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Perez & Castillo: Partners in decline

Luis Castillo during today's spring training workout at

Luis Castillo during today's spring training workout at Digital Domain field. (Feb. 26, 2011) Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa

Addition by subtraction. Joe Torre summed it up for the baseball ages when he used that phrase about players who had to be removed from a team. It had to do with attitude or ability. Or both. 

That timeless adage has never been more appropriate when it comes to Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo.

Sandy Alderson can pull the plug on a bad deal that he certainly had nothing to do with — or the general manager can become part of the problem by letting the Perez-Castillo situation fester.

Perez is, at best, an erratic pitcher who cannot be counted on in a rotation. Less so in relief.

What situation would present itself for Perez? Some think he can be used to get a lefthanded batter out. But to bring him in with anyone on base is fraught with peril. It is more likely that Perez will walk the batter, hit him or throw a wild pitch. 

Perez is still young (28), but his story is so old as to be moldy. He was given  a three-year contract for $36 million because the Mets could not sign free agent Derek Lowe. The team was not in a cost cutting mode at the time, so keeping Perez seemed a better idea than experimenting with a youngster, which is what is happening now and, given the club’s shaky finances, probably into the foreseeable future. If the Mets release Perez, they are still on the hook for the money on the final year of his contract.

Perez has a career record of 58-69 with a 4.63 earned run average. That is not why he should be cut. There are other big leaguers with similar numbers. Perez should have been jettisoned last season when he refused assignment to the minor leagues to work on his game.

And not going to visit wounded soldiers when the team was in Washington told you plenty about the person. Double that for Castillo, given his unconscionable excuse -- essentially "I cannot look at that''  for not visiting the hospital.

Still, the new administration wanted to clear the slate and make its own decisions.

Spring training is dragging on and the evidence continues to mount. Perez can’t do it. There is enough of a dark cloud over this franchise for obvious reasons. The financial problems and bad PR over the Madoff situation cannot be easily erased, but the Mets do have control over personnel moves that can at last clear some of the stagnant air.

That starts with Perez and, close behind, Castillo. There is no good argument to be made, save for the $6 million he is owed this season, that puts Castillo at second base over one of the young players in camp.

Much as Alderson may have hoped, there will be no takers for the contracts of Perez and Castillo. No GM in baseball is that certifiable.

The Mets have only one move to make with the two and it is out the door.

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