I’m A Loser, Baby

As been pointed out below, Chris Beck has joined the Mets and is wearing No. 61. I happened to have been listening on radio when Josh Lewin described it as having been the previous jersey of Jack Egbert, whom I have argued might go down as the most obscure Met ever. Both Egbert and Beck came from the White Sox organizations. Most recently 61 belonged the Kevin McGowan, who has been getting knocked around the Las Vegas bullpen.

Speaking of the Las Vegas bullpen, anyone stay up to see Jason Vargas pitch last night?

In the meantime, MBTN favorite Ty Kelly was sent back to Vegas before appearing in the 66 jersey he was issued; Jay Bruce hit the disabled list; Tim Peterson was recalled and AJ Ramos is headed for season-ending shoulder surgery.

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Triple Play

So the time has come to move on from Adrian Gonzalez, who more or less did what was expected of him, providing the Mets with evidence of a long but steadily declining career while giving prospects like Dominic Smith and Peter Alonso a little more time to bake in the oven. I said it before the Mets would be lucky if either of those prospects crafts a career nearly as good as the one Gonzalez had, and if weren’t for the fact that Yoenis Cespedes will be missing even more time than expected we might be seeing Jay Bruce as the new first baseman beginning tonight.

Instead Dom Smith gets a new chance and hopefully he runs with the opportunity this time. You may remember Dom as having worn No. 22 last year and very briefly this year.

Coming up along with him is the switch-hitting utility player Ty Kelly, whom I like and have advocated for previously. Sure he’s not not exactly lighting the world on fire in Vegas, and he won’t up here, but he’s understanding of his role and oozes with regular-guy appeal that I want to think will help light up a morose clubhouse where there’s a failure virus infecting half the lineup.

What number will Ty wear? The Mets haven’t said. He’s previously worn 55, 56 then 55 again and upon his return to the organization this spring was issued No. 11 — a designation I’d argued for in the past. The Mets in the meantime issued 11 to Jose Bautista. He’s sort of out of uniform himself, preferring No. 19.

So here’s my suggestion. Let’s get Jay Bruce out his slump, Jose Bautista back in familiar clothing and Ty Kelly into his preferred No. 11 with a three-way trade putting Kelly in 11, and Bautista in 19 while Bruce moves to occupy the No. 23 left behind by Gonzalez. For Bruce it could mix up the mojo while also reflecting a spin on the 32 he wore previously with the Reds.

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Meet the Mess

I don’t have anything profound or interesting to say about the trainwrecking Mets, their putrid play, their washed-up struggling veterans, their suddenly ineffective manager, their underperforming bullpen, the developing war between the front office and their slow-healing superstar or the appropriate fire in the CitiField lobby, but I can get you caught up with the parade of stiffs help making it all happen after missing a week to a biz trip and other calamities.

Joey Bautista, who passed through on paper during another disaster of a season 14 years ago before collecting 300+ home runs for other teams so the Mets could finish 25 games back with Kris Benson, has come back on — you guessed it — a cheapo deal and is now hitting 3rd in our order and wearing No. 11. I’m with Richard who suggested below that Jay Bruce ought to give Joey Bats his customary No. 19. Jay can try and negotiate with Steven Matz for 32, or just, you know, wear a blank jersey because that would match his contributions so far this year. Get it together, Jay.

The banged-up relief corps has added and subtracted a bunch of stiffs, some of whom we’ve seen before and some whom we may hopefully never see again.

They include: Scott Copeland (who?) who wore 62; and Tim Peterson, given 63; and Chris Flexen, 64. Could Kevin McGowan be far behind? Regardless this past week marks the first time the Mets have suited guys in Nos. 62-65 in the same season, which tells you something. Gerson Bautista whose surrendered home run to Javier Baez will land shortly, I’m told is back in 46, as is Buddy Baumann whose sidewinding, stirrups and No. 77 would all work better were he capable of having a single good outing, but we’re still waiting.

