Forever Young

I associate Anthony Young with Powerball, the multi-state lottery phenomenon which launched around the same time the Mets’ tragic hero bravely battled through a 27-game consecutive-loss streak.

Young, everyone knew, deserved better than 27 straight L’s, which occurred over a mix of starts and relief appearances between May 6, 1992 and July 24, 1993, all while wearing No. 19. He made his Mets debut the year before wearing No. 33, but put that aside when the club acquired future Hall of Famer Eddie Murray over the 91-92 offseason.

I’m not a lottery guy by any stretch but the buzz around Powerball and attention around Young was such that I’d tried it a few times and started a losing streak of my own. My Powerball number, in case you needed to guess, was 19 every time I played in support of his class and dignity as he faced his cruel fate. We all lost with him, and we all probably deserved better.

Young died this week at age 51 of a brain tumor. My friend Rory Costello has authored a great biography here.

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Chasen the Dream

Inevitably, three consecutive nights of staying up way too late only to see the Mets get destroyed by the Dodgers caught up to me and I was unable to respond to commands to update, but you might know by now that Chasen Bradford was recalled from Las Vegas in time for last night’s Mets game but the box score tells me he didn’t get in so that Fernando Salas and Jerry Blevins (who ought to be traded) could make their respective 35th and 36th appearances of the season.

If and when Bradford gets in, he’ll wear No. 46. He’s up to replace Tyler Pill, who resurfaced to replace Matt Harvey (who ought to be traded), or Zack Wheeler, both of whom went to the disabled list since the last time we updated. Also returning over the last week are Gavin Checchini and Brandon Nimmo, finally, the latter too late to sub for a struggling Curtis Granderson who is suddenly a hot Curtis Granderson (and ought to be traded); Matt Reynolds is back down; Yoenis Cespedes is back up; Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera are on the disabled list but ought to be traded.

Hansel Robles is still down.

The Mets in addition to the injuries haven’t executed plays in the field or with men on base as hitters or pitchers, and you don’t need to tell me it looks pretty bleak. The National League in addition resembles one of those seasons in the NBA where I could tell you the playoff teams a third of the way in and so despite a strain of hope that the Mets and Terry will find a way to play better eventually it looks essentially pointless to try and so we’re likely to confront a bunch of big moves earlier than we may have expected.

Bradford by the way will be the first Mets 46 since Tyler Clippard who to my delight is getting lit up as a member of the Yankees, so you know, it’s not all bad.

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Jagged Little Pill

The Mets announced Friday that they’ve recalled Tyler Pill from AAA Las Vegas to take the roster spot undeservedly belonging to Rafael Montero, who the club evidently has finally had enough of.

Pill, a righthander who was a 4th-round drfat pick in 2011, was assigned uni #56, becoming the first Met since Ty Kelly to wear the digits and the first pitcher since Scott Rice.

Montero has been sent to Las Vegas to make room but unless I’m mistaken might not get there as his options have expired. I know, he’s really sucked this year but he also has some good stuff and the way things are going its not like the Mets are in a position to give away guys with 95-mph stuff and a slider even if they suck.

Pill has been described as a Dillon Gee-type and got off to a hot start in AA and AAA this year despite an alarming lack of strikeouts. His brother is the former Giants’ first baseman Brett Pill so at least he’s got baseball in his blood.

When I think of Met 56s I think, for some reason, of Darren Bragg, the reserve outfielder who said he wore it in honor of Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor. He sure didn’t wear it in honor of other Mets in 56, who include Brian McRae (another baseball blood-relative who said 5+6= his dad Hal McRae’s #11); Dyar Miller; Jeff Kaiser; Edwin Almonte; Luis Ayala; Jon Switzer or Andres Torres. McRae was all right but that’s a lot of crud otherwise.

Seth Lugo was moved to the 60-day Disabled List to make room for Pill.

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Retirement Community

So congrats to Terry Collins for becoming the Mets longest-tenured manager ever. I never would have predicted that back in 2010 when he was my fifth choice among the so-called “final four” candidates of the incoming Alderson Administration.

