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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

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As You Were


The photo above of the Bobbsey Twins (Bob "Righty" Miller and Bob "Lefty" Miller) comes from our friend Paul, who noted it was a wire photo dated May 8, 1962.The Mets were at Wrigley Field that day, as the scoreboard in the background should give away, and we won -- a momentus occasion indeed.

One interesting fact that photo unfortunately doesn't show is that on that day, the uniform Lefty Miller is wearing was No. 23 -- and not the No.36 he'd be dressed in once he appeared in a Mets game. That's because although Lefty Miller was obviously with the club -- he'd only just been traded for two days before, from the Reds for Don Zimmer -- by the time the Mets returned from this roadtrip Miller was assigned to the minors and Joe Christopher called up: He'd be wearing No. 23 when Miller returned.

The other gentleman in the photo -- like the newest Met, Gary Matthews Jr. -- is notable for having been one of 35 men who've played for the Mets, then someone else, then the Mets again. Few have made their second go-round significantly better than their first, but Bob Miller did, and we may as well hope Matthews can. Behold the list:

Player                                    1st Tour                2nd Tour                Number(s)
Frank Lary                             1964                      1965                      17
Al Jackson                             1962-65                 1968-69                 15/38
Jim Gosger                             1969                      1973-74                 18/19, 5
Bob L. Miller                         1962                      1973-74                 24/30
Ray Sadecki                          1970-74                 1977                      33
Tim Foli                                  1970-71                 1978-79                 19
Mike Jorgensen                      1970-71                 1980-83                 16/22
Dave Kingman                       1975-77                 1981-83                 26
Rusty Staub                           1972-75                 1981-85                 4, 10/10
Tom Seaver                           1967-77                 1983                      41
Bill Almon                              1980                      1987                      25/2
Lee Mazzilli                            1976-81                 1986-89                 12, 16/13
Clint Hurdle                           1983, 1985             1987                      33/13/7
Alex Trevino                          1978-81                 1990                      29/6
Hubie Brooks                        1980-84                 1991                      62, 39, 7/7
Jeff McKnight                        1989                      1992-94                 15/5, 7, 17, 18
Kevin McReynolds                  1987-91                 1994                      22
Greg McMichael                    1997-98                 1998-99                 36
Bobby Bonilla                        1992-95                 1999                      25
Josias Manzanillo                   1993-95                 1999                      39
Jeff Tam                                 1998                      1999                      38, 36/36
Bill Pulsipher                          1995, 1998             2000                      21/25
Lenny Harris                          1998                      2000-01                 19
Pete Walker                           1995                      2001-02                 49/43
Roger Cedeno                       1999                      2002-03                 19
Jeromy Burnitz                       1993-94                 2002-03                 5/20
Tsuyoshi Shinjo                      2001                      2003                      5
David Cone                           1987-92                 2003                      44, 17/16
Todd Zeile                             2000-01                 2004                      9/27
Roberto Hernandez                2005                      2006                      39/49, 39
Kelly Stinnett                         1994-95                 2006                      33/36
Marlon Anderson                   2005                      2007                      18/23
Brady Clark                           2002                      2008                      15/44
Anderson Hernandez              2005-07                2009                      1, 4/11 
 

 

Know Your Millers

Meet Bob Miller and Bob Miller.

They weren't related but shared a name and a Polo Grounds locker room for the 1962 Mets, becoming one of the mildly amusing sidelights in that sadly comic debut season.

 

That's Robert Lane Miller on the left. He came to the Mets in the expansion draft from St. Louis, where he was a 1957 Bonus Baby and though unproven at the major league level, was just 23 with a promising right arm. Observers of the '62 squad would say Bob L. Miller (No. 24 in your scorecards) had some of the best "stuff" on staff, but they also felt he hadn't handled adversity well despite getting his share of it with a 1-12 record. He was traded after the season to the Dodgers and quietly began building a solid resume as a relief pitcher. Miller wound up pitching for 17 seasons for 11 different teams -- including the Mets again in 1973 and '74, when he suited up in No. 30. In retirement Miller became the first pitching coach in the history of the Toronto Blue Jays, and was a scout for the Giants when he was killed in an auto accident in 1993.

His roundfaced teammate to the right was Robert Gerald Miller, also a former Bonus Baby (Detroit, 1953) but a lefthanded minor-league journeyman when acquired by the '62 Mets in midseason.Bob G. pitched exclusively in relief for the '62 Mets, including five times in relief of Bob L. Miller, racking up a 2-2 record but a 7.08 earned-run average that year, wearing No. 36. He was released shortly after the season and never pitched in the majors again, but confessed to reporters he was often mistaken for his more accomplished teammate.

