Archive for Opening Day

Let’s Go

A long and strange offseason is finally ending and the Mets, ready or not, are on the schedule for the first of at least 162 times in 2018.

Though we had a pretty good idea of the 22 guys who’d be making the cut all along, let’s all tip our caps to Phillip Evans, who claimed the last position-player spot available despite having been removed from the 40-man roster over the winter. Phil is also taking a dignified number along with that spot, moving from the stupid 72 to the distinguished company of Met 28s, home of Daniel Murphy, John “The Hammer” Milner, Bobby Jones, Sherman “Roadblock” Jones and Carlton Willey. Way to go, Phil.

Not so lucky was Zack Wheeler, who lost out on a rotation slot and will start the season in AAA despite the challenge Steven Matz gave to lose it for him. Matz worries me, you guys. He’s one of the reasons I’m a bit nervous over the prospects of this club, the others being the general lack of excitement in the lineup: Other than Amed Rosario, and maybe, Brandon Nimmo, there’s just not a whole lot to dream on here. Reliable, professional, competent up and down, absolutely, and that’s not a bad thing to be generally. But its not as though Todd Frazier’s about to stop doing all that striking-out, or Cespedes will have a better few months than he did during his magical 2015 arrival, or Adrian Gonzalez will really ever be Adrian Gonzalez ever again, so I’m naturally tempering expectations. They could be pretty competent offensively, and they might be less. They probably can’t be more.

The pitching might be good, my doubts about Matz notwithstanding, so I guess that’s where you place the hope: Competent offense, good pitching. You gotta believe.

With that, let’s welcome Anthony Swarzak (38), Todd Frazier (21), Adrian Gonzalez (23), along with Mickey Callaway (36), Dave Eiland (58), Gary Disarcina (10), Ruben Amaro Jr. (20) to the all-time numerical roster, along with Philip Evans and bullpen catcher Dave Racianello to new numbers (Racianello takes 57; he was in 54 last year): The new data will populate following Thursday’s opener. Let’s Go Mets!

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The Todd Squad

As you know by now the Mets took advantage of a buyer’s market and signed Todd Frazier to a cheapo 2-year contract to complete the infield. The signing also acknowledges the unlikelihood that David Wright make a miraculous return to form, exposing my own overinvestment in denial.

Frazier most certainly will take over the vacant and dignified No. 21 last worn by Lucas Duda and previously by Carlos Delgado and Cleon Jones. Two of the Mets’ previous Todds (Zeile and Hundley) wore No. 9 at one point in their Met tenures, though Jackson Todd wore No. 30.

(Update: Alert readers of social media reminded me this initial post overlooked Todds Pratt and Haney, initally, mea maxima culpa) .

I guess I like Frazier a little better than were they to engage Neil Walker again, but I’m concerned about all the outmaking, and somewhat dismayed that the seemingly collusive market, as much as its brought opportunity to the Mets is headed for a big ugly correction in the next CBA. Teams are onto the fact that guys are worth less as they age, even as the free agency system provides for them to earn more. The Mets it seems to me need guys who get on base and score every bit as much as those who can drive them in, which is why I’m a big proponent of Brandon Zimmo.

Jose Reyes has also come back, that was no small surprise. Most definitely he will wear 7 again. I was watching that number to see whether Travis d’Arnaud would claim it back. He changes numbers like batting stances.

Mets should be posting that spring roster any day now.

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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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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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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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The Ex Files, 2016

Andrew Beaton’s welcome-home profile of new Mets second baseman Neil Walker includes this fascinating detail: Walker, it turns out, has taken over the Upper East Side apartment lease of Jon Niese, the man he was traded for over the winter.

18And no, Jon Niese didn’t move into Walker’s parent’s home in Pittsburgh, but he did turn up wearing Walker’s former uniform number, 18, in Pittsburgh, making the trade a Reverse Uni Swap. Niese you may have seen, started the other day for the Pirates and was positively Niese-like: 5 innings, 4 earned runs, 7 whiffs, and a no-decision.

Here’s a look at a few other ex-2015 Mets and their new numerical identities:

Daniel Murphy is wearing No. 20 in Washington, where fans say #TheyreWith28 when it comes to outfielder Jayson Werth.

In Milwaukee, Kirk Nieuwenhuis has suited up in No. 10 and Carlos Torres in 59, changes from their respective 9 and 52/72 here. Kirk beat out former teammate Eric Young Jr. for the reserve outfield slot with the Brewers.

Departed heroes of 2015’s famous bench-strength acquisition: Atlanta Brave Kelly Johnson wears No. 24, while Juan Uribe is wearing No. 4 and a skicap with the Indians.

