With the New Orleans Zephyrs swept out of the AAA playoffs over the weekend, representatives of the losers arrived in time to see — and participate — in the worst display of Met baseball since the Art Howe Era.
Soft-tossing righty Brian Lawrence 54 stepped in and registered what we can only hope would be the last outing of his Mets career, coughing up a 4-run lead to Washington. Joe Smith 35 is back, but the velocity he sidearmed with earlier this year apparently didn’t come along with him.Ramon Castro 11 didn’t have the health to stick through short-season games with Brooklyn but is back here anyway. Weak-hitting utilityman David Newhan? Yes, he’s back too, still torturing Keith Hernandez in No. 17.
Perhaps the only interesting returnee from a unicentric standpoint is infielder Anderson Hernandez, who we last saw wearing No. 1 in July. Hernandez was recalled only to discover the Mets had issued No. 1 to Luis Castillo during Hernandez’ stay in New Orleans. No. 4 was hanging in his locker this time around. When he gets into a game, he’ll become the Mets’ 14th 15th player to wear No. 4, and the first since Chris Woodward a year ago Ben Johnson earlier this year. (Props to Gene, below for the correction).
Only time will tell whether this latest stumble is just another stumble or the beginnings of an historic collapse, but you can bet we’ll be here hating ourselves for watching every minute of it!
While everyone’s harping on the bullpen and Willie’s alleged poor management of it, the fact that the Mets have scored only 2 runs in the last three games is the real guilty party. That, and theLuis Castillo-Paul LoDuca screwup. And Aaron Rowand’s good fortune. The bullpen is what it is: Enigmatic, unpredictable, prone to slumps. Teams that don’t score more than 2 runs on the road in 10 innings deserve whatever they get.
The new right fielder, Endy Chavez, did little to change that last night. Endy returned to the Mets and the No. 10 jersey last night for the first time since June, and made a fine catch, but otherwise resembled all the other right fielders recently. Brian Lawrence 54 was designated to make room, leaving Saturday’s starter role currently unfulfilled. The possibilities are many as the calendar will read Sept. 1 by then, though Phillip Humber looks at the moment to have a shot.
Humber you may recall appeared twice in relief last September, wearing No. 49. He’s had a quietly strong season in AAA.
Just asking, but is Sandy Alomar Sr. the world’s worst third-base coach?
Looks like tonight’s big series in Philly will begin with Paul LoDuca 16 back in action and the Son of the World’s Worst Third-Base Coach designated for assignment. That would free up 19 forJeff Conine should he want to wear it. Also look for Endy Chavez 10 to return during this series perhaps taking the place of tonight’s pitcher, Brian Lawrence 54. (pure speculation on my part here). Or wishing. Or whatever.
Brian Lawrence, who is scheduled to start this afternoon in Milwaukee, is expected to appear in No. 54. That would make Lawrence only the second Met player ever to appear in No. 54, which has traditionally been reserved for coaches and staff (including the recently whacked Rick Down, 1967 interim manager Salty Parker, and, for 14 years (1968-81), pitching coach Rube Walker.
The only previous playing tenant was non-alliterative starting pitcher Mark Clark, the best pitcher on a 1996 Mets team that’s remembered for its offense. Clark arrived in a trade from Cleveland for Ryan Thompson, won 14 games for the 96ers, and was traded to the Cubs as Steve Phillips took over as GM in the Turk Wendell/Mal Rojas/Brian McRae thing in 1997. Clark later got stupid money to pitch badly for the Texas Rangers.
Lawrence is a former 15-game winner or the Padres, but hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2005.