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Mets Hot Stove: Marty's Bag; Comings and Goings

Mike SteffanosMonday, December 19, 2005
By Mike Steffanos

Some items of interest this evening for Mets fans:

Mets.com: Marty Noble's Mailbag
Once again, Marty Noble is answering the questions of the Great Unwashed at Mets.com. In response to a question regarding Seo vs. Zambrano for the fifth starter job, Noble offered the following:

There is no reason for the Mets to identify their No. 5 starter in December, and no benefit, either. But based on what happened late last season, Seo seemingly would have an edge. As always, Zambrano has a higher ceiling. His stuff makes him the clubhouse favorite to pitch the Mets' first no-hitter. But the footnote to that is one teammate's suggestion that Zambrano could pitch a no-hitter and lose. Seo is more consistent and reliable.

My favorite Noble response was to the question of who Marty believed should have their numbers retired by the Mets:

If the club were to retire another number, it seemingly would have to be 17, for Keith Hernandez, the player most critical to the team's run of success in the 1980s. Hernandez's arrival in 1983 initiated the transformation of the Mets' clubhouse culture. The emergence of Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden and the acquisition of Gary Carter transformed the team into a power.

But Hernandez was the key factor. Hernandez didn't win his MVP Award with the Mets -- the one he shared with Willie Stargell came in 1979 when he still was with the Cardinals -- but he was the leader in MVP points in the National League from 1984-88 and, not coincidentally, played in more victories than any Major League player during that five-year sequence.

I couldn't agree with him more. The years from 1977 - 1983 constituted the absolute nadir of Mets' history, with 6 90+ loss seasons out of 7; only the strike in 1981 stopped them from "achieving" this an imperfect 7 out of 7 years. When Hernandez came to the team in 1983, the attitude changed. Losing was no longer "okay". To this day, Hernandez is my image of what a ballplayer should be; at bat, in the field, and as a leader. It's an absolute crime the Mets haven't retired his number 17.

Also at Mets.com: No More Ishii
In a press release at Mets.com, the sad news that Mets and Kaz Ishii have parted ways is mitigated by the happier news of a trio of signings. Relievers Darren Oliver, Pedro Feliciano and Jose Parra have all signed minor league contracts with the Mets, and will report to spring training to battle for a bullpen position. Here's what the press release had to say about the 3 amigos:

A 12-year Major League veteran, Oliver has compiled an 87-79 career record with a 5.07 ERA in 306 games and 228 starts. He has won 10 or more games in a season five times, most recently in 2003, when he was 13-11 for the Rockies. Oliver won a career-high 14 games in 1996 for the Texas Rangers.

Feliciano, 29, spent the 2005 season with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of the Japanese Pacific League. He compiled a 3-2 record with a 3.89 ERA (16 ER/37 IP) and 36 strikeouts in 37 appearances. Feliciano appeared in 22 games for the Mets in 2004, going 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA (11 ER/18 1/3 IP). Feliciano also appeared with New York during the 2002 and 2003 seasons. For his Mets career, he is 1-1 with a 4.21 ERA in 51 games.

Parra, 33, began the 2005 season with the Minor League affiliate of the Orix Buffaloes of the Japanese Pacific League. On June 1, he was called up to the Major League level, where he went 4-2 with a 4.09 ERA (15 ER/33 IP) in eight games (seven starts). Parra made 13 relief appearances for the Mets in 2004, going 1-0 with a 3.21 ERA (five ER/14 IP) and 14 strikeouts.

We already knew about Oliver. He's an extreme long shot, but falls into the "why not?" category. I never loved Feliciano all that much, but he's been here before and understands how to pitch in New York. The same could be said for Parra, who was actually impressive in his first go-round in 2004. I couldn't understand why he wasn't invited back last year. He had decent stuff, and a cool demeanor on the mound. Who knows with the Mets sometimes? 2004 was the year they virtually gave away Dan Wheeler.

Also at Mets.com: Next Stop: Shea
The Hot Stove edition of Next Stop: Shea video is on-line, featuring interviews with Carlos Delgado, Billy Wagner, Omar Minaya, and Lastings Milledge. Milledge? Is he still here?

MLB.com: Graves signs with Cleveland
Justice B. Hill (yes, that is his name) reports that former Mets failed experiment Danny Graves has signed a minor league contract with the Indians, and will attempt to make the major league club so that he can blow 8 run leads for them. Good luck.

The Metropolitans: Paul Lo Duca
Mike from the Metropolitans takes an in-depth statistical look at the likelihood that teams will be running on the new Mets' catcher. On the bright side, it should offer extra incentive to Mets pitchers to keep runners from getting on base.

Mets Geek: It's not easy being Kaz
Andrew Hintz does a very interesting profile on Mr. Matsui, the Kaz the Mets still have; what went wrong and what might possibly still go right.

USAHockey.com: The puck stops here
Randy Schultz offers a look at the Tom Glavine who almost had a pro hockey career. Coming out of high school in Concord, Massachusetts, Glavine received scholarship offers to play hockey in college, and was drafted by the LA Kings. He was also drafted in the second round by the Atlanta Braves, and we all know the choice he made.

Even though baseball won out over hockey, Glavine still loves the sport, and is a big fan. But he doesn't second-guess himself:

I have no regrets about my professional decision. I know I made the right one for myself, but I'll always love the game of hockey. It's in my blood.

Just don't give us Met fans any regrets, either, Tom.

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