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Jason Fry and Greg Prince
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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Welcome, THB Class of 2007

Welcome to the third annual rundown of players who made their Met debuts in the now-completed season, brought to you by baseball cards and obsessiveness.

A brief review, that the initiated can skip (provided they haven’t skedaddled already): I have a pair of binders, dubbed The Holy Books (THB) by Greg, that contain a baseball card for every Met on the all-time roster. They’re ordered by year, with a card for each player who made his Met debut that year: Tom Seaver is Class of ’67, Mike Piazza is Class of ’98, Jose Reyes is Class of ’03, etc. There are extra pages for the rosters of the two World Series winners, including managers, and for the 1961 Expansion Draft, with the latter including the infamous Lee Walls, the only THB resident who neither played for nor managed the Mets.

When a player has a Topps card as a Met, I use that unless it’s truly horrible — Topps has been around a decade longer than the Mets, so they get to be the card of record. No Met Topps card? Then I look for a Tides card, a non-Topps Met card (Upper Deck has a soft spot for roster-fillers, which is good for THB), a Topps non-Met card, or anything.

Topps had a baseball-card monopoly until 1981, and minor-league cards only really began in the mid-1970s, so cup-of-coffee guys from before ’75 or so are a problem. Companies like TCMA and Renata Galasso made odd sets with players from the 1960s — the likes of Jim Bethke, Bob Moorhead and Dave Eilers are immortalized through their efforts. And a card dealer named Larry Fritsch put out sets of “One Year Winners” spotlighting blink-and-you-missed-them guys such as Ted Schreiber and Joe Moock.

Then there are the legendary Lost Nine — guys who never got a regulation-sized, acceptable card from anybody. (Brian Ostrosser got a 1975 minor-league card that looks like a bad Xerox. Leon Brown has a terrible 1975 minor-league card and an oversized Omaha Royals card put out as a promotional set by the police department. Tommy Moore got a 1990 Senior League card as a 42-year-old with the Bradenton Explorers.Then there are Al Schmelz, Francisco Estrada, Lute Barnes, Bob Rauch, Greg Harts and Rich Puig, who have no cards whatsoever — the oddball 1991 Nobody Beats the Wiz set is too undersized to work. Best as I can tell, Al Schmelz never even had a decent color photograph taken while wearing his Met uniform. (I’ve stopped writing him to ask about it, for fear he’ll have a restraining order slapped on me.) Anyway, the Lost Nine are represented in THB by fake cards Photoshopped together out of scrounged yearbook photos.

I’m not too worried about a 10th Lost Met — today it’s rare to sign a pro contract and not wind up on a card somewhere. In fact, the THB Class of 2007 has only one player not pictured in the uniform of the Mets or a minor-league affiliate. During the season I scrutinize new card sets in hopes of finding a) better cards of established Mets; b) cards to stockpile for prospects who might make the Show; and most importantly c) a card for each new big-league Met. At season’s end, the new guys get added to the binders, to be studied now and then until February. When it’s time to pull old Topps cards of the spring-training invitees and start the cycle again.

The Topps Updates and Highlights set arrived today, so it’s time to unveil the Class of 2007, in order of matriculation (follow along with the giant photo if you wish)….

Moises Alou — With Alou a free-agent signee, Topps had plenty of time to Photoshop him into Met togs. The Topps 2007 cards are black, resembling upside-down 1986s, which in turn looked like 1971s, which led me to recall just how horrific cards of new acquisitions were before desktop publishing. A 1971 Felipe Alou Met card would have either featured a hatless head shot or an A’s cap painted over in semi-Met colors, vaguely atop Felipe’s head. Moises’ 2007 card has his Giants uniform transformed into a very good likeness of a Mets away uni, with convincing angles and color tweaks and everything. I’d predict Moises’ 2008 Topps card will feature a real shot of him in a Met uniform, but that presupposes Topps’ photography schedule coincided with one of Moises’ escapes from the DL. (No, I’m not optimistic about Moises staying on the field in ’08. Why do you ask?)

Joe Smith — At various points in the year Smith looked determined, cocky, coolly reliable, frightened and exhausted. His ’07 card — a Port St. Lucie shot where he’s wearing No. 70 — captures him in one of his cocky phases. Here’s hoping for more of those.

David Newhan — When the Mets shaved their heads in San Francisco Newhan protested mightily, wailing that “I’ve got the best hair in the National League.” He might have been right — and his Upper Deck card shows off some stylish eyeblack application as well. Let the record show that I waited all year for Newhan to have a moment where he was mobbed at one base or another for being the hero. Shucks.

