The inevitable has become a reality, as they say.
The Mets made it official, reserving July 9 for a pregame ceremony during which they will remove No. 17 from circulation to honor the World Champion first baseman, Gold Glove winner, New Yorker and broadcaster Keith Hernandez.
Those who’ve been around these parts know I’ve always been somewhat of a small-hall guy when it comes to uni number retirement. I’d prefer to see them hang 17 on the back of a young player who looks like he could become something, but when the alternative is Mike Bordick, Jose Lima and David Newhan, it’s best to just leave it be. The club started the momentum by taking 36 out on behalf of Jerry Koosman–a justifiable decision, for sure, but one that came too late to have the meaning it might.
Keith by contrast grew into the honor. His career in New York was simply too short and lacking in meaningful counting stats to justify it alone; further complicating matters was that his similarly short-tenured co-captain, Gary Carter, had similar issues despite arriving at the Hall of Fame. Talented and indispensable teammates from Strawberry to Wilson to Backman to Gooden, made an argument that the best decision would have been to simply remove 86 from the available inventory but that ship has sailed as well.
To me, Hernandez’s honor will be about changing the other club’s bunting strategies, about game-winning RBI’s and about properly aligned racing stripes, but also about post-career Seinfeld appearances and the company he offers those of us sitting at home.
And while the lockout seems certain to threaten a timely start to the 2022 season when and if it begins the Mets will carry a new number on the field with them–60, to mark the anniversary of the team’s first season. The patch looks appropriate if not especially handsome. Let’s hope the team is the other way around.
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!
Eat it, Anderson Hernandez.
Luis Castillo tonight became the 25th player to wear No. 1 for the Mets. Hernandez, who had been assigned No.1 for his on-again, off-again visits to the active roster since 2005, will, find something else to wear next time the Mets need a second baseman (what with Castillo, Ruben Gotay, Marlon Anderson and Damian Easley around doesn’t look likely but never say never. Not this year. The Mets finally got around to disabling Carlos Beltran 15, so Castillo slides into his roster spot.
Neglected to be mentioned below: On Sunday 7/29, the Mets designated Jon Adkins 39 and recalled David Newhan 17.
As you probably heard by now, overmatched rookie outfielder Carlos Gomez 27 injured a bone in his hand in Denver and underwent surgery that will likely sideline him until September. In his place for the time being is utilityman David Newhan 17, recalled from New Orleans last night. Though his inexperience was exposed at times, CarGo on balance acquitted himself well while pressed into duty. He leaves behind the impression of a ballplayer who’s going to be good — someday.
Ironically, speculation is that Gomez’ injury will give another shot to Lastings Milledge, who like Gomez, showed flashes of potential and moments of inexperience during emergency service last season. Milledge might have gotten a shot sooner this season but has been rehabbing injuries of his own in the minor leagues. Just a guess here but No. 44 will be in left field when the Mets return from the All-Star break Thursday. I mean, were you expecting Moises Alou?
Yes, Ricky Ledee is back. The reserve outfielder returned today for a second engagement with the Mets after a second year of awaiting an emergency at AAA. This year’s crisis concerns injuries to three starting outfielders and one reserve, and that two minor league reinforcements are already up. Ledee, who again this year is wearing No. 9, tagged punchless utilityman David Newhan 17 on the way down, so the news isn’t all bad.
On Thursday, creaky-kneed second baseman Jose Valentin 22 and magician Endy Chavez 10traded places on the active and disabled lists. Endy looks to be gone for a month or more with a bad hammy. Valentin hopes to make do on a partially torn ACL.
With Cliff Floyd’s departure to Chicago, it may be interesting to see whether Willie Randolph alights in the now-vacant No. 30 or stays with the 12 he’s worn as a Met player and manager (in his playing days, 30 belonged to Mel Stottlemeyer; Willie was 30 with the MF Yankees most of his career).
Alert MBTN reader Richard informs us that Mets.com is offering the Jose Valentin jersey in No. 22 — the switch from 18 we expected following the Moises Alou signing earlier this off-season.
Hello to new arrivals and/or spring auditionees Scott Schoeneweis, Aaron Sele, Jorge Sosa and David Newhan.
While Schoeneweis falls one letter short of the all-time Met record for characters on a name plate (ISRINGHAUSEN, with 12 still leads the pack), if his form holds true the veteran loogy would become the first player in Met history to wear No. 60. We’re kind of shocked to see him get a three-year contract.
The well traveled Sele, who signed a minor-league deal, has worn 30, 34, and last year with Los Angeles, 41. Sosa, who was pretty good for the Braves in ’05 and horrendous with them last year, is yet another former No. 34. We last saw the 34 jersey on Mike Pelfrey, who just might make the starting rotation.
Newhan, often described as a Joe McEwing type, wore No. 11 with the Orioles, as McEwing had in his last years as a Met. Eleven currently belongs to reserve catcher Ramon Castro, who was re-signed recently along with Endy Chavez 10; Duaner Sanchez 50; and, to another minor-league deal, the immortal Mike DiFelice.