Ken Davidoff is reporting that the Tim Redding deal is pretty much done, and that the former National will be making his way to Queens to compete with Jon Niese for the fifth rotation spot (assuming that we actually do sign Derek Lowe or Oliver Perez). More reaction here, here, here, and here. Reaction from the Nationals’ blogosphere here.
Most Mets fans probably have no idea who Tim Redding is, other than that guy who somehow won ten games for the Nationals last year. Having worked for the Nationals, I’ve seen Tim pitch a lot, and my impression of him is more favorable than not. He’s an innings eater who will always give his team a chance to win. In short, you know what you’re getting with him. And anecdotally, I’ll say this. The guy is serious about his game. I saw him in the clubhouse before a couple of his starts and no one goes near him. His expression is somewhere in between Mel Gibson in Braveheart and Russell Crowe in Gladiator. I think he’ll do well in New York, even if it’s only until Niese is ready to go.
What’s amusing about this signing, should it go through, is that is represents yet another link between the Mets and Nationals organizations. Let’s take a look at the players who have worn both blue and orange and red and white in their careers.
1) Lastings Milledge. Probably the most obvious player to have played for both organizations, Milledge was a top Mets prospect for years before wearing out his welcome in New York. Touted as a five-tools player, Milledge showed flashes, but never matured (or was given a chance to mature), and it was pretty clear that he wouldn’t stick around for long. He was seen as immature by Mets fans and players, a young punk who high-fived fans after hitting an inconsequential home run and who released an infamous hip hop record (Bend Ya Knees by L’Millz–best lyric: “L. Millz, not George Bush, be the President). Traded for Ryan Church and Brian Schneider, Milledge’s arrival in Washington was celebrated as an integral move in the Nationals’ youth movement. But after a mediocre year in which he hit .268 with 14 HR and 61 RBIs, and proved unfit to play center field, the Nationals have soured on him, and rumor is that a) the Nationals are trying to trade him and b) that they will open the center field position up for competition between Milledge, should he stay, and Elijah Dukes. Clearly, the Mets knew what they were doing in getting rid of him.
2) Ryan Church. It’s hard to judge this one, because Church really hasn’t had a fair shot in either Washington or New York. In DC, Church was seen as unable to hit lefties, and he platooned in left for a long time. He even made a trip to the minors in 2006. I’ll admit that I was less than excited for Omar to annoint him the everyday right fielder last year. But Church proved that he could hit anyone, and he was unquestionably the Mets’ MVP before getting his brains knocked around last summer. We’ll see if he regains his pre-second concussion form this year. As a sidenote, Church also infamously asked the Nationals’ chaplain if Jews could go to heaven. A perfect fit in New York.
3) Brian Schneider. The other piece of the trade for Milledge, Schneider supposedly would be the defensive catcher who the Mets lacked. As it turns out, he’s pretty mediocre, although he is a very nice guy, one of the nicest in baseball according to some. He also wears a hockey mask behind the plate. He’s been the same kind of player in both Washington and New York, a good clubhouse guy who apparently calls a good game, but a guy who can’t hit for anything.
4) Paul Lo Duca. The heart and soul of the 2006 Mets, Paulie broke our hearts when his name was announced on the Mitchell Report. Lo Duca was really the face of the Mets’ franchise, but it was clear by 2007 that he no longer had a place in the lineup as his skills began to diminish. He was also a pretty awful defensive catcher, and everyone stole on him. I mean I could probably steal on him. When the Nationals signed Lo Duca, there were plenty of questions about his steroid-using past, but a general optimism associated with his status as a clubhouse leader. And let me tell you, the Nationals need a clubhouse leader. I’ve met Paul, and he is that type of guy, a player who can motivate his teammates to win. But he couldn’t stay healthy on the Nationals, and was rendered useless once Jesus Flores (we’ll talk about him later) emerged. There was an attempt to transform Lo Duca into a utility player (he played first base and left field at various points in the season), but there was no room for four (yes, four) catchers on the Nationals’ roster, and he was released on August 1.
