Archive for Uni Controversies

Hey, Joe

Today my friend David passed along this photo on social media. It’s Joe Sambito pitching for the Mets, and he’s wearing No. 38.

This does not jibe with our records — and some others — listing Sambito having worn No. 35 for the entirety of his brief Mets career, which lasted a little more than six weeks in 1985.

Solving this mystery doesn’t appear to be too difficult, but I’m calling on the MBTN readership to pull out the magnifying glasses and take a shot with me, and confirm it best we can.

Here’s what we know about Joe, who by the way, turned 66 years old the other day. He was a Brooklyn-born and Long Island-raised lefty fireballer who established himself as one of the National League’s strongest relief pitchers with the Houston teams of the late 1970s and early 80s before elbow and shoulder problems stalled his career in 1982. He wore 35 for the Astros. By the time 1985 came around Sambito was still struggling to get his stuff back. When the Astros asked the veteran to accept a minor league assignment he refused, becoming a free agent and fielding offers from several clubs before accepting a major-league minimum deal from the Mets.

The picture shows Sambito pitching in a day game at Shea. That helps narrow things considerably, as Sambito appeared in just two of those. The guess here is that this was the first of those games, and also, Sambito’s Mets debut, on April 28 against the Pirates.

That was a memorable day. Not for Joe Sambito, who quietly pitched a scoreless seventh inning in a 4-4 game — but because the game was only getting started then. It lasted 18 innings before Mookie Wilson scored on an error and the Mets walked off with a 5-4 victory. In the in between, 41-year-old Rusty Staub, who entered as a pinch hitter in the 12th inning, spent the next five innings in the outfield, switching corner outfield positions with Clint Hurdle depending on the handedness of the batter in a concession to Le Grand Orange’s failing knees. Despite that, Rusty made a game-saving running catch in the top of the 18th to retire Pirate pinch-hitter Rick Rhoden who hit an opposite-field fly (if you don’t remember Rhoden, he was one of the best hitting pitchers of his era). Reliable Rusty also had a double that could have won the game in the 12th, but the inning died on a Ray Knight double-play and a bases-loaded popout by Gary Carter. I remember that game well, as it helped to cement my image of Davey Johnson as a master strategist.

The starting right fielder in that game was John Christensen, who was double-switched out in the 12th when Staub entered. And until that day, Christensen was wearing 35. Our records show Christensen wore No. 7 from that point on, so likely lost in the excitement of that thriller was news that Christensen set aside 35 for Sambito.

Sambito struggled mightily in 35, by the way, was sent to Tidewater in June, and released by the Tides that August. The Mets would see him next in Game 3 of the 1986 World Series, pitching ineffective relief for Boston.

So that’s our working theory, thanks to this picture: Sambito wearing 38 for 1 game; 35 for his other seven Mets appearances. Anyone have further observations or concluding proof? Let us know. And happy birthday, Joe!

 

  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon

Triple Play

So the time has come to move on from Adrian Gonzalez, who more or less did what was expected of him, providing the Mets with evidence of a long but steadily declining career while giving prospects like Dominic Smith and Peter Alonso a little more time to bake in the oven. I said it before the Mets would be lucky if either of those prospects crafts a career nearly as good as the one Gonzalez had, and if weren’t for the fact that Yoenis Cespedes will be missing even more time than expected we might be seeing Jay Bruce as the new first baseman beginning tonight.

Instead Dom Smith gets a new chance and hopefully he runs with the opportunity this time. You may remember Dom as having worn No. 22 last year and very briefly this year.

Coming up along with him is the switch-hitting utility player Ty Kelly, whom I like and have advocated for previously. Sure he’s not not exactly lighting the world on fire in Vegas, and he won’t up here, but he’s understanding of his role and oozes with regular-guy appeal that I want to think will help light up a morose clubhouse where there’s a failure virus infecting half the lineup.

What number will Ty wear? The Mets haven’t said. He’s previously worn 55, 56 then 55 again and upon his return to the organization this spring was issued No. 11 — a designation I’d argued for in the past. The Mets in the meantime issued 11 to Jose Bautista. He’s sort of out of uniform himself, preferring No. 19.

So here’s my suggestion. Let’s get Jay Bruce out his slump, Jose Bautista back in familiar clothing and Ty Kelly into his preferred No. 11 with a three-way trade putting Kelly in 11, and Bautista in 19 while Bruce moves to occupy the No. 23 left behind by Gonzalez. For Bruce it could mix up the mojo while also reflecting a spin on the 32 he wore previously with the Reds.

  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon

Red Menace

So maybe it’s all connected, and P.J. Conlon got No. 60 instead of No. 29 because the Mets were secretly working on a Matt Harvey-for-Devin-Mesorasco deal all along, and had a guy already stitching a 29 jersey with his name on it. Until last night, when he made his Mets debut as a pinch hitter, Mesorasco had worn 39 for the Reds.

Anyway, Mesorasco, like Harvey, is a former top draft pick who’d become somewhat worthless for their clubs but still have contracts to play out. It practically goes without saying that Tomas Nido, whom Mesorasco pinch-hit for last night, will go back to the minor leagues and work on his game.

