Tag Archive for Lastings Milledge

44 Caliber Killers

Henry Aaron pioneered No. 44 as a number reserved for sluggers, and fellow Hall of Famers Willie McCovey and Reggie Jackson solidified the trend. For the Mets, the 44 jersey has often found its way onto the backs of guys who only think they’re power hitters.

There was Jay Payton, who had all the muscle of a power hitter but a delicate frame and a line-drive bat. Ryan Thompson could hit it out of the park in interviews but was never as ferocious at game time.Lastings Milledge and his similarly powerful mouth wore out his welcome in less than two years (and only 11 Met home runs).Mike Cameron slammed 30 home runs in 2004 but his hardest hit as a Met was a gruesome collison with teammate Carlos Beltran in 2005.

What’s a Met 44? It’s Howard Johnson in May of 1991 switching to No. 44 in an attempt to jump-start his game, only to scurry back to his familiar No. 20 in less than a week when his wife reminded him her jewelry all included the No. 20. It was reserve catcher Harry Chiti, acquired from the Cleveland Indians in 1962 for a player to be named later — Harry Chiti, and the Mets would get fleeced. It was four different players as recently as 2008, and I can barely remember any of them: Brady ClarkTony ArmasEddie Kunz and Brandon Knight. They threaten to join Kevin Lomon and Tom Filerand Bob Rauch, to name three Met pitchers who wore 44 in my fan lifetime and of whom I retain no specific memory whatsoever.

Like everything in Mets history, 44 was good for a stretch in the mid-1980s — Ron Darling and David Cone each wore it before switching to other unis — but it wasn’t long before 44 was again the domain of guys like Tim Burke and John Cangelosi and Jay Bell, who I still can’t believe chose sticking out to the bitter end of the 2003 campaign over retirement, or the Mets for allowing him .

It’s into this dysfuctional family that Jason Bay officially arrived in a Met press event today. Bonne chance, Jason! Ya gotta believe!

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He Knows His Place

85An interesting note from our nation’s capital: When the Nationals signed Adam Dunn, they gave him his customary uni No. 44. To make room, selfless ex-Met Lastings Milledge has volunteered to switch … to No. 85. It’s his birth year. Elsewhere in X-Met land, Aaron Heilman is wearing No. 47 with the Cubs and Joe Smith is  38 in Cleveland. Endy Chavez remains in No. 10 in Seattle and Scott Schoeneweis is still wearing No. 60, only in Arizona.I’d update you on Damian Easley but the poor guy hasn’t found work yet. AndMatt Wise has retired.

* * *

Elsewhere, reader Charlie let me in on the fact that the revamped database had neglected to include the small handful of Mets who appeared on the roster but not in a game (Jerry Moses,Mac Suzuki, et al) but they’re baked in there now. He also threw out a name I hadn’t known was a Met before, Steve Simpson who according to Charlie appeared on the September active roster with the 1974 Mets but didn’t appear in a game. Can anyone out there confirm this or offer more info?

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44 Caliber Killers

Ladies and gentlemen, Flushing is burning.

Reluctant to rest upon a history of historically stupid dealmaking, the Mets have reportedly coughed up Lastings Milledge 44 in a trade for Washington Nationals players Ryan Church and Brian Schnieder. Wow. Schneider, who wears No. 23 with Washington, at one time was a pretty heads-up defensive player but has never been a good hitter and in fact is quite a bad one, appears to spell an early end to the Metly career of erstwhile backstop Johnny Estrada. Church, a lefthanded hitting insect type who’s actually better than I would have guessed though only about as good as Milledge is right now, was seen most recently wearing No. 19. Both guys could conceiveably retain their digits in 2008 but it would mean a third career uni number for Marlon Anderson.

Now, I’m not one of those guys vulnerable to misplacing my faith in every young kid who tears up the Florida State League; nor do I believe that Milledge’s various acts of youthful idiocy ought not to be a cause for concern. What I worry about are the Mets seemingly never learning not to let their guys go so easily.

More harrowing news to follow at the Winter Meetings.

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Franco Released

The expected recall of Lastings Milledge for tonight’s second half opener accompanied the unexpected release of Julio Franco 23, the Mets’ elderly pinch hitter. It’s not like Franco had earned his slot this season, it’s just that, as with the pending Henderson story, the Mets tend to have more tolerance for struggles with track-record holding veterans and figureheads as they’ve shown recently. I guess this is life in the Omar Era. Milledge by the way returned wearing No. 44and in possession of the same nice swing he first impressed with a year ago during Spring Training. This phrase has been uttered an aweful lot this season but perhaps that’s just the spark we need.

Speaking of sparks, Jose Valentin 22 was wearing a cast on his pinky and couldn’t play tonight, allowing Ruben Gotay 6 to further his case as the best option at the keystone. Mets officials say the injury came as the result of intervening in “an altercation” while The Internet appears to believe he broke it in a punching a wall. Let’s call it a Wall-tercation and perhaps, a karmic comeuppance for Valentin who a year ago was the guy the stealing the starting second base job from an underperforming and injured incumbent.

The Henderson story by the way appeared to have leaked sooner than the Mets would have liked. (Willie Randolph in fact appeared perturbed it leaked at all). Today team officials confirmed something was up but wouldn’t release details. It appears possible that Howard Johnson 52 will become batting coach while Henderson assumes HJojo’s role as first base coach. We should know Friday.

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Damaged Cargo

As you probably heard by now, overmatched rookie outfielder Carlos Gomez 27 injured a bone in his hand in Denver and underwent surgery that will likely sideline him until September. In his place for the time being is utilityman David Newhan 17, recalled from New Orleans last night. Though his inexperience was exposed at times, CarGo on balance acquitted himself well while pressed into duty. He leaves behind the impression of a ballplayer who’s going to be good — someday.

