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.
I was just about to write a message expressing the desire to see a jersey reveal photo-op when I came across this here photo of new Mets catcher Brian Schneider, his cuteypie wife Jordan, and the No. 23 jersey he may wear next season.
As related by Larry in the comments secition of the Matt Wise post below, issuing 23 to Schneider leaves Marlon Andersonin temporary digital limbo: The 18 he wore in his first Met go-round blongs to Moises Alou, and the 8 he wore most frequently (though never exclusively) in his career is itself in mothballs for Gary Carter. (The New York Post, you may recall, reported the Mets had designs to retire the number back in 2006 but never got around to it).
Either way, 8 has been conspicuously unissued since Desi Relaford cleared out in ‘01. At any rate, it’s good to see a new guy holding up a new jersey, even if Schneider isn’t exactly the answer to the prayers of those of us who recognized that the Met offense needed some work too this off-season. The Mets are still presumably in the hunt for pitchers Johan Santana and/or Eric Bedard should they get moved, and Kyle Lohse when he goes. More grip-and-grins to come.
After that horrific ankle injury — ever do something like that? It makes a noise — Mets never really adequately replaced Damian Easley.
There was irony, or something, in the Mets failing to make the playoffs given all the attention to Easley’s dubious ascension in the Guy With the Most games Never to Appear in the Postseason rankings. But you know, Jeff Conine didn’t turn out to be a very good replacement for Easley.
Far be it from me to take away attention from the horrendous performances of the bullpen, Jose Reyes, Tom Glavine, etc etc down the stretch … but when it all comes down to a single game, perhaps a guy who could whack the lefthanders a little more reliably may also have made a difference. All of which is a convoluted route to getting to the point you already knew: Easley will get another chance to end (um… or extend) his streak for playoff futility with the Mets in 2008. A one-year deal for Easley, along with a option renewal for Moises Alou 18, were announced by the Mets on Wednesday. Easley and Alou happened to be the first two new guys added to the roster last off-season too.
The Mets also purchased a catcher, Luis Alen, from the cool-hat-wearing Winnipeg Goldeyes of the independent Northern League. Alen isn’t likely to be a starting candidate on the Mets next year but it’s always fun to note the first appearance in the transaction agate of the hot stove season.
The Mets would be fools not to pretend to be interested in Alex Rodriguez, and for all we know, they are (just move Wright to first and flip Delgado at a loss for pitching. It’s not that unfathomable). With 13 tied up in Billy Wagner, we’d bet on Easley losing No. 3 so that A-Rod could have it here. Meantime, the idea that Jorge Posada turns up on our team was raised in the papers today. Just saying: Shawn Green is out. No. 20 is available.
Veteran catcher Sandy Alomar Jr. was in the dugout during last night’s debacle in Denver and wearing No. 19. Alomar had been recalled from AAA after Jason Vargas 43 was whacked following his revolting outing on Tuesday. Alomar is expected to last at least until Sunday when it is anticipated the Mets will recall Dave Williams to take the turn in Houston initially scheduled for Vargas. Williams threw, fairly effectively, for the Mets last season wearing No. 32.
As for Alomar, he becomes the second No. 19 this season (disgraced reliever Lino Urdaneta was the first) and the third member of the Alomar Clan to play for the Mets. Brother Roberto began the decline phase of his career here wearing No. 12 and their father, Sandy Sr., was a reserve infielder for the Mets in the first few weeks of 1967 (wearing No. 5); and has served as a coach since 2005 (wearing No. 2).
The Alomars now match the extended Alou clan (Moises Alou 18, his uncle Jesus Alou 25, and cousin Mel Rojas 51) as the Metliest families we know of.
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With Orlando Hernandez still out, Jorge Sosa still effective and Mike Pelfrey still needing some work, Jason Vargas is making his Met debut this afternoon, wearing No. 43. To make room for Vargas, who was acquired over the winter from Florida in the Henry Owens deal, the Mets assigned Moises Alou 18 to the disabled list. The last No. 43 to appear for the Mets was reliever Royce Ring a year ago.
Vargas by the way is the 812th Met ever. That counter, along with other cool stuff, returns to the new new site soon.