BIG thanks to longtime MBTN supporter Ed A. for providing the cards (he sent along even more cool stuff we'll get to). And stay tuned for ruminations on the Bobby Joneses, Pedro Martinezes and Mike Marshalls.

More From Japan

My query as to the significance of the No. 18 jersey in Japan got a little more clarification from Daigo F. of the SABR Asian Baseball Committee. Take it away, Daigo:

When I read the question, first answer that poped in my head, speaking
from my personal experience growing up in Japan, was that its because
Yomiuri Giants 18 has always been "Ace's number". But funny thing is
when I looked it up, in my lifetime only two Yomiuri Pitchers has worn
18, Tsuneo Horiuchi from 1967-86 and Masumi Kuwata (also played for
Pittsburgh Pirates) from 1986-2006.

Horiuchi no doubt was a great pitcher, and Kuwata for the most part,
too. Horiuchi is in Japanese Hall of Fame and won bunch of Sawamura
awards and MVPs
.

Other significant pitchers that I can think of who wore 18 are:
Victor Starffin, Motoshi Fujita (both Yomiuri Giants), Tetsuya Yoneda
(Hankyu Braves), Hideki Irabu (Lotte- Yankees) and Daisuke Matsuzaka
(Seibu Lions).

Masahiro "Ma-kun" Tanaka, of the Golden Eagles; and Hideaki Wakui of the Seibu Lions (who said I am not worthy of Daisuke's 18 at first and wore 16 for a while) wear 18 now, that I can think of off top of my head. Both are considered aces.

On the side note, I grew up rooting for Chunichi Dragons and their
ace's number has always been 20, and my friend told me for Yakult
Swallows (Igarasghi's team), ace's number has aways been 17. So I
guess in that regard, you can't say 18 is Japan's ace number entirely
- but because of popularity of Yomiuri Giants, it could be argued.

Also undoubtedly, in high school ace's number is 1, across the board
(I don't think anyone would argue that in Japan). Interesting that Yu
Darvish is wearing 11, too.

Anyway, big thanks to Daigo and a shout out to his squad, the Chunichi Dragons. To the extent I have a rooting interest in Japan, I like them in the Central League and Nippon Ham in the Pacific, of course. I certainly was rooting for the Chiba Lotte Marines during Bobby Valentine's tenure, but reading about the reprehensible treatment at the hands of management goons during his final year, they've lost any support from me. As the sign said, "What An Unforgivable Disgrace."

And not for nothing but it puts this whole Beltran tempest in some perspective. I have to think that the Mets felt betrayed at some level by Beltran/Boras, but they had to know that picking a fight with them was bound to fail too. In any event, everyone ought to do a better job containing their despair and anger at losing an injured guy for a month or two at the beginning of the year.

Still Swinging

All Met fans ought to spend a half-hour with this recent interview of old No. 7, Ed Kranepool, published at Jimmy Scott's High & Tight. He talks about the end of his career and the doomed attempt to buy the club in 1979; he absolutely unloads on former GM Joe McDonald while speaking well of chairman Donald Grant; andprovides his take on former colleagues and teammates from Seaver to Swan.

Great job, Jimmy!

One Of Our Submarines

Bazooka Joe SmithIt may not ever come to anything but happened to notice when the Mets today moved to claim lefthanded pitcher Jay Marshall off waivers from the Athletics. Marshall, a true submariner in the Chad Bradford style, continues a trend among Omar Minaya's Mets teams to include or at least invite a few trick pitchers to camp each year. Marshall this spring will join the lefty-righty siderarm tandem of Pedro Feliciano and Sean Green (and another candidate with an unusual offering, knuckleballer R.A. Dickey). There was Joe Smith and Bradford before that, and guys like Steve Schmoll and Shingo Takatsu were given a shot.

Is this a good thing? I'm not entirely sure. While Feliciano has become one of the Mets' best weapons vs. rival lefty sluggers and Green and Smith often got grounders when they needed them I'd prefer sometimes they could achieve these successes without also tempting the Mets to try and solve all their problems with matchups and specialists. It can grind games to a halt, for one thing, and all seems so delicate: One specialist springs a leak, and suddenly the whole ship is sinking. We've seen it before.

On the other hand, sidearmers are fun to watch when they're going well and the Mets' desire to bring these creatures in house indicates some evidence they have a plan, and I like that kind of reassurance.

