We got one right for a change. Pitcher Marcus Stroman revealed in a tweet that he would wear the rarely-issued No. 0 jersey in 2020, switching from the 7 he’d originally selected but preferred not to wear because he felt it would interfere with memory of Jose Reyes.
We covered the dubious reasoning below and even correctly predicted his new landing spot but wish Marcus the best of luck in his new jersey and hope that in addition to becoming the 1st, 2nd and now 3rd Met pitcher ever to wear a single-digit uni number he makes other team history as well. Among Zeros, he joins Terry McDaniel (1991), Rey Ordonez (1996-97) and most recently, Omar Quintanilla (2014).
In other matters for someone not entirely comfortable with the selection of a new manager, the news that Carlos Beltran reportedly played a role in the creation of Houston’s cheat scheme is a mixed message at best. If they knew it must have been a factor in the decision to hire him. If they didn’t, it’s a black eye for Carlos before making a spring training lineup. Same old Mets?
We’ll see what Chief Brodie does in his second visit to the Hot Stove in the weeks ahead but between us I’d be pleased were we to retain Zack Wheeler then figure out what to do next. It’s been signaled that the Mets are shopping for a real center fielder, which to me seems like a pretty good idea, while upgrading the defense behind the plate would also help.
The Mets appear to be narrowing the list of managerial candidates to succeed Mickey Callaway, with second interviews reportedly granted to Joe Girardi, Carlos Beltran, Eduardo Perez, Luis Rojas and Tim Bogar.
While the buzz until very recently would have Girardi as the favorite, reports indicate he may even have stronger internal support in Philadelphia, where the ex-Yankee and Marlin skipper has also interviewed.
Count me among those suspicious of Beltran, whom I liked enough as a player but whose history with the club for all its success wasn’t terrific, particularly in the realm of communication, and despite how seemingly easy it’s been for reporters to find folks to say all the right things about him. The other argument I’ve heard for Beltran is this idea that he’s the only man alive who could possibly get Yoenis Cespedes to contribute. I simply don’t believe that on its face.
Speaking of fanciful notions there are perspective-challenged fans out there threatening mutiny if Girardi doesn’t come aboard; I’m sure the fact he’s been hired twice and interviewed by two clubs this time around speaks for his general acceptability for the role but it’s never as though there’s only one possibility. If the Phillies want him so bad, make him rich.
I don’t have much of an opinion of Eduardo Perez as a guy or a broadcaster, and all I can say about Luis Rojas is that the organization thinks highly of him, given how frequently he’s appeared in the dugout wearing weird numbers over the years.
And that brings us to Tim Bogar.
Tim Bogar? Why not?
He’ll be coming to the organization with the pixie dust of the Houston Washington juggernaut. His “experience” managing a big-league club is limited to 22 games– he was interim skipper for the 2014 Rangers following the firing of Ron Washington in 2014 and Texas went 14-8 under him (.636 winning percentage-a 103-win pace!!), but he’s a three-time minor league manager of the year and is well-thought of enough to have been in the employ as coach of good big-league teams like the Astros and Red Sox. Bogar also has front-office experience, serving his ex-Met teammate Jerry DiPoto when DiPoto GM’ed the Angels.
Though DiPoto’s reign in Anaheim ended amid friction with manager Mike Scioscia, DiPoto reappeared in Seattle and sent for Bogar who was named bench coach to Scott Servias. So one could argue Bogar has experience helping Robinson Cano have a productive year.
Finally, Bogar for all his seeming lack of sex appeal, is a Met–drafted by the club in 1987, and eventually making it to New York as a righthanded hitting, noodle-bat utility player/”emergency catcher” who lasted the entire Dallas Green era and the beginnings of the Bobby Valentine one, before being traded during spring training in 1997. (Interesting to note that as a coach in Boston, Bogar was said to have not gotten along with Valentine there either). Bogar you may remember wore No. 23 as a Met but surrendered that jersey in 1996 when the club acquired Bernard Gilkey and wore 11 that year.
