Archive for That Actually Happened

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How great was that?

I have to say, I enjoyed this one more than Santana’s effort, because I was little conflicted on that one. No-hitters are just random enough events that I admired the Mets’ distinctive futility in achieving one, and in a matter of taste, kind of disagreed with how aggressively they went after it, especially given Santana’s wrecked-arm aftermath and the controversy of the Beltran call.

Last night, it was five guys all doing the job asked of them, with no controversy and little danger beyond the Nimmo catch and what might have been even more difficult, the 5-3 putout on the very first batter of the game. That wasn’t a spectacular play but if Escobar doesn’t do everything right it’s a leadoff single we all would have forgotten.

As we’ve seen so far, the Mets are plowing into one of these team-of-destiny kind of seasons, where unlikely breaks go their way, the surprises turn out to be good ones, the win the kind of games that humiliate their opponents, and a camaraderie is being forged by defending themselves against fastballs in the ear. Even anti-vaxx idiots missing games because of preventable deadly diseases haven’t hurt that much. LGM!

Catching up with the uni-verse (I was away on vacation in Arizona, and caught one of those good-break games live, last Friday night’s extra inning win that most Met teams in most years lose but this year’s squad can’t help but win), we’ve seen the reappearance and disappearance of Matt Reynolds, who wore No. 15 again and will be remembered for having been called up for the first time as Ruben Tejada’s injury replacement in 2015 the playoffs (wearing 56 but not playing), finally debuting wearing No. 15 in 2016, then circling back to the organization as a minor-league vet this year, also in 15 before being claimed by the Reds as we tried to shove him back down again.

Adonis Medina (who?) is a former Phillies prospect, purchased from the Pirates a few weeks ago, and appeared for the first time as a Met wearing No. 68; Yoan Lopez, a former Diamondback, did No. 44 proud in his first appearance when he took aim (perhaps a little too high) at Cardinals crybaby Nolan Arenado. We also got a brief glimpse of outfielder Nick Plummer wearing No. 18.

Tipping my cap to the laconically solid Tylor Megill, the breakout star Drew Smith, the smartly acquired Joelly Rodriguez, the ever-reliable Seth Lugo and to Edwin Diaz’s finest moment as a Met. So far.

 

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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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Beane Counter

So that’s a wrap on a really disappointing 2021 season, and manager Luis Rojas’ career is over. Whatever promise he represented, the record shows Rojas’ clubs missed the playoffs in two of the easiest seasons ever to have made them, and with clubs that looked capable of getting there, especially this year when they’d allegedly shored up the pitching and defense deficiencies that prevented them from succeeding a year before, despite a more-than-adequate offensive attack.

The starting pitching came down to injuries: Sydergaard (2 starts), deGrom (15), Carrasco (12), and Peterson (15) all missed considerable time, combining for just 41 starts between them. The first-line depth guys–Yamamoto (2), Lucchesi (8) and Eickhoff (4)–were awful and/or got injured themselves over a combined 14 starts. Only the free-agent-to-be Marcus Stroman (33), and Taijuan Walker (29) lasted the year; the club was fortunate that Tylor Megill arrived and chipped in 18 starts; and Rich Hill 12. The remainder were divided between relievers who began a series of “bullpen games” (Loup 2, Castro 2, Smith 1, Gsellman 1) and secondary-market depth guys Trevor Williams (3), Robert Stock (2), Tommy Hunter (1), Corey Oswalt (1). That’s 19 starters. Holy moly.

The Defense was bolstered by the arrivals of Lindor and McCann, but played a role in an undercurrent of dysfunction that played out elsewhere. The fist-fight between McNeil and Lindor was the Story of the Year–so much more so than the overanalyzed Thumbgate or Donniegate. It showed fissures in dynamic of the club, the camaraderie of the wholesome and harmonious 2020 club seemed disrupted, and it all attached at some level to the offensive struggles of the principal combatants and their cookie-eating teammates like Smith and Davis. This also led to an odd trade deadline that only further complicated things, not just because of Thumbgate and the benchings, but because by mollifying an unhappy Lindor better options to fix the club went elsewhere, like Kyle Gibson to Philadelphia and Adam Duvall to Atlanta, clubs that in no time at all left the Mets behind.

Dysfunction and a brainpower shortage in the front office contributed to that, leaving the club with the offseason task of rebuilding from the top down.