Innis in the Morning 

At any rate, surely we're in a Golden Age for Met sideslingers. I barely remember a one from my childhood when guys like Kent Tekulve, Elias Sosa and Dan Quisenberry were someone else's property. David Cone was known to get sideways occasionally, and Jeff Innis was a durable middle-inning submariner for a long stretch, -- and there was Jesse --but I'm going blank after that, although I'm sure I'm overlooking a few. Little help?

 

Hall Monitor

As much as I hated his two years with the Mets (and vice versa I'm sure) I take no pleasure in knowing that baseball writers denied Smilin' Robbie Alomar election to the Hall of Fame. Alomar's shortfall was one of a half-dozen disappointments the voters delivered today and another blow to the dignity of the Hall of Fame -- an institution that's become harder and harder to take seriously every year.

Andre Dawson -- a borderline guy but a feared hitter with counting-stat bonafides -- got in while Tim Raines, Bert Blyleven, Alan Trammell, Barry Larkin and Edgar Martinez ought to have but didn't. As for Alomar, he was a no-brainer even before he arrived with the Mets and his skills summarily went down the toilet. It's easy to forget his attitiude never won raves even when he was playing well and that his skills never returned even after the Mets cut him loose.

* * *

I got citation from the Police the other day -- The Mets Police.

* * *

A MLB.com story mentioned that Jason Bay chose 44 as a tribute to a boyhood idol, Eric Davis. Now there's a guy whose route to the Hall of Fame took a sudden wrong turn.

 

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.

Coste-Benefit Analysis

Ouch. The Mets officially got their off-season work underway this week by re-signing veteran Alex Cora and giving free agent catcher Chris Coste a split contract and a shot at the 2010 Mets. In the meantime they saw their own catcher, Brian Schneider, sign with the Phillies, accepting the backup job he probably should have had here all this time.

Cora, it is to be assumed, will step right back into the same No. 3 jersey he wore last season, when unexpected and especially slow-healing injuries to starting shortstop Jose Reyes thrust Cora into a full-time role he was never physically up to. Playing with one and then two sprained thumbs was admirable and gritty, but it didn't do much to help the Mets win, which raises the question why the Mets would expect a different outcome should Reyes get hurt again. Is he even healed yet? Who knows.

The Schneid and Cute Wifey Jordan in better times.Looks doubtful from here that Coste comes out of his Mets experience with fodder for another inspiring true-life bestseller, but with a decent right-handed bat and some experience playing first base, it's not out of the realm of possiblity he helps some in 2010. At worst he could be the 2010 Robinson Cancel; much may depend on who winds up with the starting assignment behind the dish: Henry Blanco? Bengie Molina? I'd prefer a trade.

Coste wore 27 with the Phillies (and 41 more recently in Houston) but with Schneider shedding 23, he might slide in there. I've always felt Schneider never got enough credit for playing as poorly as he did for the Mets -- his defense was less than advertised and his bat was nonexistent but for stretches of both his years here -- but news accompanying his signing with the Phillies that he grew up a Phillies fan I'm sure will bring the boo-birds out upon his next visit to CitiField.

Murder By Numbers

The Mets today said that bitching about changes to the 2010 uniforms will begin in December, later than originally scheduled, but timed to coincide with the period during which fans will bitch about the players acquired to wear them, so it will all work out.

 

With that in mind, the following chart may help you navigate the upcoming shopping season, with a selection of free agents and potential tredees mentioned in recent rumors and speculation, their most recent uni number, and our analysis of the chances they maintain it with the Mets.

Apologies for the ugly chart. They don't pay me enough here to fix it.

 

Rumored Guy     Current Team    Uni No.     Available?     Notes

 

Joel Pineiro        St. Louis   35    Sorta     Technically belongs to Lance Broadway

Brandon Phillips Cincinnati   4     Yes       Wilson Valdez not on the 40

Aaron Harang     Cincinnati   39   No         Bobby Parnell could switch

Matt Holliday     St. Louis     5/15 Neither  Wright and Beltran won’t switch

Jason Bay         Boston       44   Sort of    Tim Redding cannot make demands

John Lackey     Anaheim     41    Nope     Don’t ask

Ryan Doumit     Pittsburgh   41   No         See Above

Randy Wolf       Los Angeles 21 Yes         Delgado won’t return

Jason Marquis  Colorado 21 Yes         See above

Roy Halladay     Toronto     32   Yes         Unissued in 2009

Benji Molina     San Francisco 1 No         For now; Castillo is rumored to go

 

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.

 

 

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