I don’t believe he was ever meant to last this long, either. I think they had hoped to have progressed enough by the end of his initial 2-year hitch to pass the torch onto a “win now” skipper but the putridness of the club in 2011 and 2012 actually saved Terry. And once they got good again his charm with the writers (who adore him) and players (who appear not to have tuned him out – yet) kept him going. That and the idea that you can’t whack a World Series manager. I have my disagreements with Terry and more often than I’d like I feel like his team is unprepared, but I don’t think he’s giving away much strategically to the other guy managing most nights and their clubs make mistakes too. Ultimately that’s what matters to me as a watcher of games.

All that said, I think we’re approaching a fairly substantial Changing of the Guard. No, they’re not going to fire Terry but his contract is due at the end of the year, he’s 67 years old, his place in Mets history is assured and he has turned rotten-looking clubs into contenders twice already. Alderson is 69, he’s dealt with a cancer incident, and he’s nearing a point at which he can expect to see at least two of his farm-fresh position players (Rosario and Smith) take on big-league jobs to join the pitching ranks developed or acquired under his watch. (I’d argue for more, to see Cecchini at 2nd and Zimmo! in center, even though I know it’s still early for that). Dan Warthen will be 65 later this year. 9th-String Catcher’s remarks in the below post got me thinking about him and whether he can effect the changes in approach many of his charges seem to need. While I think Warthen would be quickly scooped up were he to be set free, Terry and Sandy, as in the Springsteen songs that use their names, are going to escape this rat-trap town by the end of this LP. And then there’s David Wright.

The Mets’ promotional calendar is full every weekend day but for Saturday, Sept. 9 which is marked “TBD.” My friend who pointed this out to me noted the club took the same strategy a year ago before revealing it would be “Mike Piazza Jersey Retirement Day,” and suggested it could be David Wright Retirement Day. It surely could, but I think that’s only part of it.

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Neil Before Me

So the Mets are trying to address a ghastly bullpen and today announced they’d signed Neil Ramirez to a contract and he’ll be in uniform tonight — No. 55 — as they face Arizona.

The extent to which Neil Ramirez can be the “answer” is a matter of some debate — he’s been released by two clubs already this year and has yet to match a short stretch of success he had as a Cubs rookie a few years back — but I’d agree it’s time to do something. This bullpen in particular is churning up memories of 2008 when similarly disappointing returnees and a merry-go-round of cheap acquirees (Luis Ayala, Brandon Knight, Tony Armas, Scott Schoeneweis, and so on) seemed basically infected with a strain of lost confidence.

And while the bullpen pitchers are ultimately at fault, some of the blame needs to go to old Terry, whose use of the pen reeks of his lack of confidence in some guys and over-confidence (and overuse) among others; and to the rotation, whose poor efforts require more help than the club has been able to offer (and who repeatedly commit the sin of giving back every run the club scores as soon as possible); and to the offense, who, especially early on, made every game a do-or-die bullpen situation by failing to support the starters or give them any breathing room. Good teams simply cannot allow themselves to have their fates determined by 12th or 13th best pitcher on them (or the best relievers working to protect 5-run leads) and the way to do that is to make better starts and hit the ball harder.

It could be, the best move for the bullpen would be to turn Curtis Granderson and Jose Reyes into pinch hitters; get Robert Gsellman two weeks of starts in Las Vegas and got get Zimmo and Cecchini already.

But for now, the best move is Neil Rodriguez.

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Fun Facts about Tommy Milone

Veteran lefty Tommy Milone, acquired on a waiver claim from Milwaukee over the weekend, is expected to make his Mets debut Wednesday wearing No. 29.

There is a lot of uninteresting things we should mention here.

+ Milone will become the 37th guy to inherit the 29 jersey, one of the most popular numbers in Mets history. His predecessors include fellow portsiders Willard Hunter (1962), Don Rowe (1963), Rob Gardner (1965-66), Mickey Lolich (1976), Tom Gorman (1982-85), Frank Viola (1990-91) and Frank Tanana (1993).

