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When I’m 64

So there it is. Carlos Mendoza today said he’d give up the No. 28 that reminded him of fleeting moments of youthful glory as a ballplayer so that JD Martinez will feel comfortable in his new home. Mendoza is switching to 64, which I fear is a little too undignified for a big-league manager. It also means third-base coach Mike Sarbaugh will need to find another number. 50 is theoretically available as its Phil Bickford whose been designated for assignment by the Mets to make room for Martinez on the 40.

Mendoza it should go without saying is the first No. 64 to manage the Mets and wearer of the highest-ever number among managers, knocking Frank Howard and Joe Frazier from the lead. Behold the sacred list.

Manager Years Number
1. Casey Stengel 1962-65 37
2. Wes Westrum 1965-67 9
3. Salty Parker 1967 54
4. Gil Hodges 1968-71 14
5. Yogi Berra 1972-75 8
6. Roy McMillan 1975 51
7. Joe Frazier 1976-77 55
8. Joe Torre 1977-81 9
9. George Bamberger 1982-83 31
10. Frank Howard 1983 55
11. Davey Johnson 1984-1990 5
12. Bud Harrelson 1990-91 3
13. Mike Cubbage 1991 4
14. Jeff Torborg 1992-93 10
15. Dallas Green 1993-96 46
16. Bobby Valentine 1996-2002 2
17. Art Howe 2003-2004 18
18. Willie Randolph 2005-2008 12
19. Jerry Manuel 2008-2010 53
20. Terry Collins 2011-2017 10
21. Mickey Callaway 2018-2019 36/26*
22. Carlos Beltran 2020** 15
23. Luis Rojas 2020-2021 19
24. Buck Showalter 2022-2023 11
25. Carlos Mendoza 2024 64***

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

**-Did not appear in a game.

***-switched from 28 before the season

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Mets Make A Choice

Suspicious I say that we go and sign Ji Man Choi only hours after Daniel Vogelbach goes off the board. Both are rotund lefty sluggers who can’t be counted on as much beyond DHing and signed minor league deals (Vogelbach with Toronto). Who knows how the DH role will play out for the Mets this year. I’m not entirely sold on Mark Vientos or DJ Stewart quite yet. Not to suggest Choi is anything but a backup plan.

Choi inherits the empty No. 26, all but removing available normal digits. Unless they are moved to issue No. 7 which they better do before Ed Kranepool visits a hospital again given how anxious Steve Cohen is to beat numbers out of circulation. I’ve said this before but this is all Marcus Stroman’s fault for suggesting 7 was a sacred number for Jose Reyes, and it hasn’t been reissued since.

Happy President’s Day. Baseball games begin this week.

 

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Spring Has Sprung

So you may as well junk the post below, it contained little that wasn’t contradicted by the numerical roster dropped today by the club. Here’s your Spring roster, countdown style, or count up, if you prefer.

The news here as I see it is Luis Severino taking over Drew Smith‘s No. 40, forcing Smith into 33 and membership in the three-number club. (He was also 62 you may recall). Also noting that our friend Dr. Grant Hartwig has moved down in the world, from 93 all the way to 56. Sean Manaea takes 59, Adrian Houser 35 and Harrison Bader 44.

Looks like this year they tried to move the coaches to the 60s and those that didn’t are double-booked with a player.

It’s all below, hopefully without massive errors. NRIs in italics, coaches in blue.

