Reunited And It Feels So Good: Michael Barrett & Big Z

Like a clenched fist to the chin, the news hit New York yesterday that the Mets, who seem to have a thing for backup catchers, have signed former Cub Michael Barrett to a minor league deal.

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Ah, Monsieur Barrett. Your bat seemed to hold so much promise back in those halcyon days of 2004-2006. You exploded on to the scene in a season filled the promise: 2004, hitting 16 home runs. In ’05, you were a 3.1 WAR catcher and, the following year, you slugged .517.

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I’m guessing I don’t have to explain to anyone reading this what happened after that, but try and stop me. Barrett got off to a slow start in ’07 and was essentially kicked slugged off the team following a dugout fracas with Carlos Zambrano (in which Barrett was the one who got his butt kicked).

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Afterward, whether it was Big Z’s right hook or some other malady real or imagined, Michael seemingly lost the ability to hit a baseball. From 2007 to 2009, in limited plate appearances with the Padres and Blue Jays, his OPS sat in the putrid .500s. He hit a grand total of three (3) home runs after leaving the Cubs.

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Which brings us back to today. A day on which Barrett’s old sparring partner sits dejectedly and reportedly remorseful on the Cubs restricted list — and quite possibly on the brink of being traded. But traded to what team? Which GM would invite the Big Z Travelling Circus into his team’s midst?

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I’ll tell you who: Omar Minaya of the New York Mets. Minaya has reportedly lusted (figuratively speaking) after Big Z for years, and a bad contract swap for much-maligned (and currently rehabbing) Mets hurler Oliver Perez just might make a deal feasible. A scenery change could help both pitchers, and Z would probably try to pitch the Mets to a ring just to spite Jim Hendry. Plus, with Johan around, he wouldn’t have to worry about being the staff ace.

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But the sweetest twist of all would be that Carlos could find himself sitting next to Michael Barrett in the Mets dugout. And not just sitting next to him, but throwing to him. Pitches, I mean. Throwing pitches. In a game.

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Imagine all the laughs they could generate mugging it up for the cameras. Z poses with his hands wrapped around Barrett’s neck. The two pretend to argue, Barrett points up at the sky and then Z smiles and mimes his agreement that, “Yes, it is a beautiful day.”

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Of course, the reunion could take an ugly turn when Barrett allows multiple passed balls and makes a few wild throws down the third base line. He never was a good defensive catcher; his bat was his selling point, which makes his career as a backup catcher rather dubious. But let’s not get caught up in technicalities; let’s just enjoy the image of these two paragons of hotheadedness reuniting at Citi Field and leading the Mets nowhere, fast.

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