Minor Trades. New Faces

As Dorothy Gail observed upon arriving in Munchkinland, "People come and go so quickly around here." Yesterday, in addition to the trade that netted them infielder Ricky Gutierrez from Cleveland, the Mets traded minor league pitcher Harold Eckert to the Dodgers for minor league infielders Mike Collins and Dave Detienne. With Vero Beach just a short hike up the highway, both Collins and Detienne were in uniform for Sunday's games.

Only a few days ago, Eckert was at Tradition Field receiving a warm ovation during the St. Lucie Championship Ring ceremony. The 26 year old starter had performed well during his time in the Mets system, amassing a 30-11 record and a 3.45 era in 3 years, to go with 291 Ks in 297 innings. Eckert was a victim of the numbers game, with a limited number of opportunities for players who pitched well at St. Lucie last year to be promoted to Binghamton, and it was unlikely Eckert would have been selected to receive that promotion.

The Mets decided to trade from their depth of pitching at that level to acquire two utility infielders, a pressing need at most of the full season minor league levels this spring.

Mike Collins, 27, hits and throws righthanded and has compiled a .290 average in 986 minor league ABs with little power and a good ability to get on base. He should slot in immediately for the Mets at the AA or AAA level as a utility infielder, providing extra insurance should ongoing injuries at the Major League level require callups of minor league infielders Danny Garcia and Chris Basak for extended periods.

Dave Detienne is a 24 year old SS from Nova Scotia who has struggled the last two seasons to hit in the Florida State League after hitting well in the Carolina league, compiling a career .238 average. He has shown an ability to steal bases swiping 18 or more bases in two of his minor league seasons. Detienne will likely start at St. Lucie, providing competition for Wilson Batista and Corey Ragsdale.

The two Dodger farmhands have played previously with Kole Strayhorn, Jose Diaz, and Victor Diaz in the Dodgers system and those players reunited in the dugouts yesterday with the new Mets getting details about what's expected of them from their former teammates.

No time of year causes unrest like the last week of spring training in minor league camp, as players wait uncomfortably to find out which of their friends and teammates are going to be elsewhere on any given morning. The Ricky Gutierrez trade included the dreaded "Player To Be Named Later" which caused players to actually physically shudder at the mention of those words. Last year's St. Lucie crew was saddened by the loss of Eckert who was well liked by both teammates and fans.

The players expect additional moves in the upcoming week or two as they recognize the numbers crunch in the pitching and outfield positions particularly at the AA and AAA levels.

PHOTOS: Wright, Wheeler(2), Keisler, B. Wilson, Musser(2), Acuna, Duncan(2), Diaz, Wright(2), Musser(3), Pressley, Lambin, Seale, Malek, Pagan, McIntyre, Sedlacek, Hietpas, Bevis(3), Strayhorn, Lambin, Detienne(3), McGinley, Strayhorn, McGinley(4), Sedlacek(2), Wirght(2), Redman, Ough, Malek, Huber(2), Basak, Collins(6), Detienne(2), Lambin, Strayhorn(4)

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