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02/08/09 10:00 AM EST

Inbox: What's the plan for Castillo?

Beat reporter Marty Noble answers Mets fans' questions

It is recognized that the Luis Castillo contract is not working out. Could the Mets possibly buy out Castillo's contract, the way the Dodgers bought out Andruw Jones', and then sign Orlando Hudson to play second base. Or how about having Hudson switch positions?
-- Andrew T., North Babylon, N.Y.

The Mets have considered the alternatives you cite. Buying out a player isn't easily done. Why would a player forfeit guaranteed money? And deferring payment doesn't necessarily reduce a club's obligation to a player. The club discussed signing Hudson and having him play a different position -- it would have to be left field. But it's thought he eventually would gravitate to second -- or be "gravitated" -- and that scenario, the Mets sensed, would undermine Castillo and create the circumstance where Hudson would play second, and Castillo would become an expensive wallflower.

Do you think that, in this economy and given Castillo's abilities, that there is any shot the Mets could trade him?
-- Dean E., Dix Hills, N.Y.


Do you see Marlon Anderson making the team this year? All of the projected rosters I've seen have him on the 25-man roster, and I am aware that he will make more than $1 million. But does his performance warrant keeping a defensively subpar, left-handed hitter who batted .210 last season and had seven extra-base hits? I know he's a strong clubhouse presence, for whatever that's worth, and once was a great pinch-hitter. Will he be traded, released, or will he make the team?
-- Josh B., Virginia Beach, Va.

Anderson had a poor '08 season, no question. He knows that. Injuries contributed to his lack of production. He has lost 20 pounds and intends to be in terrific shape when camp begins next week. The Mets are left-handed-heavy, but if Anderson, 35, can produce off the bench as he did in 2005, he would be a valuable asset. Not everyone has the pinch-hitting gene. The Mets will take a look and see what he has.

Isn't the Manny Ramirez issue really about the money? If they want to erase the past few seasons, the Mets should add Manny as protection if Carlos Delgado struggles like he did early last season. Would you say that this lineup is better than 2005? I know people blamed the bullpen the last two years, but the hitting didn't come through in September either. I'd rather have Manny on my team come playoff time than on the Dodgers.
-- Brent H., Forest Hills, N.Y.

I wanted to have a moratorium on the Manny issue because there has been no indication from the club that it has any intention of even inquiring about him. It's possible, I suppose, that the Mets will wait until Ramirez is about to sign elsewhere, swoop in, better the existing offer, and come away with an explosive hitter who is a danger in different ways, not to mention expensive. And I agree, the notion of protecting against a repeat of Delgado's invisible first half of '08 has merit. But if the club finds Manny to be an unsound investment, all the rallies and e-mails serve no purpose.

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Most of the e-mails I receive merely assume the Mets can throw $45 million at a player. Those writing the e-mails mention $45 million-$50 million as if it's $45-$50. Ramirez would be an enormous investment and, because of his behavioral track record, a sizable risk. I would think the most avid Manny supporter would acknowledge he is a double-edged sword to some degree.

With the back end of the Mets' rotation currently unsettled with no legit No. 5 starter, and assuming John Maine is not able to pitch, who do you think will emerge to fill in as the Mets' No. 4 and 5 starters?
-- Chris P., Southbury, Conn.

I'm not sure why you're assuming Maine won't pitch. He has had no setbacks since his surgery in September. The three pitchers who will compete for the No. 5 spot are Freddy Garcia, Tim Redding and Jonathon Niese.

The Mets starters this year will be quite similar, if not the same, as last year's. If the rotation is to perform as it did last year, and if the improved bullpen is to save more games than the '08 'pen, by how many games can the Mets win the National League East?
-- Richie O., Valley Stream, N.Y.

The game doesn't quite work as you seem to suggest. The identical roster will not necessarily produce identical results. The projected improvement of the bullpen isn't inserted into the '08 equation to create a championship. If only it were that easy for general managers.

If all other facets of their '09 performance are comparable to what they did last season, and the bullpen is more productive, the Mets could finish further behind or run away with a championship. What would the point of knowing now be, anyway? Watch the season.

Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.