5) Anderson Hernandez. This is a strange case. Hernandez was the Mets’ opening day second baseman in 2006, but although he was flashy in the field, he couldn’t hit, and he soon became mired in Triple-A. He had no real future with the Mets, and then, suddenly, was traded for Luis Ayala this past August. When Hernandez arrived in Washington, he started a new life, and became a prolific hitter, hitting .333 in 81 plate appearances. WTF?!? As of now, Hernandez is the second baseman in Washington, and while I thought the Nats would sign Orlando Hudson to take over that position, they now say that they may be done with free agency for this year, which, in Jim Bowden‘s language, means that they are.
6) Luis Ayala. So I’ll admit it, I rooted for the Nationals last summer. I was working for them, so I sort of had to. But it was nice to root for the little team to succeed, except when it was against the Mets, of course. So this is why, when the Mets’ announced that they acquired Luis Ayala, my friends and family were confused to why I rattled off strings of expletives while pounding my fist repeatedly. Ayala used to be a good pitcher. Then he broke down, and started to royally suck. I mean, the guy was like Aaron Heilman‘s less-talented brother. I’ll admit it though, he held it together with the Mets for a while, and I was about to eat crow. That’s until he gave up quite the untimely home run in the last game of 2008, the icing on the bullpen cake. He also made fun of me in Spanish when I was interviewing his best buddy Saul Rivera. I’m not a fan.
7) Jesus Flores. Omar fails to protect him in the Rule-V draft, and he goes on to be the catcher of the future for the Nationals. Nice.
8 ) Endy Chavez. We’ll remember him for The Catch. The Nationals remember him for 7 games.
9) Marlon Anderson. I like Marlon Anderson. He seems like a good guy. He had a great year with the Mets in 2007, and I thought Omar made a great choice adding him to the team mid-year. But he was dreadful this year, and was probably more hurt than we knew. Anderson also played for the Nats, in 2006, hitting a respectable .274. He was traded to the Dodgers after scoring the winning run of a dramatic extra-innings game. Nice.
10) Manny Acta. Ah, the one who got away. A player favorite as a coach in New York, Manny soon found himself in greener pastures a couple of hundred miles south. But he may be soon put out to pasture if his team doesn’t turn it around. This after he received Manager of the Year votes in 2007. Interesting. I’m a huge Manny Acta fan. First of all, he’s a no-BS kind of guy. He looks like the rest of us, speaks like the rest of us, and acts like the rest of us. I remember standing at the Milledge/Lo Duca press conference last year and Manny walked in looking like a 13-year old whose father just tied his tie for him, with a smile from ear to ear. But don’t let the apppearance fool you, Manny Acta is an innovator. He is well known to use Sabermetrics in his daily decision-making, and I have no doubt that he will be a general manager in the future. I’m a Jerry Manuel fan, but should Acta become available, the temptation to bring him back to New York will be great (and, if you believe the rumors in Washington, Manny already wants to come back).
11) Omar Minaya. Technically, he was never employed by the Nationals, but Omar Minaya’s warmup gig came as General Manager for the Montreal Expos. But this counts, because several moves Omar made were pivotal in ruining the Nationals’ future. The most notable was a trade bringing Bartolo Colon and Tim Drew to Montreal in exchange for Lee Stevens, Brandon Phillips, Cliff Lee, and Grady Sizemore. Omar’s tenure in New York has been less disastrous, but still marred by several late-season collapses and a few head-scratching moves (ahem Luis Castillo ahem). But the fact is that the Mets are a stronger brand because of Omar Minaya, and more of the moves he makes than not turn out well (in particular, the Johan Santana deal was very well done on his part).
So when Redding joins the Mets this spring, he’ll hardly be the first person to move from one franchise to the other. It’s a curious connection between these two teams that keeps getting more interesting.