Archive for Met Mysteries

Max Power

Hello from the most active offseason since Omar Minaya reeled in Carlos Beltran and Pedro Martinez.

You are no doubt in receipt of reports today that the Mets have reached a massive 3-year deal with free agent pitcher Max Scherzer after making successful bids late last week for veterans Starling Marte, Mark Cahna and Eduardo Escobar. And with trades, relief-pitching, depth deals and a new manager still ahead, that’s a mighty heavy workload for newly arrived GM, Billy Eppler.

Scherzer has worn 31 in Washington and in LA, but with Mike Piazza having taken that out of the Mets’ rotation, we’re tentatively anticipating he’ll take it up a notch the 32. That figure belonged most recently to Aaron Loup, who departed to Anaheim on a free-agent deal following Noah Syndergaard, who made the very same move.

Syndergaard’s departure marks the final end to a durable, multipronged trade chain dating back to Tim Bogar, who debuted with the Mets in 1993, was traded to Houston for Luis Lopez, who went to Milwaukee for Bill Pulsipher, who went to Arizona for Lenny Harris, who went to Milwaukee for Jeromy Burnitz, whose trade to Los Angeles yielded Victor Diaz, who was traded to Texas for catcher Mike Nickeas, who was sent to Toronto in the Syndergaard trade.

Noah departs as the Mets’ all-time leader in winning-percentage and strikeouts among Guys Who Wore 34. He was three wins short of Mike Pelfrey for the victory title.

Marte is a sports-car enthusiast (true story: I met his car-dealer at a convention in Las Vegas) who looks to take over center field duties as Brandon Nimmo slides over to left field and Canha takes over in right. Marte has worn No. 6 with Pittsburgh and Miami and No. 2 with Oakland and Arizona. One or both could be available depending on whether change-ofscenery trade candidates Dom Smith and Jeff McNeil survive Eppler’s dealmaking in the weeks ahead. Cahna has worn 20 with Oakland and will need a new issue. Escobar, a switch-hitting infielder who looks likely to take a role similar to Jonathan Villar last season, has worn 5 most often in his career and so encounters a retired number in New York. Scientists project he could wind up in 7 here.

More to come!!

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Viva Los Scrubeenies

Is it magic? Is it sustainable? Is it just that the Braves are more screwed up than us right now?

I’m not ready to buy into any explanation of how the Mets continue to defy the odds and lead the division with this group, whose underperforming stars have been obscured by overperforming reserves for weeks now. You could be positive and say they simply possess that winning gene but let’s wait till we’re at least 10 games above .500 before we entertain that.

Even guys like Khalil Lee, whose swings reveal inches of space between bat and ball, are managing to contribute with their gloves. Johneswhy Fargas in the meantime is already the club’s top cheerleader and has obliterated every record for guys who wear No. 81.

It would seem likely that Lee, who needs more work on contact, would be the guy to go back down if and when the newly acquired Cameron Maybin arrives. This guy was once a top draft pick (went ahead of Mike Pelfrey that year) and hopefully invested some of that bonus money in luggage: The Mets will be his 10th organization and represent his 13th move among franchises: He’s a three-time Detroit Tiger and two-time Marlin, and also toiled for the Padres, the Braves, the Angels, the Astros, the Mariners, the Yankees and the Cubs.

No. 15 is still available (as is 35, now that Trevor Hildenberger was waivered-up by the Giants) so let’s expect 15.

Kevin Pillar, who said all the right things following his frightening beaning, was replaced on the roster by infielder Wilfredo Tovar who last appeared for the Mets wearing No. 70 in 2014. He’s wearing No. 72 this time around.

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We Got A Shot This Year

Hey all, I’m getting my first vaccine jab today. I’m also getting a shot from the Mets to re-buy 2021 tickets, although we’ll have to see how that all works out.

As I’ve probably mentioned before I buy tickets a la carte rather than by plan. If they offered a Tuesday-Night-Only we might consider it but I like the freedom of choosing not to go some nights. But with season-ticket holders first in line for April’s 20% capacity I’m gonna line up Thursday and try to get our first one in (April 27 vs. the Red Sox).

