the open market, but as usual, I'm open to any option. If Hudson were to be willing to accept a one year, $2 million dollar contract, signing him might make sense even in the face of the fact that we already have an adequate second baseman -- but it is unlikely.

Far more likely is that Hudson will get something comparable to what he got last year - around $8 million after incentives - and that number is only more certain if the Mets enter the bidding and drive up his price. If you could get Hudson cheap, go for it, and worry about Castillo later. But that won't happen.

If the Mets have $6-$8 million sitting around which they are considering giving to Hudson -- just take that money and sign Erik Bedard and Ryan Garko instead. And please, let's stop worrying about what to do with our perfectly serviceable second baseman who is signed to a reasonable contract.


Adam said...

Even though I'm note huge on getting Hudson (if he signs for less than $6MM, I'm in. Otherwise he's not worth it), I have to disagree with a lot of what you said.

Castillo is not an asset. Yes, his OBP is solid and very acceptable for his position. But his power is nonexistent and his defense is well below average - he has NO range. Hudson would bring a slight upgrade on offense (mainly in the power category) and more importantly a significant upgrade in defense, even if it's just to league average.

If they signed him, I don't know what to do with Castillo. I suppose even if Omar could trade him for some cruddy player and $2MM over 2 years it would be worth it. Whatever he can get. If not, release him. Not worth wasting a bench spot on a poor defensive player with no pop.

That said, 2B is hardly the position that needs an upgrade compared to some others on the team.

Although, you suggest spending the money on SP instead - but on whom? All the good SP is gone. All of it. (and there wasn't much to begin with)

Rob A from BBD said...

I never understood why with all of the problems the Mets have, Mets fans choose to single out this guy as one of their biggest. I mean, they just gave up on signing Delgado because they are going with Tatis for crying out loud. But Castillo is the problem?

James Esatto said...

Castillo's contract was completely ridiculous when it was offered and remains so today, but he is far from the biggest problem the Mets have at this point...