Brandon Knight is set to start for the Mets Saturday night as the replacement for Pedro Martinez, who was placed on the bereavement list following the death of his father. Knight, who will dress in No. 28, will have come a long way from the independent Atlantic League, where he began the year, and is six years removed from his last big-league appearance, with the Yankees in 2002. The limits of the bereavement list (maximum of 7 days) and the upcoming Olympics in Bejing, where Knight is scheduled to represent the US of A and manager Davey Johnson, figure to make this a brief visit, but let’s hope a successful oine. Sandy Alomar Jr. — as a player — most recently wore the 28 jersey,obtaining it in a swap for No. 19 with teammate Jeff Conine last season. (Can you believe either of those guys finished their careers as Mets?) The uni had previously belonged to stylish reliever Juan Padilla (goggles, magic tricks, invariably took off his hat at the end of an inning). Padilla, who’d been rehabbing various arm ailments since a promising showing in 2005, was quietly released by the organization this month.
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That same crappy feeling I got when Robin Ventura joined the Yankees returned tonight when I learned the Bombers had traded for Pittsburgh’s Xavier Nady. I don’t want to see the guy fail but playing up to his abilities in Yankee Stadium’s left field ought to be worth a few laughs before the season’s over, and I wouldn’t bet big on his continuing to run a 900+ OPS, even if I won’t actively root against it.
Quick update on the first Met Uni Controversy of the 06 offseason: Veteran outfielder Moises Alousigned a 1-year deal today and was presented with the No. 18 jersey. That number belonged last season to Jose Valentin, who was also re-signed recently. Newsday relates that Valentin willingly surrendered the digits after learning who asked for them: “You tell him he’s got the number.”
The guess here is that Valentin resurfaces in No. 22, a number that last season belonged to Xavier Nady then to Michael Tucker.
In other news the Mets dealt Nov. 15 for outfielder Ben Johnson (No. 4) and pitcher Jon Adkins (No. 57) of the Padres: Going to Petco are relievers Heath Bell 19 and Royce Ring 43. Should Johnson make the roster, he could remain in No. 4 since it doesn’t appear Chris Woodward is coming back. The Mets further cleared their roster of homegrown relief prospects by sending a pair of hard-throwers, Henry Owens and Matt Lindstrom, to Florida for two lefty projects: Jason Vargas and Adam Bostick. Owens made a brief appearance for the Mets last season wearing No. 36; we might have smelled a deal cooking in back in September when the Mets issued that number to a backup catcher, Kelly Stinnett. Vargas, who wore No. 56 for the Marlins last season is the guy with the best chance to make something of himself though he hasn’t done so yet. Bostick has yet to crack the majors.
Also: Vetejourneyutilityman Damion Easley was added as a free agent. Easley’s been everywhere, man, but most recently in Arizona and Florida, he was wearing No. 2. That number currently belongs to coach Sandy Alomar.
The Mets today sent Mike Pelfrey 34 back to Norfolk for more work and rather than recall Heath Bell, they gave Royce Ring a ring. Ring last appeared in a Met uni last summer wearing No. 22, but despite it being available again — or perhaps in deference to the memory of the recently departed Xavier Nady — Ring suited up tonight in No. 43, which belonged earlier this year to injured releiver Bartolome Fortunato. Pelfrey’s demotion is a vote of confidence for John Maine 33, and his excellent stretch of starts.
Roberto Hernandez and Pedro Feliciano both appeared in tonight’s game, wearing 49 and 39, respectively. We were reminded today of Deadline Uni Controversies of the past when reader Joseph submitted a regrettable one from 1989 — Juan Samuel’s failure to retain the No. 8 belonging to Gary Carter. Samuel settled for 7.
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.
Sobering word that outfielder Xavier Nady 22 is shelved with an appendectomy is accompanied today by the exciting news that prospect Lastings Milledge is in Flushing to take over while he’s gone (and maybe longer). Word is Milledge will dress in the reserved-for-African-American-sluggers No. 44 (and not 6, which is what we might have rooted for to bridge the homegrown power alley between Wright 5 and Reyes 7). We wish Nady the best for a speedy recovery and that young Mr. Milledge (we won’t ever get used to referring to him as Lastings, we don’t think) doesn’t wind up overwhelmed by the “can’t miss prospect” pressures felt by previous Met inhabitants of his uni — Jay Payton and Ryan Thompson.
Thanks to MBTN reader Larry for pointing out another switch from Caravan week: Xavier Nady is wearing 22 (his previous number with the Padres) and Endy Chavez is wearing 10, not 22, in contrast to earlier published rosters. Also, Paul of Uni Watch notes the Mets this year are wearing what appear to beaerodynamic, two-tone batting helmets. Quoth Homer: “Mmmmm… speedholes.”
We also found a cool new blog: Getting Paid to Watch, by 1986 Met trainer Bob Sykes,who combines unique perspective on the 1986 Mets along with good writing.
The Mets made a curious trade Jan. 21, sending Kris Benson 34 and his mouthy wife to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for relieverJorge Julio and pitching prospect John (Lobster) Maine. Whether this move portends a trade forBarry Zito or simply shifts the overpopulation problem from the starting rotation to the bullpen remains to be seen. Julio wore No. 50 last year with the Orioles while Maine in his brief appearances wore 61.
On Jan. 18, the Mets signed former Ham Fighter and Tokyo Giant Yusaku Iriki (You’re So Fine), who looks to compete for the longman job. Iriki wore No. 49 with the Ham Fighters and No. 20 with the Giants, research shows.
We overlooked the late December addition of lefty sidearmer Mike Venafro. He has a minor league contract and spring training invite.
Photos from the Mets Caravan revealed players in new unis including Julio Franco in 23, Paul LoDuca in 16 and Jose Valentin in 18. Newly arrived reliever Jorge Julio was wearing a jersey withno number on it. MBTN reader Rich reports: Chad Bradford appeared in No. 35, Duaner Sanchez in 40, and Mets.com is selling Bret Boone jerseys bearing No. 9.
Additional photos show Xavier Nady wearing No. 10 and Steve Schmoll in the dreaded No. 46.
That miscast, broken-faced outfielder Mike Cameron 44 would be traded was fairly predictable; receiving reserve Padres 1B/OF Xavier Nady in return
was the surprise. Nady, who smacks lefties around pretty well and can
fake it at several positions, looks to be a useful pickup but it’s sad
the Mets never fully exploited Cameron’s ability as a center fielder nor
as a trade chip. Nady by the way wore No. 22 with the Padres. That
number most recently belonged to reliever Royce Ring.