Archive for SHaMs

Name that Met

This week we saw the arrival–and departure–of reliever Tyson Miller, becoming the first Met since Seth Lugo and the second overall to wear No. 67. We also witnessed the debut appearance of Sam Coonrod wearing No. 45. Coonrod spent the whole year injured.

The real action happened on Twitter where a mystery popped up over the Met pictured below in the No. 55 jersey in a 1984 Old Timers Game. He looks facially like Bill Monbouquette even though Bill wore 54 and wasn’t on the Mets’ staff in 1984.

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Royal Flush

In some ways that was a more radical teardown than even I anticipated. For a time I was hoping to keep Justin Verlander in the hopes that he, Kodai Senga and Jose Quintana could be the start of a decent rotation for 2024. He got us two promising hitters instead. And how about that Dominic Leone trade? This was a guy we got off the trash heap in May and he brought back the Angels’ No. 9 prospect.

The problem with all this in-season wheeling and dealing is we’re left with a club that can’t beat the Royals. Thanks the the depletions of Tommy Pham and Mark Canha we’re running out palookas like Rafael Ortega (30) and Jonathan Arauz (19). We have new dudes in the bullpen I’ve hardly ever heard of like Reed Garrett (75) and Phil Bickford (50).

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SHaMpionship Run

Welcome to SHaM Opening Night! (Second HAlf Mets) Many of us I’m sure will be missing the opener which is available to view only on Apple TV.

Not that it will necessarily be the kind of thing you shouldn’t miss. The less you saw of the First Half Mets the better. Who could have guessed that Tommy FHaM would be the Mets most reliable player? (He or Nimmo, I suppose). But I don’t have to tell you guys it was awful pitching that sunk us. Newcomers like Trevor Gott have the chance to improve that, if you want to be optimistic.

What will be interesting to watch I suppose is whether the SHaMs have another few 6-of-8 runs in them and get back into contention for a Wild Card, or revert to FHaM form and sell.

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A Pennant Pandemic

Down by one ace pitcher and the most reliable of their outfielders, the Mets have tested positive for Pennant Fever.

Tyler Naquin appears to vomit into his helmet then look wobblingly unsteady up there at the plate, which may as well be symptoms, as were two walks, a hit, a run, and just one whiff last night. Mark Cahna, Eduardo Escobar and even Mychal Givens appear to have been exposed. And the slumping Daniel Vogelbach seems to have caught something last night too and looked again he that could be our good year blimp.

It’s still rough for Darin Ruf but perhaps the arrival of rookie Mark Vientos will make Ruf touch his own face and forget to wash his hands. Vientos is a right handed masher who has shown fearsome power at AAA Syracuse but the Mets have been wary of his defense. He’s been assigned No. 27 and may appear in today’s starting lineup at DH so you may as well forget the Jets this afternoon.

I caught something too in the form of a gentle rebuke for the cranky tone of the last post. I hadn’t fully realized that the building drama interfered with my Ya Gotta Believeism, either. I conked out before last night’s Seattle-Atlanta game but seeing the result this morning confirmed my case.

Here’s another thing I realized only today. Both of this year’s most exciting call-ups, Brett Baty and now Vientos weren’t even born when this site first went up. That was in 1999, another year where a Mets-Braves September pennant race was pretty sick.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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SHaMeful

Not to put too fine a point on it but September pretty much sucks far for the SHaMs, with patsies beating us up and the Braves still winning and we’re not in first place anymore, at least not alone and at least until the first half of what had better be a sweep today in Pittsburgh, or else.

Max Scherzer is on the disabled list, veteran lefty Alex Claudio has joined the group and Yoan Lopez is back as the 29th Man. How silly is that? Baseball should have smaller rosters, at least smaller active ones like hockey does. 25 guys, dress 22 or 23. Doubleheader, switch between games.

I get it, there’s something in the player’s union for this. These easy to beat Mets put me in a bad mood.

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Those Meddling Kids

It was a dark and stormy night…. First it was Luis Guillorme, then Tomas Nido, then Carlos Carrasco to the injured list, and now Taijuan Walker and Eduardo Escobar are at the least compromised.

In two days, the momentum that seemed unstoppable ground to an abrupt halt, and we’ve been overpowered twice by the Braves who have the opportunity to make back all of what they lost during their humiliating 4-of-5 defeat in New York.

So I finally learned last night who R.J. Alvarez actually is and our first meeting didn’t go well. Same with Deven Marrero. Same also with Michael Perez, the catcher I once thought was on his way to replace an injured Nido, only for a different injury. Nido by the way is dealing with a “Non-Injury Related Illness,” or NORI which is one letter less than COVID as a signifier. Perez wears 35, and knew he wasn’t the first catcher to wear it as I recall John Gibbons wearing 35 in 1986–another eerie parallel to that championship season. I checked the records just to be sure and his debut last night came just one day before Gibbons’ run in 35 began on Aug. 17, 1986–or 36 years ago today. Mike Jacobs and Joe Nolan were also 35 as Met catchers.

