The start of the baseball season is less than a month away. Every weekday until opening day, we'll be counting down, from No. 20 to No. 1, the most important Mets players for the upcoming 2010 slate. Today, No. 12, second baseman Luis Castillo.
Let there be no question or debate about it: The Mets would love to be rid of Luis Castillo. No one's still quite sure why general manager Omar Minaya signed Castillo to a four-year, $25 million contract two years ago, but we're halfway through it, and Mets fans are still bashing their heads against the wall about it. Second base is a position with too much money devoted to it to not play Castillo. They're stuck with him. For quite some time.
That ignores a small fact: Castillo didn't have a terrible season last year. He hit .302 (with a .387 OBP) and stole twenty bases. For him, that's solid: That OBP was just three points behind David Wright's. The problem, of course, is everything else, most notably his defense and staggering lack of power; it is possible his bat is made out of bran. He had sixteen extra-base hits last year (one homer) in 580 plate appearances. If he's going to double, he'll need to bunt.
Castillo probably had the best season he could possibly wring out of himself last season, but he's 34 and here for two more years, which is going to seem like twelve to you. And to Castillo, who helpful fans will remind about a certain ninth-inning infield pop-up every time he screws up, it'll seem like even more.