Ham and Egbert

61Not clear as of this writing who will be demoted when journeyman lefty Dana Eveland arrives for today’s Mets-Phillies but it may as well be fellow traveler Buddy Carlyle who rescued an incompent Mets team Saturday with a win and 3 vital innings of relief work.

Carlyle wore No. 44, a quick reissue of the jersey Kyle Farnsworth fouled for the club. Eveland is said to be issued No. 61, a jersey last seen on the back of Jack Egbert, who might be the most forgettable Met all of all time.

44These Mets are driving me nuts. We know they don’t possess the most explosive offense in the league, but jeez, the pitching has been borderline great and the bullpen pieces appear to be in place after a lot of tinkering. So why do they struggle? Idiotic baserunning by the likes of Daniel Murphy and easy pop-ups clanking off Chris Young’s glove in the outfield. Philly is a flat-out awful team. It wouldn’t take 14 innings or more to beat them if the Mets could only be counted on to avoid these preventable execution errors. Not sure how Terry is dealing with this, but I’d bench Murph today and act like he won’t go tomorrow until he gets the message.

Let’s Go Mets and stuff.

 

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Hit or Miss

Another rough stretch, another few victims, another media crisis, more angry fans in a panic.

51So it goes for the Mets, who unexpectedly whacked hitting coach Dave Hudgens — and predictably cashiered gasbag reliever Jose Valverde — following a disheartening Memorial Day debacle. It wasn’t long after Hudgens took leave that his opinions concerning the effect of fans booing and criticisms from team broadcasters were speeding around the circuit, and he followed that up this afternoon by remarking on the team’s “purse strings” — a fresh serving of red meat for stimulated fans who’d somehow convinced themselves that Sandy Alderson hasn’t been deftly splitting hairs for years now when he’s asked about financial constraints governing the ongoing turnaround.

57That all the issues — the booing, the Keith, the money, the hitting, the bullpen — are at some level related is the story of the season so far and the burden the Mets are dragging around everywhere. And there was certainly a whiff of Wilponian sneakiness to the Hudgens affair. He was quite obviously one of Sandy’s pet hirings, and replaced by a guy, Lamar Johnson, who’d been hanging around Mettown for a decade. On the other hand, maybe parting with Hudgens was Sandy’s offering to the bloodlusters — dopes in the press eager to link the offensive struggles to the organizational hitting strategy as part of an ongoing effort to bring down Sabermetics and prove the Earth is flat — and an acknowledgement that despite the process, the results called for a change.

So Lamar Johnson is here, the first No. 57 since Johan Santana — and Hudgens has turned in No. 51. Valverde has turned in 47. Elsewhere we’ve seen the return of Matt den Dekker in No. 6 and Josh Edgin in 66, and Vic Black, still No. 38.

 

 

 

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Saved

44It’s harrowing at times, and probably not entirely by design, but hats off to the threadbare Mets for demonstrating how inconsequential the whole notion of the closer role is this year, seeing as they’ve essentially stashed their worst pitchers there since the early injury to Bobby Parnell and are still hanging in there.

And as though to prove it, after Wednesday’s game (and Monday’s so-called “save”) they cashiered closer-of-the-moment Kyle Farnsworth so as to call up their own questionable relief talent (Josh Edgin) and save a few bucks. Who’s next in line? Who cares? It’s clear that without a true standout, and by avoiding the total gascans (or reassigning and or releasing them when appropriate) Whomever Pitches That Night will convert saves at about the same rate as That Other Guy. It’s true the Mets have had an abysmal conversion rate on saves this year (47%) but the leaguewide average isn’t much to look at either (64%) and you figure the process of competition and tinkering — particularly at the dawn of a wave of incoming pitching talent — will improve the performance over time. Right now they could turn to veteran mediocrities like Jose Valverde or Daiskue Matsuzaka — or promising-but-erractic performers like Jeurys Familia or Jennry Mejia. I have confidence that can all get about 64%. It really doesn’t matter.

66At any rate, I’m not losing sleep over the whacking of Kyle Farnsworth, yet another complete disaster to have worn No. 44 for the Mets. Seriously this shirt from Jason Bay to John Buck to Lastings Milledge has belonged almost exclusively to losers and disappointments. Josh Edgin, last time we saw him, was the Mets first and still only No. 66.

