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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Seaworthy?

Well it took less than a week before the Mets required reinforcements, as righthander Paul Sewald was recalled from AAA Las Vegas following last night’s game and reserve Ty Kelly designated for assignment.

And though we feared that recent history would result in Sewald retaining the ghastly No. 79 he wore during spring training, good sense prevailed and Sewald will suit up in the somewhat less controversial No. 51, last seen on the back of Jim Henderson last year, Jack Leathersich the year before, bullpen predecessors Rick White, Mike Maddux, and Mel Rojas, and a ton of coaches. Fun fact: The only position player ever to appear in a Mets game wearing No. 51 was Lance Johnson in a one-game issue on Mookie Wilson Day in September of 1996 (Mookie, then a coach, and Johnson, then wearing No. 1, switched for the occasion). Johnson had three hits including a triple that day.

For the Mets the move to 13 pitchers would presumably give additional hitting opportunities for little-used bench guys like Michael Conforto and T.J. Rivera, but I’d suspect the move has more to do with the unsteady performance of the low-end bullpen guys like Josh Smoker and Rafael Montero and the fact that there’s just 2 off-days among the next 32. Eventually, I’d like to see Brandon Nimmo get that Ty Kelly role but he’s I guess we have to get through this next batch and see what happens. At any rate, we need to hit more.

Ty never got back to me on my suggestion he switch to No. 11, by the way. I’m telling you right now, it’s harder to DFA a guy wearing 11 than a guy wearing 56. Think of your career, man.

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Same As It Ever Was

Well here we are at the first opening day that hasn’t accompanied a rash of new jersey assignments since whenever.

So unless there’s some crazy reveal as they line up along the first base line today, only Josh Smoker (returning to his originally assigned No. 49) and new third-base coach Glenn Sherlock (53) require the records to be updated. History shows I usually need to type in a half-dozen or more this day. In the MBTN Era, the biggest update I ever made on this day was 2005, when 20 new players and coaches joined the roster for the first time. Twenty! Omar being Omar.

And so we begin 2017 with the same 1,026 all-timers we had at the end of 2016 with all 25 drawn from last year’s total collection of 46. It’s an interesting gambit: Same guys, healthier, deeper, only fewer baserunners sent to their deaths at home plate.

In general I’m hopeful the offense will be better than last year’s version, and that the depth in the bench and rotation can only be an asset over the course of the long year. And it speaks to the confidence with which Sandy built the team. I’d guess both he and Terry ride off to the sunset following this season.

Let’s Go Mets!

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Fake News? Ty Ballgame, updated

New-arriving information indicates the news I passed along yesterday regarding Ty Kelly may not be entirely accurate, and by “entirely” I mean, entirely. Can anyone clear this up? I’ve asked Ty himself to check in.

Thanks to alert reader Chris who passed along a tip: Ty Kelly is back in uni No. 55, after having arrived at camp assigned 56.

I haven’t confirmed this independently and should have asked the reader for the dope.

Kelly as you may remember was issued 55 a year ago when he made his Met debut but lost his number, along with a big-league job, when the Mets re-acquired Kelly Johnson last June and gave the 55 jersey he’d worn for a glorious half-season in 2015. When Ty Kelly reappeared later in the year he was wearing 56, which also happened to be the uni on Kelly’s back during the recent World Baseball Classic, when he represented Isreal.

Whether Kelly resurfaces with the Mets remains in question as he lost his 40-man roster spot in February and resigned a minor league contract and so would need a 40-man space to open up before he returns. That said with Juan Lagares expected to miss time with an injury and a mostly right-handed bench the switch-hitting, multi-position playing Kelly could be in demand.

I’m also wondering if Kelly is really changing numbers why he wouldn’t pounce on the still-available 11, which matches his Twitter handle and the double Ls in his last name.

It’s been a long Spring Training, a long off-season, in fact, with little to speculate on but the butt-end of the Met bench and bullpen, what Tim Tebow is up to and, perhaps, who gets Juerys Familia’s spot for the length of time he’s suspended. It’s been so boring, in fact, my friend Jason is wondering whether there will be any new Mets at all when the curtain rises a week from today.

