Goodbye and good luck to Carlos Beltran, who is expected to accept a trade to the Giants and leave the Mets as one of the best players who ever came though here. The Mets are said to be taking back a hot pitching prospect by the name of Zach Wheeler and by the looks of things just might maintain their hold on third place now that David Wright's back, Daniel Murphy is hitting like crazy and Lucas Duda suddenly believes in himself.
Beltran's place as the finest player ever to wear No. 15 for the Mets has long been established, surpassing the contributions of catching stalwart Jerry Grote and fading superstar George Foster even before his knee problems interrupted his progress. But his Metliness also cannot be denied. He was one of the few big-name free agents whose acquisition paid off in addition to the splash it made and his fortunes mirrored the Mets': Valiently struggling in in 2005, dominant in 2006, receding in 2007, rebounding in 2008, banged-up, controversial and largely unavailable in '09 and '10; and suddenly relevant again in '11.
Following is glance of the career accomplishments of notable Met No. 15s, ranked in ascending Metliness. Pitchers who wore 15 include Al Jackson (early years); Ron Darling (laboring latter years); Rick Aguilera, Don Aase and Dave Robertts. See the full ist. Who's your favorite?
|Carlos Beltran||2005-11||838||149||558||100||.280||Best centerfielder ever|
|Jerry Grote||1966-77||1235||35||357||14||.256||Seaver's reciever|
|George Foster||1982-86||655||99||361||5||.252||Unhappy bust|
|Matt Franco||1996-2000||452||13||71||1||.254||Pinch-hitter who beat Rivera|
|Jose Vizcaino||1994-96||334||7||121||18||.282||Pretty good, but forgotten once Ordonez arrived.|
|Claudell Washington||1980||79||10||42||17||.275||A rich man's Richard Hidalgo|
|Richard Hidalgo||2004||86||21||52||3||.228||A poor man's Claudell Washington|
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.
I don't care much for the Brewers, so I'm glad it's them and not us who will be sweating out the 55-game timebomb. That we'll also collect two of their prospects -- however long their odds may be -- makes the trade of the first and probably last No. 75 in Mets history a winner in my book.
And the Mets? They'll be fine. Let's see Jason Isringhausen get a few saves and parlay it into a return engagement with St. Louis, then turn over the closer role to Pedro Beato, who as far as I'm concerned already has closer pedigree -- that is, he gets whiffs and groundballs, possesses distinct body language, and has made a few confident remarks in the press. Bobby Parnell may have wicked heat, but his laconic demeanor and country-music theme music need work before he ascends to the role. And that will be that.
I actually admired the contrition and the skills Rodriguez brought with him to the field this year but his contract was recklessly outrageous and a bad deal even before he arrived: You read it here first. Relief pitching just ain't worth that kinda money, and I've always hated how unimaginatively the Mets pursued it.
I'm sure emotions will run higher if and when it comes to moving pieces such as Carlos Beltran, but as said before if he's going to bring back some real prospects they'd be fools not to investigate, irrespective of where we are on July 31. I think I would be totally OK if the Mets took a few prospects from Pittsburgh for Carlos, because as I said above, I don't much care for Milwaukee.
By the way: Ryota Igarashi takes Frankie's roster place, speaking of overpaid relievers.
So here we are at the All-Star Break and I think we'd all agree that getting here with a prayer of contending for the playoffs without Ike Davis, David Wright, Johan Santana, and with Jason Bay having the kind of year he's having is a kind of small miracle and for that Terry Collins has our gratitude and this team has my admiration. But let's not kid ourselves: Only a very hot start to the second half is going to make a difference if and when the calvary returns. Sandy Alderson would be a fool not to at least entertain offers for our guys big and small in the meantime and pull the trigger if the returns blow him away. Why not? At any rate, I'm finding it difficult to imagine that the cheap, useful guys (Capuano, Isringhausen, Hairston, Paulino) stick around and I hope we can get out from under the Frankie Rodriguez dea at some point.
In the meantime you haven't heard a whole lot from me in part because June was an especially light month on the transaction wire for the Mets. How light? Well, according to my roster expert Jason, there were no Met debuts in the month of June at all. Excluding Octobers and the strike-shortened August 1994, it's only the third month since August of 1993 there have been no Met debuts and the first time since June of 2007 that no new Met arrived.
We are checking in to note the recent return of Nick Evans and salute the poor kid both for his home run the other night and his roachlike ability to remain an option -- but never the first one -- for the Mets for four straight years now. In each of the last four seasons Evans had at least two separate stints with the team which has got to be approaching a record, thanks in part to twice escaping a claim by other clubs when exposed to waivers this year and subsequently electing to remain with the organization as opposed to trying his luck elsewhere. If he's not a perfect Met No. 6 nobody is. Cheers, Nick!
