Archive for Opening Day

And… We’re Back?

Wow. It’s been awhile since our last update as I’ve holed up working through this pandemic, I hope you guys are all staying safe. This website was so dusty I hadn’t realized I’d allowed the domain to expire, if you tried to visit recently, my apologies.

Hard to believe they’re going to try and pull this off, but ready or not (um, not, based on the injuries and exhibitions I’ve seen) they open in a little more than 24 hours and today announced the THIRTY guys they’re going to start off with. We’ll update the records on the database as they go live, but say hello to the Pandemic Mets of 2020 (including 40-man guys “not active”: I guess they are in some sort of limbo, along with the Non-roster guys like who didn’t make the cut like Steven Gonslaves who I assume are set free to join the growing number of unemployed Americans).

So let’s be fans and provide warm and socially distant greetings to the following new Mets: Dellin Betances, Rick Porcello, Chasen Shreve, Hunter Strickland, Michael Wacha, Andres Gimenez, Eduardo Nunez and Jake Marisnick. Joining the uniformed staff for the first time: Manager Luis Rojas, and coaches Hensley Muelens, Jeremy Hefner, Jeremy Accardo, Tony DeFrancesco and Brain Schneider.

I’m listing Hefner in 53 although he was most recently wearing 93 while the Mets entertained but ultimately decided against Melky Cabrera. Hearing from reliable sources there’s another assistant hitting coach in uniform 34, Ryan Ellis, but that makes no sense as Syndergaard is still with us in spirit anyway. Subject to change!

Number Name Notes
0 Marcus Stroman, P Injured list
1 Amed Rosario, SS
2 Dom Smith, IB-OF
3 Tomas Nido, C
4 Jed Lowrie, INF Injured List
5 vacant Unassigned (David Wright)
6 Jeff McNeil, INF-OF
7 vacant
8 Vacant Unassigned (Gary Carter)
9 Brandon Nimmo, OF
10 Gary DiSarcina, CH 3rd base coach
11 Tony DeFrancesco, CH 1st base coach
12 Eduardo Nunez, INF
13 Luis Guillorme, INF
14 Retired Gil Hodges
15 Vacant
16 Jake Marisnick, OF
17 Vacant unassigned (Keith Hernandez)
18 vacant
19 Luis Rojas, MGR
20 Pete Alonso, 1B
21 vacant
22 Rick Porcello, P
23 Brian Schneider, CH quality control coach
24 Robinson Cano, 2B
25 Ricky Bones, CH bullpen coach
26 vacant
27 Jeurys Familia, P
28 JD Davis, INF-OF
29 Brad Brach, P Injured List
30 Michael Conforto, OF
31 Retired Mike Piazza
32 Steven Matz, P
33 vacant
34 Noah Syndergaard, P Injured List
35 vacant
36 Retiring Jerry Koosman
37 Retired Casey Stengel
38 Justin Wilson, P
39 Edwin Diaz, P
40 Wilson Ramos, C
41 Retired Tom Seaver
42 Retired Jackie Robinson
43 vacant
44 Rene Rivera, C
45 Michael Wacha,P
46 vacant
47 Chasen Shreeve, P
48 Jacob deGrom, P
49 Tyler Bashlor, P Not Active
50 Jeremy Accordo, CH assistant pitching coach
51 Paul Sewald, P
52 Yoenis Cespedes, OF
53 Jeremy Hefner, CH pitching coach
54 Chili Davis, CH hitting coach
55 Corey Oswalt, P
56 Tom Slater, CH Assistant hitting coach
57 Dave Racianello, CH Bullpen catcher
58 Hensley Muelens, CH Bench coach
59 vacant
60 Andres Gimenez, INF
61 Walker Lockett, P Not active
62 Drew Smith, P
63 Thomas Szapucki, P Not Active
64 Jordan Humphreys, P Not active
65 Robert Gsellman, P Disabled list
66 Franklyn Kilome, P Not Active
67 Seth Lugo, P
68 Dellin Betances, P
69 Vacant
70 Ali Sanchez, C Not Active
71 Hunter Strickland, P
72 vacant
73 Daniel Zamora, P Not Active
74 vacant
75 vacant
76 vacant
77 vacant
78 Eric Langill, CH Bullpen catcher
79 vacant
80 vacant
81 vacant
82 vacant
83 vacant
84 vacant
85 vacant
86 vacant
87 Jared Hughes, P Injured List
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The Name of the Game

