Mar 19

Where to slot in Castillo?

Manager Jerry Manuel is thinking about going back to Jose Reyes in the leadoff slot to get him going. That spot worked for Luis Castillo, who owned up to the challenge and is hitting .321 with a .500 on-base percentage.

Castillo has been far from the nightmare at the plate he was last year.

I’ve always liked him second, but I can see the logic of Daniel Murphy in that slot. That also allows for a 3-4-5 of Beltran, Wright and Delgado.

Batting him eighth is a waste, but what about ninth and swap with the pitcher? The idea would be to bunch the speed of Castillo and Reyes together.

Initially, I thought Tony La Russa was reinventing the wheel when he did it, but there’s sense to it. If the pitcher is an automatic out (that’s the assumption), what difference does it make if it is eighth or ninth?

Feb 26

Not convinced about Reyes in three hole ….

Every time Jose Reyes goes deep, it seems that soon after he gets into a funk where he starts uppercutting and trying to drive everything and gets away from hitting the ball on the ground. He went deep twice today.

If he becomes a 40-homer guy, fine. But, I don’t really see that happening. Hitting two homers is an aberration. I’d rather see him walk twice a game than go 0-for-4 with two flyballs and two strikeouts.

I don’t see what Jerry Manuel sees in batting Reyes third. I’d rather have him hit first with Luis Castillo second.

Feb 26

Good and bad signs ….

Luis Castillo drove in four runs with two hits yesterday, but Duaner Sanchez walked two hitters on nine pitches.

It’s only one game, so let’s not get carried away either way, but both are key issues for the Mets this season.

Sanchez might never regain his pre-accident form, but something close is imperative if he’s to become a key set-up again. Wildness is not a good way to do that.

A lot has already been written about Castillo. He’s Jerry Manuel’s pet project this spring. Manuel believes leadoff might jumpstart Castillo. It worked yesterday. But, I still have my doubts. I think he’s more ideally suited to hit second with Jose Reyes batting first.

Feb 14

Where should Reyes hit?

Manager Jerry Manuel suggested to reporters he might bat Luis Castillo first and drop Jose Reyes to third.

I’m not crazy about the idea. My first inclination is Reyes will get power happy and put more balls in the air than he does already.

I wouldn’t have a problem with Castillo first if his legs are sound, but I’d hit Reyes second instead of third. If Reyes improves his on-base percentage, the No. 3 hitter will see a lot more fastballs.

As good as Reyes is leading off, hitting second might make him a better hitter if he becomes more disciplined. I still want Reyes to walk more and strike out less, bunt more and put the ball on the ground. If he’s protecting a good leadoff hitter, it just might go to improve Reyes’ game even more.

Feb 13

Where does Castillo fit in the order?

CASTILLO: All eyes on second baseman.

CASTILLO: All eyes on second baseman.

The most scrutinized Met figures to be second baseman Luis Castillo, the player GM Omar Minaya would have unloaded in an instant, but nobody was willing to come up with a bag of balls.

Harsh, yes … but Castillo has $18 million remaining on his contract, and is coming off a horrible, yet, injury plagued season. No Met has more pressure to come up with a fast start.

To put the odds in his favor, Jerry Manuel has to put Castillo in the spot in the order to best utilize his offensive skills, and that’s second. When Castillo is on his game, he can slap the ball around, bunt and work the count …. all which help Jose Reyes when he’s on base.

And, if Castillo is getting on base, he can be a distraction to the opposing pitcher, and as a base stealer, draw more fastballs. All this, of course, is theory based on Castillo’s performance before coming to the Mets.

All eyes are on Castillo this spring, and they won’t miss anything.