Mickey You’re So Fine

Let’s all belatedly welcome Mickey Callaway.

Callaway becomes the club’s 21st manager and will the be the first of them to wear No. 36, and only the third to have been a pitcher in his career (George Bamburger and Dallas Green were the others). Like everyone else I was highly impressed with his enthusiasm and demeanor during the “meet-the-press” event and was pleasantly surprised to see the club name a rookie manager. Even though 13 of the 21 were first-timers, I truly thought those days were over.

Did you guys know “Mickey” was actually a remake of a song called “Kitty” by the British cheese-pop band Racey? Check it out!

It appears this morning that Callaway’s bench coach will be Gary DiSarcina, most recently of the Red Sox, who presumably could inherit the No. 10 jersey left behind by Terry Collins. Terry by the way has accepted a job as “assistant to the GM” but I’m worried that his relationship with Fred Wilpon, who seems to love his “grey-haired old baseball men,” will be an obstacle Callaway and his new staff will need to overcome.

Also new to the coaching staff next season will Ruben Amaro Jr., who will coach first base, baserunning and outfielders: He’s switching jobs with Tom Goodwin, who will do the same thing for the Red Sox next year. Amaro wore 20 with the Red Sox last season but is better known around the NL East as “Ruin Tomorrow Junior,” the GM who screwed up the Phillies. The new pitching coach is reportedly Dave Eiland, who spent the last seven seasons as the Kansas City Royals pitching coach, where he wore No. 58.

In the meantime the Mets promoted Pat Roessler (6) to hitting coach; Glenn Sherlock (53) will remain as the third base coach and Ricky Bones (25) will retain his gig as bullpen coach.

In player news, we’ve already seen Tommy Milone (29) declare free agency; Nori Aoki (11) released and five guys dropped from the 40-man roster and outrighted to Las Vegas (Tyler Pill, Phillip Evans, Erik Goeddel, Travis Taijeron  and minor leaguer Wuilmer Becerra, surrendering Nos. 56, 72, 62 and 28 respectively. There’s obviously much to come still, I’m hoping the club can bolster the starting rotation with a couple of reliable arms and I’m open to improving the club by trade. We’ll discuss more soon!

Manager Years Number
Casey Stengel 1962-65 37
Wes Westrum 1965-67 9
Salty Parker 1967 54
Gil Hodges 1968-71 14
Yogi Berra 1972-75 8
Roy McMillan 1975 51
Joe Frazier 1976-77 55
Joe Torre 1977-81 9
George Bamberger 1982-83 31
Frank Howard 1983 55
Davey Johnson 1984-1990 5
Bud Harrelson 1990-91 3
Mike Cubbage 1991 4
Jeff Torborg 1992-93 10
Dallas Green 1993-96 46
Bobby Valentine 1996-2002 2
Art Howe 2003-2004 18
Willie Randolph 2005-2008 12
Jerry Manuel 2008-2010 53
Terry Collins 2011-2017 10
Mickey Callaway 2018 36
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Sucking in the Seventies

Well here’s a couple more Mets to update you on. Phillip Evans, who sports a nice tan and can play several infield positions, is up with the club and wearing No. 72; and today comes world that Class AA catching prospect Tomas Nido is up and will wear No. 77.

Trying to make sense of these assignments is never easy, but 72 is simply the number Evans had in Spring Training and the Mets hardly bother to update it any more. That’s why Nido’s assignment is weird: He was No. 70 in Spring Training.

Further in-depth research by my crack team of researchers indicates Nido has a thing for No. 7, having worn it at several stops prior to New York including the World Futures game and at Binghamton this season, and maybe, 70 wasn’t doing it for him. Maybe 07 would have done it. But, he’s 77.

Both Evans and Nido are the second-ever residents of their numbers. Carolos Torres broke in 72 after Yoenis Cespedes’ arrival forced him out of 52. 77 belonged to the one and only DJ Carrasco, who after all this time may still be the worst free agent signing of the Sandy Alderson era.

A promoted minor league coach, Ryan Ellis, is up and wearing No. 60. I debate about including these types in the “official” record: It has always seemed to me that a manager should get 4 coaches: 1st and 3rd base, pitching and hitting, but that’s probably me being a cranky old man.

