Yeah, I thought Bell had some promise when we had him. But the entire '05 bullpen was a disaster, and Bell may not have been the best of the bad lot.
In any case, the Mets were actually worse than last year (last year wasn't a total disaster until Wagner went down) and not a single one of them was back for '06 (though we did get Bert Hernandez back at the deadline, along with Ollie Perez, after Duaner Sanchez went down).
So, all I can really say about Bell is that I'm glad that he's doing well where he is, and glad that he's not in our division—not that the Pads as a whole will scare anybody this year anyway.
Speaking of Bell, Royce Ring (the supposed hot prospect lefty reliever that we got from the ChiSox for Robby Alomar who did even worse for us in '05) just pitched a scoreless inning and a third against us today for the Cards. And yeah, they still have Pujols and Chris Duncan held out of the WBC—both contributing mightily to slaughtering us.
Oh well, it is only Spring Training.
The guys who are in the WBC are getting to play (and they did get the 80-pitch opposite-field drill, which some of them might even still remember in April), and we get to figure out which of our new (and not so new) "small names," as Nick put it, are worth keeping around. Still looks like Freddy Garcia will not be among them, though he claimed he felt better today.
And more email about the Jon Matlack
post—and yes, I am a jerk for spelling his name wrong.
To be fair, Matlack (first name spelled "Jon," by the way) had had a lousy year in '77 (7-15, 4.21, which was a much worse ERA then, especially in the NL, than it would be now), and really only had one good year with Texas: 15-13, 2.27 in '78.
After that, he was .500 or below every year—ERA never below 3.5 (cf. his lifetime average of 3.18, though much of that is the difference between the DH and "pure" leagues), only one other year ('80) with more than 200 IP (pretty standard for a front-line starter in those days) or 100 K.
Milner had a couple of good years with the Pirates (and always seemed to kill us, if I remember correctly, and we were in the same division then and saw him 18 times a year), getting back to the World Series with them in '79 but not much after that. And don't forget, we also got Ken Henderson and Tom Grieve in that trade (;-).
But no, it was far from the best trade that the Mets ever made—but these being the Mets, far from the worst either.
Remember, this was the regime of M. Donald Grant, who earlier that same year had traded Tom Seaver. Not coincidentally, the previous year was the last time that the Mets finished over .500 (or were anywhere near contending) until '84.
I've been reaching out to some slightly older Mets' fans to walk me through the transition from '73 to '77. It's a little before my time, but I'm increasingly interested in how the Mets went from outdrawing the Yankees by a million fans, to being the team that I remember with five starters hitting .230 or less.
Comments and memories welcome at shannonshark at gmail dot com.