Ten!

As I’ve said all year if and when they puncture that 10-games-over plateau, maybe the temperature rises.

Well. Here we are on September 18, and there they are, and I guess I’m all in.

10Here’s another weird thing. When in the same post I suggested a 21-12 finish over their last 33 games was what they would need I hadn’t realized that was also their precise record through their first 33 games. That day (May 11 after a 4-3 win in Los Angeles), the Mets reached nine games over .500 for the second time in the young season. They were also nine games up at 20-11 two days before.

The Mets this season in fact knocked on the Magical 10-games-over barrier eight times before finally breaking down the door last night: May 9 (20-11); the aforementioned May 11 (21-12); May 27 (28-19); July 7 (47-38); then a long break till four more tries — Sept. 9 (75-66); Sept. 11 (76-67); Sept. 13 (77-68) and Sept. 19 (78-69).

 

As for my 21-12 goal, they’re on their way at 12-6 though the first 18, and just 9 of the last 15.

Figuring out who pitches Game 4 of the division series requires a whole different set of complicated arithmetic, but I’m glad today has arrived. Onward!

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Forty Weight

2The Mets have reached reached Labor Day still very much in the playoff hunt even as the composition of the club continues to change, and seemingly, not always for the better. It’s a stretch to suggest it might be a good thing Harvey, deGrom and Matz are unavailable right now but Gsellman, Lugo and Montero appear to be up to the task, and, more importantly, the club’s finally hitting again, which is no small thing. I’ve stopped trying to figure this year out.

Adding to this odd group this week is a small army of returnees from the minors. Matt Reynolds made a spectacular reappearance on Labor Day; expected to arrive today are Montero, Brandon Nimmo, T.J. Rivera, Eric Campbell, John Edgin and Eric Goeddel — the last three guys just for the laughs I think, and all of them, I suspect, back into their previously assigned unis. I don’t even think I knew Rivera was back down again.

72And arriving for the first time, infielder Gavin Cecchini. As the team’s 2012 top draft pick, Cecchini has the pedigree to assume to vacant No. 2 but given the Mets’ practice this year we shouldn’t be surprised if he arrives wearing 72, which he had last during Spring Training.

 

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Send Me an Angel

59The Mets following Wednesday’s victory over the sinking Marlins said they have acquired veteran right-handed reliever Fernando Salas from the Angels in exchange for Class A pitcher Erik Manoah. Salas, a one-time closer with the Cardinals and currently serving that role part-time in Anaheim, is expected to add depth to the “7th-inning” level of the Met bullpen, where Hansel Robles and Jim Henderson have encountered recent struggles.

49Salas has worn No. 59 in both St. Louis and in Anaheim, although that figure currently belongs to Josh Smoker. It would seem an awful lot of work to accommodate him but it could be done if Smoker goes back to the 49 he was issued when he first arrived, or grabs one of the few remaining unassigned numbers (2, 46, 53, 58). More likely though we’ll see Salas in one of those.

00Here’s a suggestion though. What if they took advantage of SALAS’ palindromic qualities and gave him a number that looks the same frontward and backward? 00?

Salas’ arrival by the way ensures he can be post-season eligible, as can the four guys the Mets have already announced are getting recalls from Class AAA Vegas: Michael Conforto (30), Kevin Plawecki (26), Ty Kelly (56) and Gabriel Ynoa (63). With news that Neil Walker is also likely to be out for the rest of the year you wonder if or when Gavin Cecchini gets a call but perhaps this is T.J. Rivera’s time to shine.

Four games into the below mentioned “21-12” scenario, the Mets are 3-1 and sure enough are making the progress they have to towards the playoffs but my pennant fever at this point is still just an itchy rash. As I’ve said all year if and when they puncture that 10-games-over plateau, maybe the temperature rises.

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Let the Banners Be Unfurled

65Hey guys I’m back from a week off during which I was witness to Robert Gsellman’s heroic major league debut which also marked the first appearance of a No. 65 in team history.

50Gso far, gso gsood for Gsellman, but we’re going to need his contributions beginning today in the finale against Philly not to mention a few other guys suddenly thrown into the deep end — remember Rafael Montero? He made a brief appearance in May and is being recalled from Class AA to make Monday’s start opposite Jose Fernandez in Miami. Seth Lugo goes Tuesday. Wednesday and Thursday’s starters are listed TBA and TBA, respectively. Yikes.

It’s all about the offense for the time being, but with Yoenis Cespedes and Neil Walker still battling lingering injuries and Jay Bruce and Curtis Granderson both struggling, who knows how sustainable this latest run can be. The Mets have 33 games left beginning today (8 with Philly; 7 with Miami; 6 with Atlanta and Washington; and 3 each with Cincy and Minnesota). Could the SHaMs pull a Rush and go 21-12? That could do it.

36Thanks by the way to reader Jimmy who pointed out the database and latest edition of the MBTN book overlooked the phantom Met, Al Reyes, the ex-Tampa closer who appeared on the roster in September on 2008 but never appeared in a game before being released later that month. Reyes, as we noted then, was assigned 36 but somehow was unable to even get a turn as a reliever on that squad. I have tried very hard to get September of 2008 out of my mind — the frenzied destruction of Shea amid a second-straight choke that marked the true beginning of a rotten stretch of baseball and team stewardship that lasted for five long years.