 

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Expansion Team Expands

The SHaMs 2.0 — that is, the Second-Half Mets now that they’ve traded away all the veterans other teams would accept — are pretty terrible so far but I guess have to adjust our expectations and get through the remainder of the year.

Today we learned that 2 returnees from the fire sale — relievers Jamie Callahan and Jacob Rhame — will be joining the club as September call-ups when the Mets play next in Houston on Saturday.

Callahan, one of three guys received from Boston in the Addison Reed trade, takes the vacant number of the man he was traded for, 43. That’s the first Uni Swap since Joaquin Arias inherited Jeff Frocoeur’s No. 12 way back in 2012 2010 I think.

Rhame, who arrived from the Dodgers in the Curtis Granderson deal, gets No. 35, which most recently was seen on the back of Adam Wilk. A friend by the way pointed out Rhame’s resemblance to Buddy aka “Incrediboy” aka “Syndrome” from THE INCREDIBLES. Incredible, no?

It’s good to see sane pitcher numbers issued again, and this only a week after the normal position-player number 28 was given to newly arrived outfielder Travis Taijeron. I guess some things need to go right again.

 

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Grand Designs

Goodbye and good luck to Curtis Granderson, whose 3.75 seasons of exemplary work with the Mets was rewarded with a paid vacation to Hollywood and the Dodgers (where he’s wearing No. 6, doncha know). No one could have been sure what was in store when Granderson, coming off a lengthy injury and getting up in years for a one-time speedster, inked a deal with then then-retooling Mets but other than a habit of very slow starts — this year’s, pretty costly — he gave us way more than we bargained for, being a cleanup guy OR a leadoff guy, drawing all those walks, hitting those postseason homers, shooting pics of Lucas Duda, just being an all-around good guy who was right: Real New Yorkers ARE Mets fans.

He leaves having just surpassed Bud Harrelson for the all-time RBI lead among guys who wore No. 3; he tied, then beat the home-run mark then held by Carl Everett on June 7, 2015.

Rene Rivera in the meantime has waivered over to the Cubs where he too has a good postseason shot but will need to do it in another number: His customary 44 belongs to Mike Rizzo. (this just in: Rivera is wearing No. 7).

Alert MBTN reader Richard in the meantime pointed out Rivera’s departure frees up 44 for erstwhile Mets closer AJ Ramos, should he want to switch.

Of 2017’s departing Mets, only Lucas Duda has maintained his numerical identity, still rocking 21 in Tampa. Jay Bruce is back to wearing 32 in Cleveland (and killing it). Neil Walker is wearing 15 in Milwaukee

 

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New World Order

Hey guys, I’m back from a lengthy vacation where among other things I was there to witness Amed Rosario’s doomed first game as a Met at Coors Field but missed a ton of other stuff so here’s the happy(?) recap of a busy few weeks.

Chris Flexen is wearing 64 and is in the starting rotation. Flexen was recalled in late July from Class AA where he’d been pitching quite well. Flexy is the fourth guy to wear 64 for the Mets. In keeping with current tradition he was simply reissued the same number he wore in Spring Training. I used to think that if guys proved themselves in this role they might get more dignified numbers down the road, but Seth Lugo says no.

Flexen the other day was opposed by Texas’ AJ Griffin, promoting a question I never thought would be asked:

I don’t know the answer offhand!

Lucas Duda, Addison Reed, Jay Bruce and Neil Walker have been traded away. I liked Duda quite a lot and would say that if his newly recalled replacement could accomplish all he has (let’s say, lead his number in all-time home runs) we’ll be fortunate. As for Reed and Bruce, easy come easy go.

On the other hand, daring Neil Walker to take a $17 million qualifying offer to remain a Met in 2017 ought to go down as one of Sandy Alderson’s bigger goofs as it was clear even last year Walker was no $17 million player, there were already plenty of potential second basemen in the organization, and I suspect that paycheck became a obstacle to having done more with the 2017 roster. As it is we’ve got to pay Milwaukee to take him. That said Walker was a pro, whose terrific start in 2016 was you know, something. Like Bruce’s 2017. It was announced just after I published that the Mets have recalled Las Vegas reliever Kevin McGowan to take Walker’s roster spot: He’ll wear No. 61.

