After signing a four-year, $24 million contract last winter, Luis Castillo was a huge disappointment in his first full season with the Mets. He hit just .245, nearly 50 points below his career average, and spent large chunks of the season on the bench after losing his regular starting job to the likes of Damion Easley and Argenis Reyes.
Ordinarily you'd think the Mets would try to move Castillo, but they've decided to give him another chance, and not just because his contract makes him nearly untradeable. Soon after the season ended, Castillo had his agent arrange a face-to-face meeting with GM Omar Minaya and VP Tony Bernazard in which he took responsibility for his poor showing and pleaded for a chance to redeem himself. From the New York Post:
"He wanted to let the front office know that he was disappointed in how the year went, and promise to do everything he could to get in shape and be the kind of player he had been for 10 years," Minaya said.
The cynic will say this sounds like pure spin, but there's reason beyond just his track record (before last year, he hit at least .291 ever year since 2001) to hope Castillo can bounce back. For one, he's actually healthy; he spent last winter recovering from knee surgery, which meant he showed up to training camp less than ideal shape. This winter, the Mets head trainer is monitoring Castillo's conditioning to make sure he stays on track.
Castillo hit just .111 in September, but he'll have a chance to get his swing back while playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic. And if he does hit any rough patches, the fact that Easley is expected to sign elsewhere and Reyes hit just .218 as a rookie suggests that Castillo should be allowed to play his way through any slumps.