MBTN reader Steven this week found the above image out there in space, showing the Mets' starting rotation posing in Spring Training of 1987 with new uniforms: Not just the butt-ugly script New York road jerseys destined to be worn in 1987 and 1987 alone, but the centerpiece, Sid Fernandez, wearing No. 10 and not No. 50 that represented his home state of Hawaii and the cop show set there.
Sid's number change was to be part of a wholesale change in Met pitcher jerseys first suggested near the end of the 1986 season by teammate Ron Darling (right). Darling, who in 1985 switched from No. 44 to No. 12, suggested that fellow starters Fernandez and Rick Aguilera (left) join him, Dwight Gooden (16) and Bob Ojeda (19) with numbers in the teens. When they arrived for Spring Training in 1987, equipment manager Charlie Samuels was ready.
Fernandez famously chickened out of the experiment on the eve of the new season, but Aguilera stayed in 15, which was famously cashiered by George Foster the previous summer. It was one of several changes for the Mets that spring as Kevin Elster moved from 2 to 21; Clint Hurdle went from the 13 he as assigned in his last Met go-around in 1985 to 7 in 1987 (Lee Mazzilli in the meantime was assigned 13); and Ed Hearn switched from 49 to 9. Hearn, like Fernandez, however, wouldn't make it to the the start of the season in his ugly new assigned Mets jersey: He'd be traded to Kansas City for David Cone.
Hi guys, I'm back from a little R&R, moving aside the worthless sandbags at my door, and catching up to the new arrivals in Metland. We'll begin late last month when Jon Niese pitched his way onto the disabled list and once again recalled Mike Nickeas, the catcher who wears 13. This struggle to reach the finish line is becoming an annual phenomenon for Niese, who until a few weeks ago, looked like the best starting pitcher the team had. Pinch-hitter Scott Hairston, who started poorly before coming on, went to the DL himself on Aug. 26. He was replaced on the roster by Miguel Batista, the 40-year-old journeyman whom I remember best from the Diamondbacks' blessed 2001 Yankee-beating World Series team but has also played for a half-dozen other clubs including the Cardinals, who released him earlier this year. Batista made his Los Mets debut last night wearing No. 47.That jersey last belonged to flukey lefty Hisanori Takahashi, now of the Angels. Finally, Jose Reyes returned to the roster and Mike Baxter was demoted.
When rosters officially expended Thursday, the Mets recalled two new Joshes: Right-handed masher Josh Satin of AAA Buffalo and righty reliever Josh Stinson of AA Binghamton. Satin, like a glut of utility infielders before him, was assigned No. 3. Stinson is a big dude who might provide some relief: He was assigned Elmer Dessens's old No. 64. Where have you gone, Elmer? Along with Josh Thole, this provides the Mets an unprecedented number of Joshes -- who all went by "Jose" during the Hispanic Heritage game last night, I think.
Even though the ridiculous "Los" results in a jersey that makes no sense in two languages, count me enamored of the blue jerseys, particularly if and when it replaces the hideous black look. The black remains depressing, ugly and impossibly dated already. And I'm happy to discover that creepy Einhorn kid won't be partnering with the Wilpons. Not because I think he wouldn't do a better job as a minority owner (who wouldn't?) but that the deal's demise increases the chances the Wilpons lose it all in Chapter 11.
Finally, the Mets received the booty from the Francisco Rodriguez trade with Milwaukee. Coming our way is a 5-foot-6 lefty, Danny Herrera, expected to join the Mets today in Washington. Herrera struggled with Milwaukee this year (and in Cincinnati before that) but was doing the job in AAA. Has he been assigned a number? Let me know. The other guy we got was Class A pitcher, Adrian Rosario. Sounds like a deal to me.
Thanks as always to the readers who kept up the dialog in my absence. By the way I'm looking for a Drupal-profient partner to revamp the site, please let me know if you know someone!
One desperate final shot at relevancy begins Tuesday when the Mets get back Jose Reyes (hopefully) and Carlos Beltran (maybe) and David Wright on Friday (please) for what'll be a week-and-a-half of steadily increasing pressure and speculation culminating (I predct) in trades of Beltran, Jason Isringhausen, Chris Capuano and Tim Byrdak and the Mets maintining their hold on 4th place. It'll all be for the good!
Meantime, this team can still accomplish something. Just the other day in fact, Jon Niese became the all-time winningest pitcher to wear No. 49 for the Mets. His 20th career win in No. 49 came Saturday against the Phillies, breaking Walt Terrell's 27-year-old record. Niese like Terrell is a bit of a bulldog with Midwest roots who debuted as Mets (Terrell was from Indiana and Niese from Ohio). Terrell reached 19 wins (against 23 losses) in three seasons and 57 games; Niese thus far has fashioned a 20-19 mark in 58 games over four seasons. And at age 24, there's presumably more to come for Niese, while Terrell's career began at 24. While Terrell posseses the better Met ERA (3.53 to Niese 4.15) there's little difference with regards to the era they played in, while Niese is a far superior strikeout pitcher with better control.
