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What Number Should They Issue to 'Fartinez'?
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Mets by the Numbers

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The 40-Year-Old Virgin

After Oliver Perez stunk up the joint again and his teammates responded with play every bit as lazy and uninspired, the Mets made reliever Casey Fossum pay. The lefty, whose work week included three mop-up jobs -- two for Perez -- was designated for assigment Sunday with Buffalo lefty Ken Takahashi recalled to take his place.

Takahashi makes an interesting choice. He's a high-kicking, curve-throwing 40-year-old lefthander from Japan's Hiroshima club who reportedly drew free agent interest from several teams this winter (including the Mets) but signed a minor-league deal with the Blue Jays, only to be released as spring training broke and scooped up by the Mets.Though trained as a starter, he's been doing effective short and long relief for the Bisons, and so might come in handy if he's not too worn out by the time Perez' turn in the rotation comes around again. But I dunno. He looks awful slow in the the video here.

No word yet on Takahashi's uniform with the Mets. He's been wearing 33 with Buffalo which belongs here to John Maine and wore 22 with Hiroshima (currently JJ Putz' number). If like me you sense a pattern here, 11 is out (Ramon Castro); 44 is theoretically waiting for Tim Redding, and 55 is on the back of coach Randy Niemann (thanks for the updates below). 66? Doubtful. Maybe he'll turn up in 30 or 36.

Buffalo by the way eventually re-signed Nelson Figueroa, no doubt humbled by the waters he tested.

Takahashi, should he appear, would be the 859th Met of all-time (thanks to MBTN reader Gordon for the below update):


We left off 2008 with 848 - Bobby Parnell
849 would have been Al Reyes but he did not play
2009: 849 - Sean Green 4/6
850 - JJ Putz 4/6
851 - Jeremy Reed 4/6
852 - Francisco Rodriguez 4/6
853 - Alex Cora 4/9
854 - Darren O'Day 4/9
855 - Garry Sheffield 4/9
856 - Livan Hernandez 4/11
857 - Omir Santos 4/17
858 - Casey Fossum 4/21


All My Exes

The good news is that Mike Pelfrey feels his bout with tendonitis is behind him. The bad news is that it cost the Mets two pitchers to cover his one missed start.

Yesterday word came that sidearming Rule 5 draftee Darren O'Day was claimed by the Texas Rangers, wholike the Mets are now required to keep him on their roster all year or -- like the Mets -- risk losing him on a waiver claim. O'Day was designated when the Mets recalled Nelson Figueroa take Pelfrey's start Sunday.

Figgy was subsequently designated following his start in favor of Casey Fossum -- and with the gruesome twosome of Perez and Maine following him in the rotation, avialable long relief was handy. Figueroa like O'Day was subject to waivers but went unclaimed. Nevertheless he refused a return engagement with Buffalo and declared free agency, today's Daily News reported.

All this -- Maine and Perez's awful starts in St. Louis this week included -- may eventually hasten the arrival of Freddy Garcia, who started his first game this week in Buffalo.



The Mighty Casey

So, nice effort by Nelson Figueroa today but it didn't amount to much as bad luck and bad timing doomed the Mets offense. And don't let any nimrod tell you a failure to bunt Fernando Tatis had much of anything to do with it (I can't believe those complaining watched even a minute of Met ball this year). I want Tatis smashing balls off the fence, that's what he's there for.

Anyhow, Figueroa is headed back to the minors and in his place will be Casey Fossum, a lefthander off to a good start in Buffalo, who will provide bullpen depth until Mike Pelfrey's next turn or we learn the fate of Darren O'Day.

Fossom, should he maintain his digits from spring trianing will be the first Met to wear No. 47 since Tom Glavine walked off the mound having kicked the final grains dirt onto the 2007 Mets' grave. How not devastating.


Call it O'Day

With Mike Pelfrey skipping a start with forearm tendonitis, this afternoon's series finale against the Brewers will be started by Nelson Figueroa, recalled from Class AAA Buffalo.

Figueroa's arrival -- along with his entire family in a luxury box, you figure -- required the Mets make a corresponding roster move which could cost them sidearming reliever Darren O'Day for the long term. Rule 5 of the draft -- or the mechanism with which the Mets acquired O'Day last winter -- stipulates that O'Day must first be offered back to the Angels for cash. The Angels could also ask the Mets to trade soemthing for O'Day. If neither of those options are selected, O'Day will be exposed to waivers for any team to select. And if not selected there, he'd become a free agent, a la, Rocky Cherry, and sign on with anyone he chooses.

