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Let's go Matz!

My friend Greg sent me some assorted Florida State League souvenirs this week… some baseballs, ticket stubs, and a pair of baseball cards from the 2014 Florida State League Top Prospects set.

Brandon Nimmo and Steven Matz's baseball cards from the 2014 Florida State League Prospects set
Brandon Nimmo and Steven Matz’s baseball cards from the 2014 Florida State League Prospects set

Each Florida State League team had a pair of prospects featured. Outfielder Brandon Nimmo and pitcher Steven Matz represented the Mets organization. Nimmo is a name we might talk about in Feburary and March if the Mets don’t re-sign Yoenis Cespedes this winter. Otherwise, it’s hard to see how he could fit into the major league outfield picture before next September.

Matz, on the other hand, is already an important part of the New York Mets roster. Tonight, he’s going to face the Cincinnati Reds as the Mets start their final road trip. Coming off a 3-6 homestand that was their first losing one of the season, the Mets badly need a good performance from Matz (and the rest of the team.)

Fortunately, the Nationals weren’t able to take too much advantage of those recent Mets losses. And the Dodgers have been playing .500 baseball over their last ten games, so the Mets still have a real shot at home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

Nimmo’s caught in an awkward lunge for a ball in his baseball card photo… it’s a break from the posed shots and the standard “action” photos of batters in their stance and pitchers in their set positions that we see on a lot of minor league baseball cards. But it’s also a reminder of how many action shots can make baseball players look goofy.

Matz’s photo is a wonderful glimpse of the world of minor league baseball. If you’ve only been to major league games, it’s probably hard to imagine all those empty seats at the field level of a ballpark. But particularly on school nights in April, May and September, you will see a lot of empty seats at minor league games… even the ones in those first few rows. And it’s really fascinating to be able to hear the umpires make their calls and the bench jockeying that goes on when players and coaches don’t like them.

The St. Lucie Mets uniforms also give you an idea of what New York Mets uniforms could look like if the team decided to make more use of orange. It’s a distinctive look for the farm team, but I’m glad the Mets have mostly stuck with tradition (outside of the turn of the century black uniforms.)

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Minor League Monday: 2008 St. Lucie Mets 20th Anniversary SGA set

Edgard-Alfonzo
Edgardo Alfonzo’s baseball card from the 2008 St. Lucie Mets 20th Anniversary stadium giveaway set

In 2008, the St. Lucie Mets produced and distributed one of the most difficult-to-complete minor league baseball card sets of recent years.

To celebrate their 20th anniversary, they created a 70-card set featuring players and managers from throughout their history. They gave away one card at each home game during the 2008 season to the first 500 fans to enter the ballpark.

Needless to say, I don’t have a complete set. I didn’t even know that it existed until Sunday, when I found the Edgardo Alfonzo card at the monthly sports cards show in Rahway, New Jersey.

I’d be interested if anyone can point me in the direction of more information about the set: a full checklist, scans of other cards or where I might be able to acquire some of the other cards. Email PaulsRandomStuff@verizon.net or leave a comment below.

Edgard-Alfonzo-back
The back of Edgardo Alfonzo’s card in the 2008 St. Lucie Mets 20th Anniversary set

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Minor League Mondays: 1998 St. Lucie Mets

Today we continue our (semi-) regular Minor League Mondays feature with a look at the 1998 Florida State League Champion St. Lucie Mets’ team set.

The St. Lucie Mets have been the Single-A affiliate of the New York Mets since 1988, their first year of existence. They play their home games at the Mets’ spring training complex in Port St. Lucie, Fla. In 1998, manager Howie Freiling led the St. Lucie Mets to a 76-66 record and their third league title.

Notable players who were part of the 1998 St. Lucie Mets included Jae Weong Seo, Jason Tyner and Grant Roberts. Two New York Mets catchers, Todd Hundley and Todd Pratt, played for the St. Lucie team, presumably as part of rehab assignments. Infielder Melvin Mora also played briefly in St. Lucie after being signed by the Mets as a minor league free agent that summer.

Multi-Ad Sports produced a 30-card team set for the St. Lucie Mets. The fronts featured posed portrait photos printed in color on thin, non-gloss card stock. The backs are in black and white and include stats (where applicable) and some biographical information.

