Archive for SHaMs

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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Sucking in the Seventies

Well here’s a couple more Mets to update you on. Phillip Evans, who sports a nice tan and can play several infield positions, is up with the club and wearing No. 72; and today comes world that Class AA catching prospect Tomas Nido is up and will wear No. 77.

Trying to make sense of these assignments is never easy, but 72 is simply the number Evans had in Spring Training and the Mets hardly bother to update it any more. That’s why Nido’s assignment is weird: He was No. 70 in Spring Training.

Further in-depth research by my crack team of researchers indicates Nido has a thing for No. 7, having worn it at several stops prior to New York including the World Futures game and at Binghamton this season, and maybe, 70 wasn’t doing it for him. Maybe 07 would have done it. But, he’s 77.

Both Evans and Nido are the second-ever residents of their numbers. Carolos Torres broke in 72 after Yoenis Cespedes’ arrival forced him out of 52. 77 belonged to the one and only DJ Carrasco, who after all this time may still be the worst free agent signing of the Sandy Alderson era.

A promoted minor league coach, Ryan Ellis, is up and wearing No. 60. I debate about including these types in the “official” record: It has always seemed to me that a manager should get 4 coaches: 1st and 3rd base, pitching and hitting, but that’s probably me being a cranky old man.

 

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Expansion Team Expands

The SHaMs 2.0 — that is, the Second-Half Mets now that they’ve traded away all the veterans other teams would accept — are pretty terrible so far but I guess have to adjust our expectations and get through the remainder of the year.

Today we learned that 2 returnees from the fire sale — relievers Jamie Callahan and Jacob Rhame — will be joining the club as September call-ups when the Mets play next in Houston on Saturday.

Callahan, one of three guys received from Boston in the Addison Reed trade, takes the vacant number of the man he was traded for, 43. That’s the first Uni Swap since Joaquin Arias inherited Jeff Frocoeur’s No. 12 way back in 2012 2010 I think.

Rhame, who arrived from the Dodgers in the Curtis Granderson deal, gets No. 35, which most recently was seen on the back of Adam Wilk. A friend by the way pointed out Rhame’s resemblance to Buddy aka “Incrediboy” aka “Syndrome” from THE INCREDIBLES. Incredible, no?

It’s good to see sane pitcher numbers issued again, and this only a week after the normal position-player number 28 was given to newly arrived outfielder Travis Taijeron. I guess some things need to go right again.

 

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Grand Designs

Goodbye and good luck to Curtis Granderson, whose 3.75 seasons of exemplary work with the Mets was rewarded with a paid vacation to Hollywood and the Dodgers (where he’s wearing No. 6, doncha know). No one could have been sure what was in store when Granderson, coming off a lengthy injury and getting up in years for a one-time speedster, inked a deal with then then-retooling Mets but other than a habit of very slow starts — this year’s, pretty costly — he gave us way more than we bargained for, being a cleanup guy OR a leadoff guy, drawing all those walks, hitting those postseason homers, shooting pics of Lucas Duda, just being an all-around good guy who was right: Real New Yorkers ARE Mets fans.

He leaves having just surpassed Bud Harrelson for the all-time RBI lead among guys who wore No. 3; he tied, then beat the home-run mark then held by Carl Everett on June 7, 2015.

Rene Rivera in the meantime has waivered over to the Cubs where he too has a good postseason shot but will need to do it in another number: His customary 44 belongs to Mike Rizzo. (this just in: Rivera is wearing No. 7).

Alert MBTN reader Richard in the meantime pointed out Rivera’s departure frees up 44 for erstwhile Mets closer AJ Ramos, should he want to switch.

Of 2017’s departing Mets, only Lucas Duda has maintained his numerical identity, still rocking 21 in Tampa. Jay Bruce is back to wearing 32 in Cleveland (and killing it). Neil Walker is wearing 15 in Milwaukee

 

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New World Order

Hey guys, I’m back from a lengthy vacation where among other things I was there to witness Amed Rosario’s doomed first game as a Met at Coors Field but missed a ton of other stuff so here’s the happy(?) recap of a busy few weeks.

Chris Flexen is wearing 64 and is in the starting rotation. Flexen was recalled in late July from Class AA where he’d been pitching quite well. Flexy is the fourth guy to wear 64 for the Mets. In keeping with current tradition he was simply reissued the same number he wore in Spring Training. I used to think that if guys proved themselves in this role they might get more dignified numbers down the road, but Seth Lugo says no.

Flexen the other day was opposed by Texas’ AJ Griffin, promoting a question I never thought would be asked:

I don’t know the answer offhand!

Lucas Duda, Addison Reed, Jay Bruce and Neil Walker have been traded away. I liked Duda quite a lot and would say that if his newly recalled replacement could accomplish all he has (let’s say, lead his number in all-time home runs) we’ll be fortunate. As for Reed and Bruce, easy come easy go.

