The Curious Case Of Luis Castillo

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By all accounts, Luis Castillo is a good teammate and works hard at being a winning baseball player. So why is he universally disliked by Mets fans?

There are several reasons, not the least of which is the four-year contract that GM Omar Minaya “had” to sign him to following the 2007 season.  Castillo, one of the few Mets to show up with a pulse during the second half of the Collapse, was rumored to be headed to the Astros following the 2007 campaign.  The rest is history.

Though little has been written about it, according to several people I spoke with during the winter of 2007-08, Castillo’s recruiting or “positive feeling” about the Mets (Santana was incensed when then-GM Terry Ryan dealt Castillo to Mets in July ’07), went far in Santana’s final decision to agree to the blockbuster trade that brought the Cy Young Award winner to New York.

Castillo owns two World Series rings, has played through pain much of his career, and  was arguably the Mets’ MVP in an otherwise dreadful 2009.

So what’s the deal?

I have my own theory, and frankly, as a lifelong Mets fan, as well as having covered the team since 1996, I have a unique perspective on this issue.

He’s not Wally Backman, Edgar Alfonzo, Felix Millan or even Danny Garcia.  He’s a import that has seen better days, and is no longer the All-Star caliber player he was with his former teams.  To many Mets fans, fairly or not, he is Roberto Alomar, Carlos Baerga and Kaz Matsui reincarnated. 

Mets fans want a 2B who can “grow” with Jose Reyes, and current Triple-A SS Ruben Tejada fits that bill.  They envision an infield of homegrown players; David Wright, Reyes, Tejada and Ike Davis, and are giddy about it getting closer to reality.

It’s hard to blame the Mets fan for that, and though I share that enthusiam, it’s unfair to a guy that shows up to play every day.

Even if he, as my wife pointed out recently “runs like a 90-year old man.”

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3 thoughts on “The Curious Case Of Luis Castillo

    Sam said:
    April 21, 2010 at 4:00 am

    Interesting take.

    I think a lot of it has to do with Mike Pelfrey. Fairly or not, Castillo’s defense often gets blamed for Pelfrey’s struggles. And Pelfrey is maybe the most likable player on the Mets, so the more Pelfrey gets dumped on by the MSM, the fans compensate by ragging on Castillo.

    Michel said:
    April 21, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    “So why is he universally disliked by Mets fans”? Hmmm, could it be that he has no range at his position? Or that he dropped what should have been an easy pop-fly to end the game against the Yankees, allowing the Yanks to win the game? Perhaps it is because Mets fans believe he is living off of his Gold Glove reputation but is incapable of ever again getting one. Maybe because he hit into 15 double-plays last season and 13 the year before. Perhaps it’s his because we know there are better options than him and that we believe the Mets management overpaid him (by a lot!) when re-signing him. I could go on and on.

    jpkmets said:
    April 21, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    I think Castillo gets a lot of scorn for the perceived nonchalance of his game. He does not charge balls and seems to master the Rafael Santana skill of throwing only as hard as is absolutely necessary. Then, on the other side of the ball, I think Mets fans dislike the eternal 1st inning bunts and the absolute inability to hit a sac fly from the left side. Castillo is a passive player whose best play from the left side is to walk. I think he was a trooper last year, but there is very little about his game to actually latch on to and embrace.

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