But even Bogar’s trade–to Houston for Luis Lopez–paid ongoing dividends for the club as that deal was the seed in a still-flourishing trade tree that yielded Noah Syndergaard. Let’s follow it:
In 1997 Bogar was traded to Houston for Luis Lopez, who was traded in 2000 to Milwaukee for Bill Pulsipher, who was traded to Arizona later that year for Lenny Harris, who was swapped in 2001 to Milwaukee for Jeromy Burnitz, whose 2003 trade to Los Angeles yielded Victor Diaz, who in 2006 was traded for catcher Mike Nickeas. Nickeas remarkably lasted long enough in the organization to make the Mets in 2010 and was included in the earthshattering R.A. Dickey trade to Toronto in 2012, a deal yielding Travis d’Arnaud (whose branch died upon his release this year) and Noah Syndergaard.
Tim Bogar for manager!
Title inspiration by the magnificent skinny-tie new waving power poppers Any Trouble (1980):
Grew up watching the passion and energy of @lamelaza_7 at Shea Stadium. Also, loved playing with him. With that being said, I don’t feel right wearing his number because of the incredible career he had in a @Mets uniform. Excited to switch numbers and compete in Queens next year!
Obviously we all want Stroman to wear what he’s most comfortable wearing but in the bigger picture I’m wondering whether this notion of respect has gone completely overboard. It has always seemed to me that you could argue just as persuasively that wearing the same number your idol did on the same field would be the ultimate way to pay respect, and that pointedly avoiding a number for that reason in particular, while admirable, is an awfully passive statement in practice.
I’m also left to wonder what this will mean to the newly respect-sensitive Mets and their plans to take an untold batch of jerseys out of circulation in coming years. This began only recently with the deserving but curious announcement they would hang up 36 next year. Who knows if the Mets stay on task with this, but you figure such an approach would have to include Ed Kranepool at some point, a different No. 7.
Until then though, you wonder if the club will now have the stones to issue anybody No. 7 as long as Stroman is on board. Did he inadvertently just mothball No. 7 teamwide? Let’s wait and see.
Let’s also wait and see what Stroman finally settles on. Will he continue to buck tradition and take a single digit? If so there’s but two choices and a similarly wobbly third: Zero is available now; 2 belongs to the free-agent-to-be-but-I’d-sure-love-to-be-back infielder Joe Panik; and then there’s 8, which has gone unissued now for 17 years (!!) as the Mets seemingly make up their minds on Gary Carter’s legacy (If you’re listening Mets, don’t do it. Name the St. Lucie minor league team the Kids instead. Give out a Gary Carter Award every year for the team’s best citizen. Don’t take out numbers for guys with 2 good years on the club and more concrete legacies elsewhere).
Stroman’s Toronto No. 6 belongs now to Jeff McNeil and Stroman said he wouldn’t ask for that. I’ll bet you a beer he’s the next 0.
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.
So our old friend Carlos Gomez is in camp wearing No. 85, which happened to be the lowest number available, although roster cuts and reassignments should free up additional space as opening day nears. Already there’s been 13 reassignments and yesterday news came that TJ Rivera had been cut and also released.
This is not a big surprise as Rivera was a one-tool longshot before he missed a year with an injury, but his release frees up No. 19 if anyone wants it. I assume it won’t be long before Dilson Hererra is reassigned and coughs up No. 16; then there’s Gregor Blanco (7) and Rajai Davis (11) who suddenly look more vulnerable now that Gomez is back. In case you’ve forgotten Gomez wore No. 27 in his first appearances as a Met back in 2007. His return suggests to me that Omar Minaya is possibly making the personnel decisions again and just relying on Brodie Van Wagenen to say the right things to the press about them. That’s not a good feeling.
