It’s A Long Season Already

I’m beginning to have some doubts about Luis Rojas. I know it’s not his fault the club suddenly cannot hit but as we saw last year, inconsistent play and an no demonstrated ability to correct things when they go wrong is already bleeding over to this year. I think it’s also troubling to confront the fact that the second choice of the previous administration somehow survived the appointment of a new owner and two new general managers. It’s really been a bad start to a promising year.

JD Davis and Dellin Betances are on the DL. Betances, whose spring performance seemed to indicate something was very wrong, has been replaced for now by Trevor Hildenberger, the former Twins righty signed as a minor league free agent over the offseason. Hildengerger is wearing No. 35 but chances are we’ll never see him because Rojas so far only trusts a couple of his relievers.

Davis, who for a short time had the most consequential HBP this year, is nursing a hand contusion and Jose Peraza is up in his place. Peraza has a good package of experience for a bench player: He’s young, fast and versatile if not a great hitter. He’s wearing No. 18, which last belonged to reserve outfielder Ryan Cordell.

Peraza’s promotion means Franklyn Kilome is booted from the 40-man roster.

 

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Giveaway Day

We’re piecing the numerical roster together as guys appear and the job would have been easier and less stressful had our overmatched young manager Luis Rojas not made a complete disaster out of last night’s opener, showing off his new team instead of trying to win.

I probably don’t need to remind you of this but Rojas was the second choice of the previous administration, managed the best-hitting team in the league to miss the playoffs by a mile in the easiest season there ever was to make the playoffs then shamefully turned last night’s mismatch into a giveaway.

I’m trying not to come off as your dad here. Rojas himself said deGrom would have been good for 100 pitches beforehand, only to fall back on a cowardly and unconvincing revelation that it was “ups” and not pitches all along, but essentially, arguing that either would have valid when neither was. This is a confused and untrustworthy kid out there. What an awful waste. I hadn’t been so excited for an opening day in five years.

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Caught On Tape

The most famous 61 since Roger Maris’ shot off future Met Jack Fisher has come gloriously back to life.

Just in, Met historian Dennis D’Agostino alerted me to a newly published Youtube of the entire WGN broadcast of 1979’s Opening Day Mets-Cubs game at Wrigley Field that included the major-league debut of the Mets’ Jesse Orosco. As readers of this site know this was an important historical moment not just because Orosco would go to make another 1,251 appearances–the most for a pitcher in baseball history–but that for the unusual circumstances under which he appeared: Wearing a jersey that bore No. 61, with no name on the back. Verifying this bit of odd history–Orosco made all of his subsequent appearances for the Mets wearing No. 47–and maintained that number for 23 years until a career-ending 8-game stretch with Minnesota when teammate Corey Koskie wore 47–was one of the landmark Holy Grails of this project.

Over the years and with the help of good people like like Dennis, my Cub fan friend Kasey Ignarski, who provided his own hand-scored scoresheet, and a third fan who provided video stills of the game, we nailed this. But I never saw the whole broadcast until yesterday. You will die when you hear Jack Brickhouse’s commentary at the 2:25:30 mark. Start here:

As previously relayed, that a 22-year-old Orosco even made the trip was something of a surprise it itself. The lefty was selected ahead of more accomplished contenders like Nelson Briles, due primarily to the austerity measures enacted as the ’79 club crawled to the finish line of the Payson-deRoulet Era as a destitute franchise. Its likely the club simply didn’t have the time or money to spring for a “proper” jersey (61 was outrageously high then) that wasn’t a spring training used jersey. ’79 was also the first year that Mets affixed names to jerseys but as shown they didn’t get around to all of them.

Lee Mazzilli also lacked a name on back–but Kelvin Chapman did not.

Joe Torre preferred Briles to Orosco, Scott and Allen

 

 

Kasey Ignarski’s hand-written scorecard: The same data Jack Brickhouse had!

 

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We Got A Shot This Year

Hey all, I’m getting my first vaccine jab today. I’m also getting a shot from the Mets to re-buy 2021 tickets, although we’ll have to see how that all works out.

