Zimmo!

Pretty big Saturday afternoon for the Mets so far.

9As you know already they have signed Jose Reyes to a minor league deal and expect him to spend a week or so in the minors demonstrating he’s ready to play some third base. Also today they swapped out Michael Conforto for Brandon Nimmo in an exchange of young lefthanded hitting outfielders.

As noted below I felt this was a move just waiting around for the Mets to make for a few weeks now, and figure the worst case scenario is for Nimmo to struggle up here for a few weeks. Not anything Conforto wasn’t doing. Conforto I am certain has a big-league bat and will be back in action shortly at which point the Mets could either send Nimmo back down, trade or release De Aza, or something even more radical. There are no downsides.

Also pleased to note that Nimmo inherits the unoccupied No. 9 jersey, as called below.

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How to Dress Jose Reyes

7So if the reports are accurate maligned former prodigy Jose Reyes could be rejoining the Mets as soon as today. While I’d naturally prefer my guys not to be coming off disciplinary suspensions, and I would hope his equity not put undue pressure on teammates, I can see where the prospect of a proven speedy contact hitter who can play multiple infield positions at a bargain price could help the team. I would hope also that just like Lenny Randle in 1977, the club is sensible enough to keep Reyes on a short behavioral leash while allowing him to do himself the favor of re-establishing a derailed career. If he can play, it’s all good.

No shortage of speculation as to his uniform number is out there, but I cannot see where it is fair or appropriate for Travis d’Arnaud to put aside a personally selected No. 7 to make room for Reyes, particularly with Reyes’ shady recent legal tangles and especially considering the way he left the club in 2009 (2011, thx, Dave). He was right go, don’t get me wrong, but he took off for Miami as though he were stealing second base.

77Question is what then? Back in 2003, when Reyes was a but a Met puppy, the Mets (idiotically, it turned out) signed the Japanese free agent Kaz Matsui to a contract. Matsui wore 7 in Japan and some bright people suggested then they creatively solve the issue by giving Matsui 77. They didn’t. Things would have been different, I tell you.

46So I can see the Mets going that route, maybe. Perhaps, though, presenting Reyes with 77 (or even 07) is too larded with tender forethought to be appropriate for a guy coming off a wife-beating rap. I am coming around to the idea it would be best if Reyes gets a number that sends the message that the Mets aren’t doing Jose Reyes any favors beyond the opportunity to wear a uniform. Any uniform. Give him No. 46. It’ll all be a weird scene anyway.

1Lots of speculation too about unoccupied single digits of 1 and 9 but I’m coming around to suspect those might be held out of the rotation with a purpose. Shortstop prospect Amed Rosario is racing up the ladder and bringing No. 1 with him: You may have seen he debuted with Class AA Binghamton just this week and like of all people Jose Reyes, could be a big-league shortstop by the age of 21. I’m less certain of No. 9’s future but suspect we could see Brandon Nimmo wearing it before long.

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Struggling Sophomores

So it’s come to this.

Swept by the Braves at home, the third-place Mets are expected to, and let’s face it, probably ought to, shake the team up at least a little before the hated Royals arrive for a two-game set starting Tuesday.

26Some of the changes appear obvious. Travis d’Arnaud will return behind the plate and hopefully, he’ll stay healthy. It appears very likely that Kevin Plawecki to Last Vegas will be the corresponding move. No excuse for how poorly he’s hit — wearing 26, Plawecki’s barely any different than the overmatched 22 he was in his rookie year — but thanks in part to d’Arnaud’s fragility Plawecki’s never had that two months in Las Vegas he so obviously needs.

30Will Michael Conforto join him on that plane? It would appear to be a consideration, and one I advocated weeks ago. I have little doubt Conforto can and will be a very good hitter but it’s long past the point where he ought to work out his issues in Las Vegas, even for just a short while.

Top draft pick Brandon Nimmo is having a fabulous year out there by the way, slashing better than 300/400/500 (that’s a positively Fonzerian line), is already on the 40-man roster, and could presumably succeed as a leadoff hitter. That would allow Curtis Granderson to drop in the order and take up at least some of the power slack. Nimmo wears No. 7 in Vegas, but 9 — and 1 — are just sitting around waiting for someone here.

Less likely in my estimation — but inevitable it would seem — will be a reacquaintance with Dilson Hererra. I don’t think that happens unless Neil Walker is hurt, or traded, but I wouldn’t necessarily reject the latter idea. Walker’s a free agent to be and won’t get “Murphy Money” from us, and isn’t on a 40-home-pace any more.