Billy Beane, whose presence in the 86 Mets ESPN documentary brought him into contemporary focus, is the right guy to get here. He’s got a history with Alderson and the Mets, and a 20 year track record of clean-living and success as a front-office executive in Oakland. He ought to trade himself for Jeff McNeil, and we’ll be on our way. It’ll free up No. 6 for Bob Melvin.

 

 

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Mets Give Hand Job

Couldn’t resist, and sorry.

Brad Hand today became the third guy to wear No. 52 this season; he takes it from Jake Reed, who (I’m pretty sure) is still on the 40-man roster but rehabbing an injury in the minors. Reed took it from Nick Tropeano. Just saying: Joe Pignatano wore 52 for 14 years out in the Shea Bullpen Tomato Garden.

Mr. Hand, whom the Mets reportedly had coveted over the offseason but were unable to secure due to the fact that they didn’t have a GM in place: That GM quickly got himself fired, and the GM they got to replace the GM who got fired did something that’ll probably get him fired too but at least he got Brad Hand, came to the Mets via the Nationals via the Blue Jays via the waiver wire. It’s all very clear.

The powerful database where my number data resides is unhappy: It wants me to assign uniform numbers to the five guys who played in the resumption of last Tuesday’s suspended game who joined the club following its beginning back in April: This is because the stats accrued “belong” to the game initially scheduled. OK, so I backdated Patrick Mazeika, Brandon Drury and Heath Hembree with no issues. Chance Sisco is now ahead of, and also behind, Anthony Banda in progression of Met 77s.

But the Flux Capacitor ran out of plutonium while trying to transport Javier Baez back in time. That’s because his 23 on April 11 belonged then to David Peterson. Should we just pretend the game never started in April? I guess we sorta have to, even if this introduces conflict with the official stat line and secondary data like the the progression of Mets, by the way. Instead of being the 1,148th Met ever if we’re counting along with the calendar, Baez winds up being something like 1,123–and we haven’t won 7 in a row, but 6 (I’m writing this between games of the Sept. 4 double-dip.

Amazin’ still we’ve added this many guys in one year and just keep on adding.

Other options would be to “unassign” Peterson 23 for that one game (fortunately, he didn’t appear but it wasn’t like he wasn’t occupying a jersey) or perhaps, solving these conflicts by creating a special character instead of a number, such as ¥, or ∞, or ≠, to indicate when and where these things happen. This seems like an offseason project, like getting a new GM and trading away Jeff McNeil. What a nutty season.

 

 

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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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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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Caught On Tape

The most famous 61 since Roger Maris’ shot off future Met Jack Fisher has come gloriously back to life.

Just in, Met historian Dennis D’Agostino alerted me to a newly published Youtube of the entire WGN broadcast of 1979’s Opening Day Mets-Cubs game at Wrigley Field that included the major-league debut of the Mets’ Jesse Orosco. As readers of this site know this was an important historical moment not just because Orosco would go to make another 1,251 appearances–the most for a pitcher in baseball history–but that for the unusual circumstances under which he appeared: Wearing a jersey that bore No. 61, with no name on the back. Verifying this bit of odd history–Orosco made all of his subsequent appearances for the Mets wearing No. 47–and maintained that number for 23 years until a career-ending 8-game stretch with Minnesota when teammate Corey Koskie wore 47–was one of the landmark Holy Grails of this project.

Over the years and with the help of good people like like Dennis, my Cub fan friend Kasey Ignarski, who provided his own hand-scored scoresheet, and a third fan who provided video stills of the game, we nailed this. But I never saw the whole broadcast until yesterday. You will die when you hear Jack Brickhouse’s commentary at the 2:25:30 mark. Start here:

As previously relayed, that a 22-year-old Orosco even made the trip was something of a surprise it itself. The lefty was selected ahead of more accomplished contenders like Nelson Briles, due primarily to the austerity measures enacted as the ’79 club crawled to the finish line of the Payson-deRoulet Era as a destitute franchise. Its likely the club simply didn’t have the time or money to spring for a “proper” jersey (61 was outrageously high then) that wasn’t a spring training used jersey. ’79 was also the first year that Mets affixed names to jerseys but as shown they didn’t get around to all of them.

Lee Mazzilli also lacked a name on back–but Kelvin Chapman did not.

