Half a season gone by and the Mets have been fun to watch, buoyed by outstanding performances by Royally Screwed All-Star Reserves David Wright and R.A. Dickey and a kind of gutsy character that’s resulted in exciting baseball and lots of satisfying wins. In a lot of ways, the Mets are surprising people not because they’ve gotten so much better (though they have, a little) but that the league has come back to them. Clubs like Philadelphia and Miami (LOL and LOL) are exhibiting the kinds of struggles the Mets did in recent years and few clubs in the NL look so good that they could run away from the rest, so I think there’s a little reason to believe the Mets can’t hang around for a while (I think, in fact, lots of teams will hang around for a while). It’s just that kind of year.
My concerns are with their weak right-handed hitting, their poor defense and their lack of pitching depth (in that order). It will take a trade or a miracle comeback from Jason Bay to fix the first issue and continued health and some good luck to fix pitching concerns (I don’t think we have to go nuts trading for some other team’s closer, but bolstering the ready supply of good arms never hurt anyone). It’s the D that I can’t see improving (unless you involve Daniel Murphy and/or Lucas Duda in a trade for that right-handed slugger) and then who knows. But I’d suspect the D will continue to be an issue, so I’m keeping my expectations modest: Let’s hope we can hang around, avoid another big dropoff like we’ve had in so many recent second halves, and see where it gets us. If we can add a bat or an armn, let’s do that too. It’s been fun so far.
Speaking of David Wright, his home run July 3 “not only moved him past Howard Johnson into third place in the Mets’ record books, it also moved uniform #5 past #18 for home runs hit. Number 5 now trails only #20 in home runs.” This from sharp-eyed MBTN reader Shorty in the comments section. Sure enough, it checks out: Wright’s dinger was the 378th by a player who wears No. 5, surpassing 18, which hasn’t had a home run since Moises Alou in 2007 (thanks for nothing again, Jeremy Reed). Only No. 20, with 388 home runs, has produced more but with that uni currently unassigned it looks like Wright (197 HRs wearing 5) and company (John Olerud is next with 63) can overtake the all-time lead later this year. Re-sign this guy!
Getting caught up with the recent roster moves, the Mets designated Justin Hampson and recalled Jordany Valdespin July 4, then swapped out Jeremy Hefner for a healthy-at-last Pedro Beato July 5. Beato was gone so long I forgot what number he wore, but can tell you now it’s still 27. Hampson was later reassigned to Buffalo along with Chris Schwinden, who bounced on the waiver wire to the Indians to the Yankees and back to the Mets.
Sorry about the infrequent updates. Became convinced my enthusiasm at the tail end of the winning streak killed it and was scared to further mess it up. Now it seems hardly to matter. Tuesday’s gutwrenching loss almost assured a humiliation on Wednesday and the loss to injury of Pedro Beato didn’t help. The Mets real trouble however is the offense, with too little coming from the end of the lineup and less than that from the bench so far. It sure hasn’t helped that Jason Bay’s missed more time than we could afford to lose already (and it’s still early). His latest absence for paternity leave forced the recall of Lucas Duda, in whom Terry Collins (and Lucas Duda for that matter) has no faith.
Taking Beato’s place is lefty Mike O’Connor. I tried to look up some information on him and came across the image accompanying this post which seemed only too appropriate for the mess this franchise has become. It’s not just the gut-punchy losses. It’s the lifeless, charmless, two-thirds empty park they play in and the sense of doom around the finances of the owners, who’d be in financial trouble even without the looming lawsuit. It’s a fragile team prone to hangovers — and until Mike Pelfrey and RA Dickey turn it around — unable to generate a lot of momentum of their own. Maybe things improve upon the return of Bay and Angel Pagan this weekend. Maybe not.
O’Connor: Taking over the No. 50 most recently belonging to Sean Green. His next appearance will be his first in the majors since 2008 with the Nationals, the team that drafted him out of George Washington U in 2008.
Never real encouraging when Alex Cora and Washington Nationals manage to win 2 of 3 on your opening homestand. I don’t want to kill Terry Collins yet, but seemed it was just common sense in a game you prepared to put away as tidily as possible to be sure the good hands people were on the field in the 8th. Instead, we saw Lucas Duda misjudge a fly ball to contribute to a rally to tie, and a worn-out bullpen eventually give it away in the 11th inning in a disheartening rubber-game loss.
