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.     

Mike Rizzo and Shawn Kelley almost got into a physical confrontation

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A few weeks back the Washington Nationals designated reliever Shawn Kelley for assignment the morning after he threw his glove into the ground and glared at the Nats dugout in frustration after giving up a homer in a blowout win against the Mets. He was later traded to the Athletics. Nats GM Mike Rizzo said at that time that he thought Kelley was trying to show up his manager and that there was no room for that sort of thing on the team, offering an “either you’re with us or you’re working against us” sentiment in the process.

Today the Washington Post talks about all of the Nationals’ bullpen woes of late, and touches on the departure of Kelley as being part of the problem. In so doing, we learn that, on the night of Kelley’s mound tantrum, he and Rizzo almost got into a physical confrontation:

Rizzo headed down to the clubhouse and confronted Kelley, according to people familiar with the situation. The argument became heated, including raised voices, and eventually it almost became physical, according to people familiar with the exchange. Adam Eaton got between the two of them and separated them before things could advance further . . .

Might I point out that, the fact of this emerging now helps to vindicate Brandon Kintzler who, the day before, was traded away, some say, for being the source for negative reports from inside the Nats’ clubhouse?

That aside, the article does not make anyone look good, really. Rizzo had the backing of his team with the Kelley incident, but the overall story — how did the Nats’ bullpen, which was once a strength — get so bad? — does no favors for Rizzo. Mostly because he seems to have thought that they had so much extra bullpen depth that they could afford to deal away Kintzler, which he says was a financial move, not a punitive trade for being a media source.

Question: when was the last time you heard a baseball man say he had too much relief pitching? Especially today, in which the bullpen has assumed such a prominent role? Seems rather unreasonable to cut relievers when you’re trying mightily to come back from a sizable deficit in the standings, yes?