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Weekend autograph collection additions

I don’t really want to talk about the Mets’ 10-6 loss to the Cubs that kept me up too late last night, or the cap controversy that was dominating my Twitter timeline when I checked in before the game.

I will congratulate the Staten Island Yankees (who defeated the Brooklyn Cyclones this weekend to advance to the finals in the New York Penn League playoffs) and the Daytona Cubs (who swept the St. Lucie Mets to win the Florida State League championship), but I don’t really want to talk about them, either. At least the Savannah Sand Gnats are still trying to win a minor league title – their South Atlantic League championship series against the Greensboro Grasshoppers is scheduled to begin tonight.

So instead, let’s take a look at the autographs I got this weekend:

Daniel Ray Herrera signed Autograph Card

At 5-foot-6, Daniel Ray Herrera doesn’t really look like a major league pitcher, but he’s done the job when the Mets have called on him since his acquisition as one of the players to be named later in the Francisco Rodriguez trade. This is one of three autographs I got inside Citi Field before the Mets’ game on Saturday.

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About Last Night: Braves Sweep Mets; St. Lucie Wins Division Title

The New York Mets had a chance to affect a playoff race last night. Atlanta had been swept by the Philadelphia Phillies this week; if the Mets had sent the Braves on to St. Louis with a couple more losses, the Cardinals would have had a chance to climb back into the wild card race.

It was not to be.

Chris Schwinden made his major league debut in game one of yesterday’s doubleheader, but it was not an especially impressive one. He allowed three runs in the first inning. Then after Jason Bay hit a grand slam to get him off the hook, Schwinden gave up two more runs. He became the first Mets pitcher to get tagged with a loss in his major league debut since Aaron Heilman in 2003.

The Mets dropped game two as well. Dillon Gee pitched better than he has recently, but the game only served to show how big the talent gap is between the Mets and the top teams in the National League East.

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About last night

R.A. Dickey (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

The New York Mets beat the Florida Marlins in their final meeting at Sun Life Stadium last night. R.A. Dickey, Josh Stinson and Manny Acosta combined on a five-hit shutout as the Mets won 1-0.

It’s clear that Dickey is the best pitcher in the Mets rotation at this point, but he didn’t face a star-studded lineup. Hanley Ramirez is on the disabled list, Mike Stanton is limited to pinch-hitting duty by a leg injury… even recent Met killer Greg Dobbs was on the bench. Meanwhile, the Mets hitters could do little with Brad Hand. The Mets need more talented players, but aside from getting Ike Davis back next year I couldn’t tell you where they’re going to get them.

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A pair of very different Mets victories

The New York Mets won a marathon 12-innning, 4 hours and 29 minute 7-4 victory against the Florida Marlins last night. Three times, Nick Evans drove in the go-ahead run. Manny Acosta and Bobby Parnell blew the leads that they were handed. Rookie Josh Stinson did not.

2008 Topps Red Hot Rookies Nick Evans card from my collection

This was not a game destined for Mets Classics. Mets and Marlins pitchers combined to walk 18 batters and the two teams left 31 runners on base. Still, if I’m going to be foolish enough to stay up until 1 a.m. watching Mets baseball, I’m happy I got to see a win.

It does sound like Terry Collins has seen enough of Parnell the “closer,” though there are not many other good options on the current roster. I’d stick it out for the next three weeks, but Sandy Alderson is going to have to look outside the organization for a 2012 solution.

The St. Lucie Mets won the first game of their Florida State League playoff series with the Bradenton Marauaders in much quicker fashion last night, taking just 2 hours and 19 minutes for their 4-2 victory. St. Lucie Mets starter Darin Gorski allowed just 2 runs over 7 innings while striking out 6, but he came out of the game trailing 2-1.

Centerfielder Cesar Puello scored the tying run when catcher Francisco Pena hit into a double play in the 7th, and second baseman Jose Coronado drove in the winning runs with a 9th inning double. Coronado, third baseman Jefry Marte and rightfielder Cory Vaughn each had two hits.

Continue reading “A pair of very different Mets victories”