As disappointed as we all are to learn the start of the baseball season has been delayed as part of the economic wreckage of incompetent U.S. preparedness for the coronavirus, perhaps there’s a silver lining in not immediately experiencing how dumb it’s going to be when new rules requiring relief pitchers throw to at least three batters takes effect. And the March 26 opening date seemed obscenely early anyway. I don’t often bother to show up in Flushing until May, given that place is guaranteed to be 20 degrees colder and twice as damp as anywhere else in the five boroughs, but let’s hope they get it going by then.

How are we going to pass the time though? I’d been suffering through the Islanders season and now that’s done too. So we’re rewatching The Wire on the stream, and reading some books.

Around here we care primarily about the number on the back of the jersey but much of what needs to be said about the letters above them is addressed with wit, insight and just the right mix of respect and humor in HALL OF NAME, a new book coming out any day now from D.B. Firstman.

I’ve known D.B. primarily through SABR and the Twitterverse for some time now, and they were gracious to offer an early copy, which I’d been eating piecemeal for a few weeks.

That’s in fact one of the cool things about this book: You can open it to any of its 312 pages and find something fun and interesting. The book includes short biographies, trivial facts, anagrams and vague sound-alikes for 100 of baseball’s “most magnificent monikers” from Boof Bonzer to Coco Crisp to Joe Zdeb.

Even more precisely than numbers, D.B. notes, names lend a uniqueness to the game’s characters that’s part of the fun; but what I enjoyed the most was the revelation of a little bit more than just the stats accompanying those names that would make you briefly pause and admire while thumbing through the Baseball Encyclopedia (Rivington Bisland, Jennings Poindexter, Orval Overall); uncommon commons revealed in a pack of Topps cards (Mark Lemongello, Greg Legg, Biff Pocoroba); or references that never fail to elicit a giggle (Johnny Dickshot, Rusty Kuntz, and Pete LaCock, the latter all lovingly written up in a section helpfully called DIRTY NAMES DONE DIRT CHEAP).

There’s a little Met content too, with J.J. Putz, Lastings Milledge, Angel Pagan, Razor Shines, Ambiorix Burgos and Xavier Nady among those featured.

You’re stuck at home with no baseball? Go out and get a copy or have your bookstore deliver one, like I said it’ll be out any day now. And in honor of the book’s publishing, here’s my list of the Mets All-Time Name Team. They may not win much, but you’ll never forget them:

1B: Marv Throneberry

2B: Chin-lung Hu

3B: Pumpsie Green

SS: Adeiny Hechavaria

OF: Darryl Strawberry, Don Hahn, Prentice Redman

C: Greg Goosen, Taylor Teagarden

P: Wally Whitehurst, Ken MacKenzie, Vinegar Bend Mizell, Patrick Strange, Bartolome Fortunato, Roadblock Jones, Al Schmelz

How are you going to make it through? Who makes your all-name club?

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Born in the 50s

The following essay was submitted by longtime reader Edward Hoyt. If you’d like to contribute your own takes on Met uni matters, and especially if it’s up to the level of excellence displayed here, feel free to pitch me at mbtn01 (at) yahoo dot-com.

There’s always an interesting lede when a player returns as a coach to a team he made a mark with as a player. If he was a particularly good player, his homecoming is celebrated with some level of excitement. If he had previously passed through without distinction, it can still be a feel-good story with a potential for redemption.

But after that first day’s story, there’s frequently a minor tragedy — visible on a daily basis — when that player gets his uniform, and it underscores that that whatever value a man might represent as a coach, he is still just a coach. The players get the low numbers and coaches get a number in the fifties … or worse. Leftover numbers.

With most coaches, we shrug. This is their lot in life. But with the coach who had previously played for the team, what heart isn’t touched by the cruel marginalization of seeing Mookie Wilson’s 1 become 51, of seeing Bud Harrelson’s 3 displaced by 53, and Howard Johnson’s familiar 20 being twisted and distorted into a 52 (wtf?)? These fleet youthful birds of yesteryear return to us with the anonymous digits of backup linebackers and special teams long snappers — easy-to-release taxi-squad regulars.

