Tag Archive for Juan Lagares

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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Addition By Subtraction

Sorry for the dearth of posts lately! Among other things, the MBTN Headquarters building moved to Queens from Brooklyn after 15 years. Like Carlos Beltran, this is a return engagement in the boro: MBTN, now approaching its 21st birthday was born in Manhattan and moved to Queens shortly thereafter, decamping for Brooklyn in 2004.

Also, how can I say this? It hasn’t been a very inspiring offseason yet, unless you are a fan of addition by subtraction. By this I mean the Wilpons and not Zack Wheeler. Five years by my estimation is way too many (for the Wilpons, not Zack Wheeler). That, and the silly chatter on ugly black uniforms, idiotic threats of trading Brandon Nimmo for Starling Marte, and the latest Yoenis Cespedes kerfluffle… So far, yuck.

I’ll miss Zack Wheeler, who departs New York as the Mets’ all-time strikeout king among guys who wore #45 (and 12th among wearers of any Met uniform). He was second to Tug McGraw in win s and innings; and second to Mark Carreon in hits, doubles, runs, home runs, and RBI. He was a good player and I especially don’t like that he wound up in Philly.

To replace him, the Mets have signed two down-on-their-luck veterans, both of whom believe they’re going to be starters, begging the question as to who’ll be the odd man out among the returnees. I could probably get behind Steven Matz going the bullpen but not sure if that’s what the club has in mind. Perhaps they’ll copy other clubs and do “bullpen games.” The new guys are Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha.

As relayed in the comments by MBTN reader Richard, Wacha wore No. 52 with the Cardinals, which is not available if Yoenis Cespeds overcomes whatever foolish activity he took up while rehabbing and cost himself millions. Wacha wore No. 38 at Texas A&M, but that’s taken by Justin Wilson.  I’m pencilling him in to wear 45. Shudder.

Porcello wore No. 22 on the Red Sox and prior to that, Nos. 21 and 48 with the Tigers. Richard relayed: “My guess is he takes #21 since Todd Frazier won’t return. He could also take #22 if Dom Smith is traded.” I’m on board with 21 myself seeing as Porcello also replaces Frazier as the obligatory resident New Jersey guy, and I don’t want to trade Dom Smith. I almost wanna trade Alonso instead: Bigger reward, worse glove, even a little older, and I think it’s going to be hard to match the magnificence of his 2019 year (Alonso, not Smith). No way though will the Mets have the stones to try that.

In the outfield the Mets have added ex-Astros speedster Jake Marisnick, who looks as though he’ll take over Juan Lagares’ role as the right-handed hitting, glove-first, pinch-running, late-inning-defensing center fielder. Marisnick wore No. 6 in Houston; with Jeff McNeil occupying that now let’s pencil in Jake as No. 12.

A bunch of other guys have also arrived, re-upped and departed. Brad Brach is back (No. 29) after a handful of decent bullpen appearances last year. New to the 40-man roster and looking for uni assignments are pitchers Stephen Gonsalves, who wore No. 59 in a couple of appearances with the Twins two years ago; and minor-leaguers Jordan Humpheys and Thomas Szapucki; catcher Ali Sanchez and infield prospect Andres Gimenez.

We can also cut official ties with Lagares (12); Wheeler (45); Kevin Kaczmarski (16); Aaron Altherr (23); Drew Gagnon (47); Chris Flexen (64) and Chris Mazza (74). Another 40-man cut is coming when they add Porcello.

New coaches? We have them too. Jeremy Hefner (remember him?) wore the coachly No. 53 as a Met back in 2014; he could take that over from departing first-base coach Glenn Sherlock. We’ve also added Hensley Meulens as the bench coach. Meulens wore No. 31 (I think) in the same role for the Giants last year and so would need a new assignment, as will new first-base coach Tony DeFrancesco. The remarkable Phil Regan (No. 58) is out as pitching coach.

