The inevitable finally occurred..
Luis Castillo, who wasn’t having a bad spring offensively, was finally released today. However, staying with the Mets, unless somebody picks him up, will be the $6 million the club owns him.
The Wilpons frequently have been criticized for refusing to eat bad contracts and there was speculation Castillo might stick. I thought he’d at least last the weekend.
However, in the end, the negativity Castillo brought, his declining defensive ability and the belief he wasn’t much better – if at all than his competition – were the overriding factors in ridding the organization of one of its most scorned players in its history.
Sandy Alderson made the announcement: “After a long evaluation during spring training, after consulting with [manager] Terry [Collins] and the coaching staff, I made a recommendation to ownership in the best interest of the organization and Louie that he be released. Ownership approved.’’
Indeed, the culture has changed.
Collins was never enamored with Castillo, starting for his failure to notify the manager he wouldn’t report early because of a family emergency. A simple phone call could have diffused things.
Twice Castillo reported to spring training out of shape. There were times he didn’t hustle, including this week when he failed to cover first base. His defense and range were in decline. He was injury prone. He had one good season with the bat, hardly enough to justify the four-year, $24 million contract former GM Omar Minaya awarded him.
Through it all, he moped through the clubhouse and it became clear he wasn’t buying into what Collins was selling.
Above it all, there was a negative aura surrounding him long before that dropped pop-up at Yankee Stadium. He was booed last Opening Day. He’s also been booed during spring training.
“I don’t think there’s any question that there’s some linkage between his situation and a perception of the Mets that has existed to this point,’’ Alderson said. “That’s something that was taken into account. At some point, you have to make an organizational decision that goes beyond just an ability to play or not play.
“So those things are relevant. And you try not to make them so controlling that it dictates the final decision under any circumstances. Realistically, it’s a factor.’’
Castillo, who just should have been grateful for the contract and busted his tail, in the end complained about not getting a chance during spring training.
“I said I came here to play and you didn’t give me the chance,’’ is what Castillo reportedly told Alderson at the meeting. “ You didn’t use me.’’
So, what happens now at second base?
Daniel Murphy will make the team as a left-handed bat, but has shown he can’t handle the position defensively. The Mets like Brad Emaus’ potential and have to keep him on the roster because of his Rule 5 status. That could leave them in a platoon situation with Luis Hernandez.
When Alderson took the job he said his goal was to change the culture of the franchise. To a large degree, that was accomplished today.