After last night’s game winning RBI (just his 2nd in his past 73 at-bats) Luis Castillo looked more defeated than ever. It’s funny because when I initially saw his reaction I sort of brushed it off. I have never been a big Castillo fan, though there was a time when the former gold glover could certainly get the job done and was a perfect ‘small ball’ type player. That time, however, is long gone and his inability to field this season has aggravated me to no end. I won’t even get into his overall performance at the plate.
With all that said, I don’t think Castillo is a bad guy or teammate. All indications are that he works incredibly hard and he has done his best to play hurt when asked. And that’s something I had to constantly remind myself of when I would see him hobbling to the hole and barely bend for a ball that most second basemen would shuffle over to and field routinely. He was on the field because his manager asked him to be. He was batting second because his manager put him there. Maybe he was even being asked to play hurt because Alex Cora was getting too close to a guaranteed 2011 contract. The poor performance is on him, but the role he was given is on team management.
Now we are at a point where the higher ups feel the defensive upgrade presented by Ruben Tejada, along with getting the youngster some experience at the big league level, is worth the automatic out he represents at the plate (the 20-year-old is currently in the midst of a 1-38 skid). I’m not sure I can say I disagree with that given the fact that Castillo hasn’t fared much better at the dish (he was 1 for his last 13 entering last night’s contest), though I do worry about what type of long term effect this type of failure might have on Ruben down the road.
So Luis was replaced in the starting line-up, a decision he was not happy about. After 14-years of starting, why would he be happy about being relegated to bench duty? Kudos to a player who WANTS to play and is even willing to do so when hurt, but let’s not be delusional about the situation here, Mr. Castillo is no longer a capable starter. According to Dan Martin of the New York Post, however, that realization has not set in for the 3-time gold glove winner. Over a week ago in his column on 8/25 (click here for full story) Martin quoted Castillo as having said:
I know I can play every day, I’m not a bench player. I can still play.
I came here to be an every-day player and I know it’s been hard with the injuries I’ve had, but I feel good now and thought I was playing well, I’ve been playing for 14 years and I’ve never gone through anything like this.”
Like an old boxer complaining about a unanimous decision, you have to wonder if Luis is watching the same fight. In response to the news that Tejada would be seeing the majority of the time Castillo said:
They want to go with young guys, I guess, that’s what they tell me now. I’m not ready to be a backup.
If they think that he’s the best player, that’s OK, I just don’t want to be a backup when I’ve been playing every day for my whole career.”
While there’s obviously still some fire in the 34-year-old’s heart, it has long left his legs and bat. Despite his campaign for more playing time Jerry Manuel has made good on his word to entrench Ruben Tejada as his starter. But last night, in the 9th inning, after having not played in 3 games and being hit-less in his last 7 at-bats, Luis Castillo was given a chance to do something special, something he hasn’t done in a while, he was asked to help his team win a ballgame. To the surprise and enjoyment of many, he delivered. Teammates and fans rejoiced as the patented Castillo blooper to right drove in Ike Davis for the game winning run. After winning 4 of the past 6 games New York was now back in 3rd place in the NL East and things were looking…..well….not bad.
That is unless of course you were looking at the face of Luis Castillo, who apparently got a call that his puppy just died on his way to first base (click here for video). I think Jason Fry of ‘Faith and Fear in Flushing’ summarized the reaction best in his post ‘Unhappy Man Wins Baseball Game’ when he said:
….Castillo rounded first, turned toward home, watched Ike score and barely reacted. He displayed all the satisfaction of a man who’d completed a transaction at an ATM.”
Talk about hitting the nail right on the head. Along those lines, I’m starting to think along the lines of Stephen Keane over at ‘The Eddie Kranepool Society’, who wrote in his post ‘Tropical Depression Luis Castillo‘:
If there is anyone in the Mets front office who feels Luis Castillo should remain a Met, their opinion had to have changed after last night. I don’t care if you are a relative of Castillo’, his actions after driving in Ike Davis for a come from behind walk off win proves he hates being here as much as Mets fans hate that he’s here. Talk about irreconcilable differences, there is no reason to put Castillo or Mets fans through this loveless marriage anymore. Let’s do it for the kids.”
Is this what it has come down to? A team so completely divided that the joy of winning is not a unifying emotion? I’m not sure what the answer is and I’ll be damned if I can think of any type of solution. One thing is for certain, though he said all the right things in the post-game interview, apparently Castillo’s demeanor during the “celebration” was not unnoticed. Normally a big hit like that would earn you the starting nod over a guy who has a .026 avg over his last 38 at-bats, but that’s not the case tonight……..and I’m happier for it.
I asked my dad, who occasionally writes some ‘angry’ posts for the site, what he thought about Castillo last night and he offered up this nugget, which I will use as my way of signing off on the incident:
If your heart isn’t filled with seemingly excruciating joy when you’ve had the game winning hit, then, I submit, you are so consumed by self misery, so solipsistic, so bereft of hope, that there is no human company that bring you relief. Rest in peace, the player formerly known as Luis Castillo. You’ve died and don’t know it.”
-Ken Robotham, Angry Mets Fan
Powered by Facebook Comments