That brings us to the possibility that Paul Sewald comes north. Like Kelly he’s a recent ex-resident of the 40-man but he’s had a good spring. Would he stay in 79? Stay tuned.

Sewald was optioned just after I wrote this. Sorry, Paul!

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Spitters, swappers, sluggers and doubleheaders

Big thanks to longtime reader Pete Mahoney who pointed out the the below audio recording of the May 22, 1966 Mets-Giants game at Candlestick Park (game one of a twinbill, doncha know) that also provides a missing artifact in Mets uniform history.

As relayed by Bob Murphy at the 20-minute mark, lefty Gerry Arrigo makes his Mets debut in this game, having been recently purchased from Cincinnati, and is wearing No. 26. Until now, the nearest proof I’d collected of Arrigo’s number that season — the below scorecard in early July — indicates Arrigo is in 34, and Bob Shaw is wearing 26.

The latter bit of info on Shaw was never in question but it raises the issue of when Arrigo switched out of 26. The answer would appear be, as soon as Shaw arrived.

The Mets acquired Shaw from San Francisco on June 10. Shaw in fact pitched for the Giants in the second game of the doubleheader referenced above. One of the reasons the Mets made the purchase was a broken finger sustained by Arrigo the day before. In fact the Mets made room for Shaw on the roster by placing Arrigo on the disabled list. Did I happen to mention all this happened on the day I was born? Well, it did.

Shaw, an accomplished if well-traveled vet, had worn 26 in two of his previous stops — Kansas City and Milwaukee — so its possible he’d requested the number, but at any rate when Arrigo returned to the club June 25, he took 34.

Shaw by the way wasted little time establishing himself as an effective No. 26, reeling off victories in his first four starts as a Met including three complete games. He also provided some hints as to why he had so many different employers until then: He was a chronic contract holder-outter who didn’t mind making his opinions known. He once slugged his own catcher, Jerry Grote, who’d gotten between the home plate umpire and an irate Shaw after a call hadn’t gone his way. And as represented in the below photos, Shaw had a reputation for putting something “extra” on his pitches from time to time, though only admitted to enjoying the fact that opponents believed that of him:

Click to embiggen

 

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I’m 18 and I like it

It’s crazy and just about as accomplished but Mets By The Numbers has now had a career as long as Ed Kranepool: Eighteen years.

The site went “live” for the first time on Feb. 22, 1999. It wasn’t a “blog” then as such a thing didn’t really exist, but a website with a “home page” that was updated as needed, with stuff deleted as time permitted, which I guess is one reason why the earliest front-page updates I can find for it date only to the failed Barry Larkin trade of 2000, although I uncovered an early cry for help archived from October of 1999.

Anyway, we’re as pleased to be 18 as the protagonist in the Alice Cooper song, or Darryl Strawberry in 1983, or maybe, Darryl Hamilton in 1999. Fun Fact: 100% of the Mets’ Darryls have worn No. 18. Darrells (Ceciliani, Sutherland) are another story entirely.

Real quickly, the most Metly 18s in club history:

1 Darryl Strawberry: I used to wonder what it was about Yankee fans who grew up the 1950s and 60s that made them so obsessive about Mickey Mantle and then I met Strawberry and became one of them. He can still be a Daaaryl sometimes but he meant a lot.

2 Joel Youngblood: Terrific athlete who never found a home on the field. Darryl’s predecessor.

3 Art Howe: Luckless and dull caretaker of a manager astonishingly described as having “lit up the room” in an interview to replace Bobby Valentine. Right, Fred.

4. Felix Mantilla: Arguably the best player on the 1962 Mets which sounds like a kind of feint praise.

5. Moises Alou: Incredible hitter when healthy, never healthy.

6. Marlon Anderson: The best of his three numbers was 18, wore it for his famous inside-the-park home run.

7. Benny Ayala: Home run in first at-bat, of course

8. Bret Saberhagen: He’d have more success wearing 17.

9. Takashi Kashiwada: First Japan-born Met. I associate him with a photo playing in the “ice cream man” white hat.

10. Jeff McKnight. Because, Jeff McKnight.

 

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Pitchers, Catchers + Numbers, 2017

Click to embiggen

Photos from the first day of Mets camp this morning (I borrowed this one from David Lennon, who even did the ghost of Marty Noble a favor and reported on locker assignments today) have circulated and illustrate a Spring Training roster light on shocking revelations.

