The Mets announced Friday that they’ve recalled Tyler Pill from AAA Las Vegas to take the roster spot undeservedly belonging to Rafael Montero, who the club evidently has finally had enough of.
Pill, a righthander who was a 4th-round drfat pick in 2011, was assigned uni #56, becoming the first Met since Ty Kelly to wear the digits and the first pitcher since Scott Rice.
Montero has been sent to Las Vegas to make room but unless I’m mistaken might not get there as his options have expired. I know, he’s really sucked this year but he also has some good stuff and the way things are going its not like the Mets are in a position to give away guys with 95-mph stuff and a slider even if they suck.
Pill has been described as a Dillon Gee-type and got off to a hot start in AA and AAA this year despite an alarming lack of strikeouts. His brother is the former Giants’ first baseman Brett Pill so at least he’s got baseball in his blood.
When I think of Met 56s I think, for some reason, of Darren Bragg, the reserve outfielder who said he wore it in honor of Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor. He sure didn’t wear it in honor of other Mets in 56, who include Brian McRae (another baseball blood-relative who said 5+6= his dad Hal McRae’s #11); Dyar Miller; Jeff Kaiser; Edwin Almonte; Luis Ayala; Jon Switzer or Andres Torres. McRae was all right but that’s a lot of crud otherwise.
Seth Lugo was moved to the 60-day Disabled List to make room for Pill.
The way Kirk Nieuwenhuis has been playing it’s barely a relief today to see that Andres Torres has returned, but the team has adapted well so far so I’m hopeful they can keep it up (and continue to encounter the opposition on their bad days). To make room for the returning Torres, Nieuwenhuis has been shifted over to left field where someone named Jason Bay used to play and double-ear-flapped reserve Zach Lutz was returned to AAA Buffalo.
Now that Andres Torres has evoked memories of Ken Henderson — that of the veteran outfielder acquired in an offseason trade who hurts himself almost immediately — the Mets, short on outfielders to begin with, look to recall Kirk Nieuwenhuis from AAA while Torres rehabs his calf. Again.
Depending on whether the Mets’ seamstresses can fit NIEUWENHUIS on the back of a shirt — at 11 letters, it ties SCHOENEWIES and is one behind all-time leader ISRINGHAUSEN — the Mets will also need to put a number on it. It’s likely that number would be 22, which is not only currently vacant on the Mets’ roster but is also Kirk’s current digits at Buffalo. I have to think the Mets were holding in in reserve for him, especially that he’s on the 40. Welcome to the show, Kirk!
On a related note, how great do those numbers and NOBs look now that they’re free of the cursed black dropshadow? Looking good so far Mets!
It’s still early, but Lucas May is emerging as a leading candidate to win the Brad Emaus Award and graduate from a number in the 60s to something resembling a big-league uniform when training camp breaks. You may recall Emaus last year arrived in camp wearing No. 68 and left wearning No. 4. (Then busted and was subsequently sent away, but that’s another story).
May, whom the Mets acquired as a minor league free agent this offseason, so far in his career had but a cup of joe in Kansas City two years ago and previously toiled as a minor leaguer with the Dodgers, who drafted him as an infielder in 2003, and more recently, the Diamondbacks. Among catchers competing for a reserve job in Mets camp this year, the right-handed hitting May is perhaps the best offensive threat among them, a skill he showed this afternoon with a ringing two-run double off the Marlins’ Carlos Zambrano. Young incumbent Mike Nickeas and veteran Rob Johnson, also right-handed, are considered defensive specialists and could have an edge considering weak gloves at several other positions including the presumed No. 1 catcher (Josh Thole) as well as a thin pitching staff that could use any edge it can get. Vinny Rottino can hit, alledgedly, but he’s more of a utility cornerman who packs a catcher’s mitt in case of emergency. If Rottino makes the team, it’s unlikely to be at the expense of the any of the aforementioned candidates.
In May’s favor currently is the well-being of Scott Hairston, the only other right-handed bench candidate who can hit a little (Justin Turner a little too, but I don’t see how he fits in unless injuries strike Wright, Davis or Murphy). May’s current number assignment is 62 although 16 (Johnson’s assignment), 33 (Rottino’s) and the vacant 1 and 9 would look to be decent landing points from this distance.
The Hairston injury (and Andres Torres’ soreness, you never know with these 30-somethings) may well also affect the outfield makeup too. It certainly looks better today than yesterday that Adam Loewen and/or Mike Baxter make the squad, and then there’s the specter of Kirk Nieuwenhuis, the young outfielder the Mets hope they won’t need so soon. Should he make the club, the Emaus Award is all his. He’s wearing No. 72.
Let there be no doubt this is a low moment in the history of a franchise with plenty of them to choose from, but you could see it coming. Because the Mets owners are morons who for way too long invested poorly on behalf of themselves and their fans, they can no longer afford to keep one of the best players they’d ever developed. I always thought the best chance of saving Jose Reyes from signing with another franchise was if a new owner pulled a hero act but the Wilpons couldn’t even get that right and so that’s where we are. Reyes leaves town as the best shortstop the franchise ever had, its most exciting player, and among its most accomplished overall. One can certainly make an argument that he won’t be worth what the Marlins are giving him but that’s beside the point when a formal offer was never presented because it was so unaffordable. Congratulations, Mets.
All that said, I’m anxious as always to move on and Sandy Alderson yesterday began the process. He traded Angel Pagan to the Giants for an older counterpart, Andres Torres, and a nice looking reliever, Ramon Ramirez. Torres like Pagan had a good season in 2010 but struggled this year, and was well-liked by fans and teammates in San Francisco. He wore No. 56 most recently with the Giants, reminding me of another veteran center fielder acquired as a short term leadoff man,Brian McRae. Ramirez, well-traveled himself, wore 52 in Frisco last season.
He’ll be joining a Mets bullpen that will also include new relievers Jon Rauch and Frank Francisco, both signed as free agents. Rauch is a shaggy giant whom Keith Hernandez once called a ‘Wookie.’ He’s hung around for years now despite only average results. Francisco has worn No. 50 his entire career: Word was the Mets would “retire” that number for 2012’s 50th anniversary, so we’ll see what comes of that. Rauch wore 51 early in his career and 60 more recently with the Diamondbacks and Twins.