The Oscars were handed out Sunday night. Thus, per Monday morning-after tradition, the Academy pauses to remember those Mets who have, in the baseball sense, left us in the past year.
AARON STEVEN LAFFEY
April 7, 2013 – April 20, 2013
[T]he Mets are so shallow in the starting pitching pool and so determined to not “start the clock” on Wheeler any sooner than they have to that they are confusing Aaron Laffey with Johan Santana. Johan Santana gave the Mets eight solid innings on the Tuesday of the final week of the 2008 season when a playoff spot was on the line and then brought him back, meniscus and all, to carry them as far as he could on the succeeding Saturday. This will be the last time Aaron Laffey will be compared to Johan Santana, but before we leave the profane comparison, consider that was a September with everything on the line and Johan was our ace. This is April and the Mets, because of a doubleheader (or two, pending the next couple of days) are “forced” to preserve Aaron Laffey so he can be deployed on short rest. Not because he’s that splendid, but because he’s that here.
—April 17, 2013
(Selected off waivers by Blue Jays, 4/23/2013)
JUSTIN MICHAEL HAMPSON
June 25, 2012 – October 2, 2012
Maybe a team whose bench feels thin because they had to DFA Vinny Rottino to make room in their bullpen for Justin Hampson has been more mirage than previously acknowledged.
—June 26, 2012
(Free agent, 11/5/2013; currently unsigned)
ELVIN (Rodriguez) RAMIREZ
June 3, 2012 – October 2, 2012
The 11th belonged to young Elvin Ramirez, thrown into the deep, shark-infested, acid-filled end of the pool. Ramirez showed a precocious awareness of the game by embracing the principle of pitching to his defense, meaning he struck out three Nats rather than allow any of his incompetent teammates to touch the ball. It seemed Ramirez would be rewarded in the 12th, when Hairston mashed a home run off Ross Detwiler, but he looked gassed in the bottom of the frame, with Terry Collins out of relievers and unwilling to call on Jeremy Hefner, tomorrow’s starter. There were instant back-to-back doubles for the tie, a wild pitch, Ramirez attempting to lose the game by nearly tossing the ball to the backstop on an intentional walk (yes really), an unintentional walk to Detwiler (who baffled everyone by repeatedly trying to bunt ball four), and eventually Harper’s fatal two-out hit.
—June 6, 2012
(Sold to Angels, 3/17/2013)
SEAN MICHAEL HENN
September 9, 2013 – September 23, 2013
Ex-Yankees began crossing the Macombs Dam Bridge to the Polo Grounds in 1962 when Marv Throneberry (by way of Baltimore) and Gene Woodling (Washington) made the trip. They were greeted in Upper Manhattan by their old skipper Casey Stengel and might have recognized in their midst a onetime Yankee farmhand by the name of Rod Kanehl when they arrived. It’s a recurring phenomenon now more than 50 years old. In 2013, Aaron Laffey, David Aardsma and Sean Henn all showed they knew the way to Flushing Bay: just jump off a scrap heap and transfer at Grand Central for the Queens-bound 7.
—December 11, 2013
(Free agent, 10/20/2013; currently unsigned)
DANIEL RAY HERRERA
September 2, 2011 – September 27, 2011
The principal PTBNL in K-Rod’s trade to Milwaukee, Herrera was about four feet tall, had a Muppetesque mop of hair and pulled his cap down so low that it was a week before you could verify he had eyes. And he didn’t want to be called Danny. All that was endearing; so was the fact that he pitched pretty effectively, admittedly in garbage-time conditions.
—November 3, 2011
(Released, 3/30/2013; signed with Long Island Ducks, 7/19/2013)
AARON MICHAEL HARANG
September 12, 2013 – September 28, 2013
Surprise! Aaron Harang was…not that bad. He wasn’t great, but he pitched capably enough — a team with an iota of offense might have had a chance out there, which unfortunately doesn’t describe the current Mets.
—September 12, 2013
(Free agent, 10/31/2013; signed with Indians, 2/15/2014)
CHRISTOPHER ANTHONY “Chris” SCHWINDEN
September 8, 2011 – May 30, 2012
[A]fter identifying him as a prime protagonist in losses of 10-1, 18-9 and now 8-1… with little in the way of contradictory evidence to suggest he was simply pitching in tough luck…Chris Schwinden can go find himself another gig. Or go get more experience at Buffalo and return later and make me Met-a culpa. I’ll be happy to do so. I’m not in this to rag on Chris Schwinden. I’m in it to not give up on games as soon as I recognize Chris Schwinden is starting them.