+ Eric Campbell was the most recent occupant. The 29 Mount Rushmore is represented by Steve Trachsel, Ike Davis, Dave Magadan and Viola.

+ Trachsel was never supposed to wear No. 29 yet racked up far more games, wins, innings, and strikeouts than the 18 other pitchers in the family. When acquired as a free agent prior to the 2001 season he was initially issued No. 28 but rejected it because of its association with recently departed pitcher Bobby Jones, who was a Cal State-Fresno product and therefore an enemy of Trachsel’s Cal State-Long Beach heritage.

+ Milone is a USC guy (where he wore 33) and a one-time Trojan teammate of Lucas Duda (No. 9, doncha know).

*

The Matt Harvey Incident, which we briefly discussed below, as expected is turning into a complete clusterfuck, with the latest reports detailing an all-night drinking escapade, security men doing bedchecks, and the disgraced Met righty in his pajamas. It already appears to have caused and ended Adam Wilk’s Mets career, as the Wilkman was demoted back to Vegas yesterday to make room for Milone.

Harvey’s supposed to be back tonight, and scheduled to pitch in Milwaukee on Friday. I know the guy’s stock is down but it would be appropriate if we left him there. Just give us a decent pitching prospect and a reliable third baseman. Deal?

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Got Wilk?

Amazin.

The Mets this morning announced that Matt Harvey has been suspended and so this afternoon’s game will be started by Adam Wilk, up from AAA Las Vegas. Wilk is wearing No. 35.

While fans are speculating the strategically placed dildo was to blame I’m sure there’s more to it than that. For one thing that would indicate there’s a team rule against placing dildoes in lockers. For another it overlooks the pattern of sketchy Harvey nightlife, which I’m sure at some level explains this. I also trust it’ll be sussed out soon.

What a whack team we root for.

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Rule of Thumb

They said they’d call up Amed Rosario based on the severity of Asdrubal Cabrera’s thumb injury as though anyone who saw what happened could be convinced we’ll see No. 13 again before the All-Star Break.

I suppose as I write this (6:43 am on a Sunday? what’s wrong with me?) there’s a possibility they’d leave Jose Reyes at short and collect Gavin Cecchini instead, although I’ve been secretly rooting for Cecchini to take Neil Walker’s place. I don’t want to say I saw this coming but, geez. Walker has always been terribly miscast as a middle-of-the-order hitter and it has to burn the Mets everyday that he’s paid like one. Like Granderson, and like Cabrera even, I think Walker’s days as a productive everyday major leaguer at near an end but that, given the right state of mind, they’d all be excellent or at least pretty good reserves.

Anyway, I predict today will be the last Neil Walker-related stadium giveaway ever, and perhaps, the first of Rosario’s career. Maybe not though. Maybe the right move is not to interfere with the temperamental Reyes now that he’s finally got himself going and wait for him to reveal he can’t hack it over the long haul before starting up the Rosario era.

I admired the Mets’ restraint of giving Rosario 61 in Spring Training but he looks forecast for a single digit.

In the meantime it’s been good to see the club hitting for the first time this year.

 

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Banged Up

Welcome back to Panic City.

The Mets look old and slow this season, occasionally dangerous, but lacking a rhythm and reliability. All that depth it looked like they had is already being tested, and the Phillies really outplayed us at home this week.

I was less disappointed in last night’s opener vs. Washington, optimistically taking away a sense that Granderson has realized the season has begun finally and getting more confident in Matt Harvey who’s just been great. It would appear that Terry must have been informed to stop bullpenning so damn much, though struggling offenses make for bad bullpens generally.

TJ Rivera and (today’s starter?) Sean Gilmartin are back. I’d like to see Gavin Cecchini and Brandon Nimmo here, but Nimmo also has hammy issues.

From the comments section: Chris points out that Travis d’Arnaud has become the first Met player ever to record at least 50 hits wearing three different uni numbers, becoming a king of the three-number club). Big congrats! And Edward points out that Robert Gsellman’s unsightly No. 65 perhaps isn’t only a spring training leftover but a tribute to the unusual name riding above it: 65ELLMAN. Maybe?

