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.
Well, they have a shot anyway.
The opening for a reserve outfielder seems to have gotten more competitive with word Tuesday that the Mets had inked light-hitting flycatcher Cory Sullivan, most recently of Colorado. Sullivan was more or less a washout as a starter with the Rockies but as I’ve argued here before I generally support attempts to wrangle in “young veterans” with skills (Suillivan has a rep as a superb outfielder and will be 29 years old) to transition to a bench role. I suppose I’d prefer if he could hit too, but we said the same about Endy Chavez.
Sullivan, who wore Nos. 31 and 18 with the Rockies, appears to present some competition forJeremy Reed, whom the Mets acquired in the Putz-Heilman deal and who also just settled on a new contract. The Mets in fact held the very same kind of competition in 2006 when Chavez beat out Tike Redman in a duel of would-be reserve outfielders with modest major-league contracts. May the best scrubeenie win.
The Mets also revealed some addition spring training invitees including Tom Martin, who was a barely-hanging-on veteran lefty the last time the Mets last had him — in 2001 (he wore No. 34 then).Other invitees include fallen lefty pitcher Casey Fossum, formerly of Arizona, and catcher Omir Santos, known as a defensive specialist, who came up through the Yankees’ system but whose only big-league taste came last season with Baltimore.
The Mets are expected within the hour to announce their part in a three-team, multiplayer swap meet that will make former Mariners JJ Putz, Sean Green and Jeremy Reed Mets.
If I have this scored right, Aaron Heilman, Endy Chavez and prospect Mike Carp are en route to Seattle and Joe Smith is off to Cleveland, which is collecting various other jetsam from Emerald City. The prize in this deal is Putz, who presumably takes over Heilman’s role in the 8th inning and hopefully doesn’t inherit his demeanor: You know he’s every bit the closer Francisco Rodriguez is. Green is tall right-handed reliever, who’s death on righties, clobbered by lefties and a ground-ball machine a la the departed Bazooka Joe; and Reed, like Chavez when he arrived back in New York, is a faltering one-time leadoff prospect with a noodle bat but good defensive skills.
So with the roles aligned, seems it’s only a matter of having parted with Carp. ( Edited to add, also Jason Vargas and about 50 more low-level prospects too I see now, not sure where they’re off to).
As for the impact on jersey numbers, 48, 35 and 10 are set free. Putz wears No. 20, which is available if coach Howard Johnson gives the OK (he will); Green wore54 (he’ll be dressed in something lower, let’s say 35) and Reed wore 8(uncomfortably unissued now for 8 years). Put Reed in 10, Johnson in 54 and we’ll have ourselves a multiplayer uni-swap as well.
Thanks to all the contributors who kept up to date round the clock on the Rodriguez Jersey Watch — he’s apparently gone with 75 as suspected. A Met first.