Olney: Mets might release Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez

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Apparently Mets GM Sandy Alderson was serious when he put second baseman Luis Castillo and left-hander Oliver Perez on notice in mid-December, saying “if they don’t earn their way on the team, they won’t be on the team.”

Buster Olney of ESPN.com wrote today in his Sunday notes column that the Mets have tried to trade Castillo all winter long and are now internally discussing the possibility of releasing him because no suitors have come forward.  Perez might also get the boot if he shows no signs of progress during spring training.

Castillo, 35, batted just .235 with a .337 on-base percentage and a putrid .267 slugging percentage in 299 plate appearances last season.  He did not homer and he collected just 17 RBI.

The Mets owe him $6 million this season in the final chapter of a four-year, $25 million agreement that was signed in mid-November of 2007.  They would obviously rather move at least part of that salary to another team via trade, but no major league club is going to be interested in adding an aging and unproductive middle infielder, however cheap.  Cutting ties, eating his salary and then moving on may be the best course of action.

Sandy Koufax to be honored with statue at Dodger Stadium

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Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports that Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax will be honored with a statue at Dodger Stadium, expected to be unveiled in 2020. Dodger Stadium will be undergoing major renovations, expected to cost around $100 million, after the season. Koufax’s statue will go in a new entertainment plaza beyond center field. The current statue of Jackie Robinson will be moved into the same area.

Koufax, 83, had a relatively brief career, pitching parts of 12 seasons in the majors, but they were incredible. He was a seven-time All-Star who won the National League Cy Young Award three times (1963, ’65-66) and the NL Most Valuable Player Award once (’63). He contributed greatly to the ’63 and ’65 championship teams and authored four no-hitters, including a perfect game in ’65.

Koufax was also influential in other ways. As Shaikin notes, Koufax refused to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series to observe Yom Kippur. It was an act that would attract national attention and turn Koufax into an American Jewish icon.

Ahead of the 1966 season, Koufax and Don Drysdale banded together to negotiate against the Dodgers, who were trying to pit the pitchers against each other. They sat out spring training, deciding to use their newfound free time to sign  on to the movie Warning Shot. Several weeks later, the Dodgers relented, agreeing to pay Koufax $125,000 and Drysdale $110,000, which was then a lot of money for a baseball player. It would be just a few years later that Curt Flood would challenge the reserve clause. Koufax, Drysdale, and Flood helped the MLB Players Association, founded in 1966, gain traction under the leadership of Marvin Miller.