“I had a guaranteed military sale with ED-209. Renovation program! Spare parts for 25 years! Who cared if it worked or not?”
–Dick Jones, Robocop
I was reminded of this remark while reading a recent article on Amazin’ Avenue that sought to determine where Omar Minaya’s allegiances stood in the age-old debate between Scouts and Stats. It’s a provocative piece and more evidence, as if you needed some, that the best writing on the Mets these days is being done everyday by losers like you and me who simply devote more thought to the team than the usual suspects with better access.
But back to Dick Jones for a moment. I thought of him because it was clear that in the JJ Putz trade referenced in the above article, limiting the scope of Omar’s motivations for making that deal to Scouting or Statistics, or even a combination of them, sort of misses the larger point of having made that move primarily to make a show of displeasure with the 2008 bullpen and a scapegoat of Aaron Heilman, scouts and stats be damned. As long as it created the illusion that the Mets had become bulletproof, who cared if it worked it not?
Now that it’s become clear that committing five players and $10 million to a fat closer with arm trouble while gambling on a lineup with too many holes and a rotation with too many questions left us with nothing more than a set-up reliever who more or less is the equivalent of Heilman, while providing an explosive bounty for the Mariners who just might wind up re-signing Putz, maybe Omar ought to listen less to the usual suspects and their demands for dramatic fixes to last year’s problems, and care about what works or not.
Here’s your million dollars, Putz. Now go away.
Numeric content coming soon, I promise!
Today the Mets recalled Fernando Nieve from AAA Buffalo to take the place of JJ Putz who finally stopped pretending there wasn’t something wrong with his arm. Nieve has reportedly been assigned No. 38. Nieve wore No. 50 in spring training, but that number went to Sean Green once Green decided he was unworthy of comparisons to Aaron Heilman(how right he was) and swapped in No. 48.
Not to say I told you so but we smelled trouble long before this Putz-Green-Heilman deal ever got done inasmuch as “addition by subtraction” is a concept that works great in opinion columns and talk radio but rarely on the baseball field. I’m not saying that time hadn’t come to swap away Heilman (not to mention Endy Chavez, Joe Smith, Jason Vargas, Makiel Cleto,and Mike Carp) but seeing as we’re looking at a $9 million fat guy having elbow surgery, a righty specialist who’s already lost his job, and a reserve outfielder, this whole deal is looking pretty much like “subtraction by subtraction” so far.
Nieve by the way will be the third Fernando in uniform for the Mets, which has to be some kind of record.
Let me start by saying Sean Green is welcome to request any number he desires and for any reason he wants.So if he prefers 50 to 48, then fine. But, couldn’t he do it in a way that wasn’t unkind to a guy whose career to this point he ought to be aspiring to and not passively disrespecting? I mean, come on, Sean. Make up a story about your Mom’s birthday or something. No need to pile on poor Aaron Heilman. He’s suffered enough. (He’s pitching for the Cubs as a I write this — wearing No. 47 in the 8th inning of a tie game at Houston).
And if you really wanted to disassociate yourself from a recent disappointing Mets reliever, could you do any worse than selecting the number worn last by Duaner Sanchez? The guy whose brilliant half-season ended in a mysterious car accident, and who then showed up out-of-shape for camp, and who was nowhere to be found in the hour of the Mets’ greatest need last season?
But I’m not here to bury Sanchez either. I wish him well in San Diego, — he made the team — and is still wearing No. 50. I’ll admit I chucked when I saw Scott Schoeneweis in his first appearance for the D-Backs yesterday surrendered a home run, but I’m not going to boo the next guy who wears No. 60 for the Mets. What’s the use?
This morning’s Daily News reports that Sean Green — the reliever acquired in the Heilman/Chavez-Putz deal and assigned the same No. 48 previously issued to Aaron Heilman — has requested a new uniform before opening day .
