The latest issue of Baseball America features the Opening Day rosters for every club (major and minor-league) that began play in April, making it a perfect resource for tracking down those who have strayed from the Met fold.
I'm not talking so much about the big leagues: We've accepted that Todd Pratt is a Brave, noticed that Danny Graves is an Indian, shook our heads to imagine Ty Wigginton as a Devil Ray and grimaced (mildly) to find Kelly Stinnett a Yankee. (Though I'd missed that Roberto Petagine is a Mariner and think there's something ridiculous about Jason Phillips as a Blue Jay.) What really interests me is running a finger down the agate type and finding familiar names on AAA rosters, or even AA squads — old vets still holding on, fourth outfielders who came in fifth, drinkers of cups of coffee hoping for a refill, and so on. Ex-Mets all, still playing ball, still waiting for one more chance. (Which they may not get: Witness the quietly tragic career of Blaine Beatty.)
Let's call the roll, with a little help from Ultimate Mets Database.
Esix Snead, prover of the truism that you can't steal first base and owner of one unexpected, excellent home run, now toils for the Ottawa Lynx, earning a Baltimore Orioles paycheck.
Matt Ginter, whose departure paved the way for the arrival of Kaz Ishii, is now a Pawtucket Red Sock.
Brian Buchanan, one of the more-pointless Met pickups of recent years, is still around, playing for the Louisville Bats and dreaming of being a Cincinnati Red. (Which is somehow a nice dream so far this year.)
Brace yourself for this one: Someone is paying Felix Heredia. Fortunately, it's the Cleveland Indians, who assigned him to the Buffalo Bisons.
Jaime Cerda, who broke in as an unlikely Yankee slayer, is now getting used to breaking stuff that doesn't break as a Colorado Springs Sky Sock. Send him $5 and maybe he'll drill teammate J.D. Closser during BP.
This one is not a typo: Bobby M. Jones is in Double-A, pitching for the Erie Seawolves. That's the Tigers' system. And that's incredible.
Sure, the Florida Marlins have a bunch of our young players. But they also have some not-so-young ex-Mets: Momentary third-string catcher Tom Wilson, anonymous outfielder Mark Little and Mike Kinkade, he of the not-proud-to-a-fault home-run sprints, are all at AAA. (For some reason the Marlins' AAA team is now the Albuquerque Isotopes. That's convenient.)
Joe McEwing's grit and guts and other intangibles are now on display in east Texas: Super Joe is making his latest stopover on the way to a long career as a beloved coach and manager with the Round Rock Express, the Astros' AAA squad.
The Mets once took a gamble on speedy Jeff Duncan. Now it's the Dodgers' turn: He's a Las Vegas Sun. Craig Brazell, meanwhile, is back in AA. Ouch. I doubt that being told that the Jacksonville Suns have a link to Met history would be much comfort.
Jason Tyner is now a Rochester Red Wing. The Red Wings are now the Twins' AAA team, which is ludicrous. Shouldn't they be renamed the Triplets or something?
Matt Watson, who was only a Cyclone because we were cheating and only a Met because we were desperate, is a Sacramento River Cat (that's the Athletics' AAA team), alongside Moneyball star Jeremy Brown.
Watch out, Clippers! Here come the Indianapolis Indians, whose roster of proto-Pirates includes C.J. Nitkowski, Scott Strickland and Raul Gonzalez — yeah, that Raul Gonzalez. And clinging to baseball life with the AA Altoona Curve is Met-for-a-minute Jason Roach.
Stuck behind some fella named Pujols on the Cardinals' depth chart is Memphis Redbird Brian Daubach. He's now a teammate of Prentice Redman, whose extended family hates us twice as much as they used to.
Whatever happened to Ricky Gutierrez? He's a Portland Beaver, which means he's already tired of opposing fans' funny comments. One of his teammates in Portland is the plucky, ultimately luckless Eric Valent.
Sticking with the Northwest, Kevin Appier apparently isn't done: He's listed as a member of the 2006 Tacoma Rainiers. Wonder if their scoreboard displays an INSANE APE graphic when he strikes somebody out.
We don't have James Baldwin to kick around anymore, but International League hitters do: He's a member of the Syracuse Skychiefs, Toronto's AAA team.
Alberto Castillo remains in the game, donning the tools of ignorance for the New Orleans Zephyrs, the Nationals' AAA club. I hope he still daydreams about beating the Phillies late one 80-degree afternoon in March, because we were there and it was nice. Laissez les bons temps roulez, Bambi!
Oh, and Jose Valentin is now toiling for the Single-A Lake Elsinore…oh, wait. No, he's right where we left him. Rats.