It may not ever come to anything but happened to notice when the Mets today moved to claim lefthanded pitcher Jay Marshall off waivers from the Athletics. Marshall, a true submariner in the Chad Bradford style, continues a trend among Omar Minaya’s Mets teams to include or at least invite a few trick pitchers to camp each year. Marshall this spring will join the lefty-righty siderarm tandem of Pedro Feliciano and Sean Green (and another candidate with an unusual offering, knuckleballer R.A. Dickey). There was Joe Smith and Bradford before that, and guys like Steve Schmoll and Shingo Takatsu were given a shot.
Is this a good thing? I’m not entirely sure. While Feliciano has become one of the Mets’ best weapons vs. rival lefty sluggers and Green and Smith often got grounders when they needed them I’d prefer sometimes they could achieve these successes without also tempting the Mets to try and solve all their problems with matchups and specialists. It can grind games to a halt, for one thing, and all seems so delicate: One specialist springs a leak, and suddenly the whole ship is sinking. We’ve seen it before.
On the other hand, sidearmers are fun to watch when they’re going well and the Mets’ desire to bring these creatures in house indicates some evidence they have a plan, and I like that kind of reassurance.
At any rate, surely we’re in a Golden Age for Met sideslingers. I barely remember a one from my childhood when guys like Kent Tekulve, Elias Sosa and Dan Quisenberry were someone else’s property. David Cone was known to get sideways occasionally, and Jeff Innis was a durable middle-inning submariner for a long stretch, — and there was Jesse –but I’m going blank after that, although I’m sure I’m overlooking a few. Little help?
Or, 35 and Broadway: That’s the uni Lance Broadway turned up in yesterday, in his first appearance with the Mets since being acquired from the White Sox earlier this year for Ramon Castro. Broadway arrived when the Mets noticed something was wrong with Oliver Perez. Broadway is the first Met to suit up in 35 since Bazooka Joe Smith last season.
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.
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.
I was about to pontificate upon the chances of Steven Register retaining No. 61 or switching to something more dignified when word came he’d been waived by the Mets. Hopefully, the opportunity exists to work out a deal with Colorado that would allow the Mets to keep Register in the organization free of the onerous (for the Mets, at least) provisions of Rule 5.
This is good news, I believe, if you’re a fan of Joe Smith, who like Register, seems groomed for a role I’ll call GUPPY (GroUndball Pitcher, Perplexing deliverY — alright, needs work). Smith however can be safely stashed at AAA so it’s no lock he surfaces, at least not right away.
Similarly, looks as if suspicion over Duaner Sanchez‘ durability gives a shot to his hard-throwing nonroster counterpart, Brian Stokes, at least, to start the year. As for the No. 5 starter, I’m as disappointed as the next guy in Mike Pelfrey, maybe more, but I’d give him all the rope he needs. It’s not like an injured Orlando Hernandez has a whole lot of upside any longer.
* In case you didn’t see it, MLB.com’s Marty Noble today ran his annual Port St. Lucie christening story, a sure sign Spring Training is coming to an end.
* Don’t forget you’re invited to the MBTN Launch Party at Stout NYC, April 6, 1pm.
With the New Orleans Zephyrs swept out of the AAA playoffs over the weekend, representatives of the losers arrived in time to see — and participate — in the worst display of Met baseball since the Art Howe Era.
Soft-tossing righty Brian Lawrence 54 stepped in and registered what we can only hope would be the last outing of his Mets career, coughing up a 4-run lead to Washington. Joe Smith 35 is back, but the velocity he sidearmed with earlier this year apparently didn’t come along with him.Ramon Castro 11 didn’t have the health to stick through short-season games with Brooklyn but is back here anyway. Weak-hitting utilityman David Newhan? Yes, he’s back too, still torturing Keith Hernandez in No. 17.
