Archive for Met Mysteries

Spitters, swappers, sluggers and doubleheaders

Big thanks to longtime reader Pete Mahoney who pointed out the the below audio recording of the May 22, 1966 Mets-Giants game at Candlestick Park (game one of a twinbill, doncha know) that also provides a missing artifact in Mets uniform history.

As relayed by Bob Murphy at the 20-minute mark, lefty Gerry Arrigo makes his Mets debut in this game, having been recently purchased from Cincinnati, and is wearing No. 26. Until now, the nearest proof I’d collected of Arrigo’s number that season — the below scorecard in early July — indicates Arrigo is in 34, and Bob Shaw is wearing 26.

The latter bit of info on Shaw was never in question but it raises the issue of when Arrigo switched out of 26. The answer would appear be, as soon as Shaw arrived.

The Mets acquired Shaw from San Francisco on June 10. Shaw in fact pitched for the Giants in the second game of the doubleheader referenced above. One of the reasons the Mets made the purchase was a broken finger sustained by Arrigo the day before. In fact the Mets made room for Shaw on the roster by placing Arrigo on the disabled list. Did I happen to mention all this happened on the day I was born? Well, it did.

Shaw, an accomplished if well-traveled vet, had worn 26 in two of his previous stops — Kansas City and Milwaukee — so its possible he’d requested the number, but at any rate when Arrigo returned to the club June 25, he took 34.

Shaw by the way wasted little time establishing himself as an effective No. 26, reeling off victories in his first four starts as a Met including three complete games. He also provided some hints as to why he had so many different employers until then: He was a chronic contract holder-outter who didn’t mind making his opinions known. He once slugged his own catcher, Jerry Grote, who’d gotten between the home plate umpire and an irate Shaw after a call hadn’t gone his way. And as represented in the below photos, Shaw had a reputation for putting something “extra” on his pitches from time to time, though only admitted to enjoying the fact that opponents believed that of him:

Click to embiggen

 

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Pitchers, Catchers + Numbers, 2017

Click to embiggen

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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Sixth Sense

Today a friend of MBTN pointed out the following tweet:

Could it be Robert Gsellman dumps his 65… for 6? Well, anything’s possible, and despite this being a training jersey worn in an offseason workout with kids in a minor league park, it was taken last week, and the combo of Name-On-Back and number make it look suggestive of something.

However, a little investigation on my own reveals this wasn’t the first time Gsellman appeared in a No. 6 training jersey, as weird as that may seem. He appears to be wearing the same outfit pictured in this mugshot (date unknown but he looks about 19 and a half), which some outlets trotted out upon Gsellman’s promotion to the Majors for the first time last summer, when he of course was issued 65. So I don’t think this particular change is actually a thing. He probably just had that one hanging around.

That said, I think there’s a good argument for Gsellman to change into some other number before we see him pitch next. Just goofing off here, but it would be interesting if the Mets could right the numerical wrongs of the past seasons an execute a multiplayer uni swap whereby Gsellman and Jacob deGrom switch to 35 and 36, respectively. That would give the club an unprecedented starting rotation in consecutive numbers (Matz 32, Harvey 33, Syndergaard 34, Gsellman 35 and deGrom 36). deGrom and Gsellman are interchangeable in this scenario but I kept deGrom in the even number. That move requires Sean Gilmartin to take on a new number, perhaps the vacant 46 or deGrom’s 48, as the relievers gather in 40s the same way their starting brethren do in the 30s. I’d move Seth Lugo and Gabriel Ynoa to this neighborhood as well, with 40 and 48 also available in this scenario. This also leaves Zack Wheeler alone at 45 but I’m imagining he’s bullpen bound for now.

No. 6 by the way still belongs to coach Pat Roessler, as far as I can tell.

 

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The Big Takeover

More than a month has passed since we remarked on the lack of activity in Metville and still, activity lacks.

They’ve signed three fringe guys to minor league contracts (pitchers Cory Burns, Ben Rowen and Adam Wilk); and invited a bunch of their own minor league guys to camp (Chase Bradford, Xorge Carrillo, P.J. Conlon, Phillip Evans, Luis Guillorme, Kevin McGowan, David Roseboom, Paul Sewald, Dominic Smith, Champ Stuart, Travis Taijeron, Corey Taylor and Logan Taylor). They join the previously announced 40-man additions (Flexen, Molina, Nido, Rosario, Becerra).

Meantime we still have Jay Bruce but continue losing guys from the 2016 fringes: Alejandro De Aza has signed with Oakland; James Loney with Texas; Eric Campbell with Japan; Logan Verrett was sold to Baltimore; Bartolo Colon to Atlanta; Jim Henderson to the Cubs.

Jerry Blevins, Jon Niese, Kelly Johnson, and Fernando Salas remain free agents.

