Archive for This Friggin Team

Seek Your Level

So last year, the Mets were never once were any better than 11 games over .500, a point they reached just once, following a sweep of the Cubs in June. Their failure to exit that range-bound 6 or 7 over .500 while the rest of the division was worse during the season’s first months was the story of the year, until that club revealed all kind of other problems (injuries, underperformance, lapsed priorities and so on) when they ultimately revealed their level was not actually 6 or 7 games over but 6 or 7 games under.

So it’s with a small amount of trauma that I’ll note this team has so far twice had the opportunity to exceed last year’s high-water mark and twice failed to get there, and doing so with games that weren’t so fun to watch. We shouldn’t be losing to Paul Sewald, as nice a guy as he was (he once acknowledged me yelling “Sewald!” through the bullpen fence at the Cyclones park). If this is really to be as good a year as it looks like it can be, we can’t hover while the rest of the division struggles. Now’s not the time to hover–get to 20 over, a point at which hovering will likely get you to the playoffs.

Catching up again on the comings and goings, we saw Stephen Nogosek and his ridiculous 85 jersey come ago go, and recently welcomed back Jake Reed, who’s still wearing 72. James McCann’s broken hamate–a bad injury for a catcher who already can’t hit, I’d reckon–is out for several weeks and Patrick Mazeika is back. That’s notable only because Mazieka, unlike Nogosek or Reed, got reassigned a normal number and what was 76 last year is now 4.

 

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What Outfield?

It’s a shame Sandy used that joke already because anything to diffuse the one on the field every night would be welcome. Lots of bad news on the injury front–besides the return of Jacob deGrom this evening which I’ll be watching live (or dead) in Citifield tonight.

Quickly catching up on Team Scrubeenie, there’s Yennsy Diaz in 64; Brandon Drury in 35; Wilfredo Tovar (man he’s put some weight) in 72 and as expected, Cameron Maybin in 15. James McCann is hitting 3rd and playing first base because Tomas Nido is the best hitter on the team. Johneswhy Fargas is the second-best so he went and collided with the wall last night.

 

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Oh My Nose!

Well that was gross. I’m talking of course about the Mets performance over the weekend in Florida and not last night’s gruesome hit-by-pitch which broke the nose of basically our best player this year, Kevil Pillar. Typically, mopping blood off the playing surface is a hockey thing, and in that spirit, let’s salute Pillar for going into the dirty areas, winning those one-on-one battles, keeping his feet moving and all all those other cliches Butch Goring admiringly ascribes to Casey Cizakas as the Islanders face their own long odds in the playoffs.

The injuries never stop: Our new outfield is Johneswhy “Huggy Bear” Fargas, wearing No. 81; Khalil Lee, No. 26, whom we referred to below; Jake Hager, No. 86; and likely, another reserve palooka to be named later. We will enter those into the database shortly, but I don’t need to tell you that Fargas and Hager are about to rewrite every record for the guys to have worn those jerseys, which is none unless you “count” Wally Backman’s September coach callup in 2011, which we do but not very enthusiastically.

Taijuan Walker in the meantime is hurting, Carlos Carrasco is returning slower than anticipated, Joey Lucchesi isn’t working out and don’t look to Syracuse nor Binghamton for reinforcements: Both of those clubs are having awful starts as graduates and Brodie’s trade-the-farm-and-finish-in-fourth approach is delivering that bloody nose we knew was coming.

I’m silently advocating they say the hell with it and promote Ronny Mauricio from Single A Brooklyn. The guy’s going to have to move off shortstop eventually.

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I Smell A Rat

In the aftermath of the explosive controversy and heroics surrounding last night’s extra-winning walkoff comeback victory over the Diamondbacks, the MBTN’s Investigative Team put on its journalism shoes and uncovered exclusive footage from the tunnel leading to the Citifield home clubhouse to confirm that indeed, Francisco Lindor was full of it when he told reporters a between-innings punch-up with teammate Jeff McNeil concerned a disagreement over the teammates saw a rat or a raccoon in the tunnel. Watch:

Indeed, it was tradition. One that brought to mind another high-priced savior import Bobby Bonilla, who once asserted a mid-game press box phone call was to check in on the health of an official and not to lobby an official scorer’s decision.

