It was only a matter of time before six men in the bullpen proved far too radical a challenge for Jerry Manuel’s management skills, and so, two weeks after returning to Class AAA Buffalo, lefthander Raul Valdes was recalled Monday. Interestingly, room for Valdes on the roster was created when the Mets disabled Fernando Tatis with a shoulder injury, raising the question of who Jerry will turn to when the opposition counters pinch hitter Chris Carter with a lefthanded pitcher: It’s quite possible his head will explode and it will be left to Dave Jauss to decide.
My apologies for the lengthy layoff: I had little to report as far as numbers went and I tried to stay out of the way of the Mets when they were playing well. That obviously came to an halt last week in Puerto Rico, where the Mets began exhibiting many of the same traits that made them look like one of the league’s worst teams earlier this year: Pitchers falling apart with two outs and none on, sloppy bullpen work, and questionable managerial tactics seemingly contributing to a team suddenly losing its nerve to win. Let’s hope it’s just a stumble in an imperfect but hardly disappointing first half.
The photo above is a snap of coach Bill Monbouquette’s 1982 jersey as being sold on eBay by MBTN reader and jersey collector Nick, who wrote in recently. Check out his stuff here.
One of the few working writers to cover both Monboquette and Manuel, Marty Noble, will be the featured guest at a special Amazin All-Star Monday coming to Two Boots pizzeria in Grand Central Station next Monday, July 12, at 7 pm. Don’t miss this! Marty is a terrific writer, a great interview and a 35-year chronicler of Metsdom. Also on the program will be Howard Megdal, author of The Baseball Talmud and candidate for the next Mets’ General Manager. Faith & Fear in Flushing’s resplendent penman, Greg Prince, will co-host with yours truly. Two Boots, located in the lower dining concourse at Grand Central Station, will offer a special All-Star inspired pizza and a free drink for all fans in exchange for a Mets baseball card. The Home Run Derby will provide televised entertainment.
What a dreary opening homestand this turned into. And that was while we got adequate starts from the buttend of the rotation and solid work from a bullpen rumored to have sucked. No, it was the offense that couldn’t get unstuck: there are too many outmakers.
The unfairly beleaguered bullpen in the meantime today debuted a new lefty, Raul Valdes, who contributed two scoreless innings today wearing No. 22. No, it wasn’t Al Leiter.
I’m still having trouble believing that Jenrry Mejia, along with Ruben Tejada, apparently have made the Mets’ opening-day squad and along with the usual caution you should take with all 20-year-olds who’ve yet to play above Class AA, it should be exciting to see what these kids have to offer.
I’m also interested to see what they’ll be wearing. Mejia as discussed below was outfitted in No. 76 this spring and as outrageous as it’d be I’d be tempted to leave him in that jersey both as a reminder of his age and a symbol of his unique place within the Met family. Tejada has apparently won a job the old-fashioned way: He caught the ball better than his counterparts in a competition for a middle-infield job, as compromised as Jose Reyes‘s medical misadventaures made it. He hit pretty well too.
Tejada was wearing No. 79 this spring and will certainly have a new jersey by Monday. No. 3 was recently vacated by Chris Coste and makes perfect sense; 10 (issued to and taken from longshot Andy Green for the second straight spring) would be another strong possibility.
Other late cuts Friday included Kiko Calero, whom I thought would have been a lock if only for his pedigree; hapless punching bag Nelson Figueroa; Bobby Parnell, who had less going for him than Meija a year ago when he turned in two solid months of setup relief; veteran Elmer Dessens; infielder Russ Adams; and reserve hopeful Chris Carter who probably didn’t get a real fair shake at winning a job at first base. The winners along with Mejia and Tejada included utilityman Frank Catalanotto and one of either Sean Green or Raul Valdes. The latter came out of nowhere — he wore No. 96, the highest in camp — to challenge for a lefty specialist role. We’ll try to keep you updated on what the Easter Bunny leaves these guys. …