If I counted right that means 21 guys plus new coach Glenn Sherlock are now looking for number assignments. The Mets still haven’t updated their roster so at the moment the following numbers are vacant:

1, 8, 11, 16, 17, 28, 29, 35, 40, 46, 51, 53, 61, 64 and everything higher than 68.

39, 49, 55 and 59 are also available but I’m considering them technically in limbo until the free agents find new homes.

We’ll keep you posted.

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Young Men With A Future

Well at least some worthy candidates are ascending to higher office around here.

The Mets on Friday added five young players to fill empty spots on their 40-man roster, protecting them from poachers at the forthcoming Rule 5 draft and technically, initiating the moment at which they are assigned a big-league uni number.

A quick glance at the Mets roster online indicates that last bit hasn’t happened yet so keep an eye out. In the meantime let’s welcome outfielder Wuilmer Becerra; catcher Tomas Nido; shortstop Amed Rosario; and pitchers Marcos Molina and Chris Flexen to the club.

1If you want to handicap these assignments, it’s a safe bet the Mets will issue Rosario No. 1, matching both his rank of their prospects list and his Binghamton jersey. Helps also that Justin Ruggiano was outrighted recently. The others are down far enough in the minors still to establish much of a numerical identity: Molina was spotted most recently wearing 45 in Arizona Fall League action. St. Lucie teammates Becerra, Nido and Flexen wore 32, 13 and 33, respectively, this past season.

29You can’t protect everyone so some say that pitching prospects Ricky Knapp and Paul Sewald, and outfielder Champ Stewart, are vulnerable to selection in the Rule 5 draft.

In part to make room for these guys the Mets have not only outrighted Ruggiano, but Eric Campbell and Jim Henderson. Campbell reportedly has a deal to play play for Hanshin in the Japan League next season. Sayonara, Soupy.

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Forty Weight

2The Mets have reached reached Labor Day still very much in the playoff hunt even as the composition of the club continues to change, and seemingly, not always for the better. It’s a stretch to suggest it might be a good thing Harvey, deGrom and Matz are unavailable right now but Gsellman, Lugo and Montero appear to be up to the task, and, more importantly, the club’s finally hitting again, which is no small thing. I’ve stopped trying to figure this year out.

Adding to this odd group this week is a small army of returnees from the minors. Matt Reynolds made a spectacular reappearance on Labor Day; expected to arrive today are Montero, Brandon Nimmo, T.J. Rivera, Eric Campbell, John Edgin and Eric Goeddel — the last three guys just for the laughs I think, and all of them, I suspect, back into their previously assigned unis. I don’t even think I knew Rivera was back down again.

72And arriving for the first time, infielder Gavin Cecchini. As the team’s 2012 top draft pick, Cecchini has the pedigree to assume to vacant No. 2 but given the Mets’ practice this year we shouldn’t be surprised if he arrives wearing 72, which he had last during Spring Training.

 

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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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Net Gains

19As you probably know by now the Mets have issued the newly arriving Jay Bruce No. 19 and have allowed Jon Niese to take back the No. 49 he wore in his last go-round with the club.

49Bruce, who is scheduled to start in right field and bat third, will become the 36th guy to wear 19 for the Mets and has an outside shot of overtaking Roger Cedeno as the jersey’s most prolific home run hitter by the end of the year. (Roger had 18 dingers over three seasons as a Met 19).

66Also Tuesday, the Mets placed shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera (13) and outfielder Justin Ruggiano (1) on the disabled list, demoted bullpenner Seth Lugo (67) and recalled utilityman Ty Kelly (56) and reliever Josh Edgin (66). Edgin is making his first reappearance in a Mets jersey since September of 2014.

I don’t normally keep track of this stuff, but it is notable the club is adding a combined 190 in combined uni numbers while subtracting just 90 — a net gain of 100 that has to rank as one of the largest one-day swings in club history.

Here’s to more big swings from the new guys.

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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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Just Our Luck

13Don’t look now but Jerry Blevins may be wearing No. 13 after all.

An article in Sunday’s NY Post says as much, which would conflict with some published rosters (listing the lefty wearing 39) and Blevins own tweets, which suggested Asdrubal Cabrera — a 13 for most his career with the Indians and Rays who signed ahead of the free agent Blevins — had the right to the number before him. In fact, the only time Cabrera hasn’t worn 13 was in 2014: When he was teammates with Blevins in Washington.

This also is another reminder why we shouldn’t put too much stock in what’s said and done in the offseason.

The same paper by the way has a terrific Q&A with Sandy Alderson in which the GM confesses to a taste for the dramatic, in the context of good timing. One of the many things I admire about Alderson is that so often there’s a undercurrent of orchestration to the things the club does. Without putting too fine a point on it, he’s really a storyteller.

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