A Matter of Taste

Let’s get this part out of the way first and say if Robinson Cano wants his old No. 24 back he can go talk to Willie, and if he wants 22 he can talk to Dom Smith. As to Edwin Diaz, the best closer nobody ever heard of wears 39 in Seattle; the same digits belonging last to the presumably departing free agent Jerry Blevins.

Now let’s get to the part where I explain why even though this trade could presumably help the Mets get better a lot faster, how I don’t much like it in a matter of taste. As a fan, I don’t want to cheer for a 36-year-old former Yankee steroid cheat, especially one presumably taking over the position of one of the only guys on the club I was excited to see playing every day next year in Jeff McNeil. Yeah I know there’s still much detail to work out, there’s always a role for a good bat, guys get hurt, Frazier could still be traded, and so on, but I don’t have to like it that McNeil looks like the first victim here.

As for Edwin Diaz, well, he’s a relief pitcher, relief pitchers are unpredictable and erratic by nature, and I strongly believe the way to get them is to make them (Jeurys Familia) and not not buy them, even if and when they are cheap and controllable. When they’re cheap and controllable is when you trade them. Even a washed-up bullpenner like Jerry DiPoto (a former Met 45, doncha know) knows that!

So those are the new guys, we cough up capable-but-expendable Jay Bruce, who was a kind of bad-penny Met whom they never really wanted but kept going out and getting; the alleged best return of the Addison Reed trade booty in Gerson Bautista (watch him blossom into Seattle’s next closer); last year’s top draft pick, Jerred Kelenic, who if nothing else seemed like a hitter, and Anothy Swarzak, aka Exhibit A in the don’t-go-get-relievers-based-on-one-season-of-goodness department. Swarzak will presumably bounce in Seattle back too, then go at the summer deadline, probably to a win-now dreamer, like the Mets. And if he doesn’t rebound, then he’ll be out of a job.

Maybe the principals mentioned above will change, but if you needed evidence the Mets were back in control of Omar “Big Splash” Minaya there you have it. Move heaven and earth for 60 innings of relief and a veteran with “talent.” Yuck.

The question is, what’s next? Well if they’re truly serious about contending let’s see them really strap one on, go sign Bryce Harper, keep Syndergaard, sign Nathan Eovaldi and trade Steven Matz for that catcher instead. What are you, scared? If this didn’t do it, what will?

 

 

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And Turn In Your Jersey Now

Our long national nightmare is over.

No, not that one. You can all vote tomorrow and do your part for that.

I’m talking about the bogarting of No. 6 by coach Pat Roessler.

As I’ve documented numerous times here, Roessler’s occupation of No. 6, which he’s worn now for three years, interfered with a long tradition of the Mets’ No. 6 getting rapidly distributed sand returned to a parade of reserve infielder scrubeenies, third-string catchers and short-lived starters like Ruben Gotay and Gustavo Molina sand Marlon Byrd, for example. The tradition was so strong that only five seasons have been 6-less for the Mets and no player has sustained 6 apart from Wally Backman’s eight-year run for any more than a partial season or two.

Only two players in team history have more than 1,000 at-bats in No. 6, Backman and Timo Perez. Joe Orsulak is third! And with 46 separate issues, it’s still the most frequently-issued in club history.

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Chief Brodie

From where I sit, hiring the least experienced candidate they possibly could and putting Omar Minaya a heartbeat away is a mixed message at best for our Mets. We know Omar for all his scouting smarts is an analytical illiterate and closely aligned with Fred Wilpon, typically the root of all dysfunction that accompanies the club including this last coup. Meanwhile it looks as though the ties to the maligned Alderson Administration are to be cut completely, with John Ricco and JP Ricciardi evidently afterthoughts.

Ready for action

As for Brodie, who the hell knows. Putting aside the awkwardness of now lording over talent he once represented in opposition to the brass and the accompanying conflicts-of-interest that entails, it’s hard to guess how he’ll actually address the club’s weaknesses. Though this smells a lot like the first Omar Takeover, where the club will let go of their typically tight grip on salaries so as to make a show of their new willingness to compete, probably by doing something moronic like signing the most expensive relief pitcher out there, or maybe by tearing apart the farm system built by predecessors in a daring trade.

So I’m predicting a newsy offseason likely to result in a few inarguable “on-paper” improvements but I’m going to wait and see whether they actually represent the mix of creativity, boldness and strategic forethought that actual successful organizations employ. It’s not going to be easy even for a smart group.

Were it up me, I’d see what it would take to make Manny Machado the third baseman, which would come with the bonus of forcing Todd Frazier to another club. The Mets may also have a decision to make on the order of Duda-Davis, choosing between the promising but thus-far inconsistent Dom Smith and the promising but older and less-sound defensive player Peter Alonso, which is not as easy as it might look, as both guys could tank. First basemen need to hit.

My secret weapon? See what it takes to get one more really good starting pitcher in the style of the 90s Braves adding Greg Maddux to the Glavine-Smoltz-Avery core. If it turns Steven Matz into trade bait, or the lefthanded reliever we apparently need, so much the better.

