For the second winter in a row, the Mets traded a soft-tossing starter who wore No. 40 for a hard-throwing young reliever who wears No. 50. While last year it was Jae Seo to Los Angeles for Duaner Sanchez, this time it’s Brian Bannister to Kansas City in exchange for Ambiorix Burgos.(Yes, we know Seo’s turn in No. 40 was a few changes ago, but we couldn’t resist all the spooky parallels). We’ll wish good luck to Bannister, who showed a lot of heart in an unexpected rookie campaign with the Mets, and hope that Burgos can cut down on those home runs allowed and wild pitches.
The Winter Meetings also brought word that ex-Met Howard Johnson would serve as the first-base coach next season, with Sandy Alomar crossing the diamond to third base to take the place of the departed Manny Acta. We’ll be watching to see which jersey Hojo turns up in, noting that his former No. 20 belongs today to outfielder Shawn Green.
More Numbers Confirmed: Thanks again to Gordon, who mailed along a scan of a scorecard from the opening series of the 1977 season including the listing of Ray Sadecki wearing No. 33. While this number wasn’t especially difficult to remember (that Sadecki wore 33 is in fact about the only thing we can recall of the guy) finding independent confirmation was a bit ornery and so we’re thankful to have it.
New outfielder Ricky Ledee arrived at Shea this evening and suited up in No. 9, last worn by chunky infielder Craig Brazell, best remembered for ruining the Cubs’ 2004 season, currently playing AA ball for the Dodgers organization. Also tonight, the Mets announced that Cliff Floyd 30 was headed to the disabled list for the second time this year and that his spot on the roster would be filled by journeyman Michael Tucker, who’s hitting 265/381/411 while wearing No. 34 down in Norfolk. Let’s hope Floyd stays disabled until fully able. Update Aug. 10 — Tucker appeared today in 22.
Thanks to Louis for the correction on Uni Controversies — the player John Franco swiped 31 from was Julio Machado and not Julio Valera. And thanks to Adam, Michael and Gordon for the Ledee news.
Editorial: If you’re a Met fan out at Shea desperately seeking attention by booing, do yourself a favor and put a sock in it. Thanks.
Ledee In; Marerro Out: The Mets on Tuesday picked up veteran reserve outfielder Ricky Ledee on waivers from the Dodgers and brought an end to the short and undistinguished Met career of Eli Marerro to make room for him. The well-traveled Ledee has frequently worn 33 but was wearing 21most recently with the Dodgers — neither number is available here. We’re guessing he appears tonight in Marerro’s old 32.
Nice to see the great ovation given to returning hero Mike Piazza, and odd to see him wearing No. 33 — his familiar 31 has been retired by his new employers for Dave Winfield. Odder still to see Jae Seo in Tampa Bay wearing the outrageous No. 98.
Shout out to Uni Watch Blog, deliverer of some recent traffic. If you don’t read it, um, you should.
Met fans were wondering again today whether Omar Minaya can be trusted at a swap meet, giving up underappreciated starter Jae Seo 26, along with lefty relieverTim Hamulack 46, in a trade for goggle-wearing Duaner Sanchez and his sidearm-throwing teammate, Steve Schmoll, both righthanded relievers for the Dodgers. We wish the best of luck to Seo, whose frequent bobs between New York and Norfolk resulted in three uniform numbers (he also wore 38 and 40). In case you’re also wondering, Sanchez wore No. 50 and Schmoll No. 40 in Chavez Latrine last season.
The Mets also invited veteran second baseman Bret Boone to camp with a minor league deal. Boone was released twice last year but according to Omar “knows how to win,” and will challenge incumbent Kaz Matsui for a job. Boone most often has worn No. 29.
Catching up with more winter moves, the Mets on Dec. 28 agreed to a one-year deal for freaky underhanded relief pitcher Chad Bradford, a hero of Moneyball and most recently, a patient with the Red Sox team doctors. He wore No. 53 for both teams.
