Tag Archive for Luis Rojas

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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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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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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You Say It’s Your Birthday?

As we saw yesterday, hastily but hopefully promoted Luis Rojas officially took over as the team’s 23rd manager. I’m going to “count” Carlos Beltran’s 84-day run–they just happened all to be off-days.

Rojas slipped on the No. 19 jersey–not because his older brother Moises wore 18 and his father Felipe Alou famously wore 17 as a manager–but because of his birthday September 1– 1/9 as they would say in in most places.

Rojas would be first first Mets manager to wear 19, and the first issue of the number since late last year when Sam Haggarty (Sam Who-herty?) appeared, mostly as a pinch runner. Haggerty–who was one of the guys they got from Cleveland in the Kevin Plawecki deal–was dropped from the 40-man roster a few weeks back when Dellin Betances came aboard, and subsequently scooped up by Seattle.

Here’s a newly updated list of Mets Managers By the Number:

Manager Years Number
Casey Stengel 1962-65 37
Wes Westrum 1965-67 9
Salty Parker 1967 54
Gil Hodges 1968-71 14
Yogi Berra 1972-75 8
Roy McMillan 1975 51
Joe Frazier 1976-77 55
Joe Torre 1977-81 9
George Bamberger 1982-83 31
Frank Howard 1983 55
Davey Johnson 1984-1990 5
Bud Harrelson 1990-91 3
Mike Cubbage 1991 4
Jeff Torborg 1992-93 10
Dallas Green 1993-96 46
Bobby Valentine 1996-2002 2
Art Howe 2003-2004 18
Willie Randolph 2005-2008 12
Jerry Manuel 2008-2010 53
Terry Collins 2011-2017 10
Mickey Callaway 2018-2019 36/26*
Carlos Beltran 2020** 15
Luis Rojas 2020 19

*-Switched to 26 upon announcement of Jerry Koosman retirement, 9/24/19

**-Did not appear in a game.

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Coming Up Rojas

Since our last update you must be well aware the Mets were secondary effect victims of the Houston cheating scandal and so beat Carlos Beltran out of town like a bat into a trash can. As you know I wasn’t exactly on board with Beltran to start with, so while it all looks wobbly for the Mets the pivot to Luis Rojas probably isn’t all bad. I could see a small danger in providing a rookie skipper so little time to prepare for his first Spring Training–I tend to believe that smooth springs are a sign, if not the only sign, of good things ahead–and am aware of how poor starts in both his years were among the things that doomed Mickey Callaway’s clubs so count me as cautiously optimistic.

Rojas has good lineage–he’s among 10 children of Felipe Alou (he’s a product of his 3rd of his four wives, making him a half-brother of one-time Met Moises Alou, a nephew of one-time Met Jesus Alou, and a half-cousin of one-time Met Mel Rojas, himself a half-brother to Felipe, Jesus and Matty). “Alou” was Felipe’s mother’s last name and was “assigned” that when his father’s surname Rojas was lost in translation, yet passed along to Luis. Mel took his father’s name as he was born of a different mother than the Alou siblings. Got that?

Now, what number will he wear? Rojas in previous outings with the Mets has worn No. 60 as a guest coach and last year, a “quality control” coach. A look at the developing Mets roster would suggest however that 60 is assigned currently to both Rojas and assistant pitching coach Jeremy Accardo. We’ll figure it all out soon I hope.

Speaking now of the roster, that’s also coming into play… a little. In addition to Rojas coaches Jeremy Hefner, Tony DeFrancesco and Hensely Muelens have yet to be assigned, as have new 40-man arrivals Stephen Gonsalves, Jordan Humpheys, Thomas Szapuki, Ali Sanchez and Andres Gimenez, so I’ll stop short of publishing a full spring roster quite yet.

But I am noting the following new assignments: Jake Marisnick in 16; Rick Porcello in 22, conflicting for the moment with Dom Smith; and Michael Wacha in 45. Hopefully they they figure it all out by Spring Training.

