The Second Base Dilemma (Part 2 – I Hate 2010)

Luis Castillo

Luis Castillo: The 2010 New York Mets Starting Second Baseman

Following up on my previous post, the New York Mets are currently trying to figure out who will be receiving the starting job at second base this season. In my first post, I named the initial nine competitors who could figure to contend for the job, and then eliminated three guys who should have no business being the opening day 2B: Jordany Valdespin, Russ Adams, and Luis Hernandez. This leaves us with the following competitors:

  • Luis Castillo
  • Ruben Tejada
  • Daniel Murphy
  • Brad Emaus
  • Chin-lung Hu
  • Justin Turner

It’s time to eliminate someone else from contention. Actually two people. And this builds off today’s title: I Hate 2010.

#6 – Ruben Tejada

Ruben Tejada is a natural shortstop, but was pressed into quite a bit of second base duty last season with the Mets. Ruben had 255 plate appearances, and managed a very, very poor batting line. His triple slash stats were .213/.305/.282. His wOBA was a paltry .266. That’s a black hole of offense, even from a middle infield position. But Tejada’s calling card in the minors was slick defense at shortstop. Unfortunately, this defense could not transfer to the keystone. Ruben Tejada’s advanced fielding metrics were terrible at the four. A UZR/150 of -11.3 is truly, truly awful. Granted, a small sample size sin’t everything, but the transition to second base was hardly seamless.

With these stats in mind, it is also important to consider that Tejada still has minor league options. Being the starting shortstop for the Mets’ AAA franchise means that there’s organizational depth in the upper minors, and that Tejada has a little more time to work on his plate approach and his 2B defensive skills. Tejada’s a good guy to have as a backup middle infielder, but he probably should not be our Opening Day starter.

#5 – Luis Castillo

I know that the New York Mets management doesn’t agree with this decision (at least yet), but Luis Castillo must go. By far, the most experienced of the candidates, Castillo has been alternately terrible and injured for most of his New York Mets career. Though last year his UZR statistics went up, Castillo is not an elite defensive 2B, he’s not even average. His range is no longer as good as it was in his early career, and Luis was responsible for a couple of heartbreaking errors last season that cost the Mets ballgames.

Castillo used to be a quite good offensive player, but his triple slash line last year was this: .235/.337/.267. That’s very, very bad. While there is a chance that this will increase in 2011, as it is way off his career stat line, there’s no question that Castillo’s skills are in dramatic decline. Even if he raises his wOBA beyond .285 this year, he’s still a poor offensive option.

Beyond this, Castillo is owed a huge amount of money this year, the last year of his four-year deal – and regardless of performance, he’s rather unlikely to return to the Mets in 2012. There’s no future in Luis Castillo. If he were, without a doubt the best option for 2011, there’d be a good reason to let him open the season as the starting 2B. But Castillo isn’t definitively the best 2B on the roster. He isn’t good enough to support the team defensively, and his OBP skills aren’t enough to make him a truly productive member of the lineup.

Like Ollie Perez, Luis Castillo is a sunk cost this season. It would be best to cut him loose, and leave the competition up to the younger players on the roster who may prove useful in 2012 and beyond.

So, with the two players who manned second base in 2010 out of the running, the Mets are left with four major contenders:

  • Daniel Murphy
  • Brad Emaus
  • Chin-lung Hu
  • Justin Turner

In the next post, I’ll go ahead and talk about two options who weren’t part of my initial list of nine options for the position – as well as eliminate another player from contention for the starting spot.

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Filed under Luis Castillo, Ruben Tejada

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