Mets Give Hand Job

Couldn’t resist, and sorry.

Brad Hand today became the third guy to wear No. 52 this season; he takes it from Jake Reed, who (I’m pretty sure) is still on the 40-man roster but rehabbing an injury in the minors. Reed took it from Nick Tropeano. Just saying: Joe Pignatano wore 52 for 14 years out in the Shea Bullpen Tomato Garden.

Mr. Hand, whom the Mets reportedly had coveted over the offseason but were unable to secure due to the fact that they didn’t have a GM in place: That GM quickly got himself fired, and the GM they got to replace the GM who got fired did something that’ll probably get him fired too but at least he got Brad Hand, came to the Mets via the Nationals via the Blue Jays via the waiver wire. It’s all very clear.

The powerful database where my number data resides is unhappy: It wants me to assign uniform numbers to the five guys who played in the resumption of last Tuesday’s suspended game who joined the club following its beginning back in April: This is because the stats accrued “belong” to the game initially scheduled. OK, so I backdated Patrick Mazeika, Brandon Drury and Heath Hembree with no issues. Chance Sisco is now ahead of, and also behind, Anthony Banda in progression of Met 77s.

But the Flux Capacitor ran out of plutonium while trying to transport Javier Baez back in time. That’s because his 23 on April 11 belonged then to David Peterson. Should we just pretend the game never started in April? I guess we sorta have to, even if this introduces conflict with the official stat line and secondary data like the the progression of Mets, by the way. Instead of being the 1,148th Met ever if we’re counting along with the calendar, Baez winds up being something like 1,123–and we haven’t won 7 in a row, but 6 (I’m writing this between games of the Sept. 4 double-dip.

Amazin’ still we’ve added this many guys in one year and just keep on adding.

Other options would be to “unassign” Peterson 23 for that one game (fortunately, he didn’t appear but it wasn’t like he wasn’t occupying a jersey) or perhaps, solving these conflicts by creating a special character instead of a number, such as ¥, or ∞, or ≠, to indicate when and where these things happen. This seems like an offseason project, like getting a new GM and trading away Jeff McNeil. What a nutty season.

 

 

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The Sisco Kid

So what’s up with Chance Sisco? During his stay on the 40 man in Syracuse, he was assigned #15, as befits his kinda sorta veteran status. Then he finally makes it back to the majors, and they give him #77? Maybe as a sign of respect to Mazeika?

That’s a great question (from Jim, in the below post) to which I don’t know the answer. But maybe it has something to do with debuting on a West Coast road trip, and also, something to do with the fact that the team simply has too many guys to keep track of anymore. Sisco is the 61st Met of the year and the 40th guy to have joined the organization for the 1st time this year. With the veteran reliever Heath Hembree also on the way, this team is threatening to surpass the all-time mark for debut Mets set all the way back in the team’s debut, 1962 when every Met–45 of them–was a first-time Met by definition.

It’s Tuesday, so we’ll be out at CitiField tonight. Hopefully we see what number they offer Hembree, but we’ll rooting against an appearance, given the recent trajectory of the career that landed him here. Of greater interest is the anticipated paring of Lindor and Baez in the middle infield for the first time. If there’s any kind of catalyst for this club–and it may well be too late, given the Braves have been even hotter than the Mets have been cold–this is it.

There are 38 games to go. The Mets probably need to win 27 or 28 of them.

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The Mazeik Is Back (Not)

Just as we feared, the Mets’ failure to capitalize on the graciousness of struggling divisional opponents early this season is turning the second half into a complete disaster.

Yeah there’s been key injuries but there’s plenty more blame to go around, including a passive posture at the trade deadline that’s already blown up in their faces, a teamwide hitting approach that simply looks awful, and a return to black uniforms that at some level, speaks to misplaced priorities and a poor sense of taste.

I’m not against mixing up things up sartorially, and acknowledge the sense of excitement and nostalgia that accompanies the black era, but to me this is another manifestation of a poor approach leading to missed opportunity. The problem with the black jerseys wasn’t that they were black, necessarily, but they were poorly designed. Try something different already: Hit against the shift. Take a strike down by a run in the 9th. Get a fashion expert to take another look at incorporating black without a clashy, busy, and depressing expression.

I’m cranky because I stayed up last night to watch these palookas finally do enough offensively to win (with some missed opportunity) only to see the bullpen cough up any chance. The team is infected somehow and begun to resemble Luis Rojas’s 2020 squad, which missed the playoffs in the easiest year ever to make the playoffs. This might be the second.

There’s now been a club record 60 guys on the roster this year. Sidearmer Jake Reed (who?) is the latest, wearing No. 52 (Nick Tropeano, we hardly knew ye). Reed came to us from the … (looks it up) Rays, who released him and was previously with the … Dodgers … and Angels … and Twins orgs.

Trevor Williams, collected in the ill-fated deadline day giveaway with the Cubs, in the meantime has been up and back and now back again, wearing 29 and reminding me of another Cubs-bred Met starter, Steve Trachsel and adding to our league-leading collection of Trevors. Travis Blankenorn (73) is back. Geoff Hartlieb (40) has been up and back. Patrick Mazeika (76) is even back (Tomas Nido is injured, because). What difference does it make?

