It's September, which means just one month remains in Major League Baseball's regular season. It also means that teams can expand their rosters from 25 players to a maximum of up to 40 players.
With the minor league seasons coming to a close, the New York Mets have added nine players to the big league club.
Outfielder/First Baseman Marlon Anderson will come off the disabled list and join the team. Getting the call from the minors will be second baseman Argenis Reyes, infielder Ramon Martinez, catcher Gustavo Molina, and pitchers Carlos Muniz, Jon Niese, Al Reyes, Robert Parnell, and Ricardo Rincon.
Pitcher Nelson Figueroa was recalled from Triple-A last week when Ramon Castro went on the disabled list.
Some notable minor leaguers whom the Mets decided not to call up include Eddie Kunz, Fernando Martinez, and Mike Carp. It's best to let Martinez, the Mets' top prospect, begin his off season. I don't think it would have been a good idea to bring him up in the middle of a heated pennant race, especially since he had some injury troubles this year.
Kunz, on the other hand, is a bigger question mark. Perhaps the Mets organization has decided he's not quite ready yet and could use some work with his control. Jerry Manuel was very careful with him in his stint in the majors earlier this year and used him sparingly.
It's good to see Argenis Reyes back with the big club after a very brief stint in Triple-A. He has provided some excellent defense at second base for the Mets this year (zero errors in 89 chances), and has done nothing but hustle.
He will have to battle with Luis Castillo and Damion Easley for playing time, but might get one or two starts per week, and likely will see time late in games as a defensive replacement and pinch hitter.
The other two position players called up, Ramon Martinez and Gustavo Molina, probably won't get much playing time.
Martinez (53 games, .289, two HR with AAA New Orleans) is there just in case Jerry Manuel might need him in an extra innings game. Molina (74 G, .206, seven HR with New Orleans) will be the Mets third catcher, allowing Manuel to use his other two catchers (Brian Schneider and Robinson Cancel) however he pleases.
The Mets will get some bullpen help from the call-ups. At the very least, they will be different names and faces for Jerry Manuel to call on.
Muniz has been going back and forth between New York and New Orleans this year. In 18 relief appearances with the Mets, Muniz is 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA. He likely will be used in mop-up duty and when the Mets need a couple of innings out of one guy.
The Mets signed Al Reyes (to give them a trio of Reyes') on Aug. 20 shortly after Tampa Bay released him when he declined a minor league assignment. He spent the remainder of August with Double-A Binghamton where he pitched five scoreless innings. Reyes saved 26 games for Tampa last year, but had a dismal 4.90 ERA.
According to Jerry Manuel, Bobby Parnell, who had a 4.30 ERA at Double-A Binghamton, won't get much work on the mound.
These next three guys figure to be important parts of the Mets' playoff push.
Jerry Manuel has stated that he will use lefty Ricardo Rincon in important situations down the stretch. Rincon now gives Manuel three left-handers in the bullpen.
I'm sure Manuel will be using them to get the match-ups he wants like he has all year. Rincon would have made the team out of spring training if the Mets were able to trade Scott Schoeneweis (they weren't).
Rincon was lent to a Mexican league team this season, but has been an effective reliever for most of his career. He holds a career 3.58 ERA.
Nelson Figueroa started six games for the Mets earlier this year, and also made three relief appearances. In those games, he was 2-3 with a 5.12 ERA. In 16 starts and four relief appearances with Triple-A New Orleans, Figueroa was 4-7 with a 4.43 ERA. He likely will be used in the bullpen, and everyone knows the Mets will take any help they can get there.
It was often noted that as a starter, Figueroa usually did well the first two times through the order, but once hitters had seen him a couple times, he would struggle. Maybe he is better suited for the bullpen. He earned the win against Milwaukee yesterday while pitching a scoreless inning.
Perhaps the most talked about call-up is Jonathan Niese. The 21-year-old southpaw will make his major league debut tonight against the Brewers in place of the injured John Maine.
We'll see how he fairs against the potent Milwaukee lineup. Niese employs a low-90s fastball and a decent change-up. However, his best pitch is his big looping curve ball.
The Mets drafted Niese out of high school in the seventh round of the 2005 draft. He is the Mets' top pitching prospect and has fared well in the minor leagues this season. Niese posted a 3.04 ERA with Double-A Binghamton, while striking out 112 batters in 124.1 innings (8.12 K/9).
He tossed two complete games, one being a shutout. After getting the call to Triple-A, Niese responded with five wins and a 3.40 ERA in seven starts. If Maine is able to return this season, I think Niese could be quite effective in a middle relief role, for the remainder of this season only, of course.