You know who else looks to have a shot? The 2021 Mets, that’s who. It wasn’t great news to be starting the year with Carlos Carrasco or Seth Lugo, and Dellin Betances isn’t inspiring much confidence but I like our chances this year. Joey Lucchesi  might not reach Steven Matz’s highs but I’m confident he can avoid the lows and his funky delivery is fun to watch. David Peterson (now wearing 23 doncha know) might not be the No. 2 he was thrust into being last year but can hold down the fort at No. 4/5 alright.

I suppose there remains a little drama as to who makes up the back end of the bullpen, where a newly numbered Robert Gsellman is facing a Matz-like make-or-break moment in his stalled career and Jacob Barnes and Mike Montgomery are considered possibilities to make it. Tommy Hunter already left us. I’d left him and Montgomery off the in-progress sprint roster (which is now updated below). You’d figure if Montgomery comes north it’d be in Hunter’s 29 and not the 70 he’s been wearing. Barnes wears 40, which he can keep.

Oh and hey the lineup looks pretty darn good.

We’ll see you on Thursday, and maybe some Tuesdays!

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Pillarious

It’s just as well Brandon Drury hasn’t shown up for camp yet because they don’t have the laundry for him anyway. That’s the story now that the Mets have dressed the newly arrived Kevin Pillar in his customary 11 while the non-roster infield longshot Drury will chose among the few left available in our updated chart below, perhaps 15 as Guillermo Heredia sure enough was whacked and subsequently waiver-wired by the Braves, where he’ll be obligated at have at least one turn at-bat we’ll regret this year.

By now we’ve heard still more from Taijuan Walker whom I have to say is a lot better at social media than Trevor Bauer. Walker has embraced his 99–as his his only predecessor, Turk Wendell–and explained that he’d come up as a 44 but was bumped off it when he was traded to Arizona and teamed with Paul Goldschmidt so took 99; a move to Toronto put 99 into conflict with Hyun Jin Ryu so took 00; and now Mr. Met forces a move back to 99. When we trade him, he’ll go back to 44.

Updated roster! NRIs in italics:

Number Name Notes
0 Marcus Stroman, P
1 Jonathan Villar, INF was Amed Rosario
2 Dom Smith, IB-OF
3 Tomas Nido, C
4 Albert Almora Jr., OF
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 Kevin Pillar, OF
12 Francisco Lindor, SS
13 Luis Guillorme, INF
14 Retired Gil Hodges
15 Caleb Joseph, C
16 Jose Martinez, INF-OF
17 Vacant unassigned (Keith Hernandez)
18 Jose Peraza, INF
19 Luis Rojas, MGR
20 Pete Alonso, 1B
21 Mallex Smith, OF
22 Brian Schneider, CH moved from 23; was Rick Porcello
23 David Peterson, P moved from 77; was Brian Schneider
24 Vacant was Robinson Cano (suspended)
25 Ricky Bones, CH bullpen coach
26 Jerry Blevins, P
27 Jeurys Familia, P
28 JD Davis, INF-OF
29 Tommy Hunter, P released
30 Michael Conforto, OF
31 Retired Mike Piazza
32 Aaron Loup, P was Steven Matz
33 James McCann, C
34 Noah Syndergaard, P
35 Trevor Hildenberger, P
36 Retired Jerry Koosman
37 Retired Casey Stengel
38 Arodys Vizcaino, P was Justin Wilson
39 Edwin Diaz, P
40 Jacob Barnes, P was Wilson Ramos
41 Retired Tom Seaver
42 Retired Jackie Robinson
43 Jerad Eichoff, P
44 Robert Gsellman, P moved from 65; was Rene Rivera
45 Jordan Yamamoto, P was Michael Wacha
46 Stephen Tarpley, P
47 Joey Luchessi, P was Chesen Shreeve
48 Jacob deGrom, P
49 Jeremy Accardo, CH assistant pitching coach
50 Miguel Castro, P
51 Tony Tarasco, CH first base coach, was Paul Sewald
52 Sam McWilliams, P was Yoenis Cespedes
53 Jeremy Hefner, CH pitching coach
54 Chili Davis, CH hitting coach
55 Cory Oswalt, P
56 Tom Slater, CH Assistant hitting coach
57 Dave Racianello, CH Bullpen catcher
58 Dave Jauss, CH Bench coach
59 Carlos Carrasco, P
60 Bruce Maxwell, C was Andres Gimenez
61 Sean Reid-Foley, P
62 Drew Smith, P
63 Thomas Szapucki, P
64 Yennsy Diaz, P
65 Trevor May, P was Robert Gsellman
66 Franklyn Kilome, P
67 Seth Lugo, P
68 Dellin Betances, P
69 Vacant
70 Mike Mongomery, P
71 Oscar De La Cruz, P
72 Wilfredo Tovar, INF
73 Daniel Zamora, P
74 David Rodriguez, C
75 Harol Gonzalez, P
76 Patrick Mazeika, C
77 Khalil Lee, OF was David Peterson
78 Eric Langill, CH Bullpen catcher
79 Ricky Meinhold, CH assistant pitching coach
80 Rafael Fernandez, CH/JT Ginn, P BP pitcher
81 Johneshwy Fargas, OF
82 Jared Robinson, P
83 Tom Windle, P
84 Brandon Drury, INF
85 Stephen Nogosek, P
86 Jake Hager, INF
87 Mark Vientos, INF
88 Ryley Gilliam, P
89 Drew Furgeson, OF
90 Nick Meyer, C
91 Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF
92 Tylor Megill, P
93 Matt Allen, P
94 Ronny Mauricio, INF
95 Francisco Alvarez, C
96 Brett Baty, INF
97 Marcel Renteria, P
98 vacant
99 Taijuan Walker, P
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Superspreader

