The Mets had a busy day back from the All Star break - here's the breakdown:
RICKS - Down (far left) is out, Henderson (near left) is in. Rick Down was fired as the Mets hitting coach. The Mets have not yet named a replacement. Rickey Henderson is the newest Mets coach, but his specific role has not been announced. The speculation is that Howard Johnson will become the new hitting coach - he was a hitting coach in the Mets' minor league system, and was the hitting coach for the Norfolk Tides when David Wright came through (and possibly at other levels with Wright). That's the speculation. If that happens, does Henderson assume the first base coach role? Would anyone understand a word he says if he does become first base coach? Lots of questions from this move...some of the answers should come on Friday.
OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE YOUNG - The Mets released Julio Franco (far left) in order to make a roster spot available for Lastings Milledge (near), back from the minors and an injury. At first the thought occurred to me that after a day or so the Mets would give Franco a coaching job, but I read on mets.com that Franco would have asked for his release in a week or so, because he has been disappointed with his playing time over the past year and a half. He wants to play until he's 50 (he'll be 49 in about a month and a half), and he needs more playing time, he says, to be ready for that. I wonder if there was some truth to the rumor that Franco was stirring up some discontent in the clubhouse. He was not upset that he was released...I haven't heard reaction from his teammates.
FALLOUT - I heard an interview with Willie Randolph before Thursday's game - he didn't seem too happy with the firing of Down, one of his guys.
Just throwing this out there...but might one of my guys become the hitting coach? Maybe bring in Gary Carter...and that's why he hasn't been working this year? Maybe the Mets knew someone like Down was on a short(ish) leash, and he's on standby for a job? This is more wishful thinking on my part...but there's some logic there.
I don't know how the team will react to the Franco release. I know lots of players understand the business aspect of the game - but one of the reasons Franco was here was to be a mentor to the young part of the team. How will those young guys react?, I wonder. The other piece of Julio Franco's release is that Ramon Castro will now get more pinch-hitting appearances. With Sandy Alomar, Jr. up, as a possible injury replacement at catcher, the Mets can spare Castro.
HISTORY IN THURSDAY'S GAME: Jose Reyes and Ruben Gotay led off the first inning for the Mets with back-to-back homers off Reds starter Bronson Arroyo - the first time in Mets history that has happened.
Speaking of leadoff men...Scott Hatteberg hit leadoff for the Reds. That's weird.
INJURIES: Oliver Perez should be back to make his start on Sunday.
How about this - I heard Gary Cohen report on SNY that Ruben Gotay started on Thursday because Jose Valentin hurt a finger trying to break up a fight over the break. Wonderful. He's already battling a sore knee...he is in really bad shape and shouldn't even be playing...but he's got incentives to meet in his contract and is trying to battle through the injuries.
BEAT THE STREAK: FYI - I'm at 10 games through Thursday. I'll highlight the milestones.