This tall tale–and Luis Rojas’ weak demonstration of his role as a leader of men–obscured a few historic moments including the debut hit and RBI for both Patrick Mazeika and all Mets who ever wore No. 76 (zero till last night despite Mazeika’s few no-show appearances); two surprise scoreless innings from new arrival Tommy Hunter; and Lindor’s own awakening for a season-long slumber. Maybe we should all punch Jeff McNeil in the face; I’d be lying if I said he didn’t seem to need one himself from time to time.

Thanks for the updates as new coaches Hugh Quattlebaum is now in 56 and Kevin Howard in 54.

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Quattlebombed

What’s next for these guys?

As you might have noted I’d been kinda leaving the Mets alone in hopes they’d reveal themselves as one thing or another but looks again that might be a while.

Waiting to hear the result of Jacob deGrom’s MRI as I write this and fresh off the midnight whacking of the club’s two hitting coaches, still waiting for any kind of consistency, injuries, frustration, dreadful slumps, sloppy play, moments of glory, innings of crap, hours of games: Mets Baseball 2021!

I even got out to Citi Field for the first time in more than a year a week ago tonight and can report that it remains 20% colder and damper than anywhere in NYC. That evening Peterson struggled, the offense struggled even more and we lost to a Red Sox team that should have beaten us worse. I’m now fully vaccinated, licking doorknobs, and you’ll find me out there most every Tuesday night.

Catching up on roster moves we’ve seen the debut of Jose Peraza (18) finally after a couple non-appearances and had Daniel Zamora (73) up and back. Word is Jordan Yamamoto (45) is on the way and I thought only hours ago that could be for Stroman and not deGrom.

That was a strange firing, a weird press conference and some curious dat-after reactions: I miss the beat writers in the clubhouse to sniff these things out. I found Zach Scott’s detachment and business-speaky remarks dissatisfying, as were the softball questions from the participating journos and the day-after narrative: Pete Alonso crying? After last season? The strong relationships Davis forged over zoom? Has anyone noticed Francisco Lindor has 3 RBI, is leading the team in plate appearances, and is hitting .160?

The roster doesn’t yet list the uni numbers of the new coaches, perhaps we’ll know when deGrom’s diagnosis comes in. By the way, coaches all wear sweatshirts over the unis anyway–and I’m certain Chili Davis didn’t suit on Zoom last year– so I’m barely aware that they Davis had been wearing No. 54 and Slater 56. You’d think Hugh Quattlebaum and Kevin Howard would take those respectively, then wear sweatshirts over them.

 

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It’s A Long Season Already

I’m beginning to have some doubts about Luis Rojas. I know it’s not his fault the club suddenly cannot hit but as we saw last year, inconsistent play and an no demonstrated ability to correct things when they go wrong is already bleeding over to this year. I think it’s also troubling to confront the fact that the second choice of the previous administration somehow survived the appointment of a new owner and two new general managers. It’s really been a bad start to a promising year.

JD Davis and Dellin Betances are on the DL. Betances, whose spring performance seemed to indicate something was very wrong, has been replaced for now by Trevor Hildenberger, the former Twins righty signed as a minor league free agent over the offseason. Hildengerger is wearing No. 35 but chances are we’ll never see him because Rojas so far only trusts a couple of his relievers.

Davis, who for a short time had the most consequential HBP this year, is nursing a hand contusion and Jose Peraza is up in his place. Peraza has a good package of experience for a bench player: He’s young, fast and versatile if not a great hitter. He’s wearing No. 18, which last belonged to reserve outfielder Ryan Cordell.

Peraza’s promotion means Franklyn Kilome is booted from the 40-man roster.

 

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Giveaway Day

We’re piecing the numerical roster together as guys appear and the job would have been easier and less stressful had our overmatched young manager Luis Rojas not made a complete disaster out of last night’s opener, showing off his new team instead of trying to win.

I probably don’t need to remind you of this but Rojas was the second choice of the previous administration, managed the best-hitting team in the league to miss the playoffs by a mile in the easiest season there ever was to make the playoffs then shamefully turned last night’s mismatch into a giveaway.

I’m trying not to come off as your dad here. Rojas himself said deGrom would have been good for 100 pitches beforehand, only to fall back on a cowardly and unconvincing revelation that it was “ups” and not pitches all along, but essentially, arguing that either would have valid when neither was. This is a confused and untrustworthy kid out there. What an awful waste. I hadn’t been so excited for an opening day in five years.