Hey all thanks for the updates in the below post. As you guys are aware since our last big blast the Mets have reportedly added a new Pillar to accompany their new Villar, scooped up a matching pair of veteran left-right arms in Mike Montgomery and Tommy Hunter, released Brad Brach, traded Ali Sanchez to St. Louis for cash, waived and then resigned Corey Oswalt, saw Tim Tebow’s pretend career end in retirement, and now have a deal in place to land the intriguing Taijuan Walker to a rotation that’s getting pretty deep.

Hard to imagine that training camp won’t also threaten to be a superspreader event as its already spreading uni numbers all over the place and cover is getting awfully hard to find. These numbers are always in flux: The Kevin Pillar and Walker deals still aren’t finalized and their additions to the 40 may accompany some subtractions, but taking it all in — the 69 guys expected in camp, the 14 uniformed but non-playing personnel, the 6 retired numbers (14, 31, 36, 37, 41, 42) and the other unassigned digits in limbo (5, 8, 17, and the newly complicated 24–a limbo number now in double secret limbo) that leaves at the moment only 7, 69, 84, 85, 98 and 99 free, perhaps 00 also.

Taijuan Walker, whose colorful closet includes jerseys bearing numbers 99, 0 and 00 wondered aloud the other day:

I dunno about that, Tai, but let’s assume you’ll be the first Mets’ 99 since Turk Wendell. 00 is a possibility too but there’s Mr. Met to consider. Pillar in the meantime would almost have to take 7, but I have an especially strong suspicion now that his addition is another indication Guillermo Heredia will be pink-slipped– he’s barely hanging on to a roster slot and the 15 jersey now. As pointed out in the comments below it’s possible now the Mets could move Noah Syndergaard to the 60-day Injured List so a another 40 sacrifice may not need to be made right away but Daniel Zamora  should probably be looking over his shoulder which would free up the always attractive No. 73.

Tommy Hunter a durable veteran righty reliever we most saw most recently with the Phillies but whom I think of an Oriole starter, was assigned the No. 29 vacated by the released Brad Brach. Montgomery, is a tall lefty who’s something like the Jesse Orosco of Chicago, having secured the nailbiting final out of the Cubs’ long awaited 2016 World Series victory but more recently toiled in Kansas City.

The Mets are listing Oswalt in the same 55 he momentarily gave up while he cleared waivers, so we’re assuming that’s the deal.

Happy Birthday to Us

Finally, I always forget this but not this year. This Monday 2/22/21, marks the 22nd birthday of Mets by the Numbers! A quick celebration as we count down the Top 10 Mets’ all-time 22s:

10. Dale Murray (1978-79). Workhorse sinkerballer for the darkest Mets era, his results were a match for the clubs’.

9. Charlie O’Brien (1992-93). Backup receiver in another rotten era. Like Murray, results weren’t any better than the team’s. 22 was his third number as a Met and the best of three three.

