From Hot Tejada

Ruben Tejada has been utterly overmatched in the batter’s box at the major league level this year. The 20-year-old Panamanian-born rookie’s batting average has dropped from a season high of .270 on June 29th all the way down to .180 as we enter play today on August 16th. But that doesn’t mean Tejada won’t be a big part of the Mets’ plans in 2011.

The career of Luis Castillo has been experiencing an excruciatingly prolonged and slow death. The Mets desperately tried to deal Castillo before the trade deadline this year but there were no takers. In 2011, Castillo will be working on the final year of a 4-year $25 million contract he signed before the 2007 season. GM Omar Minaya will undoubtedly try to move Castillo again this offseason, but Castillo will likely have to play well next year and show that he’s healthy in order for his contract to become moveable at the trade deadline next year. He is due $6.25 million next season and is hitting .243 in 2010.

The Mets have a 24-17 record when Tejada plays compared to a 26-38 mark with Castillo in the lineup this year. Of course this statistic can’t be completely attributed to the play of these two players but it indicates that the difference between the two is marginal. Neither has hit very much. But the superior range of Tejada and probable growth offensively indicates that he would be the heir apparent at second base for the cash strapped Metropolitans.

The New York Mets don’t have many starting positions opening up any time soon. And considering the inadequate offense the club has had this year, bringing in a defensive second baseman to replace Castillo doesn’t seem like the best course of action. But with the current finances of the Mets, and the need to develop the younger players in their organization in order to trade for top tier talent, bringing Tejada into the fold in 2011 seems like the logical choice. Let’s just hope bringing him up too early doesn’t stunt his development like we’ve seen with prospects like Fernando Martinez.

Hawk Drobnis is a co-host of Gotham Baseball LIVE, and is a contributor to

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