On Dec. 23, former Met outfield prospect Endy Chavez was signed to a one-year deal. Chavez woreNo. 19 with Expo-Nationals and 47 when he was traded to Philadelphia late last year.
The Mets also released maddening lefthander Kaz Ishii 23, and invited journeymen Darren Oliver, Jose Parra and Pedro Feliciano to camp. We last saw Parra and Feliciano in Met uniforms 46 and 55, respectively, in 2004 (unless we vacationed in Japan in 2005).
Jae Seo 26 was recalled from Norfolk to replace Kaz Ishii 23 on Saturday, and for the second time this year, pitched considerably better than him. As with his first recall, whether Seo stays in the rotation depends in part on what the Mets intend to do when an injured starter makes an expected return to the rotation: In May, it was Kris Benson; this time, it’s Steve Trachsel, expected back shortly and whose injury led to acquiring the frustrating Ishii in the first place: He was sent to the minors for the first time in his MLB career. The Mets are also expecting a return from Kaz Matsui 25 any day now. Thankfully, they’re on the road.
Two regulars on the shelf from Day 1 return this afternoon when Kris Benson 34 makes his first start and Mike Cameron 44 plays right field. To make room the Mets sent reliever Royce Ring 22 and starter Jae Seo 26 to the minors. Tough break for Seo, who pitched better than both Tom Glavine and Victor Zambrano during his stay. He may be back if either of those two continue to struggle.
The trade of Jason Phillips vaulted Ramon Castro into a likely role as Met backup catcher and his uni number went flying too. Castro’s status seems solidified by a switch from the non-rosterly 72 to the backup catcherly 11. With a week to go until the bell rings, notable recent cuts include Jae Seo 26, Scott Strickland 28, Jeff Keppinger 6, and Scott Stewart 32.
The Scott Erickson Experiment may have ended before it ever started. The Proven Veteran Starter, listed as No. 19, didn’t make it out of warmups Thursday before hitting the disabled list — David Cone last season at least waited until May. Back in his place is Jae Seo 38, whose evil cackle we could hear all the way from Norfolk. So for the time being, we’ve reduced our All-Time Met list to 726 players and are left waiting. Update: Seo appeared in Saturday’s game wearing No. 26. That makes three numbers for Seo in as many seasons as a Met. He made his MLB debut in 2002 in 38; switched to 40 last year and back to 38 this spring after Braden Looper took 40. See here for a list of Mets who wore multiple uniform numbers.
The 2004 Mets next week will be arriving in Port St. Lucie for Spring Training and goofy numbers aplenty are expected. According to the official (but not always accurate) Mets website, here’s what to expect: Pat Strange, whose 38 was taken by Jae Seo when Seo’s 40 was given to Braden Looper (whose 41 was unavailable)… is listed in No. 34. As expected, veteran returnee Todd Zeile was issued No. 27. Karim Garcia in the meantime was issued No. 20, with Prentice Redman switching to No. 5. Catcher Mike Jacobs has been issued the highest uni number among the 40-men in camp, at 71. See more at the official site.
Photos from the Met Caravan in New York this week revealed potential number-switching for 2004. Jae Seo arrived at Grand Central wearing No. 38 and Braden Looper in No. 40. This represents a bit of a switch — Seo actually made his Met/MLB debut in No. 38 back in 2002 but that number was subsequently issued to Pat Strange, who wore it last year as well as Seo took No. 40.
Looper in the meantime appeared earlier this month at the Met Minicamp in No. 46, but perhaps due to our warnings below, thought better of it. (Thanks to Phillip for the tip!)
The lens of photographer Ed Tsunoda captures the Mets in action and the following (unofficial) changes: Aaron Heilman wearing 48 (not 23), with Jason Phillips in 23 (switching to accomodate uberprospect Jose Reyes 7). Jae Wong Seo is wearing No. 40 with Pat Strange keeping 38. Also, David Cone is now wearing No. 16 (thanks, Stephen).