There's been more notable departures than arrivals at LaGuardia this offseason. A look at the Mets roster reveals plenty of empty spaces where the numbers belong, a theme that is likely to be repeated with regards to seats at CitiField while the Mets flounder under an ownership group that at this point has surpassed the DeRoulets for historical incompetance. As I've said for some time, the Mets certainly look like an organization headed for (and deserving of) a punishing stay in Chapter 11. Until it gets there, it's up to the beleaguered, lender-appointed general manager Sandy Alderson to preserve whatever dignity the team can maintain amid the non-offers, layoffs, minor-league shut-downs and salary-dumping trade rumors you can't necessarily dismiss.
That they've added a bunch of players without assigning any of them a uniform number yet is a small indication of where they are. In some ways, they remind me of the Bad News Bears, where Buttermaker is late with the uniforms because he can't find a sponsor. So on this Christmas Eve, here's wishing the 12 players and four coaches newly added to the organization and/or its 40-man roster receive numbers in their stockings.
To Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, Ryota Igarashi, Ronny Paulino, Nick Evans, Chris Capuano, Jason Pridie, Dale Thayer, Pat Misch: Good luck and success (but not too much success) in 2012.
To Mookie Wilson, Chip Hale, Ken Oberkfell, Jon Debus: Thanks for trying.
To Tom Goodwin, Tim Teufel, Bob Geren, Ricky Bones: Good luck and numbers in the 50s.
To David Wright, Jason Bay: Pokes at a reasonable fence.
To R.A. Dickey: A best-seller.
To Pedro Beato, Lucas Duda, Josh Stinson, Dillon Gee, et al: No sophomore slumps.
To my friends here at MBTN and in the Mets' fan community: Thanks for reading and a happy holidays!
Let there be no doubt this is a low moment in the history of a franchise with plenty of them to choose from, but you could see it coming. Because the Mets owners are morons who for way too long invested poorly on behalf of themselves and their fans, they can no longer afford to keep one of the best players they'd ever developed. I always thought the best chance of saving Jose Reyes from signing with another franchise was if a new owner pulled a hero act but the Wilpons couldn't even get that right and so that's where we are. Reyes leaves town as the best shortstop the franchise ever had, its most exciting player, and among its most accomplished overall. One can certainly make an argument that he won't be worth what the Marlins are giving him but that's beside the point when a formal offer was never presented because it was so unaffordable. Congratulations, Mets.
All that said, I'm anxious as always to move on and Sandy Alderson yesterday began the process. He traded Angel Pagan to the Giants for an older counterpart, Andres Torres, and a nice looking reliever, Ramon Ramirez. Torres like Pagan had a good season in 2010 but struggled this year, and was well-liked by fans and teammates in San Francisco. He wore No. 56 most recently with the Giants, reminding me of another veteran center fielder acquired as a short term leadoff man, Brian McRae. Ramirez, well-traveled himself, wore 52 in Frisco last season.
He'll be joining a Mets bullpen that will also include new relievers Jon Rauch and Frank Francisco, both signed as free agents. Rauch is a shaggy giant whom Keith Hernandez once called a 'Wookie.' He's hung around for years now despite only average results. Francisco has worn No. 50 his entire career: Word was the Mets would "retire" that number for 2012's 50th anniversary, so we'll see what comes of that. Rauch wore 51 early in his career and 60 more recently with the Diamondbacks and Twins.
Goodbye and good luck to Nick Evans, the binking reserve infielder whose eight different trips in and out of the No. 6 jersey over the last four seasons embodied its heritage as the most frequently issued number in team history. Evans was up and down so many times his number was issued to not one, not two but three different players who served entirely within his tenure: Abraham Nunez, Trot Nixon and Ramon Martinez. I have trouble believeing any of them were ever Mets.
Evans, who was released by the Mets for the millionth time following the season, accepted free agency at last and promptly signed a minor-league deal with the Pirates for whom he stands at least a slim chance of going all Heath Bell on us. I'll remember a smashing Saturday debut in Colorado that might have saved Willie Randolph's job for a few weeks at least but few other highlights until a modest garbage-time showing this year. His absense leaves a void in the No. 6 heritage that surely will be filled by a scrub we haven't met yet.
If No. 6 has a counterpart on the pitching side, No. 38 would be a contender. It last belonged to lefty Chris Capuano who parlayed his irritating mediocrity in Metville into a 2-year deal with the Dodgers. I never much understood the regard for Capuano whose 5th-inning crooked numbers arrived like clockwork and guaranteed the bullpen took a beating every night he worked, and, we were reminded, he never missed a start.
That kind of reliability, hopefully with a little more success, will have to be bought anew, perhaps at the Winter Meetings beginning this weekend in Dallas.
Finally you may have seen Bobby Valentine trying on the No. 25 jersey as the new manager of the Red Sox. It's great to see him back.