Friday, July 12, 2013


Doug Mientkiewicz was traded from the Boston Red Sox to the New York Mets in exchange for minor league prospect Ian Bladergroen on January 26, 2005. Doug had been a part of the 2004 World Series Champions, but lost favor with the team over a misunderstanding about the game ball involved in the final out. The first baseman Mientkiewicz kept that ball at the conclusion of Game Seven. Even though he had acknowledged this from the beginning, the Boston ownership appeared confused later when it was not surrendered back to them.

The Mets were glad to obtain the sure-handed Mientkiewicz once their preferred off-season option for the position, Carlos Delgado signed a free agent contract with the Florida Marlins. "I thought if we could not get that power bat that Delgado is, the best way to go was to go out and get as good a first baseman as possible," Mets general manager Omar Minaya explained. "Mientkiewicz is a former Gold Glove winner. To bring him on board, I think it just makes our defense better."

Doug made his Mets debut on Opening Day, April 4, 2005 facing the Reds in Cincinnati. Collecting two hits in the 7-6 New York loss. As the season moved on it saw the veteran left-handed hitter surprisingly hitting for a low batting average, but delivering more home runs. On just May 9th, he hit his sixth round-tripper to decide a 7-4 victory over the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. That number equaled his output from all the previous year. "We didn't expect him to hit this many home runs," Mets manager Willie Randolph acknowledged. "He's got his share so far. He's got some big ones for us."

The team loved his clubhouse presence, but by late May he had dipped to a .200 batting average and the eight spot in the batting order. "I feel this sickness." a disgusted Doug told the media. At the time actually apologizing to "every Mets fan in America." The decision was made to begin offering more playing time to Chris Woodward and Miguel Cairo at first base. Then called up Brian Daubach from Triple-A to man the position on June 16th.

Matters were complicated more when Mientkiewicz suffered a right hamstring injury while on the on-deck circle June 26th. "Pull a muscle in the on-deck circle. how do you do that?" Willie Randolph questioned. Doug was placed on the 15-day disabled list, and the Mets recalled Jose Offerman from Triple-A Norfolk. Mientkiewicz would return to New York, but serve a second stint on the DL in August. Doug injured his lower back breaking up a double play at Shea Stadium in a game facing the Milwaukee Brewers. Just as he began to turn his offensive woes around. This time the Mets replaced him with prospect Mike Jacobs who enjoyed immediate success, and looked to be the first baseman of the future.

The club declined it's option on Mientkiewicz for the 2006 season, and he signed with the Kansas City Royals as a free agent on December 16, 2005. Doug finished his one year with the Mets hitting 11 home runs, 29 RBIs, and a .240 batting average in 87 games. "I'm a very humble person with the bat," Mientkiewicz explained. "I'm very confident with the glove in my hand."

Doug Mientkiewicz signed his card in the set during the GBSCC Shriners Show held by Sure Shot Promotions on November 4, 2012.

Thursday, July 11, 2013


Ricky Gutierrez came to the New York Mets on March 29, 2004. He was traded from the Cleveland Indians along with cash to the Mets for a player to be named later. (The Mets would later complete the deal by sending cash considerations in lieu of a player.) A serious injury forced Gutierrez to undergo risky surgery in October 2002 which fused two vertebrae in his neck. His return to baseball was questionable. During that year's spring training camp he had proved able to play, but the Indians were unable to find a roster spot for the veteran middle infielder. "I'm just happy that someone else wanted me," Ricky said before leaving Cleveland's camp.

"Ricky overcame odds that no one thought he could," Indians general manager Mark Shapiro said. "This guy is a pro, and I don't use that word lightly." The Mets were looking at Gutierrez to back up José Reyes who had been moved to second base to accommodate the addition of Kaz Matsui at shortstop. When Reyes suffered a hamstring injury at the end of spring training it placed Ricky as the starting second baseman on Opening Day. Gutierrez made his Mets debut hitting a single in his first at-bat at Turner Field on April 6th during the 7-2 New York victory over the Atlanta Braves.

The 33-year-old Gutierrez was playing everyday with Reyes on the disabled list. Unfortunately his slumping bat was became an issue because of that. In 24 games he managed 11 hits in 63 at-bats, while driving in 5 runs for a .175 batting average. The Mets chose to replace Ricky with a prospect in Triple-A named Danny Garcia. Gutierrez was released by the club on May 25, 2004.

Ricky finished the season on a high note. He was first picked up by the Chicago Cubs and then traded to the Boston Red Sox. There he became part of their historic 2004 World Series Championship.

Ricky Gutierrez signed his card in the set during the GBSCC Shriners Show held by Sure Shot Promotions on November 4, 2012.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


Tony Fernandez joined the New York Mets when he was traded from the San Diego Padres in exchange for D.J. Dozier, Raul Casanova and Wally Whitehurst on October 26, 1992. The veteran shortstop had been a former All-Star with the Toronto Blue Jays. Winning a World Series title with the Jays in 1993. Club economics forced the Padres to deal away Fernandez to a Mets team in dire need of a established shortstop.

"While he might have lost a step along the way, this guy is an offensive catalyst," said Mets' assistant vice president of baseball operations, Gerry Hunsicker. "I think we can expect he'll hit .270, .280 for us. I think he's a very productive player and wouldn't be surprised if he's in the All-Star game next year."

When spring training for the 1993 season began it did look as if the Mets had found their man to compliment second-year man, Jeff Kent up the middle of the infield. "The heart of any defense starts with the shortstop and Tony's going to give us a lot." Kent offered to reporters in March. "He'll add the spark to the flame and we're going to ride his coattails."

Fernandez struggled both offensively and defensively once the season began. The switch-hitter made his Mets debut on Opening Day at Shea Stadium on April 5, 1993. He collected his first hit in a New York uniform the next day, but uncharacteristically also committed two errors. On April 26th it was learned that Tony had been playing through discomfort in his right abdominal area. The pain coming from a kidney stone in his lower urinary tract. The Mets sidelined him a couple of days until he was able to pass the stone. The former gold-glove shortstop registered two more errors in the 10-5 New York loss to the San Francisco Giants at Candlestick Park on April 28th.

On June 11, 1993, the Mets traded Fernandez to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for outfielder Darrin Jackson. Tony bothered by a variety of thumb injuries had appeared in 48 games and registered one home run, 14 RBIs and a low .225 batting average. "I do not think it was enough games to judge if a man can produce," Fernandez said at the time of the trade. "But I respect their decision. I'm sad that I let people down." Tony appears to have been correct as he finished the 1993 season in Toronto batting .306. He would also go on to play six more seasons and became an American League All-Star again in 1999.

Tony Fernandez signed his card in the set during a private signing held by Craig Nyman in Surprise, Arizona on March 17, 2013.