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Spotlight Dimmed

The Oscars were handed out Sunday night. Thus, per Monday morning-after tradition [1], the Academy pauses to remember those Mets who have, in the baseball sense, left us in the past year.

Relief Pitcher
August 5, 2015 – September 25, 2015

Ronnie seemed to catch himself and tried to walk his presumptuousness back, but it was too late. The win wasn’t in the bag and the cat was out of it. Here came the stupid Marlins. Here came an unexpected flurry of Met relievers. Eric O’Flaherty quickly wore out his welcome by allowing hits to four of five batters to open the ninth. It was only 8-2 when Collins hooked him. No biggie, right? We’d learned our latest LOOGY maybe should be limited to one batter, like he was in the eighth.
—August 6, 2015
(Free agent, 11/2/2015; signed with Pirates, 2/11/2016)

Relief Pitcher
September 13, 2015 – October 1, 2015

He was better than Eric O’Flaherty, OK?
—December 28, 2015
(Free agent, 10/14/2015; signed with Diamondbacks, 12/11/2015)

Relief Pitcher
April 29, 2015 – June 20, 2015

They had survived Jack Leathersich’s learning curve and would survive Bobby Parnell’s creakiness. All they needed to make a day of it was to survive the ninth. They didn’t.
—June 14, 2015
(Selected off waivers by Cubs, 11/19/2015)

September 22, 2013 – September 28, 2014

Yeah that thing happened in the fifth, and it was important in the context of a game in which only one run was scored and it wasn’t scored by Hamilton or any Red. It scored only because Wilfredo Tovar — a high-profile personality compared to Juan Centeno — was kind enough to get hit by Mat Latos, move along to second on a Matsuzaka bunt, take third when Latos threw a pitch that eluded the grasp of Devin Mesoraco (speaking of names that loiter in the back of your baseball awareness) and dash home when Eric Young broke his bat to produce the tricklingest of grounders that snuck into right through a drawn-in Red infield. The Mets went up, 1-0, in the third without anything that could be remotely mistaken for a component of an offensive attack and Matsuzaka, Feliciano and LaTroy Hawkins made it stick.
—September 25, 2013
(Free agent, 11/6/2015; signed with Twins, 12/14/2015)

Relief Pitcher
April 9, 2015 – July 29, 2015

Alex Torres, odd hat and all, struck out Yelich. It was like he did so in slow motion. The bat slipped from Christian’s hands on his swinging third strike, leading to an instant where the entirety of Metsopotamia stared in horror before recovering to confirm, “he’s out, though, right?” Yes, he was out. The signal was made; the pyrotechnics, such as they are, could be loaded; and the Mets couldn’t be stopped. It wasn’t as easy as we might have suspected, but Dee Gordon wound up sleeping with the rest of the Fishes. As bedtime Torres go, Alex gave us a pretty nice one.
—April 19, 2015
(Free agent, 11/6/2015; signed with Padres, 1/7/2016)

May 19, 2015 – July 5, 2015

Darrell Ceciliani homered in the bottom of the fourth to make it 8-4. It could have been taken as a tease or it could have been interpreted as a surmountable score. One out later, the surmounting continued apace when Dilson Herrera went deep. Being down 8-5 isn’t easy, but it’s not crazy, not when you’re facing Foytack-Lemanczyk.
—June 15, 2015
(Traded to Blue Jays, 2/2/2016)

Relief Pitcher
April 1, 2013 – June 8, 2014

Second crown jewel: ninth inning; the wind kicking up Dave Howard’s memorial good-time garbage; and entering our conversation for the first time in a Mets uniform, Scott Rice. Many have left Citi Field in deference to the hour, the score and recurring chill (because luxuriating in a ninth-inning, nine-run blowout is apparently a hassle), but this is a treat for those of us who have stayed. Scott Rice, drafted into professional baseball so long ago that Bobby Bonilla was on the Mets payroll not as a running joke but as a pinch-hitter, is making his major league debut. His uniform pants are billowing in a bitter gale. His crowd can be better described as a gathering at this point. These circumstances resemble a hopeless September afternoon more than the one day of the year the Mets tend to be perfect, but would you tell Scott Rice this is anything other than ideal? We wouldn’t. So Joe and I and hundreds of others stand and applaud as he’s announced. Or, more or less as Steve Zabriskie greeted Gary Carter on a similar occasion 28 years earlier, “Welcome to New York, Scott Rice!”
—April 5, 2013
(Free agent, 11/6/2015; signed with Diamondbacks, 12/14/2015)

April 6, 2015 – July 24, 2015

When Eric Campbell doubled with two out in the top of the eighth to raise his batting average to a rousing .177, I thought maybe we weren’t done. John Mayberry came up and I really began to imagine crazy things. Didn’t Mayberry hit a home run here in April? Doesn’t Mayberry have some kind of track record that made him appealing enough to sign in the offseason? Aren’t there fairies flying through the air who watch over babies and puppies and kittens and baseball teams with adorable baseball-headed mascots? Yeah, I was carried away with the Mayberry fever.
—June 22, 2015
(Released, 7/30/2015; signed with White Sox, 8/7/2015)