—May 3, 2012
(Cleared waivers, July 10, 2012; pitched for Triple-A Buffalo in 2012 and Las Vegas in 2013 and remains in the Mets organization, but has never been restored to the 40-man roster and wasn’t invited to major league camp in 2014. For the purposes of this feature, Chris Schwinden is no longer with us.
UPDATE: Released, 3/24/2014)
DAVID ALLAN AARDSMA
June 8, 2013 – September 28, 2013
The bullpen that succeeded Harvey and preceded Marcum was real good. Or they faced the Marlins. Whichever, it wasn’t their fault. David Aardsma looked Aa-OK as he knocked Don Aase from the top of the Mets’ all-time alphabetical chart.
—June 9, 2013
(Free agent, 10/31/2013; signed with Indians, 1/23/2014)
GREGORY FRANCIS “Greg” BURKE
April 3, 2013 – September 23, 2013
I saw Greg Burke, who might be more tolerable if he were Australian or a beet farmer in the offseason, pick up where he left off the last time he was around, which is to say wondering where that damn thing just landed.
—September 10, 2013
(Free agent, 11/5/2013; signed with Rockies, 11/18/2013)
SCOTT BARHAM ATCHISON
April 1, 2013 – September 28, 2013
Scott Atchison, who gets ample play despite being Mr. Gray, kept the Fish at bay in the home sixth.
—May 1, 2013
(Free agent, 12/2/2013; signed with Indians, 1/6/2014)
SHAUN MICHAL MARCUM
April 27, 2013 – July 6, 2013
May my blood stop running orange and blue if I can’t deliver unto you an assessment of Shaun Marcum’s pitching, so here goes, albeit borrowed from John Adams as he critiqued a portrait intended to preserve Benjamin Franklin for posterity in 1776: “It stinks.” [...] This blogger may be no Botticelli, but the subject of this blog is no Venus.
—July 7, 2013
(July 23, 2013; signed with Indians, 12/16/2013)
COLLIN BRANNEN COWGILL
April 1, 2013 – June 18, 2013
Less fantastic was we couldn’t make out from Section 526 that Cowgill had indeed cleared the blue wall and banged Brad Brach’s ball off the black backdrop. For what the Mets charged on Opening Day, the least they could do is provide a geometrically sound view. Old news, I suppose. But where was the live-action look on any of the multiple video screens lining the outfield? Nowhere. And where was the conclusive replay? Cut off right before the ball reached its destination. And what about the next half-inning? Delta sponsored the presentation of a Collin Cowgill-autographed baseball to One Lucky Fan. For the rest of us? We would’ve been fortunate to see a replay of the mysterious triplish hit that spurred the gift. But all we saw was Collin swing and an ad for Delta. Or as the wise beyond her years little girl sitting behind us commented, “They don’t show the home run, but they show an airplane.”
—April 5, 2013
(Traded to Angels, 6/25/2013)
BRANDON JAMES LYON
April 1, 2013 – July 4, 2013
Then we got back to being idiots, sitting through intermittent showers, invisible offense and Brandon Lyon.
—June 30, 2013
(Released, 7/9/2013; signed with Red Sox, 7/19/2013)
ROBERT N. CARSON
May 18, 2012 – August 28, 2013
Some positive developments for the Mets Saturday. Shaun Marcum got his throwing in, working his way up to 71 pitches. He only lasted four innings, but it’s not like anybody was counting. Then Terry Collins experimented a little and brought Robert Carson in for the fifth, which isn’t where you’d expect to see him, but roles are still undefined, so it didn’t really matter. The Phillies brought their A-club with them and Carson was kind of roughed up. Still, it was good experience for him.
—April 27, 2013
(Selected off waivers by Angels, 10/17/2013)
COLLIN ALEXANDER McHUGH
August 23, 2012 – June 1, 2013
And on Thursday afternoon, a beautiful day for a ballgame if only the Mets had decided to take part in one, a young fellow named Collin McHugh made his major league debut, shut out Colorado for seven innings on two hits while striking out nine. Mets lose, 1-0.
—August 24, 2012
(Traded to Rockies, June 18, 2013)
RICHARD ALEXANDER “Rick” ANKIEL
May 13, 2013 – June 8, 2013
Picking up Ankiel in mid-May after the Astros no longer wanted him was one of the more mystifying decisions of the Alderson regime, transferring playing time from young guys who needed it to an old guy who all too obviously no longer merited it. Ankiel’s final big-league AB was a strikeout that ended a 20-inning loss against the Marlins in June, a sad end to a final chapter that never should have been written in the first place.
