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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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Smoltz? Really? Hmmm…

Ben Sheets won’t be a Met. Didn’t think he would be, and I wasn’t thinking he should be except for a song. Instead, the dude got himself an entire $10 million opera (albeit an opera whose running time is just one year). I’m not crushed. Think of the last time the Mets counted on somebody who missed an entire season with an injury, somebody who looked real good showing off his stuff in a controlled winter’s workout during which he was judged to appear sound. Why yes, that was Mo Vaughn, immediately inserted as starting first baseman and cleanup hitter for 2002 despite not playing in 2001. Sheets isn’t Vaughn, but the circumstances strike me as too close to imagine no elbow discomfort in 2010.

Jon Garland won’t be a Met. He was looking like a possible post-Sheets option for about five hours today, but the Padres took care of that.

John Smoltz might be a Met. When I read he was going to be a free agent, I had hoped the Mets would sign him. I’m referring, however, to when he was going to be a free agent following his awesome 1996 Cy Young campaign. Yes, that would have been quite the ticket. As for doing it now, I don’t know that I can muster any firm Orel Hershiser 1999 wise head/still useful/him a Met? rationalizations on Smoltz’s behalf.

I’ll try, though.

Unlike Sheets, Smoltz pitched in 2009. Not all that well, but two contenders did see something in his 42-year-old right arm. His Red Sox stay indicated his career was forked, as in what you stick in a piece of meat that’s done. Then Smoltz was off to St. Louis, where, while never exceeding six innings in any of his seven Cardinal starts, he did strike out 40 batters in 38 innings (two numbers lower than his current age, but who’s counting?). His WHIP, in an admittedly way different context from the heart of his lengthy Atlanta heyday, was 1.184, just a shade over where it was in 2007, his last full season as a starter.

That’s not an overwhelming endorsement of Omar’s latest loopy get-better-quick scheme, but I have to confess I’m slightly intrigued and not altogether repelled at the notion of this particular Brave in a Met uniform. Penciling in old John Smoltz as a starter would be a white flag, but I wonder if there’s enough there to merit an incentive-laden invite to St. Lucie. Maybe Smoltz has a few good middle relief/setup innings left in him. Maybe he knows something about pitching that he could communicate to Pelfrey or Perez or Niese or Nieve before he packs his clubs and hits the links for good.

Or maybe all it shows, even on a day when Johan Santana was, thankfully, feeling “pretty good” on a minicamp mound, is that when it comes to pitching, we’re going to be grasping at uncertain straws for a while to come.

11 comments to Smoltz? Really? Hmmm…

  • NostraDennis

    I met Smoltzie in the winter of 2000-2001, at a minor league hockey game in Orlando. He was rehabbing from injury, and about to make the switch to closer. Even though I approached him wearing my Mets cap, he smiled, shook hands, and spent a few moments with me talking baseball.

    That’s something John Rocker would never do, and something I’d never do if it were Gl@v!ne instead of Smoltz standing there. Like you, Greg, I find myself strangely undisgusted by a lifelong Brave (all but 15 games, at least) possibly wearing orange and blue this year. His best value might be in the clubhouse. Kind of a pitcher’s version of Julio Franco, vintage 2006.

  • John Smoltz may still have some magic in his right arm. He’d probably be able to teach the younger pitchers some things.

    I still don’t want him on the Mets. Tom Glavine was more than enough. Once a Brave, always a Brave.

  • Greg… have you taken a giant leap away from your good senses? This is a LOATHSOME notion. Also, it means we’d be subjected to endless hours of listening to Craig Carton suck up to $m01+z on CaBoom, trying to get invited to play golf with him.

    • I hadn’t thought of the collateral damage quite that way. That does put everything in a different light.

      Nice jump on the regret-filled spelling. Why wait to be let down?

  • Dave

    Hmm…an over-the-hill veteran with a recent history of injuries…how’s that strategy worked recently for the Mets? Run, don’t walk, away from this guy.

  • Jodie

    I just figured I’d go ahead and avoid the All-Star Break rush. :D

  • Joe D.

    Hi Greg,

    As you said, Smoltz couldn’t help two pennant contenders so if Omar is even contemplating making such a move the Mets are more of a joke than I thought.

    Just hope this is not their plan A, B or whatever.

  • I, like you, have surprisingly little hatred towards Smoltz. I can’t explain it. If the Mets head-scratchingly held a night for the Braves’ Big 3 (similar to the “Ted Williams Night” and “Hank Aaron Night” they held in ’99), I would still boo Maddux and Gl@v!ne, no question. Smoltz I would politely applaud. I have no reasoning behind this.

    That being said, I would not like him as a Met–not because of his heritage, but because IMO, Gary Matthews Jr completed our offseason quota for wash-ups.

  • Rob D.

    And the Yankees signed Randy Winn. I don’t care so much that they signed HIM, per se, but it was a question of “We can’t go into 2010 with Brett Gardner as our everyday left fielder, right? We’re the Yankees!”. Apparently the Mets are OK with “No, really Omir Santos will be a fine starting catcher, fernando Nieve will slide right in as our number 4 starter”…huh? Who are we, the Royals? (even they signed Rick Ankiel). After a joyful Jet January, for the first time in a LOOONG time, I really am NOT looking forward to this baseball season.

  • [...] DNPer Ryota Igarashi, for the record, came to be in 1979. It thus appears, unless somebody revisits January’s mysterious John Smoltz scenario, that we’re done with Mets who were born the same decade as the Mets [...]