August 29, 2013 – September 28, 2014

How could this not work? And when EY takes second, how could this not work right away? Well, it didn’t. It found a way not to. Campbell bounced to Ian Desmond, who threw to Wilson Ramos, who kept a couple of his toes on the foul line, which had nothing to do with anything except for some murky rule nobody understands and can be interpreted differently depending on the time of day. In San Francisco Wednesday afternoon, a similar play penalized the catcher. In Flushing Wednesday evening, den Dekker was out by a mile and several hours. Terry Collins — reportedly destined to manage the Mets long after Bud Selig is done commissioning baseball — attempted to litigate the call, but Chelsea Market’s night crew wasn’t moved to overturn.
—August 14, 2014
(Traded to Nationals for Jerry Blevins, 3/30/2015)

June 19, 2013 – September 28, 2014
September 1, 2015 ­ October 1, 2015

In the bottom of the seventh, with two men on, Wright recreated his long-ago hit over Johnny Damon’s head at Shea for a double. It scored Eric Young, Jr. (who now has four at-bats as a ’15 Met, six runs scored and no hits — pretty much the way one should use Eric Young, Jr., in baseball games), and it would have scored Curtis Granderson except it hopped into the stands.
—September 15, 2015
(Free agent, 11/5/2015; signed with Brewers, 1/5/2016)

Relief Pitcher
September 2, 2013 – September 13, 2014

Everybody’s on, nobody’s out, Ryan Sweeney’s up and he hits the ball…real hard. At Niese. Who shields better than he fields. The ball bounces off Jonathon as Arismendy scores. Now it’s 7-3, the threat is grave and the group slated to play after the game is practicing their dirges. In comes Black. The word is he doesn’t allow inherited runners to score — not on his watch. But, oh what an unwanted bounty of inherited runners! Suspicious scions blessed with great fortunes have hired lobbyists to protect less. But Vic Black will not be heard demanding a repeal of the estate tax. He simply goes to work, inheritance be damned.
—August 17, 2014
(Free agent, 11/6/2015; currently unsigned)

April 7, 2013 – September 27, 2015

Shocking as it may have been to behold, Bartolo Colon doubling in Anthony Recker was less surprising than Ruben Tejada emerging as the Mets’ full-time third baseman. Anthony Recker being on second for Colon to double in was rather stunning in and of itself — Recker was 0-for-13 at Citi Field before he bottom of the second Sunday, whereas Colon was 1-for-8 — but not as surprising as Tejada being anointed permanent as can be caretaker of the position that was supposed to be taken care of through 2020. Anthony Recker played third base for the Mets before Ruben Tejada ever did and Anthony Recker is a backup catcher. No wonder Colon connecting for extra bases seems the least surprising aspect of Sunday’s win over the Marlins.
—June 1, 2015
(Free agent, 11/6/2015; signed with Indians, 11/27/2015)

Relief Pitcher
July 28, 2015 – October 31, 2015

Lucas Duda ensured there’d be enough runs when he launched, blasted and rocketed — the more verbs the better — a baseball deep into the Big Apple or Apple Reserved or Apple Orchard section, whatever it’s called these days, to stake Noah to an early 2-0 lead. Curtis Granderson removed any ancillary offensive worries with a two-run shot of his own late. Tyler Clippard made us think of him as a helpful Met pushing us along rather than an old nemesis waiting to explode in our faces by keeping the ninth as tidy as it needed to be.
—July 29, 2015
(Free agent, 11/2/2015; signed with Diamondbacks, 2/8/2016)

July 25, 2015 – November 1, 2015

Fifteen years later, on another Saturday in late July, the name Mike Bordick came up in idle conversation before that night’s Mets game. It wasn’t in a complimentary vein. A few hours after that, without any irony whatsoever, I leapt to my feet to applaud the first Met home run hit by Kelly Johnson in his first game as a Met. He was traded for on Friday. On Saturday, he and his fellow erstwhile Atlantan Juan Uribe went about transforming the Mets from frauds into legitimate contenders. At least that’s how I decided to see it from Section 329, where you could barely see anything that didn’t look like a pennant drive for the ages taking shape.
—July 26, 2015
(Free agent, 11/2/2015; signed with Braves, 1/8/2016)

July 25, 2015 – October 30, 2015

This is Juan Uribe singling in Lagares and me going about as nuts as I did all night. I’d missed Juan Uribe. We had no righthanded bench without him. Without him, that at-bat would have been Michael Cuddyer’s. I’ve been trying very hard to be very supportive of every Met this postseason, but Cuddyer is not who I wanted up in that spot.
—October 31, 2015
(Free agent, 11/2/2015; signed with Indians, 2/28/2016)