In the good news department, new third base coach Glenn Sherlock has been issued a “third base coach” number — 53 — and reliever Josh Smoker has been reassigned 49 after a DNP stop there last season, then turns in 59 and 58. And its good to see 70 through 85 appropriately populated with young longshots and camp invites but would hope if Adam Wilk makes it to the big club this year they’ll give him something better than 85.

Yet, neither Robert Gsellman (65) nor Seth Lugo (67) or TJ Rivera (54) are showing dignified digits yet, despite prime real estate like 11, 16, 28, 29 and 35 being available. In the meantime, longshot NRIs Tom Gorzelanny and Ben Rowen snap up 40 and 46, respectively.

I suspect we’ll see a few changes before it all shakes out!

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Sixth Sense

Today a friend of MBTN pointed out the following tweet:

Could it be Robert Gsellman dumps his 65… for 6? Well, anything’s possible, and despite this being a training jersey worn in an offseason workout with kids in a minor league park, it was taken last week, and the combo of Name-On-Back and number make it look suggestive of something.

However, a little investigation on my own reveals this wasn’t the first time Gsellman appeared in a No. 6 training jersey, as weird as that may seem. He appears to be wearing the same outfit pictured in this mugshot (date unknown but he looks about 19 and a half), which some outlets trotted out upon Gsellman’s promotion to the Majors for the first time last summer, when he of course was issued 65. So I don’t think this particular change is actually a thing. He probably just had that one hanging around.

That said, I think there’s a good argument for Gsellman to change into some other number before we see him pitch next. Just goofing off here, but it would be interesting if the Mets could right the numerical wrongs of the past seasons an execute a multiplayer uni swap whereby Gsellman and Jacob deGrom switch to 35 and 36, respectively. That would give the club an unprecedented starting rotation in consecutive numbers (Matz 32, Harvey 33, Syndergaard 34, Gsellman 35 and deGrom 36). deGrom and Gsellman are interchangeable in this scenario but I kept deGrom in the even number. That move requires Sean Gilmartin to take on a new number, perhaps the vacant 46 or deGrom’s 48, as the relievers gather in 40s the same way their starting brethren do in the 30s. I’d move Seth Lugo and Gabriel Ynoa to this neighborhood as well, with 40 and 48 also available in this scenario. This also leaves Zack Wheeler alone at 45 but I’m imagining he’s bullpen bound for now.

No. 6 by the way still belongs to coach Pat Roessler, as far as I can tell.

 

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The Big Takeover

More than a month has passed since we remarked on the lack of activity in Metville and still, activity lacks.

They’ve signed three fringe guys to minor league contracts (pitchers Cory Burns, Ben Rowen and Adam Wilk); and invited a bunch of their own minor league guys to camp (Chase Bradford, Xorge Carrillo, P.J. Conlon, Phillip Evans, Luis Guillorme, Kevin McGowan, David Roseboom, Paul Sewald, Dominic Smith, Champ Stuart, Travis Taijeron, Corey Taylor and Logan Taylor). They join the previously announced 40-man additions (Flexen, Molina, Nido, Rosario, Becerra).

Meantime we still have Jay Bruce but continue losing guys from the 2016 fringes: Alejandro De Aza has signed with Oakland; James Loney with Texas; Eric Campbell with Japan; Logan Verrett was sold to Baltimore; Bartolo Colon to Atlanta; Jim Henderson to the Cubs.

Jerry Blevins, Jon Niese, Kelly Johnson, and Fernando Salas remain free agents.

If I counted right that means 21 guys plus new coach Glenn Sherlock are now looking for number assignments. The Mets still haven’t updated their roster so at the moment the following numbers are vacant:

1, 8, 11, 16, 17, 28, 29, 35, 40, 46, 51, 53, 61, 64 and everything higher than 68.

39, 49, 55 and 59 are also available but I’m considering them technically in limbo until the free agents find new homes.

We’ll keep you posted.

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