Thanks Jimmy! We’ll reluctantly update the database.

Go Mets…

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Snakebitten, Baby

48Unless you had the good sense to turn in early last early night you know nothing so sums up what the 2016 season has become than last night’s events in San Francisco, when a shocking Met hit with men on base — from Justin Ruggiano of all people, off Madison Friggin Bumgarner of all people, a grand slam to center field, of all things — was given all back and more within minutes — by Jacob deGrom of all people, on a two-run homer by Bumgarner of all people, in a 10-7 loss showing the Mets are practically determined to go wrong even when everything is arranged to go right.

52So don’t get too excited to learn tonight’s contest is expected to include the return of injured soldiers Yoenis Cespedes and Asbrubal Cabrera, and maybe even Neil Walker, because it also accompanies news that scheduled starting pitcher Steven Matz won’t be there, because, naturally, he’s being shut down with shoulder trouble.

When Fred Wilpon idiotically pitied his half-assededly assembled 2011 squad by remarking, “We’re snakebitten, baby,” he was off by five years.

I’m not officially giving up yet — I need something to pretend to root for when I fly my family to St. Louis next week just to see these guys — but it’s clear this edition of the Mets is going to require not just something miraculous, but something it hasn’t satisfactorily demonstrated any ability to do all year: Play well.

66Is there good news? Well, Josh Edgin is getting sent back to the minor leagues where he belongs after that shitshow in Phoenix the other night — again, if you turned in early, he not only walked the whole lineup but evidently was too fat to bother hustling in to retrieve his own wild pitch for a potential play at the plate. In his place is Josh Smoker, who will need a new uni assignment after the 49 he wore in a phantom appearance a few weeks back was taken back by Jon Niese, who like Edgin but hopefully not like Smoker, appears to be a lefty of limited value any longer.

How about we give Smokey 66? That’ll teach ’em. Not Joshin’.

UPDATE: He’s in 59. Naturally.

 

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Ynoa the Drill

63Another AAA pitcher has appeared on the big-league roster, taking his spring training number with him. Last night it was Gabriel Ynoa, who not only threw a scoreless inning in his big-league debut but earning the win while doing so surpassed his only predecessor in the jersey, Chris Schwinden for most victories by a guy wearing No. 63.

Ynoa (63) follows the recent pattern of AAA callups simply retaining their spring numbers upon initial promotion — Eric Goeddel (62); Akeel Morris (64); Josh Smoker (49); Ty Kelly (55, now 56) and Seth Lugo (67). Along with a concurrent willingness to dress even non-pitchers in high jerseys (T.J. Rivera 54, Kelly Johnson 55), the Mets are likely running their highest average uni count ever, though I haven’t looked that up.

35To make room for Ynoa the Mets demoted Logan Verrett, who hung in there for awhile as the fifth starter — it seemed like every outing was a must-win for him — but he didn’t go and lose all by himself until his most recent starts. Jose Reyes also came back, costing Matt Reynolds his role as starting shortstop. Reynolds showed he get into one every once in a while, but those whiffs are a little much to hang in a pennant race with.

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Mackey Sacked

54Back from a short biz-trip to let you know I still don’t know what the Mets are doing with these uni issues, the latest being T.J. Rivera’s recall from Las Vegas and subsequent assignment of No. 54.

I was with everyone else in advocating the Mets issue the recently freed-up No. 2 to Rivera but hadn’t a particularly strong argument for it until my friend Edward at the Crane Pool alerted me to this Daily Snooze profile detailing how Rivera got to the Mets in the first place:

“I told Tommy, ‘I can’t believe nobody drafted T.J. You can’t go wrong with him,'” recalls [Mackey] Sasser, who was a Met from 1988-92 [and Rivera’s college coach at Wallace Community College in Alabama]. “He’s going to make someone a good player.”

2Sasser of course was a notoriously famous No. 2, maybe the jersey’s most memorable character behind manager Bobby Valentine and Marvelous Marv Throneberry, who we now know personally championed an undrafted free agent who reached the majors on the strength of his hitting. That the Mets somehow overlooked this intersection of opportunity (the Dilson Herrera trade) and appropriateness, while going completely off-script and making Rivera the first non-pitcher/non-coach ever to wear 54 isn’t a great signal they’re doing this whole uni-number-issuing thing correctly.

The Mets on the other hand aren’t doing much of anything right lately, culminating in this week’s deserved sweeping at the hands of the awful Arizona Diamondbacks and their fugly uniforms. Terry Collins yesterday made a show of demanding a fresh start from his guys, a move that could prove to be too late to save them or him.

imagesSpeaking of bad teams in fugly uniforms, my travels this week took me to the Twin Cities where I witnessed Target Field for the first time, encountering what for me was an odd site — the homestanding Twins in bright-red home jerseys. The stadium was quite nice, bonus points for locating it within moments of a train station, but the unis bothered me until I realized the none-too-subtle message I’m sure they were meant to deliver. Cheap chic indeed.

