The bad luck and bad pitching that put the Mets in need of two new starters looks like this: Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey takes Oliver Perez‘s scheduled start Wednesday, and on Friday, Hisanori Takahashi starts against the Yankees, fresh off a humiliating defeat of the Red Sox tonight. Dickey is en route from Class AAA Buffalo and according to reliable sources already has uni number assigned to him: 43. That number most recently belonged to reliever Brian Stokes. I’m cautiously hopeful that Dickey can beguile his opponents and terrified that Takahashi could see weeks of goodwill in a low-pressure mopup role unravel with a bad start against the Yankees. It’s a shame Dickey won’t have No. 49, which has become something of a symbol for knucklers dating back to Hoyt Wilhelm. The Mets’ last knuckleballer was Dennis Springer, No. 34 for a few ill-fated emergency appearances 10 years ago, as recalled here.
Another reminder that tonight (Tuesday, May 18) is Amazin’ Tuesday, at a new venue, Two Boots Grand Central. We’ll have beer, pizza (The “Dave Schneck .199” is the special slice) and readings by me, Greg Prince of Faith & Fear in Flushing, Taryn Cooper (My Summer Family) and Josh Wilker, author of Cardboard Gods. I just finsihed CG myself and can tell you it’s excellent, a more focused delivery of the themes on his blog, telling a story of brotherly love, lonesomeness and the evocative power of Topps baseball cards in the 1970s. Josh will have books on hand to sell and sign, I strongly recommend you get a copy!
Quick note on the developing Gary Matthews Jr. trade: If you remember the magical start to the 2002 season, Sarge Jr was wearing No. 25 for all of one turn at bat and one pinch-running appearance before being traded to the Orioles. No. 25 subsequently went to Scott Strickland when he was acquired days later.
Today, 25 belongs to Pedro Feliciano, and so unless Pedro cares to make a mind-boggling fourth uni-switch in his Mets career, matthews can find something else to wear. He was 24 in his ill-fated adventure with the Angels.
I’m not ready to say this move (reportedly for reliever Brian Stokes with the Angels paying all but$4 million $2 million remaining on Matthews’s contract) completely spoils the “No Stupid Moves” theme for this offseason but it’s not terribly great either. I am thankful they dodged the Bengie Molina bullet, and still think they’ll look for a pitcher via the trade market especially after letting Joel Piniero go. F all once and future Cardinals.
As for Stokes, he did a pretty nice job amid meager expectations, but I think it’s good practice in general to shuffle these middle-reliever and bench types in and out with some degree of frequency.
In a move practically shouting “see you next spring!” the Mets today disabled John Maine for the second time in a month. The club was noncommital as to who would be taking Maine’s starts from here on out but stands to reason the list of candidates would include Brandon Knight, who made a spot start in late July on the way to the Olympics; Brian Stokes, now working in the Mets’ bullpen; or Jon Niese, the lefty prodigy whose high regard by the Met brass could be the thing that prevents his activation at this time. Should it wind up being Knight — who’s probably due for a September recall anyhow — he’ll have to find a new number: He wore 28 then, which since has gone to Dan Murphy. May we suggest 22? Thanks to MBTN reader Ron, who in the comments section a few posts back reports:
I contacted the Mets and Juan Lopez is now wearing # 62.
Lopez is the bullpen batting practice (thanks, commenter) pitcher whose 56 was usurped byLuis Ayala but is still listed that as such on the Mets roster. Congrats to Mike Pelfrey on another solid game. Beat it, David Newhan. And welcome back to reluctant returnee Luis Castillo, who for now takes Maine’s roster slot.
Just as we suspected, Brian Stokes appeared tonight, wearing No. 43, and in place of Ruddy Lugo, who returns to AAA without having made an appearance. And Stokes, though not charged with a decision and guilty of surrendering two 2-run home runs, evidently pitched well enough, by Met standards, to remain with the club even after John Maine returns. Which probably means that Carlos Muniz would return to AAA when Maine comes back, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
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Quick note to let you in on a great opportunity to see the Mets from a unique perspective before they dismantle Big Shea. Matt Silverman, my co-author for the Mets by the Numbers book and writer of a bunch of other great Mets-related books (Mets Essential, 100 Things, Total Mets, etc), has purchased a bunch of Picnic Area seats for the Sept. 24 game — that’s a Wednesday night vs. the Cubs — and is selling a limited number at his website, MetSilverman.com. Details including pricing etc. are there. I’m here to tell you I will be there, and that Matt’s a trustworthy guy who is likely to draw a crowd of knowledgeable and enthusiastic fans: If I were you, I’d be making plans to go. And do it quick — prices go up Sept. 1.
