Archive for Uni Controversies

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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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
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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Abra-Cabrera

Interesting day out in Nashville, no?

18No sooner had Ben Zobrist left the Mets at the altar they turn around and score with a lookalike in Pittsburgh’s Neil Walker, then go out and buy another infielder, Asdrubal Cabrera.

Interestingly enough, Walker, like Zobrist, is a longtime wearer of the No. 18 jersey so little changes with regard to the prediction that coach Tim Teufel needs to find another number. The Cabrera signing in the meantime would seem to portend an end to Ruben Tejada‘s Mets career — a moment I mentally prepared for at least two years ago — which would free up Teufel’s playing-career No. 11 should he want it.

49Walker as you know cost the Mets their all-time No. 49, Jon Niese, in a deal that also essentially ends the Mets lifetime for their all-time No. 28, Daniel Murphy. I strongly associate the two of them (and Bobby Parnell, also a likely goner) as the best remainders of the Omar Minaya Era, all three adequate major league players jettisoned before they got too expensive.

13In their defense, that also describes Walker and Cabrera, a new middle infield combination likely to outhit their predecessors, and maybe out-field them too. I say “maybe” because I haven’t found much supporting Cabrera’s D even though I can’t recall ever having watched him closely myself, while there’s been rumblings from Pirates fans over Walker’s limited range at second base. If so, the Mets are giving me something less than I’d hoped while patching up the team: that is, give themselves a better chance through better fundamental play at key spots. At least they’ll hit more.

Cabrera you won’t be surprised to learn is a Venezuelan shortstop who favors No. 13: That jersey is technically available while Jerry “I broke my arm twice” Blevins tests the free agent market.

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Coach Creep, and How to Stop It

18Great points turning up in the comments in the below post from my furry alien friend Alf Tanner regarding potential numerical maneuverings in light of the Mets’ pursuit of Ben Zobrist, and the departure of bench coach Bob Geren, who announced last week he was taking a similar role with the Dodgers.

In both instances, it raises the issue of the increasing incidence in Metland of what I’m calling Coach Creep — the occupation of uni numbers that ought to belong to players among non-players.

15Geren, you may recall, wore No. 7 during his first season on Terry Collins’ staff in 2014 – a decision that we learned inadvertently blocked the preferred jersey of young catcher Travis d’Arnaud upon his promotion later that year. d’Arnaud, as we know, was issued 15 instead until arranging a swap with Geren before the 2015 season.

30Only that, as Alf correctly points out, may only have kicked the can. Michael Conforto was wearing 15 at Class AA Binghamton when he was recalled in July only to find the same coach squatting on that number so Conforto took the awkward 30 instead. Conforto, as we know, is no Josh Thole and is on Switch Watch as we approach Spring Training.

6It’s not just Geren, neither. Darrell Ceciliani and Eric Young Jr. were each assigned No. 1 last year — despite being obvious No. 6’s — in part because assistant hitting coach Pat Roessler took that number. Come on, Pat. Leave the single digits for the guys on the field. Why is Dario Alvarez wearing 68 and Germen Gonzalez taking 71? In part, it’s because Ricky Bones and Tom Goodwin occupy 25 and 26, respectively.

And now that the Mets are in pursuit of a noted No. 18 in Ben Zobrist, another coach, Tim Teufel, is blocking the way.

As Alf says, let’s allow the manager to choose his own outfit: Terry Collins for the record selected 10 as a tribute to Jim Leland, doncha know, and get the coaches back where they belong, dutifully occupying the 50s.

 

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This changes things

56So it looks like Matt Reynolds will wear No. 56 and not No. 60, as passed along here last night.

Our evident goof came by way of what I took to be an eyewitness account of the actual stitching of Reynolds’ jersey, as reported last night by MLB.com’s Joe Trezza:

Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 12.30.07 PM

However this official release this afternoon says Reynolds will be wearing No. 56, so insead of joining the exclusive if unattractive fraternity of Jon Rauch and Scott Schoeneweis, Reynolds inherits the tradition of Brian McRae, Scott Rice, Andres Torres, Dyar Miller and a bunch of coaches and brief visitors in No. 56.

Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 12.53.57 PM

I’ll be at Citifield recycling batteries tonight and will get the dope with my own two eyes.

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