First Castillo, now Ollie is finally gone as Revamp Continues for the Mets

Luis Castillo released by New York Mets on Friday was just the beginning. General Manager Sandy Alderson on Monday made the inevitable announcement and pitcher Oliver Perez followed Castillo out the door.

And with the exception of that championship run in 2006, Perez with the huge three-year $36 million contract, granted from then GM Omar Minaya, was a huge bust.  The control was gone, velocity of the fastball did not exist and Perez became an albatross to an organization obviously in the revamping process.

Simply put “Ollie”, as he was known worked his way out the door. That last game of the season at Citi Field in early October should have been the determining factor. Perez came out of the bullpen in an extra inning and meaningless game.  No control then that gave the Washington Nationals a win for the winter.

Except Perez remained as the transition to a new GM and manager started, and for whatever reason, possibly because Perez had that contract, Alderson gave him a chance in spring games.  Then down in Port St. Lucie Saturday he gave up back-to back home runs to two Washington National career minor leaguers.

Said Alderson, different from what was said when Castillo was released, “As I said during the winter our plan was to bring Oliver to spring training and give him a chance. After trying him as a starter and out of the bullpen, we felt that we needed to move in a different direction.”

The right direction because, no different from the Castillo situation, Perez would have heard a resounding amount of boos when the team comes home for their home opener at Citi Field against the Nationals on Friday afternoon April 9th.

Ownership, similar to the Castillo situation approved the decision even as they struggle with financial issues and owe Perez the remaining $12 million of a three-year contract that Perez signed in 2009. Last season Perez went 0-5 with a 6.80 ERA after going 3-4 with a 6.82 ERA the year before. Perez commented before he left the Mets spring training complex, “They have me the opportunity. They were fair to me.” He said the team gave him the opportunity, “and I didn’t do anything great.”

Well at least Perez admits he was not great. The contract was not deserved and Minaya may have made him one of his reclamation projects as Perez showed he had something in 2006. And Minaya could not get the big guys that were available for free agency including CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett who went cross-town to the Yankees.

Perez had tow stints on the disabled list and made things worse by refusing to take a minor league assignment in attempts to get back to form.  “Ollie made every effort,” commented Alderson. Yeah but not enough to earn him at least a role out of the bullpen and those in the know have said that Perez believed he was a starter and not one to come out of the pen.

So for now, the Mets have relieved themselves of two headaches with Castillo and Perez gone. In the end payroll flexibility can still be an issue with the financial issues of ownership as the team continues this revamping process.

Acquired by the Mets from the Minnesota Twins on July 30, 2007, for two minor leaguers, Castillo was to then GM Omar Minaya a perfect fit for a team that had playoff aspirations. A perfect fit at second base, a position now in baseball that has become known more for a good glove rather than production at the plate.

Though Castillo had the ability to get on base and drive in runs. That is, until he came to New York during the Minaya regime. He arrived in New York at a time when the Mets did not spend their money correctly and Castillo became an abomination, a cancer in the clubhouse and on the field.

So now the Mets eat the remaining $6 million of his salary, another loss of money not wisely spent during the Minaya regime.  Castillo is also saved from hearing boos of fans at Citi Field, though that never seemed to bother him. There was a time last season when Castillo was asked if the fans got to him?

“I just play the game,” he would say in the Mets clubhouse at Citi Field. And he had little to say about the blunder that never disappeared, a ninth inning dropped ball at second in 2009 at Yankee Stadium. Alex Rodriguez hit a pop up allowing Mark Teixeira to score the winning run, and the cross-town Yankees stole a win from the Mets. Closer Francisco Rodriguez showed his frustration on the mound.

That play will always be the legacy of Castillo in a Mets uniform. Outside Yankee Stadium that Friday evening, even Yankee fans would sympathize with a Mets fan. But the Mets fan would never forgive Castillo and Alderson, the new sheriff in town, had to take the fans into consideration when making the decision.

The GM commented, “Don’t think there’s any question that there’s some linkage between the situation and a perception of the Mets that has existed at this point.”   He added, “It is something taken into account.”

And if it were not for the contract, four-years and $25 million, perhaps the release would have come sooner. The 35-year old Castillo batted .235, with no homers and 17 RBI in 247 at bats last season. Limited playing time for a lack of production, and his work ethic at times may have been questioned.

Castillo said Friday he was not given a chance to compete for the second base job this spring. The Mets were obviously going in another direction and last season used a combination of players at the position while Castillo and his salary sat on the bench.

It was an acquisition that came to late for the New York Mets. But Minaya made those mistakes and at times was questioned, which ultimately cost his job along with other failures.  At one time Castillo was that quality player with a .299 career average over 13 major league seasons, 194 doubles, 59 triples, 28 home runs, 443 RBI, and 370 stolen bases.

It just did not work for him in New York, perhaps extending his stay. And Castillo had his chance. It was his job at second, and he blew it by slacking at times and not giving that proper explanation to Mets fans after that disastrous dropped ball against the Yankees.

“Its baseball,” he would say in the visitor’s clubhouse that night at Yankee Stadium. Yeah, but this is New York and fans expect more from a $25 million dollar player. They expected a better and more valid explanation. They never got it.

