Now that Andres Torres has evoked memories of Ken Henderson -- that of the vetreran outfielder acquired in an offseason trade who hurts himself almost immediately -- the Mets, short on outfielders to begin with, look to recall Kirk Nieuwenhuis from AAA while Torres rehabs his calf. Again.
Depending on whether the Mets' seamstresses can fit NIEUWENHUIS on the back of a shirt -- at 11 letters, it ties SCHOENEWIES and is one behind all-time leader ISRINGHAUSEN -- the Mets will also need to put a number on it. It's likely that number would be 22, which is not only currently vacant on the Mets' roster but is also Kirk's current digits at Buffalo. I have to think the Mets were holding in in reserve for him, especially that he's on the 40. Welcome to the show, Kirk!
On a related note, how great do those numbers and NOBs look now that they're free of the cursed black dropshadow? Looking good so far Mets!
Thanks to commenter Shorty for the tip in the below thread recognizing that Blaine Boyer on Saturday earned the first save in Mets history by a player wearing No. 23. That's just the kind of useless fact we'll need plenty of to get us though the 2011 season. Here's another: Willie Harris, who might be the Mets MVP if the season ended today, appears to be the first player in Mets history who had his uni number pre-tattooed.
As you can see in these photos, Willie has the No. 22 prominently (and permanently) displayed on his right forearm. If I had to guess, I'd say he got this ink while a member of the Braves in 2007: Harris moved onto Washington in 2008 as a free agent: The Nats initially issued Harris No. 1, but he changed back to 22 in 2009 (Brian Sanches wore 22 for the Nats then). I found some photos of Harris in a Nats uni with the same mark. Willie was fortunate to have come upon No. 22 with the Mets while it was available: It belonged last season to released mercurial lefty reliever Raul Valdes, whom I'll always remember for contributions during that ridiculous 20-inning affair with the Cardinals a year ago.
If Harris had uni numbers tattooed onto his body prior to 2007, they might be hard to find. It's conceivable that 22 was once just plain 2 (his number with Boston in 2006) but prior to that Harris wore 12, 13 and 1 with the White Sox and 40 with the Orioles during his rookie year of 2001. Sports Illustrated noted Harris' many tattoos back in 2005:
HE HAS an eclectic mix of tattoos, highlighting his dedication to his family and his faith in God. "Everything is something that I either love or that inspires me," says Harris, 27. He has, among other things, the names of his daughter, Arianna, and mother, Lene, and a tiger on his left arm. "That's kind of the way I am, the way I go about the game," he says. "Like with the eye of the tiger, always go hard."
Don't forget: If you're looking for a place to watch the Mets-Phils game Tuesday, come over to the Holiday Inn LaGuardia for an Amazin' Tuesday Met Together sponsored by Maple Street Press and its 2011 Mets Annual. There will be food, drinks, giveaways, Mets discussion, Mets fans and the Mets game on the big screens. Details here, see you there.
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?
Well, it's good to see the Mets determined to do something about the Frankie Rodriguez situation and with a little luck, these last weeks of the year might demonstrate just how little creativity, imagination and good sense they'd showed when making that deal in the first place. Not for nothing but the post-Rodriguez bullpen hasn't given up a run in 13.1 innings.
That doesn't mean they're necessarily going anywhere. Their offense is a much tougher fix -- always has been -- and it's probably buried them in a deeper hole than they'll ever hit out of. To that end, they welcomed Rod Barajas back to the roster today and sent Fernando Martinez back to Buffalo. Jerry seemed unable to commit to the kid anyhow, and surely Barajas will only take playing time from Josh Thole, at least until its evident there's no shot with this group. Too bad. In the end it was relying so heavily on veterans with questionable offensive track records that killed 2010.
To get you updated, Pat Misch was recalled and Raul Valdes sent down; Ryota Igarashi went down when Rodriguez returned from his two days in the penalty box but was back up upon the revelation of his injury and subsequent assignment to the restricted list. I have no idea (nor any opinion) on how the grieveance hearing ought to go, but applaud the Mets for taking a stance here, if only to save themselves from Omar's folly and the big lie of the Brand Name Closer. And if they don't prevail, they'll have gotten what they deserved.
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.
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.
You might recall that in 1984, Robinson, then in his first season as the Mets hitting and first-base coach, was wearing No. 26 while Valentine was issued No. 22 until the Mets traded for Ray Knight late in the season. Valentine at that point switched to 28 to allow Knight to wear his customary 22.
A little bit of research explains Robinson's preference for 28: He'd worn that number as a player for the best years of his career with the Pirates. It was available with the Mets in '84 but not until Scott Holman was released at the end of spring training. Holman's subsequent re-signing as a minor leaguer may have kept the number in near-term mothballs.Anyone with memories of this situation- - or even why Valentine seemed to prefer No. 2 -- is welcome to chime in. Thanks as always for the questions!
