Half a season gone by and the Mets have been fun to watch, buoyed by outstanding performances by Royally Screwed All-Star Reserves David Wright and R.A. Dickey and a kind of gutsy character that’s resulted in exciting baseball and lots of satisfying wins. In a lot of ways, the Mets are surprising people not because they’ve gotten so much better (though they have, a little) but that the league has come back to them. Clubs like Philadelphia and Miami (LOL and LOL) are exhibiting the kinds of struggles the Mets did in recent years and few clubs in the NL look so good that they could run away from the rest, so I think there’s a little reason to believe the Mets can’t hang around for a while (I think, in fact, lots of teams will hang around for a while). It’s just that kind of year.
My concerns are with their weak right-handed hitting, their poor defense and their lack of pitching depth (in that order). It will take a trade or a miracle comeback from Jason Bay to fix the first issue and continued health and some good luck to fix pitching concerns (I don’t think we have to go nuts trading for some other team’s closer, but bolstering the ready supply of good arms never hurt anyone). It’s the D that I can’t see improving (unless you involve Daniel Murphy and/or Lucas Duda in a trade for that right-handed slugger) and then who knows. But I’d suspect the D will continue to be an issue, so I’m keeping my expectations modest: Let’s hope we can hang around, avoid another big dropoff like we’ve had in so many recent second halves, and see where it gets us. If we can add a bat or an armn, let’s do that too. It’s been fun so far.
Speaking of David Wright, his home run July 3 “not only moved him past Howard Johnson into third place in the Mets’ record books, it also moved uniform #5 past #18 for home runs hit. Number 5 now trails only #20 in home runs.” This from sharp-eyed MBTN reader Shorty in the comments section. Sure enough, it checks out: Wright’s dinger was the 378th by a player who wears No. 5, surpassing 18, which hasn’t had a home run since Moises Alou in 2007 (thanks for nothing again, Jeremy Reed). Only No. 20, with 388 home runs, has produced more but with that uni currently unassigned it looks like Wright (197 HRs wearing 5) and company (John Olerud is next with 63) can overtake the all-time lead later this year. Re-sign this guy!
Getting caught up with the recent roster moves, the Mets designated Justin Hampson and recalled Jordany Valdespin July 4, then swapped out Jeremy Hefner for a healthy-at-last Pedro Beato July 5. Beato was gone so long I forgot what number he wore, but can tell you now it’s still 27. Hampson was later reassigned to Buffalo along with Chris Schwinden, who bounced on the waiver wire to the Indians to the Yankees and back to the Mets.
How great is this lousy team? A day after losing Jose Reyes and Daniel Murphy, the banged-up Mets go out and turn a 4-1 lead into an 8-4 deficit, then score 2 in the 8th and 3 in the 9th to walk off a win over Heath Bell and Padres? One star in the comeback was some guy named Mike Baxter, who was recalled from Buffalo today when Reyes was disabled and doubled home a run in his first turn at bat. Baxter it turns out is a Queens native who grew up a Met fan and was acquired from San Diego on a minor-league waiver deal earlier this year. He’s wearing No. 23, the same digits worn a lifetime ago most recently by washout reliever Blaine Boyer and previously by useful reserve types such as Ted Martinez, Tim Bogar and Julio Franco.
Ruben Tejada was back up in Murphy’s slot, still wearing 11 and having a nice game. Other recent moves we failed to mention: Mike Nickeas was back briefly after Carlos Beltran was traded, but he was returned to AAA when Nick Evans (who naturally, cleared waivers again and accepted another assignment with the Bison), was recalled on Saturday.
It’s a shame it’s got to end for Murphy, a real piece of work who probably cost this team three or four games with boneheaded plays alone, but hit and hit and hit and hit, and for that, I forgive. Along with Beltran (and to a lesser degree, Reyes) he made a complete mockery of my pessimism this year. Though even with the team scoring runs beyond my wildest expecatations, the trouble they’d encountered keeping teams like Washington and Florida off the scoreboard early and/or late tells me the Mets probably didn’t have the pitching depth to make a run anyhow. But it’s been a fun season anyway, and even when you think its over, it’s not. Let’s Go Mets!
Just a note to say thanks for keeping me up-to-date while I was away, the roster changes have been noted and they sure seem to be working. At the risk of getting in the way of this little roll we’ve got going on here tonight’s game was about as inspiring a win as I can remember for the Mets in a few years at least and even though it’s very early, it’s great to see they have this in them.
