Sunday, May 23, 2010

Jose Lima And The Final Destination Of The 2006 Mets Starting Pitchers

We regret to inform you that former Mets pitcher and Studious Metsimus whipping boy Jose Lima passed away earlier today at the age of 37. The cause of death was reported to be a heart attack.

Lima is now the second pitcher who started at least one game for the 2006 Mets to pass away, following the death of Geremi Gonzalez (who was then known by his hip-hop nom de plume, Jeremi Gonzalez) in 2008. Gonzalez was killed at the age of 33 after being struck by lightning in Venezuela.

Back in October, Studious Metsimus jokingly reported that after the Mets released Jose Lima in 2006, he put a hex on the franchise, lovingly referred to as "The Curse of Lima Time". The hex was supposedly the reason for the Mets' failure to reach the World Series in 2006, as well as their late-season collapses in 2007 and 2008.

But is the curse real? Has it expanded beyond a Studious Metsimus story? A look at the 13 starting pitchers who took the mound for the Mets in 2006 seems to suggest that it might have escaped the confines of this blog and gone searching for the Unlucky 13.

Tom Glavine (32 starts) - Failed to get more than one out for the Mets in the 2007 season finale. Later went back to Atlanta where he picked up two wins and was released by the team in 2009. By co-inky-dink, he ended his career the way he began it, by going 2-4 with a 5.54 ERA for the Braves in 2008. He also went 2-4 with a 5.54 ERA for the Braves in 1987.

Steve Trachsel (30 starts) - After leading the 2006 Mets with 16 wins, the Human Rain Delay II (with apologies to the original Human Rain Delay, Mike Hargrove) signed a free agent contract with the Baltimore Orioles in 2007. He was traded in August 2007 to the Chicago Cubs, then re-signed by the Orioles the following off-season, before being released by Baltimore in June 2008. His post-Mets stats for the 2007 and 2008 seasons? How about a 9-16 record and a 5.60 ERA.

Pedro Martinez (23 starts) - Started off brilliantly in 2006, winning his first five decisions. Then he was placed on the disabled list after pitching horribly in his return to Fenway Park. After coming back from the DL, he pitched poorly in the potential division clincher at PNC Park and was caught weeping in the dugout. He signed with the Phillies in 2009, but his affiliation with the Bloods (see photo, below) helped bring about his downfall. As of now, Pedro is still unemployed.

Orlando Hernandez (20 starts) - It looked as if the Curse of Lima Time was going to escape Orlando "The Dookie" Hernandez. After all, he was surprisingly effective for the Mets after being acquired in a trade from the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Dookie went 9-7 for the Mets and struck out nearly a batter per inning (112 Ks in 116.2 innings). However, The Dookie met The Curse right after he was named the starting pitcher for Game 1 of the 2006 NLDS. While running sprints in the outfield, the then-57 year old Dookie tore a calf muscle and had to be removed from the postseason roster. Despite his AARP membership and injury history, the Mets signed Mr. Dookie to a two-year, $12 million contract that off-season. They were rewarded by getting 24 starts from The Dookie in 2007 and no starts in 2008. He then signed a minor league deal with the Texas Rangers in 2009, only to be released a month later. No longer in baseball, The Dookie has apparently been offered three lucrative deals to be the spokesperson for Geritol, Metamucil and Depends undergarments.

John Maine (15 starts) - Maine was originally the throw-in when the Mets unloaded Kris and Anna Benson to the Baltimore Orioles for Jorge Julio (who was then traded to Arizona for The Dookie). Maine impressed so much as a rookie for the Mets in 2006 that he earned a spot on the postseason roster. His victory in Game 6 of the NLCS helped the Mets reach the do-or-die Game 7 against the Cardinals. Nowadays, Maine can be seen moping around the clubhouse, weak shoulder dragging along beside him. The scowl that once helped get hitters out is now solely used whenever Jerry Manuel is in the room with him.

Alay Soler (8 starts) - Pitched a complete-game shutout against the Arizona Diamondbacks in his fourth major league start. Three starts later, he gave up eight runs to the Boston Red Sox. After that game, he was told to watch tapes of his outing against the Diamondbacks to prepare for his next start against the Yankees. The Curse of Lima Time struck again, as the tapes were misplaced and instead Soler watched the tapes from his Boston Massacre. He learned well, as he gave up another eight runs to the Yankees. So long, Soler. That marked the end of his short-lived major league career.