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Walk-off

50All pumped up again over the Mets who badly beat a hilariously old and ineffectual Yankee squad last night as word came the club was on the verge of the first wave of player promotions that hopefully improve the performance and outlook of the team. Wednesday’s starter will be Rafael Montero, whom we saw this spring wearing No. 50.

48Similarly, Jacob deGrom wore No. 48 in spring, which has also remained available. Not certain on the corresponding moves yet, although Gonzalez Germen is hitting the disabled list to make room for deGrom. Just guessing now but would be great to cut loose Kyle Farnsworth while we’re still ahead. Unlike many Mets fans I never had a strong opinion of the whole Mejia thing but he looks like he’s having fun here so let’s keep it going.

mejia

 

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Souperdooper

68The Mets after Friday’s awful game said they would summon Eric Campbell from AAA Las Vegas, presumably so Josh Satin can pop up with men on base out there.

Campbell was one of the spring’s more pleasant surprises, hanging in there in part because of time off for David Wright and Daniel Murphy, but also demonstrating an ability to play all over the place and hit a little too. In Las Vegas, he’s well over the magical 300/400/500 slashline (355/424/525 in fact), walking, hitting doubles and a few home runs, and playing first, second, third, short, left, right and even pitching an inning (not a particularly good one, but what more can the guy do). Hit better than Satin so far, hopefully. Geez.

Campbell wore No. 68 during Spring Training and was wearing 24 in Vegas. Available now are 2, 23, 29, 34, 43 and 46. Put us down for 23.

UPDATE: Sure enough they gave him 29. Heartless!

 

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Nothin from Nothin Leaves Nothin

You gotta have somethin if you wanna be with me.

0So, so long, Omar Quintanilla, and thanks for being the first No. Zero in 14 years. Your frequent and repeated DFAs have made you a kind of Nelson Figueroa of Met position players, and I fully expect we’ll see you again, especially if and/or when this whole Wilmer Flores-to-shortstop experiment ends in a failure or injury.

4Don’t get me wrong, though. I’m glad the Mets are trying this. Flores has a nice record as a minor league hitter, and he’s still very young, and the Mets need young position players who can hit. And Ruben Tejada just isn’t getting it done offensively, the Mets aren’t good enough hitters otherwise to carry a bat like that, as though the last batch of games hadn’t illustrated that.

That this move will also likely test the limits of what we can accept defensively from a major league shortstop will be interesting in and of itself. Flores last time wore No. 4 and we’d expect to see that again tonight.

Elsewhere, I’m troubled to see the spate of recent articles and fan sentiment hovering around this absurd notion that the nascent organizational turnaround under Sandy Alderson is some kind of setback from the Omar Minaya Era, in which the Mets appeared to possess no ovearching philosophy other than to create the illusion they were headed in the right direction by paying full retail for other team’s players.

Joel Sherman, whom I usually like, today is trying to sell the idea that Alderson has failed because Omar-acquired ballplayers remain at the heart of his club, conveniently leaving out the idea that the even bigger disasters of Alderson’s years until now were even more influenced by Minaya, and that any administration’s third year will still include rubble from the prior occupant’s closet (he may as well have argued Minaya’s ineffectiveness given the benefits he derived from Steve Phillips’ charges like Wright and Reyes). In reality though, several Minaya legacies have failed Alderson badly (Ike Davis, Ruben Tejada) and/or were foolishly traded (Carlos Gomez, Joe Smith) and/or handicapped him with lardy contracts (Johan Santana, Jason Bay, Francisco Rodriguez) and/or aren’t around to help when he could use them (Bobby Parnell, Matt Harvey). I’m not trying to bury Omar Minaya, whom I believe did his best despite being frequently overmatched at the trading and negotiating tables and too easily interfered with by the Wilpons and the press, but painting him as even a comparative success vs. the current administration is, um, bullshit.