So it is with a ray of spring sunshine that we today see a youthful Jeremy Hefner return as pitching coach (nearly an effing half century younger than his predecessor) in the same 53 he brandished as a player. He had the small grace to come to the team under circumstances no more dramatic than the hiring of a coach (a minor league contract in January 2014), got a number that reflected that, and briefly flourished in it. But when his status upgraded itself to rotation mainstay for about a full season split between 2012 and 2013, his number stayed the same. So his return as a coach in such high digits is not a dim a signal that he can tack on a few more paychecks by cashing in on a large legacy, but that he’s here to add some more substance to a small one — the same guy in the same uniform with the same number on a somewhat different road.

When last heard from in a Mets spring training camp back in 2014, Hef was a bit player in one of those stupid Matt Harvey dustups that always seemed perfectly timed for a day when there was no other news. The team was settling into their spring digs and Harv decided to complain that rehabbing players were not dressing next to the active players training and preparing for games. Now, there are certainly sound arguments for and against keeping everybody integrated even if they’re on a different springtime agenda, but rather than make an internal appeal, Harv decided to take his case to the media. And to make it clear this snit wasn’t about him, he decided to drag poor Hefner into the argument. The Mets are marginalizing me and Hef, the two Tommy John rehabilitation cases, Harvey complained.

Hefner, suitably, seemed embarrassed to be dragged into the story, presumably happy to still be receiving a big league salary that was now existentially threatened — his status even more tenuous than the number 53 implied. And when that status exploded alongside a second UCL tear before his rehab was done, ending his career, the story was about whether the fall of Harvey’s rehab partner would serve as an object lesson for him.

It was always about Harvey.

But now, released from the Angels and finding no suitors this offseason, it is The Dark Knight facing the doorway of oblivion, non-roster infielder Max Moroff getting little attention in Harvey’s old 33, and Jeremy Hefner returning to his 53, ready to build on a legacy that is now all his own. While other players returning as coaches have their light dimmed by a number assignment in the 50s, Hef is shining all the brighter.

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2020 Vision

Today came word that the Mets inked veteran sluggo Matt Adams to a minor league deal and invited him to spring training. Whether he winds up a 40-homer hitter in Syracuse or Pete Alonso’s caddy will depend I suspect on whatever Chief Brody has up his sleeve still. I wanna think they have some plans to move things around still (Dom Smith and Cesedes for Arenado?) Who knows.

But with the understanding things are still very fluid, let’s take the first crack at a 2020 numerical roster. Note we’re still awaiting assignments for several coaches (Jeremy Hefner, Tony DeFrancesco); unassigned 40-men players (Ali Sanchez); and non-roster invitees (Adams, Matt Blackham, Ryley Gilliam, Pedro Payano, Francisco Rios, Chasen Shreve, Kevin Smith and Adonis Uceta — and probably several more)… also note there are currently two guys assigned No. 60.

