In the past two months it seems that every Mets post on every Mets site has to do with pitching. I understand why Mets fans are so concerned when you consider the myriad of questions in our rotation as currently configured. Despite what some consider to be a flawed rotation, I still believe the Mets will win the division with the current cast of players.
I believe the Mets will be a far greater offensive team than they were last season. For one, they will have Luis Castillo for the entire year and not just August and September like last year. The two hole in the lineup had become a game of musical chairs going back to spring training of last year when rumors first surfaced that David Wright was going to take over that spot in the lineup. Eventually he did play a few games at the number two spot, along with Jose Valentin, Paul Lo Duca, Ruben Gotay, Endy Chavez, Carlos Beltran, Shawn Green, well… you get the picture.
Filling that two hole with Luis Castillo finally gave the Mets something they had been lacking for almost two years. Castillo brings a solid presence at the top of the order who can take a couple of pitches and allow Jose Reyes to do what he does better than anyone in the game. Even when Castillo is down in the count he has the ability to bear down and either leg out a hit or drive one over the infield. He has a great sense for the game, and is also one of the best bunters in the league. In the last five years he has drawn more walks than strikeouts, and only fanned 45 times last season in 550 at-bats. Despite his balky right knee, he was still a threat on the base paths, and stole 19 bases last season on a bum knee. His knee is now fully healthy again after having it scoped out. Defensively, only a very few are better. By seasons end, he was considered the best defensive infielder on the Mets.
Re-signing Luis Castillo was largely viewed as a no-big-deal signing. Nothing could be further from the truth. It was a big deal, and it may prove to be one of the wisest decisions Omar made in the off-season.
One of the last things I saw on my TV during the last Mets game of the season, was Luis Castillo sitting alone in the dugout in obvious mental anguish after the Mets collapse. He sat and stared at the ground filled with anger, disappointment, and all the same emotions us Mets fans were feeling. I didn’t see anyone else out there in that dugout… only Luis Castillo. The others ran into the clubhouse faster than you can say choke.
Luis Castillo is a winner. For two months he played his heart out for the Mets and he was justifiably rewarded for his efforts. There are a few more reasons why I believe the Mets will their division in 2008. Tomorrow I will lay out my case for Carlos Delgado.