As I’ve probably mentioned before I buy tickets a la carte rather than by plan. If they offered a Tuesday-Night-Only we might consider it but I like the freedom of choosing not to go some nights. But with season-ticket holders first in line for April’s 20% capacity I’m gonna line up Thursday and try to get our first one in (April 27 vs. the Red Sox).

You know who else looks to have a shot? The 2021 Mets, that’s who. It wasn’t great news to be starting the year with Carlos Carrasco or Seth Lugo, and Dellin Betances isn’t inspiring much confidence but I like our chances this year. Joey Lucchesi  might not reach Steven Matz’s highs but I’m confident he can avoid the lows and his funky delivery is fun to watch. David Peterson (now wearing 23 doncha know) might not be the No. 2 he was thrust into being last year but can hold down the fort at No. 4/5 alright.

I suppose there remains a little drama as to who makes up the back end of the bullpen, where a newly numbered Robert Gsellman is facing a Matz-like make-or-break moment in his stalled career and Jacob Barnes and Mike Montgomery are considered possibilities to make it. Tommy Hunter already left us. I’d left him and Montgomery off the in-progress sprint roster (which is now updated below). You’d figure if Montgomery comes north it’d be in Hunter’s 29 and not the 70 he’s been wearing. Barnes wears 40, which he can keep.

Oh and hey the lineup looks pretty darn good.

We’ll see you on Thursday, and maybe some Tuesdays!

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Pillarious

It’s just as well Brandon Drury hasn’t shown up for camp yet because they don’t have the laundry for him anyway. That’s the story now that the Mets have dressed the newly arrived Kevin Pillar in his customary 11 while the non-roster infield longshot Drury will chose among the few left available in our updated chart below, perhaps 15 as Guillermo Heredia sure enough was whacked and subsequently waiver-wired by the Braves, where he’ll be obligated at have at least one turn at-bat we’ll regret this year.

By now we’ve heard still more from Taijuan Walker whom I have to say is a lot better at social media than Trevor Bauer. Walker has embraced his 99–as his his only predecessor, Turk Wendell–and explained that he’d come up as a 44 but was bumped off it when he was traded to Arizona and teamed with Paul Goldschmidt so took 99; a move to Toronto put 99 into conflict with Hyun Jin Ryu so took 00; and now Mr. Met forces a move back to 99. When we trade him, he’ll go back to 44.

Updated roster! NRIs in italics:

