Sep 12, 2015

Late 2000's Mets Second Baseman: Luis Castillo (2007-2010)

Luis Antonio Castillo was born on September 12th, 1975 in San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic. The five foor eleven second baseman was signed by the Florida Marlins as an amateur free agent in 1992.

In 1995 he hit .326 at A ball Kane County & then .317 at AA Portland the next season. He got his MLB debut in August of 1996, coming against the New York Mets. In just his second career game he had a 10th inning walk off base, coming off the Mets Doug Henry in the 2-1 Marlin win. He hit .354 in 37 games at AAA Charlotte in 1997 & was brought right back to the Marlins bog league team.

He hit just .240 in 75 games for the Marlins World Championship team, but did not see any post season action due to an injury & playing behind Craig Counsel. By 1999 he became the Marlins main second baseman, holding that spot for the next seven seasons, making two All Star teams & winning three Gold Gloves.

The quick footed Castillo led the NL in stolen bases & singles twice (2000 & 2002) stealing thirty plus bases for four straight seasons. Castillo would bat over .300 five times for the Marlins, while scoring ninety or more runs four times.

In 2002 he had the leagues best hit streak, at 35 games. At second base he was one of the top defensive players at the position, winning Gold Gloves three straight years (2002-2004). From the end of 2003 into 2004 he had a 69 consecutive errorless game streak going.

In the 2003 Marlins Championship season he led the team in batting (.314) & on base % (.381%). He hit 6 HRs with 19 doubles 6 triples & 39 RBIs. He was second on the team to Juan Pierre in triples (6) runs scored (99) & steals (21 tied with Derek Lee).

Post Season: In the NLDS win over the San Francisco Giants, he hit .294 with an RBI & three walks with two runs scored.

In the NLCS win over the Chicago Cubs, he was the batter who hit the famous foul ball down the third base line that a fan reached out & grabbed, preventing Moises Alou from making the out. At the time the Cubs were leading the Marlins 3-0 in the 8th inning with one out. Castillo soon walked & scored in Marlins eight run inning.

Over all in the series he had three hits in the Game one Florida win, but then had just three more hits in the entire seven game series. Castillo did draw at least one walk in five of the seven games.

In the final Game #6 of the World Series, he drove in the first of the two Marlins runs with an RBI single off Andy Petitte. Josh Beckett completed the five hit shutout in New York, as the Marlins won their second title in seven years.

After hitting .301 in 2005, he was traded to the Minnesota Twins in December for Travis Bowyer & a minor leaguer. He hit .296 & stole 25 bases (8th in the AL) with the A.L. Central champion Twins, & was one of the league's top second baseman defensively as well.

From 2006 into mid 2007 he broke Ryne Sandberg's 143 consecutive errorless game record, that was quickly broken by Placido Polanco.

In 2007 he was batting .304 after 85 games when he was traded to the New York Mets for Drew Butera & Dustin Martin. The Mets were in need of a second baseman after Jose Valentin went down with injury at the end of his career & Ruben Gotay wasn't yet proven to be an everyday player, although he did hit .295 in 98 games. At the time the Mets were in first place looking to stay on top & have a good post season run.

Castillo debuted with the Mets on July 31st, 2007 getting a hit in a 4-2 loss to the Brewers in Milwaukee. A week later Castillo had a big four hit day at Wrigley Field, in an 8-3 Mets win.

On August 8th, his 7th inning single off Ron Mahay, tied up a game 3-3, the Mets went on to win 4-3 against the Atlanta Braves. Castillo drove in ten runs over the next two weeks getting his average up over .300 again.

In the month of September, Castillo hit safely in twenty of twenty four games, finishing the year at .301. Unfortunately the Mets dropped five of their last six games & lost out on getting into the playoffs on the last day of the season. At the end of the year, the Mets signed him to a four year deal worth $25 million. It was another one of Omar Minaya's bad decisions & was an unpopular one with the fans.

In 2008 the Mets missed another chance at the playoff, by losing the last game every played at Shea Stadium to Castillo's old Marlins team. Castillo's year was dreadful as he suffered injuries, playing in just 87 games batting .245, his worst batting average in eleven years. Veteran Damion Easley played in his place while injured & batted .269 & became more popular with Mets fans than Castillo.

2009 was better for Castillo as he quietly batted .302, in the new Citi Field, but the Mets finished fourth that year, their worst finish in five years & Mets fans were very unhappy. Castillo stole twenty bases, his highest total in five seasons, had 12 doubles three triples & 40 RBIs. His only HR of the year came at Citi Field, a two run shot in a 3-2 win over the San Francisco Giants.

On June 12th in the subway series in the Bronx, he dropped a fly ball that would have been the third out & ended the game with a -7 Mets win. Instead his error led to two walk off runs an a Mets loss. The play destroyed Castillo's reputation with Mets fans. The rest of his time in New York was awful.

In 2010 he was booed at Spring Training & the same happened when he got to Citi Field. In 86 games he batted just .235 with 17 RBIs on the year. In June he was placed on the DL having problems with both his feet. That season he was criticized again when he Carlos Beltran & Oliver Perez refused to go to a hospital where military soldiers who had been amputated were being treated. Castillo claimed he did not want to be horrified by the experience.

In 2011 he was released at Spring Training, after being booed again & not producing. He signed a minor league deal with the Philadelphia Phillies but was released once again.

In a 15 year career, he hit .290 with 1889 hits 194 doubles 59 triples 28 HRs 443 RBIs 370 stolen bases & a .368 on base %. At second base he played 1683 games (25th all time) with a .984 fielding % (38th all time) turning 1051 double plays 922nd all time).

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