Two less player decisions now for Alderson and new manager Terry Collins as the Mets put the finishing touches on this spring and get ready for 2011. Second base is still up for grabs with Luis Hernandez as the leading candidate to take over. But count on this, Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo won’t be there.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring 786@aol.com



Posted under Albatross, Bullpen, Fastball, Friday Afternoon, Home Opener, Home Runs, Last Game, Luis Castillo, Meaningless Game, National Career, New York Mets, Oliver Perez, Ollie, Omar Minaya, Rich Mancuso, Sandy Alderson, Spring Games, Spring Training, Top Story, Washington Nationals

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on March 23, 2011

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Alderson Introduced As New Mets GM

Sandy Alderson had an auspicious debut as the new General Manager of the New York Mets Friday afternoon at Citi Field. There was the presence of a baseball veteran, knowledge and experience that obviously made an impression to Mets ownership during the interview process.

And, Alderson, 62, who at one time built the Oakland Athletics teams that played in three consecutive World Series  from 1988-1990, and won the championship in 1989, may be what the Mets need. The immediate impact to slowly begin the process of getting the Mets back to playing baseball in October, though that may take some time.

Alderson is not a new kid on the block and has his own style. That was addressed when the question was asked about how his style would be different from his predecessor Omar Minaya.  “One of the things I like about a job like this is you have to act,” said Alderson.

And act he will. With financial flexibility, to make the Mets a contender again and not being the second team in town to the New York Yankees. Though during the course of his introduction to New York, there was no mention of the cross-town Yankees. Just a commitment to be in the free agent market every year, and not immediately in 2011

He stressed more than once about the job being fun, that baseball was entertainment, and not like Minaya, constantly talked about his job being, a  collaborative effort with ownership, the players and scouting departments.

“All the elements are here, a great area to be, and great fans,” said Alderson about why he took on the opportunity of a four-year contract through 2014 with a club option for 2015.

There is a lot of work to be done from financial flexibility, player personnel, to the hiring of a new manager. There are some candidates to succeed Jerry Manuel that Alderson has in mind. But the managerial situation will begin in a few days so Alderson can have one in place for the upcoming GM and winter meetings that plans a process for the upcoming season.

There is optimism at Citi Field as a new regime takes over. And that word of Collaboration that was so often mentioned will begin in the front office. Alderson saw that happen in his four years as CEO of the San Diego Padres where he led them to back-to-back playoff appearances in 2005 and 2006 and recently working as a special consultant to the Commissioner of Baseball for Latin America.

Alderson, the 13th GM in franchise history reminds many of Frank Cashen, the Mets Hall of Fame inductee who reshaped the organization and built a championship team in 1986. On Friday that renewed spirit of seeing those days again in Flushing Queens came when Alderson spoke.

But every Mets fan knows hope has always been eternal. Since the Cashen years there have been three close opportunities at bringing the prized trophy home. More so, a 2000 Subway World Series loss to the Yankees when Steve Phillips was the GM, and the 2006 NLCS loss to the St. Louis Cardinals under Minaya, a series that every Mets fan refuses to forget.

Will Alderson succeed in what Omar Minaya could not do the past few years?  “There is hope now,” said longtime Mets season ticket holder Eddie Lopez who sat at a table in back of the Caesars Club. “Minaya was around to long and he (Alderson) brings something to the table,” he said.

Lopez was one of the many season ticket holders that were invited to the welcome party because the Mets fan base is so important. The new ballpark, the fans, something also that Alderson reiterated in his remarks that was another reason why he took the job.

“Getting back to being a general manager was something I wanted to do under the right circumstances,” he said.  So whatever Mets owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon said to Alderson during the interview process had to be the right circumstance.

It did not work under Minaya, even though he had the liberty to spend money. But you get the feeling there will be no favoritism played, no favors granted to player agents that Minaya had close ties with. The roster comprised from trades and a restructured scouting department that brings in homegrown talent.

Will there be an immediate turnaround?  It will be difficult turning it around in 2011 because the Mets are committed to $130 million in payroll.  Alderson won’t have the liberty to spend but plenty of roster decisions to address. Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo, who get some of that payroll, and what to do with the bad image and contract of closer Francisco Rodriquez who was recently reactivated.

Alderson is just settling in. He would not provide much as to who or what for 2011, again hiring a manager he can work with is the first priority. But what every Mets fan wants to know, are our troubles and agonizing days of losing coming to an end?

Time will tell as there is hope. Jeff and Fred Wilpon did not have that concerned look, like they did a day after the season ended three weeks ago when they relieved Minaya and did not bring Manuel back.

This time the Mets hierarchy got it right bringing Alderson to New York.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Auspicious Debut, Club Option, Collaborative Effort, Consecutive World Series, Contender, Cross Town, Financial Flexibility, Free Agent Market, Friday Afternoon, Kid On The Block, Mets Gm, New Kid On The Block, New York Mets, New York Yankees, Oakland Athletics, Omar Minaya, Predecessor, Sandy Alderson, Top Story, Winter Meetings, World Series

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on October 30, 2010