I really figured by now, with a little more than two weeks to go until Opening Day, that the Mets would have sent Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez packing. But to my chagrin, both are still in camp and threatening to come north when the season begins.
Surprising? Not really. Perez ($12 million) and Castillo ($6 million) have the Mets on the hook for $18 million this season. When you’re saddled by more debt than many European countries and may have to cough up hundreds of millions more to the Madoff trustee, it’s hard to eat $18 million. It’s also hard to eat solid food. So cutting your losses just won’t cut it. Somehow, some way, the Mets are hoping they can squeeze blood (money) from a stone and derive value from Perez and Castillo.
It seems absurd, doesn’t it? Perez can barely reach 85 mph with his fastball and has been relegated to left-handed relief specialist. Good luck with that. Castillo, perhaps the most unpopular Met since Vince “Firecracker” Coleman, should have been ditched last season. The fact that he’s still in play even though the Mets have four other guys competing for the job at second base, is a clear sign that: a) he’s the best candidate they have at second b) they really don’t have a second baseman c) they’d rather eat week-old dirty water dogs than Castillo’s salary d) all of the above.
Here’s what I think, for what it’s worth: the Mets are hoping that Perez and Castillo show just enough life to make the Opening Day roster. Both guys then play just well enough so they can be traded by mid-season to anyone foolish enough to assume even a small portion of their salary. Maybe, just maybe, the Mets can recoup $4-5 million of the $18 million that would otherwise be flushed down the toilets of Flushing.
In dire times like this, small victories count. And they pay a few bills.