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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Mets bullpen causes another loss and K-Rod arrested for assault after the game

New York -  As ugly as the New York Mets 6-2 loss to the Colorado Rockies was Wednesday evening at Citi Field, things got worse moments later in the family room when closer Frankie Rodriguez assaulted his father-in-law and was charged with third degree assault.

Rodriguez took his anguish out on reporters in the clubhouse when asked “If he was ready to pitch.”  Because the Mets bullpen imploded and squandered a lead, as K-Rod with two outs in the eighth inning was not called on by manager Jerry Manuel to get a four-out save.

“I didn’t pitch,” said an angered Rodriguez. “I don’t have to talk to you guys,” as he stormed out of the clubhouse and is now known, he assaulted his father-in-law. With the bases loaded, Manuel opted to use the seldom used Manny Acosta who threw a 2-2 curve to Melvin Mora that went over the left field wall.

The grand slam for Mora, the fourth of his career and a National League leading ninth given up by Mets pitchers this season, also epitomized another night of frustration that may have also put a final dent in any hopes for a Mets postseason. The Mets failed to win back-to-back games for the 42nd straight time, and the K-Rod incident also indicates a frustration and implosion of a season gone bad.

Acosta followed the grand slam with a walk and two singles, including a run scoring single hit by Clint Barmes to short left. “It was a slider, a good pitch,” commented Acosta about the home run ball thrown to Mora.

“I’ve been in this situation many years, and I know the pressure isn’t on me it’s on the pitcher,” said Mora about his grand slam. The former Met added, : “I love that pressure and I love that situation.”

“I knew he had a chance when he swung the ball, it was a big hit, a big win,” said Carlos Gonzalez,” ranked in the top five of the National League in average, home runs, RBI and ruins scored.

Manuel defended his reason for not using K-Rod in the situation, way before his closer had his eruption in the clubhouse and then taken into custody. “Usually when we use K-Rod the night before we wouldn’t take that shot,” he said referring to Rodriguez working the previous evening when he notched his 25th save with a perfect ninth inning.

“We have to find a way to get that out,” he said. “We have no margin of error.” And Mets fans, many of the 30,554 who left after the bullpen implosion let Manuel know they were displeased not bringing in K-Rod by chanting a “Fire Jerry” chant. The Mets trail first place Atlanta by 9-1/2 games and need to jump over six other teams in the wild card race.

“That’s part of it,” Manuel said. “When you make decisions and they don’t work out New York will let you know.”  The Mets were limited to three hits as the offense continues to struggle. David Wright also heard it from the fans, striking out four times which tied a career high. Since the all-star break, Wright is hitting .196 and .061 in the month of August.

After a first inning where the Mets scored their two runs on the 10th home run of the season hit by Angel Pagan, a career high, the Mets would produce one walk and one other hit.  At one point Rockies pitching struck out seven straight, including winning pitcher Matt Belisle (5-4) who came out of the pen and struck out three in the seventh.

The Mets did not get a base runner after the fifth inning. “I’m not having much fun right now,” said Wright, its rough.” As for the fans also getting on his case, he said “They are obviously frustrated as we are. The fans have every right to voice their opinion.”

Jonathon Niese gave up one run in seven innings and struck out seven failing to get the decision as the Mets bullpen gave up five Colorado runs in the eighth inning with two outs. “This is rough,” said Niese. “It’s tough to watch.”

Manuel said Niese was complaining about pain in his lower hamstring, a reason he did not come out for the eighth, But, like so many negative conditions that exist with the Mets, Niese contradicted what his manager said when asked if there was a problem again with his hamstring.

More so, much tougher to watch a team implode as they may be without their closer. Rodriguez has more pressing issues to deal with as Johan Santana (9-6) takes the mound Thursday afternoon and tries to earn the Mets a series win in what will probably be a very hush Mets clubhouse.

A season on the brink and very little to save, no pun intended.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Acosta, Anguish, Big Win, Bullpen, Carlos Gonzalez, Clint Barmes, Clubhouse, Colorado Rockies, Degree Assault, Eighth Inning, Grand Slam, Home Runs, Implosion, Melvin Mora, New York Mets, Pitchers, Slider, Straight Time, Third Degree, Top Story, Wednesday Evening

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on August 12, 2010

Snakes Continue To Bite Mets

New York – Last week at Chase Field in Phoenix Arizona the Diamondbacks handed the New York Mets a three-game sweep. That continued, in what would be a dismal 2-9 west coast trip for New York that had them looking for redemption at Citi Field Friday evening,

However, Mike Pelfrey continued to have his first inning struggles and Arizona picked up where they left off last week taking the opening game of a three- game weekend set 9-6. Another loss for the Mets that left them at 52-51, 7-1/2 games behind first pace Atlanta and in a fourth place tie with Florida in the NL East.

It is starting to get dismal at Citi Field.  And the Mets also have to wonder what has happened to Pelfrey who surrendered three runs in the first inning. The Mets would get even in their half of the first on the first of two home runs from David Wright. It was a three- run blast off winning pitcher Ian Kennedy (6-8).

As for Pelfrey (10-5) who failed to get the decision, the Mets have to hope their right hander can return to form if they have any chance of making the postseason. And once again the Diamondbacks had his number, 0-5 in his last seven starts against them. In his last start at Arizona on July 19th he threw 51 pitches in the first inning and was removed after getting four outs in the shortest outing of his career.

