Fake News? Ty Ballgame, updated

New-arriving information indicates the news I passed along yesterday regarding Ty Kelly may not be entirely accurate, and by “entirely” I mean, entirely. Can anyone clear this up? I’ve asked Ty himself to check in.

Thanks to alert reader Chris who passed along a tip: Ty Kelly is back in uni No. 55, after having arrived at camp assigned 56.

I haven’t confirmed this independently and should have asked the reader for the dope.

Kelly as you may remember was issued 55 a year ago when he made his Met debut but lost his number, along with a big-league job, when the Mets re-acquired Kelly Johnson last June and gave the 55 jersey he’d worn for a glorious half-season in 2015. When Ty Kelly reappeared later in the year he was wearing 56, which also happened to be the uni on Kelly’s back during the recent World Baseball Classic, when he represented Isreal.

Whether Kelly resurfaces with the Mets remains in question as he lost his 40-man roster spot in February and resigned a minor league contract and so would need a 40-man space to open up before he returns. That said with Juan Lagares expected to miss time with an injury and a mostly right-handed bench the switch-hitting, multi-position playing Kelly could be in demand.

I’m also wondering if Kelly is really changing numbers why he wouldn’t pounce on the still-available 11, which matches his Twitter handle and the double Ls in his last name.

It’s been a long Spring Training, a long off-season, in fact, with little to speculate on but the butt-end of the Met bench and bullpen, what Tim Tebow is up to and, perhaps, who gets Juerys Familia’s spot for the length of time he’s suspended. It’s been so boring, in fact, my friend Jason is wondering whether there will be any new Mets at all when the curtain rises a week from today.

That brings us to the possibility that Paul Sewald comes north. Like Kelly he’s a recent ex-resident of the 40-man but he’s had a good spring. Would he stay in 79? Stay tuned.

Sewald was optioned just after I wrote this. Sorry, Paul!

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Spitters, swappers, sluggers and doubleheaders

Big thanks to longtime reader Pete Mahoney who pointed out the the below audio recording of the May 22, 1966 Mets-Giants game at Candlestick Park (game one of a twinbill, doncha know) that also provides a missing artifact in Mets uniform history.

As relayed by Bob Murphy at the 20-minute mark, lefty Gerry Arrigo makes his Mets debut in this game, having been recently purchased from Cincinnati, and is wearing No. 26. Until now, the nearest proof I’d collected of Arrigo’s number that season — the below scorecard in early July — indicates Arrigo is in 34, and Bob Shaw is wearing 26.

The latter bit of info on Shaw was never in question but it raises the issue of when Arrigo switched out of 26. The answer would appear be, as soon as Shaw arrived.

The Mets acquired Shaw from San Francisco on June 10. Shaw in fact pitched for the Giants in the second game of the doubleheader referenced above. One of the reasons the Mets made the purchase was a broken finger sustained by Arrigo the day before. In fact the Mets made room for Shaw on the roster by placing Arrigo on the disabled list. Did I happen to mention all this happened on the day I was born? Well, it did.

Shaw, an accomplished if well-traveled vet, had worn 26 in two of his previous stops — Kansas City and Milwaukee — so its possible he’d requested the number, but at any rate when Arrigo returned to the club June 25, he took 34.

Shaw by the way wasted little time establishing himself as an effective No. 26, reeling off victories in his first four starts as a Met including three complete games. He also provided some hints as to why he had so many different employers until then: He was a chronic contract holder-outter who didn’t mind making his opinions known. He once slugged his own catcher, Jerry Grote, who’d gotten between the home plate umpire and an irate Shaw after a call hadn’t gone his way. And as represented in the below photos, Shaw had a reputation for putting something “extra” on his pitches from time to time, though only admitted to enjoying the fact that opponents believed that of him:

Click to embiggen

 

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I’m 18 and I like it

It’s crazy and just about as accomplished but Mets By The Numbers has now had a career as long as Ed Kranepool: Eighteen years.