We’ll build a winter roster soon! Much still to do though.

 

 

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Carlos Danger

Congratulations to Carlos Beltran who in a move I can barely get my head around is returning to the Mets, as their manager, apparently with Terry Collins as his bench-coaching sidekick.

The move is so unusual on so many levels, and I’m so suspicious of the Mets’ motives generally, that I’m having a hard time getting past downside scenarios and telling myself this was another one of those gigantic Wilponian compromises that reveals the club’s elemental obsession to be praised and its terrifyingly paranoid internal workings.

It’s a move with something for everyone: Fans get a figure they loved; players get a guy who engenders reverential respect; Brodie gets a back-page win and enhances his brand of bold unpredictability; Fred gets a white-haired old baseball man; Jeff gets ticket sales and presumably, cover for budget consciousness; and the press gets lots to write about and a return of not one but two good quotes.

But I still found myself though with lost of worries off the bat. If things go wrong, and they will at times, how will the rookie skipper manage? And if gets really bad, and it might, will the club ever have the juice to fire a guy certain to be elected to the Hall of Fame during his tenure as manager?  Is Terry here as a kind of shadow Xs and Os man and Beltran merely a front–and what happens if they don’t get along? What will the players make of the re-installation of a guy they were told wasn’t good enough to manage them only a few seasons before? And would you trade the new manger for 7 more years of Zack Wheeler?

I realize a lot of these worries have upside too and as expressed below I might personally have been inclined to try a guy with less built-in like Tim Bogar but I’m willing to give it a shot. That, as they say, is why they play the games.

As to the unis, 15 is available for Beltran and 10 most recently belonged to first-base coach Gary Disarcina who may or may be not be back.

And speaking of those who won’t be back and for that matter of center fielders from Puerto Rico, the Mets have made it official they were parting ways with Juan Lagares, who started off better than anyone expected but who also would progress less than might have been hoped. Juan played more games wearing No. 12 than all but John Stearns and Ken Boswell and departs as the uniform’s greatest triple-hitter of all time. Joe Panik (2) and Donnie Hart (68) also became free agents after refusing minor-league assignments.

Other Met free agents are Luis Avilan (43), Brad Brach (29), Rajai Davis (18), Todd Frazier (21), Rene Rivera (44) and Wheeler (45).

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Brach … And Roll

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.

 

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A Decade of Dumbth

I’ve mentioned this over the years, and perhaps this makes me come off as the grumpy old fart I’m becoming but my Met fandom was irreparably damaged by 2008, when the Mets coughed up another playoff gimmee, they joyously destroyed Shea Stadium, the Bernie Madoff scandal that would ensnare the Wilpons and cripple the Mets for year was revealed, and Omar Minaya in a show of foolish bloodthirstiness followed the idiotic signing of Francisco Rodriguez with an even stupider trade that amazin’ly, still resonates.

Today the Mets announced they’ve signed Ezequiel Carerra, one of the five guys they threw away for a few ineffective months of JJ Putz, to help fill the void created by Juan Lagares’ season-ending foot injury suffered the other night. Carerra, may be no great shakes, but joins Joe Smith, and the boomeranging Jason Vargas as guys still worth something ten years after that stupid trade. Drives me nuts.

I’ve caught up with the comings and goings. Luis Guillorme is wearing 15, and Buddy Baumann got No. 77 and stunk it up, DJ Carrasco style. Paternity leave (Bruce, Blevins) and injuries (Robles, Cespedes, Lagares) resulted in shuttling to and fro of PJ Conlon, Corey Oswalt, Dominic Smith, Phillip Evans and Jacob Rhame; only the latter two remain here in New York, where its raining again and we may not play.

 

At least we seem to have gotten Syndergaard and deGrom wins this week.

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Nineteenth Nervous Breakdown

Jay Bruce wasn’t gone long enough to even reissue his number 19, but speculation as to his uni is the least of my questions this morning.