“Everybody else in the rotation has been throwing the ball great and I’ve kind of taken a step back from early in the year,” said Pelfrey. In his last six starts, he’s worked 25.1 innings, allowing 54 hits, 28 runs, 27 earned with 14 walks and 13 strikeouts.

“I definitely plan on getting this thing turned around and back on track so we can plan on winning some games,” he said.  Mets manager Jerry Manuel said adjustments will have to be made. There is the high pitch count, “still confident we have a young pitcher and don’t think it’s demoralizing,” said Manuel about his starter.

Wright drove in five runs and with his second home run in the third off Kennedy, 17th of the year with two on, gave the Mets a 5-4 lead. After retiring seven straight D-backs with one out in the sixth, Kennedy reached first on an error from shortstop Jose Reyes.

“A routine ground ball, I have to make that play,” said Reyes who extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a single in the first. Pelfrey after throwing 118 pitches had a chance to win. Enter Raul Valdes (2-3) who failed to retire the four batters he faced. The home run to center off the bat of Kelly Johnson gave Arizona a 6-5 lead.

Two more singles and on the 14th pitch thrown by Valdes, Miguel Montero hit a home run off the second deck in right field, a five-run Diamondbacks inning that helped his team snap a seven-game losing streak. “I’m swinging  at better pitches, I think,” said Montero about his fourth home run.

As to why the Diamondbacks have the Mets number, he said, “I honestly don’t know; it’s just baseball I guess.”  Montero has hit two home runs and driven in six in his last two games. Thursday evening he connected against the Phillies and has now hit a home run in consecutive games for the second time this year.

Manuel said it was the right situation for Valdes who warmed up in the pen four times before coming in. “It was a good match up in that situation,” said Manuel about the home run ball thrown to Johnson.

But the Mets still have two more games with the Diamondbacks and have to figure out how to take this series against the second worst team in the National League. If not the road trip next week against Atlanta and the surging Philadelphia Phillies could determine their season.

“Anytime one or two of their hitters gets hot they can give us trouble,” explained Manuel about his team troubles with Arizona.

Notes:  Before the game outfielder Jason Bay was laced on the 15-day disabled list from the minor concussion he sustained crashing into the outfield wall out in Los Angeles last Friday evening. The Mets recalled outfielder Jesus Felicano from Triple- A Buffalo.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Chase Field, Citi, David Wright, Diamondbacks, Friday Evening, Game Sweep, Game Weekend, High Pitch, Home Runs, Mets New York, Mike Pelfrey, New York Mets, Nl East, Number 0, Phoenix Arizona, Pitches, Place Tie, Right Hander, Top Story, West Coast Trip, Young Pitcher

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on July 31, 2010

Ike Having Time of His Life

New York – Ike Davis ran out of the visiting clubhouse at Yankee Stadium on before the game on Saturday. He was quickly reminded he had a very important task to do.

“Got it done,” he proudly would say afterward.

Davis wasn’t doing anything Met related here, actually he was doing a more important assignment, leaving tickets for his dad Ron who was in for Father’s Day.

“He probably would have gone back to Arizona,” Ike would laugh.

Well, there was no Joe DiMaggio-like incident that day and like everything else Davis has been doing this year, he has doing it well. The freshman first baseman has been a godsend for his club, as he has fit very nicely into the middle of the Met lineup.

In the year of the rookie, where young players like Stephen Strasburg, Jason Heywood, Austin Jackson, and Brennan Boesch have taken all the headlines, Davis has quietly become one of the leading rookies in baseball.

“I don’t think I am under the radar,” Davis said. “I am just here trying to help my club win.”

After starting out sixth in the lineup, manager Jerry Manuel moved Davis to the cleanup position. Although he has tailed off from hot start, the 23 year-old is second in among rookies in home runs with eight while his .268 batting average is fourth in the freshman rankings.

And Davis is doing it in the field as well with tremendous defense at first base, including three over the railing catches into the dugout at Citi Field.

More importantly, Davis was there when the Mets needed him last night, going 3-6 with three RBI and one run scored in the Mets 14-6 win over Jackson, Boesch and the Detroit Tigers.

“We played hard today and found some holes,” Davis said. “We were patient at the plate and we were keying on pitches.”

Davis seems to be having a lot of fun with these Mets. His attitude is contagious, smiling out there, while the club looked for an identity, especially at home.

He has become a fan favorite with chants of “We like Ike” coming down from the Citi Field rafters even when he wasn’t at the plate.

“It’s great to play here,” he said. “It’s good to be able to sleep in our own beds and we are real comfortable playing on this field and seeing this hitting background.”

It’s a comfort his dad had with the Yankees back from 1978 to 1982. But now Ron is a full Met fan as his No. 1 player is staring with the club.

And yes, Dad was able to see the Mets lose to his Yankees this weekend, but more importantly, Davis was able to go fishing off City Island with his father on Monday’s off-day.

“I caught three stripers,” he said.

It’s a good thing he left the tickets.

Posted under Batting Average, Brennan Boesch, Chants, Cleanup Position, Clubhouse, Detroit Tigers, Dugout, First Baseman, Freshman, Godsend, Having Time, Holes, Home Runs, Joe Dimaggio, Joe Mcdonald, Mets, New York Mets, Pitches, Railing, Rbi, Rookies, Strasburg, Top Story, Yankee Stadium

This post was written by Joe McDonald on June 23, 2010