Number Name Notes
0 Marcus Stroman, P
1 Jonathan Villar, INF was Amed Rosario
2 Dom Smith, IB-OF
3 Tomas Nido, C
4 Albert Almora Jr., OF
5 vacant Unassigned (David Wright)
6 Jeff McNeil, INF-OF
7 vacant
8 Vacant Unassigned (Gary Carter)
9 Brandon Nimmo, OF
10 Gary DiSarcina, CH 3rd base coach
11 Kevin Pillar, OF
12 Francisco Lindor, SS
13 Luis Guillorme, INF
14 Retired Gil Hodges
15 Caleb Joseph, C
16 Jose Martinez, INF-OF
17 Vacant unassigned (Keith Hernandez)
18 Jose Peraza, INF
19 Luis Rojas, MGR
20 Pete Alonso, 1B
21 Mallex Smith, OF
22 Brian Schneider, CH moved from 23; was Rick Porcello
23 David Peterson, P moved from 77; was Brian Schneider
24 Vacant was Robinson Cano (suspended)
25 Ricky Bones, CH bullpen coach
26 Jerry Blevins, P
27 Jeurys Familia, P
28 JD Davis, INF-OF
29 Tommy Hunter, P released
30 Michael Conforto, OF
31 Retired Mike Piazza
32 Aaron Loup, P was Steven Matz
33 James McCann, C
34 Noah Syndergaard, P
35 Trevor Hildenberger, P
36 Retired Jerry Koosman
37 Retired Casey Stengel
38 Arodys Vizcaino, P was Justin Wilson
39 Edwin Diaz, P
40 Jacob Barnes, P was Wilson Ramos
41 Retired Tom Seaver
42 Retired Jackie Robinson
43 Jerad Eichoff, P
44 Robert Gsellman, P moved from 65; was Rene Rivera
45 Jordan Yamamoto, P was Michael Wacha
46 Stephen Tarpley, P
47 Joey Luchessi, P was Chesen Shreeve
48 Jacob deGrom, P
49 Jeremy Accardo, CH assistant pitching coach
50 Miguel Castro, P
51 Tony Tarasco, CH first base coach, was Paul Sewald
52 Sam McWilliams, P was Yoenis Cespedes
53 Jeremy Hefner, CH pitching coach
54 Chili Davis, CH hitting coach
55 Cory Oswalt, P
56 Tom Slater, CH Assistant hitting coach
57 Dave Racianello, CH Bullpen catcher
58 Dave Jauss, CH Bench coach
59 Carlos Carrasco, P
60 Bruce Maxwell, C was Andres Gimenez
61 Sean Reid-Foley, P
62 Drew Smith, P
63 Thomas Szapucki, P
64 Yennsy Diaz, P
65 Trevor May, P was Robert Gsellman
66 Franklyn Kilome, P
67 Seth Lugo, P
68 Dellin Betances, P
69 Vacant
70 Mike Mongomery, P
71 Oscar De La Cruz, P
72 Wilfredo Tovar, INF
73 Daniel Zamora, P
74 David Rodriguez, C
75 Harol Gonzalez, P
76 Patrick Mazeika, C
77 Khalil Lee, OF was David Peterson
78 Eric Langill, CH Bullpen catcher
79 Ricky Meinhold, CH assistant pitching coach
80 Rafael Fernandez, CH/JT Ginn, P BP pitcher
81 Johneshwy Fargas, OF
82 Jared Robinson, P
83 Tom Windle, P
84 Brandon Drury, INF
85 Stephen Nogosek, P
86 Jake Hager, INF
87 Mark Vientos, INF
88 Ryley Gilliam, P
89 Drew Furgeson, OF
90 Nick Meyer, C
91 Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF
92 Tylor Megill, P
93 Matt Allen, P
94 Ronny Mauricio, INF
95 Francisco Alvarez, C
96 Brett Baty, INF
97 Marcel Renteria, P
98 vacant
99 Taijuan Walker, P
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Superspreader

Hey all thanks for the updates in the below post. As you guys are aware since our last big blast the Mets have reportedly added a new Pillar to accompany their new Villar, scooped up a matching pair of veteran left-right arms in Mike Montgomery and Tommy Hunter, released Brad Brach, traded Ali Sanchez to St. Louis for cash, waived and then resigned Corey Oswalt, saw Tim Tebow’s pretend career end in retirement, and now have a deal in place to land the intriguing Taijuan Walker to a rotation that’s getting pretty deep.

Hard to imagine that training camp won’t also threaten to be a superspreader event as its already spreading uni numbers all over the place and cover is getting awfully hard to find. These numbers are always in flux: The Kevin Pillar and Walker deals still aren’t finalized and their additions to the 40 may accompany some subtractions, but taking it all in — the 69 guys expected in camp, the 14 uniformed but non-playing personnel, the 6 retired numbers (14, 31, 36, 37, 41, 42) and the other unassigned digits in limbo (5, 8, 17, and the newly complicated 24–a limbo number now in double secret limbo) that leaves at the moment only 7, 69, 84, 85, 98 and 99 free, perhaps 00 also.

Taijuan Walker, whose colorful closet includes jerseys bearing numbers 99, 0 and 00 wondered aloud the other day:

I dunno about that, Tai, but let’s assume you’ll be the first Mets’ 99 since Turk Wendell. 00 is a possibility too but there’s Mr. Met to consider. Pillar in the meantime would almost have to take 7, but I have an especially strong suspicion now that his addition is another indication Guillermo Heredia will be pink-slipped– he’s barely hanging on to a roster slot and the 15 jersey now. As pointed out in the comments below it’s possible now the Mets could move Noah Syndergaard to the 60-day Injured List so a another 40 sacrifice may not need to be made right away but Daniel Zamora  should probably be looking over his shoulder which would free up the always attractive No. 73.