The site went “live” for the first time on Feb. 22, 1999. It wasn’t a “blog” then as such a thing didn’t really exist, but a website with a “home page” that was updated as needed, with stuff deleted as time permitted, which I guess is one reason why the earliest front-page updates I can find for it date only to the failed Barry Larkin trade of 2000, although I uncovered an early cry for help archived from October of 1999.

Anyway, we’re as pleased to be 18 as the protagonist in the Alice Cooper song, or Darryl Strawberry in 1983, or maybe, Darryl Hamilton in 1999. Fun Fact: 100% of the Mets’ Darryls have worn No. 18. Darrells (Ceciliani, Sutherland) are another story entirely.

Real quickly, the most Metly 18s in club history:

1 Darryl Strawberry: I used to wonder what it was about Yankee fans who grew up the 1950s and 60s that made them so obsessive about Mickey Mantle and then I met Strawberry and became one of them. He can still be a Daaaryl sometimes but he meant a lot.

2 Joel Youngblood: Terrific athlete who never found a home on the field. Darryl’s predecessor.

3 Art Howe: Luckless and dull caretaker of a manager astonishingly described as having “lit up the room” in an interview to replace Bobby Valentine. Right, Fred.

4. Felix Mantilla: Arguably the best player on the 1962 Mets which sounds like a kind of feint praise.

5. Moises Alou: Incredible hitter when healthy, never healthy.

6. Marlon Anderson: The best of his three numbers was 18, wore it for his famous inside-the-park home run.

7. Benny Ayala: Home run in first at-bat, of course

8. Bret Saberhagen: He’d have more success wearing 17.

9. Takashi Kashiwada: First Japan-born Met. I associate him with a photo playing in the “ice cream man” white hat.

10. Jeff McKnight. Because, Jeff McKnight.

 

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Pitchers, Catchers + Numbers, 2017

Click to embiggen

Photos from the first day of Mets camp this morning (I borrowed this one from David Lennon, who even did the ghost of Marty Noble a favor and reported on locker assignments today) have circulated and illustrate a Spring Training roster light on shocking revelations.

In the good news department, new third base coach Glenn Sherlock has been issued a “third base coach” number — 53 — and reliever Josh Smoker has been reassigned 49 after a DNP stop there last season, then turns in 59 and 58. And its good to see 70 through 85 appropriately populated with young longshots and camp invites but would hope if Adam Wilk makes it to the big club this year they’ll give him something better than 85.

Yet, neither Robert Gsellman (65) nor Seth Lugo (67) or TJ Rivera (54) are showing dignified digits yet, despite prime real estate like 11, 16, 28, 29 and 35 being available. In the meantime, longshot NRIs Tom Gorzelanny and Ben Rowen snap up 40 and 46, respectively.

I suspect we’ll see a few changes before it all shakes out!

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Sixth Sense

Today a friend of MBTN pointed out the following tweet:

Could it be Robert Gsellman dumps his 65… for 6? Well, anything’s possible, and despite this being a training jersey worn in an offseason workout with kids in a minor league park, it was taken last week, and the combo of Name-On-Back and number make it look suggestive of something.

However, a little investigation on my own reveals this wasn’t the first time Gsellman appeared in a No. 6 training jersey, as weird as that may seem. He appears to be wearing the same outfit pictured in this mugshot (date unknown but he looks about 19 and a half), which some outlets trotted out upon Gsellman’s promotion to the Majors for the first time last summer, when he of course was issued 65. So I don’t think this particular change is actually a thing. He probably just had that one hanging around.

That said, I think there’s a good argument for Gsellman to change into some other number before we see him pitch next. Just goofing off here, but it would be interesting if the Mets could right the numerical wrongs of the past seasons an execute a multiplayer uni swap whereby Gsellman and Jacob deGrom switch to 35 and 36, respectively. That would give the club an unprecedented starting rotation in consecutive numbers (Matz 32, Harvey 33, Syndergaard 34, Gsellman 35 and deGrom 36). deGrom and Gsellman are interchangeable in this scenario but I kept deGrom in the even number. That move requires Sean Gilmartin to take on a new number, perhaps the vacant 46 or deGrom’s 48, as the relievers gather in 40s the same way their starting brethren do in the 30s. I’d move Seth Lugo and Gabriel Ynoa to this neighborhood as well, with 40 and 48 also available in this scenario. This also leaves Zack Wheeler alone at 45 but I’m imagining he’s bullpen bound for now.