16Finally it takes a special kind of uselessness to be a reserve and yet fail to fit into this lineup but it’s my guess Alejandro De Aza won’t be around for too much longer. Traded? Released?

59The bullpen may also get a rocking, although injuries may determine that as much as performance. Even if Antonio Bastardo were having a good season, which he’s not, his deliberate pace drives me crazy as a fan and he would appear vulnerable but for the expectations that come with his career and contract, and the fact that’s he a left-handed relief pitcher. Hansel Robles, like Conforto and Plawecki, may just need a few weeks in AAA to work things out. Sophomores.

What are your thoughts?

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Talking Baseball

MBTN-bookshelfHey look! METS BY THE NUMBERS is here. It has been completely rewritten and re-engineered, including bios and data on more than 300 new players, with more minute details, a complete history of the uniform, new lists, new rankings, new photos, and more than 80 new pages. It’s hefty, and you can tell it’s an actual copy because David Wright appears on the cover instead of Dwight Gooden in the mockup you’ve seen until now. (Gooden instead appears on the spine, a nice touch).

It officially launches tonight with an event at Word Books (126 Franklin St., Brooklyn) where I will discuss the project in conversation with NBC Sports’ D.J. Short and Greg Prince, author of the excellent AMAZIN AGAIN. We will have books for sale and signatures, plus free beer and Crackerjacks, starting at 7 p.m. Please join us! (Word is easy to find, 2 blocks from the Greenpoint Ave. stop on the G).

62In Mets news, the club staggered to a disappointing series split in Milwaukee which saw still more of the team suffer aches and pains including manager Terry Collins (ill but thankfully appears OK), Neil Walker (bad back), Michael Conforto (wrist) and Jim Henderson (finger). Logan Verrett made a spot start then was sent down to Las Vegas and replaced by Erik Goeddel, who returned in No. 62. As noted, Kelly Johnson arrived and took over Ty Kelly’s No. 55.

Let’s Go Mets!

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Young Men With A Future

Congrats to freshly picked Mets Justin Dunn, Anthony Kay and Peter Alonso, the club’s top three selections in the MLB amateur draft. Photographic evidence from their colleges show them wearing 19, 18 and 20, respectively. The draft continues this afternoon.

55Speaking of new arrivals, Kelly Johnson is expected to join the club in Milwaukee today, but it’s still unclear whose spot he takes on the roster. If it’s Ty Kelly, Johnson could retain the No. 55 he wore in his last go-round with the Mets but it may well be Matt Reynolds, in which case either Kelly, or Kelly, will wind up with their second Mets uni assignment.

64Including coaches and all members of the 40-man roster, available jerseys at the moment include 1, 9, 18, 46, 49, 54, 56, 58, 60, 61 and now 64 — since young pitcher Akeel Morris was sacrificed to Atlanta in the Johnson trade. You might recall Morris was catapulted from Single A to the Mets last summer and got bashed by the Blue Jays in his only appearance.

That incident and the subsequent trade granted Morris entry to an exclusive club of Met pitchers whose career club ERAs exceed their uniform number:

Thanks to my friends at the Ultimate Mets Database and Crane Pool for the background on that stat.

Update: Looks like Ty got whacked and lost his uni number.

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Put It In The Books

mbtn-cover1Quick reminder that the all-new, totally updated METS BY THE NUMBERS hits physical and virtual bookstores any day now, and we’re kicking off the festivities officially on Tuesday, June 14 with a reading, Q&A and book signing at Word Books, conveniently located near MBTN Headquarters in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Word is located at the corner of Franklin & Milton streets — a short walk from the Greenpoint Ave. stop on the G train.

The event starts at 7 p.m. NBC Sports and Rotoworld’s D.J. Short will host, and guests include yours truly along with Greg Prince, author of the magnificent Faith & Fear in Flushing blog and the newly published fan chronicle of the 2015 season, AMAZIN AGAIN. We’ll have beer and Crackerjacks on hand and plans to head to a local watering hole to catch the Mets on TV afterward.

MBTN the book, again with contributions from Matthew Silverman, has been completely updated from the first edition which published in 2008, with details and history of more than 300 new players, all new photos, stats and sidebars including a history of the Mets uniform. Order now and get it in time for Father’s Day. Order extra ones in case it rains.

Facebook events page here.

16Hey, how about a big hand for returning hero Eric Campbell, who got the “lucky dog” promo for today’s double-dip in Pittsburgh? No? How about congratulating Rene Rivera for seemingly wrestling the No. 1 catching duties from struggling (again) Kevin Plawecki? New third baseman Wilmer Flores? New center field stud Alejando De Aza? Summer’s getting warm.

