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Poll

What Number Should They Issue to 'Fartinez'?
6
12%
8
18%
12
6%
16
6%
18
6%
22
12%
24
6%
26
0%
27
0%
28
0%
29
0%
30
0%
38
0%
39
0%
43
0%
44
12%
47
0%
49
0%
58
12%
Other?
12%
Total votes: 17

 

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Mets by the Numbers

The Mets Website That Counts

21

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Rod Whips It Out

Well, against our admittedly late calls to outfit him in No. 0, the Mets apparently have gone and given catcher Rod Barajas No. 21. 

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For the Record

If recent dispatches from Port St. Ledger are any indication, David Waldstein of the Times seems determined to wrest the title of Uni Number Beatwriter Champion from Marty Noble.

Today he gets Hisanori Takahashi on the record discussing what we'd already reported here -- he's got eyes for the vacant No. 21 jersey, and not the 47 they've outfitted him in already. The other day Waldstein explored whether Jerry Manuel would consider changing his jersey number to 3 so as to mimic the Yankees' Joe Girardi and his pretentious switch from 27 to 28 this spring. As if Joe shouldn't really get to the point and change his jersey number to 208 million.

That piece sparked an even dumber post on the Bats blog where Jim Luttrell tries to zing the Mets by demonstrating he hasn't realized the 21-day disabled list is long since dead and once again raises the issue of retiring Mets jerseys (Harrelson?)

 

 

How About a Knuckle Sandwich

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.

Dennis Springer in '00: Get a Grip!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.

150 Days, But Who's Counting

Baseball is a very humbling game. Just saying, Joe. And you don't ask Shelly Duncan for his number, you take it while he's drunk.

With the offseason officially underway and the countdown to April 5 already begun, two future ex-Mets already filed for free agency and as far as I'm concerned can beat it. See you later, Carlos Delgado and Brian Schneider.

Delgado is obviously a terrific talent and really made the difference in 2006 but like way too many Omarian acquisitions his best days were behind him and he spent entirely too much time nursing injuries and maybe a few grudges as a Met. He made pretty clear in 2005 he didn't care to be here anyway. Schneider in the meantime might be one of the most overlooked busts the Mets have ever had. In any other year, his 2009 stinking-up-of-the-joint would make him the target of vicious fan abuse and a major concern in the offense. But amid all the other bad news and bad players, he just about got away with it. Schneider's 2008 was pretty rotten as well.

We'll see what the Mets have in mind regarding the potential replacements for these guys, but I wouldn't kill them for looking into what it might take to pry catcher Chris Iannetta from the Rockies. I tend to think the Mets might be best off holding their noses and getting Daniel Murphy a right-handed hitting platoonmate at first base while waiting to mix in promising prospect Ike Davis at first base. Garrett Atkins? Xavier Nady? Let's think on it.

 

 

Angel's in the Outfield

This team already has that quality of looking terrific when it wins and ghastly when it loses, which I guess is a good sign because it indicates an expectation of victory accompanies us most nights, and so managing my own moods as they proceed through a long season is going to be challenging at times.

What I like about this team however has been on display this weekend in San Francisco, where a guy who replaced Marlon Anderson on the bench can sub in, legitimately, at cleanup, while the choice of which guy to back up at first base or at short in a pinch isn't an automatic crippling. And where a rookie can go from capably filling in for Sean Green to capably replacing JJ Putz on consecutive nights. They're still a little too sloppy for my liking but what's not to like about beating up on Tim Lincecum, Randy Johnson and Brian Wilson: No slouches there.

As you probably noticed they've done it without Carlos Delgado who's going to be out for a long stretch, probably. They finally got around to disabling him today only to call the forgotten man, Angel Pagan, who last played for the Mets more than a year ago, and on Saturday was still wearing No. 16.

Someone Must Pay

Back in the 80s, when comedy was funny, the National Lampoon ran a recurring comic called Mr. Vengeance, written and illustrated by Buddy Hickerson, who today illustrates The Quigmans. This comic typically illustrated the title character suffering some minor misfortune in the opening panel, and devoted the rest of the comic to his hilarously violent overreactions to it, i.e.: “Sure enough, there is a blemish on his wax job. He decides to get EVEN!!” This comic was genius in that it made the same joke over and over again — varying only over the question of how mundane the slight, and how creatively violent the reaction, would be each episode. Mr. Vengeance would torture not only those “responsible” for his pain but, feeling rightous, anyone who’d done anything wrong. “Someone MUST pay,” was his credo.

I’m reminded of Mr. Vengeance today — and incredibly frustrated that I cannot locate a comic online* (”someone WILL pay!”) — as Marlon Anderson returns to the Mets tonight to debut against the club that recently released him, the Dodgers. May Marlon find rightousness in his revenge. May David Newhan take it out on AAA pitching: He’s the one DFAed to make room for Anderson. And may his remaining Met teammates take out their frustrations from the recently completed Padres series on the Dodgers.

