The Mets this afternoon announced they had traded one-time prospect Victor Diaz, a former wearer of the 50 and 20 jerseys, to the Texas Rangers in exchange for minor league catcher Mike Nickeas. Ordinarily, we wouldn’t get all excited over an exchange of minor leagers (Nickeas has been assigned to Class A St. Lucie), but this particular one provides hope that the Tim Bogar Trade Chain may live again after last rites had been administered. Bogar at the beginning of this season was the oldest Met who could be connected by trade to current Met(s), but Diaz’ designation last week nearly spelled the end seeing as injuries already put the futures of pitchers Bartolome Fortunato and Victor Zambrano in similar danger. Bogar who debuted with the Mets in 1993, was traded to Houston for Luis Lopez, who went to Milwaukee for Bill Pulsipher, who went to Arizona forLenny Harris, who went to Milwaukee for Jeromy Burnitz, whose trade to Los Angeles yeilded Victor Diaz and minor leaguer Joselo Diaz; the latter brought back Zambrano and Fortunato in the regrettable Scott Kazmir trade. So here’s to the future of young Mike Nickeas, which hopefully includes a part in a multiplayer trade.
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Still waiting for official word, but the Norfolk Tides today announced that Anderson Hernandez is on his way back to the Mets, perhaps as the first of the September call-ups. You might recall Hernandez was this year’s opening-day second baseman, wearing No. 1. Manager Willie Randolph today said he didn’t anticipate the team would make many call-ups, so whether the Mets reach player No. 800 this year or next remains to be seen.
Well, John Maine didn’t last long as a Met, hitting the disabled list just days after his May 1 debut. His spot was grabbed by Bartolome Fortunato, back in No. 43 for the first time since 2004. Things got hairier on Saturday, when sadsack starter Victor Zambrano 38 walked off the field and into a season- and possibly, Met-career-ending elbow injury. Maine’s start, and Zambrano’s space on the roster, was covered, barely adequately, by clownish righthander Jose Lima, and with Bannister and Maine still missing, more changes are certain to come. Lima by the way became the 29th guy to wear No. 17 for the Mets — only No. 6 has been issued more often. (34 has also been worn by 29 guys)
The Mets controversial trades last month are paying off in unpredictable ways. When Victor Zambrano 38 left his start Tuesday with elbow trouble, the Mets recalled the player received with him, reliever Bartolome Fortunato, who made his Met debut Friday wearing No. 43. Meantime, Joe McEwing 11 went down Thursday with a dirty-slide-induced broken leg and so the Mets recalled Jeff Keppinger, the throw-in infielder received in the Kris Benson deal.
Keppinger was issued No. 6 — for the fourth time this year and the 31st time in Met history. Both are records that may never be broken! (The Mets quietly last week traded catcher Tom Wilson, the third wearer of the 6 jersey this year. Ricky Gutierrez and Gerald Williams were the other two victims so far).
Expect plenty of wound-licking and hand-wringing this week if/when Scott Kazmir makes his debut with the Devil Rays and Jim Duquette submits his resume on Monster.com. This has been a very weird month, even for the Mets.
OK, maybe it’s not that bad. Maybe it is! The Mets tonight pulled a series of staggering moves, gutting the farm system in exchange for two pitchers who probably won’t provide the pennant the Wilpons are so hungry for but at best add stability to an aging rotation. Dealing pesos on the dollar, the Mets sent AAA catcher Justin Huber to Kansas City for third base prospect Jose Bautista, then packaged Bautista, jobless infielder Ty Wigginton, and promising righty Matt Peterson to Pittsburgh for Kris Benson, the free-agent to be, and minor-league infielder Jeff Keppinger.
Moments later we learned they’d also paid through the nose for erratic, possibly injured Devil Ray righty Victor Zambrano. All they coughed up in this deal was studly prospect Scott Kazmir and, just for the hell of it, intriguing longshot pitching prospect Joselo Diaz. Along with Zambrano came a cup-of-coffee reliever called Bartolome Fortunato, who was assigned to Norfolk.