No. 6 by the way still belongs to coach Pat Roessler, as far as I can tell.

 

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The Big Takeover

More than a month has passed since we remarked on the lack of activity in Metville and still, activity lacks.

They’ve signed three fringe guys to minor league contracts (pitchers Cory Burns, Ben Rowen and Adam Wilk); and invited a bunch of their own minor league guys to camp (Chase Bradford, Xorge Carrillo, P.J. Conlon, Phillip Evans, Luis Guillorme, Kevin McGowan, David Roseboom, Paul Sewald, Dominic Smith, Champ Stuart, Travis Taijeron, Corey Taylor and Logan Taylor). They join the previously announced 40-man additions (Flexen, Molina, Nido, Rosario, Becerra).

Meantime we still have Jay Bruce but continue losing guys from the 2016 fringes: Alejandro De Aza has signed with Oakland; James Loney with Texas; Eric Campbell with Japan; Logan Verrett was sold to Baltimore; Bartolo Colon to Atlanta; Jim Henderson to the Cubs.

Jerry Blevins, Jon Niese, Kelly Johnson, and Fernando Salas remain free agents.

If I counted right that means 21 guys plus new coach Glenn Sherlock are now looking for number assignments. The Mets still haven’t updated their roster so at the moment the following numbers are vacant:

1, 8, 11, 16, 17, 28, 29, 35, 40, 46, 51, 53, 61, 64 and everything higher than 68.

39, 49, 55 and 59 are also available but I’m considering them technically in limbo until the free agents find new homes.

We’ll keep you posted.

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When there’s nothing to speculate about, speculate

Around here, this time of year often inspires lots of speculation about inbound freight and what to outfit them in, but it was pointed out to me yesterday that other than the 40-man additions noted below, and the re-signing of three of our own free agents (Neil Walker, Rene Rivera, Yoenis Cespedes), there has been a grand total of zero new names on the sacred scrolls since September.

53Well, one new guy if you count incoming third-base/catching coach Glenn Sherlock, who will replace Tim Teufel in an act of mercy. Sherlock by the way wore No. 53 in a similar role with the Diamondbacks, so he feels more like a real coach and less of guy whose main qualification for the role was a job with the Mets in 1986.

Players? There’s been none. No journeyman catchers with spring training invites, no Rule 5 picks, no lefthanded relief pitchers, no veteran bats on make-good comeback contracts, and of course, no Winter-Meeting-Three-Team-Twelve-Player Blockbusters (WMTT12PBs), which on a chilly December morning like this would warm old the hot stove. In the meantime we’ve seen a few Mets go away: Bartolo Colon, Logan Verrett (we’ll never forget how few craps he gave taking No. 35 still warm from Dillon Gee), and Johnny Monell.

Obviously this will change if and when the Mets get around to addressing the Jay Bruce Question; for now I’m pleased that the team hasn’t given him away for nothing and I’m dubious in general that any relief pitcher ought to be fair value for a flawed but legitimate power bat like Bruce.

19And just maybe, they’re holding out on a secret WMTT12PB. Perhaps Bruce can find a home again — in Cincinnati. Trade him, Lucas Duda and Steven Matz for Joey Votto and a reliever? Votto’s the kind of Olerud/Hernandez type bat this club could really use, David Wright can’t be counted on being anymore, and guys like Conforto and Nimmo might not get the chance to be.

Otherwise, we’re a adequately situated and familiar club that will require a lot to go right again in 2017.

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Young Men With A Future

Well at least some worthy candidates are ascending to higher office around here.

The Mets on Friday added five young players to fill empty spots on their 40-man roster, protecting them from poachers at the forthcoming Rule 5 draft and technically, initiating the moment at which they are assigned a big-league uni number.

A quick glance at the Mets roster online indicates that last bit hasn’t happened yet so keep an eye out. In the meantime let’s welcome outfielder Wuilmer Becerra; catcher Tomas Nido; shortstop Amed Rosario; and pitchers Marcos Molina and Chris Flexen to the club.

