68 Guns

68Hi, I don’t want to interfere with the pennant race so I’ll be quick here and acknowledge the return of Dario Alvarez to the big club. Alvarez maintains the same No. 68 he wore last time around and the distinction of being the only man ever to wear that number for the Mets (he’s also the only Dario, and the only Alvarez, in club history. What a trailblazer!). Best wishes for a speedy recovery to Lucas Duda whom I suspect must have been hurting all year and for all I know may have contracted spinal stenosis while sharing a weight-lifting bench with David Wright.

22Also this weekend came word the Mets had dealt for our old friend Eric Young Jr., presumably in anticipation of requiring a Dave Roberts kinda stolen base sometime in September or October. You figure that’ll invite a controversy come September when Kevin Plawecki presumably returns, he inherited Young’s old No. 22 once EYJ was nontendered last season by the Mets.

We hope some additional visibility into this explosive issue in the days to come but would suggest not for the first time this season that the sheer volume of issued jerseys out there increases the likelihood a guy like Young, should he get the call, is looking at the possibility of wearing 0 — or 71.

 

 

 

 

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Standing O

44Newly arriving reliever Eric O’Flaherty is reportedly suiting up in No. 44 and as my pal Greg says, let’s hope he’s tougher on lefties than his predecessor in that jersey, the late John Mayberry Jr.

To make room for Flaherty, who was acquired last night for a Player To Be Named Later, the Mets designated Alex Torres and his gigantic hat for assignment, a move freeing up No. 54 for the next guy who wants it.

35In the meantime, keep your eye on the Mets’ starting rotation, which is expected at this time to slot in a 6th starter next time around. Speculation in the radio booth last night said it could be minor league teammates Dillon Gee and Logan Verrett competing for that — and next issue of No. 35. I’d guess at this point that Gee has the inside the inside track to the start, while Verrett, as a member of the 40-man roister, has a rightful claim on 35. But still it would weird to see Gee wearing 54. Baseball’s a funny game.

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52 Pickup


Well. How great was that?

52This had to have been the wildest and most stressful Mets Trade Deadline ever (yes, and I was there in ’77!) and these guys are still hanging in there. The latest as you know is that fake-traded emotional erstwhile utility infielder Wilmer Flores just made the Nationals cry, and they’re about to face a Met lineup bolstered by newly acquired slugger Yoenis Cespedes. 

Cespedes is expected to take his customary No. 52 — his digits in all three of his first stops so far in a whirlwind tour of the Majors — while Carlos Torres, Friday’s deserving winning pitcher, is set to become the first ever wearer of the 72 jersey.

72Torres departs as the third and by far most distinguished member of the 52 Club: His predecessors are Tony Clark (following his switch from 00 in 2003) and forgettable reliever Ramon Ramirez, who was acquired in Sandy Alderson’s worst trade. Tonight, that seems like a long time ago.

 

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Just Like Oliver Perez

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Goggle Up

Don’t look now but the Mets are trying to make the playoffs.

36On Monday they dealt with Oakland for veteran reliever Tyler Clippard, who I’ve hated ever since he Subway Seriesed us as a punk Yankee rookie way back when, and on through several excellent years with the Nationals. Now that he’s on our side I’m naturally terrified he’ll continue to screw us only in a different way but I get that he’d be a good addition to the team, particularly seeing Parnell, Alex Torres and Familia struggle in recent games and Jenrry Mejia be unavailable for the playoffs. He came at the cost of Casey Meisner, a minor league project who might one day make us look bad but is no concern at the present.

The concern as always is what uni number Clippard will wear with his geeky goggles, seeing as his customary 36 is occupied by Sean Gilmartin and his previous No. 19 belonging to recently demoted catcher Johnny Monell.

44But as we’ve seen twice this year already, there’s little they won’t do. There was the Logan Verrett 35 thing, then more recently they simply gave No. 2 to Juan Uribe without even notifying Dilson Hererra (that we know of). So the prediction here, suggested by a reader below actually, is that Clippard gets 36 and Gilmartin takes the vacant 44. Playoffs is serious business!