I was in Pittsburgh over the weekend where I attended my first Pirates home game in more than 20 years. To say they improved the stadium since then is an understatement: PNC Park is even nicer than it looks on television. The scale is just right, the atmosphere and views and neighborhood and service are terrific, it doesn't appear to radically alter the balance of offense and defense in any way, it owes more to history than gimmickry, good seats were affordable and the scoreboard doesn't come off as an anchor for surrounding ads. In other words, it's just about everything CitiField is not. And I might be dense but never realized until I sat there what a ripoff of Pittsburgh the "Shea Bridge" is. I know the Mets admired this park and endeavored to use it in some ways to inform their park, but boy did they swing and miss.
Here's something I liked. Whenever a Pirate batter first came to the plate, the scoreboard graphic introduced him by panning across a "mural" of former Pirates (and Homestead Grays of the Negro League) in period unis, from which the current batter appeared to "step out" from. While I was running downtown the next morning, I came across the actual mural, which I since learned is a billboard-sized reproduction of a painting by a local artist.
You'll recognize Willie Stagell in the gold jersey and in the shot of a statue outside the stadium I snapped here. The Pirates rightly retired his No. 8 jersey, which brings to mind another contrast getting a lot of sudden attention recently, and that's a well-intentioned but ultimately wrongheaded campaign for the Mets to retire No. 8 in honor of Gary Carter.
The news about The Kid's health is heartbreaking and tragic. But it doesn't make him the Mets' equivalent of Willie Stargell, much less Tom Seaver, the only Mets player to have been honored with a retired jersey. As argued here before, retiring No. 8 -- obviously a topic the Mets have long considered given their reluctance to have issued the jersey since Desi Relaford last wore it in 2002 -- would surely require an accompanying retirement of 17 for Keith Hernandez, 16 for Dwight Gooden, 18 for Darryl Strawberry, 1 for Mookie Wilson and perhaps, 5 for Davey Johnson and 50 for Sid Fernandez. That's before considering what it will say about Jerry Koosman, Bud Harrelson, Ed Kranepool, Howard Johnson, Jerry Grote, Edgardo Alfonzo and other players who played more than Gary Carter's five years for the Mets, and had more than Gary Carter's two good years for the Mets.
The Mets have appropriately enshrined Carter in the team's Hall of Fame, which if they'd only made an effort to promote all these years, could serve as appropriate salve for those determined to interpret a failure to retire a uniform number as an act of disrespect (and to a cancer patient at that). Subjective it may be, but its long been our stance here that retired numbers should be reserved for the true greats and not the Hall of Famers who pass through, no matter how charasmatic (or tragic). Stargell for the Pirates? a No-Brainer. He spent his entire career with the Pirates and is most closely associated with them. The best way to honor Carter -- and his teammates -- might be a symbolic retirement of the never-worn jersey No. 86, and for them to honor Carter's memory by issuing No. 8 to the next energetic, powerful catcher who comes along.
The MLB Draft begins tonight at 6 p.m., and thanks to Brian Cashman's fetish for abused lefthanders, the Mets have the 44th pick as well as the 13th (the first one they earned on merit). I don't pretend to have any idea who the Mets will wind up with -- the so-called "experts" appear not to either -- but purely for rooting purposes there's a UConn outfielder named George Springer I have my eye on. I'm just as excited to see who the 44th pick will be: Such so-called "compensation" selections have netted the Mets guys including Bobby Jones (No. 36 overall in 1991, compensation for Darryl Strawberry) and David Wright (38th pick 2001 draft, compensation for Mike Hampton).
My friend Alex G., who previously blogged about the Mets at Bleeding Orange and Blue, is now looking at this kinda stuff at a new site, Legends of Tomorrow. Check it out!
Enjoyed a cool early-summer night at Big Shea Sunday, watching almost too comfortably through the middle innings until Manny Acosta and his new No. 46 jersey made things uncomfortable. Mets bloggers at the Daily Stache are destined for a similarly dicey negotiation when their Best-Mets-By-Uniform-Number countup reaches its 46th inning. When Oliver Perez is the right answer, it's time to reevaluate the questions.
Quick note to acknowledge that Manny Acosta is bringing the high heat from Buffalo, demanding the dreaded No. 46 upon his return to the big squad. Dale Thayer, a recently arrived tomato can who had 46, agreed to a swap and took Acosta's previously assigned 36.
