Rarely in Met history has a player gone from promising prospect to yesterday’s news faster than Eddie Kunz. If only his fastball had such velocity.
You might recall Kunz was the Mets’ first draft pick in 2007, No. 42 overall, back when Omar Minaya’s draft strategy was about gathering in relievers who’d make quick ascension to the big leagues: Chad Cordero and Joe Smith, for example. Kunz was a hulking dude with a big chin and a hard slider, and everything looked quite promising for him as he settled in a closer for Class AA Binghamton in his first year as a pro. His arrival on the Mets came in August of 2008, just as the bullpen crisis that eventually would ruin them began with Billy Wagner’s unavailability. Kunz was up for a little more than two weeks, then reassigned to AAA New Orleans after his first big-league 9th inning — protecting a 7-1 lead against Pittsburgh, turned hairy.
Had the Mets soured on Kunz already? They issued his uniform number (44) less than two weeks later to Brandon Knight. They didn’t bother to ask him back in September, even as they tried just about anyone with an arm to pitch in. The offseason saw Tim Redding get 44. Kunz toiled in the minors ever since, eventually losing his spot on the 40-man roster and yesterday, was traded to San Diego for Allan Dykstra, a first baseman who like Kunz, was a former high draft choice languishing in the minors.
As mentioned previously, 44 has lately become something of a cursed number for the Mets: Just when I was getting some confidence to go to war with this group, down went Jason Bay. He hadn’t yet surrendered the number to Jason Isringhausen, who on Wednesday said he’d agree to a two-week stay in extended spring training but may never make it up.
Amazin Tuesday Returns: On Tuesday, April 5 — that’s next Tuesday — I’ll be getting together with Matthew Silverman and other writers and Mets fans for a game-viewing party and gathering at the Pine Restaurant at the Holiday Inn LaGuardia in Corona: That’s the former Bobby Vee’s on 114th Street. We’ll have the Mets-Braves game on TV from Atlanta along with food, drinks, readings and more.
So Tim Redding showed up today at CitiField and received a pinstriped Mets jersey with his name and No. 44 on the back.
Interesting in that it makes three Mets on the current 40-man roster who have a claim to that jersey, even though its not likely two of pretenders, Eddie Kunz or Brandon Knight, make it back right away. But a small part of us will be rooting for Knight, who is on the fast-track to McKnighthood having already burned though two numbers in just four appearances and is now poised for a third.
Knight you may recall arrived from Class AAA in late July to take a start in place of Pedro Martinez who was away on bereavement leave. (That game eventually turned into the stupid, 10-8, 14-inning loss remembered for Albert Pujols’ home run off Aaron Heilman). Knight was wearing No. 28 then. He shortly was back to New Orleans and then to the Olympics, and by the time he’d returned in September, Daniel Murphy was a sensation in the same No. 28 jersey and Kunz had made a brief appearance in No. 44, which was subsequently assigned to Knight. Mets rosters though today continue to list Knight as the possessor of 44, with Redding and Kunz listed as the everpopular —.
Thanks to astute reader Rich for pointing that out. And thanks to our friends at No No-Hitters for the assist on the new uni-number graphics, which look a million times better than the old ones wouldn’t you say?
No, not the confrontation between the one-time reserve infielder and goofball teammate Rey Ordonez.
Luis Ayala is indeed in uniform No. 56. Not clear is what jersey they give to Juan Lopez, identified on the Mets’ roster as the “bullpen pitcher” — as low a rung of coachdom I will recognize here. So like they tell terrified passengers on the subway: If You See Something, Say Something.
Eddie Kunz was demoted to make room for Ayala, you probably knew that already too.
Yesterday it was Dan Murphy, indeed subing for injured Marlon Anderson and slipping in the No. 28 jersey that just came out of Brandon Knight‘s wash. Now today, following a shameful performance from Billy Wagner, it’s Class AA reliever Eddie Kunz set to make his Mets debut.
Kunz, according to the roster posted at Mets.com, will wear No. 44 and take the roster slot of John Maine, who, not surprisingly, has been placed on the disabled list (in Mets Medicalese, “strain” means “tear,” “slight” means “life-threatening” and “day-to-day” means “Hospital for Special Surgery.”) Word is Wagner in the meantime is to have an MRI to explore the left arm that’s been killing the season. This all could mean “Crazy Eddie” (I just made up that nickname but for a 6-foot-5, 265-pound closer-to-be in New York, it’s poifict) is the closer for today, I don’t know. In accordance with the post below, looks like Jon Niese is next.
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.