The Mets held a mini-Generation K reunion on this date in 2011 by signing Jason Isringhausen to a minor league contract and offering him an invite to spring training. At the time, the knuckle-curve practitioner was nearly a year and half removed from his last MLB appearance, which came on June 13, 2009 as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays. Izzy's 2009 season ended abruptly due to Tommy John surgery, while complications from the operation put the kibosh on a potential 2010 comeback with the Reds' Triple-A affiliate after just five-plus innings.
Given Isringhausen's injury track record, the signing seemed to be nothing more than a feel-good story for an organization that desperately needed one, given the disappointment on the previous two years and the looming Bernie Madoff settlement. Yet, the deal turned out kinda OK from a baseball standpoint, too. Izzy joined the Mets bullpen after a brief stint in extended spring training and pitched pretty effectively until fading fast in season's final months. One of the lone bright spots of the team's (now-traditional?) second half swoon was seeing Isringhausen earn his 300th career save on August 15, 2011. It was a relatively minor thrill, admittedly, especially considering the success everyone predicted for Izzy after he went 9-2 with a 2.81 ERA as a rookie in 1995. Still, given how the next four years in a Mets uniform played out for him (and the rest of the Generation K cohort) that Jason achieved anything for the team that drafted him is close to amazing.
- Chuck Estrada is 75. As a young hurler for the Orioles in the early '60s, Estrada led the AL in wins his first season, walks his second, and losses his third. Elbow woes derailed his career after that, though he hung on to pitch a few more injury-truncated years, culminating in 22 innings for 1967 Mets. On April 13, Estrada made his New York debut by coming out of the bullpen to pick up the win in Tom Seaver's first career start.
- Reliever Barry Jones celebrates the golden anniversary of his birth today, as he turns 50. Acquired from the Phillies in August 1992, Jones earned wins in two of his first four games with the Mets. That proved to be the high water mark of his New York stay, as he racked up a 11.12 ERA in his remaining 13 appearances.
Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
On February 15, 1898, the U.S.S. Maine exploded in Cuba's Havana Harbor, an event that hawkish members of the American press used to agitate for open hostilities with Spain. While few believed Spain was actually responsible for the battleship's destruction, the yellow journalists got their war two months later and "Remember the Maine" became a popular battle cry. Of course, Mets fans have their own Maine to remember in pitcher John Maine. It's probably best to recall him as the promising righty who helped stabilize the rotation in 2006 and struck out 14 Marlins in Game 161 of the 2007 season rather than the "habitual liar" that Dan Warthen portrayed him as to the unfriendly press in 2010.