Archive for Opening Day

Pitchers, Catchers + Numbers, 2017

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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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Happy New Year

citifield1One of the reasons I’ve been hesitant to update my outlook on 2014 here is that I was absolutely convinced that as soon as I would I’d have to re-do it all because there would be a trade consummated before opening day. Not just a trade, but a TRADE: You know, one of those transactions that as Met fans we remember where we were when it was announced (I was driving on the New Jersey Turnpike when they traded Dykstra. In Union Square meeting my wife for a drink when they traded Kazmir. Throwing a fit in the kitchen for Seaver and Kingman). Where was I when they announced the big Ike Davis/Ruben Tejada/Whomever for Whomever trade on 2014? I wasn’t anywhere. It didn’t happen.

“How could it not have?” is the question I’m taking with me into the 2014 regular season. Granted it’s better than last year when I was asking “Shaun Marcum? Seriously?” but I mean, geez. Talk about a seeming unmet opportunity. Talk about unanswered questions!

I’m going to presume a deal didn’t get done not because the Mets didn’t sincerely desire one but because Sandy Alderson balked at the asking price for guys the Mets could certainly use (Didi Gregorius and Nick Franklin for example) and that, as usual, Ike Davis screwed up all our plans by being unavailable. I decided at some point last season that if I were running the Mets I wouldn’t give Ike Davis another shot at being the difference between a good team and a bad team but here we are. I know, the alternatives aren’t great. I’m just surprised and I guess disappointed. Ike sure has gotten away with a lot.

In the big picture it’s somewhat disheartening to realize that which went wrong for the Mets last season were not just the kinds of things that had been counted on but also, were legacy Met prospects inherited from the Omar era (Davis, Tejada, Jon Niese, who worries me quite a bit). To that we may want to add Bobby Parnell, whose sketchy recovery from neck surgery (neck surgery?) already appears to be exposing a shaky bullpen.

14Other than that though? I’m kind of excited. Accompanying my concern is an undercurrent of optimism resulting from a farm system that at least appears to have turned the corner with regard to analyst opinion. Prospects for the first time in a decade include a few guys who can hit, which is awfully good to know. I feel like the aggressive way the Mets went after Chris Young reveals they saw something worth exploiting in a Marlon Byrd-like way. Granderson is a nice player. There’s guys on the bench who can hit doubles and home runs (Andrew Brown, Anthony Recker, Lucas Duda, Josh Satin) and/or are useful when they aren’t starting (Eric Young). I’m not yet sold on Travis d’Arnaud yet but it’s not like he’s Rod Barajas or Brian Schneider.

The challenge I think for the organization as a whole is to consolidate those gains they’ve made in the lineup, keep the young prospects coming (the starting depth is a real improvement from last year already even without Matt Harvey) and try to act, and play, and market itself in accordance with a team that expects to win 90 games on merit, and not the club willing to cut any and all corners to get by until things improve and say they want to win 90 games because it sounds good, even if they happen to be both of those things at this very moment. And though the Big Trade I’ve been expecting hasn’t happened (yet) this team and my expectations remain subject to change.

And with that, we welcome the following players to the Mets All-Time Numerical Roster:

Chris Young 1

Curtis Granderson 3

John Lannan 32

Bartolo Colon 40

Jose Valverde 47

And wearing new numbers: Andrew Brown in 30 and Omar Quintanilla in 0.

The roster pages at Ultimate Mets Database will be updated as players accrue statistics. Let’s Go Mets!

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Opening Day Notes

32As pointed out in the comments below, LaTroy Hawkins has broken camp with the Mets wearing not the No. 30 assigned to him during the spring but No. 32. No word on what Jenrry Mejia will wear when he comes off the disabled list because 32 has been his assignment since his ill-fated and premature arrival three long years ago.

Otherwise it looks like the new Mets hit the field Monday in the same jerseys issued to them this spring. Numerically, that’s Collin “Slammy” Cowgill in No. 4; Marlon Byrd in No. 6; Brandon Lyon in 34; Greg Burke in 46; Scott Atchison in 50 and Scott Rice in 56. I was rooting for Pedro Feliciano to return in his original jersey but there is still time for that it appears. I’d also have bet on Andrew Brown and Brandon Hicks to have made the squad, at least when camp began but to their credit have rewarded guys like Cowgill and Byrd for winning the jobs offered to them.