 

 

 

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Net Gains

19As you probably know by now the Mets have issued the newly arriving Jay Bruce No. 19 and have allowed Jon Niese to take back the No. 49 he wore in his last go-round with the club.

49Bruce, who is scheduled to start in right field and bat third, will become the 36th guy to wear 19 for the Mets and has an outside shot of overtaking Roger Cedeno as the jersey’s most prolific home run hitter by the end of the year. (Roger had 18 dingers over three seasons as a Met 19).

66Also Tuesday, the Mets placed shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera (13) and outfielder Justin Ruggiano (1) on the disabled list, demoted bullpenner Seth Lugo (67) and recalled utilityman Ty Kelly (56) and reliever Josh Edgin (66). Edgin is making his first reappearance in a Mets jersey since September of 2014.

I don’t normally keep track of this stuff, but it is notable the club is adding a combined 190 in combined uni numbers while subtracting just 90 — a net gain of 100 that has to rank as one of the largest one-day swings in club history.

Here’s to more big swings from the new guys.

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#WatchWatch

32This year’s trade deadline, about as nutty as last year’s, has resulted in the acquisition of Reds slugger Jay Bruce and the shocking return of Jon Niese. Both guys will be hunting for new uniform numbers as their existing digits belong to their new teammates.

49Bruce, a slugger who can hopefully replace some lefthanded sock that vanished when Lucas Duda got hurt, wears the unusual No. 32, currently and could perhaps pry it from Steven Matz with a Rolex — in the baseball world, the currency of the uniform number. Niese was the Mets’ last occupant of No. 49 until Josh Smoker came and went last Tuesday. Technically 49 still belongs him him.

Niese by the way wore No. 18 in Pittsburgh, where he washed out as a starter and had recently been assigned to the bullpen.

As for the outbound freight, Dilson Hererra has been occupying No. 2 in Vegas and on the Mets’ 40-man roster, which was his number before and after the visit from Juan Uribe last summer, when Hererra wore the since-reassigned No. 16. Uribe, struggling in Cleveland, happened to have been DFAed to make room for all Cleveland’s new gets today and so could potentially slide back in No. 2. That’s the theme this year.

The guy we traded for Niese, gascan lefty Antonio Bastardo, wore No. 59, for the apparent minimum number of seconds he took between delivering pitches. I’m glad to see it and he go, particularly since the Pirates are picking up the commitment.

Fill me in if anything official comes in!

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Mets Hit Wall, Burst into Flames

1The Mets abruptly signed dressed and deployed Justin Ruggiano last night, and the veteran outfielder went out and played like a cliche of a No. 1: Ridiculous leaping catch attempt, overhustling a slow rolling single, foolishly getting thrown out attempting to steal third base with Bartolo Colon batting.

ruggianoWhat a find! And his crumpled body on the warning track a perfect Met-aphor for this wreck this season is quickly becoming now with Jose Reyes out, Juan Lagares out, Cespedes hurting, Duda still missing, Wright long gone, Walker and Cabrera morphing back into middling singles hitters and Conforto and Zimmo and D’Arnaud failing so far to evolve themselves.

And I’m not calling for Terry Collins to be fired or resign but would say the SHaMs struggles these past few weeks has resembled something out of Jerry Manuel’s playbook: A palpable lack of confidence in his guys runs up and down the lineup and in the bullpen, and I think, is contributing at some level to how poorly they are executing at the moments of truth. The fact his lineup doesn’t hit well to begin with is also a factor.

One of the brilliant minds at the Crane Pool crunched the numbers and heading into last night they looked like this:

If the 2016 Mets were to hit with RiSP just like the 2016 Mets hit otherwise [.238, last in the NL] their 148 hits w/RiSP would turn into 174.
Taking that figure and using their present production of 1.486 Runs per RiSP-AB (220 runs produced by those 148 hits) the new figure would result in an extra 39 runs scored over the course of the season to this point. That alone creates about four extra wins on average, turning the current 53-49 record into more like 57-45; the 7.5 games back into 3.5; and the current 84-win pace for the full season into 90

And that’s not even the worst of it, because not only do they hit less often with RiSP but they hit a larger pct of singles in those ABs than their usual (almost 70% instead of 63.1%) with far fewer 2Bs (16.2% instead of 19%) & HRs (12.8% instead of 16.4%). So if those extra hits were in the same proportion as what they produce normally then the runs scored increase would logically get even larger.

This morning we’re 2.5 games out of a Wild Card spot, 7.5 out of first place, 3 games over .500 and its the Trade Deadline. All day yesterday fans were entertaining fantasies of obtaining Jonathan Lucroy along the the rumored relief help we apparently need so bad. (Really? That’s the issue?). My inclination this morning is to see if we can’t dangle Neil Walker, Addison Reed, and dare I say Curtis Granderson with an eye on next season. And if they don’t believe in him enough to offer him to Milwaukee, Travis d’Arnaud too. What’s your take?

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