Just last night, Billy McKinney homered off Anthony Banda.

 

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Hot or Not

Hi again and thanks for your patience and updates while I was traveling (across Iowa, by bike). Fun trip, very hot out there.

The Mets aren’t so hot. Lots of things are continuing to go wrong for them and as fortunate as they are to be where they are, they absolutely need to be better, not just to have a shot in the playoffs but to make them at all. There’s no way they make the playoffs any other way than winning the division.

Kumar Rocker isn’t getting signed. Bad break for the Mets but a crazy comment from the owner revealing how exploitative the draft is. Jacob deGrom is more hurt than we knew. Conforto is going as bad as he ever has since that demotion a few years back. You wonder if the “Trachsel Cure” could help but why risk it when guys like McNeil and Nimmo can barely run up the line with balky hamstrings. Kevin Pillar looks finished. Dom Smith is a singles hitter.

The Javier Baez trade hasn’t been much of a catalyst and I’m disappointed they couldn’t or wouldn’t do more. I was always a little suspicious of Baez, tremendous swings but makes a ton of outs and would seem to require a motivated teammate like Lindor at his side. Lindor’s injury is sorta like being without Cano; it wasn’t ideal when he was there but the lineup still misses him when he’s gone. At least Alonso is hitting bombs again.

Here’s the new (and old) assignments:

Akeem Bostic 71 (since reassigned to AAA)

Jay Baez 23 (I don’t think this is a middle infielder number at all, despite growing up with Ted Martinez and Doug Flynn. 7 would have been appropriate. I’m also not against adding another nine choices by starting with 0. 09 would have been great.

Baez means that IL’ed lefty David Peterson is switching, to the dreaded 46, according to the Mets roster. I missed the discussion on how or why this all went down.

Carlos Carrasco finally arrived in 59. I also have pitching coach Jeremy Accardo in 59, not sure how or even if that is working out.

Rich Hill, despite the speculation below, alighted in 21. I like pitchers who wear 21.

 

 

 

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This Is Our Hill, And These Are Our Beans

The wealthy but needy Mets pulled off a little trade yesterday for Rich Hill, the elderly lefthander who will help patch a leaky rotation and according to the narrative will be a Veteran Playoff Experience Intangible superspreader.

The Mets are listing Hill in 53, which belongs to pitching coach Jeremy Hefner but probably won’t matter much because Hef never shows a jersey.  As Matt remembers in the comments below, this has happened before. Nobody will notice anyway.

Tommy Hunter and a minor league catcher go away so it’s not a heavy price. Hunter surrenders the normal number no. 29 in the deal, which we also seem in short supply of.

Traveling this week and updates are going to be tricky! I’m sure more news will come…

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Banda Gypsies

Do you remember when the Mets were terrible and forced Sandy Alderson to weakly step aside without actually firing him and packed it in July, trading guys like Asdrubal Cabrera and Juerys Familia?

I barely can either, but was reminded of it this week when its reverberations played out over this ridiculous road trip. Familia went to Oakland for an infielder called Will Toffey, whom the Mets employed as a minor leaguer for years until flipping him a few weeks back for Anthony Banda, a lefthanded reliever who became a kind-of star in Monday’s crazy win in Cincinnati.

Banda wore 77, becoming the first Met to get that number since David Peterson wore it last year. Also arriving for the first time this week was Geoff Hartlieb (who?) a former Pirate waived away from their org and scooped up by the body-hungry, first-place, beaten-up Mets, given No. 40 (already issued once this year to since-released gascan Jacob Barnes), and thrown out there. (Tuesday not Monday)

And speaking of trade deadlines of the recent past, Steven Nogosek is back again! Nogosek, whom I think has been on and off the 40 about a million times is the only remaining detritus of the Addison Reed Trade. Nogosek first appeared wearing 72 in 2019, then resurfaced a year ago with 85 on his back. Just spitballing here but of guys who have worn two numbers for the Mets, I’d guess Nogosek’s sum of 157 is the highest ever. Also, he’s got a fresh mustache now.

The Mets will likely in be in this waiver claim-DFA-IL cycle all year: Guys strive to get up, then go right back down and/or get waived when they work (Jerad Eickhoff, Nick Tropeano), or get hurt (Corey Oswalt, Robert Stock, Sean Reid-Foley, David Peterson, Jacob deGrom, Joey Lucchesi, Jordan Yamamoto, Thomas Szapucki, Jose Peraza, Francisco Lindor) and cycled out or picked away by the first group. We can’t help but wind up losing some we might do better keeping this way (Billy McKinney, who did a nice job, was just flipped to the Dodgers in his DFA limbo, and we just DFA’ed the speedy and spirited Johneshwy Fargas). About a third of the roster this year is in a state of constant and unstoppable churn.