Only a few knuckleballers come around per generation, so I was pleased to learn the Mets were on the verge of signing one Tuesday. R.A. (Remarkable Athlete) Dickey has kicked around several organizations since first surfacing with Texas in 2001 and like many knuckleballers, developed the pitch only after his other stuff (including elbow ligaments) abandoned him.
The Mets' have employed but two pure knuckleballers in their history. The first was righthanded reliever Bob Moorhead, who developed the delivery while on the road back to New York following a string of injuries (including, ironically, breaking two knuckles by punching a Sportsmans Park dugout door in frustration after a 1962 outing). Moorhead's other distiction was having been the first relief pitcher ever called on in a Mets game. Moorhead wore 22 as a knuckleball dabbler in 1962 and 21 as a specialist in '65. The Mets' last pure knuckler, Dennis Springer, was released shortly after taking a pounding from the Reds on a frigid, wet, windy April evening at Shea in 2000. He wore No. 34.
Other Mets have included a knuckler as part of their repetoire, including relievers Jeff Innis (who threw his sidearm); Dave Roberts; Tom Sturdivant; Frank Lary; Warren Spahn; Bob McClure and Todd Zeile, whose whole pitching career was something of a stunt. Dave Mlicki threw a knuckle curve.
The Mets for a time were developing potential knuckleball throwers in the minors. One, Zac Clements, was a converted catcher who appears to have topped out at AA Binghamton in 2006. Charlie Hough, a longtime knucleball hurler, was the Mets pitching coach in 2001 and 2002.
Dickey in the meantime only signed a minor league contract, and has had only sporadic success in the majors to recommend him, but I'l be rooting for him just the same. Knucklers of recent vintage including Tim Wakefield and Tom Candiotti wear No. 49 so as to honor Hoyt Wilhelm, one of the giants of the craft. The Mets' current tenant of 49 is lefty Jon Niese.
"I had a guaranteed military sale with ED-209. Renovation program! Spare parts for 25 years! Who cared if it worked or not?”
--Dick Jones, Robocop
I was reminded of this remark while reading a recent article on Amazin’ Avenue that sought to determine where Omar Minaya’s allegiances stood in the age-old debate between Scouts and Stats. It’s a provocative piece and more evidence, as if you needed some, that the best writing on the Mets these days is being done everyday by losers like you and me who simply devote more thought to the team than the usual suspects with better access.
But back to Dick Jones for a moment. I thought of him because it was clear that in the JJ Putz trade referenced in the above article, limiting the scope of Omar’s motivations for making that deal to Scouting or Statistics, or even a combination of them, sort of misses the larger point of having made that move primarily to make a show of displeasure with the 2008 bullpen and a scapegoat of Aaron Heilman, scouts and stats be damned. As long as it created the illusion that the Mets had become bulletproof, who cared if it worked it not?
Now that it’s become clear that committing five players and $10 million to a fat closer with arm trouble while gambling on a lineup with too many holes and a rotation with too many questions left us with nothing more than a set-up reliever who more or less is the equivalent of Heilman, while providing an explosive bounty for the Mariners who just might wind up re-signing Putz, maybe Omar ought to listen less to the usual suspects and their demands for dramatic fixes to last year’s problems, and care about what works or not.
Here’s your million dollars, Putz. Now go away.
Numeric content coming soon, I promise!
Watching the Met debut of Tim Redding, who tonight will become the 860th Met of all-time.
Redding will be suited up in No. 44 -- which belonged to four different guys last year, none of whom I could have told you had I not just looked it up myself, I don't think. If you're interested in making a guess in the comments section, go ahead, I won't say who they are.
Redding's accompanying lineup is a little goofy -- a continuation of the stuff we saw last night where Fernando Tatis played short and Jerry Manuel, once again, made a baffling pinch-hitting call that blew up his face with the game on the line. Yet, Angel Pagan starts tonight in left while Daniel Murphy and Ryan "Doghouse" Church once again sit.
The shortstop is Ramon Martinez, called up because of a thumb injury to Alex Cora who is going onto the DL today too and Jose Reyes is still unavailable (Mackey Shillstone?). You might remember Martinez as the only Met who could buy a hit in the last week of the season last yea. He was wearing No. 22 then but with that jersey since reassigned to JJ Putz, we'll have to wait and see what he turns up in. (Updated: He's wearing No. 26)
Seems like only a moment ago I was praising the flexibility of this roster but this is about as stretched out as I'd like to go right now. Carlos Delgado, you may have heard, is on his way to the operating room and I can't imagine he reappears until August or so.
Right you are, Ken.
In a move practically shouting "see you next spring!" the Mets today disabled John Maine for the second time in a month. The club was noncommital as to who would be taking Maine's starts from here on out but stands to reason the list of candidates would include Brandon Knight, who made a spot start in late July on the way to the Olympics; Brian Stokes, now working in the Mets' bullpen; or Jon Niese, the lefty prodigy whose high regard by the Met brass could be the thing that prevents his activation at this time.
Thanks to MBTN reader Ron, who in the comments section a few posts back reports:
I contacted the Mets and Juan Lopez is now wearing # 62.