1If you want to handicap these assignments, it’s a safe bet the Mets will issue Rosario No. 1, matching both his rank of their prospects list and his Binghamton jersey. Helps also that Justin Ruggiano was outrighted recently. The others are down far enough in the minors still to establish much of a numerical identity: Molina was spotted most recently wearing 45 in Arizona Fall League action. St. Lucie teammates Becerra, Nido and Flexen wore 32, 13 and 33, respectively, this past season.

29You can’t protect everyone so some say that pitching prospects Ricky Knapp and Paul Sewald, and outfielder Champ Stewart, are vulnerable to selection in the Rule 5 draft.

In part to make room for these guys the Mets have not only outrighted Ruggiano, but Eric Campbell and Jim Henderson. Campbell reportedly has a deal to play play for Hanshin in the Japan League next season. Sayonara, Soupy.

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Bye Bye Bart

40As you know by now, Bartolo Colon has signed a 2017 contract with the Braves, where he’ll join fellow new arrival R.A. Dickey as a veteran dynamic duo we may well encounter when the Mets open the 2017 season against Atlanta in April.

Colon can’t be blamed for seeking a regular starting gig as he pursues a few personal milestones: He needs 10 wins to catch Juan Marichal for the all-time lead among Dominican pitchers, and 12 to surpass Dennis Martinez and become the winningest Latin American pitcher of all-time. I speak for all Mets fans wishing him the best of luck most nights, anyway.

I had no idea what to expect of Colon when he arrived as a 40-year-old ostensibly to hold Matt Harvey’s place in the rotation in 2014, and would not have predicted he’d depart three years later having set the all-time mark for wins (44) and strikeouts (415) among guys who wore No. 40 (Pat Zachry was the prior king and still leads this club in losses). Colon was a surprising guy all around, obviously a better athlete than he looked to be and a fun presence who really helped the Mets especially this last year. We’ll miss him!

20That’s the first significant departure of what’s looking to be an interesting offseason for the Mets. At the moment I cannot picture a scenario that doesn’t involve a significant trade or two. Briefly I’m sort of rooting against a return engagement for Neil Walker but can’t see how he’ll turn down that $17 million waiting for him, and if he takes it that’ll put a strain on the budget to re-engage Cespedes, so I suppose if the Mets want Walker they can do so with a compromise kind of multiyear deal, and just maybe, prepare him for a kind of caddy deal where his switch-hittingness becomes valuable for the bench while ushering in Gavin Cecchini who keeps on hitting.

While pursuit of a new deal for Cespedes could be hair raising it could be argued that the club already has the next-best available outfielder of a relatively weak class in Jay Bruce, and so I’m rooting for Sandy and the guys to make hay of this and surprise us.

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Flying High

63Thanks to prompts by MBTN reader Chris, and through the power of
the Ultimate Mets Database, and ultimately, to the health woes of the Mets vaunted starting 5 pitchers, we were indeed able to confirm that the Mets set all kinds of new records for Highest Combined Uni Number Lineup this past month.

First, a bit of context: The “records” we previously discussed here were only as good as the research backing it up, which until now involved diving blindly into thousands of daily lineups by hand with an eye on target-rich environments (the early years for low lineups, Sean Estes starts for high). Because MBTN was and still is the only outlet in the world that bothered to look up such info those records, these treasure hunts were the record, as far as anyone knew.

We can confirm today that our previous high-water mark of 274 (May 30, 2004) has been obliterated by the 2016 Mets several times over. As
Chris mentioned, they hit 278 on Sept. 30, but the new clubhouse leader is a whopping 324, set on Sept. 18 vs. the Twins:

16 DeAza

54 Rivera

52 Cespedes

30 Conforto

55 Johnson

18 d’Arnaud

21 Duda

15 Reynolds

63 Ynoa

It was a big month for big numbers. They hit 287 on Sept. 28, 285 on Sept. 25, etc. etc.

We’ll dig into the lowest numbers in another post soon!

 

 

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