Joe Torre preferred Briles to Orosco, Scott and Allen

 

 

Kasey Ignarski’s hand-written scorecard: The same data Jack Brickhouse had!

 

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Bauerless, Not Powerless

It’s easy to make an argument the Mets dodged a bullet this week when the arrogant free agent pitcher Trevor Bauer left them at the altar and agreed instead to a deal with the Dodgers that’d make him the best-paid player in the game and grants him multiple opt-outs should he want to try to pull this clown show again either of the next two years.

And they did given all that baggage but I’d certainly like to see another Cy Young winner on the staff, given what they were evidently willing to part with and the abuse they were willing to withstand should they have added yet another guy without the common sense to behave himself on the Internet, even if it comes off a giant douchy act.

Where to from here? There’s free agent Jake Odorizzi out there still, a 15-game winner in 2019 who missed most of last season after taking a line drive off the No. 12 on the front of his Twins jersey. There’s money in the bank were the Mets to lock in guys like Conforto and Lindor, or buy a free agent center fielder, and flexibility were they to take advantage of the Wrigleyville’s teardown and acquire Kris Bryant in a trade. It’s not like the Cardinals’ addition of Arenado is going to increase their chances this time.

I’m expecting something, is what I’m saying.

Catching up on recent moves that didn’t accompany all that much hype the Mets traded with Miami for pitcher Jordan Yamamoto, a young righty starter with terrible big-league numbers but the kind of curveball spin rate that gets the geeks excited. Yamamoto is from Hawaii and naturally wears No. 50 in the tradition of Sid Fernandez and Benny Agbayani. Adding Yamamoto to the 40-man roster also cleared the Mets of a seeming controversy with infielder Robel Garcia who was issued a placeholder 00, waived and subsequently claimed by the Angels.

Miguel Castro, the kind of down-on-his-luck would-be relief ace the Mets always seem to scoop up in the hopes he’ll improve next year (see AJ Ramos) wore No. 50 last year. He’s got that Brody stink and maybe he goes in my fantasy Kris Bryant trade which is built around the $16 million the Cubs save by taking JD Davis, and a friend suggests, taking a real prospect for Kyle Hendricks. They can even have Jordan Yamamoto in that case. Bryant by the way wears No. 17 with the Cubs and will test the quiet mothballing of those figures here should he arrive.

I dunno what to say about another black eye for the organization re: Mickey but in retrospect I was far too kind to a guy who hardly ever won a game with X’s and O’s, fished with Donald Trump Jr., batted the Mets out of order, blew up at reporters, couldn’t say “I’m sorry,” and finally, was a creep.

 

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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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Cleveland Steamer!

Jared Porter’s not screwing around. Today he swung a deal bringing Cleveland Indians’ stars Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco to Flushing, giving the tribe last year’s shortstop platoon (the disappointing Amed Rosario and the undisappointing Andres Gimenez– together, just they were just pointing) and two minor leaguers: Pitcher Josh Wolf and young outfielder Eliajah Isaiah Greene.

This is an obvious talent injection helped along by Steve Cohen’s gigantic wallet and may accompany a contract extension for Lindor, a gold-glove-winning, switch-hitting, 30-plus home-run-slugging shortstop who’s still just a youngun at 26. And Carrasco, presuming he’s recovered from his own health scares, is a fine addition to the rotation at a fair price.

I wanted very much for Rosario to succeed (and a few times, it looked like he might) but even a good Rosario wouldn’t be in Lindor’s class as a hitter or a fielder. Gimenez in the meantime had a magical arrival and looks to be a useful little player but (and I could be wrong here) I also got the feeling he was something of a souped-up Ruben Tejada who played about as good in a few months last season as he ever might.

So scratch No. 1s and 60 off your pre-preseason roster and pencil in 12 and 59 for the new guys. The former, Lindor’s digits in Cleveland, belonged most recently to Eduardo Nunez whom I’ve almost already forgotten was a Met and almost always incorrectly refer to as “Edwin Nunez”; 59 belonged to recently re-upped pitching instructor Jeremy Accordo, whom I predict here will slide into the No. 60 shirt that Gimenez should never have been wearing in the first place.

You may have seen in the meantime the Mets replaced Tony DeFrancesco with our our friend Tony Tarasco as a first base coach. Tarasco we last saw getting Grant Roberts high in 2002, wearing No. 40.

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