*

Do you collect scorecards? I’m teaming up with a longtime MBTN benefactor to inventory our source materials (for me, all pre-1999 as this site has kept track since then). The collection, inspired in part by the Andy Hassler mystery mentioned below, has already turned up some very interesting new wrinkles which I’ll share with you all soon, one of them about the newest Met Hall of Famer, Jon Matlack. If you have old scorecards and want to help, do me a big solid and shoot the roster page, note the date to the best of your ability and send it in!

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Playing Bogar

The Mets appear to be narrowing the list of managerial candidates to succeed Mickey Callaway, with second interviews reportedly granted to Joe Girardi, Carlos Beltran, Eduardo Perez, Luis Rojas and Tim Bogar.

While the buzz until very recently would have Girardi as the favorite, reports indicate he may even have stronger internal support in Philadelphia, where the ex-Yankee and Marlin skipper has also interviewed.

Count me among those suspicious of Beltran, whom I liked enough as a player but whose history with the club for all its success wasn’t terrific, particularly in the realm of communication, and despite how seemingly easy it’s been for reporters to find folks to say all the right things about him. The other argument I’ve heard for Beltran is this idea that he’s the only man alive who could possibly get Yoenis Cespedes to contribute. I simply don’t believe that on its face.

Speaking of fanciful notions there are perspective-challenged fans out there  threatening mutiny if Girardi doesn’t come aboard; I’m sure the fact he’s been hired twice and interviewed by two clubs this time around speaks for his general acceptability for the role but it’s never as though there’s only one possibility. If the Phillies want him so bad, make him rich.

I don’t have much of an opinion of Eduardo Perez as a guy or a broadcaster, and all I can say about Luis Rojas is that the organization thinks highly of him, given how frequently he’s appeared in the dugout wearing weird numbers over the years.

And that brings us to Tim Bogar.

Tim Bogar? Why not?

He’ll be coming to the organization with the pixie dust of the Houston Washington juggernaut. His “experience” managing a big-league club is limited to 22 games– he was interim skipper for the 2014 Rangers following the firing of Ron Washington in 2014 and Texas went 14-8 under him (.636 winning percentage-a 103-win pace!!), but he’s a three-time minor league manager of the year and is well-thought of enough to have been in the employ as coach of good big-league teams like the Astros and Red Sox. Bogar also has front-office experience, serving his ex-Met teammate Jerry DiPoto when DiPoto GM’ed the Angels.

Though DiPoto’s reign in Anaheim ended amid friction with manager Mike Scioscia, DiPoto reappeared in Seattle and sent for Bogar who was named bench coach to Scott Servias. So one could argue Bogar has experience helping Robinson Cano have a productive year.

Finally, Bogar for all his seeming lack of sex appeal, is a Met–drafted by the club in 1987, and eventually making it to New York as a righthanded hitting, noodle-bat utility player/”emergency catcher” who lasted the entire Dallas Green era and the beginnings of the Bobby Valentine one, before being traded during spring training in 1997. (Interesting to note that as a coach in Boston, Bogar was said to have not gotten along with Valentine there either). Bogar you may remember wore No. 23 as a Met but surrendered that jersey in 1996 when the club acquired Bernard Gilkey and wore 11 that year.

But even Bogar’s trade–to Houston for Luis Lopez–paid ongoing dividends for the club as that deal was the seed in a still-flourishing trade tree that yielded Noah Syndergaard. Let’s follow it:

In 1997 Bogar was traded to Houston for Luis Lopez, who was traded in 2000 to Milwaukee for Bill Pulsipher, who was traded to Arizona later that year for Lenny Harris, who was swapped in 2001 to Milwaukee for Jeromy Burnitz, whose 2003 trade to Los Angeles yielded Victor Diaz, who in 2006 was traded for catcher Mike Nickeas. Nickeas remarkably lasted long enough in the organization to make the Mets in 2010 and was included in the earthshattering R.A. Dickey trade to Toronto in 2012, a deal yielding Travis d’Arnaud (whose branch died upon his release this year) and Noah Syndergaard.

Tim Bogar for manager!

Title inspiration by the magnificent skinny-tie new waving power poppers Any Trouble (1980):

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