Not to toot my own horn here but the latest JJ Putz flap only goes to support the idea expressed way back when that the Mets cared not about the results when they committed five guys and $10 million to get Putz, only the illusion that they’d boldly gone out and created some kind of impenetrable bullpen.
That said, I think there’s more room for debating whether the team treated JJ Putz’s injuries properly than whether an impenetrable bullpen really exists. In other words, the Mets screwed up no matter how Putz’s health turned out.
A look at the Mets roster will tell you how unspectacular this offseason’s been by contrast. A little more than two weeks before pitchers and catchers report, and 11 men on the 40-man roster have yet to be officially assigned numbers, and a couple of them (Eddie Kunz, Tobi Stoner) are no locks to return in what we saw them wear last (40 and 29, respectively).
Behold the unassigned:
Jack Egbert, P
Kelvim Escobar, P (probably 45)
Clint Everts, P
Ryota Igarashi, P (probably 18)
Arturo Lopez, P
Jay Marshall, P
Henry Blanco, C
Chris Coste, C
Shawn Bowman, INF
Chris Carter, INF-OF
Gary Matthews, OF
Also invited to camp on minor-league deals:
R.A. Dickey, P
Elmer Dessens, P (wore 64 last year)
Bobby Livingston, P
Russ Adams, INF
Jolbert Cabrera, INF-OF
Mike Cervenak, INF
Andy Green, INF (wore 10 29 last year)
Mike Hessman, OF
Frank (Smithtown’s Own) Catalonotto, INF-OF
“I had a guaranteed military sale with ED-209. Renovation program! Spare parts for 25 years! Who cared if it worked or not?”
–Dick Jones, Robocop
I was reminded of this remark while reading a recent article on Amazin’ Avenue that sought to determine where Omar Minaya’s allegiances stood in the age-old debate between Scouts and Stats. It’s a provocative piece and more evidence, as if you needed some, that the best writing on the Mets these days is being done everyday by losers like you and me who simply devote more thought to the team than the usual suspects with better access.
But back to Dick Jones for a moment. I thought of him because it was clear that in the JJ Putz trade referenced in the above article, limiting the scope of Omar’s motivations for making that deal to Scouting or Statistics, or even a combination of them, sort of misses the larger point of having made that move primarily to make a show of displeasure with the 2008 bullpen and a scapegoat of Aaron Heilman, scouts and stats be damned. As long as it created the illusion that the Mets had become bulletproof, who cared if it worked it not?
Now that it’s become clear that committing five players and $10 million to a fat closer with arm trouble while gambling on a lineup with too many holes and a rotation with too many questions left us with nothing more than a set-up reliever who more or less is the equivalent of Heilman, while providing an explosive bounty for the Mariners who just might wind up re-signing Putz, maybe Omar ought to listen less to the usual suspects and their demands for dramatic fixes to last year’s problems, and care about what works or not.
Here’s your million dollars, Putz. Now go away.
Numeric content coming soon, I promise!
Today the Mets recalled Fernando Nieve from AAA Buffalo to take the place of JJ Putz who finally stopped pretending there wasn’t something wrong with his arm. Nieve has reportedly been assigned No. 38. Nieve wore No. 50 in spring training, but that number went to Sean Green once Green decided he was unworthy of comparisons to Aaron Heilman(how right he was) and swapped in No. 48.
Not to say I told you so but we smelled trouble long before this Putz-Green-Heilman deal ever got done inasmuch as “addition by subtraction” is a concept that works great in opinion columns and talk radio but rarely on the baseball field. I’m not saying that time hadn’t come to swap away Heilman (not to mention Endy Chavez, Joe Smith, Jason Vargas, Makiel Cleto,and Mike Carp) but seeing as we’re looking at a $9 million fat guy having elbow surgery, a righty specialist who’s already lost his job, and a reserve outfielder, this whole deal is looking pretty much like “subtraction by subtraction” so far.
Nieve by the way will be the third Fernando in uniform for the Mets, which has to be some kind of record.
Nothing like making dumb play after dumb play and damn near getting swept at home by the Braves to take all the good feelings out of a seven-game win streak; then again there’s Carlos Delgado‘s hip, Jose Reyes‘ hopelessly casual attitude, the fact that JJ Putz can’t finish an inning in under 15 minutes, Jerry Manuel‘s continued baffling moves, and perhaps the season’s toughest road trip ahead of us, so don’t feel too bad yet.
The flight to san Francisco tonight — a long one, and they deserve it — won’t include Jon Niese, whose been optioned back to Buffalo after a subpar outing in his second turn as Oliver Perez‘s stand-in. His seat goes instead to Nelson Figueroa, who never made good on his threat to leave but may stick around for some time considering the sudden back-of-the-bullpen struggles of Ken Takahashi. Niese’s next start, it would seem, would go to Tim Redding as long as his Buffalo tune-ups continue progressing.
Delgado in the meantime appears headed to the disabled list, the Mets having compromised their bench for the requisite number of games without even a diagnosis of what’s actually bothering him. Speculation of a replacement is even harder to figure at this point, with Nick Evans batting 083 and the rest of the Buffalo lineup barely any better.
Although recent roster cuts bled the organization of lefties including veterans Ron Villone and Valerio de los Santos, the team hasn’t stopped searching for Portside depth. On Monday, word came they signed Japanaese veteran Ken Takahashi to a minor league contract. Takahashi, who was recently released after an unsuccesful audition with the Blue Jays, is expected to report to Class AAA Buffalo. YouTube video out there shows him pitching for his former Hiroshima team wearing No. 22, now on the back of JJ Putz.
Elsewhere, looks like Rule 5 sidewinder Darren O’Day may sweat out the final bullpen slot, withElmer Dessens and Fernando Nieve his competitors.
Very busy with travel recently, but I plan to resume with the Top 10 countdown after we get through Opening Day: We’ll try to have the new rosters set, new player pages added, etc., later this week.
At the press conference this afternoon introducing JJ Putz as a member of the Mets they issued him a jersey with No. 40 on it. That jersey most recently belonged to chubby reserve catcher Robinson Cancel and before that, Ambiorix Burgos who was not offered a contract last week and became a free agent at least in baseball terms.
Putz remarked to reporters afterward that he’d ask coach Howard Johnson about the possibility of taking over his No. 20 jersey when the games start this spring. I’d guess HoJo gives the OK, though I’ve always preferred the No. 20 jersey stay on the back of hitters (like HoJo, Agee, Burnitz… and Ken Henderson).It hasn’t been worn by a pitcher since Ricky Bottalicoin 2001 2004 (thanks commenters).
Bonus Trivia: Without looking it up, how many Met pitchers can you name who wore No. 20? (there have been six including Bottalico)
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.