Number Name Notes
0 Adam Ottavino, P
1 Jeff McNeil, INF-OF
2 Omar Narvaez, C
3 Tomas Nido, C
4 Francisco Alvarez, C
5 Unassigned (David Wright)
6 Starling Marte, OF
7
8 Unassigned (Gary Carter)
9 Brandon Nimmo, OF
10 Ronny Mauricio, INF
11 Jose Iglesias, INF 
12 Francisco Lindor, SS
13 Joey Wendle, INF
14 Retired Gil Hodges
15 Tyrone Taylor, OF
16
17 Retired Keith Hernandez
18
19 Shintaro Fujinami, P
20 Pete Alonso, 1B
21 Ben Gamel, OF
22 Brett Baty, 3B
23 David Peterson, P
24 Retired Willie Mays
25 Brooks Raley, P
26 Ji Man Choi, IB/DH
27 Mark Vientos, 3B
28 Carlos Mendoza, manager
29 DJ Stewart, OF
30 Jake Diekman, P
31 Retired Mike Piazza
32 Max Kranick, P
33 Drew Smith, P new number (was 40)
34 Kodai Senga, P
35 Adrian Houser, P
36 Retired Jerry Koosman
37 Retired Casey Stengel
38 Tylor Megill, P
39 Edwin Diaz, P
40 Luis Severino, P
41 Retired Tom Seaver
42 Retired Jackie Robinson
43 Trayce Thompson, OF
44 Harrison Bader, OF
45 Cole Sulser, P
46 Johan Ramirez, P
47 Joey Lucchesi, P
48
49 Yacksel Rios, P
50 Phil Bickford, P
51 Michael Tonkin, P 
52 Jorge Lopez, P
53 Chad Smith, P
54 Austin Adams, P
55 Kyle Crick, P
56 Grant Hartwig, P New number (was 93)
57 Taylor Kohlwey, OF
58 Rylan Bannon, INF 
59 Sean Manaea, P
60 Jeremy Barnes, hitting coach
61 Eric Chavez, hitting coach
62 Jose Quintana, P
63 Glenn Sherlock, catching & strategy coach
64 Mike Sarbaugh, 3rd base coach
65 Jeremy Hefner, pitching coach
66 Antoan Richardson, 1st base coach
67 Jose Rosado, bullpen coach
68 John Gibbons, bench coach 
69
70 Jose Butto, P
71 Sean Reid-Foley, P
72 Alex Ramirez, OF
73 Luisangel Acuna, INF
74 Zack Short, INF
75 Reed Garrett, P
76 Aaron Meyers, BP pitcher
77 Dave Racaniello, bullpen catcher
78 Eric Langill, bullpen catcher
79 Danny Barnes, strategy coach
80
81 Danny Young, P
82 Austin Allen, C
83 Yolmer Sanchez, INF
84
85
86
87
88 Cam Robinson, P
89 Drew Gilbert, OF
90 Jett Williams, INF
91 Josh Walker, P
92 Eric Orze, P
93 Dominic Hamel, P
94 Nate Lavender, P
95 Kevin Parada, C
96 Christian Scott, P
97 Mike Vasil, P
98 Hayden Senger, C
99
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The Extra S

Joey Lucchesi slipped back into the 47 jersey he’d left behind nearly two years ago and authored the best starting pitching performance of the Mets season last night in San Francisco. It continued a seemingly unlikely hot streak for the Mets who are not only on a dreaded West Coast road trip, but losing guys to injury and suspension left and right.

You’d figure a veteran like Max Scherzer could figure out a way to cheat without getting caught, but he’s out for a turn in the rotation. Tommy Hunter returned last night from the disabled list and John Curtiss was the odd man out (the extra S is for Syracuse). It looks like we’ll be seeing more starts from guys like Jose Butto, Lucchesi and TBD for the time being.

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2023 Spring Roster

The Mets distributed their spring rosters this week. I’ve arranged this year’s clip-and-save version a little differently, calling out nonroster guys italics and coaches in blue. Non-40-man-roster guys are just occupying the jersey vs. belonging to one.

As it stands now that makes: 4, 5, 7, 8, 16, 18, 48, 58, 61, 64, 67, 68, 69, 75, 88, 89 and 99 free. With the way Steve’s been retiring numbers my ears perk up at 16 and 18.

 