On the other hand, daring Neil Walker to take a $17 million qualifying offer to remain a Met in 2017 ought to go down as one of Sandy Alderson’s bigger goofs as it was clear even last year Walker was no $17 million player, there were already plenty of potential second basemen in the organization, and I suspect that paycheck became a obstacle to having done more with the 2017 roster. As it is we’ve got to pay Milwaukee to take him. That said Walker was a pro, whose terrific start in 2016 was you know, something. Like Bruce’s 2017. It was announced just after I published that the Mets have recalled Las Vegas reliever Kevin McGowan to take Walker’s roster spot: He’ll wear No. 61.

In the midst of all this getting-rid-ofs, Alderson also did an clever thing in acquiring closer AJ Ramos of Florida. I have no idea whether Ramos is actually good but his acquisition helped the Mets move Reed without completely destroying themselves, gave themselves another affordable option for next year, and may have made Reed relatively more valuable by reducing the Proven Closer inventory. Ramos was a 44 in Florida but is wearing 40 as a Met. Braden Looper notched 57 saves wearing that number.

Who knows if any of the dudes we received in exchange for these surrendered pieces amount to anything but they seem to consist nearly entirely of hard-throwing bullpen wannabees. This reminds me of the 2003 selloff when Jeromy Burnitz, Armando Benitez, Roberto Alomar, Rey Sanchez, Graeme Lloyd and probably others I can no longer remember were sent packing, mostly for relief pitchers, none of whom ever really worked out.

And like 2003, we did so anticipating a brighter future on the strength of recent (and anticipated) callups. As mentioned Amed Rosario debuted in Denver, and this weekend first baseman Dominic Smith arrived, in 1 and 22, respectively, the numbers they had in Las Vegas. Whether these guys turn out to be the new Reyes-and-Wright remains to be seen but welcome aboard. Rosario is the 31st different player to don No. 1, which has basically been held under reserve for him for a few years even if Justin Ruggiano was seen wearing it last. Smith has two World Series MVPs as his precessors in 22; and the home-run king is Kevin McReynolds with 122.

Smith’s promotion coincided with coach Tom Goodwin’s switch to No. 88: He’s the first Met to have ever won that. Oh, and it resulted in the long-deserved designation of Fernando Salas who always seemed to be a dead-cat bounce and might not have been counted on so heavily had we not fattened up on Neil Walker salary.

Thanks again to the commenters here and on Twitter who kept the conversation going in my absence! LGM

 

 

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Surrender (but Don’t Give Yourself Away)

Chris Flexen, the Class AA starter called up to make tonight’s start in San Diego in place of the injured Zack Wheeler, will be the first Met to wear 64 since Akeel Morris in 2015, another minor leaguer who made a big jump to the big leagues.

Let’s hope this promotion turns out better for Flexen than it did for Morris, who was bombed for 5 earned runs in 2/3rds of an inning, sent back to Class A afterwards, and eventually got traded to Atlanta in one or another of the Kelly Johnson deals.

Flexen you might recall was also considered to have been one of the guys who was on the way out in the Jay Bruce deal last summer but was rejected by the Reds due to physical concerns so perhaps he fits right in as a Met.

At any rate, he’s the first minor leaguer called up this week but likely not the last as time ticks down for the Mets to rid themselves of anything of short-term value, namely closer Addison Reed and perhaps, Asdrubal Cabrera, Neil Walker, Rene Rivera, Curtis Granderson and Lucas Duda, all of whom have come up in rumors. Of those names it will be bittersweet to part with the last few. I’ve always liked Big Duda, who I’m sure is ultimately destined to mash a million home runs as a DH for some AL West team, and Granderson is a terrific pro who’d probably be a nice emotional investment for a playoff-bound club.

But, they aren’t going anywhere with the 2017 Mets who have been betrayed by the health and consistency of their starting pitching, particularly Steven Matz who has probably been the most frustrating guy to root for, either throwing a gem, getting bombed or getting hurt — nothing in between for this guy. I also think it’s been proven their qualifying-offer gambit with Walker was a disaster: This was a useful guy, for sure, but hardly vital given the fact there were 5 other guys who can second base and aren’t spending a second straight year on the disabled list, and aren’t making $17 million. In the end that cash would have been better used for some more relief pitching. The lesson: Don’t go into a year with guys you’d prefer not to have.

I think it’s also likely that after months of waiting we’ll see AAA prospects Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith shortly, the latter particularly if Duda goes. Rosario we’ve established wears No. 1 and that appears to have been reserved for him. Smith is rocking No. 22 in Las Vegas and could take it over upon a recall if coach Tom Goodwin will part with it, with one of or the other of them inheriting Duda’s surrendered No. 21, Walker’s given-up 20 or even Cabrera’s 13.

 

 

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