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Sprung

Can’t blame Jeff Wilpon for this one, but the Mets have another black eye and brain drain to deal with after it was revealed that the newly arrived and highly touted general manager Jared Porter was also a creepy cocktographer, a woman harrasser, and a media abuser.

Look there are only 30 MLB general manager jobs in the world, so it’s to the new leadership’s shame they didn’t manage to sniff out what was evidently something of a known secret–if not in the details, then perhaps in Porter’s character, interpersonal relationships or habits. I didn’t even know what Porter looked like till that Zoom call a few weeks back but I have to confess I was somewhat surprised to see he looked like a guy who probably had a lot of beer in his fridge. Then again, I’m not in HR. And to its credit, management didn’t waste time feeling out what the reaction would be before acting decisively to whack Porter.

Now the team that initially said it wanted two top-notch baseball brains to lead the organization under CEO Sandy Alderson has none, and it’s on Sandy to go sign or trade for a center fielder other than George Springer who’s apparently headed to the Blue Jays.

Fortunately for the Mets there are options still, and with Springer off the board and February approaching you have to figure the remaining job-seekers will find new offices shortly. Speculation is the club could sign free agents Jackie Bradley Jr., whose worn three different numbers over his seasons in Boston (44, 25 and 19, all of which are already assigned to Mets currently), or Albert Almora (No. 5 with the Cubs, out of circulation), and maybe even swing a deal for Lorenzo Cain (No. 6 on the Brewers, also unavailable). We also know Sandy has interest in free-agent reliever Brad Hand and that Porter until yesterday morning was investigating pitcher Trevor Williams, most recently No. 34 on the Pirates.

Porter also managed earlier this week to swing a deal with San Diego for lefty Joey Lucchesi, who will also shop for a new uni number having worn the retired 37 as a Friar, and could hasten the end of Steven Matz’ long run in Metville.

Finally on this day of new beginnings let’s give a shout-out to Ollie Perez, Brooks Pounders, Dallas Green, young Neil Allen and the rest of the 46 Club. Go Hens!

 

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Proof of Being 21

It’s a little more than an hour before game time in Baltimore and the tension is thick.

With Todd Frazier reacquired and Billy Hamilton still on board (I think) who wears No. 21?

The Mets quietly added Frazier, along with his Texas teammate Robinson Chirinos and Baltimore reliever Miguel Castro, in deadline deals that illustrate that even unaccomplished, old and/or boring guys might make a difference on a Mets club that can do little right so far this year and still acts like it might be a playoff team.

Frazier was something a guy to be endured and not necessarily welcomed back but hopefully represents some right-handed power we’d been missing since Cespedes quit and Pete Alonso and Wilson Ramos are taking the year off more stealthily, and JD Davis hurt. Frazier, as I’ve probably noted here before has one of the ugliest swings in club history but I cannot deny he’s a pro. The Mets list both Frazier and Hamilton in 21, the latter guy would seem to me to be on the verge of release, having encountered but not delivered on more than a few Rajai Davis Moments. Hammy could alternatively slide down to 15 or 7.

Chirinos, a 36-year-old catcher and career .231 hitter, I suppose is seen as an upgrade on Ali Sanchez or Tomas Nido as a reserve but I’m already confusing him with Ramon Castro and Rod Barajas and any number of chunky Latin backstops who’ve passed through. Wearing the No. 61 jersey most recently belonging to DFA’ed pitcher Walker Lockett could distinguish him; having never traded Kevin Plawecki for Lockett in the first place might have helped more.

And not to continue with the stereotypes but Miguel Castro–acquired for a legit lefthanded starting prospect, Kevin Smith–looks like your standard crooked-cap-wearing reliever with good strikeout figures and lousy stats otherwise. At 25 and with a contract that keep him on the club for another year cheaply, he’ll get a look and could still succeed, and also, could not. Castro gets No. 50 and another Uni Controversy given tat’s the number also assigned to Jeremy Accardo, the pitching coach. Stay tuned!

Finally I have no idea who the guy starting tonight is other than his name, Ariel Jurado. The Mets acquired him from Texas a few weeks ago when I was out of town and he’s presumably been hanging out in Brooklyn with the Sewalds, the Stricklands and the Locketts. Jurado, a young Panamanian righty with a 5.85 career ERA over part6s of two seasons with the Rangers, gets No. 49, last worn these parts by the fake-news relief prospect Tyler Bashlor.

Let’s Go Islanders, I mean, Mets!

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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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