Number Name Notes
0 Adam Ottavino, P
1 Jeff McNeil, INF-OF
2 Omar Narvaez, C was Dom Smith
3 Tomas Nido, C
4
5 Unassigned (David Wright)
6 Starling Marte, OF
7
8 Unassigned (Gary Carter)
9 Brandon Nimmo, OF
10 Eduardo Escobar, 3B
11 Buck Showalter, MGR
12 Francisco Lindor, SS
13 Luis Guillorme, INF
14 Retired Gil Hodges
15 Danny Mendick, INF
16
17 Retired Keith Hernandez
18
19 Mark Canha, OF
20 Pete Alonso, 1B
21 Max Scherzer, P
22 Brett Baty, 3B
23 David Peterson, P
24 Retired Willie Mays
25 Brooks Raley, P
26 Khalil Lee, OF 
27 Mark Vientos, 3B
28 Tommy Pham, OF was Darin Ruf
29 Tommy Hunter, P
30 David Robertson, P
31 Retired Mike Piazza
32 Daniel Vogelbach, DH
33 Darin Ruf, DH/OF was James McCann
34 Kodai Senga, P
35 Justin Verlander, P
36 Retired Jerry Koosman
37 Retired Casey Stengel
38 Tylor Megill, P
39 Edwin Diaz, P
40 Drew Smith, P was 62
41 Retired Tom Seaver
42 Retired Jackie Robinson
43 Jeff Brigham, P
44 T.J. McFarland, P
45 Sam Coonrod, P
46 John Curtiss, P
47 Joey Luchessi, P
48 was Jacob deGrom
49 Jeremy Barnes, hitting coach
50 Francisco Alvarez, C
51 Eric Chavez, bench coach
52 Eric Hinkse, asst. hitting coach
53 Glenn Sherlock, catching/strategy coach
54 Wayne Kirby, OF/1B coach
55 Jeremy Hefner, pitching coach
56 Joey Cora, INF/3B coach
57 Elieser Hernandez, P
58 Dom Chiti, bullpen coach
59 Carlos Carrasco, P
60 Ronny Mauricio, SS
61
62 Jose Quintana, P was Drew Smith
63 Bryce Montes de Oca, P
64
65 Zach Greene, P  Dennis Santana, P was Trevor May
66 Stephen Ridings, P
67 was Seth Lugo
68
69
70 Jose Butto, P
71 Zach Muckenhern, P
72 Denyi Reyes, P
73 Jimmy Yacabonis, P
74 William Woods, P
75
76 Aaron Meyers, BP pitcher
77 Dave Racaniello, bullpen catcher
78 Eric Langill, bullpen catcher
79 Danny Barnes, asst coach
80 Raphael Hernandez, BP pitcher
81 Jose Peraza, INF
82 Abraham Almonte, OF
83 Tim Locastro, OF
84 Michael Perez,  C
85 Stephen Nogosek, P
86 DJ Stewart, OF
87 Jonathan Arauz, INF
88
89
90 Nick Meyer, C
91 Josh Walker, P
92 Eric Orze, P
93 Grant Hartwig, P
94 Connor Grey, P
95 Kevin Parada, C
96 Alex Ramirez, OF
97 Lorenzo Cedrola, OF
98 Hayden Senger, C
99 was Taijuan Walker
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Correan War

Woke up this morning to the shock that the Mets had given a 12-year contract to Carlos Correa, the free agent infielder who’d almost signed with the Giants for 13 years but for an unnamed injury concern. That solidifies 2022-23 as the most spectacular offseason the Mets have ever had and worries me a little because I’m a worrier at heart. What if things go wrong now? Will they trade Eduardo Escobar or turn him into a designated hitter? What of the young players like Brett Baty and Mark Vientos?

There was something satisfying to the 2015 Mets with so many homegrown players, now we’re down to Brandon Nimmo, Jeff McNeil and Pete Alonso, I think. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not about to complain, it’s just a thought. Most of us I’d say were ready to go to war with what we had 24 hours ago is all I’m saying.

In addition to Correa, who looks likely to take No. 4 belonging most recently to Terrance Gore, the Mets dressed Kodai Senga in No. 34. I’m excited about him, like I’ve been with most of the imported newbies. He’s also going to be a key figure for this team.

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Cy Old

It didn’t take long for the Mets to address the vacancy of Jacob deGrom as Steve Cohen threw a pile of money at Cy Young winner Justin Verlander who joins 38-year-old Max Scherzer at the top of the rotation. Verlander will be 40 next year so I’m tempering my expectations while still fretting over the prospect of retaining or replacing Brandon Nimmo, securing a reliable designated hitter, and making sure the club has a rotation that’s young enough and deep enough to count on. Carlos Carrasco, the current No. 3 starter, will be 36. Then you’ve got the relatively unproven arms of Tylor Megill and David Peterson. Another arm would be nice.

Verlander will be the first Mets 35 of any substance since Dillon Gee (2010-2015) even though eight guys have worn it since him, most recently the emergency catcher Michael Perez.

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Rickey & Willie

The Mets’ announcement on Old Timer’s Day that they’d retire Willie Mays‘ No. 24 addressed another long-neglected historical oversight of the Wilpon Era. That there was an Old Timer’s Day at all erased a bit of Fred-dom as well.

Both were solid hits with the fanbase, though the Mets as a brand might have gone a step further had they retired 24 for Joan Payson–or Willie AND Joan Payson–as I don’t believe any club has retired a number for a woman before.

For me personally, it was fortuitous timing as I’d just finished reading RICKEY: THE LIFE AND LEGEND OF AN AMERICAN ORIGINAL, a bio written by ESPN’s Howard Bryant. I read a fair amount of baseball books and I thought this one was outstanding as Bryant writes powerfully about an enigmatic subject he argued was often misunderstood, mocked and degraded even as destroyed one all-time baseball record after another and forced his way into the innermost circle of baseball’s greatest all-time players, including Willie Mays.