For the record I’ve got Justin Turner in No. 2; and the Jasons: Pridie in 20 and Bay in 44: not to mention Isringhausen in 45. Brad Emaus who looked for a moment like he might have been Dan Uggla but instead played like Dan Ugly, gives up No. 4, while Angel Pagan and Bobby Parnell look to heal physically.
Dan Murphy?! My god.
The Mets are apparently playing this afternoon in special, scary St. Patrick’s Day caps as pictured here (green-cap tip to the ‘Ropolitans for the photo).
In other news, the below post on the Mets-related calypso song got some love in UniWatch today. Paul Lukas has proposed a movement to make the song a hit; I’d be satisfied just to hear it at the park sometime. C’mon, Mets!
Not much on the Uni Number front to report, I’m watching the positional battles just like you and don’t have a clue whether Brad Emaus or Luis Castillo or Daniel Murphy winds up with a starting job. I would hope however that the decision is made based on who’s the best second baseman, and not whom the fans hate the least. I raised this point last year when Jerry Manuel inexplicably made Ruben Tejada the starter at second base, despite the fact that, as pathetic as it was to own up to, Luis Castillo was the best second baseman the Mets had at the time. The timing of that move was especially curious and, as we know, came right at the moment where an OK Mets’ season turned into an especially bad one.
Like every March, I’m impatient for the season to start. My enthusiasm is tempered somewhat by going into another year with a question mark in right field. I’m not down on Carlos Beltran as a person, I wouldn’t question his heart or overlook his greatness, but he’s played all of a couple innings as a DH this spring and already needed time to rest his knees, I’m just not comfortable with a guy like that in right. Where I’m hopeful is in the prospect of Lucas Duda’s awesome power, and in a good spring so far from Fernando Martinez, even if he’s already been optioned to AAA.
“I had a guaranteed military sale with ED-209. Renovation program! Spare parts for 25 years! Who cared if it worked or not?”
–Dick Jones, Robocop
I was reminded of this remark while reading a recent article on Amazin’ Avenue that sought to determine where Omar Minaya’s allegiances stood in the age-old debate between Scouts and Stats. It’s a provocative piece and more evidence, as if you needed some, that the best writing on the Mets these days is being done everyday by losers like you and me who simply devote more thought to the team than the usual suspects with better access.
But back to Dick Jones for a moment. I thought of him because it was clear that in the JJ Putz trade referenced in the above article, limiting the scope of Omar’s motivations for making that deal to Scouting or Statistics, or even a combination of them, sort of misses the larger point of having made that move primarily to make a show of displeasure with the 2008 bullpen and a scapegoat of Aaron Heilman, scouts and stats be damned. As long as it created the illusion that the Mets had become bulletproof, who cared if it worked it not?
Now that it’s become clear that committing five players and $10 million to a fat closer with arm trouble while gambling on a lineup with too many holes and a rotation with too many questions left us with nothing more than a set-up reliever who more or less is the equivalent of Heilman, while providing an explosive bounty for the Mariners who just might wind up re-signing Putz, maybe Omar ought to listen less to the usual suspects and their demands for dramatic fixes to last year’s problems, and care about what works or not.
Here’s your million dollars, Putz. Now go away.
Numeric content coming soon, I promise!
Baseball is a very humbling game. Just saying, Joe. And you don’t ask Shelly Duncan for his number, you take it while he’s drunk.
With the offseason officially underway and the countdown to April 5 already begun, two future ex-Mets already filed for free agency and as far as I’m concerned can beat it. See you later, Carlos Delgado and Brian Schneider.
Delgado is obviously a terrific talent and really made the difference in 2006 but like way too many Omarian acquisitions his best days were behind him and he spent entirely too much time nursing injuries and maybe a few grudges as a Met. He made pretty clear in 2005 he didn’t care to be here anyway. Schneider in the meantime might be one of the most overlooked busts the Mets have ever had. In any other year, his 2009 stinking-up-of-the-joint would make him the target of vicious fan abuse and a major concern in the offense. But amid all the other bad news and bad players, he just about got away with it. Schneider’s 2008 was pretty rotten as well.
We’ll see what the Mets have in mind regarding the potential replacements for these guys, but I wouldn’t kill them for looking into what it might take to pry catcher Chris Iannetta from the Rockies. I tend to think the Mets might be best off holding their noses and getting Daniel Murphy a right-handed hitting platoonmate at first base while waiting to mix in promising prospect Ike Davis at first base. Garrett Atkins? Xavier Nady? Let’s think on it.