Woke up this morning to the stunning Tulowitzski news and allowed visions of a Jose Reyes reunion to colonize my mind for a bit but I don’t think it can, or necessarily should, happen. How about Lagares and a pitching prospect to Milwaukee for Carlos Gomez?

Later afternoon update — Clippard’s been issued No. 46. So much for more vicious speculation.

 

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Take a Number

55No sooner had I suspected Sandy would deal than he dealt: Two longshot minor league pitchers to the Braves for veteran journeymen Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson. While the pundits figure out what that means to a lineup desperate to corral them (bench Flores? Duda?! Trade Murphy? … yes to all three?!?) a still larger challenge could be figuring out where they’ll fit within the confines of a decreasing supply of viable uni numbers.

44Assuming every man on the 40-man roster retains their assignment, and coaches and existing players don’t switch, and the mothballed numbers (8, 17, 24) remain in limbo the available choices are 0, 00, 44, 46, 55-57, 60-61, 63, 65, and 67-99. That’s not a whole lot of variety!  (44 by the way was just torn from the back of disappointing alleged lefty-masher John Mayberry Jr., who was released to make roster space for the incoming duo).

The histories of Uribe and Johnson give us little to go on: I associate Uribe with No. 5 from his time with the Giants; and Johnson, I have no idea. The Mets will be his 9th team in a 10-year career. If it’s up to me I outfit them in 0 and 00, though I don’t know if that will fly with Mr. Met. More like, I predict one of then (Uribe) takes the No. 6 currently belonging to assistant hitting coach Pat Roessler, Johnson takes 44, and Roessler moves to something like 55. Or maybe Uribe takes 55? What’s your prediction?

Kelly Johnson, by the way, will be the 8th Johnson (and 3rd Kelly) in Mets history, tying the Jones boys (Barry, Bobby J, Bobby M, Chris, Cleon, Randy, Ross and Roadblock) for the all-time Mets surname record. The Johnsons now include Kelly, Ben, Bob L, Bob W, Howard, Lance, Mark and Rob, not to mention the manager Davey.

Los Siete Hernandezes (Anderson, Keith, Livan, Luis, Manny, Orlando and Roberto) are third.

 

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30 is the new 1,000

30Congratulations, Michael Conforto! You’re not only the savior of the franchise, you’re also in line to be the club’s 1,000th overall player when you make your debut tonight at Citifield.

To anguished fans beating themselves up over the state of the offense, this promotion will never have come soon enough but if you ask me more changes are likely on the way in the next week or so. Given his remarkable deliberateness in the face of so much (real and manufactured) fan and media outrage, not my admiration for Sandy Alderson is actually growing. Everyone forgets how easy it used to be to either push the Mets into stupid decisions or simply witness the club with its priorities all wrong when they did make a move. This is kind of exciting.

Conforto as been well-reported has been issued No. 30, which is actually one of the rarest numbers under 50 in team history. He’ll be just the 19th player to wear 30, thanks largely to Mel Stottlemyre‘s nine-year occupation in the 80s and 90s.

It’s a number that most recently belonged to Andrew Brown, and most famously represented by Cliff Floyd, but at the risk of dating myself I tend to associate it with Mike Torrez, a bit of a poor man’s Bartolo Colon in the 1980s. It’s also appeared on the backs of a handful of reserve catchers like Brown (he was an emergency catcher, anyway), Alberto Castillo, Raul Casanova and Josh Thole, who eventually became a disappointing starting catcher.

Thirty of course was also retired, by the Angels, in honor of ex-Met and former 30, Nolan Ryan.

30guys

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Gee, That’s Cold

35Word from Toronto this afternoon is that newly arriving pitcher Logan Verrett will suit up in No. 35, the same number worn for nearly five years by Dillon Gee, whose designation is so fresh they haven’t even had time to properly demote, release or trade him.

I confess to being one of those fans who’s been waiting for years for Gee to turn into a pumpkin and for all the pleasant surprises he’s given, moving on now was the right thing to do but this still comes off pretty harsh! Is there something wrong with 32? 46? 53? Ouch!