You can count on the Mets making a show of acquiring relief pitchers anyhow, as dubious a strategy as I suspect it is (the way to prevent losing close games is to score more runs, and not necessarily count on the other team to fail at the same), but were they to acquire Brooklyn’s own Adam Ottavino to bolster what they’ve got I won’t mind, and if you’re going to select a “proven closer” it may as well be Jeurys Familia.

Roster moves thus far are marking the end of the line for Phillip Evans (28); Rafael Montero (50); Jack Reinheimer (72); and Jamie Callahan (43). Major league free agents are Jerry Blevins (39); AJ Ramos (44); Jose Lobaton (59); Devin Mesoraco (29); Jose Reyes (7) and Austin Jackson (16). I could see Jackson back as a reserve outfielder if nothing else, and I figure they might consider Mesoraco and Ramos.

Props to Mark Healey for the headline/nickname which I’m totally adopting.

 

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Front Office Fred-anigans

Well here we are days or even hours away from a new leader in Metland and the team can’t decide whether they need a grandfatherly caretaker, an egghead disruptor, or an agent fluent in corporate buzzspeak.

But that’s the Mets all over. And it’s not just that they don’t know, it’s that they don’t know why they don’t know, and so whomever they ultimately wind up hiring they’ll have hired for all the wrong reasons. I’ve said here many times and in many ways but the Mets don’t solve problems, they make a show of trying to look as though they do. And the problems they try and solve are almost entirely of their own making, because they’re so incompetent.

Take for example the case for Bob Melvin cited in the Snooze article linked above. If the Mets decide what they need is a people-manager who’ll put out infighting it’s only because Fred assured that outcome when he went behind his GM’s back to secure himself a right-hand man in Omar Minaya and the manager he tried to depose as special assistants. Of course it had bad results.

Or if you believe the Mets are analytically illiterate and in need of Yale grad like Chaim Bloom, that’s probably because they haven’t sprung for a staff in the first place, despite having one of the best minds in the game in charge. Jeff’s remark that it was Sandy Alderson who insisted upon the lack of front-office brainpower has got to be one of the cheapest shots he’s ever taken, but hiring an “analytics guy” would be the best defense against that charge, so there’s your case for Bloom.

I don’t know a whole lot about how an agent like Brodie Van Wagenen got this far, but you can guess from the Mets’ point of view it’s an end-around on a renegotiation of the Cespedes contract, and on the brighter side, an avenue to keeping deGrom locked up. Perhaps then the message they’d send with this hire is that they’re getting smart on money finally after being rich-dumb and poor-dumb.

I’ve gotten really cynical, you might say.

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Thanks, David!

David is perfect. He may be the perfect player in every way there is. I was around Carter and Carter did a lot of the things David did, but you got the idea that Carter did those things because he wanted people to think he was a nice guy. David does it because he is a good guy. It’s astonishing.

Marty Noble, here

For a guy who who started and is now ending a 16-year career that has taken place completely within the MBTN Era I didn’t write a whole lot about David Wright. That’s sort of the nature of covering an aspect of the game that tracks things that change and move on: I spilled more electronic ink, proportionately anyway, on guys like Nick Evans and Bartolome Fortunato and Travis d’Arnaud, whose Met careers are a jagged line. Or on the comings and goings and stylings of Wright’s predecessor in the No. 5 jersey, Tsuyoshi Shinjo.

David Wright on the other hand was such a straight line it was hard to take notice. It was clear after a certain period of time he’d likely be the last of the Mets ever to wear No. 5, as deserving as any of the players to be given the “retirement” business.

Looking over the archives I came across mention that Wright wore No. 72 in 2004 Spring Training while teammate Prentice Redman was issued No. 5. Charlie Samuels gave Wright No. 5 so as to align him spiritually with George Brett. But in no time he was such a steady presence I was only writing about non-David Wright things. There were plenty who wrote more.

So if I didn’t say it then, let me say it now. THANKS, DAVID WRIGHT. You’re the best.

My dad painted the portrait below.

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Mets Score Empty Netter

Well anyone with interest knows this already — I was vacationing! — but the promotion of Eric Hanhold from AAA and his appearance the other night wearing No. 70 marked the arrival of the 55th Met of 2018, breaking a 51-year-old record of 54 Mets used in 1967.

That club, by the way, had 55 guys on the active big-league roster but one of them — a young fireballer named Nolan Ryan — didn’t make an appearance.

Do you guys follow hockey? I never really did till recently, I think a midlife crisis of some kind forced me to confront my childhood and I realized I’d been walking around with a dormant NY Islanders gene. Perhaps if the Mets were better, or if I could still pretend I cared about the NFL, I wouldn’t have noticed it.

Anyway, I was struck this morning by an article suggesting the new general manager of the Islanders just went and assigned a bunch of guys new uni numbers without their input — at least four guys, young guys but with some equity like Anthony Beauvillier (72 to 18), Adam Pelech (50 to 3), Scott Mayfield (42 to 24) and Josh Ho-Sang, whose 66 was already attracting attention, now skating in 26. All the numbers, you’ll notice, went down. And there’s no more 91 wearing the C.