Perhaps the only interesting returnee from a unicentric standpoint is infielder Anderson Hernandez, who we last saw wearing No. 1 in July. Hernandez was recalled only to discover the Mets had issued No. 1 to Luis Castillo during Hernandez’ stay in New Orleans. No. 4 was hanging in his locker this time around. When he gets into a game, he’ll become the Mets’ 14th 15th player to wear No. 4, and the first since Chris Woodward a year ago Ben Johnson earlier this year. (Props to Gene, below for the correction).
Only time will tell whether this latest stumble is just another stumble or the beginnings of an historic collapse, but you can bet we’ll be here hating ourselves for watching every minute of it!
Can’t take a day off without missing a few transactions anymore.
OK, indeed it was Chip Ambres 36 designated for assingment last week when Damian Easley 3returned for the bereavement list. Then after another poor outing Thursday, the Mets demoted Bazooka Joe Smith 35 with the idea of giving him some rest. In his place the Mets recalled Jon Adkins, the reliever acquired in the so-far lopsided Heath Bell trade. Adkins was assigned No. 39and debuted on Friday.
Also debuting Friday, it seemed, was some guy called Moises Alou who wore No. 18. Alou’s promotion from the disabled list, where he’d been since the late 1970s, accompanied a return to the minors for catcher Sandy Alomar Jr. 19, but also, news that Carlos Beltran 15 would sit indefinitely with one of his mysterious injuries — an injury he was apparently still feeling Saturday when Willie Randolph torched his entire 3-man bench and looked like a complete fool pinch-running and pinch-hitting 40-year-old pitchers while falling a run short against a guy making his major league debut.
The day-night debacle also required the Mets to recall Mike Pelfrey 34, and demote Anderson Hernandez 1 who arrived after the crippling of Jose Valentin 22. Pelfrey was evidently on his way back down to AAA but who is recalled becomes an issue now that Paul LoDuca 16 may be injured.
Oh, and the trade deadline is Tuesday.
Thanks to reader Glenn who below pointed out Ben Shpigel’s entertaining blog post detailing the news that Bazooka Joe Smith will dress in uni No. 35 and Aaron Sele is also changing — toNo. 30 36. ) 30 (I was right all along). The comments illustrate some of the politics of number selections: Rookie Smith is resigned to wear what is offered him; Sele can not only choose his jersey, but (jokingly) request re-numeration for that which he leaves behind.
A poor spring sparked not by iffy pitching but by a continuation of the paltry offense the Mets showed last September and October frankly has me more worried than usual about the new year but opening night isn’t a time to fret. Let’s Go Mets!
The Mets following a rare spring training victory today said Aaron Sele and ‘Bazooka’ Joe Smithwould be added to the big-league roster, a development that threw the Metly future of Chan Ho Park 61 into question. As things shake out it’s come down to Park, Ambiorix Burgos 40and optionless/hapless acquiree Jon Adkins 39 for the seventh and final bullpen slot; The Mets will go with four starters the first few times around before recalling Mike Pelfrey 34 to become the 5th starter. That may prove to reward precocious prospect Lastings Milledge 44 for a strong showing this spring seeing as outfielder Ben Johnson 4 was cut today (along with lesser hopefuls Mike Carp 64, Lino Urdaneta 68, Anderson Hernandez 1, Ruben Gotay 6, Mike DiFelice 30 and Sandy Alomar Jr. 90).
Spring leaders of the Ring-Bell for Adkins-Johnson trade are the Padres, who’ve gotten a 0.90 ERA out of Heath Bell thus far.
Word from the Daily News is the Mets will commemorate Smith’s promotion by slashing his uniform number in half, from 70 to 35. Ironically, that’s the same number they tried to assign to last year’s righthanded submariner, Chad Bradford, before Bradford fled for the quirkier 53.Troublingly, that’s also the number rosters list Sele as wearing, unless Sele switched while I wasn’t looking (entirely possible). Any help? Thanks.
Adam Rubin at the Daily News this morning hints that ‘Bazooka’ Joe Smith “in a couple of days” will share something in common with Mike DeJean, Jose Offerman and David Weathers. That answers our question below about what number we’ll likely see the rookie in when he sheds the No. 70 he’d been wearing in camp and comes North with the big club.