Green, according to the article requested the change fearing fans will associate the number with Heilman and presumably, exhibit the same appalling lack of support and sportsmanship they showed Heilman last year when he struggled. Beside the fact that the Met fan behavior has devolved to a point where that scenario is entirely possible, it sure is ironic that the same fans will likely applaud this act of cowardice from their newest reliever. They are also no doubt the same fans demanding the Mets take numbers out of circulation for accomplished players as well.
To be fair to Green, his number in Seattle, 54, was already occupied by coach Dave Racianello when he arrived, though it’s not as if he possessed the brand equity to dictate that stuff to his new club either.
Anyhow, with the roster now set barring injury, etc., the following numbers appear to be available should Green want one of them: 10, 12, 26, 27, 29, 30, 32, 35, 38, 45, 47, 49 and 50. Many of those numbers would be reserved for those assigned to the minor leagues, so the likely candidates, in my estimation, would be 30 (vacated by Rocky Cherry) or 38 (formerly Tom Martin). Those numbers have cooties too, Green.
We’ll stay on top of this developing story, you can be sure.
The Mets are expected within the hour to announce their part in a three-team, multiplayer swap meet that will make former Mariners JJ Putz, Sean Green and Jeremy Reed Mets.
If I have this scored right, Aaron Heilman, Endy Chavez and prospect Mike Carp are en route to Seattle and Joe Smith is off to Cleveland, which is collecting various other jetsam from Emerald City. The prize in this deal is Putz, who presumably takes over Heilman’s role in the 8th inning and hopefully doesn’t inherit his demeanor: You know he’s every bit the closer Francisco Rodriguez is. Green is tall right-handed reliever, who’s death on righties, clobbered by lefties and a ground-ball machine a la the departed Bazooka Joe; and Reed, like Chavez when he arrived back in New York, is a faltering one-time leadoff prospect with a noodle bat but good defensive skills.
So with the roles aligned, seems it’s only a matter of having parted with Carp. ( Edited to add, also Jason Vargas and about 50 more low-level prospects too I see now, not sure where they’re off to).
As for the impact on jersey numbers, 48, 35 and 10 are set free. Putz wears No. 20, which is available if coach Howard Johnson gives the OK (he will); Green wore54 (he’ll be dressed in something lower, let’s say 35) and Reed wore 8(uncomfortably unissued now for 8 years). Put Reed in 10, Johnson in 54 and we’ll have ourselves a multiplayer uni-swap as well.
Thanks to all the contributors who kept up to date round the clock on the Rodriguez Jersey Watch — he’s apparently gone with 75 as suspected. A Met first.
*-Bonus points for getting the title reference.
So as you probably already know, Billy Wagner is out for a spell with a sore forearm and that the Mets have recalled Ruddy Lugo from Class AAA to take his place. Lugo tonight was wearing the same No. 49 jersey he wore during spring training and would become the first 49er since Phillip Humber last season and the first Ruddy (or Rudy) in team history.
The Mets barely survived their first post-Wagner game but they survived it all the same. Jerry was either a genius for letting Aaron Heilman throw with a 4-run lead, or an idiot, depending I suppose on who’s asked to close out the next one and how adventurous that assignment becomes.
Meantime we’re still awaiting word on who gets the call to take John Maine‘s scheduled start. Jerry tonight said that start would be Saturday not Friday, which may favor a promotion for AA lefty Jon Niese. Niese (i before e) wore No. 62 in spring training, which I’d consider the absolute borderline carryover point. Other candidates would be a pair of 39s: Claudio Vargas (AAA) or Bobby Parnell (AA).
* * *
Longtime Mets beatwriter Marty Noble, provider of a terrific interview, is counting down Shea’s remaining days by uni number. His first entry, 30 to 25, is here. Between Marty and Greg Prince, also a fine interview (both are even better writers), they’ve got a handle on Shea’s history that’s about a million times better than team officials whose idea of honoring the dying building is to trot out Lincoln-Mercury representatives night after night. Greg devoted lots of thought and effort into his own inspired countdown of Shea’s final season and most recently destroys the Mets for carelessly providing their support for a hacky, flawed, inaccurate, advertiser-driven “Greatest Moments” ballot.
