Return of the Mikes

When the Padres come to town tomorrow, it'll be the Shea Stadium homecoming of two deservingly fan-beloved recent Mets, Mike Piazza and Mike Cameron.  Before the series starts is a good time to catch up with how they've been doing this year in San Diego.

Mike Piazza left as a free agent after the Mets organization made clear he wouldn't be the team's starting catcher in 2006.  The Mets subsequently traded for Paul LoDuca, and Piazza, finding the free-agent catching/DH market surprisingly poor, signed for relatively little money (1 year, $2M) with the Padres in exchange for a chance to start regularly behind the plate.  Since going there (and after getting off to a terrible start in April) he's had a bit of a renaissance in limited duty, putting up a .297/.354/.525 batting line with 16 homers in just under 300 at-bats so far.  His current OPS of .879 would make this season his best since 2002.

Mike Cameron was traded for Xavier Nady in November, a move that served several purposes.  It cleared a lot of salary off the Mets' books and brought back a younger, already league-average offensive player with some chance to improve.  It also got Cameron a chance to return to center field, his preferred position and the one that best showcases his extraordinary defense.  In exchange, though, he had to return to play every day on the field where he suffered one of the worst injuries I've ever seen in baseball.  Cameron has put up a .262/.343/.471 line with 15 HR in just under 400 at-bats in San Diego this year, and he hasn't missed too much time, starting 92 games in center field so far -- right in line with his career numbers (and his 2005 Mets season, after he had an off year in '04).  Considering his fielding skills it's a very valuable performance.

Here's a fun, if fluffy Newsday story on Piazza's "day at the beach" with the Padres. Feel free to post your links and thoughts on the two Mikes' return to Shea in the comments.

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