Welcome back, Ryan Church. The brain-damaged Mets right fielder returned Friday after a lengthy absense while superfluous catcher Robinson Cancel was sent back down to AAA. A more difficult, Obama-picks-a-running-mate type question faces the Mets on Saturday, when unpopular second baseman Luis Castillo is expected to return from an extended break during which he was barely missed.
To be honest the solution ought to be clear if painful —Argenis Reyes for all his good press isn’t the kind of hitter you couldn’t do without for a few days and to my knowledge only plays second base, so Castillo is probably an upgrade. Castillo in fact makes fewer outs than either Reyes or Damion Easley, and if actually and finally healthy, then he’s the player they probably ought to have out there. A strong offensive showing out of the gate is essential though.
If Reyes won’t go down you wonder how seriously they’re ready to consider Duaner Sanchez who clearly isn’t the same as he once was, while Luis Ayala is (what he was once but wasn’t recently).
Met-Lovin’ Big Shot George Thorogood is a guest on this week’s episode of Mets Weekly on SNY, airing at 12:30 p.m. Saturday. The SNY people pursued Lonesome George as a profile subject after seeing the interview published here.
We should know for sure how things shake out soon, but thought I’d forward a few ideas on the bench in case they’d like to check with me first.
Raul Casanova, wearing No. 30, looks like he’s going to start the year as the backup catcher to Brian Schneider. I don’t mind this. Casanova’s not as bad hitter and he switch hits. Ramon Castro has missed large parts of the last two seasons with back injuries and will miss the start of this year. I like my scrubeenos more reliable than Castro’s been, and hope for the sake of competition, and for the sake of having a lousy hitter as our No. 1 catcher, that Casanova makes his case.
I thought when Olmedo Seanz was canned the righthanded-hitting reserve job would go to Jose Valentin, but he’s hurt and may retire. Instead the Mets appear to be wavering between veterans Brady Clark 93 and – surprise! – Fernando Tatis. With Angel Pagan likely to be the starter in left while Moises Alou heals, and Endy Chavez the all-around defensive replacement, it may very well be Tatis, whose outfield experience is weak but who could also serve as a 3rd base and 1st base reserve. Tatis seems to be have been given a better chance than I’d anticipated given a dignified uni number (17) and fact he’s from early-90s Texas Ranger stock — USDA Prime as Omar is concerned.
Marlon Anderson (2B, 1B, corner OF) and Damion Easley (the only emergency shortstop) are the collective veteran lefty-righty pinch hitting tamdem. Let’s hope they survive the season unscathed.
* Pat Jordan fulfills the fantasy of every journalist who ever dealt with a difficult subject byblasting Jose Canseco out of the park. What a shot!
* I’ll be appearing with co-author Matthew Silverman at a book signing Saturday April 5, 3 p.m., at the Barnes & Noble in Bayside Queens.
Well the all-odd infield as described below went out together for a second straight night Saturday but it’ll be their last for awhile. Damian Easley stepped awkwardly while running and gruesomely rolled his left ankle in an event likely to sideline him for the rest of the regular season. Ever roll an ankle like that? It makes a noise.
Anderson Hernandez was recalled from AAA Sunday to take his place on the roster, arriving to find out the No. 1 jersey he wore in previous visits to New York had been assigned to Luis Castillo in his absence. The Mets roster has Hernandez dressed in No. 4 (bad news for Ben Johnson should he deign to return).
A more pressing concern could be finding an acceptable right-handed pinch-hitter, preferably one who can play first base (among other positions), so as not to further compromise our oftentimes meager attack. Easley was one of the few guys on the team who’d done almost no harm and/or disappointing this season too. But I thought it was weird when Omar didn’t come back after the trade deadline with a right-handed bench hitter, so I’m pretty sure this merits a trade too.
Meantime on Sunday Sandy Alomar Jr. 19 was back for Ramon Castro 11, whose bad back necessitated a DL stay. All as we swept a team for the first time since June and — can you believe this? — reached a new highwater mark at 17 over .500.
The Mets won what feels like their biggest game of the year Sunday, overcoming a few deficits en route to a 5-4, 10-inning victory sparked by an RBI single from Chip Ambres 36 about whom we’ll probably always say, “Remember that game in Los Angeles…?”