In the meantime, what was basically a gut-renovation of the system by Alderson is turning around opinions and results on the minor league level already, and other than it turning out to be an inviting target for lazy critics and columnists, there ought to be nothing wrong with acting in a manner of a club that’s going to win 90 games if that is indeed the goal. If it were easy to rebuild a club while slashing payroll by 35% in an inflationary market, everyone would be doing it.

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To Be Named Later

Good morning. Quick note to catch up on the rapidly evolving and possibly improving 2014 Mets.

Kyle Farnsworth,  whom I don’t like, has taken over closing duties from Jose Valverde,  whom I don’t trust, but the question remains who’s next once Farnsworth has proven untrustworthy. Seems so far that Gonzalez Germen has the results and Jeurys Familia the stuff but I have this crazy notion of shocking the world behind Dice K-loser. Unless things get really bad we’ll probably learn again this year that who closes doesn’t matter all that much, as long as someone does.

29On the other hand, who plays first base every day does matter,  and I’m relieved to see they finally did something about that. I ran out of patience with Ike Davis a few years ago and long since resigned myself to the fact that he was destined to go cheaply in a trade. There’s some buzz out there that the Player To Be Named is significant;  I’d guess potentially so, given that’s the best way to describe Ike too. So long, Ike.  Like Steve Trachsel you were a pretty good representative of No. 29 but it didn’t end well.

53This morning we get the news that ancient chunky hit machine Bobby Abreu will arrive to take Ike ‘ place as lefthanded pinch hitter. I have to say I like having a “professional hitter” with no dreams of being a starter ever again to be hitting late-inning doubles for me, and Abreu joins what looks to be a pretty solid bench.

Abreu is notable for having worn the oddish No. 53 all those years with the Phillies. I can’t imagine the shelved Jeremy Hefner would mind loaning it to Bobby because I can’t imagine a scenario where their active careers overlap again. Twenty-nine is available too now but, no.

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Happy Larry Elliot Day

42It’s a special day across the Major Leagues today: The annual celebration of greatness and human spirit demonstrated when players from all 30 teams suit up in No. 42 to honor the contributions of Mets outfielder Larry Elliot in 1964.

Fans needn’t be reminded of Elliot’s historical significance but he was the first player in Mets history to wear No. 42, buttoning the flannel for the first time shortly after he was purchased from the Pittsburgh Pirates on a conditional deal during the 1963-64 offseason. Recalled abruptly from the Buffalo roster when unhappy Duke Snider was traded away as the ’64 campaign began, Elliot was employed in a strict in a center field platoon with Jim Hickman. He launched 9 home runs over 80 games in ’64, including becoming the first Met to hit home runs in four straight games. That stretch in late July actually included five home runs in 6 days, the last being a thrilling three-run, pinch-hit blast off the Braves’ Bobby Tiefenauer highlighting a 7-run 7th inning that surely would have held up if the Met bullpen hadn’t surrendered 8 runs in the final two innings and stumbled into a heartbreaking 15-10 loss. And who could forget Larry being carried off the field on a stretcher after taking a throw into the head from Phillies’ infielder Ruben Amaro Sr. while breaking up a double play, suffering “severe contusions of the neck and base of the skull,” The Sporting News reported.

61-536BkIn all seriousness, Elliot was hardly what went wrong for the dreadful 1964 Mets (101 OPS+, 1.0 WAR in half a season despite a shaky glove) — and has a (minor) connection to another famous 42 whose memory might also be celebrated today. For reasons that aren’t immediately apparent, Elliot spent all of 1965 and ’66 in the minor leagues before resurfacing with the 1967 Mets, this time wearing No. 17. In early May, the Mets would deal him to Kansas City for veteran third baseman Ed Charles, whose story of drawing childhood inspiration from Jackie Robinson would be included in the film 42. Elliot would retire from baseball following the 1969 season and become a phys-ed teacher and well-regarded coach near his native San Diego.

Happy Larry Elliot Day, everyone.

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Right Back Atcha, Banny

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Natera

New assistant hitting coach Luis Natera was spotted wearing No. 60 prior to Monday’s harrowing debut. Natera has appeared on these pages before: Back in 2008, he was issued No. 64 (unofficially) when he served as a coaching version of a September callup from Class AA Binghamton.

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