Updates over a busy few weeks — Cuban defectee Alay Soler makes his Major League debut tonight wearing No. 59. Soler was recalled after Omar Minaya designated a merciful end to the Jose Lima Experiment.Soler becomes only the second Met ever to wear No. 59, and the first since Ed Lynch made his Major League debut, in 1980.
Also today, the Mets traded struggling reliever Jorge Julio to Arizona for ancient ex-YankeeOrlando “El Duque” Hernandez. We assume El Duque will dress in his familiar No. 26 — currently available — when he arrives; until then, the team has recalled Norfolk yo-yo Heath Bell 19. This manuever may well serve to patch up the butt-end of a rotation sore with injuries, and Julio’s brief stay in Flushing won’t likely be missed, but it hardly makes the Kris Benson trade any less mysterious.
In between Lima’s whacking May 20 and Soler’s recall, the Mets enjoyed a phantom appearance from reliever Anderson Garcia, who wasn’t used and summarily returned to Norfolk. Rosters list Garcia as being assigned No. 58 but that hasn’t been eyewitnessed by us at least. Happy to hear from those who might confirm it.
On May 9, Heath Bell 19 was recalled as Fortunato was sent down. Days later, May 12, Bell was sent down as journeyman auditonee Jeremi Gonzalez was recalled. Gonzalez suited up in No. 32.
The Mets made a curious trade Jan. 21, sending Kris Benson 34 and his mouthy wife to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for relieverJorge Julio and pitching prospect John (Lobster) Maine. Whether this move portends a trade forBarry Zito or simply shifts the overpopulation problem from the starting rotation to the bullpen remains to be seen. Julio wore No. 50 last year with the Orioles while Maine in his brief appearances wore 61.
On Jan. 18, the Mets signed former Ham Fighter and Tokyo Giant Yusaku Iriki (You’re So Fine), who looks to compete for the longman job. Iriki wore No. 49 with the Ham Fighters and No. 20 with the Giants, research shows.
We overlooked the late December addition of lefty sidearmer Mike Venafro. He has a minor league contract and spring training invite.
Photos from the Mets Caravan revealed players in new unis including Julio Franco in 23, Paul LoDuca in 16 and Jose Valentin in 18. Newly arrived reliever Jorge Julio was wearing a jersey withno number on it. MBTN reader Rich reports: Chad Bradford appeared in No. 35, Duaner Sanchez in 40, and Mets.com is selling Bret Boone jerseys bearing No. 9.
Additional photos show Xavier Nady wearing No. 10 and Steve Schmoll in the dreaded No. 46.
Two regulars on the shelf from Day 1 return this afternoon when Kris Benson 34 makes his first start and Mike Cameron 44 plays right field. To make room the Mets sent reliever Royce Ring 22 and starter Jae Seo 26 to the minors. Tough break for Seo, who pitched better than both Tom Glavine and Victor Zambrano during his stay. He may be back if either of those two continue to struggle.
Quick corrections to begin the new year: Manny Aybar debuted this afternoon in No. 36; and Felix Heredia wore 49. (Thank you Tom for the update; FU to MSG and Time Warner for not showing it to me). Also, Kris Benson 34 hit the DL, revealing Omar was probably foolish in having traded away Matt Ginter. That means Victor Diaz made the squad, and in a new number this year, 20.Meantime, it appears a move or two is on the near horizon as Benson is expected to miss three weeks and after today’s performance you can bet the pressure will build on Braden Looper. Ugh. We did almost everything else right.
Baseball’s annual swap meet begins later this week. In case you were wondering: Pedro Martinez wears 45; Richie Sexson 11; Carlos Delgado 25; Magglio Ordonez 30 and Carlos Beltran 15.
We neglected to reveal the worst-kept secret in baseball when Kris Benson 34 finally re-signed.
OK, maybe it’s not that bad. Maybe it is! The Mets tonight pulled a series of staggering moves, gutting the farm system in exchange for two pitchers who probably won’t provide the pennant the Wilpons are so hungry for but at best add stability to an aging rotation. Dealing pesos on the dollar, the Mets sent AAA catcher Justin Huber to Kansas City for third base prospect Jose Bautista, then packaged Bautista, jobless infielder Ty Wigginton, and promising righty Matt Peterson to Pittsburgh for Kris Benson, the free-agent to be, and minor-league infielder Jeff Keppinger.
Moments later we learned they’d also paid through the nose for erratic, possibly injured Devil Ray righty Victor Zambrano. All they coughed up in this deal was studly prospect Scott Kazmir and, just for the hell of it, intriguing longshot pitching prospect Joselo Diaz. Along with Zambrano came a cup-of-coffee reliever called Bartolome Fortunato, who was assigned to Norfolk.