I tend to be optimistic in the spring in general (the blowout win on opening day is only helping) but would say I think this Mets team could have a pretty good offense this season just counting on improvements from Davis and Duda and the incremental upgrades from Bay to Byrd and Thole to Buck+  but the starting pitching is way too thin to imagine holding up over the course of a long year (with or without Santana, of whom I hadn’t expected much of). The bullpen will be adequate. The defense OK. Overall, underestimated. Let’s Go Mets!

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Anything Can Happen

50The Mets begin their 50th anniversary season Thursday amid modest expectations befitting a squad with thin starting pitching, shaky defense and Jason Bay in the middle of the lineup, but if everything goes right, they might also be fun to watch too. I’m optimistic of a good start at any rate. It’s the Mets’ 50th season and MBTN’s 13th.

As I’m sure you all know by now, the banged up foursome of Andres Torres, David Wright, Scott Hairston and Tim Byrdak all healed in time to answer the bell and comprise a squad of 25 we probably could have predicted back in December. It’s further encouraging to see Ike Davis and Johan Santana are among them.

And so today we welcome the returnees back, and the new ones the best of luck. Officially joining the All-Time Numerical Roster for the first time are players Andres Torres 56, Ronny Cedeno 13, Frank Francisco 48, Ramon Ramirez 52 and Jon Rauch 60; and coaches Bob Geren 7, Ricky Bones 25, Tom Goodwin 26 and batting practice pitcher Eric Langill 78. Returning in new numbers are Mike Nickeas, now wearing 4; Tim Teufel, now coaching and wearing No. 18 and bullpen catcher Dave Racianello, in 79. I’ll be updating the rosters shortly please let me know if you come across any errors.

Let’s Go Mets! Anything can happen!

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Chapter ’11

I think the Mets are in for a better season than the Wilpons, though I wish them both the best.

11The change in the front office and the manager’s chair I think are all strongly for the good: Though he’ll surely wear out his welcome at some point, Terry Collins appears to have given the group the jolt of energy it needed after a sonambulent tenure under Jerry Manuel, and Collins remarks at least suggest we won’t be in for another season of 8th-inning fetishes, unexplained doghousing and first-inning bunts. In the meantime, Sandy Alderson and his crew appear to have made some pretty good personnel decisions against a limited budget: The bullpen (churn!) looks very promising, and I like the new bench players, particularly Scott Hairston. They may have stretched out the Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez storylines longer than I had a stomach for but I think the decisions on them were correct. I don’t think we can predict what Chris Young or Chris Capuano will do, but both are looking like good selections for a team on a budget.

I worry, as always, about the offense. I’d almost forgiven Jason Bay for being such a kitten last season when his sudden injury this week reminded me he still owes us. I’m surprised to see Carlos Beltran make it to opening day and worry that continued health struggles will suck the energy out of the team again. On the other hand, I quite like Angel Pagan, David Wright, Josh Thole and Ike Davis, who I think can do some real damage in 162 games. And if Jose Reyes shows he’s the kind of player worth agonizong over a long-term contract for, then we’ll probably be having a good year. Brad Emaus could be could be a rookie of the year. He might not either, but it’s not like he’s taking an MVP from Castillo. All upside there.

The Wilpons I think , are facing some real trouble. Not necessarily as a result of the clawback lawsuit, but that they, like a lot of troubled companies today, borrowed heavily upon assumptions that the economy would continue to sizzle at its mid-90s pace (and also, that certain investments would continue delivering 12% returns). The Mets are certainly exhibiting behaviors of businesses headed toward a crisis: They’re deep in debt, revenues are falling, and they are haunted by high legacy costs. They’ve exhausted their credit with an untraditional lender (MLB) which appears to have insisted the club appoint a turnaround management firm. That’s how it happens.

I don’t think a bankruptcy would necessarily be a bad thing for the Mets. It would likely cost the Wilpons control of the team but provide the opportunity for the next owner (there’s evidently no shortage of interest) to restructure the balance sheet to better compete in an economy without magic returns and $500 seats. We never asked for that.

In number news: Rule 5 reliever Pedro Beato has requested he be outfitted in No. 27. He’s been wearing No. 70 this spring. Here’s the cool thing: Adam Rubin of ESPN reports Beato requested it because he wants to honor Juan Marichal.

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