June 19, 2007

What's A SeaWolf?

Slumping or not, no team was going to score a lot of runs off Chien-Ming Wang Sunday night. I thought it was one of the two or three strongest performances of his career -- he struck out 10, a personal high, and came one out away from a complete game. It felt like a statement, especially with ESPN broadcasting the whole performance nationwide. And apparently he couldn't quite shake a stiff neck that night, but tell that to the Mets.

Scary thought: what if Wang's actually getting better? Not only not regressing, but successfully mixing his new pitches in, a slider and a change, while still throwing hard... he's only 27. I'm going to stop myself here because I don't want to read too much into a few games, but damn.

The Mets, meanwhile, broke out against the Twins last night, with an 8-1 win. You knew they were due for one of those, but it's sure been a long time coming. John Maine was at his best, and the Mets would probably have done even more damage if it weren't for some jaw-dropping defensive plays. In the fifth inning, sandwiched between two terrific outfield plays, Luis Castillo ranged way to his left to snag a Carlos Beltran ground ball and then flipped it behind his back to Jason Bartlett for the force. It looked like a Jason Kidd pass. Jorge Sosa is facing demigod Johan Santana tonight, though, so an immediate winning streak is a lot to ask.

In other news, Jack Curry in the Times looked back on Jeter's first days in the minors, with a lot of quotes from Ricky Ledee -- former Yanks reserve outfielder, now a rarely-utilized journeyman on the Mets, who chipped in last night with a 2-RBI single and a home run. Ledee never lived up to his potential, but he was likeable, and I remember feeling absolutely horrible for him when he was traded in 2000 as part of a package for David Justice:

About a half-hour before tonight's game, Torre summoned Ledee into his office and told the outfielder -- who signed with the Yankees 10 years ago, when he was 16 -- that he was being traded.

Ledee said goodbye to Jeter, Posada and a few others, but could not face the rest of the team, fearing he would be unable to contain his emotions. His eyes were puffy and welled with tears when he spoke to reporters. ''It's sad,'' he said. ''It's very, very sad. I'm just sad I couldn't put it together with the Yankees, the team I wanted to be with.''


Reading that same New York Times article (by awesome then-beat writer Buster Olney), the Yanks were very close to trading for Sammy Sosa, a Steinbrenner favorite, instead of Justice, in a deal that could have involved sending Alfonso Soriano among others to the Cubs. Ugh -- disaster narrowly averted there.

Would the Yanks even have gotten to the World Series that year without David Justice? And could they still have pulled off a trade for A-Rod with Soriano already gone? Imagine the weird parallel universe possibilities... a Mets World Series victory in 2000, maybe? A Soriano-fueled Cubs World Series in 2003? A-Rod still rotting quietly in Texas -- or traded to, shudder, the Red Sox instead?

I imagine Brian Cashman's happy to forget all about this little episode. But do you think former Cubs president Andy MacPhail (who left to join the Orioles yesterday) ever lies awake nights muttering, "perhaps I should not have insisted so firmly on the inclusion of prospects Alex Graman* or Jackson Melian**"?

*Now pitching for the Seibu Lions.
**Now playing for the Erie SeaWolves!

1 comment:

Keith R.A. DeCandido said...

Would the Yanks even have gotten to the World Series that year without David Justice?

Not a chance in hell. That was one of Cashman's best deals, even though I too was sad to see Ledee go.