It was only a matter of time before six men in the bullpen proved far too radical a challenge for Jerry Manuel’s management skills, and so, two weeks after returning to Class AAA Buffalo, lefthander Raul Valdes was recalled Monday. Interestingly, room for Valdes on the roster was created when the Mets disabled Fernando Tatis with a shoulder injury, raising the question of who Jerry will turn to when the opposition counters pinch hitter Chris Carter with a lefthanded pitcher: It’s quite possible his head will explode and it will be left to Dave Jauss to decide.
My apologies for the lengthy layoff: I had little to report as far as numbers went and I tried to stay out of the way of the Mets when they were playing well. That obviously came to an halt last week in Puerto Rico, where the Mets began exhibiting many of the same traits that made them look like one of the league’s worst teams earlier this year: Pitchers falling apart with two outs and none on, sloppy bullpen work, and questionable managerial tactics seemingly contributing to a team suddenly losing its nerve to win. Let’s hope it’s just a stumble in an imperfect but hardly disappointing first half.
The photo above is a snap of coach Bill Monbouquette’s 1982 jersey as being sold on eBay by MBTN reader and jersey collector Nick, who wrote in recently. Check out his stuff here.
One of the few working writers to cover both Monboquette and Manuel, Marty Noble, will be the featured guest at a special Amazin All-Star Monday coming to Two Boots pizzeria in Grand Central Station next Monday, July 12, at 7 pm. Don’t miss this! Marty is a terrific writer, a great interview and a 35-year chronicler of Metsdom. Also on the program will be Howard Megdal, author of The Baseball Talmud and candidate for the next Mets’ General Manager. Faith & Fear in Flushing’s resplendent penman, Greg Prince, will co-host with yours truly. Two Boots, located in the lower dining concourse at Grand Central Station, will offer a special All-Star inspired pizza and a free drink for all fans in exchange for a Mets baseball card. The Home Run Derby will provide televised entertainment.
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.
So, Tim Redding? Wore No. 17 in Washington last season, but as the kind of guy destined to surrender the No. 5 starter duties at some point, I’m not sure he has the juice to dictate his own digit. I suppoose its possible now that Fernando Tatis does, if for some reason he’d prefer something other than 17, but that’s speculation we’re going to have to wait until spring training to test.
Welcome Abordick, Tim.
Once again, the Mystery Men:
Kunz/Knight (they both most recently wore No. 44)
Putz/H. Johnson (Putz posed in 40, but as yet isn;t listed as such on the official roster
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The Mets have to be smarting still from the beating Paul Lukas administered on Page 2 the other day. The subject? The butt-ugly sleeve patch correctly identified as the worst in baseball history,headed to their uniforms this year.
It’s not too late, Mets. Please.
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Ken Davidoff of Newsday notes that David Wright will wear No. 4, not No. 5, as part of the World Baseball Classic team this year. That’s because skipper Davey Johnson wears 5. Well, of course he does.
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So disregard the nonsense about Adam Bostick and Willie Collazo and Joe Smith below — the Mets on Tuesday afternoon abruptly changed course and recalled Claudio Vargas to the big club, along with Fernando Tatis, and re-activated reliever Matt Wise while designating both Nelson Figueroa and Jorge Sosa for assignment and putting outfielder Angel Pagan onto the disabled list.
While we applaud the Mets for being brave enough to sacrifice two players whose backstory (Figueroa) and contact (Sosa) might have won them chances better performing teammates might not have been given, the real story here is how the Mets will outfit Claudio Vargas — the lefty released by the Brewers this spring — in the same No. 39 jersey that injured prospect Jason Vargas was issued this spring (Jason Vargas wore 43 in his brief appearance last year). The newly arriving Tatis meanwhile will become the 29th wearer of the 17 jersey. Wise was and still is No. 38.
Both Figueroa and Sosa appear to have vanished from the Mets plans following respective poor performances Monday. MLB.com reported that the Mets were trying to trade Sosa — they had during spring training as well — and if he goes we’ll remember him as the one spot-starter not to completely destruct in 2006. Figueroa and his luxury box full of Coney Island friends and family had a few nice starts before reminding us why he’d been without a big league job for so many years. We may see one or both back eventually — Raul Casanova, after all, cleared waivers Tuesday and he’s had as good a year as either of them.
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.