Obviously you hope it doesn't come to that although it's hard to argue O'Day over his first few appearances merits the sacrifice of any of his teammates either. 


Where's That Confounded Bridge

The bridge: I like itTen games in and I'm still trying to figure out what kind of team the Mets have here. I'm encouraged that the big hitters for the most part are off to a good start but worried about the starting pitching. The so-called "clutch hitting" hasn't come around but neither have Jerry Manuel's revoltingly passive game plans, which might be driving me craziest of all.

Camon, Jerry: If you're going to call a sacrifice bunt every time a leadoff hitter reaches base, you had better be cashing that runner in consistently not to mention executing the sacrifice properly in the first place. But the success rate on both tasks has been just dismal and the sense of gently screwing yourself out of opportunities is palpable. Play with only two outs every time you get a guy on base and of course the clutch hitting is going to look awful. It came as no surprise to me that both of John Maine's poor pitching innings the other night came after failing in sacrifice situations the inning before. Not to put too fine a point on it, but bunting is for losers.

Anyway, Thursday's game marked my first visit to CitiField and other than a bad game and an arctic chill every bit as cold as Shea on its rawest day, I was impressed with the new park. I like the wide concourses where plenty of light and a lack of crowding helped me recognize friends wandering around I would never have come across in the old building. My modest seats this season -- up in Promenade 521 -- more or less replicate the look from Mezzanine 10 in the old place, which is fine with me and every bit as affordable. I ate El Verano tacos and Box Frites and can recommend both. I do not like not being unable to see the bullpen. Bottom line: If the Mets can play better and the weather can get warmer, we'll all have an excellent time there.

Tonight while again battling poor execution and way too much passive play we eventually beat the Brewers in part by not making an out on purpose in the ninth. We saw the 500th home run from Gary Sheffield, who despite what the morons on the call-in shows are saying, is exactly the kind of threat on the bench this team has needed for a long while. His turns at-bat have been almost all good no matter the results so far. Congrats, Gary.

The 9th inning rally tonight featured the debut of reserve catcher Omir Santos, who was recalled from Buffalo this evening when Brian Schneider went onto the disabled list with back woes. Santos wore No. 9, recently turned in by Marlon Anderson. As for Schneider, I wouldn't be surpirsed if his run as the starting catcher could come to an end sooner rather than later.


Florida Marlon

I never kept track of this stuff as well as some geeked out Met fans I know, but if I had to guess Livan Hernandez was probably the opposing starting pitcher I'd seen more often than any other over the last 10 or 12 years I've been going to games at Shea. And whether a Marlin, an Expo, a National or a Giant, I always found him an admirable opponent, the kind of guy with a million pitches and a determination to go down fighting, and so I was happy to see him acquit himself well in his first outing wearing our uniform tonight -- as always, No. 61.

Hernandez's recall this afternoon meant that chubby veteran pinch-hitter Marlon Anderson was designated for assigment. Now, I liked Anderson, especially the first time he came around in 2005, but felt a two-year contract based on 100-some turns at bat following his release by the Dodgers in mid-2007 was going to be too much sooner or later. Guys like Anderson have to be rotated on a yearly basis, it's the nature of the profession. I hope he winds up somewhere he can be more useful. He'll be remembered here a three-number wearer, and the fraternities of 23, 18 and 9 thank you.

Nightmares of John Thomson

Let me start by saying Sean Green is welcome to request any number he desires and for any reason he wants.So if he prefers 50 to 48, then fine. But, couldn't he do it in a way that wasn't unkind to a guy whose career to this point he ought to be aspiring to and not passively disrespecting? I mean, come on, Sean. Make up a story about your Mom's birthday or something. No need to pile on poor Aaron Heilman. He's suffered enough. (He's pitching for the Cubs as a I write this -- wearing No. 47 in the 8th inning of a tie game at Houston).




And if you really wanted to disassociate yourself from a recent disappointing Mets reliever, could you do any worse than selecting the number worn last by Duaner Sanchez? The guy whose brilliant half-season ended in a mysterious car accident, and who then showed up out-of-shape for camp, and who was nowhere to be found in the hour of the Mets' greatest need last season?

But I'm not here to bury Sanchez either. I wish him well in San Diego, -- he made the team -- and is still wearing No. 50. I'll admit I chucked when I saw Scott Schoeneweis in his first appearance for the D-Backs yesterday surrendered a home run, but I'm not going to boo the next guy who wears No. 60 for the Mets. What's the use?