Oliver Perez (7 starts) - When the Mets needed a reliever to replace Duaner Sanchez, they traded Xavier Nady to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Dominican food intolerant Roberto Hernandez and Oliver Perez. Perez did not pitch well for the Mets after his trade, going 1-3 with a 6.38 ERA. He did pitch in Game 7 of the NLCS and then went 25-17 over the next two seasons, fooling the Mets into giving him a 3-year, $36 million contract after the 2008 season. Since signing the mega-deal, Perez has "rewarded" the Mets with three victories. However, sales of antacids have increased exponentially in Flushing.

Brian Bannister (6 starts) - The son of former major league pitcher Floyd Bannister was a respectable 2-0 with a 2.89 ERA for the 2006 Mets before the Curse of Lima Time found him on the bases at the park formerly known as Pac Bell. While trying to score a run, Bannister left his hamstring in San Francisco and missed the next four months of the season. Bannister was not himself after his return, going 0-1 with an 8.10 ERA. He was traded that off-season to the Kansas City Royals for future felon Ambiorix Burgos, proving that the Curse of Lima Time was contagious.

Victor Zambrano (5 starts) - I won't waste your time. You already know his story. He was cursed before Lima could get to him.

Dave Williams (5 starts) - Williams was never meant to make that many starts for the Mets, but the Mets membership in the Injury of The Week Club forced him into action five times. Williams went 3-1 for the Mets in 2006, but the good record was due to excellent run support, as his ERA was a high 5.59. Williams was not as lucky in 2007, appearing in only two games for the Mets. Perhaps his 22.85 ERA had something to do with the lack of appearances. Williams has not pitched in the major leagues since.

Mike Pelfrey (4 starts) - Apparently was born with the antidote to the Curse of Lima Time in his blood. After his breakout 2008 season, Big Pelf struggled in 2009, but has been the Mets' best starting pitcher in 2010, going 6-1 with a 2.86 ERA over the first quarter of the season. He may be the key to curing all those afflicted by the Curse.

Jose Lima (4 starts) - Just like Lou Gehrig wasn't immune to the disease named after him, Jose Lima fell to the Curse that took his name. Lima never pitched again in the major league after his brief tour of duty with the Mets, a tour that included an 0-4 record and a 9.87 ERA.

Geremi Gonzalez (3 starts) - Gonzalez started against Randy Johnson in the first game of the 2006 Subway Series at Shea Stadium and gave up four runs in the first inning. The Mets eventually won that game on David Wright's walk-off hit off Mariano Rivera in the bottom of the ninth inning, making Gonzalez the answer to the trivia question, "Who sucked so badly in Game 1 of the 2006 Subway Series that the Mets needed a walk-off hit by David Wright to win the game?" Unfortunately for Gonzalez, he made a better lightning rod than starting pitcher, as he was killed during a thunderstorm in his native Venezuela.

The Unlucky 13 (other than Mike Pelfrey) have suffered professionally and personally since the 2006 season. The so-called Curse of Lima Time has claimed careers and lives, including the man for whom it was named.

Although this blog was written as a humor piece, we do not mean to poke fun at the death of Jose Lima. Lima was a fun-loving man who had a respectable major league career. He was also a positive presence in the clubhouse.

Studious Metsimus would like to offer our condolences to the family and friends of Jose Lima. He will be missed in the major league community and of course, in the blogging community. May he rest in peace.


Satish Ram said...

Oh man, you did your research.

I remember Gonzalez, Bannister...

I remember Soler and Williams too. Neither of them have pitched in the MLB since?


DyHrdMET said...

I think the 2006 Mets succeeded in spite of all the pitching problems. It taught the upper-level management that such "success" is possible, which is a bad lesson for them to have learned these days.

But down in Spring Training in 2006, I had a rare afternoon off before heading up to a Mets night game somewhere, and I ventured over to the ballpark in Port St. Lucie, and into the team store to do my shopping (it's always quieter there on non-game days), and I saw Jose Lima doing some shopping. It may have thought to bother him for an autograph, but he looked like he was on the phone, so I let him go.

I THINK he had pitched in SNY's virgin broadcast (the night the channel went on the air), and this was the next morning.

Ed Leyro (and Joey) said...

Lima was also a great subject for my blogs. I knew I had to write something on him, but didn't want to be disrespectful. Hopefully, this one worked.