Clubhouse Confidential: The Jacobs effect

When Jacobs shed his small-town persona as the MVP of the Double-A Binghamton Mets last week and became national news, becoming the first rookie ever to slug four home runs in the first four days of his major league career, he also unwittingly may have changed the attitudes of many in the Mets organization.

The impact of Mike Jacobs' historic major league beginnings go beyond box scores and team run totals, though both have been impressive.

When Jacobs shed his small-town persona as the MVP of the Double-A Binghamton Mets last week and became national news, becoming the first rookie ever to slug four home runs in the first four days of his major league career, he also unwittingly may have changed the attitudes of some in the Mets organization.

For years, it seems, the team has been reluctant to use anything but upper-echelon young talent, and it was evidenced in Willie Randolph's demeanor when Jacobs joined the club. David Wright and Jose Reyes "just babies" in quasi-endearing fashion this spring, while downplaying any expectations from either.

And though he wouldn't admit it at the time, it was beginning to wear on Jacobs last week as well, sitting idly by while Mike DiFelice planned a morning flight to Shea Stadium.

Clearly, Randolph didn't have the confidence that Jacobs – a professional catcher nearly all of his career who just happened to play some first base this season, on the Mets' wishes – could handle a member of his pitching staff for nine innings.

"I don't know what they're doing, bro," Jacobs said on Aug. 20.

Of course, the next day Jacobs cracked his pinch-hit three-run homer off Washington's Esteban Loaiza, and the rest … a .500 batting average with four home runs and nine RBI through 16 at-bats … has become history.

It's also changed Randolph's tune. Last week, the Mets manager said that Jacobs without a doubt would be the one sent down when Steve Trachsel was activated from the disabled list.

Somehow, Friday night arrived and Trachsel was on the mound, staring over at Jacobs – who David Wright has taken to calling "Roy Hobbs," after the prolific home-run hitter in 'The Natural' - playing first base.

"I'm real happy for the kid," Randolph told reporters in Arizona. "It's nice to see kids come in and get off to a good start. Hopefully we have something special here. We'll see."

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Brooklyn Cyclones outfielder Joe Holden is going back for more credits, which earns him extra credit in this space.

Holden is three semesters shy of a bachelor's degree at Molloy (N.Y.) College, and although he's become the toast of the New York-Penn League – this week's NY-PL All-Star Game might as well have been the "Wantagh Joe" Show, as Holden received overwhelmingly more media attention than any other player or person in uniform – Holden whole-heartedly plans to complete his studies this winter.

"We'll see how I do," he said.

Holden said he's also been beaten and bruised by a schedule that's seen him play virtually non-stop since February; he had a wrist wrapped heavily after this week's exhibition. But the scrappy, lefty-hitting outfielder has the right attitude and isn't complaining.

"It's my job. This is what we do," Holden said.

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Saturday will likely mark the last game of the season for Binghamton (AA) Mets outfielder Lastings Milledge, who has accepted an invitation to play for Davey Johnson's Team USA club at the World Cup.

After Saturday's doubleheader contest at Trenton, Milledge will leave the last place B-Mets and begin training for the tournament, which begins Sept. 2 and runs through Sept. 17.

With Binghamton playing out the string, Milledge really has nothing left to prove at the Double-A level. A hot start can no longer be discounted as early success, as Milledge has hit .355 with four home runs and 14 RBI in 25 August games through Thursday.

The Mets aren't likely to consider Milledge for a September callup, so a potential injury is really the only possible drawback to the Team USA stint.

Norfolk Tides pitcher Brian Bannister, who's 4-1 with a 2.97 ERA through seven starts at Triple-A, was also invited to play for Johnson's club. The Tides are in the playoffs, however, which could further complicate matters.

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According to the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin, an Arizona Fall League roster lists Milledge, Jacobs, Matt Lindstrom, Jeremy Hill and Chase Lambin as members of Ken Oberkfell's Grand Canyon Rafters club.

One would think Jacobs has played his way off the AFL roster, particularly with the remote-but-growing chance he might have other (ahem) late October obligations…

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Norfolk infielder Anderson Hernandez continues to make it difficult for the Mets to rationalize not calling him up when rosters expand on Sept. 1, or shortly thereafter.

The switch-hitting Hernandez – whom was called "the best young switch-hitter I've ever seen" by Binghamton manager Jack Lind – had at least one hit in 21 of his last 23 games through Thursday's action.

Vance Wilson is a great guy and a solid backup catcher, whose clubhouse presence is still missed. But this deal looks better by the day.

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Inside Pitch managing editor Bryan Hoch appears every Friday with Clubhouse Confidential, an inside look at the New York Mets organization. E-mail Bryan at metsinsidepitch@aol.com.


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