The 9th-inning rally to tie the game featured a trip around the bases for pinch-runner Anderson Hernandez, called back to the big-league roster for the first time this year and still wearing the No. 1 jersey he sported a year ago. Hernandez is back in action because Jose Valentin 22 broke his leg on a badly aimed foul ball Friday. That’s not the way we wanted to see the second-base problem solved.
Headed home again this week, the Mets are expected to reacquire Moises Alou 18 from a lengthy stay on the disabled list, and Damion Easley 3 from the bereavement list, though it’s not clear at this point who goes where to accommodate them.
The Mets on Tuesday placed utilityman Damian Easley 3 on the bereavement list as he attends to his ill father at his home in California. While you send your best to the Easley family, meet Chip Ambres, the outfielder recalled from AAA New Orleans to take Easley’s roster slot. I believe the rules governing bereavement stipulate Easley will be out for a minimum of 3 days and a maximum of 7.
Ambres, who was having an excellent season for the Zephyrs, suited up last night in He’s the 23rd No. 36 in team history, the first since No. 36.Kelly Stinnett a year ago (I’d forgotten we had him too) and the first outfielder in that number.
Unless something really unexpected happens, it appears Moises Alou 18 will become the 800th Met when the season begins a week from today.
Other first-time Mets would appear to be Damion Easley (No. 2), David Newhan (17), Aaron Sele (32), Scott Schoeneweis (60), Chan Ho Park (61) and “Bazooka” Joe Smith, who is, for all we know, still going around in the No. 70 jersey they assign to longshot bullpen wannabees. I made up that “Bazooka” nickname by the way, sort of. Remember Joe Smith, the basketball player? When he was a student at Maryland the school paper held a nickname contest to give him more pizzazz where ‘Bazooka’ was among the choices. I don’t think it ever stuck with that Joe Smith. We can’t let it go this time.
So what number does Bazooka Joe Smith get?
I don’t even have to look it up to tell you this is the first season the Mets began a year with two guys wearing numbers in the 60s.
Thanks to Matt for the tip — Mets.com has posted a new roster page, assigning numerals to the 40 men on the 40-man. Though these lists have proven unreliable in the past, they’re usually fun and sometimes surprising. Right off the bat, we’re surprised to see Damion Easley be assigned No. 3 when he’s more often associated with No. 2 (even though the latter belongs to Sandy Alomar); and Scott Schoeneweis listed in 36 rather than his customary 60. We wouldn’t be surprised to see either change before the bell rings on the new season.
Other new guys and their alleged numbers:
Jon Adkins 39
Adam Bostick 72
Ambiorix Burgos 40
Jorge Sosa 29 (goodbye, Steve Trachsel)
Jason Vargas 43
Ruben Gotay 6 (poifict!)
Carlos Gomez 61
Ben Johnson 4
David Newhan 17
Points of interest in Nonroster Inviteeland:
Aaron Sele 35
Mike DiFelice 30 (this would be his 3rd number in 3 calls for the Mets)
Ruben Sierra 19 (yes, Ruben Sierra)
Quick update on the first Met Uni Controversy of the 06 offseason: Veteran outfielder Moises Alousigned a 1-year deal today and was presented with the No. 18 jersey. That number belonged last season to Jose Valentin, who was also re-signed recently. Newsday relates that Valentin willingly surrendered the digits after learning who asked for them: “You tell him he’s got the number.”
The guess here is that Valentin resurfaces in No. 22, a number that last season belonged to Xavier Nady then to Michael Tucker.
In other news the Mets dealt Nov. 15 for outfielder Ben Johnson (No. 4) and pitcher Jon Adkins (No. 57) of the Padres: Going to Petco are relievers Heath Bell 19 and Royce Ring 43. Should Johnson make the roster, he could remain in No. 4 since it doesn’t appear Chris Woodward is coming back. The Mets further cleared their roster of homegrown relief prospects by sending a pair of hard-throwers, Henry Owens and Matt Lindstrom, to Florida for two lefty projects: Jason Vargas and Adam Bostick. Owens made a brief appearance for the Mets last season wearing No. 36; we might have smelled a deal cooking in back in September when the Mets issued that number to a backup catcher, Kelly Stinnett. Vargas, who wore No. 56 for the Marlins last season is the guy with the best chance to make something of himself though he hasn’t done so yet. Bostick has yet to crack the majors.
Also: Vetejourneyutilityman Damion Easley was added as a free agent. Easley’s been everywhere, man, but most recently in Arizona and Florida, he was wearing No. 2. That number currently belongs to coach Sandy Alomar.