Opening Day! (update: Green in 50)

Another long offseason comes to an end, weather permitting, today. I'm trying to keep positive despite knowing I could make a perfectly valid argument that all five starting pitchers -- four currently on ther roster -- could be in for a long year.

Welcoming the following seven men to the All-Time Mets Roster, and thanks again to readers for the updates:

3 Alex Cora

10 Gary Sheffield

18 Jeremy Reed

22 JJ Putz

36 Darren O'Day

50 Sean Green*

75 Frankie Rodriguez

We also welcome new coaches Luis Alicea, wearing No. 51 and Razor Shines, wearing No. 52. Randy Niemann is back as a coach, wearing a new issue, 55.


*--A commenter below provides the update from press notes!

Top Sheff

Quickly noting here the Mets apparently have signed outfielder Gary Sheffield, formerly of every other team. No word yet on what uniform number he'll wear but he's Dwight Gooden's nephew, you know, and 16 belongs to a guy whose job will likely disappear because of this, disabled reserve Angel Pagan. Also unclear as of this writing is who will be the immediate victim of Sheffield'saddition.

Still no word on what uniform Sean Green switches to -- perhaps he'll show up in it at Citi Field tonight.



Coming Soon to a Theater Near You


You wanted to see me Sir?


Yes, come on in. We got to do a sports movie and I was wondering what you can get out of this. (tosses book onto the desk)


Faith and Fear in Flushing, by Greg W. Prince?


That’s the one.


Terrific book, sir, I’ve read it myself. And I…


They say it’s like ‘Fever Pitch’


That’s a fine comparison, Sir. Hornby and Prince are both outstanding writers whose works examine how a passion for a sports team becomes an inextricable part of who we are.


Hornby? Who the hell is Hornby? I’m talking about Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Kimmel.


Jimmy Fallon, Sir.


Whatever. Can we get Ben Affleck to play the lead?


Of Greg? I get more of a Paul Gamatti vibe…


We’re not going for Academy Awards here, son. We’re making a sports movie. And get Matt Damon to play his sidekick, Jason. ‘Lethal Weapon’ meets ‘Bull Durham’ I like it.


Well, boss, this is more of a love story.


Then get Drew Barrymore to play the girl.


I’ll call her agent.


And write in a little more drama. Have him have to win her from a Yankee fan. Or maybe from the Matt Damon guy. That’s the kind of spice this picture needs.


But Sir, you don’t understand. It was love at first sight between these two. In some ways, it mirrors the burgeoning relationship between the boy and his team, one that continues to this day.


She doesn’t have to compete for his love with the team?


Nope. It’s about devotion in good times and bad. It’s about what it feel like to be uplifted in 1986 and to bear witness to 1993, on 15 separate occasions.


Well then who’s the bad guy?


Oh, there’s lot of them, Sir. There’s Cesar Cedeno, M. Donald Grant, Benji Molina, Joe Grahe, Keith Lockhart … Page 157 is full of villains from the 1988 postseason alone and it pointedly doesn’t even include Mike Scioscia.


So this Scioscia fellow is innocent?


No, guilty as sin, Sir. It’s just one of many instances in this book where even hard-core fans will be reminded of how much more there were to the stories we all experienced than what may remain in popular memory. This is the testimony of a writer who has seen much, and forgotten little. Quite remarkable.


Yes, yes. But these bad guys? They all get it during the Big Game at the end, don’t they?


No sir. This is a story of the Mets. They’ve won the Big Game quite infrequently, as a matter of fact.


So it’s a tearjerker?


Certainly, some is. It reminds us that baseball, like life, often is a hard thing to endure. We might see ourselves as the awkward child who humiliates himself in a chance meeting with his hero -- or the awkward adult whose Mets gear draws idiotic responses in the supermarket. And the story of a loved one with whom we’ve had complicated relationship dying of a terrible disease? Yeah, that one just might hit home. Thanks to the Mets, we all know what it feels like to look at a called strike 3.


Maudlin don’t sell popcorn, kid. Punch it up some.


Don’t need to Sir. It’s actually quite funny throughout. I particularly enjoyed the lighthearted but vicious gutting of Yankee fans in Chapter 23. I’ve taken it upon myself to contact the agent for Stuttering John Melendez.


I see. So how does it end?


They lose the Big Game – and for the third year in a row. Only, and I believe this is the central point, we don’t have to feel bad about ourselves because of it. And we needn’t be ashamed, because that’s what being a fan is all about. This is a story about loving the endings, some happier than others. It’s about being a Met fan. It’s about us.


(Summer 2010)





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