This Date In Mets History: January 10 — Big Pelf Signs A Big Contract

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Six-foot-seven right-hander had some big moments, but gave us some big headaches too.

Before he threw his first professional pitch, Mike Pelfrey inked a $5.25 million, four-year deal with the Mets on this date seven years ago. Making Big Pelf their number one pick (ninth overall) the previous June was a no-brainer, but his inconsistent performance with the Mets has caused a lot of head scratching.

Struggling to keep his ERA under six and demoted twice in 2007, he won three of his four starts that September and followed that up with a solid campaign in 2008. He was awful again in 2009, then had a career year in 2010 (15-9, 3.66 ERA). Are you noticing a pattern here?

With Johan Santana out for the season he was thrust into the role of ace in 2011 and was, to put it kindly, not up to the task. This should not have been a total surprise to anyone paying attention. The previous year had been a microcosm of his career, consisting of two brilliant streaks sandwiched around a seven-start stretch from June 30 to August 4 when he couldn’t get past the fifth inning and racked up an 8.10 ERA. He looked really sharp and focused in the three starts he made last season before a torn elbow ligament ended his season and, as it turned out, his career as a Met.

Perhaps Pelf’s biggest problem has been the lack of a consistent strikeout pitch. He has averaged only about five strikeouts per nine innings, which has made him hittable and led to a WHIP of 1.46. He also doesn’t travel well, posting a 5.30 road ERA, largely attributable to his giving up home runs twice as frequently outside the more pitcher-friendly confines of Shea and Citi Field.

Good luck with the Twins, Big Pelf. Pitching in the designated hitter league, you’ll need it.

Birthdays

Happy 46th birthday to Kevin Baez. After two cups of coffee in 1990 and 1992, the light-hitting shortstop got some serious playing time spelling Tim Bogar in ’93. Unfortunately no one could take his hitting seriously. This April, Baez will begin his third season as manager of the independent Atlantic League’s Long Island Ducks, working for — and alongside — team co-owner and bench coach Bud Harrelson.

New York in 1990 was just a 16-game whistle stop in the four-city major league career of infielder Mario Diaz, who turns 51 today. He lasted nine years as a bench player despite a subpar bat and glove.

Outfielder/first baseman Jim Lindeman, also 51, was another nine-year part-timer, although more often than not with the 1994 Mets he found himself in the starting lineup. In his last hurrah in the majors he drove in 20 runs in 137 at-bats and banged seven homers, eight doubles, and a triple, resulting in a career-high .496 slugging percentage.

Kelvin Torve turns 53 today. When he came up to the Mets in 1990 he was mistakenly given uniform No. 24, which had been unofficially retired in honor of Willie Mays. It proved to be a magic number for Torve: In his first official at-bat he stroked a pinch-hit two-run double that put the Mets ahead to stay against the Phillies on August 9, and for the eight games in which he wore Willie’s 24 he posted a Mays-worthy OPS of 1.196. After he surrendered it for the more pedestrian No. 39, he went 4-for-27 the rest of the season and oh-for-eight the following summer, after which it was “Kelvin, say goodbye to America.”

Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection

"Hi, I'm Larry, this my brother Darryl, and this is my other brother Darryl." Actor William Sanderson, who turns 65 today, spoke that now famous line in 87 episodes of the TV series "Newhart." The last time he did so was on May 21, 1990. That same night, the Mets' own Darryl and Daryl — Strawberry and Boston — both homered, a tandem feat they would repeat five more times before the season was over.

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