April 6, 2015 – October 27, 2015

I was wrong to have expected the 11:02 from Jamaica to have left Jamaica at 11:02, so my last call of Thursday night was off (forty sweltering, cranky minutes of waiting later, I realized there’s a reason the LIRR never touts the train from the game). Otherwise, though, I had a pretty good run of getting things right. Most pertinently, my announcement to my new buddy Skid — more on him in a bit — as the bottom of the ninth unfolded that Cuddyer was gonna win it for us came off as extraordinarily prescient. It was, technically, but not really. I went with Michael as our potential savior of the moment because we needed one run and he was going to be the fifth batter, and if I learned anything across consecutive nights at Citi Field, it’s that the Mets seem to require at least five plate appearances to generate a single meaningful tally.
—June 12, 2015
(Retired, 12/12/2015)

Relief Pitcher
June 16, 2013 – October 3, 2015

Nobody has been a fully active current Met longer than Carlos Torres. […] He may not move mountains and he hasn’t worked many miracles, yet the Mets keep him like an oath. It may not be the most unshakable of active-duty tenures ever — I believe Tom Seaver was an irresistible roster force between April 11, 1967 and June 15, 1977, never going on any kind of list until “TRADED” came regrettably along — but it does defy Met intuition. In the come-and-go world of Major League Baseball, an institution Torres departed in 2011 so he could pitch in Japan, middle relievers are quickly replaceable cogs. One doesn’t quite work the way you want it to, get rid of it and grab another. It’s not like there isn’t a surplus of Burkes and Atchisons, let alone O’Flahertys, rattling around the bottom shelves of waiver wires everywhere. Then again, when you get somebody really special, somebody who almost always gets the job done, somebody you can regularly rely on…Carlos Torres? That doesn’t exactly sound like Carlos Torres, does it?
—September 5, 2015
(Free agent, 2/1/2016; signed with Braves, 2/11/2016)

April 7, 2012 – May 18, 2015
July 6, 2015 – October 31, 2015

You don’t gotta believe, but if you can legitimately say you saw (or heard) Kirk Nieuwenhuis homer three times in one game, then you can’t say anything where these Mets are concerned is impossible.
—July 13, 2015
(Selected off waivers by Brewers, 12/23/2015)

Relief Pitcher
September 15, 2008 – September 30, 2015

Finally, with the lead still 2-0 (because who needs more runs anyway?), it was Bobby Parnell in for the save, and am I crazy, or has Parnell actually become something akin to a dependable closer? I was going to say “lights-out closer,” but I figured that’s asking for trouble from the bullpen gods. However one measures Parnell’s effectiveness, it was in effect. The ashes of the Nats’ hopes scattered into the ninth-inning wind in order.
—April 22, 2013
(Free agent, 11/2/2015; signed with Tigers, 2/19/2015)

Relief Pitcher
April 7, 2010 – July 26, 2015

So in comes Mejia, whose previous six outings each merited an “S” in the box score. On SNY, it was mentioned that the last Met closer to streak that efficiently was Billy Wagner in July of 2008 (no great shakes before that sudden spurt of spectacularity, Billy would pitch three more times and then be shut down for the season, setting up that year’s bullpen for exploits likely still inducing nightmares in particularly skittish Metsopotamian precincts). Mejia was seeking his seventh save in seven consecutive outings. The last Met closer to do that? I don’t know. I assume either Jesse Orosco or Jesus Christ.
—July 28, 2014
(Permanently suspended from Major League Baseball, 2/12/2016)

Starting Pitcher
September 7, 2010 – June 14, 2015

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.
—May 19, 2011
(Free agent, 10/5/2015; signed with Royals, 12/14/2015)

Starting Pitcher
September 2, 2008 – November 1, 2015

Niese is a terrific trade candidate on a team with a surplus of starting pitchers. I’d argue that contract makes him the best trade candidate on the staff once you subtract the guys the Mets would be obviously insane to move. (Why on earth would you trade Zack Wheeler, who has a higher ceiling and seems a lot more motivated to learn and improve?) If you made me GM for a day, Niese is the pitcher I’d ship out of town for that additional bat the Mets so desperately need. Maybe some other staff ace can convince him of the importance of doing his homework. Maybe some other pitching coach can get him to think about what to throw. Maybe some other manager can teach him to cover first base all the time instead of sometimes.
—August 7, 2014
(Traded to Pirates, 12/9/2015)

August 2, 2008 – November 1, 2015

For those of you who are Daniel Murphy (.529, a home run every night), thank you. For those of you who are Daniel Murphy’s teammates, what’s it like knowing Daniel Murphy? It must be an incredible sensation to be near that much greatness every day. If you’ve touched Daniel Murphy, can we touch you? By all means apply some Neosporin first, because if you’ve touched Daniel Murphy, you’re probably going to need to salve those burns. No baseball player has ever been hotter than the 2015 NLCS MVP. Murphy, a Met since 2008, didn’t do it alone. But you had the sense he could have had it been necessary.
—October 22, 2015
(Free agent, 11/2/2015; signed with Nationals, 1/6/2016)