On the injury front we’ve lost Noah Syndergaard and Wilmer Flores, two guys who have been something less than best selves so far but so still better than the ones replacing them. Steven Matz is having his usual scares. Kevin Plawecki came back in time to address the dearth of right-handed bats and lose last night’s game hacking at the first pitch against a gassed tomato can having the night of his life. Phillip Evans and Tomas Nido both came and went again. Hansel Robles and Jose Lobaton — there’s a late-inning battery to inspire, huh? — came back.

Can anyone here play this game?

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A Decade of Dumbth

I’ve mentioned this over the years, and perhaps this makes me come off as the grumpy old fart I’m becoming but my Met fandom was irreparably damaged by 2008, when the Mets coughed up another playoff gimmee, they joyously destroyed Shea Stadium, the Bernie Madoff scandal that would ensnare the Wilpons and cripple the Mets for year was revealed, and Omar Minaya in a show of foolish bloodthirstiness followed the idiotic signing of Francisco Rodriguez with an even stupider trade that amazin’ly, still resonates.

Today the Mets announced they’ve signed Ezequiel Carerra, one of the five guys they threw away for a few ineffective months of JJ Putz, to help fill the void created by Juan Lagares’ season-ending foot injury suffered the other night. Carerra, may be no great shakes, but joins Joe Smith, and the boomeranging Jason Vargas as guys still worth something ten years after that stupid trade. Drives me nuts.

I’ve caught up with the comings and goings. Luis Guillorme is wearing 15, and Buddy Baumann got No. 77 and stunk it up, DJ Carrasco style. Paternity leave (Bruce, Blevins) and injuries (Robles, Cespedes, Lagares) resulted in shuttling to and fro of PJ Conlon, Corey Oswalt, Dominic Smith, Phillip Evans and Jacob Rhame; only the latter two remain here in New York, where its raining again and we may not play.

 

At least we seem to have gotten Syndergaard and deGrom wins this week.

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Of Order Out

Another disgraceful showing by the Mets on Wednesday in Cincinnati where Mickey Callaway blew what once looked like an opportunity to earn Manager of the Year honors, while the offense even without the handicap of giving away a first-inning rally on a careless batting-out-of-order penalty wasted a rare decently pitched game by Zack Wheeler and lost to the lowly Reds 2-1 in 10 innings.

It goes without saying this rotten stretch by the Mets needs to stop immediately but if there’s a catalyst out there I’ll be damned if I can find it. Yoenis Cespedes is playing with his customary quad troubles, Todd Frazier’s on the disabled list and Jay Bruce is off to Texas on a weekend paternity leave. We’re not going to miss Hansel Robles who’s having a knee problem checked out, deGrom’s still a question mark, Conforto is still slumping, Amed Rosario isn’t exactly making a case to stay at shortstop and the addition by trade of Devin Mesorasco so far is a very-small-sample-but-hugely-symbolic bust. The guy caught Reds pitching for years but can’t hit it. What happens when he faces a real team?

It’s not like the cavalry has come to the rescue. Instead it’s Luis Guillorme, a wizardly fielder who is prepping to make his MLB debut wearing No. 15. We’re investigating whether he was actually assigned No. 14 but inadvertently given the wrong jersey by the manager.

And they want us to pay attention?

 

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Red Menace

So maybe it’s all connected, and P.J. Conlon got No. 60 instead of No. 29 because the Mets were secretly working on a Matt Harvey-for-Devin-Mesorasco deal all along, and had a guy already stitching a 29 jersey with his name on it. Until last night, when he made his Mets debut as a pinch hitter, Mesorasco had worn 39 for the Reds.

Anyway, Mesorasco, like Harvey, is a former top draft pick who’d become somewhat worthless for their clubs but still have contracts to play out. It practically goes without saying that Tomas Nido, whom Mesorasco pinch-hit for last night, will go back to the minor leagues and work on his game.