When Henderson became a Met at age 40 in 1999, he was issued No. 24 for the first time since it belonged to Kelvin Torve and, it was emphasized at the time, with the blessing of Mays. What Bryant’s book revealed was that Mays was the reason Henderson had the odd distinction of batting righthanded and throwing lefthanded: Though a natural lefty, he simply imitated how Mays hit, and Mays was the reason Henderson was best-associated with the No. 24. Bryant also reveals that Rickey actually preferred No. 35 as “his” number–over his 25-year career with nine different teams, including four separate stints with Oakland–he’d worn 35 in Oakland, Seattle and Red Sox.

When the Mets acquired Henderson as a free agent over the 1998-99 offseason, 35 belonged to Rick Reed.

Henderson was born Rickey Nelson Henley in an Oldsmobile in Chicago on Christmas Day of 1958. His father John Henley soon separated from Rickey’s mother Bobbie who relocated to her hometown in Arkansas then moved with the Great Migration of Southern Blacks to Oakland–a destination of thousands of Black families that became the cradle of dozens of accomplished professional athletes with whom Henderson played with as children in the 1960s and 1970s (Mike Norris, Shooty Babitt, Lloyd Moseby, Gary Pettis, Glenn Burke, Dave Stewart and many others). Rickey took the last name Henderson after Bobbie remarried, and grew up determined to play football for the Oakland Raiders but was persuaded by Bobbie and a local scout, Jim Guinn, that baseball was the safer path. Because of his great ability in sports, Rickey was indifferently educated and hadn’t learned to read by the time he first turned pro.

Rickey is quoted, but sparingly—he’d never been trustful or particularly open with writers—but the book seems driven by input from Rickey’s wife, Pamela, who’d been his sweetheart since she was 14. Dozens of players, managers, writers and fans are interviewed, including Sandy Alderson, Rickey’s GM for much of Rickey’s stay career in Oakland and today is the Mets’ president who summed up how baseball viewed Rickey while predictably using the word “optics.”

In Alderson’s view, even the most astute baseball men … seemed preoccupied with the Rickey optics—the delivery, the flash, the personality, the whispers, the moods. Their inability to see through all that thus diminished his obvious ability in their eyes, partly because of their own prejudices, and partly because Rickey made the optics impossible to ignore. Rickey was a great player but, because of his moods and temperament, he was not quite a leading man. When it came to Rickey, baseball men focused on what he wasn’t often more than on what he was.

Although admired by fans for peculiarities that became urban legend (including the facetious John Olerud story, addressed within) Rickey was not a “class clown who reveled in what he did not know,” Bryant asserts. “He was a ferociously competitive, goal-driven athlete.” He never remembered names because that was difficult for him but his determination was such that he never forgot a perceived slight, whether it was money and respect (salary arbitration players who made more money than him, like Jose Canseco, or endorsement deals) or in competition with pitchers or catchers who prevented him from stealing bases) or writers (“The press wanted it have it both ways with Rickey: they wanted him to cultivate and trust them while they simultaneously mocked him,” Bryant writes).

Rickey became as Met only months before this site was launched. At the time  my enduring impression of Rickey was that shared by many white guys who’d seen his career form afar: He was a buffoon who diminished his own stolen-base record by declaring he was “the greatest” on the same day Nolan Ryan pitched his seventh no-hitter and reacted with “class.” On that day, May 1, 1991, I was putting together the sports page for a small daily newspaper and had my own aspirations to one day be a big leaguer in that field. I was certain then I was right and would have said then race hadn’t a thing to do with it. I was wrong about that, and Bryant’s book reminded me so. So did a resplendent season in 1999, perhaps Rickey’s best late-career year.

Here’s something else I’d forgotten about Rickey, he was a Mets’ coach in 2007.

Go buy Howard Bryant’s book.

 

 

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23 for 22

Hi everyone. If I had to guess I’d say this stupid lockout will get resolved by the end of this week, players wisely won’t go for a salary cap, the game will further deteriorate behind a universal DH rule and the real issues that need solving from the fan standpoint– the fact that baseball moves too slowly–won’t be addressed at all.

On a brighter note, it’s our 23rd birthday today. I’ve said this before but there’s hardly another website out there that’s been focused on the Mets as long as we have here. I’m totally available for media interviews.

On 2/2/22, let’s tip our cap to Al Leiter, whose exclusion from the Mets Hall of Fame is just baffling.

 

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Clip & Save: 2021 Mets Spring Roster

Well here it is, the Mets released a spring training roster.

As always this is subject to change but addresses a few mysteries and might be useful if you happen to be on your way to Florida next week (not me– hiding in the basement still).

I missed the obvious that Jonathan Villar might take over No. 1, and can report out friend Gene was right when he pegged Albert Almora taking over No. 4. Not weird that David Peterson abandons 77 but kinda weird he settles on Brian Schneider’s number 23 as both a player a coach: Watch for a potential switch there. NRI Jerry Blevins gets 26 which would be his third number with the Mets after previous appearances in 13 and 39. As noted Robert Gsellman gets a new number — 44 — while moving for Trevor May, and maybe new opportunity as word comes down that the borrowed time on Seth Lugo’s elbow has expired.

We’re also surprised to see Jordan Yamamoto assigned 45 and not 50, Miguel Castro or no. Sam Williams inheriting Yoenis Cespedes’ 52; Aaron Loup in Matz’ old shirt. Tip of the cap to Marcel Renteria, possessor of the highest number in camp at 97.

NRIs in italics:

Number Name Notes
0 Marcus Stroman, P
1 Jonathan Villar, INF was Amed Rosario
2 Dom Smith, IB-OF
3 Tomas Nido, C
4 Albert Almora Jr., OF
5 vacant Unassigned (David Wright)
6 Jeff McNeil, INF-OF
7 vacant
8 Vacant Unassigned (Gary Carter)
9 Brandon Nimmo, OF
10 Gary DiSarcina, CH 3rd base coach
11 Brandon Drury, INF-OF was Tony DeFranceco
12 Francisco Lindor, SS
13 Luis Guillorme, INF
14 Retired Gil Hodges
15 Guillermo Heredia
16 Jose Martinez, INF-OF
17 Vacant unassigned (Keith Hernandez)
18 Jose Peraza, INF
19 Luis Rojas, MGR
20 Pete Alonso, 1B
21 Mallex Smith, OF
22 Brian Schneider, CH moved from 23; was Rick Porcello
23 David Peterson, P moved from 77; was Brian Schneider
24 Vacant was Robinson Cano (suspended)
25 Ricky Bones, CH bullpen coach
26 Jerry Blevins, P
27 Jeurys Familia, P
28 JD Davis, INF-OF
29 vacant was Brad Brach
30 Michael Conforto, OF
31 Retired Mike Piazza
32 Aaron Loup, P was Steven Matz
33 James McCann, C
34 Noah Syndergaard, P
35 Trevor Hildenberger, P
36 Retired Jerry Koosman
37 Retired Casey Stengel
38 Arodys Vizcaino, P was Justin Wilson
39 Edwin Diaz, P
40 Jacob Barmes, P was Wilson Ramos
41 Retired Tom Seaver
42 Retired Jackie Robinson
43 Jerad Eichoff, P
44 Robert Gsellman, P moved from 65; was Rene Rivera
45 Jordan Yamamoto, P was Michael Wacha
46 Stephen Tarpley, P
47 Joey Luchessi, P was Chesen Shreeve
48 Jacob deGrom, P
49 Jeremy Accardo, CH assistant pitching coach
50 Miguel Castro, P
51 Tony Tarasco, CH first base coach, was Paul Sewald
52 Sam McWilliams, P was Yoenis Cespedes
53 Jeremy Hefner, CH pitching coach
54 Chili Davis, CH hitting coach
55 vacant was Corey Oswalt
56 Tom Slater, CH Assistant hitting coach
57 Dave Racianello, CH Bullpen catcher
58 Dave Jauss, CH Bench coach
59 Carlos Carrasco, P
60 Bruce Maxwell, C was Andres Gimenez
61 Sean Reid-Foley, P
62 Drew Smith, P
63 Thomas Szapucki, P
64 Yennsy Diaz, P
65 Trevor May, P was Robert Gsellman
66 Franklyn Kilome, P
67 Seth Lugo, P
68 Dellin Betances, P
69 Vacant
70 vacant was Ali Sanchez
71 Oscar De La Cruz, P
72 Wilfredo Tovar, INF
73 Daniel Zamora, P
74 David Rodriguez, C
75 Harol Gonzalez, P
76 Patrick Mazeika, C
77 Khalil Lee, OF was David Peterson
78 Eric Langill, CH Bullpen catcher
79 Ricky Meinhold, CH assistant pitching coach
80 Rafael Fernandez, CH BP pitcher
81 Johneshwy Fargas, OF
82 Jared Robinson, P
83 Tom Windle, P
84 vacant
85 Tim Tebow, OF
86 Jake Hager, INF
87 Mark Vientos, INF
88 Ryley Gilliam, P
89 Drew Furgeson, OF
90 Nick Meyer, C
91 Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF
92 Tylor Megill, P
93 Matt Allen, P
94 Ronny Mauricio, INF
95 Francisco Alvarez, C
96 Brett Baty, INF
97 Marcel Renteria, P
98 vacant
99 vacant
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