8. Jose Valentin (2007). His second year as a Met, only one in 22, worse in every way than the first.

7. Dominick Smith (2017-19). Since moved to greater success wearing No. 2.

6. Xavier Nady (2006). A half-season of exemplary slugging contributed to one of the most satisfying starts in club history.

5. Jack Fisher (1964-67). Wasn’t terribly successful Fat Jack worked. 931.2 innings in four years including a club record that might never be broken unless this “opener” idea really takes off: 36 starts in 1965.

4. Kevin McReynolds (1987-91, 1994). Laconic and unpopular but all the things Joe McIlvaine liked about him were true: He had power, he had speed, he had a good arm, he was solid defensively.

3. Ray Knight (1984-86). McReynolods’ popular predecessor who shouldn’t have to buy a drink in New York but people forget the fan animosity toward Knight was nearly McReynoldseque given how rotten he was in 1985

2. Donn Clendenon (1969-71): Key arrival in ’69, never again needed to buy drinks.

1. Al Leiter (1998-2004): Heart and soul of the Valentine era Mets hurlers that birthed this site and who has long belonged in the club’s hall of fame but remarkably isn’t there. A creative and occasionally exasperating thinker whose effort was laudable as it was audible. Needn’t buy drinks when I’m around.

 

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Depth Charge

The big contracts and bold trades get all the attention here in the Hot Stove season but I quite admire when the right little moves are made.

Capturing the speedy, switch-hitting utilityman Jonathan Villar may or may not turn out out to be one of them, but it’s a good act by acting GM Zack Scott. I like when the club can get these young veterans who flame out as regulars at the moment their careers transition because they’re not too old yet to fake it in the event of an injury. It’s probably not the most welcome news for Luis Guillorme (and maybe worse still for Jose Peraza, the reserve shortstop acquired on a minor league deal earlier this offseason) but Villar, the former Astro-Brewer-Oriole-Marlin-Blue Jay, can play 2nd, 3rd, short or the outfield, switch hits, stole as many as 62 bases in a year, and hit as many as 24 home runs as a regular. That’s a pretty good resume.

Villar looks like a single-digit kinda guy to me; I’m slotting him in No. 4. He’s worn 2 most often in his career.

Ranking the Met Jons, Jonathons, and Jonathans

  1. Matlack (Jonathan Trumpbour, 1971-77)
  2. Niese (Jonathon Joseph, 2008-16)
  3. Rauch (Jon Erich, 2012)
  4. Nunnally (Jonathan Keith, 2000)
  5. Switzer (Jon Michael, 2009)
  6. Adkins (Jonathan Scott, 2007)

 

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Off Center

He’s no George Springer. But look out, Guillermo Heredia.

The Mets this morning have signed erstwhile Cubs flychaser Albert Almora Jr., presumably to shore up the defense in center field and provide a right-handed bat reserve bat.

Almora wore No. 5 with the Cubs so will need to shop for a new uni with the Mets. In the meantime all the stuff I speculated on below with respect to adding another Cub or two to the mix seems even more likely.

The signing comes as Juan Lagares, whose brief return to the Mets last season included a stint in the ridiculous No. 87, has found a new home in Anaheim. Also spotted on the developing Mets roster: New lefty reliever Aaron Loup assigned 62, with current issuee Drew Smith numberless.

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Matz All, Folks

After six seasons of occasionally brilliant and frequently frustrating work on the mound and the disabled list the Mets finally cut ties with Steven Matz, sending the Long Island lefty to Toronto for three prospects.

The move addresses what looks to be temporary crowding among would-be starting pitchers for the 2021 club but also presumably frees some roster space and cash should the Mets still wish to add another, like the still-available Trevor Bauer who could be different kind of headache.

Nothing against Steve personally here. It was always a lofty order to expect a lefty wearing 32 to perform with Matlackian precision–Matz falls about halfway to all of Matlack’s team records as a pitcher. But after a while it seemed that his local heritage–and ties to the first Omar Minaya regime that drafted him way back in 2009–provided him more opportunity than another guy with his spotty health and track record might get (like Zack Wheeler), and I suspect I wasn’t the only one scratching my head that this deal wasn’t considered any sooner. Matz was about the worst pitcher in the league last season. At any rate we get back three starting pitcher prospects, none of whom seem to have a lot of upside from what I’ve absorbed, but all presumably capable of one day inheriting the mop-up role that Matz appeared to pitched himself into, and they have minor-league options remaining: So Meet Sean Reid-Foley, Yennsy Diaz and Josh Winckowski, Zack Scott’s first gets as “acting” general manager.

