Archive for Useless Milestones

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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Banda Gypsies

Do you remember when the Mets were terrible and forced Sandy Alderson to weakly step aside without actually firing him and packed it in July, trading guys like Asdrubal Cabrera and Juerys Familia?

I barely can either, but was reminded of it this week when its reverberations played out over this ridiculous road trip. Familia went to Oakland for an infielder called Will Toffey, whom the Mets employed as a minor leaguer for years until flipping him a few weeks back for Anthony Banda, a lefthanded reliever who became a kind-of star in Monday’s crazy win in Cincinnati.

Banda wore 77, becoming the first Met to get that number since David Peterson wore it last year. Also arriving for the first time this week was Geoff Hartlieb (who?) a former Pirate waived away from their org and scooped up by the body-hungry, first-place, beaten-up Mets, given No. 40 (already issued once this year to since-released gascan Jacob Barnes), and thrown out there. (Tuesday not Monday)

And speaking of trade deadlines of the recent past, Steven Nogosek is back again! Nogosek, whom I think has been on and off the 40 about a million times is the only remaining detritus of the Addison Reed Trade. Nogosek first appeared wearing 72 in 2019, then resurfaced a year ago with 85 on his back. Just spitballing here but of guys who have worn two numbers for the Mets, I’d guess Nogosek’s sum of 157 is the highest ever. Also, he’s got a fresh mustache now.

The Mets will likely in be in this waiver claim-DFA-IL cycle all year: Guys strive to get up, then go right back down and/or get waived when they work (Jerad Eickhoff, Nick Tropeano), or get hurt (Corey Oswalt, Robert Stock, Sean Reid-Foley, David Peterson, Jacob deGrom, Joey Lucchesi, Jordan Yamamoto, Thomas Szapucki, Jose Peraza, Francisco Lindor) and cycled out or picked away by the first group. We can’t help but wind up losing some we might do better keeping this way (Billy McKinney, who did a nice job, was just flipped to the Dodgers in his DFA limbo, and we just DFA’ed the speedy and spirited Johneshwy Fargas). About a third of the roster this year is in a state of constant and unstoppable churn.

We also just grabbed a reliever from the Cardinals called Roel Ramirez whose career ERA is 81.00 (1 IP, 1 9 ER). He’s been assigned to Syracuse but we will probably see him this weekend. With Fargas on the way out, it’d be a shame if he didn’t wind up wearing 81.

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A New Low for the Mets

The Mets made history last month and I didn’t even realize it.

Their 4-0 victory over the Phillies April 13 was achieved behind a starting lineup whose summed uniform numbers totaled 64–obliterating the  lowest combo we found the last time we researched this question, which I’m also pretty sure is the only time that question has ever been asked. Granted there are Marcus Stroman wearing No. 7 starts that our data scientists are busy researching. But here’s the new winning combo:

  • 9 Nimmo, CF
  • 12 Lindor, SS
  • 2 Smith, LF
  • 20 Alonso, 1B
  • 6 McNeil, 2B
  • 11 Pillar, RF
  • 1 Villar, 3B
  • 3 Nido, C
  • 0 Stroman, P

That 64 crushes the combined 84 we’d found from July 3, 1962.

But there’s still more. The Stroman start came in the second game of a double-header in which Taijuan Walker started the first game, making for an unbeatable spread between starter digits. It also happened to be only third time in club history the the Mets had Black starting pitchers start both games of a doubleheader, according to research from my friends at the Crane Pool Forum. Al Jackson and Roadblock Jones started a twin-bill on April 29, 1962. And On Aug. 17, 1980, Ray Burris and Roy Lee Jackson did it.

So three all-Black-starter doubleheaders; all of them against the Phillies; the Mets split ’62; were swept in ’80; and swept in ’21.

Sorry to have overlooked this incredible achievement; I have to admit, I only realized this because I was thinking the other way.

With James McCann turning into a double-play machine and magic squirting out of the bat of Patrick Mazeika, I thought “Why not give the rookie a start?” And if we did, why not pair him up with Taijuan Walker? That  starting-battery sum of 175 I’m certain would be a club record. The Nido-Stroman duo is also the lowest-ever, darn near the lowest possible.)

But when trying to construct a mock Met lineup whose combined total would surpass the magic number of 300 I could barely do it (the record for highest-ever lineup, we’ve figured, occurred back in 2016, when it totaled 324). There are simply too many guys with sensible numbers on this team. Plus two outrageous outliers in Walker and Stroman, creating the opportunity to make history every time out there. You could look it up.

