Luis Castillo wants out of Queens

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Craig already roasted Jeff Francoeur in epic fashion earlier this week, so I’m not going to try to top that one. Still, the sickness appears to be contagious in the Mets’ locker room.

While Luis Castillo hasn’t requested a trade, he told Dan Martin of the New York Post that he is not willing to accept a backup role in Queens.

“I can’t be here anymore. I know I’m
not going to be here next year.”

“They want to go with young guys, I guess. That’s what they tell me now. I’m not ready to be a backup.”

Limited to just 62 games this season due to a foot injury, Castillo is batting .241/.335/.281 with zero homers and 15 RBI in 199 at-bats. Fed up with his poor production and lack of range, the Mets recently benched their high-priced second baseman in favor of Ruben Tejada. The 20-year-old is batting just .183 in 120 at-bats this season and is hitless in his last 23 at-bats dating back to July 16.

There’s an argument to be made that Castillo is actually the better player than Tejada right now, but that isn’t saying a whole lot, really. Since signing a four-year, $24 million contract after the 2007 season, Castillo is batting .273/.367/.320 with a 687 OPS. That wouldn’t be so bad if his speed was still an asset. Unfortunately, it just isn’t. Meanwhile, his defense has declined significantly since his last Gold Glove in 2005.

Castillo, 34, is still owed $6 million next season, so if Omar Minaya couldn’t find a taker after his bounceback 2009 campaign (on offense, anyway), it’s pretty hard to believe they’ll find him a home this new winter, either. Like the Oliver Perez disaster, Castillo is another situation where they either have to admit their mistake and release him or waste a roster spot. For now, they are going with the whole wasting the roster spot strategy.     

The Yankees attendance and revenue is down, but it makes sense

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There’s a long article in the New York Times today noting that the Yankees attendance is down and that, based on financial figures released as part of their stadium bond disclosures, ticket and suite revenues through last season have fallen by $166 million since the end of 2009.

There is a lot of talk in the article about the exciting young team the Yankees have put together and how much they’ve won so far in the early going. And there is a lot of talk about marketing and demographics — Hal Steinbrenner talks about baseball’s “millennial problem” — but the story of the Yankees’ box office issues, such as they are, is pretty straightforward.

All teams suffer attendance and revenue decline when they play poorly. While the Yankees have not been bad for a long, long time, that’s a somewhat relative thing. They Yankees have sold themselves and sold their fans on the idea that nothing short of a championship is acceptable, so missing the playoffs for three of the past four years is bad for them. Fans don’t want to go see a bad team, be it Yankees fans, Rays fans, Royals fans or whoever.

Despite the recent lack of success, the Yankees have still, perversely, continued to price their tickets, concessions, parking and everything else as though they’re the only game in town. When demand falls and prices remain super high, fewer people are buying your product. Even if you’re the New York Yankees.

The Yankees are good this year. What’s more, they’re good in that exciting way that only young promising players bursting out onto the scene can deliver. It’s a wonderful thing for marketing and stuff, but even under the best of circumstances, ticket sales tend to lag on field success, often by as much as a year. Go back and look at World Series winning teams — especially the surprise winners — and you’ll see that it’s the year after on-field success when the real attendance bumps happen. I expect, if the Yankees continue to play well, their gate will get really nice by the end of the summer, but I suspect we’ll also see a more dramatic bump next year.

Taken all together, this is a dog-bites-man story. The Yankees are not some transcendent institution, immune from market forces. They’re just one of 30 Major League Baseball teams competing against other entertainments for a finite amount of the public’s money and attention. Nothin’ to see here.

David Price had a rocky rehab start last night

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Red Sox starter David Price has been rehabbing a left elbow injury since early March. Last night he made his latest rehab outing for Triple-A Pawtucket. It didn’t go well.

Price allowed six runs — three earned — on seven hits in three and two-thirds innings, requiring 89 pitches to do it. His velocity was good, but otherwise it was a night to forget. This was supposed to be Price’s last rehab start before returning to the Sox’ big league rotation, but one wonders if he’s ready for it.

Price didn’t talk to the media after the game, but Pawtucket’s manager said he was “upbeat” and “felt good.” For his part, John Farrell, upon hearing about the outing, said this:

“There’s no announcement at this point. We’ve got to sit with him and talk about what’s best for him, best for us as we move forward.”

The Sox could really use Price back in the rotation given their injury problems, but rushing him back if he’s not ready is certainly not ideal.

Stay tuned.