There more to this as well. Todd Frazier is on the disabled list with a hamstring and it’s widely speculated that Luis Guillorme will be up. That’s significant inasmuch as Guillorme — not Conlon — wore No. 60 in Spring Training. Conlon by the way was swapped out for Corey Oswalt following his appearance.

Here’s my thought, with Guillorme due to arrive and Nido likely in for a long spell of seasoning, let’s put Guillorme in the newly available No. 3, which befits his middle-infielder profile and isn’t far off from his Las Vegas No. 13 jersey.

Finally we’d like to wish chubby Matt Harvey all the luck he has coming with the last-place club and lifeless downtown he deserves in Cincinnati. He might not even get No. 33 there, as Jesse Winker wears it, and he has a promising future.

 

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St. Patrick

Unless you’re talking about winning, there is much to digest since our last update.

I don’t have a whole lot of sympathy for Matt Harvey, who was a dingbat ever since pulling up to his first Spring Training in an Escalade and becoming Mike Francesca’s favorite player. Never learned the difference between actually working on his craft and bullshit bravado and undermined his teammates over and over again.

His polar opposite, Jacob deGrom, in the meantime is taking a seven-day break on the disabled list necessitating tonight’s Mets debut for P.J. Conlon. The Ireland-born righty wore No. 80 during Spring Training but the club hasn’t announced a jersey for him yet. I’d like to remind them that 33 is very available.

PJ’s Twitter handle and Las Vegas number was 29. That’s available now, and was last worn by Tommy Milone, another Irish Met.

You don’t need me to tell you this but the Mets look just awful: Michael Conforto is slumping like he did back in 16; and the team is following the pattern of the ’15 group but coming apart on the heels of a big winning streak that included a Travis d’Arnaud injury. It’s pretty plain the Mets desperately need a more capable catcher than Jose Lobaton or Tomas Nido – the latter wearing No. 3 these days.

Oh, and Cespedes is hurt. Go Mets!

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Buy My New Book!

So I owe a quick update: As we know Corey Oswalt was up., down and now back: He made his MLB debut the other night in No. 55. Gerson Bautista in the meantime has also come and now gone, having left behind a few ineffective relief appearances. Bautista as we know wore the dreaded 46.

The Mets have me worried, and it has little to do with how disappointing Harvey and Matz have been (actually I was expecting that). It’s the hitting, or lack thereof, that’s really been the problem lately. We need to get Cespendes and Bruce going, Conforto needs to start collecting some extra-base hits, we need to play Brandon Nimmo more, which may mean moving Jay Bruce to first base, and we really ought to go get a catcher who can hit.

In personal news, you may know I have written a new book on baseball, but it’s not about numbers, or the Mets.

ONCE UPON A TEAM tells the forgotten true story of the worst team ever to play major league baseball, the Wilmington Quicksteps of 1884. I know, it’s a really obscure topic so you figure, this would never be published if there weren’t a pretty remarkable story there: There’s drinking, contract disputes, arguments, treachery, guys falling down elevator shafts, cuthhroat business decisions, baffling racism and at the center of it all a very good minor league baseball team caught up in crazy circumstances that thrust them briefly and tumultuously into the ranks of the highest levels of the sport where they left behind a virtually unassailable mark for futility.

It’s a story how baseball was played and consumed in 1884, and how much — and how little — has changed. It’s also a cautionary tale about business risk and the high costs of pursuing one’s dreams.

If you’d like a copy it should be in bookstores May 1 and online. Let me know if I can get you an autographed copy!

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Happy Ron Taylor Day!

Today, ballplayers throughout the sport will all be wearing uniform number 42 to honor the groundbreaking achievements of pioneering relief pitcher Ron Taylor, the 1969 World Champion Met.