There more to this as well. Todd Frazier is on the disabled list with a hamstring and it’s widely speculated that Luis Guillorme will be up. That’s significant inasmuch as Guillorme — not Conlon — wore No. 60 in Spring Training. Conlon by the way was swapped out for Corey Oswalt following his appearance.

Here’s my thought, with Guillorme due to arrive and Nido likely in for a long spell of seasoning, let’s put Guillorme in the newly available No. 3, which befits his middle-infielder profile and isn’t far off from his Las Vegas No. 13 jersey.

Finally we’d like to wish chubby Matt Harvey all the luck he has coming with the last-place club and lifeless downtown he deserves in Cincinnati. He might not even get No. 33 there, as Jesse Winker wears it, and he has a promising future.

 

  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon

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.

  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon

Triple Threats

18So it’s a bit of a double tragedy out there tonight. Travis d’Arnaud surrendering his favorite uni number — one he earned while Jose Reyes was drawing gigantic checks from a franchise that traded d’Arnaud away — and the Mets bending over backwards to accommodate a disgraced star when there’s no guarantee he’s anything approaching the No. 7 he once was.

Travis for his part robotically blurted out unconvincing platitudes about Reyes and Peyton Manning, and here is is, wearing his third uni number in as many years. They couldn’t even do the right thing and use this unusual situation to re-introduce No. 8 to the uni-sphere.

d’Arnaud by my count is the 28th guy to wear three or more numbers for the Mets:

Player 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th
Jeff McKnight 15 5 7 17 18
Kevin Collins 10 19 16 1
Pedro Feliciano 55 39 25 55
Ed Lynch 59 35 34 36
Darrell Sutherland 47 43 45
Cleon Jones 34 12 21
John Stephenson 49 19 12
Jim Hickman 9 27 6
Mike Jorgensen 10 16 22
Hank Webb 42 30 29
Hubie Brooks 62 39 7
Clint Hurdle 33 13 7
Chuck Carr 7 1 27
Kevin Elster 2 21 15
Charlie O’Brien 33 5 22
Ron Darling 44 12 15
Jason Phillips 26 7 23
David Cone 44 17 16
Jae Seo 38 40 26
Roger Craig 38 36 13
Lee Mazzilli 12 16 13
Mike DiFelice 33 6 9
Marlon Anderson 18 23 9
Ramon Martinez 22 26 6
Robinson Cancel 4 40 29
Anderson Hernandez 1 4 11
Omar Quintanilla 6 3 0
Travis d’Arnaud 15 7 18
  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon

When Eight is Enough

7Who knows how it may affect the club’s sudden momentum but the Mets today are expected to officially add Jose Reyes to the roster, suit him in his customary No. 7 jersey (per Adam Rubin), and lead him off tonight versus the Marlins.

No word yet on a corresponding roster move although it seems likelier to me that infielder Matt Reynolds gets sent down than Alejandro De Aza is released. The latter scenario only happens if there’s a true crush on the 40-man roster, and even then, I think they’d look to trade him. Despite appearances, De Aza’s track record and versatility would indicate he’s not completely without value.

Now, onto the important stuff: With Reyes set to take over 7, it triggers yet another uni change for Travis d’Arnaud, whom I’d have advised to stay put. And while it’s possible we’ll see d’Arnaud move back to 15, especially if Reynolds vacates it, I’m proposing a unique solution to a unique problem:

Take No. 8 out of mothballs.

8The Mets haven’t issued No. 8 since 2002 (coach Matt Galante), a decision that coincided with Gary Carter’s election to baseball’s Hall of Fame. We can presume the club withheld it so as to give itself runway to retirement had Carter gone into the Hall “as a Met” and following that, in deference to his illness and tragic death in 2012. (I want to be clear I feel the first distinction is very silly and unworthy of the weight it seems to carry in the retired number debate).

But with both those events now in the rear-view, I think there’s an argument to reintroduce No. 8 when warranted, and now is that time. You have a promising young catcher basically forced into a switch, and there’s a dearth of dignified numbers out there (just 1, 18, 46 and 49). He drives you crazy with the health issues and the slumps but d’Arnaud deep down is a heck of a hitter, I think, and at any rate wouldn’t embarrass the memory of Carter (or Yogi Berra, also a numerical descendant) any more than the second coming of Jose Reyes might insult the first Reyes era. The Mets in fact gave No. 8 time off between Yogi’s stints as a player (1965-72) and a manager (1975-79), but those periods came to an end too.

I supported the Mets’ good taste and sensitivity while they withheld No. 8 then and now, but the time has come to reintroduce it. Give the Kid No. 8!

*

PS — Quick note to acknowledge the arrival and departure of Seth Lugo and the first No. 67 in club history last week! I missed that traveling last week.

  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon

How to Dress Jose Reyes

7So if the reports are accurate maligned former prodigy Jose Reyes could be rejoining the Mets as soon as today. While I’d naturally prefer my guys not to be coming off disciplinary suspensions, and I would hope his equity not put undue pressure on teammates, I can see where the prospect of a proven speedy contact hitter who can play multiple infield positions at a bargain price could help the team. I would hope also that just like Lenny Randle in 1977, the club is sensible enough to keep Reyes on a short behavioral leash while allowing him to do himself the favor of re-establishing a derailed career. If he can play, it’s all good.