Technically, players are required to be assigned a number when they are added to the 40-man roster and technically, they lose a number when they leave it, so the assignment itself is technically, OK. But it brings to mind those instances where they’ve used the uniform number as a signal to make a point — like when young Danny Garcia took No. 12 on the heels of the Mets giving up on cranky old Roberto Alomar. Maybe there was more to Gee’s unhappiness than what came out. Maybe its just a case of inadvertent insensitivity. Maybe it’s a signal of an emerging bloodlessness that will be called on to make similar decisions on guys like Daniel Murphy and Jon Niese in the coming weeks. What do you think?

Meantime let’s wish Logan Verrett better luck than his predecessor at the back of the bullpen, Akeel Morris, who’s on his way down, and up, to Class AA after a painful debut. Verrett you might know has been around a bit for a rookie. He was Rule 5’ed from the Mets this winter by the Orioles, but snatched away from them by the Rangers just prior to opening day. He lasted for four games in Texas (wearing 41) before the Rangers tried farming him, and he was claimed back by the Mets.

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Sign Here

Just for fun late Saturday night I whipped up this here banner based on Scott M. X. Turner’s site logo design and on Sunday for the first time ever marched in the Banner Day parade. I probably would not have done this had I not already had tickets to the game, but the Mets somehow knew that and so barely bothered to promote the tradition; I only heard about the event from reading other blogs. The entire thing was like a rumor.

I’m sure the extra labor involved with leading the fans through the stadium’s guts while keeping everything else on schedule — I’m sure it was no easy task — held little appeal for the organization, as did the potential for appearing that they might actually encourage or condone graphic commentary from the peanut gallery. I’m not even sure they let you in with a sign on any other day anymore.

The late Karl Ehrhardt , the “Sign Man” our banner honored, is about as subversive as they come in that respect; part of the appeal of his wry commentary was that it held the potential to shame or embarrass the club or its players when they deserved it: It was a unique means of live commentary practiced today by millions of less clever folks on Twitter. Ehrhardt in a 2006 interview said he felt the organization turned against his schtick upon the changing of team ownership in the 80s: Clearly the Mets still today retain little affection for such Mad Men-era aspects of their organization but I’m glad to have played a small part in keeping it alive. Mets staff by the way were all great. The usher way up near our section 535 seats even let us tape the thing on the railing at gametime.

Today we’re awaiting new of what jersey they will slap on newly arriving relief prospect Akeel Morris, who’s making a flying leap to Flushing from Class A St. Lucie so as to provide extra bullpen depth after a taxing weekend. Morris was assigned 64 during Spring Training this year.

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Dar-rell

9Word came following last night’s harrowing win that Las Vegas outfielder and longtime personal fave Darrell Ceciliani was recalled and will be active for tonight’s game.

No word officially on who goes down yet but by means of a hint, Darrell is a lefthanded hitter capable of playing all three positions, a pretty good athlete and baserunner with a little bit of power but who strikes out more than you’d like to see, if not at Kirk Niuewenhuis levels.

I feel bad for Niuewy and am sure he has one of those hot streaks contained in his bat but the team can’t keep waiting for it to come around. Hopefully Kirk can avoid a waiver claim and get to work in AAA.

1That thing I said about being a Ceciliani fan is true by the way. I followed his progress through 5 minor league seasons as an adoptive parent at the Crane Pool Forum and know that observers think highly of his no-batting-gloves, all-out playing style. I’ve come to admire how he’s shrugged off a couple of injury-marred, disappointing seasons and 2 winters on the Rule 5 block and is now posting numbers that are almost as good as his promising debut season in Brooklyn all those years ago.

Ceciliani in fact wasn’t even invited to the big-league camp this year, although he made some appearances as a late-inning pinch hitter. At least once — I believe this was last spring training — he showed up wearing 0 but was also seen before wearing 93. At Vegas he wore 11, but carried other numbers in the minors.

If the Mets release or trade Nieuwenhuis I could see Ceciliani turn up in the vacated No. 9 but would agree with the commenters below that No. 1 looks like a good possibility. (Update: This is official!)

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