Tommy Hunter a durable veteran righty reliever we most saw most recently with the Phillies but whom I think of an Oriole starter, was assigned the No. 29 vacated by the released Brad Brach. Montgomery, is a tall lefty who’s something like the Jesse Orosco of Chicago, having secured the nailbiting final out of the Cubs’ long awaited 2016 World Series victory but more recently toiled in Kansas City.

The Mets are listing Oswalt in the same 55 he momentarily gave up while he cleared waivers, so we’re assuming that’s the deal.

Happy Birthday to Us

Finally, I always forget this but not this year. This Monday 2/22/21, marks the 22nd birthday of Mets by the Numbers! A quick celebration as we count down the Top 10 Mets’ all-time 22s:

10. Dale Murray (1978-79). Workhorse sinkerballer for the darkest Mets era, his results were a match for the clubs’.

9. Charlie O’Brien (1992-93). Backup receiver in another rotten era. Like Murray, results weren’t any better than the team’s. 22 was his third number as a Met and the best of three three.

8. Jose Valentin (2007). His second year as a Met, only one in 22, worse in every way than the first.

7. Dominick Smith (2017-19). Since moved to greater success wearing No. 2.

6. Xavier Nady (2006). A half-season of exemplary slugging contributed to one of the most satisfying starts in club history.

5. Jack Fisher (1964-67). Wasn’t terribly successful Fat Jack worked. 931.2 innings in four years including a club record that might never be broken unless this “opener” idea really takes off: 36 starts in 1965.

4. Kevin McReynolds (1987-91, 1994). Laconic and unpopular but all the things Joe McIlvaine liked about him were true: He had power, he had speed, he had a good arm, he was solid defensively.

3. Ray Knight (1984-86). McReynolods’ popular predecessor who shouldn’t have to buy a drink in New York but people forget the fan animosity toward Knight was nearly McReynoldseque given how rotten he was in 1985

2. Donn Clendenon (1969-71): Key arrival in ’69, never again needed to buy drinks.

1. Al Leiter (1998-2004): Heart and soul of the Valentine era Mets hurlers that birthed this site and who has long belonged in the club’s hall of fame but remarkably isn’t there. A creative and occasionally exasperating thinker whose effort was laudable as it was audible. Needn’t buy drinks when I’m around.

 

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Clip & Save: 2021 Mets Spring Roster

Well here it is, the Mets released a spring training roster.

As always this is subject to change but addresses a few mysteries and might be useful if you happen to be on your way to Florida next week (not me– hiding in the basement still).

I missed the obvious that Jonathan Villar might take over No. 1, and can report out friend Gene was right when he pegged Albert Almora taking over No. 4. Not weird that David Peterson abandons 77 but kinda weird he settles on Brian Schneider’s number 23 as both a player a coach: Watch for a potential switch there. NRI Jerry Blevins gets 26 which would be his third number with the Mets after previous appearances in 13 and 39. As noted Robert Gsellman gets a new number — 44 — while moving for Trevor May, and maybe new opportunity as word comes down that the borrowed time on Seth Lugo’s elbow has expired.

We’re also surprised to see Jordan Yamamoto assigned 45 and not 50, Miguel Castro or no. Sam Williams inheriting Yoenis Cespedes’ 52; Aaron Loup in Matz’ old shirt. Tip of the cap to Marcel Renteria, possessor of the highest number in camp at 97.

