Just goofing off this morning, came across this highlight video featuring two of my favorite Mets thrilling Canadians in 1989. Both Mookie Wilson and Lee Mazzilli would finish their playing careers as Blue Jays, and both are remembered fondly in Toronto for helping the ’89 Jays to the finish line in a tight pennant race. It’s odd to see Mookie wearing any number other than 1, but I agree with Cito Gaston: I’d pay to see him do his stuff.
Here in the present, we’re lucky to once again be encountering an opponent going through a rough stretch, and to our credit, keeping them there. Second halves have not been kind to the Mets lately but this is looking like a team capable of hanging around, especially if they get some right-handed hitting. I remarked below that it was shame to have lost Vinny Rottino for that very reason. I’d have him in the lineup against Kershaw tonight.
It isn’t like they needed one but the Mets got another reminder of their shortcomings in depth, defense and power this weekend, and it didn’t help that Terry Collins couldn’t manage past them and Ike Davis was poisoned. But whatever, they’ve got to move on and will do so now without Vinny Rottino, who was farmed out last night for lefty relief help, Justin Hampson. We could have used both guys last night but Terry instead opted for Justin Turner, who had a very bad game and Miguel Batista, who’s once again pitching like a 41-year-old should.
No word yet on Hampson’s digits, we’ll let you know (or, likely, you will me). EDIT: Hampson (note the spelling) appeared tonight wearing No. 45.
In the inbetween we welcomed back Ronny Cedeno, Ruben Tejada and Ramon Ramirez and bid goodbye (for now) to Jordany Valdespin, Elvin Ramirez (farmed out) and Frank Francisco (strained mouth). I liked both Valdespin and Ramirez and hope to see them back soon.
A few Met changes to get caught up on that I missed over the weekend: First, there was the return of punching-bag starter Chris Schwinden to AAA after two miserable starts as Mike Pelfrey’s replacement. What makes the Mets think Miguel Batista represents much of an upgrade remains a bit of a mystery, as Batista hasn’t had much more than a good inning or two since spring training and is 41 years old, but that’s the price the Mets are paying for cutting every corner on depth as a means to service the Wilpon’s debt.
In Schwinden’s place the Mets recalled versatile reserve Vinny Rottino, who retains the No. 33 he rocked during spring training. The last Met to wear No. 33 was reliever Taylor Buchholz, who left the club last year battling depression (we know) but the 33 I can see Rottino resembling is Valentine era reserve Mike Kinkade, who like Rottino was a right-handed bench bat who could catch in an emergency.
Also this weekend, the Mets demoted Jordany Valdespin as reliever D.J. Carrasco returned from the disabled list. Valdespin struggled in limited plate appearances but his versatility could be an asset down the road. I’d consider Carrasco a possibility to take a starting role if this Batista thing doesn’t work out, and who really does.
It’s still early, but Lucas May is emerging as a leading candidate to win the Brad Emaus Award and graduate from a number in the 60s to something resembling a big-league uniform when training camp breaks. You may recall Emaus last year arrived in camp wearing No. 68 and left wearning No. 4. (Then busted and was subsequently sent away, but that’s another story).
May, whom the Mets acquired as a minor league free agent this offseason, so far in his career had but a cup of joe in Kansas City two years ago and previously toiled as a minor leaguer with the Dodgers, who drafted him as an infielder in 2003, and more recently, the Diamondbacks. Among catchers competing for a reserve job in Mets camp this year, the right-handed hitting May is perhaps the best offensive threat among them, a skill he showed this afternoon with a ringing two-run double off the Marlins’ Carlos Zambrano. Young incumbent Mike Nickeas and veteran Rob Johnson, also right-handed, are considered defensive specialists and could have an edge considering weak gloves at several other positions including the presumed No. 1 catcher (Josh Thole) as well as a thin pitching staff that could use any edge it can get. Vinny Rottino can hit, alledgedly, but he’s more of a utility cornerman who packs a catcher’s mitt in case of emergency. If Rottino makes the team, it’s unlikely to be at the expense of the any of the aforementioned candidates.
In May’s favor currently is the well-being of Scott Hairston, the only other right-handed bench candidate who can hit a little (Justin Turner a little too, but I don’t see how he fits in unless injuries strike Wright, Davis or Murphy). May’s current number assignment is 62 although 16 (Johnson’s assignment), 33 (Rottino’s) and the vacant 1 and 9 would look to be decent landing points from this distance.
The Hairston injury (and Andres Torres’ soreness, you never know with these 30-somethings) may well also affect the outfield makeup too. It certainly looks better today than yesterday that Adam Loewen and/or Mike Baxter make the squad, and then there’s the specter of Kirk Nieuwenhuis, the young outfielder the Mets hope they won’t need so soon. Should he make the club, the Emaus Award is all his. He’s wearing No. 72.