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They Went That-A-Way

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 [1] of Blaine Beatty.)

Let's call the roll, with a little help from Ultimate Mets Database.

Esix Snead [2], 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 [3], whose departure paved the way for the arrival of Kaz Ishii, is now a Pawtucket Red Sock.

Hideo Nomo [4] yet lives, toiling for the Charlotte Knights in the White Sox' organization. And one of his teammates is Jorge Velandia [5].

Brian Buchanan [6], 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 [7]. Fortunately, it's the Cleveland Indians, who assigned him to the Buffalo Bisons.

Jaime Cerda [8], 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 [9] 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 [10], anonymous outfielder Mark Little [11] and Mike Kinkade [12], 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 [13]'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 [14]. Now it's the Dodgers' turn: He's a Las Vegas Sun. Craig Brazell [15], 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 [16] 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?

You'd think the Yankees had a crush on us: The Columbus Clippers' roster includes pot-averse Mark Corey [17], human action figure Scott Erickson [18] and first-Cyclone-in-the-Show Danny Garcia [19].

Matt Watson [20], 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 [21], Scott Strickland [22] and Raul Gonzalez [23] — yeah, that Raul Gonzalez. And clinging to baseball life with the AA Altoona Curve is Met-for-a-minute Jason Roach [24].

Stuck behind some fella named Pujols on the Cardinals' depth chart is Memphis Redbird Brian Daubach [25]. He's now a teammate of Prentice Redman [26], whose extended family hates us twice as much as they used to.

Whatever happened to Ricky Gutierrez [27]? 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 [28].

Sticking with the Northwest, Kevin Appier [29] 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 [30] to kick around anymore, but International League hitters do: He's a member of the Syracuse Skychiefs, Toronto's AAA team.

Alberto Castillo [31] 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 [32]. Laissez les bons temps roulez, Bambi!

Oh, and Jose Valentin [33] is now toiling for the Single-A Lake Elsinore…oh, wait. No, he's right where we left him. Rats.