Yet another struggling outing Saturday left Mike Pelfrey 34 with an 0-5 record and a ticket to New Orleans. The Mets demoted the lanky righthander and in his place recalled outfielder Carlos Gomez, who according to the Mets, will wear No. 27 for this afternoon’s game. Gomez was leading the PCL with 17 stolen bases and could be seen in the short term as insurance for Moises Alou 18 and whatever joint is troubling him this week.
Gomez is poised to become the 24th No. 27 in Mets history. Darren Oliver wore 27 most recently.
While a monsoon ruined the scheduled Jackie Robinson Day at Shea last Sunday, the celebration has been rescheduled for tonight: Appropriately, considering Willie Randolph’s No. 42 jersey would have been beneath a heavy coat or scuba gear Sunday while today, it finally looks like spring.
It also feels pretty good, considering how the Mets ravaged the opposition in a rain-shortened roadtrip this week. Four runs in the first off Willis; six runs with 2 outs in the 3rd last night: These are the kind of achievements I’ve been waiting to get from this team, and that Greg at Faith and Fear has saved me from having to go into more detail about. It’s early to say this, but Moises Alou is already eliciting feelings that Orel Hershiser took half a season to in 1999: That being, the a veteran enemy I’d never had a lot of appreciation for, coming here late in their career to show me, at long last, what I’d missed. Man can that guy hit.
Unless something really unexpected happens, it appears Moises Alou 18 will become the 800th Met when the season begins a week from today.
Other first-time Mets would appear to be Damion Easley (No. 2), David Newhan (17), Aaron Sele (32), Scott Schoeneweis (60), Chan Ho Park (61) and “Bazooka” Joe Smith, who is, for all we know, still going around in the No. 70 jersey they assign to longshot bullpen wannabees. I made up that “Bazooka” nickname by the way, sort of. Remember Joe Smith, the basketball player? When he was a student at Maryland the school paper held a nickname contest to give him more pizzazz where ‘Bazooka’ was among the choices. I don’t think it ever stuck with that Joe Smith. We can’t let it go this time.
So what number does Bazooka Joe Smith get?
I don’t even have to look it up to tell you this is the first season the Mets began a year with two guys wearing numbers in the 60s.
Newly named coach Howard Johnson was spied at Spring Training revealing jersey No. 52 and temporarily ending some wild speculation that he’d finagle his old No. 20 from Shawn Green. The rules of the jersey game clearly pointed to this outcome — coaches don’t take jerseys from players, except when the player happens to be someone like Jeff McKnight. Then, all bets are off.
Thanks to readers Gene and Matt for pointing it out.
Also worth noting: Coach Jerry Manuel is back in No. 53, with spring training invitee Aaron Sele in 35. Manuel, you may recall, was assigned 53 last spring but switched jerseys when Chad Bradford — who’d been assigned 35 — preferred the latter. This restores at least some orderliness on the coaching bench: Sandy Alomar Sr. is still waddling around in No. 2, but the rest of the staff are nice and Rube Walkerly in the 50s — Rick Peterson 51; Hojo 52; Manuel 53; Rick Down 54; Tom Nieto 55; and Guy Conti 56.
Other sightings at Spring Training, as reported by various witnesses: Carlos Gomez in 88 and Fernando Martinez in 67. There have been several photos of recently signed ancient catcher Sandy Alomar Jr. floating around the Met but none in a jersey we’ve seen yet. Let us know if find something.
Marty Noble on the Jose Valentin/Moises Alou “controversy” (I use quotes here because I strongly suspect Valentin has more affection for 22, his number for many years, than for 18,his number for just one. But good Nobling here nonetheless:
Sometime this year, Mets left fielder Moises Alou will receive a bill, the amount of which has yet to be established. It will come from his new teammate, Jose Valentin.“I haven’t decided yet,” Valentin said. “It depends on how well he plays.”
The bill will be compensation for the uniform No. 18, which Valentin surrendered to Alou. Valentin has changed to No. 22 — worn previously by Ray Knight, Donn Clendenon, Kevin McReynolds, Al Leiter and Xavier Nady, among others — to accommodate Alou. Except for his first two games with the Pirates in 1990, when he wore No. 52, Alou has worn No. 18 throughout his career.
Alou’s uncle, Jesus, wore No. 23 with the Mets in 1975.