Archive for SHaMs

Brach … And Roll

Here we go guys. The new frontier of the no-trades-past-the-deadline era are free agents dumped onto the market for various reasons, like Donnie Hart, Asdrubal Cabrera and now, Brad Brach. We got two out of those three, and may have a fourth if reports hold true and soon-to-former-Giant Joe Panik arrives.

Brach, the former Oriole All-Star reliever released by the Cubs, will replace Hart in the Mets bullpen. He looks to be a victim of bad luck and less than ideal control but could shore up the corps ahead of this weekend’s crucial showdown with Cabrera and the Nationals. Brach’s a strapping righty out of Springsteen Country (Freehold, Monmouth) who’s worn four numbers in four big-league stops: The 29 he rocked most recently in Chicago is available here, so it’s our guess he gets it.

The Mets aren’t officially Panik-ing quite yet but with Robbie Cano out for weeks, consider Joe’s a local guy too (born in Yonkers, went to St. John’s), plays second base, bats lefthanded and is somewhat of a surer bet than Luis Guillorme (much less Cano) to perform for the rest of the year, if one can overlook the fact that he hasn’t been very good for the last two seasons and grew up a Derek Jeter fan. The 12 he’s worn for all six years of his career with the Giants belongs to Juan Lagares, but lucky for him No. 2 is available since Gavin Cecchini’s disappearance from both the Mets’ 40-man roster and their future, given his .225/.286/.314 line at AA Binghamton this year.

Let’s update all this when word’s official. Till then, LGM or as Pete Alonso might say, LFGM. For Pete’s sake.

 

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Gotta Have Hart

What can you say? The Mets have been fortunate to combine the best pitching they’ve gotten all year with a stretch of the schedule featuring one sloppy, less-fortunate club after another, and like good teams do, the Mets are making hay.

Now before we get too overconfident let’s take care of the Marlins. New arrival Donnie Hart, a lefty reliever waiver-claimed from Milwaukee, made his debut yesterday in 68, a number we most recently saw on Wilmer Font, who’s now pitching in Toronto.

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Deadline Headlines

Don’t look now but the SHaMs have won five in a row and 11 of 16 since the break and if they aren’t too careful they just might get back to .500. From there we can talk about the fringes of the second Wild Card, yet it would appear that so much of that depends on what happens in the coming hours today.

All of which makes it curious that in this silly trade deadline, where out-of-it clubs like the Mets and Reds are absorbing the prize assets, that they traded Jason Vargas to the Phillies for a 26-year-old AA catcher hitting .190. Vargas, whose struggles last season were a major reason the club performed as badly as it did in the first half and who probably isn’t vital to a first- or fifth-place finish for anyone, was at least holding his own this year, despite revealing himself to being a bit of an asshole. It would be a weird kind of self-inflicted wound were the Phillies to use Vargas to hold us off.

Joel Sherman, whose reporting this time of year I think is as good as anyone, wrote a good piece examining the Mets’ curious position. I think he’s right: The club rarely achieves sustained success because that’s not something it ever bothers to envision; rather they are constantly going for it contemporaneously. Occasionally that’s going to result in deadlines like this one where a poor-performing club trades for the best pitcher available and might (probably should) also trade the centerpiece of the previous winter’s spree, “closer” Edwin Diaz. If you stayed up late enough last night you’d have seen why they oughta and, likely how little they’ll get. in return.

But if you think the Mets will learn anything from the whole experience you can forget it.

Go SHaMs!

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Chief Brodie Strikes Again

Oh, those unpredictable Mets.

Season-appropriate Mets jersey I spied at Citifield this past week.

Amid speculation that their disappointing season warranted a dramatic teardown that could include Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler and others, Brodie “Trade Tomorrow for Today” Van Wagenen instead pulled a surprise dealĀ  for one of the other hot names on the starter front, Marcus Stroman of the Blue Jays.

The deal will cost the Mets yet another two prospects–promising starters Anthony Kay and Simeon Woods-Richardson–but in Stroman returns a Long Island native who’s a pretty darn good pitcher himself and is under team control for another couple years.

Presumably, there will be another shoe to drop here: He makes one of Wheeler, Syndergaard or Jason Vargas expendable, and Brodie–or his bosses–don’t appear to care too deeply for the assets acquired by his predecessor. The deal also comes at an interesting moment for the club, which lately looks at least a little bit more like the club that we thought might contend this season, though part of that has to do with some indifferent play from their opponents and whatever it is, it’s almost assuredly too late.