Reid-Foley has made a handful of appearances in Toronto wearing 54; Diaz has worked two-thirds off an MLB inning 2 seasons ago (walking 4, wearing no 59); and Winckowski has yet to appear above A ball.

I’d look for 32 to be assigned to incoming lefty Joey Lucchesi.

Meantime, after swinging and missing on more bullpen help and trading an ill-fitted lefty option in Matz, the Mets scooped up journeyman southpaw Aaron Loup. The 33-year-old Loup has pitched for Toronto, Philadelphia, San Diego and last season, Tampa, fairly effectively in the dying age of lefty specialists. Loup, from what I read a laconic Louisiana Cajun, wore 15 last year, 38 in San Diego, 47 with the Phils and 62 with the Jays. Let’s slot him in at, uh, 16 or 18. Why not?

 

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65witching It Up

While the Mets are busy signing their arbitration-eligible guys and pursuing even more relief pitchers (keep your eyes peeled for that METS GIVE HAND JOB headline in the Post), some of their guys are trying on new uni numbers.

Some of the activity relates to new reliever Trevor May who evidently will retain the same No. 65 he wore in his previous job with the Twins. That means a switch for newly re-signed bullpenner Robert Gsellman, who rosters now list in 44. I’ve railed against offensive-line numbers for major leaguers for some time now but there was something appropriate to the 65 hanging beneath the broad shoulders of Gsellman, as the digits mimic the unique spelling on the name above them: 65ELLMAN, right? It’s a gshame. On the other hand, Gsellman could probably stand to switch his career up in a lot of ways. Gselly inherits 44 from two-time Met (and three-time ex-Met), Rene Rivera who wore 44 briefly last year, and before than in 2016. Rivera also hung around their minors in 2008 but never appeared.

In a downward move that makes more sense, David Peterson has dropped 54 digits from his ridiculous 77 he wore last season and is now listed as 23. We’ll have to check and see what that means for coach Brian Schneider, who wore it last year and appears currently numberless on the roster.

Catching up on additional 40-man roster stuff, the Mets.com roster lists James McCann as expected in No. 33; utilityman Robel Garcia in 00; and the curiously acquired slugger Jose Martinez as 53, while pitching candidates Jacob Barnes, Sam McWilliams and Stephen Tarpley along with catcher Patrick Mazeika, remain unassigned. If these seeming assignments hold, look for pitching coach Jeremy Hefner and Mascot Mr Met to have a new assignments. And Hefner joins Schneider, Jeremy Accardo (59 reassigned to Carlos Carrasco), Dave Jauss, and Tony Tarasco as coaches awaiting new assignments.

Also on the radar: some guys who had assignments last year (Corey Oswalt 55, Drew Smith 62, Ali Sanchez 70) appear unassigned. I do hope this means more deflation.

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Blas From the Past

It’d been bothering me for a few days now that after assembling the below list of Met 34s, I’d come across yet another instance where our humble record here and the posted info as Baseball-reference came into conflict.

This time? It’s Blas Minor, identified as having worn No. 55 for the Mets in 1995.

I’m going dispense with the mystery right here and now and say it: This never happened.

Minor was wearing 34 for the Mets when 1995 camp broke, he wore it for three innings on the mound in Denver for opening day, and coach Frank Howard occupied No. 55 not only for all of that year but for the entirety of Minor’s career as a Met.

The Record newspaper season preview, April 23, 1995. Opening day was April 26.

Well why then? As we’ve noted in the past bbr seems to have imported their uni-data from Jack Looney’s book NOW BATTING NUMBER. That work literally has about 12 pounds of impressive research but it’s not nearly as precise as it could be. Multiple number issues in a season aren’t presented in sequence, for example. In Minor’s case, the 55 reference in the book is noted as (INJ), or injured. This could refer to the period that season that he spent on the disabled list or perhaps in a minor league rehab start, but there’s no record of that either. He never wore 55 in a Mets game.

It’s a Minor error, for sure.

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