 

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Oh What a Loney Boy

I’m on the road and can’t post right away but according to various stuff I’ve seen in space it would appear James Loney will be assigned no. 28 upon his arrival in Met City Tuesday.

28The bad news is that it may accompany a disabled list assignment for David Wright, we’ll have to wait and see.

In other unpleasant things we fans need to confront, Noah Syndergaard made a mess of the whole weekend.

No doubt that what Chase Utley did last year was dirty and ought to be outlawed, but it’s also how baseball has been played for 150 years. Ruben Tejada got hurt mainly because Daniel Murphy gave him a terrible throw but also because Tejada made the mistake of turning his back on an incoming runner, especially a known scumbag like Utley.

The Mets avenged the injury by leaving Utley and the Dodgers behind while they went and played the World Series. Sure, Syndergaard’s pitch Saturday meant no harm but throwing it came with risks. What if it hurt someone? What if the home plate umpire happened to be asshole himself? Now you find yourself unable to help while Utley comfortably digs in against an overworked bullpen and things get really out of hand.

 

 

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Memorial Day Weakened

32For a team that lost a mighty middle-of-the-order slugger to a broken back, had a once-unstoppable pitcher deliver two of the worst outings of his career, had two guys in the lineup looking for their first major-league hits, has a leadoff hitter struggling to hit above .200, saw starters at shortstop and third base need time off for their own aching backs, had its top bench player and starting catcher on the disabled list, and played the first-place team in their division six times, the Mets didn’t do all that bad this week.

Key to that were terrific starting performances from Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz, a bullpen that got-er-done when needed, a bounceback from Bartolo Colon (also dealing with back stiffness) and just enough good luck to make it all sitck, recording an underwhelming sweep of Milwaukee and a series win in Washington this week following a harrowing series loss at home the week before — its fourth straight series loss.

Along the way we were were re-introduced Classic Daniel Murphy, whose iron glove in Wednesday’s game loomed very large when it was all over.

5And so the 2016 Mets head into Memorial Day weekend with a wobbly kind of momentum. Regardless of how underwhelming Los Angeles looked the last time we saw them — how could a team with that kind of financial power wind up relying so heavily on clowns like Kike Hernadez and Justin Turner? — the Mets are going to need to continue to do everything they possibly can right until they unravel what’s ailing Granderson, and d’Arnaud and Duda heal, Conforto and Plawecki’s slump ease, and Harvey stops being such a momentum killer.

What can you say about David Wright? He’s quite obviously not David Wright anymore, his strikeouts, especially looking, are way up, but the guy is winning us some games.

Let’s hope we see Flores return to active duty — and first base — on Friday as the ’86ers return to town.

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Putting the Stress in Stress Fracture

21Lucas Duda has a broken back, I have a broken heart, and Duda will miss “significant” time on the disabled list, the Mets said Monday. The Mets recalled veteran minor league multi-position player and Spring Training All-Star Ty Kelly to take Duda’s place on the roster, while Dario Alvarez was whacked from the 40-man roster to make room for Kelly.

55Kelly will wear No. 55, as he had this spring inheriting the jersey from another Kelly (Johnson) who wore it last. In Las Vegas, Kelly did about all you could do, leading all of the minors with a .391 batting average and a .478 on-base average, and he’s a switch hitter who can play 5 positions (including a little first), which is great. He also makes funny YouTube videos. But he’s not a power hitter like Duda. Make no mistake, we’re gonna miss that big goofy guy.

I guess this also means still more Eric Campbell, at least till Wilmer Flores gets back.

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Mayday!

36Hate to have to point out the obvious but May’s been a terrible month for the Mets so far, with nearly the entire lineup slumping, injuries to a starting pitcher and catcher, and a schedule that’s only starting to get difficult.

Travis d’Arnaud wasn’t doing much at the plate or behind it before a shoulder injury nicked him but he’s not getting out of his slump on the DL. I’ve always been a little wary of Steven Matz’s health and so his elbow soreness worries me too.

Reinforcement arrived late this week when lefty Sean Gilmartin was recalled and Wilmer Flores hit the DL. Gilmo is back in the familiar No. 36 and strirrups. Down Flores and d’Arnaud, we’re especially vulnerable to lefties.

Can we get Curtis Granderson (.146/.196/.333 in May); Neil Walker (.121/.216/.152); Lucas Duda (.189/.318/.459) and Michael Conforto (.143/.200/.262) going again? Now? Thanks!

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