I in fact confess as a fan to have mentally packed it in for them last Wednesday, when their arrogant lack of preparation and propensity for making the same mistakes over and over again doomed them a loss with three Wild Card rivals in reach, but whackier things have happened. What if they only wind up trading Vargas? They’d have a good starter on the mound just about every day.

This Stroman fellow, you may know, is noted for the unusual No. 6 he wears on his Blue Jays duds. This he related, owes to his grandmother’s birthday (March 6) and portends a showdown with current occupant Jeff McNeil. The Mets have never had a single-digited pitcher, though positional players pitching (Desi Relaford in 8 and Todd Zeile in 9, also Jose Reyes in 7) have made appearances.

Will Stroman celebrate granny’s birthday a day later and take the vacant 7? Would he and McNeil make some kind of a side deal? Will 34 and 45 and 44 and 39 and 21 suddenly become available?

This is the Mets. They’ll do anything.

Update: Stroman has indicated, however cryptically, that he would wear No. 7.

 

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Come and Get The SHaMs

Brodie Van Wagenen this afternoon did his best to deflect questions and spin the horrific job he’s done so far as GM of the Mets, who’ve wasted another half-season on overinflated expectations and underperformance on the field. He also spoke highly of the collaborative evaluation process that led to the disaster that is the current season and said he’s looking forward to the process of collaboratively evaluating processes so as to come up with a evaluative process of collaboration moving forward.

And with that, another sad season begins for the SHaMs (Second-Half-Mets).

Sounds like Zack Wheeler, Todd Frazier and Jason Vargas will soon be departing and Mickey Callaway a little later. Wilmer Font has been whacked already and Chris Mazza is back.

Good luck, SHaMs!

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Mets Score Empty Netter

Well anyone with interest knows this already — I was vacationing! — but the promotion of Eric Hanhold from AAA and his appearance the other night wearing No. 70 marked the arrival of the 55th Met of 2018, breaking a 51-year-old record of 54 Mets used in 1967.

That club, by the way, had 55 guys on the active big-league roster but one of them — a young fireballer named Nolan Ryan — didn’t make an appearance.

Do you guys follow hockey? I never really did till recently, I think a midlife crisis of some kind forced me to confront my childhood and I realized I’d been walking around with a dormant NY Islanders gene. Perhaps if the Mets were better, or if I could still pretend I cared about the NFL, I wouldn’t have noticed it.

Anyway, I was struck this morning by an article suggesting the new general manager of the Islanders just went and assigned a bunch of guys new uni numbers without their input — at least four guys, young guys but with some equity like Anthony Beauvillier (72 to 18), Adam Pelech (50 to 3), Scott Mayfield (42 to 24) and Josh Ho-Sang, whose 66 was already attracting attention, now skating in 26. All the numbers, you’ll notice, went down. And there’s no more 91 wearing the C.

While a unilateral change of that magnitude is unlikely to occur in baseball it might be an interesting move for whoever general-manages the Mets next season to execute a similar reordering, just to send a message that the kind of unprecedented revolving-door roster the Mets had in 2018 — and the results that accompanied it — could be a part of the change they seek. To the extent the Mets approach to uni numbers sends a message currently, it’s either “we don’t care that much” and/or “we lack a true identity” and/or “these guys aren’t for real.”

 

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Zamora The Same

Thaks for the image, @DaveMetsDugout

Today the Mets announced another swap of would-be relief candidates, sending the newly arrived Bobby Wahl to the disabled list and promoting lefty Daniel Zamora. Naturally they gave Zamora No. 73.

Zamora comes to the Mets from Class AA Binghamton, where he’s been having a good year. He’s a Stony Brook product we acquired over the offseason for Josh Smoker, and becomes the 4th Mets 73 ever, the first since Robert Carson. All by the way have been lefties: Kenny Rogers, Ricardo Rincon, and Carson. Should Zamora enter a game, he’ll be 54th Met this season, matching the 1967 club record.

That’s all I got.

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25 or 6 to 4

And you thought batting-out-of-order was embarrassing.