*

A seven-game win streak was put to a stop last night as Lindor, Conforto, Alonso, and Smith combined to go 0-for-15 (throw in McNeil, 1-for-19), and the bullpen couldn’t save a tight one.

Not everyone can be as hot as Villar or Pillar. And if you told me we’d get 7 in a row without deGrom…

Albert Almora, who intrepidly smashed face-first into the fence the other night at Citifield (we we over in the left-field corner: the sound was scary), is on the IL and Khalil Lee, the prospect acquired from Kansas City in the three-team deal that facilitated Andrew Benintendi’s move from the Red Sox to the Royals (Franchy Cordero went to Boston, along with Josh Wincowski, a relief pitcher the Mets acquired in the Steven Matz trade–plus an Ex-Met To Be Named Later) is up with the club, wearing No. 26, and has inherited Almora’s role as the least-used guy on the roster. Like Daniel Zamora, who’s been up-and-down a couple of times already, he’s yet to seen any action.

Lee is a lefthanded-hitting speedster who strikes out too much but can go get in center field. Let’s hope he can complement the “Bench Mob” behind this recent hot streak.

 

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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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Opting Out of Reality

I haven’t completely “opted out” this year, but between the weird games, the dumb rules, the danger, the fake crowd noise, the home games away, and so on, there’s a fraudulence embedded into this season that at some level, I’ve been reluctant to want to legitimize.

Take Juan Lagares as one example. As we know, the erstwhile Met, until not long ago the most tenured figure on the club, was issued the humiliating No. 87 and appeared as a pinch runner. His 12? That belongs to Eduardo Nunez, whom I’ve forgotten was/is a Met, just another disabled one for the moment. They tried to right this injustice a day later by issuing Lagares the freed-up 15 most recently belonging to released Brian Dozier and his .133 batting average, only to release Lagares once Andres Gimenez and Michael Wacha and David Peterson and Jake Marisnick returned.

Guys are coming and going every day: third- and fourth-string catchers like Ali Sanchez and Patrick Mazeika, resplendent in Nos. 70 and 76– along with 87, a first-ever issue for an active Met. Walker Lockett up and back. Drew Smith. Corey Oswalt. It’s all a big free-for-all. Joining soon, maybe today, perhaps tomorrow, is the Cuban outfielder Guillermo Heredia, picked up from Pittsburgh. The Mets list his assignment (temporarily, I hope) as 00. Heredia bats right and throws left, a perfect sort of oddball for this whacky year.

Above all, it’s hard to tell what the heck is going on with the team in general. The lineup can hit but can’t score, the bullpen is full of good arms that are unreliable and nobody knows who’s starting. Gsellman and Lugo both are in the rotation. Matz is in the bullpen, or something like it. McNeil’s head is up his ass. Alonso looks horrible except when he doesn’t. Dom Smith is an MVP candidate. Opponents you expect to be formidable, like the Red Sox and Yankees and Nationals, aren’t, and it’s still a monumental struggle. The Marlins outhustle you. You’re just a couple game out of first and would make the playoffs if they began today but have played most of the year like shit.

The new manager loses almost all his video-replay challenges, his coaches are working remotely and on the disabled list, the general manager gets caught ripping the commissioner when he meant to rip the owners; they get back at him by issuing statements misspelling his name while blessedly prepping again to sell the club, probably for a hundreds of millions less than they agreed to a eight months ago.

Let’s Go Mets! Thanks for your support!

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Welcome Back

The 2020 Mets are pretty dreadful so far, giving back both games to an equally awful-looking Boston club this week and demonstrating they’ve solved none of the problems Brodie’s signature trade presented them with, namely, an old and declining second baseman who jams up the middle of the order, and a closer with great stuff, no control and no consistency whose once again devouring the confidence fans and teammates. They also whiff too often, execute poorly, don’t field well and give leads back.

Joining this disappointing group this week were outfielder Ryan Cordell (in for another injured Brodie acquisition, Jake Marisnick) and infielder Brian Dozier, a one-time All-Star with a good chance of being this year’s Joe Panik. Cordell is wearing 18 as he did in spring and summer training. Dozier wears 15.

Congrats to Andres Gimenez, however, who blew past the all-time mark for hits (1) and RBI (0) by a guy wearing No. 60 this week.

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Meet the Mets’ All-Time Top 10 34s

Elbow surgery will cost Noah Syndergaard whatever becomes of this season and quite possibly much of the next, but if he never throws another pitch for the Mets, you can probably already make a rock-solid argument for Thor as the greatest Met ever to wear No. 34.