We also just grabbed a reliever from the Cardinals called Roel Ramirez whose career ERA is 81.00 (1 IP, 1 9 ER). He’s been assigned to Syracuse but we will probably see him this weekend. With Fargas on the way out, it’d be a shame if he didn’t wind up wearing 81.

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Not Half Bad

The Mets reached the All-Star Break still leading the East and having endured dreadful starts by some guys (uh, Lindor) and injuries to many others but only hit the magic 10-games-over-.500 mark once, and retreated from that pretty rapidly, and still with questions as to who’s going to pitch twice a week, which reliever is going to be most reliable, and who’s going to be traded where and for whom as they address the challenge of improving.

Because as good as things broke for the First-Half Mets, the SHaMs will have to be considerably better.

There’s been signs of life from Lindor in recent weeks and reuniting the lineup with Nimmo and Conforto (will someone remind him there’s a massive contract to still play for?) are encouraging trends. That said we’re also too frequently running out palookas like Robert Stock (the club’s first-ever No. 89) and waiver-wire roster-riders like Geoff Hartlieb (assigned Jacob Barnes’ since-surrendered 40) and Nick Tropeano (52) who won’t likely be positives for a pennant-winner over the long haul, so I’m expecting something of a massive trade or two in the days and weeks ahead.

There are 75 games to go. The Mets realistically need to shoot for winning 45 of them. Go SHaMs!

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Coming From Behind

So if you’re going go ahead and DFA Jerad Eickoff anyway, you may as well issue the same No. 43 to the rookie callup to take his place but the Mets are too busy do that kind of stuff anymore. Get a number in spring, it’s yours to keep all summer, which is why long-simmering righty starter prospect Thomas Szapucki is up and wearing 63.

Sixty-three is a number for longshot midseason minor league callups whom you hope to get a few innings out of when the team is banged up or there’s a spate of rain make-ups ahead, and not a real player. Our last 63 was Tim (not David) Peterson, who’s now in the minors with the Angels. Our first was Chris Schwinden, whom I recall getting reliably beaten up every time he went out there. Gabriel Ynoa, who did a have a few years with the Orioles ahead, was the second.

The lucky ones, it seems, are those who come from so far below the surface they didn’t get any attention, like Tylor Megill, who as you know by now wears No. 38, chews gum while he throws, is like, 9 feet tall and might be the best 4-inning starter in club history, if he keeps it up. Megill actually has quietly succeeded his way up the ladder, and is the second member of his family to debut in the bigs this year. His older brother Trevor, who’s also very tall, wears No. 74 for the Cubs.

Megill is the first 38 since Justin Wilson; I still see Tim Leary when I think of 38’s and for whatever reason, Jerrod Riggan.

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I Cough

It was bound to happen. The Bench Mob eventually came back to Earth and are now getting hurt themselves, and the offense is scuffling along as the starters reemerge. That this all happened only once the Mets hit the 10-games-over high-water mark and resumed intra-division play is worrisome, moreso given that Alonso, Lindor, Smith or McCann are still looking for some kind of consistency.

Jeff McNeil, Kevin Pillar and Albert Almora came back, Joey Lucchesi, Jordan Yamamoto, Juerys Familia, Tommy Hunter, and Robert Gsellman are out, and now it looks like Jonathan Villar and Tomas Nido might be hurt.

Last night we saw the Mets debut of Jerad Eichoff, the first 43 since the unforgettable Erasmo Ramirez last season. Some guy called Travis Blankenhorn was up and back wearing No. 73. Steven Tarpley (46), Sean Reid-Foley (61) and Yennsy Diaz (64) are back with the group; Mason Williams (70) is designated and Jacob Barnes (40) was designated then traded to Toronto.

My friend Edward raised an interesting point that the 40-man roster as a thing has remained constant despite nearly everything else affecting it (disabled-list assignment lengths, roster sizes etc) all changing–some dramatically so, and it’s made a mess of the Mets. I actually looked this up, it’s the 100th birthday of the 40-man roster as a thing, despite a few tweaks over the years (a 48-man roster to allow for Wartime players in the 1940s; and a brief period before imposition of the player draft in the early 1960s when dumb rules forced clubs to carry prized young talent or risk losing them (the roster size then was 41, not 40).

It’s time to reinvent again.

 

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Phoenix Risers

Having somehow survived until now the banged-up-but-still-in-first-place Mets are finally getting a few reinforcements.

Returning tonight in Arizona are reliever Seth Lugo (67), first baseman Pete Alonso (20), and smashed-face outfielder Kevin Pillar (11), and AAA outfielder Mason Williams has been promoted. Going down are useful guys with options: Patrick Mazeika (76), Sean Reid-Foley (61) and Khalil Lee (26); Cameron Maybin (15) and lottery-ticket relief prospect Sam McWilliams have been designated for assignment.

They coulda just torn the “Mc” off and given him 52, but Mason Williams will wear No. 70 because that’s how they do it these days. Williams is lefty-hitting former Yankees’ prospect who’s also had a cuppa with the Reds and Orioles. He was evidently hitting his way out of Syracuse in a way that Lee was not.

Let’s keep it going guys.

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