Asdrubal Cabrera, the rarest kind of Met free agent signing who turned out to be better than anyone bargained for, is off to the Phillies for a minor league pitcher. Oh yeah, and Juerys Familia has been traded to Oakland.
Sell, sell, sell.
For a guy I never really wanted to have on the team in the first place, and was certain would explode any second, Cabrera surprised me as much as any Mets player I can remember in recent times. I wonder if there’s time for Jerry Blevins to take back the No. 13 he surrendered to Cabrera upon his signing a few years back (Blevins as also testing free-agent waters at that time).
This may not matter in the end if any contenders can be convinced Blevins had anything left. That’s a guy they stuck with too long.
Meantime everyone’s all excited that Jeff McNeil is here finally but what the heck, 68? They had lots of time to think about this. Get the man a dignified number already, what is he a bullpen catcher? He’s an infielder! Give him No. 6! Give it up, Roessler! You’re interfering with history, man!
What else? Jason Vargas is back, Corey Oswalt is back down. That’s no bueno, and not really in line with the idea of the future teams that cough up their closer and best hitter in July are supposed to be doing. Austin Jackson was signed as a free agent, they gave him the same No. 16 that belonged to Kevin Kaczmarski earlier this year, and send Mat den Dekker down. It was a crime to see den Dekker in 23.
There have been an awful lot of Mets this year. The addition of Jackson (the 1,063rd Met of all time, doncha know) makes it 51 so far, and the trade deadline (Mesoraco, Blevins, Wheeler?) is still three days away. The team record of 54, set in 1967, is in real danger.
So as I write this, the Mets will end the so-called first half of the year either 14 games under .500 or 16 games deep (and maybe if we get rained out, 15). Any one is a farce and speaks to a truly dreadful year in which we learned that young players don’t always perform well and older guys don’t stay healthy, first-year managers make lots of mistakes, and the destabilizing effect of a meddlesome and accountability-free front office in the throes of crisis, completely unprepared for a succession.
Actually we learned every one of those things before, but thanks for the reminder, Mets.
Now here’s the punchline: I’d been slow to catch up to this week’s comings and goings in part because I was too busy going to Mets games.
Last Sunday’s nice weather tempted us to head out as a family only to see a near no-hitter. My regular Tuesday night game with my brother was nearly a repeat but notable because I did to recognize the day’s starting pitcher when I saw it listed and I’m a guy who makes it his business to be on top of that kind of stuff. Then on Friday it was the annual outing with scattered former work colleagues. That one turned out nice, with a big assist from an exceedingly sloppy Washington club.
So meet Drew Gagnon. He nearly got five innings in, had a little bit of bad luck, but when it was over took an 11.57 ERA back to Las Vegas where he’s got to be wondering whether he’ll ever a shot at big-leaguedom again. Gagnon was issued No. 47, which we last saw on Hansel Robles.
Matt den Dekker is also back in action. I liked seeing this addition as the guy could always go and get in center field, and that’s what he’s been doing. He’s wearing 23 now, and not the 6 he used to in his first go-round, since 6 remains tragically bogarted by hitting coach Pat Roessler, and the No. 16 he was wearing in Spring Training had been relegated to since-demoted outfielder Kevin Kaczmarski. 23 belonged last to Adrian Gonzalez.
The Mets are racing toward a record number of players on the roster in a single year — an active trade deadline could nearly assure it — but thus far have only re-issued numbers three times (23, 47 and 62), believe it or not. That’s in part because of their willingness to just keep going higher. That’s one thing to watch as the SHaMs (Second-HAlf Mets) get underway.
I was traveling for work and missed the reliable and alert Matt B passing along the following comment:
10 – Gary DiSarcina
20 – Ruben Amaro Jr.
21 – Todd Frazier
23 – Adrian Gonzalez
36 – Mickey Callaway
38 – Anthony Swarzak
56 – Tom Slater
58 – Dave Eiland
59 – Jose Lobaton
83 – Tim Tebow
Little we hadn’t guessed already except for the Swarzak reveal. All these years, all those guys, and I still think No. 38 is Skip Lockwood (and Buzz Capra) which I suppose is better than thinking of Victor Zambrano and Vic Black. Dan Warthen was the last guy to wear it. The Mets still haven’t published an official roster yet so I’ll fill in the blanks when they do that or when I take my next trip — to Florida in a couple of weeks to see some Spring Training games for the first time in a while.
There may still be a few more guys showing up. The Mets resigned Matt den Dekker to a minor league deal. You might recall he wore No. 6 in his previous tour of duty, that belongs now to hitting coach Pat Roessler. Yesterday came more indication the Mets are looking at Jason Vargas, the lefty given away when Omar Minaya uselessly moved heaven and earth to acquire JJ Putz. Vargas wore 43 in his last tour.
This just in: An updated Mets roster now lists newly acquired reliever Alex Torres in 54 and coach Dave Racaniello in 53: This is consistent with Torres’ digits in previous stops in Tampa and San Diego. Also new to the coaching ranks is assistant hitting coach Pat Roessler, wearing the popular No. 6, the roster shows (Thanks Jason for the heads-up). Roessler was wearing 60 until Matt den Dekker’s departure, and would be the first coach to wear the uni. I disapprove of this.
We’re adding them to the sacred scrolls of the all-time Mets numerical roster today as the club takes on the Nationals to begin 2015. Joining Torres for the first time are Jerry Blevins (13); Sean Gilmartin (36); Micheal Cuddyer (23) and John Mayberry (44); new coaches Roessler (6) and Kevin Long (57); and in new numbers, Travis d’Arnaud (7); Buddy Carlyle (43); coaches Bob Geren (15) and Racaniello (53).