We won’t even have the culprits around to boo tomorrow. The conspicuous ones anyway. Duda was optioned to Buffalo after the game and Blaine Boyer, whose relief work and ginger beard have been extremely shaggy since an inspired drive to make the squad this spring, was designated for assignment. Will someone claim him? He’s leading his team in saves after all. In their place are two returning relief pitchers: Ryota Igarashi and Jason Isringhausen. This arrangement will give the Mets 13 pitchers and is expected to last until Jason Bay returns.
Let’s hope Bay brings some offense with him, because despite a few high-scoring games the Met offense has been largely dysfunctional and could use some more power. In the meantime it will be interesting to see whether Isringhausen arrives wearing 44 or 45. As discussed below, the former has more equity for Izzy than for Bay although it belongs to Bay. Considering his rotten luck, this looks like a great opportunity for Bay to garner some goodwill and change his luck.
OK, back from little visit to the beach and have a ton of useless info to catch up on. As detailed in the comments section below, the Mets have recalled a bunch of players from the minors and are suddenly flirting with the prospect of debuting the 900th player in team history, an unthinkable mark only a few months ago. So as to keep this update nice and organized, let’s proceed directly to the sacred scrolls:
892: Joaquin Arias. Acquired for hapless hacker Jeff Francoeur in a waiver deal with the Texas Rangers, Arias was once chosen ahead of Robinson Cano by the Rangers for payment in the Alex Rodriguez deal. He’s a utility infielder who was designated for assignment when Texas acquired Alex Cora, if you want to get an idea of how he was thought of around Dallas. The Mets assigned him the same No. 12 worn by Francoeur, making this a DUD (Del Unser Deal) and final slap in the face to Francoeur who ought to be remembered as Bobby Cox’s final Masterstroke in a long career of screwing over the Mets. If anyone knew Francoeur possessed just enough talent to intrigue Omar Minaya and just enough personal magnetism and discount price to excite the owners, it was him. Jeff lived up to every expectation.
893: Lucas Duda. The outfielder had a terrific season at Buffalo but a rough start at the plate for the Mets. They assigned him No. 21: Most recently on the back of recently departed catch Rod Barajas.
894: Mike Nickeas. He’s the catcher the Mets collected in another right fielder dump to Texas a few years ago — the Victor Diaz deal. Nickeas makes an intriguing addition in that he dates all the way back to Tim Bogar in the oldest active Trade Chain among Mets: He was acquired for Diaz, who was acquired for Jeromy Burnitz in 2003, who came from Milwaukee in that whacky Todd Zeile thingy also involving Lenny Harris, who was acquired for Bill Pulsipher, who was (re-)acuired for Luis Lopez, who initially came over for Bogar, a 1987 Met draftee. Nickeas wears No. 13, the first since Cora.
895: Dillon Gee. Mets.com has him wearing No. 35, last worn by opening-day cleanup hitter and future trivia answer Mike Jacobs this year. Frequently described as one of those minor league prospects with limited repetoire but who “knows how to compete,” (gulp) Gee gets Tuesday’s start at Washington.
In the meantime the Mets also welcomed back outfielder and serial No. 6 acquirer Nick Evans; relievers Raul Valdes, No. 22; and Sean Green, No. 50; as well as reliever-turned-starter Jenrry Mejia, No. 32. Outfielder Jesus Feliciano is also back in No. 27.
Other than the bad baseball, did I miss anything?
As dubbed by commenter Gordon in the below post the Mets could run out the “Luis Luis” keystone combination with the recall of infielder Luis Hernandez from the minor leagues. Hernandez, whom I’m already confusing with that Ramon Martinez guy we played at second base near the end of the ’08 season, will wear No. 3 and presumably stick around only until Jose Reyes feels better. Jesus Feliciano was again returned to Buffalo to make room.
The Mets before the game introduced Matt Harvey, their top selection from the draft this June, and presented him with a No. 35 jersey. I’m heading off on vacation and might be tardy with updates over the next week: Expect the usual suspects to be recalled (Feliciano, Nick Evans, maybe even Sean Green) and hopefully a few new faces (Lucas Duda, who couldn’t possibly be a worse candidate to get outfield starts than Jeff Francoeur) but those may not come immediately as Buffalo fights for a playoff spot.
As always you can stay in touch here. Mets by the way keep extending that contiguous-points-at-.500 streak: At 64-64 they are now at 12 straight. They are very average.