Among pitchers, keep an eye on No. 26, where nonroster invitee Arquimedes Caminero has a 16.20 ERA so far (in a really small sample) but appears to need to beat out one or more better-performing counterparts like Hector Santiago (46), Luis Avilan (43) and Rule 5er Kyle Dowdy (33) who’s going to get every chance despite a Camineroesque ERA so far this spring.
Justin Wilson, reportedly on his way to the Mets on a two-year contract, will become the sixth player with the surname Wilson and the ninth overall Wilson in club history, when you include first-name Wilsons (Valdez, Delgado and now Ramos).
The well-traveled lefty reliever, most recently a member of the Cubs, looks like the guy we’ll be turning to when we need to retire Freddy Freeman (and sure, Bryce Harper) and has worn a variety of numbers in his career including the retired 41 and 37, so they’ll likely slot him into some available digit, I’m guessing the 38 or 39 last belonging previous veteran relief washouts Anthony Swarzak and Jerry Blevins, respectively. (An alert reader has pointed out 39 has already gone to Edwin Diaz, so we’re going with 38).
And what about the name? Looks like Met uni-stitchers have applied the WILSON nametag as often as all but four other surnames. Here’s a rundown of the families (excluding first-names, coaches and managers). I last updated this list in the most recent edition of the book and am horrified to learn just now, I appear to have shortchanged the Martinez family by leaving off Teddy; the Smith Boys, along with the Wilsons, have climbed the charts since. (*-yet to appear)
No. of Players
Barry, Bobby J., Bobby M., Chris, Cleon, Randy, Ross, Sherman.
Ben, Bob L., Bob W., Howard, Kelly, Lance, Mark, Rob
Let the debate begin. The Mets surprised the market by adding the veteran infielder on a two-year contract. In addition to figuring out where he’ll fit on an infield with Amed Rosario, Todd Frazier, Robinson Cano, Jeff McNeil, JD Davis, Peter Alonso, Dominic Smith, Luis Guillorme, Gavin Cecchini and TJ Rivera, they need to give him a jersey.
Lowrie’s been around the league a little, most often wearing No. 8, but also appearing in No. 12 and 4. The Mets quietly removed 8 from the rotation in 2003, when Gary Carter was elected to the Hall of Fame. Though it’s never been officially expressed this way, I think the idea at that time was to hold out and see whether the Kid would “go into the Hall” as a Met. When he (rightly) was enshrined as an Expo, his health issues made the prospect of reissuing 8 distasteful and so in mothballs it has remained ever since.
I think it’s more likely we see another Met 8 than see the club retire the number, and if it’s what Lowrie wants I suppose I have no problem with it. As I’ve expressed here before, I’d prefer it were the Mets to judiciously reissue, give No. 8 to the next good young catcher, but simply to uphold a limbo ban seems like a dumb idea so if Jed wouldn’t prefer to retake No. 4, I say let him have it.
I mentioned JD Davis above but haven’t got to his signing yet here. He’s a right-handed hitting corner infielder who tore it up as an Astros prospect and seems as though he could at the least challenge TJ Rivera to a roster spot, or perhaps replace Todd Frazier. Or maybe even pitch mop-up relief as he’s said to have a big-league arm.
At any rate, it’s a curious deal given the Mets coughed up three decent but young prospects for Davis. Is Brodie Van Wagenen addressing the criticism the Mets’ system is too “bottom heavy” by rebalancing the system with “ready” prspects? Maybe. Is he ridding the system of the Alderson Regime’s prize project? Perhaps. Is he really going to do something different here and reel in Bryce Harper? Probably not.
Davis wore 28 in a brief run in Houston but 26 is his twitter handle and minor-league assignment. That number became available when the Mets dumped Kevin Plawecki on the Indians in exchange for a fringe starting pitcher prospect, Walker Lockett, and a minor league infielder called Sam Haggerty. Lockett never pitched in Cleveland but instead passed through on paper from San Diego, which traded him with the idea they were to lose him in the Rule 5 draft anyhow. Lockett appeared in four games with the Padres last summer wearing No. 62: He’s the Mets’ problem now.
