Congrats are in order for Matt Harvey, whose fifth strikeout last night helped him surpass John Maine to become the Mets’ all-time leader in strikeouts by guys who wore 33.
Harvey raced to his current career total of 470 whiffs in just 455.1 innings pitched, a pretty impressive feat for a guy I love to hate.
In other races we’re watching this year, keep an eye on Jacob deGrom as he mounts an assault on Aaron Heilman’s all-time mark of 395 strikeouts by a 48: At his rate, that’ll be sometime in June.
Harvey, deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz in the meantime have quite the battle on their hands for strikeout supremacy, between themselves and their extended numerical families. Matz ‘ Team 32 has the current lead among them at 2,034 career K’s, with Syndergaard’s 34s currently at 1,946; Harvey’s 33s at 1,934 and deGrom’s 48s at 1,909.
It’s possible that all four of these jerseys surpass 16 to move into the top five of all time before the season is over. Not that we need reminding, but these are the good old days.
As happy I was to see the return of the Met offense last night, and as welcome as the return tonight of Ryota Igarashi should be, it was most encouraging to see the reintroduction last night of Gangsta Jerry, who I can only hope is as exasperated at John Maine‘s struggles as I’ve been. I like Maine enough but at some point these guys deserve a kick in the pants and props to Jerry for delivering one; I found it impossible not to draw parallels to the Jose Reyes Incident on Manuel’s first night on the job, a little who’s-the-boss demonstration for all of us doubters to see.
And so while I still think his strategies are counterproductive and wearing and destined not to succeed, I also feel the Mets needn’t upstage this weekend’s series with a firing. Nor should they, probably, at least until after it, or the Philly series to follow, depending on results. This is the time to be fans again. Let’s Go Mets!
No official word yet if Igarashi returns tonight or who goes down for him, but I’d be surprised if he weren’t in action tonight. Thanks to MetsBlog for the traffic yesterday!
So the Mets are rattling into MFYankee Stadium with the burden of a few disappointing losses and maybe a bigger loss in the starting rotation. Initally scheduled to pitch the opener tonight, John Maine was pushed back, then removed altogether, going onto the disabled list with shoulder fatigue and the promise that some rest will do him good.
The plan now is to have Livan Hernandez pitch Friday, promising but unproven Fernando Nieve to throw on Saturday, and recalling lefty Jon Switzer to take the place of Maine on the roster. We don’t know quite yet what number Switzer turns up in but we’d suggest 47 — which we gave away earlier this year to a lefty from Buffalo, Casey Fossum (remember him? I think he’s actually pitching in the MFYs’ system now). Anyway, Switzer’s a southpaw with a reputation for being hard on lefties, he may see some action this weekend.
I won’t need to remind anyone the Mets are not looking particularly threatening right now but that’s just going to make this whupping of the Yankees a little sweeter. Let’s Go Mets! Check in when you see what Swtizer’s wearing!
I have my doubts that Ron Villone, after 14 years and 11 teams, and presumably no longer on the juice, can actually reach 92 anymore, but that’s his number this spring with the Mets, who seem to be fulfilling their obligation to offer potential employment to all ballplayers originally from the tri-state area at least once before they retire. Villone is among a group of longshots like ex-Met Tom Martin and Mexican League import Heriberto Ruelas to provide lefty depth in the bullpen: The veterans like this often have an advantage in the early going since they’re in better position to reject the alternative of not coming north but I’d be surprised if the Mets get that point before doing something like signing Joe Beimel or Will Ohman, who to my knowledge are still lefthanders and still out there.
I refuse to get all caught up in the Johan Santana drama: If he’s not available the first week or even the first month of the season, he’s not. But it’s safe to assume that when he is available, he’ll be fine. Yankee fans, were they rational, might convince themselves of the same thing with regard to A-Rod. On the other hand I’m quite worried about John Maine, if only after reading some of his remarks after a stinker in an exhibition vs. the Italians today (he walked the first three batters he faced and confessed to being “embarrased” and lost). If he has a counterpart across town, maybe it’s hard-drinking chubbster Joba Chamberlain whose been even worse so far.
Lotta spring to go still.
So I’d be very surprised if the Mets don’t come out of Las Vegas this week having captured Francisco Rodriguez (please, don’t call him K-Rod) and insisting we’ll be all the better for it.
But let us not forget that going into the new season with a reliable closer only puts the Mets on the exact same footing they were the last three seasons, and none of them ended quite like we wanted. And none of those years began with ownership pledging an idiotic credo of “addition by subtraction,” which plays great on WFAN but seems naive and foolish at best in practice. And, inasmuch as paying top dollar for the top reliever indicates the Mets intend to “go for it” once again in 2009, my concerns — beyond what number Rodriguez might wear since No. 57 is occupied by Johan Santana — are only beginning.
