Posted in Baseball, Uncategorized

Two former Mets turn the page on MLB careers

Two former New York Mets players retired this week, bringing an end to solid, if only occasionally spectacular, careers.

Signed Heath Bell baseball card from my collection
Signed Heath Bell baseball card from my collection

Heath Bell, 37, was in camp with the Washington Nationals this spring. He walked five and gave up seven hits while allowing four earned runs in 6.1 innings in Grapefruit League competition, and was not expected to earn a spot in the Nationals’ bullpen.

For the three-year period between 2009 and 2011, Bell was an All-Star closer for the San Diego Padres. He led the National League with 42 saves in 2009.

I’ll remember Bell for two things: first, his entrance to the 2011 All-Star Game.

Second, for signing autographs for fans at nearly every Mets game I went to at Shea Stadium in 2005. Continue reading “Two former Mets turn the page on MLB careers”

Bell not quite untradable, Red Sox get their manager & other weekend news items

Yesterday, four teams took advantage of the NLCS day off to announce significant moves.

Signed Heath Bell baseball card from my collection
Signed Heath Bell baseball card from my collection

The Miami Marlins unloaded disappointing former closer Heath Bell on the Arizona Diamondbacks and only had to pick up $8 million of the $21 million owed to him over the next two years, according to MLB Trade Rumors.

Aside from the $13 million salary relief and the removal of a potential clubhouse distraction, Miami also receives minor league infielder Yordy Cabrera from the Oakland Athletics. The disappointing minor league stats of the 22-year-old 2010 second round draft pick suggest he’s not too likely to make it to Miami, though.

The three-team deal also sent disappointing outfielder Chris Young from Arizona to Oakland, and infielder Cliff Pennington from Oakland to Arizona.

While some Mets fans might see this as a missed opportunity to acquire a power-hitting outfielder, I don’t think Young was a particularly good fit. His 2012 on-base percentage was actually worse than Andres Torres‘ and his last good season came in 2010.

More damning, he will make $8.5 million in 2013 and has a $1.5 million buyout on an $11 million club option for 2014. That’s a lot of money to commit to a “project,” especially for a team that doesn’t have a lot of payroll flexibility.

What’s encouraging is that the Marlins were able to rid themselves of an expensive problem – and if they can, maybe the Mets can too.

Meanwhile, in Boston, the Red Sox announced that John Farrell will be their next manager. I think everybody had the sense that Boston wanted him to succeed Terry Francona. Let’s see if he can do what Bobby Valentine could not and turn the Red Sox into a good team again. It would certainly make all of those four-hour Yankee-Red Sox games a lot more watchable.

And with the Yankees season over, we’re starting to find out more about medical issues surrounding their aging stars. Derek Jeter had surgery on his broken left ankle Saturday, but he’s expected to be ready for Opening Day. We’re also learning that CC Sabathia may have bone spurs that could also require surgery.

And according to the New York Times’ David Waldstein,

The Yankees are also expected to conduct examinations on Alex Rodriguez’s hip, which was surgically repaired in 2009, Curtis Granderson’s eyes and Mark Teixeira’s calf.

I’m just surprised they didn’t find some medical issue to explain Robinson Cano‘s poor ALCS performance, too.

Ryota Igarashi, before a New York Mets game in 2010 (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
Former New York Mets relief pitcher Ryota Igarashi, seen here in a photo from 2010, may return to Japan in 2013 (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

Finally, a pair of former Japanese stars may be returning to the NPB in 2013. The Hanshin Tigers have interest in former Chicago Cubs outfielder Kosuke Fukudome and former Mets reliever Ryota Igarashi, according to YakyuBaka. Neither player was able to replicate their NPB success in Major League Baseball, but I enjoyed watching them and wish them well.

Posted in Autographs, Baseball, Uncategorized

Some Marlins autographs as the Mets get ready to face the fish…

The New York Mets will play their first game at the Miami Marlins new ballpark tonight.

Perhaps fittingly, I got a surprise package from my friend Greg yesterday containing a few things that he’d gotten signed during spring training this year.

A Miami Marlins spring training program signed by Hanley Ramirez, Logan Morrison, Heath Bell and John Buck

Continue reading “Some Marlins autographs as the Mets get ready to face the fish…”

Posted in Uncategorized

About last night: Improbable win offers a Mets’ debut & a minor milestone

Mike Baxter
Mike Baxter played for the Ft. Wayne Wizards in 2005 (Photo credit: mwlguide)

When Mike Baxter became the 911th player in Mets’ history, it seemed like it would be the highlight of an otherwise disappointing game. Baxter grew up in Whitestone and actually got to play at Shea Stadium in 2002 in a high school championship game. His family still lives in the area, and it looked like most of them made it out to last night’s game, despite the short notice.

Baxter was called on to pinch hit for Ryota Igarashi in the bottom of the eighth inning, after Igarashi gave the Padres a four-run lead in the top half of the frame. With runners on first and second base, Baxter hit the first pitch he saw out into left field. It grazed the top of Kyle Blanks‘ glove and went over the left fielder’s head for an RBI double, starting the Mets’ comeback.

Lucas Duda got the big hit off Heath Bell in the ninth inning that earned him a post-game whipped cream pie-in-the-face during his on-field interview, but Baxter’s eighth inning hit was every bit as important.

Not to be overlooked, Jason Bay hit his 200th career home run, becoming only the third Canadian player to reach that mark. Since the beginning of August, Bay is batting .421 (8-for-19) with a double and a pair of home runs. Yes, it’s a small sample size, but I still want to believe it’s a sign that he’s turning things around.

Maybe last night’s game won’t be featured on Mets Classics, but it turned out to be pretty fun to watch.

Posted in Autographs, Baseball Cards, Uncategorized

Jerry Manuel, and other spring training autographs

2008 Topps Mets Jerry Manuel
2008 Topps Mets Jerry Manuel

After a couple days of junk mail filling the mailbox, I got three more envelopes from Florida and my first two from Arizona today.

The highlight was this Jerry Manuel card, signed in silver Sharpie.

It’s from the Mets gift set that Topps put out last year that included cards for the coaches and some bench players that were left out of the regular set. (I hope that Topps brings back the concept for 2009, but I wish they’d leave out the autograph and lower the price back to $19.99.)

Manuel did a good job handling the mess he inherited last year and I’m very interested to see how things go this year when he starts with a clean slate.

Continue reading “Jerry Manuel, and other spring training autographs”