It seems more than possible that given the shaky defense as constructed and a potentially crowded outfield again the Mets signed Bruce to a three-year contract not to patrol right field but to play first base, and that their extra outfielder (Nimmo or Lagares); and Dominic Smith, the young first baseman with a tenuous hold on his job, could be their on their ways out. I’m just making this up, but could two of them go in a trade for someone else’s center fielder? That would seem to make sense from a number of angles, and if that center fielder in question happens to be Andrew McCutcheon, well that’s convenient too in that he and Smith both rock No. 22.

I’m as excited as the next guy about feeding the big-league club with our own seedlings but Major League first basemen are especially hard things to develop in captivity. Maybe it’s been done before but you wouldn’t want to bet on a first baseman who may or may not be capable of contributing at the big-league level and also compete — just think about how long it took Lucas Duda to establish himself, and even then…

The other question the Mets need to ask themselves is if Smith works out, how good can he be? There’s little doubt the guy is capable of good on-base percentage and line drive hitting — there are worse skills to have and I’m not suggesting the Mets couldn’t use that — but if it all adds up to a career like James Loney and not like, say, Joey Votto, is it worth the investment? We’re more assured to have another young guy in the lineup everyday in Rosario anyway, and if we manage to hang onto Brandon Nimmo, we’ll get the seeming skill set of Smith anyhow.

 

If Sandy Alderson is thinking along with me, he just signed his regular first baseman and will very shortly be sending Smith to Pittsburgh in a Uni Swap. Perhaps Nimmo or (my preference) Lagares go along with him, but one of those two also gets moved shortly, if not in a Pirates deal to a loser in the Lorenzo Cain sweepstakes.

Oh, and welcome back, Jay. Thoughts?

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And I Approve of this Message

12Hey, have you checked out the new book yet? Here’s a Q&A I did recently about the site, the book, and other stuff with Diane Firstman at her site, Value Over Replacement Grit.

Also my friend Sam from Rising Apple had me on as a guest in his podcast this week. Our chat, with fellow Met historian geeks Mike and Rich, might still be going on but I had to feed the cats.

I’m trying to keep up hopes up over tonight’s game and the the entire season, but Juan Lagares just hit into a double play. Rats.

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Top of the Order

So there’s Travis d’Arnaud, aka “Shoeless Aud,” wearing his new No. 7 jersey. Could you also see him in a new lineup position?

7Let me begin by saying I’m generally if not wildly optimistic for the Mets chances this year. I like the additions of Cuddyer and Mayberry. I believe that David Wright could still rebound, and I think Wilmer Flores is a bold choice in a year where offense is going to be hard to find. I think a solid starting staff and bullpen might be constructed just from what *doesn’t* make the opening-day roster this year. That’s all very encouraging.

Where I’m concerned is that they don’t really have an ideal leadoff hitter, and I worry especially that they’ll try to shoehorn Juan Lagares into that role. It’s not that I don’t believe Lagares could ever become a leadoff guy (though I have doubts), it’s that given his low walk rates and seeming luck on balls-in-play (he BABIPped at 340 vs. a league average of 300) I’d prefer he demonstrate whatever nascent leadoff skills he possesses as a 7th or 8th place hitter and let someone generally more qualified garner the extra trips and run-building opportunities that come with the role.

I’m not arguing that Travis d’Arnaud should be a leadoff hitter either, but I might be tempted to try him there sooner than I would Lagares. His walk rate is better and BABIP ought to improve, and his superior extra-base power could get us some early leads in road games, which I’d prefer over whatever advantage you might realize from Lagares’ stolen bases. Actually the club would seem to favor Curtis Granderson (or let’s face it, Kirk Nieuwenhuis) leading off, but I can see the argument for getting Grandy’s bat more in the mix off all those middle-of-the-order righties – yet another consequence of the Mets not having gathered in a lefthanded hitting shortstop over the offseason.

Who leads off for your 2015 Mets?

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