Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sorry, Brian Cashman, Mets Don't Always Do the Wrong Thing

Nobody knows better than Met fans that the team has been guilty of a string of ridiculous moves in recent years. But even a stopped clock is right twice a day. And sometimes, especially now that there's a new regime, when a Pedro Feliciano is not re-signed or a Luis Castillo is cut, there's a good reason.

As Squawker Lisa wrote yesterday, Cashman apparently failed to grasp that Feliciano led the majors in appearances the last three seasons, which was why the Mets and most other teams did not want to give him a two-year deal.

For Cashman to accuse the Mets of "abusing" Feliciano would be as if Phillies' GM Ruben Amaro Jr., after signing Castillo, blamed the Mets after discovering that Castillo was over the hill.

The perception of the Mets' incompetence appears to extend beyond that of rival GMs. When Castillo was released, ESPN's Buster Olney wrote:

Luis Castillo may have lost his support among New York Mets fans by the time he was placed on waivers Friday, but he has long-standing connections around baseball, established through his past success. Which is why he will almost certainly have a new job within 24 hours after he clears waivers today at 1 p.m.

Olney implied that Castillo was cut primarily to appease the fans (a theory Sandy Alderson was guilty of encouraging by admitting the fan factor). He went on to list the Phillies, Rockies, Cubs and Marlins as potential suitors for Castillo's services. Olney concluded:

None of that personal history will matter, of course, if Castillo struggles in his next job. But in baseball -- as in a lot of industries -- it's about who you know, and Castillo, a respected veteran with 15 years, a .290 lifetime average and 370 career steals, will be employed again very shortly.

Olney was right - Castillo quickly landed with the Phillies. But is this the way the rest of baseball really views Castillo - a "respected veteran" with "370 career steals"? Was it only disgruntled Met fans who saw a broken-down player who often had trouble walking without a limp, let alone running?

But the Phillies bought into that "respected veteran" tag, and doubtless also saw a way to stick it to the Mets, by signing Castillo. After all, another Met castoff, Wilson Valdez, filled in ably for Jimmy Rollins last year and now will be filling in for Chase Utley.

Ultimately, the Phillies spent a few days in spring training to discover what the Mets already knew - Castillo wasn't worth it. So they let him go. But some news outlets such as the Sports Network continued to spin the notion that Castillo was worthy of a roster spot:

As expected, the Philadelphia Phillies have placed second baseman Chase Utley and reliever Brad Lidge on the disabled list to start the season.

In related but unexpected news Wednesday, the club released veteran second baseman Luis Castillo.

Unexpected? Is Castillo now the Cliff Lee of spring free agents? How many more times must Castillo fail before people concede that it was a smart baseball decision for the Mets to let Castillo go?

At least even the Mets' detractors haven't been able to find a way to criticize the release of Oliver Perez.

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