The Rick Ankiel era ended about as soon as it had begun.
The New York Mets acquired the converted pitcher as a stopgap to take over the vacant hole in center field, and perhaps provide some runs with his pop and save a few with some outfield assists. While Ankiel occasionally flashed a good throw and started off his Mets career with a few long balls, his offensive drought over the past couple of weeks has left the Mets no other choice but to designate him for assignment and call up Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who has been mashing in Triple-A Las Vegas as of late.
The promotion of Nieuwenhuis was followed up a few days later by a flurry of roster changes for the Mets and Vegas. After allowing his eighth home run of the season, Robert Carson earned himself a flight back to Vegas to once again don the 51s uniform. Joining him are once-hopeful first baseman Ike Davis and “scrappy gym rat role player” Mike Baxter, both of whom were actually quite useful before this season.
Earning promotions to take their places are left-hander Josh Edgin, outfielder Colin Cowgill, and super-utility man Josh Satin.
Edgin has the strongest prospects of sticking in the big leagues. Running on a track record of minor league success, the lefty throws a mid-90s heater complemented by a nasty slider, which wasn’t all that nasty to start the year. If Edgin can reclaim his breaking stuff and command that he flashed in 2012, he could make a run at the eighth inning role.
Colin Cowgill was considered to be a diamond in the rough by team management when they acquired him for fringe prospect Jefry Marte. Cowgill has power, speed and patience, but he never seems to have all of it at once. If Colin can post a .300 OPS, he has enough peripheral ability to be a very useful ballplayer, but it seems as though regular time may be hard to come by right now with Lucas Duda and Marlon Byrd hitting well in the corners, and Nieuwenhuis and Jordany Valdespin both playing center.
The promotion of Satin may indicate that he is here to play first base, but his role may be more of that of a super-utility player. He has only one major league at-bat to his name and has been productive at Triple-A.
The Mets will be doing some shuffling with their new position players until Davis and Tejada return, and the situation may get more complex with the return of Mike Baxter. But, with any hope, the Mets could end up with a surplus of fringe to average talent at minimal cost that could serve them well in a trade or off the bench.
Perhaps just as important is noting the significance of the moves. Any improvement from them will be marginal, but a message has been sent: perform, or be sent down.