Must-reads as always.
As opposed to say, 2004, the Mets at least didn’t mean to get worse at the deadline this year, though it was certainly bad news on the doorstep to learn that rubbery reliever Duaner Sanchez 50 would miss the rest of the year as the result of injuries sustained in an automobile accident in Miami; increasing any exisiting pressure they felt to do something about the bullpen, while dialing back any temptation to make Aaron Heilman a part of a bigger deal for a pitcher, left-handed pinch-hitter or anything else that might help come October. So instead the Mets swapped fungible outfielder Xavier Nady 22 to the Pirates for Proven Veteran Setup Guy Roberto Hernandez, along with Oliver Perez, who not too long ago, ranked among the most promising young left arms in the game.
In Hernandez, the Mets acquired a familiar name, but unless there’s some serious swapping afoot, he’ll have a different look now that the Mets have given his No. 39 jersey to Pedro Feliciano, himself a returning Met bullpenner in a new jersey. We suppose it’s possible Feliciano gives 39 back to Hernandez (whose nameplate by the way ought to read R. HERNANDEZ in order to distinguish him from teammates A. HERNANDEZ and O. HERNANDEZ) while Feliciano gives his former No. 55another try, but that would require bullpen coach Tom Nieto to take a new jersey too. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Perez, who used to routinely strike out 10 guys a night, is likely ticketed for the minors but wore No. 59 with the Pirates.
However it works out, we’re sorry to see Nady go — his swing was ferocious and we’ll always be indebted to his sizzling hot start — and very very sorry to learn of Sanchez’ misfortune. On the positive side, it appears Lastings Milledge will get another opportunity — with our team — as the farm system survived the gutting so many columnists and pretend Internet journalists like to say is only a matter of time now that Omar’s in charge.
Oh, and we’re 14 games up. We don’t need Barry Zito to protect that.
So the Mets yesterday interestingly if somewhat cruelly relegated Aaron Heilman to the bullpen and hope to make a 5th starter out of rookie Brian Bannister. The debate this raises, of course, is whether Bannister ought to also be afforded a dignified uniform number signifying his ascension. Bannister is wearing No. 61 currently. There are historical precedents for any outcome: When Dwight Gooden earned a roster spot in 1984, he went from 64 to 16; but when Eric Valent unexpectedly made the 2004 Mets, he kept his St. Lucified 57.
Should Bannister wish to pay tribute to his dad Floyd, a cursory check through the baseball cards reveals he wore Nos. 19 and 38 in his career: Neither is available except in the case Heath Bell fails to make the roster or is traded — both possibilities we’ve read in the last week. Perhaps too, numbers don’t matter particularly to Bannister: It appears he wore 25 in Binghamton and 43 at Norfolk; 17 with Team USA and oddly, 3 at USC.
In other news it appears that Anderson Hernandez 1 will get the starting job at second base: Whether he won a competition, or is there to stay, are matters of debate.
Turns out our efforts to confirm Jose Santiago’s uni number were worthless — it appears the Mets either never invited him back and/or actually did then quietly released him before the spring.
Matt Ginter just won’t go away. He’s back in uniform 13 again, taking the start in San Francisco while Craig Brazell 9 flies back to Norfolk. Word is forgotten prospect Aaron Heilman will meet the Mets when they return to Shea to make Monday’s start. Heilman wore No. 48 when we last saw him; it is uncertain at this point whether Ginter will go down again or a certain well-rested lefthander announces his retirement.
With exactly one week left before the starting gun fires, the Met pitching staff is still under construction. Another subpar outing this afternoon by Jae Seo 38 could give additional hope to one or more of Grant Roberts 36; Aaron Heilman 48; Scott Erickson 89 and Tyler Yates 33. In the bullpen, Orber Moreno 49 and Dan Wheeler 39 are looking to secure jobs.The lineup looks complete unless (or until) the starting infielders cease getting hurt.