That was NOT a nice way to lose a series and whatever momentum Tuesday’s win might have provided. And, really, shouldn’t be enough that Heath Bell has a good season in an important role with his new team? Is it necessary that he chase down anyone with a rolling tape recorder to detail all manner of abuses and excuses stemming from his time at Shea? To kick us when we’re down? Who does he think he is, Mr. Vengenance? To paraphrase another National Lampoon product of my childhood. “He can’t say that about us. Only WE can say those things about us!”

Well, as far I’m concerned the time has come to get mad. To take some revenge, even if it’s not on Heath Bell. To get EVEN!

It’s not clear what number Anderson will appear in tonight. Despite the ruminations below, one commenter thinks 23 is likely because 8 is still in mothballs, and it may very well be. Anderson wore 21 with the Dodgers earlier this year (not available here). Twenty-three happens to be available due to the relase of Julio Franco. Yesterday, he since signed with the Braves where he’s doubt planning some revenge.

*-Ironically the best I could do is find a site where a former collaborator of Hickerson’s takes his own revenge. If you can point out Mr. Vengeance online, or send a copy of a scanned comic here, I promise to leave you out of my next rampage.

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Pedro Out Again

Pedro Martinez hit the disabled list for the second time this year, and for the fourth time, the Mets have recalled Heath Bell from Norfolk, helping the Mets turn this into their worst road trip since the Boston debacle in late June. With Carlos Delgado 21 radically slumping, David Wright 5 transforming into a singles hitter, and Lastings Milledge 44 looking every bit the rookie he is, this could get worse before it gets better. And that's why God created 12-game leads.

Thanks to Met number genius Ed for pointing out the comment below on Jae Seo's "outrageous" No. 98 in Tampa had a precedent: Seo, Ed writes, wore 98 as a Met spring training hopeful in 1998.

Props also to the reader who pointed out our math below on Ed Kranepool's tenure in No. 7 was inaccurate: Krane was 21 for his first two seasons with the Mets, and so occupied 7 for 15 years, not 17.

Meet More Mets

Omar Minaya returned from the Winter Meetings with a new catcher, Paul LoDuca, acquired from the Marlins at full retail -- pitching prospect Gaby Hernandez, and minor-league outfielder Dante Brinkley. LoDuca is likely to dress in his familiar No. 16, vacated by 2004's disappointing first-base experiment, Doug Mientkiewicz.

In other moves, the Mets made official minor-league contracts and spring training invites for lefty Matt Perisho, formerly of the Marlins and Jose Valentin, the former Brewer and White Sock infielder most recently with the Dodgers. Valentin has worn No. 22 most often in his career, but was 10 last year. Both are theoretically available as both Royce Ring 22 and Shingo Takatsu 10 have been booted from the 40-man roster.

Finally, the Mets bolstered the bench by handing an astonishing two-year contract to elderly pinch-hitter Julio Franco, who is so old they need two baseball cards just list his stats. Should Franco survive until opening day, at 47 he'd become the oldest Met ever (Warren Spahn in 1965 held the old record, followed closely by John Franco, who were both 44). Julio-down-by-the-boneyard has played for 7 MLB teams (one twice) and in Mexico and Japan in a variety of uniforms. Over the last five years with the hated Braves, he wore No. 14, not available here. We'd suggest 47, but that belongs to Tom Glavine. (We're joking with all the old-guy cracks, by the way, and know we'll be sick of them before long. As long as he can still hit, we're happy to have him aboard!)

 


Delgado Takes 21

Delgado takes 21 (Nov. 28): In meeting the press and Willie Randolph today, newly acquired first baseman Carlos Delgado said goodbye to jersey No. 25, and his beard, both of which he can no longer wear. Taking No. 21 instead, Delgado explained that 25 belongs to Kaz Matsui, though MBTN suggests you don't spend all your Christmas money on a new Delgado jersey pending Matsui's survival of this winter's hot stove.

 

December 2004

You're Invited (Dec. 24): The Mets yesterday announced that nine players had been signed to minor league contracts and been invited to Spring Training. They include ancient slugger Andres Galarraga, who will turn 44 this summer -- younger than The Francos at least (thanks Paul). It's possible that the Big Cat makes the team, perhaps as the righthanded swinging half of a first base platoon, but he won't be wearing his familiar No. 14 here. That's retired.

Rehabbing Met bullpen veterans Grant Roberts 36 (photo at right by David Whitham); Scott Strickland 28 and Orber Moreno 49 were also retained with minor league contracts, as was outfielder Gerald Williams 21. Bringing back Williams would seem more pointless than usual, but for the news that Mike Cameron 44 is having surgery and will likely miss the first month of the year.

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