Before we get started: It doesn’t mean anything, and a peek at the archives would reveal I’ve been ready to go to war with less A LOT, but I should just come out and confess I’ve been a Mets fan for something like 40 years and can’t remember a better Spring Training. Let’s Go Mets!
It was only an hour or so after the news that the Mets had swapped for Alex Torres that it was announced they’d traded Matt den Dekker to Washington for a true lefty specialist, Jerry Blevins. This appeared to put the Torres acquisition in perspective as a more general bullpen depth addition which given the shaky health of Bobby Parnell and Vic Black — not to mention the performance of Jennry Mejia over the last six months (you could look it up, but don’t) — seemed to make sense.
Despite it reminding me more of Billy Wagner than I want to be reminded, Blevins can step right into the No. 13 jersey which has been unissued since Josh Satin took it off a year ago. Just as significantly, the trade reopens No. 6, to which den Dekker brought relative stability, having held it down since July of 2013. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see No. 6 next on the back of Daniel Muno, the presumptive middle infielder if Daniel Murphy can’t make the squad.
From a baseball point of view I liked den Dekker but it was obvious his opportunity to be significant in New York was receding as Juan Lagares’s star was rising and other than the luxury of a decent reserve in AAA, he’s better off getting a chance to play. As for Blevins, the numbers suggest he’s a terrific lefty-killer and will be called to demonstrate as much vs. Bryce Harper and Freddy Freeman. His arrival makes me wonder how the Nats will manage to retire Granderson or Duda when they need to.
Another rough stretch, another few victims, another media crisis, more angry fans in a panic.
So it goes for the Mets, who unexpectedly whacked hitting coach Dave Hudgens — and predictably cashiered gasbag reliever Jose Valverde — following a disheartening Memorial Day debacle. It wasn’t long after Hudgens took leave that his opinions concerning the effect of fans booing and criticisms from team broadcasters were speeding around the circuit, and he followed that up this afternoon by remarking on the team’s “purse strings” — a fresh serving of red meat for stimulated fans who’d somehow convinced themselves that Sandy Alderson hasn’t been deftly splitting hairs for years now when he’s asked about financial constraints governing the ongoing turnaround.
That all the issues — the booing, the Keith, the money, the hitting, the bullpen — are at some level related is the story of the season so far and the burden the Mets are dragging around everywhere. And there was certainly a whiff of Wilponian sneakiness to the Hudgens affair. He was quite obviously one of Sandy’s pet hirings, and replaced by a guy, Lamar Johnson, who’d been hanging around Mettown for a decade. On the other hand, maybe parting with Hudgens was Sandy’s offering to the bloodlusters — dopes in the press eager to link the offensive struggles to the organizational hitting strategy as part of an ongoing effort to bring down Sabermetics and prove the Earth is flat — and an acknowledgement that despite the process, the results called for a change.
So Lamar Johnson is here, the first No. 57 since Johan Santana — and Hudgens has turned in No. 51. Valverde has turned in 47. Elsewhere we’ve seen the return of Matt den Dekker in No. 6 and Josh Edgin in 66, and Vic Black, still No. 38.
Middle-infield reserve candidate and local Jersey guy Anthony Seratelli is wearing No. 2. Guess who for. And I was gonna root for the guy. At the risk of sounding like a crotchety old man, I’m already sick of the retirement Victory Lap.
As suspected, Andrew Brown is now hanging around wearing No. 30 and looks like Jose Valverde has taken over 47.
Brown notwithstanding, it’s a little bit weird how the Mets have tended recently to flip the traditional assignments between infielders and outfielders. That could just be an impression and could be explained in part by Murphy and Davis occupying digits in the high-20s (and I have to tell you, I don’t much like that). But some potential starting outfields this year could combine to as little as 10 (Young-den Dekker-Granderson) or more realistically, 16 with Lagares there instead.
I’ll still wager Ike Davis won’t make it to opening day with the Mets, and it may not have anything to do with Stephen Drew. Rather I still believe it makes too much sense not to turn our redundancies at first base, the outfield (Eric Young?) and young pitching (to the extent you can have enough young pitching) into the things we still could use (a shortstop).
On this day in 1999, Mets by the Numbers was born. That’s 15 years ago! While the very earliest stuff has been absorbed into Internet heaven you can get a glimpse of our hard-hitting take on the breaking Rick Reed-Matt Lawton trade from 2001 here. Those posts and more are of course all backed up here using the archives tab.
Making small headlines over the weekend was the Mets’ annual signing of reserve infielder Omar Quintanilla to a minor league deal. This marks the third winter in a row they’ve done exactly that, and Quintanilla twice now has gone on to play a bigger role than that minor assignment might have indicated.
Now if that happens a third time (and given the Mets shortstop situation why wouldn’t it?) we’ll be in for an interesting dilemma. Quintanilla wore No. 6 his first time through town, but by the time he’d been dealt off to Baltimore and returned the jersey went to Kelly Shoppach, then to Marlon Byrd, then, most recently, to Matt den Dekker. Quintanilla instead was issued No. 3 for 2013; a move that incidentally forced Josh Satin to a new number (13). Now between his release in December and annual January return the Mets have assigned No. 3 to Curtis Granderson, assuring that Quintanilla, should he return to active duty in 2014, do so in his third different uniform number.