Luis Castillo has started just four of the last 17 games and said yesterday that he’s unhappy losing playing time to 20-year-old rookie Ruben Tejada, who’s hitting just .167 in 48 games overall this season.
On the bench last night for the fifth straight game, Castillo told the New York Daily News that he’ll talk to his agents about finding a team willing to make him a starter again:
I think we will talk to them about that. I need to be in a different kind of situation. I don’t know what they want to do. I want an opportunity to play, and if it is here, then I am happy. If it is somewhere else, then that’s what it is.
I thought I would be playing tonight, but I am not making the lineup. What is going on here? I don’t know what he’s doing. All I can do is the best I can. That’s how you try to play more, but I am disappointed.
Castillo has hardly played well enough this season to complain much about a lack of playing time, but it’s also easy to see why he’d be frustrated sitting in favor of a 20-year-old who clearly isn’t ready for the majors. Tejada is a promising young player, but he’s also just the latest example of the Mets needlessly rushing a prospect through the system and sending him to New York well before he’s ready. Among the 186 hitters in NL with at least 150 plate appearances this season, Tejada has the lowest OPS at .467.
Jerry Manuel admitted that Tejada isn’t ready offensively, but praised his defense and indicated that Castillo has indeed been relegated to a role player, saying: “Right now we’re probably going to try to see how far we can go with Ruben. It may not be a situation he likes, but it’s a situation he’ll have to adjust to.”
And, of course, if the Mets could trade Castillo they would have done so long ago. He’s making $6 million this season and is still owed another $6 million next year.
After 18 years, 12 winning seasons, seven postseason runs and three World Championships, Dave Righetti is no longer a pitching coach for the Giants. He was removed from his post on Saturday, when the team announced a few reassignments as they shake up their coaching staff. Heading into the 2018 season, Righetti will serve as special assistant to general manager Bobby Evans, former bullpen coach Mark Gardner will step into a similar special assistant role to “assist in pitching evaluations,” and former assistant hitting coach Steve Decker will take a special assistant role in baseball operations.
According to MLB.com’s Chris Haft, Righetti was the longest-tenured pitching coach in the big leagues. He helped shape the careers of notable Giants’ aces like Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain — all Cy Young contenders (and, in Lincecum’s case, a two-time winner) at various points in their careers. He was there to assist Ryan Vogelsong during his stunning mid-career comeback in San Francisco. He helped newcomers like Chris Stratton and Ty Blach flourish even as the team stumbled to the bottom of the division. He was there to take the credit when a sterling rotation clinched the Giants’ 56-year, drought-snapping championship title in 2010 — and, when things went so horribly south in 2017, he took the blame as well.
Hardly anything went right for the Giants’ pitching staff in 2017. Madison Bumgarner was shelved after sustaining a serious shoulder injury in a dirt bike accident, Johnny Cueto couldn’t shake a cluster of blisters on his right hand and Mark Melancon found it difficult to justify a $62 million paycheck after pitching through an arm injury to four blown losses/saves and a 4.50 ERA. It would be a lot for any pitching coach to stay on top of, and given the team’s rapid descent from 2016 postseason contenders to last-place finishers in 2017, it’s not surprising that Evans felt the need to switch things up.
Successors have yet to be named for Righetti, Gardner or Decker, though Murray hears that the Giants could have interest in former major league pitching coach Jim Hickey. NBC Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic adds that Evans is searching for someone to “put a new voice” on the pitching staff and will likely target someone who, like Righetti, brings considerable experience to the role.