Scott Schoeneweis — Annoyingly, his lone card is a horizontal from Upper Deck. Horizontal cards suck, and they really suck when they’re the best-available THB option. (See also: Pat Mahomes, Tony Phillips, Manny Alexander and too many others.) You could argue this makes a twisted kind of sense, since Willie didn’t deploy Schoeneweis correctly either. The good news is that since Schoeneweis is signed until the sun goes dark, he might get a better card. The bad news is that Schoeneweis is signed until the sun goes dark.

Ambiorix Burgos — Got a good Mets card out of a 55-card “gift set” Topps released last month. (A Met Gift Set! Everyone will want this come October! I mean, what could go wrong?) He looks heavy and like he’d rather be somewhere else, though that somewhere else probably didn’t include recovering from Tommy John surgery. I feel compelled to state at this juncture that I never thought Brian Bannister would amount to anything.

Aaron Sele — Anonymous Met gets anonymous Upper Deck card in spring-training motley. Those orange armpit accents have really got to go.

Damion Easley — A Topps card for a Met who was a nice surprise until he broke an ankle. The Jose Valentin of 2007. Glad to know he’ll be back; hope he’ll be platooning at second with Ruben Gotay.

Chan Ho Park — Somehow got a Series 2 Topps card. Emily and I had the distinct pleasure of seeing all four innings of Chan Ho’s lone game for the 2007 Mets. Emily and I also recently had the pleasure of cleaning up broken glass from our kitchen floor. At least there isn’t a baseball card that will remind me of cleaning up broken glass for the rest of my life. (Except now that I’ve written this, there is such a card. This is also Chan Ho Park’s fault.)

Ruben Gotay — Brought admirable energy, impressive pop and better-than-expected defense to second base before getting shoved aside by Luis Castillo, who has negligible power and whose defense is overrated. A not-bad card from Topps Updates. Hope he gets a shot at another one, but I’m not optimistic.

Jorge Sosa — Showed enough to keep you hoping. Wore No. 29 and removed some of the stink of Trachselness from it with an up-and-down campaign. Pretty good Topps Gift Set card showing him in full stretch on the mound, about to release the ball. Stupid Trachsel.

Lino Urdaneta — Famously recorded an ERA of infinity with the 2004 Tigers. Less famously recorded an ERA of 9.00 with the 2007 Mets. Progress can depend on one’s baseline, I suppose. Represented by a Zephyr card.

Carlos Gomez — Plucky young outfielder was a Rorschach test for Met fans in 2007, with your opinion of Gomez clearly indicating where you stand on the Youthful Potential vs. Veteran Experience meter. Missed a good chunk of the season with a broken hamate bone, a badly designed part of the hand whose sole purpose is to sideline athletes. Offers a million-watt smile in the Topps Gift Set.

Jason Vargas — Pitched indifferently in brief audition, but might still be worth a look. Zephyr card.

Ben Johnson — Injured for big chunks of the year at New Orleans, did next to nothing at Shea except be muttered about by Met fans claiming they had too seen something in Royce Ring and Heath Bell. Poorly lit Zephyr card, not that that’s much of an injustice.

Sandy Alomar Jr. — Not a vile, excuse-making quitter, which is how you can tell him apart from his brother. Retired after a sometimes spectacular, ultimately admirable career. Zephyr card on which he looks old, a bit perturbed but ultimately philosophical.

Chip Ambres — One magic moment against the Dodgers. Doubtful he’ll see another, but years from now his name will make Met fans furrow their brows before saying “Oh yeah!” and smile. And you know what? That’s pretty cool. Zephyr card.

Jon Adkins — I have no idea who this is. Pitched one inning for the Mets, which I guess I missed. Needless to say, a Zephyr.

Luis Castillo — Punchless hitter with diminishing range and bad knees. The epitome of a No. 2 hitter — if it were still 1975. Probably returning to a falling-apart stadium near you to do the same. Nothing personal, Luis, but no, I do not approve. Topps Update card.

Brian Lawrence — Shouldn’t have been out there in September, so not really fair to blame him for it. Represented in THB by a Zephyr card in which he is hatless and quizzical during the national anthem. (So make that hatless, quizzical and patriotic.) By the way, at the beginning of last year I took Mike Pelfrey for my fantasy team. I knew he was raw but figured what the heck, he was the No. 5 starter on the best team in the National League, so he’d get some wins just by showing up. He didn’t. Soon after that I picked up Brian Lawrence, because … well, you know. Ow, this stove is hot! Ow, this stove is hot! Ow, this stove is hot!