So long to Plawecki a 1st round Alderson draft choice who like his mate Travis D’Arnaud, simply seemed too nice to make it as a real starting catcher in the league; a forced promotion due to injuries probably got his career off to the wrong start anyway, so good luck on the reset in Cleveland.
And bye-bye, David Wright! The Mets gussied it up with a fake promotion to a fake front office job they but released him just the same.
Word came in this evening the Mets have come to an agreement with chubby veteran free-agent catcher Wilson Ramos, a longtime Met nemesis who if he can 1) pass the physical and, 2) stay on the field, and, 3) slow the aging process typical for fat catchers in their 30s, just might improve the Mets’ stagnant backstop situation.
It’s only a two-year deal so what’s not to like, especially if it cools Brodie’s jets of entertaining three-way swaps with the Yankees involving Nimmo, Rosario, Conforto or Syndergaard, so it has a mild stamp of approval from us for now.
What number will he wear? Ramos is a longtime No. 40 and old enough to dictate it, so I can see Jason Vargas changing his shirt. Vargas in fact has already changed once; you might recall before being thrown in in the idiotic JJ Putz deal of 2008-09, Vargas spent a brief period with the Mets wearing 43. That figure was worn last season by ineffective reliever Jamie Callahan, whose season ended with shoulder surgery. He refused to be outrighted to the new Syracuse club and so became a free agent. This is a long way of saying 43 would be available should Vargas want to switch back.
And in the event the Mets actually care what Vargas wants, Ramos could wear No. 4, sadly surrendered by the nontendered Wilmer Flores. Let’s hope Wilmer returns as a coach or something someday. I get that his time was likely up given injuries and a little less production than would behoove an arbitration-eligible ballplayer, but as far as I’m concerned, he doesn’t have to buy a drink among Mets fans for the rest of his life, and that’s something.
I didn’t update you all on this but of course 27 will available for Juerys Familia next season. I’m no fan of blowing cash on relief pitchers, but if you’re going to you may as well get a guy whose stuff you know and mostly trust and whom the fans admire. Familia ought to make a good team with Edwin Diaz especially if they’re utilized effectively, but count on the Mets to justify the strenuous Cano trade by carefully designating Diaz as the “9th inning guy.” Not said, if Diaz happens to screw the pooch or tear his UCL as acquired relievers with 100-mph heat have from time to time, it’s good to have a backup.
Speaking of reunions the Mets signed Dilson Herrera to a minor league deal. Perhaps if it all goes wrong this year they can trade him to Seattle for Jay Bruce.
Let’s get this part out of the way first and say if Robinson Cano wants his old No. 24 back he can go talk to Willie, and if he wants 22 he can talk to Dom Smith. As to Edwin Diaz, the best closer nobody ever heard of wears 39 in Seattle; the same digits belonging last to the presumably departing free agent Jerry Blevins.
Now let’s get to the part where I explain why even though this trade could presumably help the Mets get better a lot faster, how I don’t much like it in a matter of taste. As a fan, I don’t want to cheer for a 36-year-old former Yankee steroid cheat, especially one presumably taking over the position of one of the only guys on the club I was excited to see playing every day next year in Jeff McNeil. Yeah I know there’s still much detail to work out, there’s always a role for a good bat, guys get hurt, Frazier could still be traded, and so on, but I don’t have to like it that McNeil looks like the first victim here.
As for Edwin Diaz, well, he’s a relief pitcher, relief pitchers are unpredictable and erratic by nature, and I strongly believe the way to get them is to make them (Jeurys Familia) and not not buy them, even if and when they are cheap and controllable. When they’re cheap and controllable is when you trade them. Even a washed-up bullpenner like Jerry DiPoto (a former Met 45, doncha know) knows that!
