The fight for second base got a little clearer today, as the New York Mets released the long-time incumbent, Luis Castillo. The much maligned Castillo signed a then-questionable four-year, $25 million deal in 2008, and despite solid surface stats, was never able to please Mets fans.
The former Marlins stand-out made his first appearance in orange and blue in 2007, when the salary-shedding Minnesota Twins dealt the veteran infielder to the Mets in exchange for Drew Butera and a minor leaguer. Castillo was seen as an upgrade over Damion Easley–but most, if not all Mets fans were weary of handing the deteriorating Castillo a four-year commitment.
Predictably, Castillo battled knee ailments for most of 2008, only posting 359 PA’s while playing a gimpy second base. The former Golden Glover bounced back in 2009, sporting a .302/.387/.346 line with 1 HR, 40 RBI, 77 R, and 20 SB, but his troubled knees returned last season, prompting Mets manager Jerry Manuel to diminish Castillo’s role to a part-timer.
Going into Spring Training, Castillo was not guaranteed the starting second base job over Dan Murphy, Brad Emaus, or Luis Hernandez. Despite arguably having the most solid overall Spring among the candidates, General Manager Sandy Alderson was able to convince management that Castillo was no longer a fit for the Mets (regardless of being owed $6 million this season). While Castillo might have gotten the short-end of the stick throughout his Mets tenure, in all fairness, he never quite the capable top-of-the-order/defensive-whiz he was advertised as.