Here’s the entire 3-Number Club:

Player 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th
Jeff McKnight 15 5 7 17 18
Kevin Collins 10 19 16 1
Pedro Feliciano 55 39 25 55
Ed Lynch 59 35 34 36
Darrell Sutherland 47 43 45
Cleon Jones 34 12 21
John Stephenson 49 19 12
Jim Hickman 9 27 6
Mike Jorgensen 10 16 22
Hank Webb 42 30 29
Hubie Brooks 62 39 7
Clint Hurdle 33 13 7
Chuck Carr 7 1 27
Kevin Elster 2 21 15
Charlie O’Brien 33 5 22
Ron Darling 44 12 15
Jason Phillips 26 7 23
David Cone 44 17 16
Jae Seo 38 40 26
Roger Craig 38 36 13
Lee Mazzilli 12 16 13
Mike DiFelice 33 6 9
Marlon Anderson 18 23 9
Ramon Martinez 22 26 6
Robinson Cancel 4 40 29
Anderson Hernandez 1 4 11
Omar Quintanilla 6 3 0
Travis d’Arnaud 15 7 18
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Tic Tac Toe

During Sunday’s victory over the Braves, an unusual and perceptive notice popped up in my feed. In the bottom of the first inning, Jay Bruce reached on an error, Neil Walker singled and Lucas Duda followed with a base-on-balls, setting up the following bases-loaded situation as described here by TJ:

Not to speak for Elias Sports, but I’d bet it is. I’ve played around a little bit trying to determine whether the Mets ever had an all-ascending uni number starting lineup (haven’t found one yet) and I can recall lots of notable sequential teammates but this question never occurred to me and figuring out would be a task, which is why I’m opening it up to you guys out there.

My first thought on this matter was the possibility of the 16-17-18 combo of Gooden on third, Hernandez on second and Strawberry on first, which had lots of opportunity to happen. Their teammates on the ’86 champs Wally Backman, Kevin Mitchell and Gary Carter, had a whole season of opportunity to pull this one off too, but also hard to envision a scenario where Backman stops at third. Foster-Gooden-Hernanez 15-17 would be a less likely scenario but I don’t want to rule it out yet.

Looking further into the likely possibilities would also require an examination of the 1969 World Champs, who had Agee, Jones and Clendenon stacked up 20-22 (Tim Foli, No. 19 in 1970-71, could be another engine in this train). Back when numbers were lower and retirements fewer we can envision scenarios of Ashburn on first, Throneberry at second and Bouchee or Harkness on 3rd, but I got no idea.

Anyone brave enough to dive into this please speak up!

Following is my list of notable Mets teammates wearing consecutive numbers, though by no means an exhaustive list of all possibilities over the years:

6 numbers:
1986: Foster 15, Gooden 16, Hernandez 17, Strawberry 18, Ojeda 19, Johnson 20
1987–88: Aguilera 15, Gooden 16, Hernandez 17, Strawberry 18, Ojeda 19, Johnson 20
1989: Darling 15, Gooden 16, Hernandez 17, Strawberry 18, Ojeda 19, Johnson 20

5 numbers:
1989: Gooden 16, Hernandez 17, Strawberry 18, Ojeda 19, Johnson 20

3 numbers:
1968–71: Seaver 41, Taylor 42, McAndrew 43
1969–71: Agee 20, Jones 21, Clendenon 22
1975–77: Kingman 26, Swan 27, Milner 28
1986: Backman 6, Mitchell 7, Carter 8
1992: Gooden 16, Cone 17, Saberhagen 18
2015-17: Matz 32, Harvey 33, Syndergaard 34
2016-17: Bruce 19, Walker 20, Duda 21

*

 

Goodbye and good luck to Ty Kelly, the reserve we were discussing below, and who was claimed off waivers by the Blue Jays yesterday. This Ty was no Cobb, but I liked having on the team.

 

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