There’s the need for reliable starting pitching. I’m optimistic about Pelfrey’s progress and think he can make more of it next year but until he demonstrates he can get people out via the strikeout I’m not entirely comfortable. I like Maine if he’s healthy, but who knows. I’m all for giving Niese and Jason Vargas (who also needs a new a number) a shot at the end, but I’d sure like out chances with a known quantity mixed in along with them, and preferably someone with a potential to be very good some nights if not all. Hey… How about Oliver Perez?
And can we get serious about the bench? If Jerry Hairston Jr. is out there and you intend on winning the division, you can’t prefer Marlon Anderson to him. Reports have the Mets kicking the tires on Twins scrubeenie Nick Punto, that’s a little more encouraging.
And not to sound like a complete pessimist, but I’m concerned that the everyday lineup needs plenty of improvement. I was never much of an advocate for Luis Castillo but is there anyone in that lineup you see improving significantly except for him? That is going to take some creativity to address.
So while we wish Omar luck in his pursuits out West this week let’s remember that gathering in an ace closer is only the start, and probably, the easiest card he’s got to play. It’s all that other stuff — bench, offense, rotation — that will win the day.
In a move practically shouting “see you next spring!” the Mets today disabled John Maine for the second time in a month. The club was noncommital as to who would be taking Maine’s starts from here on out but stands to reason the list of candidates would include Brandon Knight, who made a spot start in late July on the way to the Olympics; Brian Stokes, now working in the Mets’ bullpen; or Jon Niese, the lefty prodigy whose high regard by the Met brass could be the thing that prevents his activation at this time. Should it wind up being Knight — who’s probably due for a September recall anyhow — he’ll have to find a new number: He wore 28 then, which since has gone to Dan Murphy. May we suggest 22? Thanks to MBTN reader Ron, who in the comments section a few posts back reports:
I contacted the Mets and Juan Lopez is now wearing # 62.
Lopez is the bullpen batting practice (thanks, commenter) pitcher whose 56 was usurped byLuis Ayala but is still listed that as such on the Mets roster. Congrats to Mike Pelfrey on another solid game. Beat it, David Newhan. And welcome back to reluctant returnee Luis Castillo, who for now takes Maine’s roster slot.
Not that Willie, silly. Though his habit of dumb sacrifice bunts accomplishing nothing carries on in the new era. We’re talking about Willie Collazo, the little lefthander whose jersey name-on-back was misspelled last season, much to the amusement of geeks everywhere.
Collazo was recalled Sunday following Brandon Knight‘s start in place of greiving Pedro Martinez and issued No. 36, the same jersey he wore last season. Knight, who rebounded after a shaky first inning in his only Met appearance and wound up with a no-decision, is on his way to Bejing with Team USA. Pedro is on his back to the Mets and penciled to start on Friday albeit with a strict pitch count.
It will be interesting to see who his teammates turn out to be that night, the first after Thursday’s non-waiver trade deadline. With the bullpen demonstrating once again it could use an upgrade; with the health of Pedro and Ryan Church remaining so mysterious; with Marlon Anderson still employed; and with John Maine headed for an MRI on his shoulder, anything seems possible. It is to their credit the Mets have thrived the way they have during this difficult stretch.
Now that September has arrived, the Mets are reportedly looking to promote several minor leaguers, in addition to Heath Bell 19 and Royce Ring 43, who were activated Friday.
Considering Sunday’s performance by Mike DiFelice 6, there’s little doubt catcher Kelly Stinnett will be among them: Stinnett is a returning Met who was last seen wearing No. 33 in 1995 (that number currently belongs to John Maine). Also slated to return, reports say, are Lastings Milledge 44, Mike Pelfrey 34, Brian Bannister 40, Ricky Ledee 9, and newly arriving prospect Phillip Humber.Humber, should he see action, would become the 799th man to play in a Met uniform: Barring any additional shenanigans, that means we’re likely to see the 800th Met on opening day next year.
Roberto Hernandez promised writers he’d be wearing his old No. 39 for tonight’s game — and sure enough, he did. The veteran relief pitcher had been assigned 49 when he joined the Mets Tuesday but evidently was successful in prying the digits from Pedro Feliciano, who switched to the vacant25 and summarily ended Chase Utley’s hitting streak. The news here is Feliciano becoming the latest member of the exclusive Three-Number Club — he previously suited up in 55 and 39.
Also this evening, word arrived that backup catcher Mike DiFelice has returned while Ramon Castro 11 hit the disabled list. No word yet on DiFelice’s jersey, but it won’t be the 33 he wore last year: That belongs to John Maine.