Dom Smith, who on his best days looked to be a challenger for Pete Alonso and on his worst an AAA outfielder/first baseman who couldn’t fulfill the glaring need for a left-handed hitting DH, was nontendered by the Mets last night, ending a career with the club that started as a first-round draft pick in 2013. Smith was tossed aside along with Sean Reid-Foley, the bulldoggish reliever who came over from Toronto in the Steven Matz trade.
Dom Smith departs as the Mets’ all-time leader in home runs among guys who wore No. 2 (with 21, surpassing Marv Throneberry‘s 16!) but it should be remembered that Smith spent the early part of his career wearing 22 where his 25 jacks rank a distant third to Kevin McReynolds (122) and Donn Clendenon (45).
You could make a case that Smith was the Mets’ all-time No. 2 but Mackey Sasser is the best compiler (most plate appearances, most RBI and the highest batting average). Free-agent Justin Turner would be third. Of the brief visitors let us not forget Juan Uribe, though my all-time No. 2 remains Bobby Valentine.
Reid-Foley was released while undergoing rehab from Tommy John surgery. Smith had his own injury woes over the years including a famous sleep disorder and an ankle sprain. The acquisition of Daniel Vogelbach and his more cost-effective salary sealed Dom’s fate.
These moves came as the Mets shore up the fringes of the 40-man roster which as of now has just 33 guys, so there’s a lot more to come, presumably more impactful than the quintet of DFAed relievers they’d also recently acquired. They are William Woods, a righty fringe prospect from the Braves; two former Marlins arms, righties Elieser Hernandez and Jeff Brigham; Stephen Ridings, a towering righty from Long Island who pitched last for the Yankees; and Tayler Saucedo, a lefty snatched from the Blue Jays. None of these guys have assigned numbers yet. Hernandez and Brigham cost the Mets a low-level prospect in hard-throwing Franklin Sanchez.
They Mets made no moves to protect their eligible prospects from the forthcoming Rule 5 draft–outfielder Jake Magnum seemed the likeliest–but it would seem the Mets could add this way if they so chose while keeping an eye on resigning or replacing dudes like Seth Lugo, Jacob deGrom, Brandon Nimmo, Chris Bassitt, Taijuan Walker and Adam Ottavino.
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.
Just a note to say thanks for keeping me up-to-date while I was away, the roster changes have been noted and they sure seem to be working. At the risk of getting in the way of this little roll we’ve got going on here tonight’s game was about as inspiring a win as I can remember for the Mets in a few years at least and even though it’s very early, it’s great to see they have this in them.
For the record I’ve got Justin Turner in No. 2; and the Jasons: Pridie in 20 and Bay in 44: not to mention Isringhausen in 45. Brad Emaus who looked for a moment like he might have been Dan Uggla but instead played like Dan Ugly, gives up No. 4, while Angel Pagan and Bobby Parnell look to heal physically.
Dan Murphy?! My god.
Ruben Tejada didn’t look ready to be an everyday player during the Mets’ initial slide into irrelevancy so I found it rather odd that he was the guy they called for when things got really desperate this week. Not that I disagreed with kicking Alex Cora off the bus: For all he contributed prior to his injuries last year, he hasn’t been good for more than a year and certainly hadn’t earned the approaching second year vest in his overpriced contract, so a release was called for. Consider him, along with Castillo, Jeff Francoeur and Oliver Perez (and Jason Bay?), as what they’ll recall when Omar Minaya is gently kicked upstairs after the year is out. But, wasn’t Justin Turner available?
Meantime, Jesus Feliciano was demoted and Fernando Martinez returned. If Fartinez can take a few starts from Francouer … or Carlos Beltran … or Bay … well, maybe that wouldn’t be a bad thing to get another look at, since whoever’s in charge nest year will have some big decisions to make in the outfield. Martinez is back in 26 and Tejada in 11, by the way.
And while another radical slump from David Wright sure isn’t helping things, Jerry Manuel’s managing of this team remains woefully counterproductive, and, I think, contributes to that frightened offense. He’ll vamoose as well after this year ends and we now know how it will.
For the first time in 15 years, the Mets have a player wearing No. 2.
The team on Friday recalled infielder Justin Turner from Class AAA Buffalo and assigned him uni No. 2: A shirt that belonged to coaches Sandy Alomar and Gary Pettis, and manager Bobby Valentine, since 1995, when Damon Buford wore No. 2. The Mets were close to another issue of No. 2 this spring until Frank Catalanotto switched to No. 27 at the dawn of the season.
Who’s Justin Turner anyway? According to the Internet, he’s a righthanded-hitting middle infielder who, like Damon Buford, came to the Mets via Baltimore (We recalled the Damon Buford Story here earlier this year). The Mets claimed Turner on waivers in May of this year when the Orioles designated him for assignment while activating Brian Roberts. Turner, who had a cup of coffee with O’s last September wearing No. 83 (wow!), arrived in Baltimore via Cincinnati in theRamon Hernandez trade. He was a 7th round draft selection of the Reds in 2006.
As a second baseman in Buffalo, Turner was hitting .297/.342/.400 in 193 plate appearances. He was activated in favor of Nick Evans, who returns to AA Binghamton, in part because he provides better middle-infield depth with Jose Reyes unavailable for an undetermined period of time, and in part because Evans wears No. 6 and that’s what happens to those guys.