Following are the all-time leaders in victories among Mets who wore 49. Thanks to MBTN reader Shorty for bringing this to my attention.
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.
Those awful Mets play in Houston tonight with lefty Jon Niese on the mound. Niese in a stint I'd already forgotten ever happened this year wore No. 49 and is still available for him. To make room on the roster the Mets got around to disabling Gary Sheffield who naturally isn't happy about it.
Like the next guy I'm interested in seeing how the whole Tony Bernanzard drama plays out, not because I think he's the devil, necessarily, but because how it unravels might reveal something of how this ridiculous organzation works. As I understand things, Bernazard at this time last year looked as if he might be the future king of the Mets, only to see Omar Minaya get the contract extension after the year. With some conflicting reports arriving as to Bernazard's behavior I'm wondering who the sources are and what their motivation is. I also wonder if it wouldn't have been even better had he taken his pants off.
Thanks to everyone who showed up Amazin' Tuesday this week at Two Boots. Newly linked blogger Section Five Twenty Eight has a terrific account of it. We're doing it again on August 25 (I'll miss that event but I'd urge you to attend anyway) and on Sept. 15.
*-Bonus points for getting the title reference.
So as you probably already know, Billy Wagner is out for a spell with a sore forearm and that the Mets have recalled Ruddy Lugo from Class AAA to take his place. Lugo tonight was wearing the same No. 49 jersey he wore during spring training and would become the first 49er since Phillip Humber last season and the first Ruddy (or Rudy) in team history.
The Mets barely survived their first post-Wagner game but they survived it all the same. Jerry was either a genius for letting Aaron Heilman throw with a 4-run lead, or an idiot, depending I suppose on who's asked to close out the next one and how adventurous that assignment becomes.
Meantime we're still awaiting word on who gets the call to take John Maine's scheduled start. Jerry tonight said that start would be Saturday not Friday, which may favor a promotion for AA lefty Jon Niese. Niese (i before e) wore No. 62 in spring training, which I'd consider the absolute borderline carryover point. Other candidates would be a pair of 39s: Claudio Vargas (AAA) or Bobby Parnell (AA).
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Longtime Mets beatwriter Marty Noble, provider of a terrific interview, is counting down Shea's remaining days by uni number. His first entry, 30 to 25, is here. Between Marty and Greg Prince, also a fine interview (both are even better writers), they've got a handle on Shea's history that's about a million times better than team officials whose idea of honoring the dying building is to trot out Lincoln-Mercury representatives night after night. Greg devoted lots of thought and effort into his own inspired countdown of Shea's final season and most recently destroys the Mets for carelessly providing their support for a hacky, flawed, inaccurate, advertiser-driven "Greatest Moments" ballot.
Must-reads as always.
So the Mets along with introducing Johan Santana to the press today updated their 40-man roster so as to provide uni numbers for several players for the first time. From the bottom, it's
16 Angel Pagan
19 Ryan Church
38 Matt Wise (Carlos Muniz is now listed in 32)
43 Brian Stokes
61 Steven Register(likely to be the lowest of the high-numbered invitees)
Also worth noting is pitcher Adam Bostick in 72, giving him the highest number among the 40 men invited to camp. Among non-roster invitees, the deck is clear for Jose Valentin to take 22 and Ricardo Rincon to assume his usual 73.
Our post below guessed a few of these correctly at least. Keep in mind as always these numbers don't "count" until the games do, so nothing is official yet.
Muniz whiffed 66 guys in 64+ innings in AA and AAA this season, posting 23 saves and a 2.24 ERA. “If we need him, we’ll use him,” sez Willie. Just might.
The Mets in the meantime put together a solid game Friday in ending an ugly five-game losing streak. Among the casualties of the Philly sweep was Orlando Hernandez, who is expected to miss his next turn in the rotation resting a sore foot. The leading candidate to take his place is some guy called Martinez.
While everyone’s harping on the bullpen and Willie’s alleged poor management of it, the fact that the Mets have scored only 2 runs in the last three games is the real guilty party. That, and the Luis Castillo-Paul LoDuca screwup. And Aaron Rowand’s good fortune. The bullpen is what it is: Enigmatic, unpredictable, prone to slumps. Teams that don’t score more than 2 runs on the road in 10 innings deserve whatever they get.
The new right fielder, Endy Chavez, did little to change that last night. Endy returned to the Mets and the No. 10 jersey last night for the first time since June, and made a fine catch, but otherwise resembled all the other right fielders recently. Brian Lawrence 54 was designated to make room, leaving Saturday’s starter role currently unfulfilled. The possibilities are many as the calendar will read Sept. 1 by then, though Phillip Humber looks at the moment to have a shot.
Humber you may recall appeared twice in relief last September, wearing No. 49. He’s had a quietly strong season in AAA.