Jeff Conine — He sure looked like the final piece, what with his leathery-gunslinger aspect, the pinch-hitting resume and all those rings. Hit .195 as a Met and retired. 2007 Topps card in which he’s a Phillie Photoshopped into a Red.

Willie Collazo — Vaguely heralded reliever got the call-up when it became apparent the bullpen was suffering a collective nervous breakdown. He’s 28, but he’s also a lefty who strikes people out. Might escape his Zephyr card yet. Might also never be heard from again.

Carlos Muniz — Surprise call-up from Double-A in the last week of the season, forcing me to go out and buy a Binghamton Mets team set. (Price of being OCD: $8 plus shipping. In this case.)

28 comments to Welcome, THB Class of 2007

  • Anonymous

    “Topps had a baseball-card monopoly until 1981”
    Not quite a monopoly but definately cornered the market. Fleer had a good following and Bowman gave them a run for the money in the 50's.
    In the 1890's and early 20th century many baseball cards were included in cigarette packages. In the thirties and forties, Goudey was the Topps of it's day.

  • Anonymous

    Jason, I appreciate your take on Castillo. You're one of the few who sees Secondbasegate for what it is. A scandal.
    Re: Collazo, Muniz, they should have been less obscure than they are, but they had the unpleasantness of coming up during the Willie Randolph “No Rookies Allowed” Reign of Terror.
    Re: Jon Adkins, you should know who he is. He has now been part of two terrible trades. The first one was immortalized in Moneyball, I think. If not, it should have been. Anyway, Billy Beane traded Adkins, a mediocre reliever, to the White Sox for 2B Ray Durham. Durham was Durham, an offensive second baseman who helped the A's make the playoffs. The A's then collected the Giants' first round draft pick when Durham signed with the Giants, and then used that draft pick to sign Nick Swisher, I think.
    I'm sure you know about that second trade. Jon Adkins: part of two bad trades and counting.

  • Anonymous

    I feel compelled to state at this juncture that I never thought Brian Bannister would amount to anything.
    I feel compelled to state that I thought he would, and that I was furious with this trade not only because of that, but because I'd seen enough of Burgos in my extensive AL Central travels to know exactly what we were getting in return. I'm still pissed at Omar for this.
    And I'll happily take that Luis Castillo card off your hands. I'm still a True Piranha Believer.

  • Anonymous

    Whatever it cost you to facilitate one more shot at Robbie Alomar was well worth it.
    Re: Castillo or Gotay — I still want Brandon Phillips.

  • Anonymous

    So when Adkins shows up on your roster, you know you've been fleeced by stat geeks? That's awesome. Well, except for the fact that it happened to us.

  • Anonymous

    (Jace knows what I mean…)

  • Anonymous

    Boy, it sure would have sucked having Ty Wigginton slug his 22 HRs for us at 2B… or Jeff Keppinger hitting 332.

  • Anonymous

    Do you a card for my all-time favorite Met, Brian Ostrosser?

  • Anonymous

    If “card” can mean “Photoshopped travesty,” then yes, I do have one.
    Brian Ostrosser is your all-time favorite Met? There has to be a story there. (And apologies if I've heard it and forgotten.)

  • Anonymous

    Jon Adkins pitched an uneventful 7th inning in a 6-2 loss to the Nats on Friday night, July 27, at Shea.
    You can't really admit that you missed this. That's like hearing that a brother at a monastery missed 5am vespers on some Tuesday. There may be cosmic harm of some sort.

  • Anonymous

    gotay can't hit to save his life from the right side and he's a butcher with the glove. why is he a better option than castillo again?

  • Anonymous

    Because IMHO you could platoon him with Easley, he wasn't that bad with the glove while Castillo is overrated, he has pop while Castillo is a banjo hitter, he's a far better bet to stay healthy, and he has a potential future instead of just a vanishing past.
    Of course this is all Youthful Potential vs. Veteran Experience again, as discussed above.

  • Anonymous

    Said cosmic harm already happened on the final day of the season, I think. I'm now off to find Tom Glavine-related things to burn, if I have any left.