The big righty needs just four victories to claim the most wins by a Met 34: That title still belongs to Mike Pelfrey and his 50-54 career won-loss record in New York. Fans can dismiss Pelfrey as underperforming their expectations, but when he departed in 2012–ominously enough as a result of early-season Tommy John surgery–Pelfrey had long since vanquished the career marks of most all of his predecessors in the 34 jersey. That’s the way this number has pretty much gone: Set-up men, lightly regarded reserve hitters and as you’ll see below, a few disappointing starters.

Syndergaard in the meantime has racked up a career 47-30 record over five seasons (a team-best .610 winning percentage for guys with more than 10 decisions), and a massive lead in strikeouts with 775 in 716 innings over Pelf’s paltry 506 K’s in 869.1 innings. Both Pelfrey and Syndergaard cut imposing figures on the mound and came armed with good fastballs, but their careers look vastly different.

Best of luck to Syndergaard, who for some reason is getting elective surgery in New York this week. To help him recover, here’s my list of the Top 10 All-Time Met 34s as ranked by my proprietary mix of science and Met-ness:

  1. Syndergaard (2015-present). For what it’s worth, Thor is also 2nd all-time among home runs by guys who wore 34 (6).
  2. Bob Apodaca (1973-1977): An undersized, undrafted righty, Apodaca rode a mean sinkerball and his wits to set-up success for some awful Met clubs. 26 saves and a 2.84 ERA, a post-career stint as a wise Mets’ pitching coach and one of the greatest quotes of all time: After a white-knuckle, opening-day save in his first-ever appearance, Apodaca remarked to the New York Times that shaking Jerry Grote’s hand afterward was the greatest feeling he ever had “except maybe sex.”
  3. Mike Pelfrey (2006-2012) A top draft pick who ultimately shared more in common with the guys at 8 and 9 on this list than the ones above him. I like to re-imagine Pelfrey’s career were he a short reliever. Somehow managed to give up a home run to the first batter ever to appear in an official game at CitiField.
  4. Chico Walker (1992-93) A bargain for the “Worst Team Money Could Buy” Mets, Walker was a versatile role player who mostly on the strength of his 1992 year, grabbed all-time club records for games, at-bats, runs, hits, doubles, triples, home runs, and RBI by guys who wore 34 that still stand today.
  5. Danny Frisella (1968-1972) Righhanded set-up reliever with a terrific forkball had an absolutely dominating season out of the pen in 1971 (8-5, 12 saves, 1.99) and was fairly reliable at other times. Tragically died in dune-buggy accident in 1977 while his career was still going.
  6. Cal Koonce (1967-1970) Yet another heavily-used right-handed set-up reliever, Koonce gets bonus points for his presence if not performance for the 1969 world champs. Was much better in ’68.
  7. Junior Ortiz (1983-84) Have you noticed that reserve catchers who can’t actually hit are invariably described as having a rep for handling pitchers? That’s our Junior, who stopped in on his way to a 13-year career. Wore No. 0 with the Pirates and Twins. Distinctive beard.
  8. Kris Benson (2004-05) Acquired in controversy, discarded in disgrace, and hardly worth all the fuss he caused in between, Benson was an average starting pitcher who fooled everyone into thinking he was a superstar.
  9. Pedro Astacio (2002-03) One of those veteran acquirees who starts off really strong before reminding everyone why he’s a journeyman. Astacio was actually one of the better pitchers in the league in 2002 through August, when he completely lost it.
  10. Blas Minor (1995-96) Occasionally effective right handed setup man, somewhat carelessly traded to Seattle for a minor leaguer after a rough start in ’96.
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More Spring Data

Last week we published the Mets all-time record in Spring games. This week, our special guest data scientist has provided a detailed breakdown of that record including some stuff that the team’s “official” record, as published in its annual media guide, has overlooked.

Kind of interesting, but the Mets have never played the Cactus-Leaguing spring clubs of the Brewers, Rockies, Diamondbacks or Padres. Here’s the data (click to embiggen):

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Mets Spring Training Historical Record

MBTN’s readers are the best readers. One of them, who chooses to remain anonymous, has painstakingly assembled and graciously shared the following staggering bit of overlooked team history, which we will present in two parts. Today, here’s a look at the club’s year-by-year spring training record. Now, few of us put real stock in spring records but it’s not like meaningless and overlooked details have stopped us before.