Ironically, speculation is that Gomez’ injury will give another shot to Lastings Milledge, who like Gomez, showed flashes of potential and moments of inexperience during emergency service last season. Milledge might have gotten a shot sooner this season but has been rehabbing injuries of his own in the minor leagues. Just a guess here but No. 44 will be in left field when the Mets return from the All-Star break Thursday. I mean, were you expecting Moises Alou?

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Pelfrey, Milledge, Hillman and Chiti

The Mets’ first in-season personnel move of 2007 comes as no suprise: Mike Pelfrey 34 has been recalled from St. Lucie to take over the vacant 5th starter role while outfielder Lastings “I’ve Got to Get My Grown Man On” Milledge 44 reports to AAA New Orleans.

Worthless Bonus Fact: The Mets debuted Nos. 34 and 44 on the same memorable day, April 28, 1962.

That afternoon, in the Polo Grounds, the Mets were trailing 5-1 to the Phillies when righthander Dave Hillman took the mound for the Mets wearing 34 for the first time, and promptly surrendered a home run to the first batter he faced, Don Demeter. Hillman, a former Cubs, Red Sox and Reds pitcher, had been purchased by the Mets prior to the homestand a day before as part of their very first series of in-season roster moves. Along with Hillman was catcher Harry Chiti, famously acquired from Cleveland for a player to be named — himself, as things turned out, and Sammy Taylor, a disgruntled former Cub catcher acquired in a trade for outfielder Bobby Gene Smith. Taylor by the way was dressed in Smith’s former No. 16, making that trade the first Uni-Swap in Mets history. In addition to Smith, gone were the ancient back-up battery of former New York heroes Clem Labine 41 and Joe Ginsberg 12, who were released.

Now back to the game: Chiti, christening the No. 44 jersey, entered the in the 7th inning as a defensive replacement for Chris Cannizzaro, who had been pinch-run for while the Mets hit three home runs (by Frank Thomas, Charlie Neal and Gil Hodges) and scored an astonishing 6 runs in the bottom of the sixth, taking Hillman off the hook and giving the Mets a 7-6 lead. (Hillman was pinch-hit for that inning by Taylor, who walked and was himself pinch-run for. Casey loved that kinda stuff).

The Mets hung on for an 8-6 win, only their second of the year against 12 losses. Though Hillman was technically the pitcher of record at the time the Mets took the lead, credit for the win went to Roger Craig 38, who pitched three scoreless innings of relief to nail it down.

As Pelfrey prepares to meet the Nationals tonight, and Milledge returns to the place he started, here’s to happy first transactions.

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Meaningful Games in September

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.

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Pedro Out Again

Pedro Martinez hit the disabled list for the second time this year, and for the fourth time, the Mets have recalled Heath Bell from Norfolk, helping the Mets turn this into their worst road trip since the Boston debacle in late June. With Carlos Delgado 21 radically slumping, David Wright 5transforming into a singles hitter, and Lastings Milledge 44 looking every bit the rookie he is, this could get worse before it gets better. And that’s why God created 12-game leads.

Thanks to Met number genius Ed for pointing out the comment below on Jae Seo’s “outrageous”No. 98 in Tampa had a precedent: Seo, Ed writes, wore 98 as a Met spring training hopeful in 1998.

Props also to the reader who pointed out our math below on Ed Kranepool’s tenure in No. 7 was inaccurate: Krane was 21 for his first two seasons with the Mets, and so occupied 7 for 15 years, not 17.

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Deadline Terror

As opposed to say, 2004, the Mets at least didn’t mean to get worse at the deadline this year, though it was certainly bad news on the doorstep to learn that rubbery reliever Duaner Sanchez 50 would miss the rest of the year as the result of injuries sustained in an automobile accident in Miami; increasing any exisiting pressure they felt to do something about the bullpen, while dialing back any temptation to make Aaron Heilman a part of a bigger deal for a pitcher, left-handed pinch-hitter or anything else that might help come October. So instead the Mets swapped fungible outfielder Xavier Nady 22 to the Pirates for Proven Veteran Setup Guy Roberto Hernandez, along with Oliver Perez, who not too long ago, ranked among the most promising young left arms in the game.

In Hernandez, the Mets acquired a familiar name, but unless there’s some serious swapping afoot, he’ll have a different look now that the Mets have given his No. 39 jersey to Pedro Feliciano, himself a returning Met bullpenner in a new jersey. We suppose it’s possible Feliciano gives 39 back to Hernandez (whose nameplate by the way ought to read R. HERNANDEZ in order to distinguish him from teammates A. HERNANDEZ and O. HERNANDEZ) while Feliciano gives his former No. 55another try, but that would require bullpen coach Tom Nieto to take a new jersey too. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Perez, who used to routinely strike out 10 guys a night, is likely ticketed for the minors but wore No. 59 with the Pirates.

However it works out, we’re sorry to see Nady go — his swing was ferocious and we’ll always be indebted to his sizzling hot start — and very very sorry to learn of Sanchez’ misfortune. On the positive side, it appears Lastings Milledge will get another opportunity — with our team — as the farm system survived the gutting so many columnists and pretend Internet journalists like to say is only a matter of time now that Omar’s in charge.

Oh, and we’re 14 games up. We don’t need Barry Zito to protect that.

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Have More Six

Now that the Mets have finally cut ties with forgotten infield prospect Jeff Keppinger, the popular No. 6 is officially up for grabs again. We suggested earlier this year it might look good on prospect Lastings Milledge, sandwiched as it is between Wright at 5 and Reyes at 7. That of course would require Milledge to last beyond this trade deadline. It’ll be difficult this week to tune out the drumbeat for a Barry Zito trade: Yes, he’d be the first and only 75.

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