I didn't know this offhand, but Acosta is a former 46 with Atlanta. I guess this indicates he was always first in line for 46 following the departure of Oliver Perez.
OK Holmes (Sherlock, that is), time for another Met Mystery, courtesy of the following exerpted note from MBTN reader David:
At a baseball card show last month, a man approached me with an interesting photo that appears to be from a legends game. He asked if I knew anything about it. I was able to identify some of the participants (Earl Weaver, Don Zimmer, Lou Brock, etc) but really want to place the location and date. Since I didn't have a scanner I took several pictures on my phone. You can see the (larger) picture here.
Crazy as it sounds I think one of the keys to unlocking this mystery is the Met in the lower left. Close up is here. He doesn't seem tough to identify - older, wearing glasses. His number is partially obstructed but it appears that it would have to be #7. However, no #7 that I find lines up with this man. It isn't Ed Kranepool and many of the others are easily eliminated based on skin color, hair color, and so on. I simply cannot find a match for this man. I thought maybe it could be a seventy number, like 74 or something, but that number appears too far to the man's left for there to be another number after it.
Any help you can give would be greatly appreciated. I know that #11 is Wayne Garrett thanks to your great site.
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As I told David privately, the photo is a little too blurry to identify anything for sure, but with young and old players in home and road uniforms, what looks like a minor-league setting (maybe Florida, note the ads on the fence) some kind of Old-Timers exhibition seems likely. The Mystery Met in the corner bears some resemblance to Mike Cubbage, no, but given the weird jersey sleeve-stripes, it could be anybody. There is one (Stearns?!?) or maybe two more Mets in that shot as well, not to mention some guys dressed in what look to be softball jerseys. Weird pic at any rate. Can you help identify the time, place and players in this shot? Let us know in the comments below, and thanks!
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Ike Davis, who looked like a veteran the day he stepped on the field for the Mets -- barely a year ago -- is looking like a veteran off the field too, exhibiting all the bushy-tailed bounceback of a 44-year-old, not the 24-year-old he is. News today is that its another three weeks in a boot and plenty of Geritol for Old Ike before we see him again.
The team we have out there today is barely hanging on: It's a real credit to Terry Collins that they've managed to not get killed out there most nights, much less put a few wins together. But it's not the kind of thing that's likely to last, and when the team's only living power hitter misses a couple of months with a bruise, that's bad.
The Mets today recalled a guy I never heard of, Dale Thayer, from Class AAA Buffalo and designated Pat Misch for assigmnent. Thayer is a 30-year-old righthanded journeyman reliever (is there any other kind?) who appeared briefly with Tampa Bay in 2009 and 2010. He signed as a minor league free agent with the Mets in February and was doing a pretty nice job with the Bisons (25 Ks in 26 innings, 4 saves and a 2-0 record). The Mets have assigned him the dreaded No. 46, last occupied by our friend Oliver Perez.
Phillies for three. Ready or not!
Well this was a crazy week even by Mets standards, one that began on a promising note when R.A. Dickey shook off his own poor start, and pitched a scrappy overachieving team to a respectable .500 mark and an upset of the Yankees, and ended seven days later with the Mets just as embarrassing as ever, with Dickey on the way to the disabled list and the overachievers badly exposed.
In the middle of it all was Fred Wilpon, whose show of pathetic self-pity and delusion in the pages of The New Yorker seemingly sapped whatever energy the Mets had exhibited on their long journey back to .500. Poor Fred: Doesn't matter who gets dragged through the mud in his rush to clear his name and prove his own ignorance, while at the same time he's got his hand out for new investors so that he won't be hurt by his money-losing Mets. Fred doesn't appear to understand that he's in the image business, or that players and fans will get along just fine were he not around, but we can hope that's something David Einhorn will teach him the hard way.
Einhorn was a name Met fans had barely known before this morning though by the time this afternoon's loss to the Cubs began most of us already knew the story of how the tiny Dave Kingman fan grew up to become one of the hottest and most feared sluggers in the hedge fund game. I'd be awfully suprised if he doesn't wind up going Barbarians-at-the-Gate on his new partners before long. Wouldn't you?
Sadly, this week also included the sudden death of Dana Brand, an intelligent, sentimental and friendly Mets fan who wrote about fandom with passion and insight in books and on-line and who was at work organizing a scholarly symposium to coincide with the team's 50th anniversary next year. I'd spoken last to Dana only a few months back at the SABR meeting in New York, where the two of us shared a mutual anticipation that the Wilpons would go Chapter 11 at some point this year. Dana was a guy who clung hard to his fandom in such challenging times, who understood he could love the team in spite of its seeming indifference to fans, and it's sad to lose him.