So those are the new guys, we cough up capable-but-expendable Jay Bruce, who was a kind of bad-penny Met whom they never really wanted but kept going out and getting; the alleged best return of the Addison Reed trade booty in Gerson Bautista (watch him blossom into Seattle’s next closer); last year’s top draft pick, Jerred Kelenic, who if nothing else seemed like a hitter, and Anothy Swarzak, aka Exhibit A in the don’t-go-get-relievers-based-on-one-season-of-goodness department. Swarzak will presumably bounce in Seattle back too, then go at the summer deadline, probably to a win-now dreamer, like the Mets. And if he doesn’t rebound, then he’ll be out of a job.
Maybe the principals mentioned above will change, but if you needed evidence the Mets were back in control of Omar “Big Splash” Minaya there you have it. Move heaven and earth for 60 innings of relief and a veteran with “talent.” Yuck.
The question is, what’s next? Well if they’re truly serious about contending let’s see them really strap one on, go sign Bryce Harper, keep Syndergaard, sign Nathan Eovaldi and trade Steven Matz for that catcher instead. What are you, scared? If this didn’t do it, what will?
From where I sit, hiring the least experienced candidate they possibly could and putting Omar Minaya a heartbeat away is a mixed message at best for our Mets. We know Omar for all his scouting smarts is an analytical illiterate and closely aligned with Fred Wilpon, typically the root of all dysfunction that accompanies the club including this last coup. Meanwhile it looks as though the ties to the maligned Alderson Administration are to be cut completely, with John Ricco and JP Ricciardi evidently afterthoughts.
Ready for action
As for Brodie, who the hell knows. Putting aside the awkwardness of now lording over talent he once represented in opposition to the brass and the accompanying conflicts-of-interest that entails, it’s hard to guess how he’ll actually address the club’s weaknesses. Though this smells a lot like the first Omar Takeover, where the club will let go of their typically tight grip on salaries so as to make a show of their new willingness to compete, probably by doing something moronic like signing the most expensive relief pitcher out there, or maybe by tearing apart the farm system built by predecessors in a daring trade.
So I’m predicting a newsy offseason likely to result in a few inarguable “on-paper” improvements but I’m going to wait and see whether they actually represent the mix of creativity, boldness and strategic forethought that actual successful organizations employ. It’s not going to be easy even for a smart group.
Were it up me, I’d see what it would take to make Manny Machado the third baseman, which would come with the bonus of forcing Todd Frazier to another club. The Mets may also have a decision to make on the order of Duda-Davis, choosing between the promising but thus-far inconsistent Dom Smith and the promising but older and less-sound defensive player Peter Alonso, which is not as easy as it might look, as both guys could tank. First basemen need to hit.
My secret weapon? See what it takes to get one more really good starting pitcher in the style of the 90s Braves adding Greg Maddux to the Glavine-Smoltz-Avery core. If it turns Steven Matz into trade bait, or the lefthanded reliever we apparently need, so much the better.
You can count on the Mets making a show of acquiring relief pitchers anyhow, as dubious a strategy as I suspect it is (the way to prevent losing close games is to score more runs, and not necessarily count on the other team to fail at the same), but were they to acquire Brooklyn’s own Adam Ottavino to bolster what they’ve got I won’t mind, and if you’re going to select a “proven closer” it may as well be Jeurys Familia.
Roster moves thus far are marking the end of the line for Phillip Evans (28); Rafael Montero (50); Jack Reinheimer (72); and Jamie Callahan (43). Major league free agents are Jerry Blevins (39); AJ Ramos (44); Jose Lobaton (59); Devin Mesoraco (29); Jose Reyes (7) and Austin Jackson (16). I could see Jackson back as a reserve outfielder if nothing else, and I figure they might consider Mesoraco and Ramos.
Props to Mark Healey for the headline/nickname which I’m totally adopting.