While a unilateral change of that magnitude is unlikely to occur in baseball it might be an interesting move for whoever general-manages the Mets next season to execute a similar reordering, just to send a message that the kind of unprecedented revolving-door roster the Mets had in 2018 — and the results that accompanied it — could be a part of the change they seek. To the extent the Mets approach to uni numbers sends a message currently, it’s either “we don’t care that much” and/or “we lack a true identity” and/or “these guys aren’t for real.”

 

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News to New York: Drop Dead

I’m sorry to have witnessed the decline of the New York Daily News, which has taken an economic beating, was sold on the cheap to even cheaper owners, who subsequently gutted the rest of the staff who hadn’t already been whacked, and now intends to exist as a virtual brand. Yeah, that’ll work.

July 23, 1964: The NL pennant race

A million years ago, I used to deliver the Daily News on my bicycle, and a million years before that, my dad contributed political and sports cartoons they published. Back then, the Snooze was considered a conservative counterbalance to the liberal New York Post, if you can believe that, but I don’t know if the News can even retain the gravitas to go toe-to-toe with a rival anymore, which is especially saddening because one of the things that made both papers great was the energy inherent in the battle, especially when it came to the back covers.

Before smart phone game apps ruined my life and I needed something to do on the subway, the Snooze was my go-to. I liked Jim Farber’s music columns, the fact that they had two columns every day on what was on local radio (another basically dead medium) and the grossly exaggerated but true-rung strain of New York populism that carried through its coverage, especially on stories like the Willie Randolph firing which generated a week of fabulously overblown “COWARDS IN THE NIGHT” headlines. The Post generally had the better sports columnists — I always preferred the smart and hustling Joel Sherman to the News’ Bill Madden — but News had the city’s best beat reporters until Adam Rubin gave it up.

And now, it’s nothing. The News’ recent whacking seems to have resulted in Mets’ beater Kristie Ackert moving over to cover the Yankees.

Anyway, RIP News. But leave it to MBTN readers to find a silver lining. I heard recently from Jason E. who noted that while the future is bleak, those who wish to sign in can now find a treasure trove of archived copy online (that’s how I discoverd my Dad’s cartoon above). He sent along the following clip, which might be the first article ever written about Mets uni numbers: January 14, 1962. Too bad Billy Loes never made the club, huh? Was a conflict between Cookie Lavagetto and Hobie Landrith the origin of Met coaches wearing numbers in the 50s? Check it out!

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Zamora The Same

Thaks for the image, @DaveMetsDugout

Today the Mets announced another swap of would-be relief candidates, sending the newly arrived Bobby Wahl to the disabled list and promoting lefty Daniel Zamora. Naturally they gave Zamora No. 73.

Zamora comes to the Mets from Class AA Binghamton, where he’s been having a good year. He’s a Stony Brook product we acquired over the offseason for Josh Smoker, and becomes the 4th Mets 73 ever, the first since Robert Carson. All by the way have been lefties: Kenny Rogers, Ricardo Rincon, and Carson. Should Zamora enter a game, he’ll be 54th Met this season, matching the 1967 club record.

That’s all I got.

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His Name Is My Name Too

I miss the days of Bobby Valentine’s Mets when a guy just up from the minors was usually shoved into that night’s starting lineup somehow, whether the manager knew he could play or not.

Jack Reinheimer has been up for a couple of days, replacing Luis Guillorme, who was up for a couple of weeks, but it was hard to notice. Reinheimer will debut in No. 72, because that’s what the Mets do. He’ll be the third 72 in team history: The first, Carlos Torres, took the number when the Mets acquired Yoenis Cespedes in 2015. And before graduating to the more dignified 28, Phillip Evans wore 72 last September.

I just looked up Reinheimer to find out he had brief experience with the Diamondbacks, from whom the Mets acquired Reinheimer on a waiver claim a few weeks ago. He wore No. 76 for them.

He’ll be the 53rd guy to play for the Mets this year, when he plays. If he plays.

In case you missed it, I talked about the origins of this website and its associated stuff in an interview here.

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25 or 6 to 4

And you thought batting-out-of-order was embarrassing.

In addition to setting any number of dubious marks for margin-of-defeat, and beyond the gruesome repudiation of the decision not to have sent Steven Matz to some other club during the few weeks over a long career he remotely resembled a reliable starter, and ignoring the cold reality that last year’s trade deadline acquiree Jacob Rhame was among those comically unable to stop the bleeding, the Mets made a bit of uni history last night when Jose Reyes pitched the 8th inning.

The putrid effort marked the appearance of the lowest uniform number ever to appear on the mound for the Mets (7) and only the second time a single-digit pitcher threw an inning for the Mets. You have to go back to May 17, 2001, when Desi Relaford chucked a scoreless inning of relief in a 15-3 loss to the Padres.

This friggin team.

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