After lots of speculation looks like it will be Brian Stokes making the start and his Mets debut Saturday evening when the Mets host the Marlins. Stokes, who struggled as a reliever in the Rays’ system, has spent the entire season at AAA New Orleans, where he’s gone 10-8 with a 4.41 ERA in 23 games and 22 starts.
Stokes wore No. 43 back when he nearly made the Mets as a short reliever this spring and despite being poised to be the 46th player and 21st pitcher the Mets have employed this year 43 still hasn’t been issued.
Unclear at this point who gets sent down to make room for Stokes. While Ruddy Lugo makes sense, Ramon Castro‘s injury could change things.
I was about to pontificate upon the chances of Steven Register retaining No. 61 or switching to something more dignified when word came he’d been waived by the Mets. Hopefully, the opportunity exists to work out a deal with Colorado that would allow the Mets to keep Register in the organization free of the onerous (for the Mets, at least) provisions of Rule 5.
This is good news, I believe, if you’re a fan of Joe Smith, who like Register, seems groomed for a role I’ll call GUPPY (GroUndball Pitcher, Perplexing deliverY — alright, needs work). Smith however can be safely stashed at AAA so it’s no lock he surfaces, at least not right away.
Similarly, looks as if suspicion over Duaner Sanchez‘ durability gives a shot to his hard-throwing nonroster counterpart, Brian Stokes, at least, to start the year. As for the No. 5 starter, I’m as disappointed as the next guy in Mike Pelfrey, maybe more, but I’d give him all the rope he needs. It’s not like an injured Orlando Hernandez has a whole lot of upside any longer.
* In case you didn’t see it, MLB.com’s Marty Noble today ran his annual Port St. Lucie christening story, a sure sign Spring Training is coming to an end.
* Don’t forget you’re invited to the MBTN Launch Party at Stout NYC, April 6, 1pm.
OK, so now that Johan Santana is in the fold and will presumably slip on a No. 57jersey at a press event sometime next week, there’s still the matter of the other new guys and what they’ll turn up in when spring training begins later this month.
What new guys? Well, those indicated by the “–” symbol alongside their names on themets.com 40-man roster: Pitchers Ruddy Lugo; Steven Register, Brian Stokes and Matt Wise; and outfielders Ryan Church and Angel Pagan. Catcher Brian Schneider is also indicated with a double-en-space, but we’re reasonably sure he’s headed for the No. 23 jersey photographed below and Marlon Anderson will change into something new.
Normally at this time of year the Mets do their fans the courtesy of scheduling a Winter Caravan in which their guys visit sick kids in the hospital and hit tourist landmarks for photo-ops while wearing their newly-assigned jerseys, but perhaps because of the relative lack of good news to share until very recently, they called it off this year. They didn’t have one last year either and they set an attendance record. Go figure.
Anyhow, none of the pitchers but for maybe Wise has enough number-equity than to take what they’re assigned this spring and it may not be pretty. Register, a longshot Rule 5 reliever, may follow the suit of last year’s counterpart Mitch Wylie and show up in 59. We’ll predict low 60s in fact for all the pitchers but Wise whom we predict ought to scoop up the available 38. Stokes (41 last year for Tampa Bay) and Lugo (45 for Oakland) will obviously be shopping for new digits in the event they make the squad.
And until just recently I would have pegged the lack of a press conference welcoming Ryan Church to the fold as evidence of their preparedness to flip him away in a trade but now I suppose it’s safe to present him with the 19 jersey he wore with Washington most recently. Pagan, No. 29 in Chicago last year, will likely have to give that up for incumbent Jorge Sosa. He could be a 9, maybe.
Know different? Say so below.
Thanks for the welcome from Mike’s Mets.