By Jim Callis
July 31, 2002
It wasn’t a blockbuster by any means, but the Mets and Padres exchanged some interesting players in the first deal on Wednesday, the final day for making trades without players having to clear waivers. New York picked up Steve Reed and Triple-A righthander Jason Middlebrook for Bobby M. Jones and minor leaguers Jason Bay and Josh Reynolds.
The sidewinding Reed, a 36-year-old righthander, signed with the Padres for one year and $500,000 as a free agent during the offseason. San Diego picked up Alan Embree on the same terms, and parlayed him into two pitching prospects in a June 23 trade with Boston. In 40 games with San Diego, Reed has gone 2-4 with a 1.98 ERA (the lowest of his 12-season major league career) and a 36-10 strikeout-walk ratio in 41 innings. His out pitch is a sweeping slider, and he also uses a mid-80s fastball and a changeup. He owns a career 40-30, 3.57 record with 18 saves in 647 games.
At the beginning of his college career at Stanford, the 27-year-old Middlebrook projected as the likely No. 1 overall pick for the 1996 draft. But elbow problems cut short his sophomore and junior seasons, and he lasted until the ninth round. He signed for $750,000, still a record for that round. The Mets acquired him temporarily in October 2000 when the Padres removed him from their 40-man roster, but New York did the same a month later and San Diego claimed him back off waivers. Middlebrook throws in the low 90s with his fastball, and he also has a plus curveball and a changeup. He has spent parts of the last two seasons in the majors, going 3-4, 5.10 in 16 games and gaining more attention for allowing three homers to Barry Bonds during Bonds’ run to 73 last year. At the time of the trade Middlebrook was at Portland, where he was 2-5, 5.65 in 10 appearances.
Bobby M. Jones is now reunited with Bobby J. Jones, his teammate with the Mets for part of 2000. Bobby M. is a 30-year-old lefthander who had been designated for assignment by New York five days earlier. His fastball and his slider are hard pitches for a lefty, but he never has thrown enough strikes to succeed in the majors. He had no record and a 5.29 ERA in 12 games with the Mets this year, and went 1-4, 4.02 in 13 outings at Triple-A Norfolk. In 92 big league games over five seasons, Jones has gone 14-20, 5.75.
Bay, a 23-year-old outfielder, won the low Class A Midwest League batting title last year with a .362 average. A 22nd-round pick out of Gonzaga in 2000 by the Expos, he joined the Mets along with minor league righthander Jim Serrano in a March 26 trade for Lou Collier. In 102 games between Double-A Binghamton and high Class A St. Lucie in 2002, Bay has hit .272-13-73 with 34 steals in 39 attempts. He has some gap power and on-base skills, runs well for a 6-foot-2, 200-pounder and has a strong arm that’s an asset in right field.
Reynolds, a 22-year-old righthander, was a 2000 third-round pick out of Central Missouri State. Back problems limited him in his first two pro seasons but he has been healthy this year, going 11-5, 3.13 in 22 games at St. Lucie, with a 70-26 strikeout-walk ratio in 126 innings. Reynolds throws a high-80s fastball, a slider and a changeup.