NRIs in italics:

Number Name Notes
0 Marcus Stroman, P
1 Jonathan Villar, INF was Amed Rosario
2 Dom Smith, IB-OF
3 Tomas Nido, C
4 Albert Almora Jr., OF
5 vacant Unassigned (David Wright)
6 Jeff McNeil, INF-OF
7 vacant
8 Vacant Unassigned (Gary Carter)
9 Brandon Nimmo, OF
10 Gary DiSarcina, CH 3rd base coach
11 Brandon Drury, INF-OF was Tony DeFranceco
12 Francisco Lindor, SS
13 Luis Guillorme, INF
14 Retired Gil Hodges
15 Guillermo Heredia
16 Jose Martinez, INF-OF
17 Vacant unassigned (Keith Hernandez)
18 Jose Peraza, INF
19 Luis Rojas, MGR
20 Pete Alonso, 1B
21 Mallex Smith, OF
22 Brian Schneider, CH moved from 23; was Rick Porcello
23 David Peterson, P moved from 77; was Brian Schneider
24 Vacant was Robinson Cano (suspended)
25 Ricky Bones, CH bullpen coach
26 Jerry Blevins, P
27 Jeurys Familia, P
28 JD Davis, INF-OF
29 vacant was Brad Brach
30 Michael Conforto, OF
31 Retired Mike Piazza
32 Aaron Loup, P was Steven Matz
33 James McCann, C
34 Noah Syndergaard, P
35 Trevor Hildenberger, P
36 Retired Jerry Koosman
37 Retired Casey Stengel
38 Arodys Vizcaino, P was Justin Wilson
39 Edwin Diaz, P
40 Jacob Barmes, P was Wilson Ramos
41 Retired Tom Seaver
42 Retired Jackie Robinson
43 Jerad Eichoff, P
44 Robert Gsellman, P moved from 65; was Rene Rivera
45 Jordan Yamamoto, P was Michael Wacha
46 Stephen Tarpley, P
47 Joey Luchessi, P was Chesen Shreeve
48 Jacob deGrom, P
49 Jeremy Accardo, CH assistant pitching coach
50 Miguel Castro, P
51 Tony Tarasco, CH first base coach, was Paul Sewald
52 Sam McWilliams, P was Yoenis Cespedes
53 Jeremy Hefner, CH pitching coach
54 Chili Davis, CH hitting coach
55 vacant was Corey Oswalt
56 Tom Slater, CH Assistant hitting coach
57 Dave Racianello, CH Bullpen catcher
58 Dave Jauss, CH Bench coach
59 Carlos Carrasco, P
60 Bruce Maxwell, C was Andres Gimenez
61 Sean Reid-Foley, P
62 Drew Smith, P
63 Thomas Szapucki, P
64 Yennsy Diaz, P
65 Trevor May, P was Robert Gsellman
66 Franklyn Kilome, P
67 Seth Lugo, P
68 Dellin Betances, P
69 Vacant
70 vacant was Ali Sanchez
71 Oscar De La Cruz, P
72 Wilfredo Tovar, INF
73 Daniel Zamora, P
74 David Rodriguez, C
75 Harol Gonzalez, P
76 Patrick Mazeika, C
77 Khalil Lee, OF was David Peterson
78 Eric Langill, CH Bullpen catcher
79 Ricky Meinhold, CH assistant pitching coach
80 Rafael Fernandez, CH BP pitcher
81 Johneshwy Fargas, OF
82 Jared Robinson, P
83 Tom Windle, P
84 vacant
85 Tim Tebow, OF
86 Jake Hager, INF
87 Mark Vientos, INF
88 Ryley Gilliam, P
89 Drew Furgeson, OF
90 Nick Meyer, C
91 Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF
92 Tylor Megill, P
93 Matt Allen, P
94 Ronny Mauricio, INF
95 Francisco Alvarez, C
96 Brett Baty, INF
97 Marcel Renteria, P
98 vacant
99 vacant
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Depth Charge

The big contracts and bold trades get all the attention here in the Hot Stove season but I quite admire when the right little moves are made.

