Archive for Dumb Move

The Mazeik Is Back (Not)

Just as we feared, the Mets’ failure to capitalize on the graciousness of struggling divisional opponents early this season is turning the second half into a complete disaster.

Yeah there’s been key injuries but there’s plenty more blame to go around, including a passive posture at the trade deadline that’s already blown up in their faces, a teamwide hitting approach that simply looks awful, and a return to black uniforms that at some level, speaks to misplaced priorities and a poor sense of taste.

I’m not against mixing up things up sartorially, and acknowledge the sense of excitement and nostalgia that accompanies the black era, but to me this is another manifestation of a poor approach leading to missed opportunity. The problem with the black jerseys wasn’t that they were black, necessarily, but they were poorly designed. Try something different already: Hit against the shift. Take a strike down by a run in the 9th. Get a fashion expert to take another look at incorporating black without a clashy, busy, and depressing expression.

I’m cranky because I stayed up last night to watch these palookas finally do enough offensively to win (with some missed opportunity) only to see the bullpen cough up any chance. The team is infected somehow and begun to resemble Luis Rojas’s 2020 squad, which missed the playoffs in the easiest year ever to make the playoffs. This might be the second.

There’s now been a club record 60 guys on the roster this year. Sidearmer Jake Reed (who?) is the latest, wearing No. 52 (Nick Tropeano, we hardly knew ye). Reed came to us from the … (looks it up) Rays, who released him and was previously with the … Dodgers … and Angels … and Twins orgs.

Trevor Williams, collected in the ill-fated deadline day giveaway with the Cubs, in the meantime has been up and back and now back again, wearing 29 and reminding me of another Cubs-bred Met starter, Steve Trachsel and adding to our league-leading collection of Trevors. Travis Blankenorn (73) is back. Geoff Hartlieb (40) has been up and back. Patrick Mazeika (76) is even back (Tomas Nido is injured, because). What difference does it make?

Just last night, Billy McKinney homered off Anthony Banda.

 

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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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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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Sorry State

The Mets are a wreck again, determined to waste unbelievable years from a core of young players, while little has changed since last week’s coach firing squad and subsequent reporter-threatening-fake-contrition act. The bullpen still stinks under new pitching coach Phil Regan and returning bullpen coach Ricky Bones and as a result they remain a rotten road club that’s going backwards in the standings when they had every opportunity to move up.

Regan was given the same No. 58 removed from Dave Eiland a week but the Mets should have played along and given him No. 82. Bones, who replaced Chuck Hernandez, was given the same No. 25 he’d worn in his previous role, while Hernandez surrendered No. 59. A new “pitching strategist,” Jeremy Accardo, is wearing No. 60. It hasn’t helped.

With Noah Syndergaard set to return after missing two starts with a hamstring issue, Walker Lockett was up and down in 61. Yesterday the Mets promoted a guy called Chris Mazza and gave him No. 74. When Mazza appears it will be the first appearance of that stupid number in club history.

Can the Mets be fixed? I don’t think so. There are a few things overhanging this season that are casting an ominous shadow. Chief among them is the idea that the offseason’s alleged “big bang” has been a complete disaster with Edwin Diaz unreliable at the top, and Robinson Cano stifling the offense by hitting third every night despite being one of the worst everyday players in the league. Let’s just admit it: The Mets would better off having not made that trade in the first place; instead they bet their whole identity on it.

Speculation as to when the club fires Mickey Callaway is another dark shadow. As we advocated for a few weeks ago it only appears to be a matter of time for him and this latest incident and the reporting around it hasn’t helped. As often the case with the Mets it comes with questions as to who’s really pulling the strings. My working theory today is that the stealth coup pulled off before last season–hamstringing Sandy Alderson in order to get Omar Minaya back in the organization– is still quietly doing evil at the behest of old Fred. Brodie Van Wagenen isn’t the mastermind here but rather the polished public face and salesman for the idiotic and regressive Minaya Playbook: Move heaven and earth for some other team’s relief pitcher and take the baggage with him. This is where it’s got us. Now how about that apology.

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M-I-C Ya Real Soon

Well it sure looks like it’s all over for Mickey Callaway, whose club seems to have abandoned him in his hour of need. When Jeff called an emergency meeting after the last crappy road trip, you, me, and all 25 guys in the locker room knew it was either play better or Mickey walks the plank. And so he’ll go.

