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Sloppy Seconds

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Seeing their roster ravaged by injuries, Mets Brass addressed their biggest weakness on Monday by trading for Luis Castillo. You can't fault their logic: They were down to their last three second basemen, and only two of them were out-slugging Carlos Delgado.

Words can't express how wrongheaded this trade is. But I can. The Mets brought in a player they don't need who doesn't want to be here, playing him over a younger guy who would walk through fire (or at least foul off the tough pitches) for a win. Ruben Gotay will ride the pine even after his recent work against the Nats, when he took the Star Trek Voyager approach and reached base 7 of 9 tries.

I won't bore you with the numbers. I won't point out that Castillo has a grand total of 14 extra-base hits in grass parks over the last two years combined. I won't say that Castillo's line-drive rate of 14.4% this year suggests he should be hitting .250 instead of .300, nor will I say that Gotay's line-drive rate of 25.5% suggests his .350 average is legit. I won't diminish a Castillo strength - he sees 4 pitches per plate appearance - by pointing out that Gotay is even stronger in this area, leading the team at 4.20 P/PA. I won't do any of that.

Even if Castillo were having the better year with the stick, I'd still hate the deal. Fans are on shaky ground when they try to analyze team chemistry from afar. But it's not a stretch to suggest that a guy who smiles, like Lastings Milledge, is having more fun than a guy who glowers, like Guillermo Mota. He's more fun to watch, anyway. Is Castillo fun? He greeted the news that he was headed to a first-place team by saying "I'm not feeling too good," earning the Tommy Herr Award for team spirit. After fouling off a pitch in Tuesday night's game, he trudged back to the batter's box with a downcast head, like he was Charlie Brown after balking in the losing run. When he left the bases loaded in the seventh, he made a bee line for the clubhouse, bypassing the dugout for some "me time." Oh, this is fun.

"But they got him cheap!" They didn't give up much, it seems. But even if someone's willing to sell you a $30,000 car for $20,000, there's no law that says you have to buy it - especially if you already have a better car and what you really need is a down payment on a house with some bullpen help.

"But he's a glove wizard!" Castillo's got soft hands and good range, sure. But on this team, who cares? The middle infielders get, what, three grounders a game? If they want to improve the defense they should give Shawn Green some bionic legs. Oh I remember now - Gotay threw away a DP in Los Angeles, and it cost them the game. But the Dodgers scored 8 runs that day, and Gotay wasn't on the hill, I don't think. Unless Ruben spent the afternoon corking Matt Kemp's bat, I think the loss goes to Jorge Sosa.

Anyway, Gotay's D would be fine if Willie Randolph would just sit him down and say, "Look kid, forget the tabloids and don't listen to mlbtraderumors.com - you're my second baseman, period." Willie did the exact opposite, pissing on every one of Gotay's 2-for-4 games by saying that he was filling in okay but he wasn't "the guy." And then ESPN runs a headline saying "Mets fill second base void with Twins' Castillo." Now that's just hurtful, and I hate to see my guys get hurt.