Once a Met, always a Met. For better or worse (and most times worse). As we prepare to invest ourselves in the 2014 New York Mets, let’s take a quick refresher on what 10 notable former recent Mets, beloved or otherwise, are up to.
Mar 9, 2014; Kissimmee, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher R.A. Dickey (43) pitches in the third inning against the Houston Astros in a spring training exhibition game at Osceola County Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports
The 2012 National League Cy Young laureate had a rough start to his Toronto tenure but got things on track in the last half of the 2013 season to finish 14-13 with a 4.21 ERA for the last-place Blue Jays. He won his first-career Gold Glove (thanks to catches like this), which will go nicely with his shout-out from Han Solo himself, Harrison Ford. For the second year in a row, Dickey will get the Opening Day start for the Jays. Another ex-Met, Josh Thole, will compete to catch the knuckler for Toronto going forward.
Last year’s breakout Mets outfielder continued his hot streak in Pittsburgh, helping the Pirates get back to the playoffs and push the Cardinals to the brink in the NLDS. He stayed in Pennsylvania over the offseason, signing with the Phillies for $16 million over two years to start in the outfield. With the rest of Philly’s lineup about the same age, maybe Byrd felt he could feel like one of the kids there.
He who gave the Mets their first no-hitter in 2012 is still recovering from the shoulder surgery that gutted his 2013 campaign. Santana signed a minor-league deal with the Orioles, which includes $3 million if he makes it to Baltimore. Johan is set to throw off a half-mound next.
Speaking of No-Han, the man whose self-sacrificing catch saved the day went to the opposite coast over the offseason, signing with the Dodgers as a bat off the bench. Baxter will get the occasional spot-start, such as he did in the second Sydney game this past weekend.
Mar 11, 2014; Surprise, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman Justin Turner (10) after making the final out of the fourth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Baxter is joined in L.A. by SoCal native Justin Turner, who started Opening Day at second base and will look to play the same utility role for the Dodgers as he played for the Mets. Le Grande Orange, Jr. made New York headlines last week for some choice words about said media and how the Mets utilize it.
Maybe it was the cold of Toronto compared to the warmth of Miami, but the 2011 NL batting champion could not stay healthy in his first season with the Blue Jays, playing only 93 games in 2013 with an ankle problem. Jose’s pesky hamstrings are acting up again; he’s day-to-day and headed for an MRI. While it was painful to see him bolt for the Marlins, seeing his legs give out consistently serve as a reminder why Sandy Alderson didn’t up the ante.
Beltran finally got over the hump and into the World Series in 2013 when his Cardinals lost to the Red Sox in six games. He now plays for the Yankees. That is all.
Sep 17, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Mike Pelfrey (37) throws a pitch against the Chicago White Sox during the first inning at U.S Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
Last year, Big Pelf bounced back from Tommy John surgery like a dead cat, going 5-13 with a 5.19 ERA for the Twins. Pelfrey is currently in a race with Kevin Correia to become Minnesota’s third starter, which speaks volumes on the current state of the Minnesota rotation. He also saw his alma mater Wichita State, which could lead to distraught start to the season. Even more distraught, that is.
The much kinder version of Bobby Bonilla was released by the Mariners after four lackluster months in 2013. He is now retired; the only balls he’ll swing and miss at now are wiffle balls kids in the backyard. (Although let’s face it, those suckers are tricky!)
He who had the “strength to be there” in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS is now 36 years old and had a solid year as a Seattle bench player in 2013. Look for him to bounce up and down the Mariners organization throughout 2014.
Did I miss your favorite former recent Met? Is there another ex-Amazin’ whose every at-bat or pitch you flip to whenever he’s front and center? The comments section is yours.