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.

Jan 27

Resisting Manny ….

RAMIREZ: The image that scares them off.

RAMIREZ: The image that scares them off.

Manny Ramirez is still floating out there, his thundering right-handed bat a temptation 29 teams have managed to resist. Only the Los Angeles Dodgers have an offer on the table, and Ramirez’s refusal of $45 million over two years seems stunningly arrogant considering the line

Nobody knows which.

Last week, Jeff Wilpon told Bloomberg News the Mets weren’t interested, but he wasn’t speaking for manager Jerry Manuel, who, during a TV interview, said he’d love to have Ramirez on his team.

“To have a shot at managing him would be exciting for me,” Manuel said. “I’d love to have the opportunity to watch Manny hit every day.’’

Manuel called Ramirez “one of the best right-handed hitters in our generation,’’ and broached the topic of his reputation with the confidence of a snake charmer.

Manuel is convinced he would avoid this serpent’s tooth.

“I don’t have a problem with people that produce in the form and fashion that Manny Ramirez produces,” Manuel said. “We don’t spend, shouldn’t spend that much time in the locker room, anyway.’’

You don’t?

Players start drifting into the clubhouse five hours before game time, far longer than the time of game. But, if not concerned about the clubhouse, how about the field?

If Ramirez’s stars aren’t all aligned he’s been known to dog it on the bases and give up at-bats. Even though they won two World Series with him, Ramirez had no allies in the Red Sox clubhouse late last summer, including David Ortiz.

Jose Reyes has enough problems maintaining his attention as it is. Do you really want him looking up to Ramirez? And, for the money Ramirez is asking, they can sign a pitcher and a bat such as Adam Dunn.

They’ve resisted temptation so far. Hope they keep that strength.

Jan 23

Mets sign Alex Cora

Alex Cora is finally official, being announced to a one-year, $2 million deal by the Mets. The veteran infielder, 33, can play any where in the infield save catcher.

Cora will give manager Jerry Manuel a quality rest for David Wright and Jose Reyes. I know what most of you are thinking: He’ll most likely spend a lot of time at second base.

Cora hit .270 last year at Boston, so he’s not automatic out.

Said GM Omar Minaya: “You win championships with a 25-man roster.”

Jan 09

Putz to play for Team USA

Reliever J.J. Putz will join David Wright on Team USA during the World Baseball Classic this spring.

Also representing the Mets this spring will be: outfielder Carlos Beltran, first baseman Carlos Delgado and reliever Pedro Feliciano (Puerto Rico); closer Francisco Rodriguez and pitcher  Johan Santana (Venezuela) and shortstop Jose Reyes (Dominican Republic).

Dec 13

Building the Mets’ 25-man roster ….

K-ROD: Fills Mets' biggest void.

K-ROD: Fills Mets' biggest void.

METS 25-MAN ROSTER

The Mets have several holes to fill before spring training, beginning with a starter. I still see them re-signing Oliver Perez.

There will be competition for two bullpen spots. This could change depending on if they open the season with four or five starters. There’s also a need for a reserve infielder. Marlon Anderson is the closest to somebody who can play both infield and outfield, but in the infield it’s first and second. They are talking about Alex Cora as a back-up shortstop.

Another outfield bat would be nice, but it’s not imperative.

Assuming Jon Niese is the fifth starter, I’m seeing four spots to be filled: fourth starter, two relievers, back-up infielder.

STARTERS
1. Johan Santana
2. Mike Pelfrey
3. John Maine
4. TBD:  Oliver Perez, Jason Marquis, other
5. Jon Niese

BULLPEN
6. Francisco Rodriguez
7. J.J. Putz
8. Pedro Feliciano
9. Duaner Sanchez
10. Sean Green
11. TBD
12. TBD

In system options: Connor Robertson, Darren O’Day, Rocky Cherry, Carlos Muniz, Brian Stokes, Bobby Parnell, Ed Kunz,

CATCHERS
13. Brian Schneider
14. Ramon Castro

INFIELD
15. Carlos Delgado
16. Luis Castillo
17. Jose Reyes
18. David Wright
19. TBD: Alex Cora

OUTFIELD
20. Carlos Beltran
21. Ryan Church
22. Daniel Murphy
23. Fernando Tatis
24. Jeremy Reed
25. Marlon Anderson