Section 518

Where we endeavor to stay positive about the 2011 Mets…

Castillo for Pierre, A Study

Posted by JD on December 8, 2009

It being the height of the Hot Stove season, we’ve been inundated with trade and free agent rumors. One of the most persistent subject of rumors this season has been Luis Castillo. He’s been mentioned prominently in deals involving Milton Bradley of the Cubs, Pat Burrell of the Rays, or a three-way deal involving both. I don’t have the energy to discuss those particular rumors; in my mind, they’re total non-starters. Let’s just move on.

There’s another rumor circulating: Castillo for Juan Pierre, straight up. I think we can handle this one. Let’s break this down, Dr. Jack style*:

*So if Bill Simmons admits he’s borrowing this concept from Dr. Jack Ramsey, am I’m copying Simmons or Ramsey? Or is it just “public domain” at this point? And is Joe Posnanski pissed that I used an asterisk to ask the question? I’m getting dizzy.

Remaining Contract: Cot’s Baseball Contracts provides the following numbers: 2 years at $6 million each for Castillo vs. 2 years at $10 and $8.5 million for Pierre. $12 million vs. $18.5 million. Edge: Castillo.

Age: Castillo is 23 months older and has 1,108 more MLB at-bats than Pierre. And he routinely limps like a 70-year-old with rheumatoid arthritis. Edge: Pierre.

Defense: Castillo plays the more difficult position (2B vs. LF). Pierre catches fly balls with two hands, but bounces throws to second from deep shortstop. Edge: Pick ’em. Alright, that’s not even remotely fair. Using career Range Factor per 9 Innings, Castillo comes in at 4.88 vs. Pierre’s 2.38. However, when you compare them to the league averages at their position, you find that Pierre is slightly better than average: 4.88/4.99 vs. 2.38/2.21. Edge: Pierre.

Home Runs: Castillo has 28, Pierre only 13. Over the past 3 years (basically since Castillo came to the Mets; we’re going to use this standard throughout): Castillo 5, Pierre 1. Edge: Shockingly, Castillo.

Stolen Bases: For their careers, Castillo has stolen 362 bases vs. Pierre’s 459. Pierre is also a more efficient base stealer with a 74.76% success rate against Castillo’s 68.17%. Over the last three years, Castillo has far fewer stolen bases (56 vs. 134), but a slightly better success percentage (80% vs. 77.46%). Edge: Pierre.

Runs: Castillo has 973, Pierre 804. We can’t ignore the four-year difference in career length, so let’s turn this into a rate stat. Castillo scored a run in 13.56% of his plate appearances vs.  Pierre’s 13.26%. And over the last three seasons, Castillo has scored 214 runs to Pierre’s 197. Edge: Castillo.

Runs Created: Castillo has 882, Pierre 753. Again, Castillo played four more seasons, so that’s not exactly fair. Let’s use Runs Created per Game instead: Castillo 4.9, Pierre 4.8. Pretty even, although Pierre wins the 2009 battle, 4.9/5.1. Edge: Pierre.

Slugging Percentage: Castillo’s .354 vs. Pierre’s .372. Why? Pierre has nine more doubles and 22 more triples in 1,108 fewer plate appearances. Edge: Pierre.

On-Base Percentage: Castillo .369 vs. Pierre .348. Just 21 percentage points, you say? That translates to an average of 20 additional walks per year (54.36 vs. 34, to be exact), I say. Edge: Castillo.

On-Base Plus Slugging (OPS): .723 against .720. Here it is, in black and white: walks are good. It says here that walks can even mitigate an obvious lack of power. Edge: Castillo.

OPS+: Castillo’s 93 vs. Pierre’s 85. Both players have been worse than league average over the course of their career, but Castillo less so. Edge: Castillo. What’s that you say? Pierre had an OPS+ of 105 last year, while Castillo only had a 98? Fair enough. However, Castillo has bettered Pierre in every season since 2004*: 77/75 (08), 94/74(07), 91/82(06), 108/84 (05). And for good measure, let’s look at 2003 (the last year Castillo was on a World Series winner, and the only time for Pierre): 106/94. I’ll take Castillo, thanks.

*For the record, Pierre won the 2004 season 93/107.

Let’s add it up. The Tale of the Tape shows Castillo beating Pierre 6-4-1. I’ll keep Luis, please.

Listen, feel free to poke holes in this analysis. I’m a relative newcomer to statistical analysis and I readily admit that I might be missing pieces of the full picture. This is how you learn: do your best, share your results, and learn from the criticism. But I’ll stand by this: no matter how you choose to perform your analysis, Castillo’s career stats mirror Pierre’s to the point that you can’t ignore the fact that holding on to Castillo saves you $6.5 million over the next two years. That cannot be understated.

Castillo for Pierre is a losing trade for the Mets unless they get the Dodgers to throw in at least one prospect. And the Mets better hold out for more if the Dodgers offer a prospect that’s over 24. Otherwise, Castillo is the better deal for 2010.


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