In addition to setting any number of dubious marks for margin-of-defeat, and beyond the gruesome repudiation of the decision not to have sent Steven Matz to some other club during the few weeks over a long career he remotely resembled a reliable starter, and ignoring the cold reality that last year’s trade deadline acquiree Jacob Rhame was among those comically unable to stop the bleeding, the Mets made a bit of uni history last night when Jose Reyes pitched the 8th inning.

The putrid effort marked the appearance of the lowest uniform number ever to appear on the mound for the Mets (7) and only the second time a single-digit pitcher threw an inning for the Mets. You have to go back to May 17, 2001, when Desi Relaford chucked a scoreless inning of relief in a 15-3 loss to the Padres.

This friggin team.

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Sellular Service

Asdrubal Cabrera, the rarest kind of Met free agent signing who turned out to be better than anyone bargained for, is off to the Phillies for a minor league pitcher. Oh yeah, and Juerys Familia has been traded to Oakland.

Sell, sell, sell.

For a guy I never really wanted to have on the team in the first place, and was certain would explode any second, Cabrera surprised me as much as any Mets player I can remember in recent times. I wonder if there’s time for Jerry Blevins to take back the No. 13 he surrendered to Cabrera upon his signing a few years back (Blevins as also testing free-agent waters at that time).

This may not matter in the end if any contenders can be convinced Blevins had anything left. That’s a guy they stuck with too long.

Meantime everyone’s all excited that Jeff McNeil is here finally but what the heck, 68? They had lots of time to think about this. Get the man a dignified number already, what is he a bullpen catcher? He’s an infielder! Give him No. 6! Give it up, Roessler! You’re interfering with history, man!

What else? Jason Vargas is back, Corey Oswalt is back down. That’s no bueno, and not really in line with the idea of the future teams that cough up their closer and best hitter in July are supposed to be doing. Austin Jackson was signed as a free agent, they gave him the same No. 16 that belonged to Kevin Kaczmarski earlier this year, and send Mat den Dekker down. It was a crime to see den Dekker in 23.

There have been an awful lot of Mets this year. The addition of Jackson (the 1,063rd Met of all time, doncha know) makes it 51 so far, and the trade deadline (Mesoraco, Blevins, Wheeler?) is still three days away. The team record of 54, set in 1967, is in real danger.

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Bring on the SHaMs

So as I write this, the Mets will end the so-called first half of the year either 14 games under .500 or 16 games deep (and maybe if we get rained out, 15). Any one is a farce and speaks to a truly dreadful year in which we learned that young players don’t always perform well and older guys don’t stay healthy, first-year managers make lots of mistakes, and the destabilizing effect of a meddlesome and accountability-free front office in the throes of crisis, completely unprepared for a succession.

Actually we learned every one of those things before, but thanks for the reminder, Mets.

Now here’s the punchline: I’d been slow to catch up to this week’s comings and goings in part because I was too busy going to Mets games.

Last Sunday’s nice weather tempted us to head out as a family only to see a near no-hitter. My regular Tuesday night game with my brother was nearly a repeat but notable because I did to recognize the day’s starting pitcher when I saw it listed and I’m a guy who makes it his business to be on top of that kind of stuff. Then on Friday it was the annual outing with scattered former work colleagues. That one turned out nice, with a big assist from an exceedingly sloppy Washington club.

So meet Drew Gagnon. He nearly got five innings in, had a little bit of bad luck, but when it was over took an 11.57 ERA back to Las Vegas where he’s got to be wondering whether he’ll ever a shot at big-leaguedom again. Gagnon was issued No. 47, which we last saw on Hansel Robles.

Matt den Dekker is also back in action. I liked seeing this addition as the guy could always go and get in center field, and that’s what he’s been doing. He’s wearing 23 now, and not the 6 he used to in his first go-round, since 6 remains tragically bogarted by hitting coach Pat Roessler, and the No. 16 he was wearing in Spring Training had been relegated to since-demoted outfielder Kevin Kaczmarski. 23 belonged last to Adrian Gonzalez.

The Mets are racing toward a record number of players on the roster in a single year — an active trade deadline could nearly assure it — but thus far have only re-issued numbers three times (23, 47 and 62), believe it or not. That’s in part because of their willingness to just keep going higher. That’s one thing to watch as the SHaMs (Second-HAlf Mets) get underway.

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