  • Anonymous

    gotay is terrible at turning double plays. i'll take castillo's superiority at defense over gotay, whose “pop” (10 HR in 600+ at bats, .375 SLG%) is overrated. if you want to platoon, you might as well platoon castillo and gotay. castillo made 5 million last year; that's nothing at all.
    i'm all for the team getting younger, but over the course of a season, gotay/easley would be a black hole in the lineup. platoon castillo and gotay, then maybe gotay gets the everyday job next season.

  • Anonymous

    ty wigginton never hit 22 HR as a met……..

  • Anonymous

    No point in reverting to default positions with straw men (youth! experience!) as opposed to actual players. I think Castillo did all he was asked and all he could be expected to do, but I also think that probably won't be optimal for 2008 given another year on his surgically repaired joints. I'd be willing to give Gotay a long look come spring though I wasn't his biggest fan. He may not be Dustin Pedroia, but the idea that a top contender entrusted second to young blood impressed me.
    I don't think Ruben Gotay is Dustin Pedroia, but we'll never know unless we find out.
    And I still want Brandon Phillips.

  • Anonymous

    Whats the Larry Bowa entry in THB?
    I guess he'd be the Jeff Conine of the Class of 1985!
    I'm trying to figure out any other “big name” (okay, Larry Bowa historically is a much bigger name than Jeff Conine due to various reasons (ASGs, member of those 80 Phillies, part of the Ryne Sandberg trade, GG awards, ect), but still) that the Mets got late in the year, but were not able to get his mug on a trading card for whatever reason…
    Before anyone other than Jace can say John Candeleria, he is there in the 88 Topps Update Set

  • Anonymous

    Scott Schoeneweis has a really nice card in the Topps Heritage set, if you want to branch out a little more.

  • Anonymous

    Yep, '85 Topps, Cub. And as you guessed, the only one of the Class of '85 who isn't a Met or a Tide. Of course that class only had 12 guys in it.

  • Anonymous

    He does indeed. I passed it up because it's an obviously Photoshopped “re-hat,” not that Topps was trying to be coy about that. Given my hostility toward horizontal cards, maybe I should reconsider.

  • Anonymous

    Hit 22 last year, though I guess he didn't actually play much 2B.

  • Anonymous

    brandon phillips would indeed be great to have.

  • Anonymous

    No big story — just the idea that he was an obscure minor-leaguer, a la Ron Hodges, who was called up and pressed into service back in 1973, my first year of following baseball. I thought Ostrosser, like Hodges, would become a fixture of sorts; I didn't realize that his five ABs in 1973 would represent his lone cup of coffee in the bigs. He's been largely forgotten since then, and I think it's time we pay him his due, no?

  • Anonymous

    Larry Bozo's big contribution to the 1985 Mets was to inform them that the Cubs had been stealing their signs all during the 1984 season.

  • Anonymous

    In his honor, we are renaming the kind of OCD described and executed so beautfully by Jason “Ostrosser Cornejo Disorder”.

  • Anonymous

    Was Cornejo the guy who had trouble fielding bunts?

  • Anonymous

    Greg – what was it exactly that you saw in Castillo that turned you off to him? I thought that his defense was, although not vintage-Castillo, still pretty top-notch in terms of 2B defense. He turned the twin killing with more ease than Gotay, and although a punch-and-judy hitter, Castillo seemed to come up with timely placement hits (was it just me, or was he in the middle of most rallies?), not to mention his stellar bunting.
    We all know Castillo was hobbled by his knee problems, but even so, he still seemed to leg out doubles and infield singles with regularity. Perhaps getting his knees scoped will take a few prematurely-aged years off his life and add back to his range the few feet he has lost..
    Maybe it's just me, but I liked what I saw in Castillo. Conversely, while he showed stretches of brilliance (although maybe that term is a little generous), Gotay hasn't convinced me that he deserves to start.

  • Anonymous

    I think you meant this question for Jason, but I'll give my two cents that I'd be willing to give a longer look to Gotay and thus not automatically re-sign Castillo or look for another version of him. On the other mitt, I think Luis could have a role and, depending on who winds up where else, he might be the right man for second base and second hole. I'm not reflexively anti-veteran or anti-Castillo (he did what he could do, I believe), but I am a little leery of skipping over Gotay's bat right away. Mind you, I'm the guy who didn't want Ruben out there all that much last summer because I did not trust his glove after an extended peek at it, but spring is spring and perhaps Gotay can begin to master his position. There were times when Wally Backman and Edgardo Alfonzo were dismissed as just utilitymen and they worked out fine.