Watching the Met debut of Tim Redding, who tonight will become the 860th Met of all-time.
Redding will be suited up in No. 44 — which belonged to four different guys last year, none of whom I could have told you had I not just looked it up myself, I don’t think. If you’re interested in making a guess in the comments section, go ahead, I won’t say who they are.
Redding’s accompanying lineup is a little goofy — a continuation of the stuff we saw last night where Fernando Tatis played short and Jerry Manuel, once again, made a baffling pinch-hitting call that blew up his face with the game on the line. Yet, Angel Pagan starts tonight in left while Daniel Murphy and Ryan “Doghouse” Church once again sit.
The shortstop is Ramon Martinez, called up because of a thumb injury to Alex Cora who is going onto the DL today too and Jose Reyes is still unavailable (Mackey Shillstone?). You might remember Martinez as the only Met who could buy a hit in the last week of the season last yea. He was wearing No. 22 then but with that jersey since reassigned to JJ Putz, we’ll have to wait and see what he turns up in. (Updated: He’s wearing No. 26)
Seems like only a moment ago I was praising the flexibility of this roster but this is about as stretched out as I’d like to go right now. Carlos Delgado, you may have heard, is on his way to the operating room and I can’t imagine he reappears until August or so.
Redding’s recall, by the way, meant another demotion for Nelson Figueroa — who came and went without an appearance — and a continuing tour for Ken Takahashi.
Right you are, Ken.
I have no idea what will happen this offseason but I’ll tell you this. I’m sitting here hoping the Mets just don’t throw the most money at the guy with the most saves, which is what they did the last time and look where it got them: Feeling pressure to throw the most money at the guy with the most saves, and still on the hook for $10 million, and still looking for a championship. You’re just asking for it.
So I’m thinking, if you’re going to go after a guy with closing experience, it may as well be Brian Fuentes, who lacks the Sex Appeal of K-Rod but just might get it done cheaper and wouldn’t be such a name brand diva that you couldn’t slide him into a set-up role if things go bad. And you know they might. Meantime while it’d be nice if they brought in a few good arms as well I hope what they’re really learning is that when building a bullpen, like building a bench, begins with turning the earth and fresh seeds every year.
Besides we already have a No. 57.
For the rotation they should just go sign Oliver Perez again.
I wish I had a better handle on how they’re going to help the offense but without knowing what they might expect from Church and Castillo, not to mention Daniel Murphy, next year, my guess is as good as yours. I’d be awfully tempted though to see if I couldn’t solve a few problems at onceby dangling Delgado in a trade.Yeah, and I’d look into getting a better hitter behind the dish and not Castro, whose been unable to answer the bell at crucial times far too often.
My apologies for the infrequent updates: I briefly lost use of the home computer and haven’t had a lot to report on. You may have seeen the Mets hired Luis Alicea to be their new first-base coach. He coached the Red Sox wearing No. 16 last year but I’d expect to see him — along withRazor Shines — take numbers in the low 50s.
Adam Rubin of the Daily News today writes that 23-year-old infielder Dan Murphy is en route to Houston in time for tonight’s game. Although Rubin hasn’t said who Murphy will replace, we can hope, I mean, speculate, that it’s gimpy struggling Marlon Anderson, who’s just having a terrible season and like Murphy (reportedly), bats left and plays poorly in several positions.
Murphy is one of the “Big 5” youngsters mentioned by Omar Minaya in press comments this week explaining why the Mets chose not to particpate in what was probably the most spectacular trade deadline season in recent memory, despite contending for a division title with obvious holes in the outfield and the bench, and serious questions surrounding the rotation and bullpen.
Just speculating here but with Murphy a potential solution to left-handed bench strength, the other four may fill holes in the outfield (Fernando Martinez), bullpen (Bingo closer Eddie Kunz) and rotation (Jon Niese, who’s also being condsidered for Aug. 11 start, Rubin says; and Bobby Parnell, who might also help in the bullpen). That solution may call for a lot of speculation and wishful thinking, but it’s more help than we got at the deadline so let’s see. In a matter of taste, sure beats hoping that Jeff Conine will help.
We’ll update you on Murphy’s number when we get it and in the meantime direct your attention to the new poll on the left column, reviving the discussion we had earlier this season on what number Fernando Martinez (I prefer “Fartinez” to “F-Mart,” don’t you?) alights in if/when he gets the call.