—October 23, 2013
(Free agent, 6/11/2013; currently unsigned
UPDATE: Reported retired, 3/5)
JOHNATHAN RICHARD “John” BUCK
April 1, 2013 – August 24, 2013
It’s the golden hour for John Buck right now, that fleeting interregnum when the journeyman is master craftsman. It is a time to be savored. John Buck drives in nine runs in five games, four of them in his fifth game to propel the Mets to a Saturday victory. John Buck draws a roughing the catcher penalty the likes of which struck everybody as completely novel. John Buck offers pitchers wise counsel, teammates unyielding support and every fanny in sight a manly slap for a job well done. All things considered, John Buck is the best Met we’ve seen this year until he’s not — which is swell for now and whatever it is for later. Let’s enjoy the swell. Let’s enjoy every professional at-bat that produces all manner of RBI, from two-run double to two sac flies against the Marlins to move the Mets back above .500 and Buck to the front of the National League ribeye steak line. We have a hitter who leads the league in something. Didn’t see that coming.
—April 7, 2013
(Traded to Pirates, 8/27/2013)
TIMOTHY CHRISTOPHER “Tim” Byrdak
April 3, 2011 – September 26, 2013
Who’s in? Byrdak? Why not? Will Terry let him face lefties and righties with a seven-run lead? I feel like I just started watching this game and now I’m totally invested in it. C’mon Byrdak, don’t make this messy. I don’t wanna see Manny Acosta come in. I never wanna see Manny Acosta come in. Nice slow grounder, Reyes to Tejada to Murphy…double play! We win. That was fun.
—June 11, 2011
(Free agent, 10/31/2013; currently unsigned)
FRANKLIN “Frank” FRANCISCO
April 5, 2012 – September 29, 2013
We can cluck about it now because after Andres Torres had to do a little Jim Edmonds number to retire Russell Martin, and Frank walked Ibañez and gave up a single to Captain Pause Sign to inject unwanted drama into the ninth inning at Citi Field, Francisco emerged only slightly scathed. Our closer of record (because apparently we have to have one) struck out the murderously dangerous Curtis Granderson and popped Mark Teixeira and his ill-fitting helmet to Omar Quintanilla, who apparently hasn’t seen enough ninth-inning, two-out highlight films to USE TWO HANDS! but cradled the ball anyway, and it was a win for Jon Niese, a save for Frank Francisco and a great relief to us all.
—June 23, 2012
(Free agent, 10/31/2013; currently unsigned)
April 3, 2013 – September 28, 2013
Enter (after a failed cameo by David Aardsma) the Hawk, who didn’t exactly swoop in with glee. LaTroy understood he was signed to serve not just as a pitcher but as a mentor. As the season was concluding, he mentioned the veterans who taught him the ropes when he was a neophyte Twin in the 1990s. One of the names belonged to Rick Aguilera, then the resident closer at the Metrodome, a decade earlier a building block of great Met things to come. Now, in his own baseball autumn, LaTroy Hawkins hoped he could set an example for the Parnells, the Gonzalez Germens and the Vic Blacks who were following in his footsteps. Whatever words of wisdom he offered were more than backed up by what he demonstrated from the mound. Hawkins had exactly zero saves through four months of the season. Beginning August 6, he compiled 13, blowing only one along the way. It wasn’t the plan to send a 40-year-old right arm to pitch so many ninths, but he became the best possible option and he didn’t disappoint. When 2013 was over, Hawkins had saved more games, logged more innings and chalked up more appearances than he had in any season since 2004.
—November 16, 2013
(Free agent, 10/31/2013; signed with Rockies, 11/21/2013)
JORDANY V. (Guzman) VALDESPIN
April 23, 2012 – July 13, 2013
To the hypothetical introductory highlight package of today, please add footage from last night. Please add Jordany Valdespin socking it to Jonathan Papelbon. Please follow that ball into the right field stands, its flight both instant and eternal. Please evoke the shock that a minor league callup who was a minor league senddown rescued only by physical setback to another Met chose this moment for his first major league hit, a pinch-hit three-run home run that broke a 2-2 tie with two out in the ninth inning in a ballpark where very little good has occurred over the past five years. Please don’t cut away until we see Jordany Valdespin round first base and shake with delight, one innocent fist briefly raised, because for all the standard jockish admonitions to act like you’ve been there before, Jordany Valdespin hadn’t.
