The Time Has Come For d’Arnaud

After the 1974 season, the Mets – sensing their catcher Jerry Grote was starting to show his age – needed to find a younger option.

Without any in the organization, the team shipped popular but quirky pitcher Tug McGraw to the Philadelphia Phillies for catching prospect John Stearns, among other players.

Although McGraw went on to pitch in Philly for nine more seasons, the trade worked out as Stearns went on to become a four-time All-Star for the Mets over the next seven years and his tough play made him one of the few reasons to watch the club during those lean years of the late 1970s.

Sandy Alderson is hoping history will repeat itself.

Because this past off-season, the organization shipped popular but quirky pitcher R.A. Dickey to the Toronto Blue Jays for catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud, among other players.

D’Arnaud is supposed to be the real deal, a player that will fit right in with an organization with a history of All-Star catchers. And coming into the year, he looked like he was ready after hitting .333 and 16 homers in Triple-A during the 2012 season.

But after breaking his foot the first month of the year, questions started popping up about d’Arnaud’s health and if he may not be the next big thing for the Mets.

It’s now time, though, to find out. After John Buck came back from paternity leave, the Mets decided to keep d’Arnaud on the roster, optioning Anthony Recker and having their prize in the lineup every day.

“There are six weeks left and we have games against the Braves, Washington, who is still fighting and Cincinnati,” said manager Terry Collins. “We have games against a lot of teams still in the hunt. So we are going to learn a lot. We are going to see a lot of people who player (in the majors) every day. So we will get a nice sample here to see if Travis can handle it.”

In his first four games, the 24 year-old didn’t embarrass himself. Defensively he seems very comfortable behind the plate, and after going 0-10 to start the season, he finally got his first hit tonight.

“The job he did yesterday with Dillon [Gee], and the job he did today, I think his pitch selection is outstanding,” Collins said. “Now that he knows he’s going to be here, I think he’s relaxed more behind the plate, he’s receiving the ball better and, yes, I think that hit is going to make a huge difference.

“He’s got a quick bat, he’s had some good at-bats, but I know that one means a lot to him and I’m really glad he got it.”

That doesn’t mean the kid is embarrassing himself. D’Arnaud also walked five times his first three games, the most in team history and some of those outs were just by a step.

And the Mets know that, which is why they kept d’Arnaud and made Buck his backup, which is fine because Buck has some wisdom when it comes to the National League.

“(Buck) knows this league, especially this division after being in it for the past few years,” Collins said. “He’s here to be a teammate and when he is in the lineup, he will produce.”

No one knows if Buck will be back next year. That’s another decision. The Mets, though, need to find out now if d’Arnaud is the real deal or if he will need more seasoning in the minors.

Posted under Anthony Recker, Four Games, Homers, Jerry Grote, Joe Mcdonald, Lean Years, Mets, Month Of The Year, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Sandy Alderson, Top Story, Tug Mcgraw

The Time Has Come For d’Arnaud

After the 1974 season, the Mets – sensing their catcher Jerry Grote was starting to show his age – needed to find a younger option.

Without any in the organization, the team shipped popular but quirky pitcher Tug McGraw to the Philadelphia Phillies for catching prospect John Stearns, among other players.

Although McGraw went on to pitch in Philly for nine more seasons, the trade worked out as Stearns went on to become a four-time All-Star for the Mets over the next seven years and his tough play made him one of the few reasons to watch the club during those lean years of the late 1970s.

Sandy Alderson is hoping history will repeat itself.

Because this past off-season, the organization shipped popular but quirky pitcher R.A. Dickey to the Toronto Blue Jays for catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud, among other players.

D’Arnaud is supposed to be the real deal, a player that will fit right in with an organization with a history of All-Star catchers. And coming into the year, he looked like he was ready after hitting .333 and 16 homers in Triple-A during the 2012 season.

But after breaking his foot the first month of the year, questions started popping up about d’Arnaud’s health and if he may not be the next big thing for the Mets.

It’s now time, though, to find out. After John Buck came back from paternity leave, the Mets decided to keep d’Arnaud on the roster, optioning Anthony Recker and having their prize in the lineup every day.

“There are six weeks left and we have games against the Braves, Washington, who is still fighting and Cincinnati,” said manager Terry Collins. “We have games against a lot of teams still in the hunt. So we are going to learn a lot. We are going to see a lot of people who player (in the majors) every day. So we will get a nice sample here to see if Travis can handle it.”

In his first four games, the 24 year-old didn’t embarrass himself. Defensively he seems very comfortable behind the plate, and after going 0-10 to start the season, he finally got his first hit tonight.

“The job he did yesterday with Dillon [Gee], and the job he did today, I think his pitch selection is outstanding,” Collins said. “Now that he knows he’s going to be here, I think he’s relaxed more behind the plate, he’s receiving the ball better and, yes, I think that hit is going to make a huge difference.

“He’s got a quick bat, he’s had some good at-bats, but I know that one means a lot to him and I’m really glad he got it.”

