Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Dueling Dealings

The Mets may have, perhaps, filled a major void at Second Base with their acquisition of Luis Castillo late Monday night as the Trade Deadline looms on Tuesday Afternoon. With Jose Valentin most likely done for the season and Ruben Gotay forced unsuitably into everyday play, the Mets were certainly in need of someone who could consistently get on base, use their speed and score runs in front of Beltran, Wright and Delgado. With few attractive options available, Castillo's the guy. We remember Castillo as the major pain in the ass from Florida's 2003 Championship team, leading off, bunting, slapping and running and generally creating problems for the opposition.

On the other hand, Castillo isn't quite the same player he was back in '03. He's a little older now, 31, and he's begun to lose a step or two. His Steal totals have steadily declined from his career high of 48 in 2002 to 9 this season. He's never been a power threat at all. But his defense has always been solid. And he has proven himself to be a solid everyday player over the course of his career, as evidenced by a .294 career Batting Average and a .368 OBP. This won't be a long term solution, and it won't solve all of the team's problems. But the Mets are built to win in 2007, and Castillo is certainly capable of helping the cause.

It behooves the Mets to solve their problems sooner rather than later, especially with the Braves set to deal for Texas's Mark Teixeira. Adding Tex to an already potent Atlanta lineup serves to make them all the more of a problem for the Mets down the stretch. The Mets are arguably still in need of one more large power threat in their lineup, preferably in one of the corner Outfield spots. Jermaine Dye's name had been bandied about, but that doesn't appear to be much of an attractive solution. It's certainly possible that if Reyes and Castillo serve to provide more RBI chances for the guys behind them, that the Mets could have solved their offensive woes in a more roundabout fashion. But that's not a guarantee, since Beltran, Wright and Delgado have all had maddeningly inconsistent seasons to this point, and have given us no reason to think this will change over the final two months of the season. It could end up that Lastings Milledge's strong play of late will earn him the starting job in Right, or he will simply bounce from Right to Left as often as possible, spelling Alou and Green.

Another arm in the bullpen would be rather helpful as well, and probably much moreso than another ridiculous aging veteran bat to bog down the Outfield, since that seems to be the lay of the land at this time.

But I'll say the same thing that I say at the trade deadline every year. Make the deals that need to be made. Just don't do anything stupid.

Mad Dog Russo on WFAN summed it up this afternoon (and I paraphrase): Whatever happens in the Regular season happens, but it's meaningless once the playoffs start. Any victory that the Mets have had this season that we thought would springboard them on a major hot streak has turned out to be a mirage.

With all that said, let's hope Castillo provides the spark in Milwaukee this evening, spurring Tom Glavine on to Win #300.

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