We unfortunately didn’t get deep enough into Kansas City’s bullpen earlier this week to see Dillon Gee, who reverses his customary 35 with the World Champs, wearing 53.

Phinally in Phoenix, irritating short reliever Tyler Clippard wears No. 19. He was 46 last time around in New York.

Scattered rubble of the National League champs including Scott Rice (Arizona), Eric O’Flaherty (Pittsburgh), Wilfredo Tovar (Minnesota), Jack Leathersich (Chicago Cubs), Alex Torres (Atlanta), Anthony Recker (Cleveland), Darrell Ceciliani (Toronto) and Bobby Parnell (Detroit) didn’t crack opening-day rosters.

Welcome home Mets!

 

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This One Doesn’t Go to 11

11So sure enough opening night there was Tim Teufel, “along the lines at third” and wearing No. 11, shedding the No. 18 he’d worn he’d worn as a Mets coach since 2012.

Teufel as we know spent more than five years as Mets player wearing No. 11. And though 18 was never a good fit for him (it belonged during parts of his tenure to Darryl Strawberry, who according to reports cruelly tormented Teufel while they were Mets teammates) his retaking No. 11 represents something of a break with tradition too. Teufel is not only the first coach or manager ever to wear 11 but his occupation of it denies the jersey its distinguishing element: No number has appeared in as many games as No. 11 — 4,442 regular-season games through 2015, or nearly 52% of every Mets regular-season game ever. And until this year, only four seasons since the founding of the Mets have gone without at least one player appearing in No. 11 — 1967, 1968, 1997, and 2002.

No. 7 (4,273 games) and No. 5 (4,208) are the next-most frequently employed jerseys in game action for the Mets but each are more than a full season behind even as they maintain compilers in Travis d’Arnaud and David Wright, respectively.

34Guys I’m sorry to have discovered all my fears of a lackluster spring training play out in front of us on opening night. As I write a few hours before Game 2 I’m thinking we have an obligation to make a statement and an ideal opportunity as well: They’re starting a right-handed slowballer, and we have Noah Syndergaard. And while any victory is acceptable, I’d really like to Mets to find out which of the Royals reserve infielders can also pitch.

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Sweet Sixteen

Glad to see the Mets get off the schneid just once before we go to war Sunday night in Kansas City. As noted below this was hardly the most encouraging warmup I’ve ever experienced but I’m thankful we’ll be answering the bell with relatively good health and a ton of promise. Hopefully, we kick the shit out of Kansas City.

The opening roster, announced yesterday, indicates we’ll soon be welcoming the following men to the All-time roster:

13 Asdrubal Cabrera
16 Alejando De Aza
20 Neil Walker
51 Jim Henderson
59 Anotnio Bastardo

They would bring the scrolls through 1,013 1,012.

Joining the field staff for the first time is bench coach Dick Scott, wearing No. 23, while Kevin Plawecki and coach Tom Goodwin pulled an offseason trade, with Plawecki taking 26 and Goodwin 22. Reliever Jerry Blevins is in a new number, 39, and coach Dan Warthen in 38.

11Ruben Tejada’s departure in the meantime opened up No. 11 should third-base coach Tim Teufel want to return to the number he wore as a Mets player: The roster posted at Mets.com indicates that’s the case but I thought I spied him ont he televised game from Vegas the other day still in 18. Any help?

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Welcome to 2015

54This just in: An updated Mets roster now lists newly acquired reliever Alex Torres in 54 and coach Dave Racaniello in 53: This is consistent with Torres’ digits in previous stops in Tampa and San Diego. Also new to the coaching ranks is assistant hitting coach Pat Roessler, wearing the popular No. 6, the roster shows (Thanks Jason for the heads-up). Roessler was wearing 60 until Matt den Dekker’s departure, and would be the first coach to wear the uni. I disapprove of this.

We’re adding them to the sacred scrolls of the all-time Mets numerical roster today as the club takes on the Nationals to begin 2015. Joining Torres for the first time are Jerry Blevins (13); Sean Gilmartin  (36); Micheal Cuddyer (23) and John Mayberry (44); new coaches Roessler (6) and Kevin Long (57); and in new numbers, Travis d’Arnaud (7); Buddy Carlyle (43); coaches Bob Geren (15) and Racaniello (53).

Before we get started: It doesn’t mean anything, and a peek at the archives would reveal I’ve been ready to go to war with less A LOT, but I should just come out and confess I’ve been a Mets fan for something like 40 years and can’t remember a better Spring Training. Let’s Go Mets!

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Natera

New assistant hitting coach Luis Natera was spotted wearing No. 60 prior to Monday’s harrowing debut. Natera has appeared on these pages before: Back in 2008, he was issued No. 64 (unofficially) when he served as a coaching version of a September callup from Class AA Binghamton.

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