That doesn’t mean the kid is embarrassing himself. D’Arnaud also walked five times his first three games, the most in team history and some of those outs were just by a step.

And the Mets know that, which is why they kept d’Arnaud and made Buck his backup, which is fine because Buck has some wisdom when it comes to the National League.

“(Buck) knows this league, especially this division after being in it for the past few years,” Collins said. “He’s here to be a teammate and when he is in the lineup, he will produce.”

No one knows if Buck will be back next year. That’s another decision. The Mets, though, need to find out now if d’Arnaud is the real deal or if he will need more seasoning in the minors.

Posted under Anthony Recker, Four Games, Homers, Jerry Grote, Joe Mcdonald, Lean Years, Mets, Month Of The Year, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Sandy Alderson, Stearns, Top Story, Tug Mcgraw

Espo’s Trivia Challenge: Fun Facts 2013 Edition

Getting to know your Mets can be a fun process, especially if you look past the everyday fun stuff of hits, runs, errors, strikeouts, etc., you know…stats.

But ballplayers are people, too, or so they say, so sometimes there are moments in their illustrious past, often baseball related, and laced with stats, that are quite trivial, but can also amuse or entertain on a different level, and makes for interesting “facts” you can pass on to your friends when there’s a lull in your conversation.

For example, did you know that Jonathon Niese, was the last Mets pitcher to enter a game as a pinch-hitter?  He was, on April, 7, 2010, when he was sent up to bat for Hisanori Takahashi.

There you go, you’ll sound just like Ron Darling or Keith Hernandez when they’re tossing out a few tidbits during their SNY telecasts.

For this “Trivia Challenge,” we’re going to focus on the new guys and young players, and see how well you do.  Don’t worry, the first one’s a gimme.

 

 

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FILL IN THE BLANKS

 

1.___________________ is second to Mariano Rivera in game appearances by current major league pitchers. (No. 2 always tries harder, don’t they?)

 

  1. A.   FRANK FRANCISCO
  2. B.   LATROY HAWKINS
  3. C.   BRANDON LYON
  4. D.   PEDRO FELICIANO

 

2.___________________ was once traded for Carlos Beltran in a three-team multi-player deal. (Carlos Who?  Sounds familiar.)

 

  1. A.   JOHN BUCK
  2. B.   MARLON BYRD
  3. C.   LATROY HAWKINS
  4. D.   AARON LAFFEY

 

3. ______________ made his major league debut against the Mets in 2002.  (Went 0-3 in a loss to New York, and is still bummed about it)

 

  1. A.   BRANDON LYON
  2. B.   MARLON BYRD
  3. C.   SCOTT ATCHISON
  4. D.   SHAWN MARCUM

 

4._______________ was originally drafted by the Mets in 2005, but chose not to sign with New York. (What? And missed out on all that fun in 2006?)

 

  1. A.   COLLIN COWGILL
  2. B.   ANTHONY RECKER
  3. C.   BRANDON LYON
  4. D.   GREG BURKE

 

5._______________ was drafted by the NHL Carolina Hurricanes, but chose to play baseball instead of hockey.  (His dentist was disappointed)

 

  1. A.   MATT HARVEY
  2. B.   GREG BURKE
  3. C.   JAMIE HOFFMAN
  4. D.   SHAWN MARCUM

 

6._______________ played two years with the Hanshin Tigers in Japan’s Central League.  (Sushi for everyone in the clubhouse!)

 

  1. A.   SCOTT ATCHISON
  2. B.   MARLON BYRD
  3. C.   SCOTT RICE
  4. D.   LATROY HAWKINS

 

7.______________ has been traded four times, the greatest amount of times being dealt by any Met on the current 40-man roster.  (And keeps a bag packed at all times)

 

  1. A.   LATROY HAWKINS
  2. B.   MARLON BYRD
  3. C.   BRANDON LYON
  4. D.   SCOTT RICE

 

8.______________ was once voted “Mr. Baseball” by his high school. (Does Tom Selleck know about this assault on his title?)

 

  1. A.   KIRK NIEUWENHUIS
  2. B.   LUCAS DUDA
  3. C.   MIKE BAXTER
  4. D.   COLLIN COWGILL

 

9._______________ is a season ticket holder for the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs. (Really?  The Chiefs?  And he’ll admit to it?)

 

10.______________ became the 962nd player to appear in a game for the NY Mets on Opening Day.  (Shortly after this “new” Met became No. 962, he was soon followed by Nos. 963, 964, 965, 966, and 967 in that first game of the year.)

 

  1. A.   MARLON BYRD
  2. B.   JOHN BUCK
  3. C.   COLLIN COWGILL
  4. D.   SCOTT RICE

 

 

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ANSWERS

1.B

2.A

3.B

4.D

5.C

6.A

7.C

8.D

9.D

10.C  

 

Posted under Andy Esposito, Anthony Recker, Carlos Beltran, Espo, Everyday Fun, Fun Facts, Greg Burke, Latroy Hawkins, League Debut, Mariano Rivera, New York Mets, Niese, Ron Darling, Scott Atchison, Top Story, Trivia Challenge