No shortage of speculation as to his uniform number is out there, but I cannot see where it is fair or appropriate for Travis d’Arnaud to put aside a personally selected No. 7 to make room for Reyes, particularly with Reyes’ shady recent legal tangles and especially considering the way he left the club in 2009 (2011, thx, Dave). He was right go, don’t get me wrong, but he took off for Miami as though he were stealing second base.

77Question is what then? Back in 2003, when Reyes was a but a Met puppy, the Mets (idiotically, it turned out) signed the Japanese free agent Kaz Matsui to a contract. Matsui wore 7 in Japan and some bright people suggested then they creatively solve the issue by giving Matsui 77. They didn’t. Things would have been different, I tell you.

46So I can see the Mets going that route, maybe. Perhaps, though, presenting Reyes with 77 (or even 07) is too larded with tender forethought to be appropriate for a guy coming off a wife-beating rap. I am coming around to the idea it would be best if Reyes gets a number that sends the message that the Mets aren’t doing Jose Reyes any favors beyond the opportunity to wear a uniform. Any uniform. Give him No. 46. It’ll all be a weird scene anyway.

1Lots of speculation too about unoccupied single digits of 1 and 9 but I’m coming around to suspect those might be held out of the rotation with a purpose. Shortstop prospect Amed Rosario is racing up the ladder and bringing No. 1 with him: You may have seen he debuted with Class AA Binghamton just this week and like of all people Jose Reyes, could be a big-league shortstop by the age of 21. I’m less certain of No. 9’s future but suspect we could see Brandon Nimmo wearing it before long.

  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon

Young Men With A Future

Congrats to freshly picked Mets Justin Dunn, Anthony Kay and Peter Alonso, the club’s top three selections in the MLB amateur draft. Photographic evidence from their colleges show them wearing 19, 18 and 20, respectively. The draft continues this afternoon.

55Speaking of new arrivals, Kelly Johnson is expected to join the club in Milwaukee today, but it’s still unclear whose spot he takes on the roster. If it’s Ty Kelly, Johnson could retain the No. 55 he wore in his last go-round with the Mets but it may well be Matt Reynolds, in which case either Kelly, or Kelly, will wind up with their second Mets uni assignment.

64Including coaches and all members of the 40-man roster, available jerseys at the moment include 1, 9, 18, 46, 49, 54, 56, 58, 60, 61 and now 64 — since young pitcher Akeel Morris was sacrificed to Atlanta in the Johnson trade. You might recall Morris was catapulted from Single A to the Mets last summer and got bashed by the Blue Jays in his only appearance.

That incident and the subsequent trade granted Morris entry to an exclusive club of Met pitchers whose career club ERAs exceed their uniform number:

Thanks to my friends at the Ultimate Mets Database and Crane Pool for the background on that stat.

Update: Looks like Ty got whacked and lost his uni number.

  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon

Bastardly

59The Mets have called Dan Warthen their pitching coach since the famous Willie Randolph firing in June of 2008, and as such, he predates every man in uniform except for David Wright.

He’s quietly becoming a legend.

Yet his No. 59 could be under siege now that reports are trickling out that the Mets have come to an agreement with lefthanded reliever Antonio Bastardo, a 59 both in Pittsburgh and in Philadelphia. I learned long before Warthen got here not to expect a whole lot from free-agent relievers while also believing the more the merrier. A Mets team with Bastardo is a little more formidable than one without him, so it gets my approval.

I’m rooting for Warthen to stay in 59 but wouldn’t be surprised if he gives it up.

  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon

Glad Tidings from New York

20Neil Walker on Tuesday crashed the Mets’ annual holiday party at Citi Field, showing off what appears to be his new uni number, 20. Walker would be the first second baseman to wear 20 since 2000 Mets legend Kurt Abbott. Uh, yeah. Anthony Recker wore 20 last but as you may have heard the handsome backup catcher signed a deal with the Indians following the season.

Walker by the way said he wore 20 to honor his dad, Tom Walker, who as you can see here wore the same for the Montreal Expos. Neil reached the big leagues with the Pirates only to learn 20 had been retired for Pie Traynor.

13Later on Tuesday, the Mets and erstwhile lefty stopper Jerry Blevins agreed on a new deal for 2016. Blevins you may recall arrived at the eve of the ’15 season and did an all-around super job getting the Bryce Harpers and Freddie Freemans of the league out before fracturing an arm the same day that Travis d’Arnaud went down with an injury. Only Blevins never made it back to the team by suspiciously re-breaking the same arm shortly before his expected return.

If that’s not enough reason by itself to surrendered No. 13 the rule requiring all Venezuelan shortstops wear No. 13 trumped it.

What will Blevins return in? Only a guess but 15 is available now that Bob Geren is going.

43In other news the Mets have invited Buddy Carlyle to go after a third assignment with the team and possibly, a third uni number. He’s been 44 then 43 so far.

 

  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon