Tag Archive for Neil Walker

Tic Tac Toe

During Sunday’s victory over the Braves, an unusual and perceptive notice popped up in my feed. In the bottom of the first inning, Jay Bruce reached on an error, Neil Walker singled and Lucas Duda followed with a base-on-balls, setting up the following bases-loaded situation as described here by TJ:

Not to speak for Elias Sports, but I’d bet it is. I’ve played around a little bit trying to determine whether the Mets ever had an all-ascending uni number starting lineup (haven’t found one yet) and I can recall lots of notable sequential teammates but this question never occurred to me and figuring out would be a task, which is why I’m opening it up to you guys out there.

My first thought on this matter was the possibility of the 16-17-18 combo of Gooden on third, Hernandez on second and Strawberry on first, which had lots of opportunity to happen. Their teammates on the ’86 champs Wally Backman, Kevin Mitchell and Gary Carter, had a whole season of opportunity to pull this one off too, but also hard to envision a scenario where Backman stops at third. Foster-Gooden-Hernanez 15-17 would be a less likely scenario but I don’t want to rule it out yet.

Looking further into the likely possibilities would also require an examination of the 1969 World Champs, who had Agee, Jones and Clendenon stacked up 20-22 (Tim Foli, No. 19 in 1970-71, could be another engine in this train). Back when numbers were lower and retirements fewer we can envision scenarios of Ashburn on first, Throneberry at second and Bouchee or Harkness on 3rd, but I got no idea.

Anyone brave enough to dive into this please speak up!

Following is my list of notable Mets teammates wearing consecutive numbers, though by no means an exhaustive list of all possibilities over the years:

6 numbers:
1986: Foster 15, Gooden 16, Hernandez 17, Strawberry 18, Ojeda 19, Johnson 20
1987–88: Aguilera 15, Gooden 16, Hernandez 17, Strawberry 18, Ojeda 19, Johnson 20
1989: Darling 15, Gooden 16, Hernandez 17, Strawberry 18, Ojeda 19, Johnson 20

5 numbers:
1989: Gooden 16, Hernandez 17, Strawberry 18, Ojeda 19, Johnson 20

3 numbers:
1968–71: Seaver 41, Taylor 42, McAndrew 43
1969–71: Agee 20, Jones 21, Clendenon 22
1975–77: Kingman 26, Swan 27, Milner 28
1986: Backman 6, Mitchell 7, Carter 8
1992: Gooden 16, Cone 17, Saberhagen 18
2015-17: Matz 32, Harvey 33, Syndergaard 34
2016-17: Bruce 19, Walker 20, Duda 21

*

 

Goodbye and good luck to Ty Kelly, the reserve we were discussing below, and who was claimed off waivers by the Blue Jays yesterday. This Ty was no Cobb, but I liked having on the team.

 

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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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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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Send Me an Angel

59The Mets following Wednesday’s victory over the sinking Marlins said they have acquired veteran right-handed reliever Fernando Salas from the Angels in exchange for Class A pitcher Erik Manoah. Salas, a one-time closer with the Cardinals and currently serving that role part-time in Anaheim, is expected to add depth to the “7th-inning” level of the Met bullpen, where Hansel Robles and Jim Henderson have encountered recent struggles.

49Salas has worn No. 59 in both St. Louis and in Anaheim, although that figure currently belongs to Josh Smoker. It would seem an awful lot of work to accommodate him but it could be done if Smoker goes back to the 49 he was issued when he first arrived, or grabs one of the few remaining unassigned numbers (2, 46, 53, 58). More likely though we’ll see Salas in one of those.

00Here’s a suggestion though. What if they took advantage of SALAS’ palindromic qualities and gave him a number that looks the same frontward and backward? 00?

Salas’ arrival by the way ensures he can be post-season eligible, as can the four guys the Mets have already announced are getting recalls from Class AAA Vegas: Michael Conforto (30), Kevin Plawecki (26), Ty Kelly (56) and Gabriel Ynoa (63). With news that Neil Walker is also likely to be out for the rest of the year you wonder if or when Gavin Cecchini gets a call but perhaps this is T.J. Rivera’s time to shine.

Four games into the below mentioned “21-12” scenario, the Mets are 3-1 and sure enough are making the progress they have to towards the playoffs but my pennant fever at this point is still just an itchy rash. As I’ve said all year if and when they puncture that 10-games-over plateau, maybe the temperature rises.

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Here Come the SHaMs!

That’s the Second-Half Mets, who are going to need to be considerably better than their first-half counterparts if they want to turn this year into something.

I’m not saying they can’t do that, and I’m definitely not saying I’m not rooting for it, but based on what we saw in the first half, I have my doubts.

21I’d have felt better had the team managed to pierce the 10-games-over-.500 barrier but we only approached it several times before settling back into that 80-something win pace. Nobody seems to be acknowledging the biggest loss for the club was big Lucas Duda, who allowed guys like Neil Walker to bat 6th or 7th instead of 4th or 5th. Duda is a mysterious creature. Do we even know how he broke his back? Is his return even a possibility? I’m skeptical of a strong back half without him or someone as terrifying.

20I like Walker enough, but he’s not a middle-of-the-order guy and he hasn’t been much of a force since April. The Mets have Flores, Hererra, Reyes, Reynolds and Cecchini as potential middle infielders. The Mets have no doubt gotten the better of the Niese-Walker swap so far but you wonder, with the Pirates potentially losing an infielder (Kang) and the Mets a starting pitcher, whether they’d shake hands, swap apartments again and pretend it never happened. Niese has been awful, but throw in a prospect, Pittsburgh, and maybe you have a deal. While you’re at it, would you be interested in a reunion with Antonio Bastardo?

Michael Conforto plummeted even more dramatically than Walker but appears to be regaining his stroke in AAA. His return to form would be a considerable boost. Jose Reyes’ return seems to have interrupted Brandon Nimmo’s shot at becoming the leadoff hitter we were looking for anyway. Referring to my recent failed campaign to outfit Travis d’Arnaud in a new number an MBTN reader made a clever suggestion that I might support in helping Conforto to a better second half:

 

I’m all for it, Eric.

33They say it’ll all come down to pitching in the end and I agree. Matt Harvey’s loss, while disappointing, isn’t a setback for the club inasmuch as he wasn’t doing nearly enough to help them win when he was out there. Do they trade for a reliable 5th starter type (Niese again!) or trust things to Sean Gilmartin, and Seth Lugo and Logan Verrett? Maybe they aim a little higher and come away with a Jorge De La Rosa or Rich Hill. Maybe the injury to Snydergaard is worse than expected and they unload. I guess we have to wait and see.

Finally, my friend Conor captured this video from the National broadcast over the weekend! Go us!

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Struggling Sophomores

So it’s come to this.

Swept by the Braves at home, the third-place Mets are expected to, and let’s face it, probably ought to, shake the team up at least a little before the hated Royals arrive for a two-game set starting Tuesday.

26Some of the changes appear obvious. Travis d’Arnaud will return behind the plate and hopefully, he’ll stay healthy. It appears very likely that Kevin Plawecki to Last Vegas will be the corresponding move. No excuse for how poorly he’s hit — wearing 26, Plawecki’s barely any different than the overmatched 22 he was in his rookie year — but thanks in part to d’Arnaud’s fragility Plawecki’s never had that two months in Las Vegas he so obviously needs.

30Will Michael Conforto join him on that plane? It would appear to be a consideration, and one I advocated weeks ago. I have little doubt Conforto can and will be a very good hitter but it’s long past the point where he ought to work out his issues in Las Vegas, even for just a short while.

Top draft pick Brandon Nimmo is having a fabulous year out there by the way, slashing better than 300/400/500 (that’s a positively Fonzerian line), is already on the 40-man roster, and could presumably succeed as a leadoff hitter. That would allow Curtis Granderson to drop in the order and take up at least some of the power slack. Nimmo wears No. 7 in Vegas, but 9 — and 1 — are just sitting around waiting for someone here.

Less likely in my estimation — but inevitable it would seem — will be a reacquaintance with Dilson Hererra. I don’t think that happens unless Neil Walker is hurt, or traded, but I wouldn’t necessarily reject the latter idea. Walker’s a free agent to be and won’t get “Murphy Money” from us, and isn’t on a 40-home-pace any more.

16Finally it takes a special kind of uselessness to be a reserve and yet fail to fit into this lineup but it’s my guess Alejandro De Aza won’t be around for too much longer. Traded? Released?

59The bullpen may also get a rocking, although injuries may determine that as much as performance. Even if Antonio Bastardo were having a good season, which he’s not, his deliberate pace drives me crazy as a fan and he would appear vulnerable but for the expectations that come with his career and contract, and the fact that’s he a left-handed relief pitcher. Hansel Robles, like Conforto and Plawecki, may just need a few weeks in AAA to work things out. Sophomores.

What are your thoughts?

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The Ex Files, 2016

Andrew Beaton’s welcome-home profile of new Mets second baseman Neil Walker includes this fascinating detail: Walker, it turns out, has taken over the Upper East Side apartment lease of Jon Niese, the man he was traded for over the winter.

18And no, Jon Niese didn’t move into Walker’s parent’s home in Pittsburgh, but he did turn up wearing Walker’s former uniform number, 18, in Pittsburgh, making the trade a Reverse Uni Swap. Niese you may have seen, started the other day for the Pirates and was positively Niese-like: 5 innings, 4 earned runs, 7 whiffs, and a no-decision.

Here’s a look at a few other ex-2015 Mets and their new numerical identities:

Daniel Murphy is wearing No. 20 in Washington, where fans say #TheyreWith28 when it comes to outfielder Jayson Werth.

In Milwaukee, Kirk Nieuwenhuis has suited up in No. 10 and Carlos Torres in 59, changes from their respective 9 and 52/72 here. Kirk beat out former teammate Eric Young Jr. for the reserve outfield slot with the Brewers.

Departed heroes of 2015’s famous bench-strength acquisition: Atlanta Brave Kelly Johnson wears No. 24, while Juan Uribe is wearing No. 4 and a skicap with the Indians.

We unfortunately didn’t get deep enough into Kansas City’s bullpen earlier this week to see Dillon Gee, who reverses his customary 35 with the World Champs, wearing 53.

Phinally in Phoenix, irritating short reliever Tyler Clippard wears No. 19. He was 46 last time around in New York.

Scattered rubble of the National League champs including Scott Rice (Arizona), Eric O’Flaherty (Pittsburgh), Wilfredo Tovar (Minnesota), Jack Leathersich (Chicago Cubs), Alex Torres (Atlanta), Anthony Recker (Cleveland), Darrell Ceciliani (Toronto) and Bobby Parnell (Detroit) didn’t crack opening-day rosters.

Welcome home Mets!

 

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Sweet Sixteen

Glad to see the Mets get off the schneid just once before we go to war Sunday night in Kansas City. As noted below this was hardly the most encouraging warmup I’ve ever experienced but I’m thankful we’ll be answering the bell with relatively good health and a ton of promise. Hopefully, we kick the shit out of Kansas City.

The opening roster, announced yesterday, indicates we’ll soon be welcoming the following men to the All-time roster:

13 Asdrubal Cabrera
16 Alejando De Aza
20 Neil Walker
51 Jim Henderson
59 Anotnio Bastardo

They would bring the scrolls through 1,013 1,012.

Joining the field staff for the first time is bench coach Dick Scott, wearing No. 23, while Kevin Plawecki and coach Tom Goodwin pulled an offseason trade, with Plawecki taking 26 and Goodwin 22. Reliever Jerry Blevins is in a new number, 39, and coach Dan Warthen in 38.

11Ruben Tejada’s departure in the meantime opened up No. 11 should third-base coach Tim Teufel want to return to the number he wore as a Mets player: The roster posted at Mets.com indicates that’s the case but I thought I spied him ont he televised game from Vegas the other day still in 18. Any help?

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Glad Tidings from New York

20Neil Walker on Tuesday crashed the Mets’ annual holiday party at Citi Field, showing off what appears to be his new uni number, 20. Walker would be the first second baseman to wear 20 since 2000 Mets legend Kurt Abbott. Uh, yeah. Anthony Recker wore 20 last but as you may have heard the handsome backup catcher signed a deal with the Indians following the season.

Walker by the way said he wore 20 to honor his dad, Tom Walker, who as you can see here wore the same for the Montreal Expos. Neil reached the big leagues with the Pirates only to learn 20 had been retired for Pie Traynor.

13Later on Tuesday, the Mets and erstwhile lefty stopper Jerry Blevins agreed on a new deal for 2016. Blevins you may recall arrived at the eve of the ’15 season and did an all-around super job getting the Bryce Harpers and Freddie Freemans of the league out before fracturing an arm the same day that Travis d’Arnaud went down with an injury. Only Blevins never made it back to the team by suspiciously re-breaking the same arm shortly before his expected return.

If that’s not enough reason by itself to surrendered No. 13 the rule requiring all Venezuelan shortstops wear No. 13 trumped it.

What will Blevins return in? Only a guess but 15 is available now that Bob Geren is going.

43In other news the Mets have invited Buddy Carlyle to go after a third assignment with the team and possibly, a third uni number. He’s been 44 then 43 so far.

 

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Abra-Cabrera

Interesting day out in Nashville, no?

18No sooner had Ben Zobrist left the Mets at the altar they turn around and score with a lookalike in Pittsburgh’s Neil Walker, then go out and buy another infielder, Asdrubal Cabrera.

Interestingly enough, Walker, like Zobrist, is a longtime wearer of the No. 18 jersey so little changes with regard to the prediction that coach Tim Teufel needs to find another number. The Cabrera signing in the meantime would seem to portend an end to Ruben Tejada‘s Mets career — a moment I mentally prepared for at least two years ago — which would free up Teufel’s playing-career No. 11 should he want it.

49Walker as you know cost the Mets their all-time No. 49, Jon Niese, in a deal that also essentially ends the Mets lifetime for their all-time No. 28, Daniel Murphy. I strongly associate the two of them (and Bobby Parnell, also a likely goner) as the best remainders of the Omar Minaya Era, all three adequate major league players jettisoned before they got too expensive.

13In their defense, that also describes Walker and Cabrera, a new middle infield combination likely to outhit their predecessors, and maybe out-field them too. I say “maybe” because I haven’t found much supporting Cabrera’s D even though I can’t recall ever having watched him closely myself, while there’s been rumblings from Pirates fans over Walker’s limited range at second base. If so, the Mets are giving me something less than I’d hoped while patching up the team: that is, give themselves a better chance through better fundamental play at key spots. At least they’ll hit more.

Cabrera you won’t be surprised to learn is a Venezuelan shortstop who favors No. 13: That jersey is technically available while Jerry “I broke my arm twice” Blevins tests the free agent market.

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