Capturing the speedy, switch-hitting utilityman Jonathan Villar may or may not turn out out to be one of them, but it’s a good act by acting GM Zack Scott. I like when the club can get these young veterans who flame out as regulars at the moment their careers transition because they’re not too old yet to fake it in the event of an injury. It’s probably not the most welcome news for Luis Guillorme (and maybe worse still for Jose Peraza, the reserve shortstop acquired on a minor league deal earlier this offseason) but Villar, the former Astro-Brewer-Oriole-Marlin-Blue Jay, can play 2nd, 3rd, short or the outfield, switch hits, stole as many as 62 bases in a year, and hit as many as 24 home runs as a regular. That’s a pretty good resume.

Villar looks like a single-digit kinda guy to me; I’m slotting him in No. 4. He’s worn 2 most often in his career.

Ranking the Met Jons, Jonathons, and Jonathans

  1. Matlack (Jonathan Trumpbour, 1971-77)
  2. Niese (Jonathon Joseph, 2008-16)
  3. Rauch (Jon Erich, 2012)
  4. Nunnally (Jonathan Keith, 2000)
  5. Switzer (Jon Michael, 2009)
  6. Adkins (Jonathan Scott, 2007)

 

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Off Center

He’s no George Springer. But look out, Guillermo Heredia.

The Mets this morning have signed erstwhile Cubs flychaser Albert Almora Jr., presumably to shore up the defense in center field and provide a right-handed bat reserve bat.

Almora wore No. 5 with the Cubs so will need to shop for a new uni with the Mets. In the meantime all the stuff I speculated on below with respect to adding another Cub or two to the mix seems even more likely.

The signing comes as Juan Lagares, whose brief return to the Mets last season included a stint in the ridiculous No. 87, has found a new home in Anaheim. Also spotted on the developing Mets roster: New lefty reliever Aaron Loup assigned 62, with current issuee Drew Smith numberless.

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Bauerless, Not Powerless

It’s easy to make an argument the Mets dodged a bullet this week when the arrogant free agent pitcher Trevor Bauer left them at the altar and agreed instead to a deal with the Dodgers that’d make him the best-paid player in the game and grants him multiple opt-outs should he want to try to pull this clown show again either of the next two years.

And they did given all that baggage but I’d certainly like to see another Cy Young winner on the staff, given what they were evidently willing to part with and the abuse they were willing to withstand should they have added yet another guy without the common sense to behave himself on the Internet, even if it comes off a giant douchy act.

Where to from here? There’s free agent Jake Odorizzi out there still, a 15-game winner in 2019 who missed most of last season after taking a line drive off the No. 12 on the front of his Twins jersey. There’s money in the bank were the Mets to lock in guys like Conforto and Lindor, or buy a free agent center fielder, and flexibility were they to take advantage of the Wrigleyville’s teardown and acquire Kris Bryant in a trade. It’s not like the Cardinals’ addition of Arenado is going to increase their chances this time.

I’m expecting something, is what I’m saying.

Catching up on recent moves that didn’t accompany all that much hype the Mets traded with Miami for pitcher Jordan Yamamoto, a young righty starter with terrible big-league numbers but the kind of curveball spin rate that gets the geeks excited. Yamamoto is from Hawaii and naturally wears No. 50 in the tradition of Sid Fernandez and Benny Agbayani. Adding Yamamoto to the 40-man roster also cleared the Mets of a seeming controversy with infielder Robel Garcia who was issued a placeholder 00, waived and subsequently claimed by the Angels.

Miguel Castro, the kind of down-on-his-luck would-be relief ace the Mets always seem to scoop up in the hopes he’ll improve next year (see AJ Ramos) wore No. 50 last year. He’s got that Brody stink and maybe he goes in my fantasy Kris Bryant trade which is built around the $16 million the Cubs save by taking JD Davis, and a friend suggests, taking a real prospect for Kyle Hendricks. They can even have Jordan Yamamoto in that case. Bryant by the way wears No. 17 with the Cubs and will test the quiet mothballing of those figures here should he arrive.

I dunno what to say about another black eye for the organization re: Mickey but in retrospect I was far too kind to a guy who hardly ever won a game with X’s and O’s, fished with Donald Trump Jr., batted the Mets out of order, blew up at reporters, couldn’t say “I’m sorry,” and finally, was a creep.

 

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