In the midst of all this getting-rid-ofs, Alderson also did an clever thing in acquiring closer AJ Ramos of Florida. I have no idea whether Ramos is actually good but his acquisition helped the Mets move Reed without completely destroying themselves, gave themselves another affordable option for next year, and may have made Reed relatively more valuable by reducing the Proven Closer inventory. Ramos was a 44 in Florida but is wearing 40 as a Met. Braden Looper notched 57 saves wearing that number.

Who knows if any of the dudes we received in exchange for these surrendered pieces amount to anything but they seem to consist nearly entirely of hard-throwing bullpen wannabees. This reminds me of the 2003 selloff when Jeromy Burnitz, Armando Benitez, Roberto Alomar, Rey Sanchez, Graeme Lloyd and probably others I can no longer remember were sent packing, mostly for relief pitchers, none of whom ever really worked out.

And like 2003, we did so anticipating a brighter future on the strength of recent (and anticipated) callups. As mentioned Amed Rosario debuted in Denver, and this weekend first baseman Dominic Smith arrived, in 1 and 22, respectively, the numbers they had in Las Vegas. Whether these guys turn out to be the new Reyes-and-Wright remains to be seen but welcome aboard. Rosario is the 31st different player to don No. 1, which has basically been held under reserve for him for a few years even if Justin Ruggiano was seen wearing it last. Smith has two World Series MVPs as his precessors in 22; and the home-run king is Kevin McReynolds with 122.

Smith’s promotion coincided with coach Tom Goodwin’s switch to No. 88: He’s the first Met to have ever won that. Oh, and it resulted in the long-deserved designation of Fernando Salas who always seemed to be a dead-cat bounce and might not have been counted on so heavily had we not fattened up on Neil Walker salary.

Thanks again to the commenters here and on Twitter who kept the conversation going in my absence! LGM

 

 

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Surrender (but Don’t Give Yourself Away)

Chris Flexen, the Class AA starter called up to make tonight’s start in San Diego in place of the injured Zack Wheeler, will be the first Met to wear 64 since Akeel Morris in 2015, another minor leaguer who made a big jump to the big leagues.

Let’s hope this promotion turns out better for Flexen than it did for Morris, who was bombed for 5 earned runs in 2/3rds of an inning, sent back to Class A afterwards, and eventually got traded to Atlanta in one or another of the Kelly Johnson deals.

Flexen you might recall was also considered to have been one of the guys who was on the way out in the Jay Bruce deal last summer but was rejected by the Reds due to physical concerns so perhaps he fits right in as a Met.

At any rate, he’s the first minor leaguer called up this week but likely not the last as time ticks down for the Mets to rid themselves of anything of short-term value, namely closer Addison Reed and perhaps, Asdrubal Cabrera, Neil Walker, Rene Rivera, Curtis Granderson and Lucas Duda, all of whom have come up in rumors. Of those names it will be bittersweet to part with the last few. I’ve always liked Big Duda, who I’m sure is ultimately destined to mash a million home runs as a DH for some AL West team, and Granderson is a terrific pro who’d probably be a nice emotional investment for a playoff-bound club.

But, they aren’t going anywhere with the 2017 Mets who have been betrayed by the health and consistency of their starting pitching, particularly Steven Matz who has probably been the most frustrating guy to root for, either throwing a gem, getting bombed or getting hurt — nothing in between for this guy. I also think it’s been proven their qualifying-offer gambit with Walker was a disaster: This was a useful guy, for sure, but hardly vital given the fact there were 5 other guys who can second base and aren’t spending a second straight year on the disabled list, and aren’t making $17 million. In the end that cash would have been better used for some more relief pitching. The lesson: Don’t go into a year with guys you’d prefer not to have.

I think it’s also likely that after months of waiting we’ll see AAA prospects Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith shortly, the latter particularly if Duda goes. Rosario we’ve established wears No. 1 and that appears to have been reserved for him. Smith is rocking No. 22 in Las Vegas and could take it over upon a recall if coach Tom Goodwin will part with it, with one of or the other of them inheriting Duda’s surrendered No. 21, Walker’s given-up 20 or even Cabrera’s 13.

 

 

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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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