Excluding ties, the Spring Mets are just a tiny bit better than their regular-season counterparts with a .487 winning percentage to the club’s .481. And hat’s off to the 1988 club, whose performance in Florida set the spring standard. We’ll share more detailed data on spring records soon.

Year W L T PCT. XT-PCT.
1962 12 15 0 .444 .444
1963 15 12 0 .556 .556
1964 10 17 1 .357 .370
1965 11 15 1 .407 .423
1966 14 10 1 .560 .583
1967 13 13 0 .500 .500
1968 9 18 1 .321 .333
1969 14 10 0 .583 .583
1970 13 12 1 .500 .520
1971 15 12 0 .556 .556
1972 15 8 0 .652 .652
1973 11 13 0 .458 .458
1974 11 13 0 .458 .458
1975 8 18 0 .308 .308
1976 4 11 0 .267 .267
1977 11 14 0 .444 .444
1978 10 15 0 .400 .400
1979 10 13 2 .400 .435
1980 5 11 0 .313 .313
1981 13 13 0 .500 .500
1982 10 14 0 .417 .417
1983 11 12 0 .478 .478
1984 13 11 0 .542 .542
1985 13 12 0 .520 .520
1986 13 13 1 .481 .500
1987 12 14 1 .444 .462
1988 19 10 0 .655 .655
1989 12 18 0 .400 .400
1990 8 5 0 .615 .615
1991 15 14 0 .517 .517
1992 15 15 0 .500 .500
1993 15 14 0 .517 .517
1994 21 13 0 .617 .617
1995 17 20 0 .459 .459
1996 16 12 1 .552 .571
1997 11 14 2 .407 .444
1998 19 11 1 .613 .633
1999 15 16 2 .485 .516
2000 14 12 1 .519 .538
2001 18 10 3 .581 .642
2002 12 19 1 .375 .387
2003 16 14 2 .500 .533
2004 13 20 1 .382 .394
2005 17 11 2 .567 .607
2006 16 14 1 .516 .533
2007 12 21 1 .363 .375
2008 20 11 1 .625 .645
2009 18 15 1 .529 .545
2010 14 16 1 .451 .467
2011 17 15 2 .500 .531
2012 9 20 2 .290 .310
2013 15 15 3 .455 .500
2014 14 16 2 .438 .467
2015 19 12 2 .576 .613
2016 8 17 5 .267 .320
2017 15 17 3 .429 .469
2018 10 18 3 .323 .357
2019 13 16 2 .419 .448
TOTAL 769 810 54 .471 .487
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Street Hassle

I probably should have investigated this before the man was dead, but didn’t realize till just now that Andy Hassler is among those Mets who purportedly have worn another number than the one listed here for him.

Game-worn Hassler jersey

Hassler, a lefty whom the Mets acquired at the ’79 June trade deadline from Boston, and who sadly just died at age 68, wore the number 44 jersey pictured here (found this pic on an online auction site, reportedly it’s game-worn). But the shirt I was looking for would bear No. 50, one of two Mets numbers listed as having been worn by Hassler at the Baseball Reference site (bbr appears to use Jack Looney’s NOW BATTING, NUMBER… as a reference. Neither is precise enough to identify the times and dates worn).

Orosco’s debut, opening day 1979 (Bill Buckner batting!)

While anything is possible, I’m fairly confident Hassler didn’t wear No. 50. For one thing that would have made him the very first position player ever to have been issued a number in the 50s for the Mets (as noted here before, it wasn’t until 1980 that the Mets started goofing around like that, even though Jesse Orosco earlier that year broke the 60s cherry). For another it would counter plenty of memories and photos and rosters showing Hassler wearing 44.

Hassler was a Met only through the end of that 1979 year so pickings are slim. If he did wear 50, it would likely have been in his June 19 debut at Houston (occasionally when the Mets were traveling back then a debut player might be issued a number he wouldn’t wear once the club returned home, like Tom Hall wearing No. 42). Would the ’79 Mets be traveling with a spare No. 50 jersey? Perhaps, were they planning to fire a coach but I don’t see an obvious occasion for it.

Do you know something? Please let me know! I know there are several of these mysteries out there still.

As to Hassler, he was acquired on the same day the Mets picked up Dock Ellis in a separate trade, an admission that the pre-season gamble of going with young guys like Orosco over costlier rejects like Nelson Briles that spring had failed. Hassler was just off having hospitalized once-and-future Met Mike Jorgensen with a ball off the noggin. For the Mets he was a swingman with a good curve but poor control and ultimately allowed to leave as a free agent.

 

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