Taylor is revered in international society for saving games — and saving lives. Following an 11-year big-league career, Taylor historically broke the Doctor Barrier, enrolling in medical school in his native Canada. By 1979, Taylor was appointed to a dual role as team doctor and batting-practice pitcher for the Toronto Blue Jays. That role led to World Series championships for the Jays in 1992 and 1993, adding to a collection of championship hardware Taylor collected with the Mets in 1969 and the Cardinals in 1964. Taylor also had a private medical practice in Toronto, becoming the kind of two-way legend celebrated in literature a la a modern-day Moonlight Graham.

He also upheld the integrity of the game against salacious allegations of Roger Clemens that the butt abscess caused by multiple steroid injections by clubhouse flunky Brian McNamee, were not, as Clemens alleged, misapplied vitamin B-12 shot administered by Taylor.

Ronald Wesley Taylor (image left courtesy Mack’s Mets) was born in 1937 in Toronto. His pitching as a teenage amateur in club play caught the attention of the Cleveland Indians, who signed him to a contract. Ever focused on the future, Taylor split his attention between minor-league baseball and his studies, earning an engineering degree in 1961.

Taylor made his debut with the Indians in 1962. He was traded following that year to St. Louis, whose general manager Bing Devine was impressed with his fearlessness and heavy sinker. Taylor pitched for three years in St. Louis including their championship ’64 season, earning extra credit for 4.2 scoreless innings of relief vs. the Yankees.

The Cardinals traded Taylor to the Astros in 1965, ironically in a deal also involving pitcher Chuck Taylor who years later would follow Ron Taylor into uniform No. 42 with the Mets.

Ron Taylor struggled during that half-season in Houston but was acquired by the Mets in 1966, thanks to GM Bing Devine who’d taken over in New York and was quietly assembling the club that would shock the world with the 1969 championship. Tim McCarver, Taylor’s catcher in St. Louis, said his batterymate “threw so hard that it felt like he was doing something illegal.” His 13 saves for the ’69 Mets set a club record.

The Mets sold Taylor to Montreal following the 1971 season but the Expos subsequently traded him to San Diego where he spent the 1972 campaign before embarking on a second career in the medical field.

Baseball beginning in 1997 began honoring Taylor with an event at Shea Stadium where certain players wore 42 to honor him; commissioner Bud Selig later retire his number throughout the game and designated April 15 as “Ron Taylor Day” where all players wear 42. Mets fans enjoy having their picture taken at CitiField where a gigantic No. 42 status stands in the Ron Taylor Rotunda.

*

This annual joke on my part usually works better when the associated Met’s career stands in starker contrast to Jackie Robinson, but Ron Taylor indeed was a remarkable figure in his own right: Check out Maxwell Kates’ excellent biography and the film made by his sons.

Happy Ron Taylor Day, everybody. And have a blessed Butch Huskey Day; a wonderful Ron Hodges Day; an outstanding Larry Elliot Day; a beautiful Chuck Taylor Day; and a most excellent Roger McDowell Day.

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Catching Hell

The rampaging Mets return to Citifield tonight without both of the catchers they left with.

With Kevin Plawecki joining Travis d’Arnaud on the disabled list, Jose Lobaton will catch, and Tomas Nido will back up.

Lobaton, the former National who wears the silly No. 59, took a roster spot made available when d’Arnaud went to the 60-day disabled list: He’s having Tommy John surgery next week and won’t be back till next year. Plawecki’s injury, a broken in his hand, is considered less serious. For now, Brandon Nimmo is back up (yay!) while Jacob Rhame goes to Vegas.

Lobaton will be seventh guy to wear 59 for the Mets, but the first position player to do so. Ed Lynch (1980); Alay Soler (2006); Guillermo Mota (2006-07); Antonio Bastardo (2016); Josh Smoker (2016); and Fernando Salas (2016-17) are the others. Lynch and Smoker wore the numbers only briefly.

The Mets also signed Johnny Monell (remember him?) and assigned him to the minors to address the organizational stress on the catching ranks. Monell wore No. 19 during his appearances in 2015.

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