I tuned into Thursday afternoon’s game and was reminded it was a day just like that one last year, a year and week and change, weekday afternoon game in May, when Mickey’s signature moment of unpreparedness–the batting-out-of-order game–gave us a true look at what we were dealing with. Mickey made a great first impression; I think his attempts to paint the picture of things how he wanted them to be, instead of telling us how they were, was too obvious at times; and for a second year in a row he’s proven not to have what it takes to pull a club out of a spin.

Of course the old and underperforming club he has is on a rookie GM who’s also made a bunch of dumb mistakes and already looks like a fool for his confidence in them. “Come get us.” Please.

Knowing the Mets pattern of solving last year’s problems this year count on them to make a show of Callaway’s inexperience and hire the most experienced guy they can. This process will take place while Jim Riggleman gets the “interim” tag, hopefully not for more than a few weeks. What a mess.

This when the big story in our world should be Carlos Gomez’s surprise arrival in No. 91. Yes that’s the first issue of that number in Mets history and apparently refers to a bible verse favored by the erstwhile outfielder and not to his fondness for Butch Goring, evidently a remark by Howie Rose.

We’ll deal with the Craig Swan 46 stuff in another post soon.

 

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Intervention

Scoring six runs and staggering to the finish every night is probably better than scoring 2 runs and staggering to the finish so on balance it’s pretty good start to the new year. But before we crown Brodie Van Wagenen for his genius consider the guys really making stuff happen were already in the organization, we’re short on pitching and have veteran infielders on the way to replace guys who are actually getting things done and if like me you worry about things, Robbie Cano, his three-hit Friday night notwithstanding, looks more like Robbie Alomar than Jackie Robinson so far. Combined with some sketchy decisionmaking by Mickey Calloway, the Mets are a barely disguised wreck with a pretty good offense, as I discuss with my friend Brian Joura in this week’s Mets360 podcast. Hopefully they get better. Hopefully the pitching improves with better weather.

Catching up on the first batch of transactions, Travis d’Arnaud is back, replacing the over-his-head Tomas Nido. It would have been cool to see him return in No. 7 rather than the 18 he was moved to when the Mets reacquired Jose Reyes. You might recall d’Arnaud came up wearing 15, then switched to 7 once undeserving coach Bob Geren gave it up. Then, the Mets reacquired Jose Reyes and d’Arnaud was on the move again.

7 is available again — Gregor Blanco wore it in spring training and maintains it in Syracuse–but d’Arnaud maintained at the time he switched from 15 that 7 was his preferred number and for what it’s worth, his play in that jersey was considerably better than min either of the other numbers.

Yeah, I know, it’s too late to save Travis d’Arnaud’s career but just to illustrate:

Number Dates AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BA OBP SLG
15 8/17/13-9/28/14 484 52 113 25 3 14 46 .233 .299 .384
7 4/6/15-7/4/16 321 38 86 17 1 13 49 .268 .336 .449
18 7/5/16-present 546 62 129 23 1 19 69 .236 .290 .386

You know what though? It’s not too late to save Chris Flexen. The chunky righty showed some promise amid ugly results in his first go-round in 2017, then got fatter and less effective last year, eventually requiring knee surgery. Over the offseason, Flexen addressed his expanded waistline and true to the cliche reported to camp in the “best shape of his life.”

Flexen in an address to Mets fans early in 2018 said he was happy with 64 but also expressed admiration for 27 and 33. The latter has been nominally available since another fat pitcher with an 7-ish ERA, Matt Harvey, was released. Rule 5er Kyle Dowdy wore it this spring before getting swiped by Texas in a procedural transaction.

Flexen as you may know is slated to debut today now that Jacob deGrom is getting his elbow examined and is out at least a week. The Mets should do the right thing, give him 33, and reserve 64 to guys like Elmer Dessens.

Other guys who came, and some who went, include Drew Gagnon (47), Paul Sewald (51) and now, Jacob Rhame (35) and Corey Oswalt (55).

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A Matter of Taste

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?

 

 

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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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Wheels Off

What a disaster that was. I mean everything, from the stealth firing/resignation of Sandy Alderson, to the reason it happened of course, to the decisions of the manager he named, to the play of the guys he acquired, to the typical Mets clusterfuck of a succession plan, and even when things go well, or especially when they do, the worst is sure to come.

I liked Alderson generally and trusted him but it surprised me when he came back given his age and health issues and like everyone I was more than a little concerned given the collection of old guys and bargain gambles he took with this crew. The injuries haven’t helped but to some degree are a function of the club. Who’s in charge? No one anymore. Most messed up.

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