Number Name Notes
0 Marcus Stroman, P was 7
1 Amed Rosario, SS
2 Dom Smith, IB-OF was 22
3 Tomas Nido, C
4 Jed Lowrie, INF
5 vacant David Wright
6 Jeff McNeil, INF-OF
7 vacant was Marcus Stroman
8 Vacant Unassigned (Gary Carter)
9 Brandon Nimmo, OF
10 Gary DiSarcina, CH 1st base coach
11 Vacant was Ruben Tejada
12 Vacant was Juan Lagares
13 Luis Guillorme, INF Was Asbrubal Cabrera
14 Retired Gil Hodges
15 Vacant was Carlos Beltran
16 Jake Marisnick, OF
17 Vacant unassigned (Keith Hernandez)
18 vacant was Rajai Davis
19 Luis Rojas, MGR Was Sam Haggarty
20 Pete Alonso, 1B
21 Vacant was Todd Frazier
22 Rick Porcello, P was Dom Smith
23 vacant was Aaron Altherr
24 Robinson Cano, 2B
25 Ricky Bones, CH bullpen coach
26 Vacant was Mickey Callaway
27 Jeurys Familia, P
28 JD Davis, INF-OF
29 Brad Brach, P
30 Michael Conforto, OF
31 Retired Mike Piazza
32 Steven Matz, P
33 vacant was Hector Santiago
34 Noah Syndergaard, P
35 Jacob Rhame, P
36 Retiring Jerry Koosman
37 Retired Casey Stengel
38 Justin Wilson, P
39 Edwin Diaz, P
40 Wilson Ramos, C
41 Retired Tom Seaver
42 Retired Jackie Robinson
43 Vacant was Luis Avilan
44 vacant/Rene Rivera, C? was Rivera (now NRI)
45 Michael Wacha,P was Zack Wheeler
46 vacant was Brooks Pounders
47 vacant was Drew Gagnon
48 Jacob deGrom, P
49 Tyler Bashlor, P
50 vacant was Jim Riggleman, CH
51 Paul Sewald, P
52 Yoenis Cespedes, OF
53 vacant was Glenn Sherlock, CH
54 Chili Davis, CH hitting coach
55 Corey Oswalt, P
56 Tom Slater, CH Assistant hitting coach
57 Dave Racianello, CH Bullpen catcher
58 Hensley Muelens, CH Bench coach
59 Steven Gonsalves, P was Chuck Hernandez, CH
60* Jeremy Accardo, CH assistant pitching coach
60* Andres Gimenez, INF NRI
61 Walker Lockett, P
62 Drew Smith, P
63 Thomas Szapucki, P was Tim Petersen
64 Jordan Humphreys, P was Chris Flexen
65 Robert Gsellman, P
66 Franklyn Kilome, P
67 Seth Lugo, P
68 Dellin Betances, P
69 Vacant
70 Eric Hanhold, P
71 vacant
72 Steven Nogosek, P NRI
73 Daniel Zamora, P
74 vacant Ali Sanchez, C?
75 vacant
76 vacant Patrick Mazeika, C?
77 David Peterson, P
78 Eric Langill, CH Bullpen catcher
79 vacant
80 vacant
81 vacant
82 vacant
83 Stephen Villines, P?
84 vacant Ryder Ryan, P?
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Play Ball!

So when the Mets take the field this afternoon in Washington (and I kill myself missing it due to work commitments), we expect to enter the following names and numbers onto the Mighty Scroll:

Pete Alonso (20); Keon Broxton (23); Robinson Cano (24); JD Davis (28); Justin Wilson (38); Edwin Diaz (39); Wilson Ramos (40); and Luis Avilan (43), along with new coaches Jim Riggleman (50); Chili Davis (54); Chick Hernandez (59) and Luis Rojas (60)

Luis Guillorme (13), Jeff McNeil (6) and Jason Vargas (44) get new numbers.

That’s 15 changes if I counted em all up right, so there’s surely there will be a new feel to the club this year. I have my doubts as to whether an 85-loss team can turn it around as dramatically as the Mets expect to and with four teams all going for it in the East this year it’s going to end up disappointingly for some of them, but competition ought to be what it’s about, I’m grateful they haven’t sat this one out, and I’m very happy that baseball is back as a companion and all you guys for a 20th go-round.

LGM, YGB yada yada yada

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Choice Cuts

So our old friend Carlos Gomez is in camp wearing No. 85, which happened to be the lowest number available, although roster cuts and reassignments should free up additional space as opening day nears. Already there’s been 13 reassignments and yesterday news came that TJ Rivera had been cut and also released.

This is not a big surprise as Rivera was a one-tool longshot before he missed a year with an injury, but his release frees up No. 19 if anyone wants it. I assume it won’t be long before Dilson Hererra is reassigned and coughs up No. 16; then there’s Gregor Blanco (7) and Rajai Davis (11) who suddenly look more vulnerable now that Gomez is back. In case you’ve forgotten Gomez wore No. 27 in his first appearances as a Met back in 2007. His return suggests to me that Omar Minaya is possibly making the personnel decisions again and just relying on Brodie Van Wagenen to say the right things to the press about them. That’s not a good feeling.

Among pitchers, keep an eye on No. 26, where nonroster invitee Arquimedes Caminero has a 16.20 ERA so far (in a really small sample) but appears to need to beat out one or more better-performing counterparts like Hector Santiago (46), Luis Avilan (43) and Rule 5er Kyle Dowdy (33) who’s going to get every chance despite a Camineroesque ERA so far this spring.

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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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