The 2011 New York Mets are the best thing to come out of Buffalo since Scott Norwood’s penchant for kicking wide right.
How many Mets were playing in the vicinity of Lake Erie when the major league season commenced? Half of them? Most of them? However you do the Bison-slicin’, what counts is these Erie Couny refugees made the cut eventually and they’re playing hard by Flushing Bay…very hard.
Fine young fellers, these BuffaMets. Someday soon they could be held up as Exhibits “A” through “Q” in making the case against the Mets’ chronic lack of depth as we inevitably wail over our annual litany of killer injuries, but for now, I’m down with the kids from upstate.
Dillon Gee — he’s here. There was a moment when it appeared he’d be shipped postage-paid back where Gee came from. He gave us those two solid starts in April when Chris Young disappeared onto his first Disabled List. He did what he was asked to do and the assumption was he wasn’t going to be given a chance to outlive his usefulness. Assumptions went asunder, however, and praise be for such Aldersonian reasoning.
Let me take you back to an evening right around this time of year in 2005. There was another three-lettered last-named pitcher on the Mets, Jae Seo. Seo, like Gee, had been brought up from Triple-A to fill in when the Mets had their pitching shorts in a bunch. Like Gee, Seo had a bit of a track record (more substantial, actually). Like Gee did at Citi Field today — and once before — Seo flirted with a no-hitter. All told, Jae gave up just a single in seven innings to the Phillies at Shea Stadium on May 4, 2005.
Any team could use a feller like that, right? Any team except the 14-14 Mets, it turned out. Because Seo was considered a stopgap, the Mets sent him back to Norfolk, that year’s version of Buffalo. No flexibility, no creativity, no recognizing talent or hot hands.
“Maybe if he threw a no-hitter, I might have had second thoughts,” then-manager Willie Randolph said, maybe half-jokingly.
I’ve thought of Seo going as he did because of the way Gee was invited to stick around after Young (briefly) returned. It was D.J. Carrasco who was sent north instead, and it may have been one of the best moves of this particular season. It’s not so much that I expect Gee — potentially a postmodern Rick Reed in terms of command — to make a habit of going 7⅔ and allowing no runs on almost no hits. It’s that a player who could help the Mets in the near term was retained, and another player who wasn’t helping at all was demoted. Gee would have likely wound up back here eventually because of Young’s bum shoulder, but it was sensible as salmon to keep him around in the interim. Ideally, you might want a kid like Gee starting somewhere, like Buffalo, every fifth day rather than being subject to uncertain use in the Met bullpen, but as we’ve learned over and over, the Mets do not operate in an ideal world.
I love that the Mets make that sort of decision now. I love that they (finally) dropped Chin-Lung Hu so far down in the order that he plummeted past Jorge Posada. I love that Ryota Igarashi was advised to rocket toward Niagra Falls when his Rocket Boy repertoire failed to launch. Nothing personal, gents, I just see no need to let poorly performing players absorb roster space when games need to be won…which happens to coincide exactly with the timeframe in which games need to be played.
So no Seo for Gee, and gee, that is so good to know. Other positive or promising personnel shifts may not have occurred because we wanted them to, but how nice that they’re working. Justin Turner would never be playing third base if not for Carlos Lee, but JT handles the hot corner A-OK — and he handles the bat like a maestro. Ruben Tejada would never be playing second base if third and first hadn’t needed to be occupied by second basemen not named Hu, but I need no convincing that Ruben Tejada should be playing second base for the New York Mets. And there may be good reason not to buy Daniel Murphy, briefly a Bison himself in 2010, as a first baseman, but he sure knew how to sell an out call in the ninth to get Thursday afternoon’s 1-0 win closer to satisfying completion.
These Mets as constituted at this juncture are not overly talented. They’ve had the good fortune to line up mostly against other not overly talented conglomerations of baseball players. It’s only fair, I suppose, that the gods who took away Wright and Davis and Young and Pagan and so forth at least gave them the Astros and the Nationals in the past week (not to mention that ridiculously generous out call against Werth; screw him anyway always). The competitive atmosphere, however, is about to take on heavier dimensions. We’re going into a three-game set in an unappealing venue with Justin Turner at third, Ruben Tejada at second, Daniel Murphy at first, Jason Pridie in center, Fernando Martinez DH’ing and a herd of recently transitioned Bisons grazing out in the pen. From now until Sunday night, it will be pointed out to them that they don’t belong on the same field with those they are about to engage.
But the lot of them were already told they didn’t belong on a major league field once this year, so why should they listen?
Oh, and as far as the latest entry to nonohitters.com…c’mon. You knew Liván Hernandez would be the one to break it up. He’s a real hitter…more of a real hitter than most Nats. I once saw him homer — off Jae Seo, come to think of it.