—May 8, 2012
(Free agent, 12/2/2013; signed with Marlins, 12/20/2013)
PEDRO JUAN (Molina) FELICIANO
September 4, 2002 – October 1, 2004
April 18, 2006 – October 2, 2010
August 2, 2013 – September 28, 2013
If you’ve ever felt a little charge upon reacquainting yourself with an old song that wasn’t exactly a favorite back in the day but it’s surprisingly good to hear playing again from out of nowhere, then you know how I feel upon seeing Pedro Feliciano in a Mets uniform this Spring Training. For me and my vintage ear, spotting Pedro in Port St. Lucie is akin to turning on CBS-FM and hearing something by Firefall instead of the Eagles for the 4,000th time this month. Pedro’s not the pitcher that I always dreamed of, but he’s a damn comforting sight. He was a survivor in his Met prime and he’s even more of one now. He’s survived four managers, two collapses, several departures, enough spins around the mound turntable to have worn out the sturdiest copy of “Hotel California” plus an injury that has kept him MLB-inactive since the last time he pitched for us. When I saw him wearing one of those adorable Mr. Met caps a couple of weeks ago, I realized the picture wasn’t quite right. Pedro Feliciano needn’t wear a cap with Mr. Met’s image emblazoned on it. Mr. Met should be wearing a cap with Pedro Feliciano’s face affixed squarely above the bill.
—March 7, 2013
(Free agent, 10/31/2013; currently unsigned)
MARLON JERRARD BYRD
April 1, 2013 – August 26, 2013
Nobody was amending their “what outfield?” cracks when Byrd landed amid the Mets’ pasture of uncertainty in Port St. Lucie. There was no sense of we’re only dealing with two-thirds of a mess because this Marlon Byrd, he who had suffered beanings and bannings in the previous two years, was gonna clear everything up. He hasn’t. Yet on a team in which Razzies could be awarded to many, Byrd’s not close to being in the bottom five, which is like being one of the best players on a good team. Or, put another way, Byrd has actually been one of the best players on this bad team.
—June 6, 2013
(Traded to Pirates, 8/27/2013)
JUSTIN MATTHEW TURNER
July 16, 2010 – September 29, 2013
BuffaMets fever broke a little Saturday night, though Justin Turner continued to hit, which was good news for Americans from coast to coast wondering breathlessly whether Turner would break the longstanding record for most consecutive games with a run batted in by a Mets rookie. It was one of the most cherished records in all of sport, dating back to 1965 and embedding itself in the consciousness of fans everywhere since at least Friday when it was casually mentioned on SNY. I love worrying about records I not only never heard of before but records I had never stopped to consider were records. “Most consecutive games by a Mets rookie with a run batted in”…who knew? Once I did know, it became imperative to me that Justin Turner would come to own it. While I’m tickled orange and blue over Turner having knocked in a run in seven straight games as a relative neophyte, I have to admit I was disappointed to learn that until Friday night he had never heard of Ron Swoboda, the man who established the heretofore unbreakable consecutive rookie RBI game streak 46 years ago. It’s one thing to not know you’re making obscure history. It’s another to not know that you’re unseating a legend. A Met legend, certainly. When I read Turner’s admission of ignorance, I couldn’t be disappointed in Turner. How can any Mets fan be disappointed in Justin Turner?
—May 22, 2011
(Free agent, 12/2/2013; signed with Dodgers, 2/6/2014)
MICHAEL JOSEPH “Mike” BAXTER
August 8, 2011 – September 29, 2013
The man who once drew five walks in a single game wasn’t even getting on base incidentally in 2013, and it was impossible to not notice that after the May homestand during which he drove in two giddy walkoff runs, he hadn’t accumulated a single RBI…not one. So you’d see Baxter in the lineup five times in the final six games and you weren’t heartened. You wanted to know why den Dekker wasn’t in right. Or why den Dekker wasn’t in center and Lagares wasn’t in right. Or where the next Darryl Strawberry was coming from and when was he gonna get here? We were sure we had seen enough of Mike Baxter to last a lifetime. Which wasn’t quite accurate, because there’s a moment of Mike Baxter we could spool up daily from here to eternity and never get tired of looking at. The Mike Baxter of the present couldn’t compete with the players — real or conceptual — who we conceived of as having a future. And it wasn’t fair to have that Mike Baxter obscure the Mike Baxter of the recent yet undeniably distancing-itself past. For the best interests off all concerned, today’s Mike Baxter had to become a former Met. The more we watched ordinary, limited-tool Mike Baxter struggle at the plate, the more we were forced to rue that the Mets were forced to rely on this Mike Baxter. This Mike Baxter should have never been allowed to interfere with the Mike Baxter we cherish.
—October 18, 2013
(Selected off waivers by Dodgers, 10/17/2013)
JOHAN ALEXANDER SANTANA
March 31, 2008 – August 17, 2012
Johan Santana pitched the First No-Hitter in New York Mets History. It happened. It really and truly happened. I shouted and I cried and I hugged my wife and we drank champagne from the same Mets mugs with which we toasted the 2006 N.L. East championship, none of which will show up in the box score, but I always wondered what I would do if it happened, and now I know. We can all go count something else now.
—June 2, 2012
(Free agent, 11/1/2013; currently unsigned
UPDATE: Signed with Orioles, 3/4/2014)