You may have seen the Village Voice this week featuring Jose Reyes on its cover and a provocative “Stealing Mickey’s Mantle” headline. Inside, Allen Barra’s article draws parallels between Reyes and Mantle, noting they shared a city, switch-hitting and stealing ability, a reputation as their era’s most exciting players, and of course, a uniform number (7).
If we going down that path though (and clearly Barra is) I’d sooner associate a pair of 5s in David Wright and Joe DiMaggio. And though he raises some interesting points, Barra ultimately bungles the story by getting the Met psyche all wrong:
If José Reyes is being overrated, it may be in large part because Mets fans want to will him into being the first truly great everyday player in team history.
This notion, central to the piece — the subhed says as much — would come off more believable had Barra bothered to include any points of view from an actual Met fan as part of the piece. (Had he asked a year ago, he’d have caught many of us hoping only that Reyes approach adequateness). But having built a case for Met fans being tortured and unrealistic, Barra then gets a guy who draws paychecks from the YES network (Goldman) to poke holes in his own trumped-up theory. (Oh, you poor delusional Met fans. Someone must show you tough love). Finally the entire thing is wrapped way too tightly in Yankee perspective: The Mantle comparison is one thing, but the nauseating Jeter showdown at the end is barely even honest (we get a “similar points in their career” comparison strongly favoring Jeter when comparing like-ages would tell a very different story). Bring back Billy Altman!
Thanks to reader effort we’re relatively sure catcher Sandy Alomar Jr. is wearing No. 90 which we also think may be the highest number in camp this spring. Nice job by the Mets to dress longshot catching invitee Jose Reyes in No. 77, which not only recalls his famous namesake but indicates he’s roughly twice his size. In a new number this spring is Steve Schmoll, submarining in the No. 38 jersey belonging most recently to Victor Zambrano.Schmoll last year attended camp wearing 46.
Zambrano, by the way, is non-rostering it with the Blue Jays wearing No. 31. Steve Trachselof the Orioles is wearing No. 18. And in an arrangement we won’t believe till we see, Cliff Floyd wears No. 15 for the Cubs (And Ted Lilly gets 30. Really, now).
The new contract signed by David Wright last week all but assures he’ll become the longest tenured No. 5 in team history, surpassing Steve Henderson — unless he’s also traded to the Cubs for Dave Kingman.Meanwhile, Jose Reyes, who signed a four-year deal last week, still has a long, long way to go to catch Ed Kranepool’s 17 years of service in the No. 7 jersey.
Henderson by the way leads all No. 5s in games (497) as well as seasons (4) and narrowly edges Olerud in all-time plate appearances 2,029 to 2,018. Wright is on pace to surpass those marks sometime in 2007.
Jose Reyes finally returned to the Mets. To make room for him the team designated catcher Tom Wilson for assignment, leaving the team temporarily with two catchers and six outfielders and importantly, freeing up uniform No. 6 for another issue. Reyes looked great in 7, hustling in one run and tripling to set up the gamewinner.
In another move the Mets once again sent Pedro Feliciano 55 back to Norfolk before seeing any action in New York. That Feliciano’s replacement, Jose Parra, saw action in his first opportunity probably didn’t make the return trip any sweeter for Pedro. Parra, a veteran righthanded reliever who was closing in Norfolk, suited up in the dreaded No. 46.
(updated) Kazuo Matsui met the press this afternoon and tried on his jersey — in a surprise, No. 25. That shirt was most recently worn by coach Don Baylor, who took it from Scott Strickland over last offseason.
Rumors persist that Kazuo Matsui will take Jose Reyes’ position on the field. Will he also take the shirt off his back? Matsui, the Seibu Lions shortstop who this offseason became the object of Fred Wilpon’s questionable intrigue, has said in interviews that he’d prefer to sign with a team on which he could wear his customary No. 7 jersey. That number, of course, was issued to Reyes way back in spring training of 2002 and was reserved until his big-league arrival last summer. Considering the bend-over-backwardsness and drama with which the Mets have pursued Matsui thus far, the guess here is that the Japanese free agent winds up not only with Reyes’ hard-won position but his digit as well. But here’s a suggestion for the marketing department: Leave Reyes in 7, and give Matsui 77. The Made-For-Photo-Ops middle-infield would be complete.
With Rey Sanchez 10 onto the disabled yet again, the Jose Reyes era is getting an early start. The heralded Met shortstop prospect will make his Major League debut tonight, a day before his 20th birthday, wearing No. 7. The Mets also also welcomed back Timo Perez 6 and returned Raul Gonzalez 21 to Norfork.
Mike Piazza’s punishment for his attempted assault of cowardly Dodger pitcher Guillermo Mota has created the potential for third-string backstop Jason Phillips cracking the roster in the early going. Should Phillips see action, it would be while wearing his third “official” different uniform number as a Met and his 4th overall: Quite an accomplishment for a guy with only 26 Major-League at-bats!
To explain: Phillips was called up to Mets in May of 2001 and issued a jersey — No. 3 — but did not appear in a game before being sent back to AA Binghamton. Later that year Phillips made his “official” Met debut in No. 26 — his No. 3 had in the meantime been issued to Vance Wilson. Twenty-six was issued to Marco Scutaro prior to Phillips’ September call-up of 2002 so Phillips instead wore No. 7. This spring, the Mets dressed superstar-in-waiting Jose Reyes in No. 7 and told Phillips to take No. 23, which would be his likely number the next time he appears as a Met. The Goggled One still has two more uni-switches ahead of him if he wants to catch all-time uni-number leader Jeff McKnight but he’s off to a great start!
One of the pleasures of Spring Training is the chance to glimpse baseball players wearing linebacker numbers. Congratulations to infielder Russ Johnson who, according to Mets.com, has been issued the highest jersey number in camp (aka the Luis Figeroa Award): 77 (Update: not true). Other tidbits from the (unofficial) Spring Training roster: Jose Reyes in No. 7; Rey Sanchez in Rey Ordonez’ old No. 10; Aaron Heilman in 23 (update: actually 48) and Prentice Redman in 44 (update: actually 82).
The Mets recently added veteran infielder Rey Sanchez to take care at short till phenom Jose Reyes arrives. The well-traveled Sanchez most recently suited up in No. 13 (Boston), wore No. 6, 11 and 15 for the Cubs, No. 1 for the Royals, and even made brief appearances in Braves, Giants and Yankee jerseys.