We also learned that Darin Ruf is our best emergency reliver but pushing our luck won’t be advisable.

Pretty spooky stuff right? And that reminds me of a remark a few few posts back from the alert reader Jim A who said:

Lost in all of this is the fact that 2022 may be the year of no fewer than FOUR “Phantom Mets”. That is, players who spent time on the active roster, but never got in a game.

#25 – Gosuke Katoh
#71 – RJ Alvarez
#46 – Sam Clay
#15 – Kramer Robertson

Alvarez last night removed himself from that list, still wearing 71, and in my mind enters a category something akin to an “Apparition Met,” being a Phantom Met whose disguise was yanked off him in the top of the third inning last night as though Walker’s back spasms were the gang from Scooby-Doo revealing Alvarez was not a ghost, but a shaggy-haired, bearded relief pitcher about to turn a 0-0 game into 3-0 game via tape-measure home runs and hard-hit balls everywhere, and he’d have gotten away with it were it not for those meddling kids. Marrero was unmasked as a flamed-out first-round draftee of the Red Sox with experience there and as a Marlin whom the Mets added from the roster of the Long Island Ducks in June.

I’ve covered Katoh before and somehow missed both Sam Clay and Kramer Robertson. Clay is lefty reliever who’s done a tour of the NL East’s farm clubs this season being DFAed first by the Nationals then by the Phillies before he arrived as a Met depth guy and remains on the 40-man roster where he’s assigned 46.

Kramer Robertson sounds like a made-up name to me but he’s a journeyman minor league infielder who was assigned 15 and called up to the Mets and DFAed a few days later, and re-signed by St. Louis, making him an Actual Ghost Met and not just a potential one. His number now belongs to Marrero, who is a flamed out one-time First Round Draftee of the Red Sox with experience as a reserve there, Arizona and Miami and whom we scooped up as AAA depth in late June when he was cut loose by the Marlins.

It’s not all terrifying though. Anthony DiComo has already published an encouraging article that suggests the Mets have more pitching depth than it seems, including soon-to-return guys like Joey Lucchesi (47) and Tylor Megill and a fast-moving prospect whose still something of a longshot at least presently, Jose Butto. And Marrero, reports say, is on his way out as the one of the team’s most promising prospects, third baseman Brett Baty, is reportedly en route to Atlanta. Baty was a No. 1 Mets’ draft pick in 2019 and has been compared to David Wright. He’s killing it wearing No. 2 for Syracuse; on the Mets’ 40-man roster, that number belongs to Baty’s current AAA teammate, Dom Smith, which should be frightening if only for Dom and what remains of his cheering section.

Otherwise it’s sunny-side up despite a scary start to a difficult road trip in which the compromised SHaMs face back-to-back tests from their closest two pursuers.

LGM YGB etc.

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Let’s Go Mets Go

It’s not a question of how

It’s just a matter, (Do it!)  it’s just a matter of (Do it!), it’s just a matter of when

The best part of any Met game has become what Daniel Vogelbach does with it, now that the outcome has seemingly become less of a point. That’s what 4 of 5 from the Braves followed by 3 easy wins over the Reds has done. Together it’s all part of a 15-4 run since SHaMs opening day, and 15-2 since losing the first two games since the All-Star Break. That streak started the very same day Vogelbach joined the SHaMs, July 24. You could look it up.

They have swept three series (Marlins, Yankees and now Reds) since then. They are now 34 games over .500. They have a better record and winning percentage than anyone except the Dodgers (a ridiculous 44 games over .500 or an even .700 vs. the Mets’ .652). That’s brought the 2022 Mets into the stratosphere. Since they became the SHaMs and I was worried, they’ve surpassed the Yankees and the Astros for baseball’s best overall record.

That brings me to “bach” to Vogelbach, and a thing I told my son yesterday as he and I took in the Camp-Day/Businessman’s Special on a scorching afternoon from the right field corner.

I came with the dumb hat but left with a new mug; new Taijuan Walker shirsey for him

That the Mets would beat the Reds on a getaway day was never in doubt, it was only a matter of how, and at the moment, it was seeing Vogelbach pile up the total bases, two at a time. That’s something to see. I tried several times to engage new arrival Tyler Naquin on whether the home run he hit was the longest of his career–I think he heard it but didn’t respond, because it meant he would have to turn his attention to the 800 little kids also crying for his attention. Finally the Reds were defeated before they arrived going down on 6 pitches in the first and only few more in the 9th, for a while we were seeing how long it would take anyone to exceed 4 pitches, then 5, then 6 when Albert Almora Jr. walked in the 4th. Then we lost interest in the Reds’ lost interest ourselves.

We managed neighborly baseball-and-other-stuff conversation with a multigenerational family of cousins and moms and uncles and fathers and nephews occupying two rows next to us, and the only drawback I knew going in–“between the bases” at a price we could afford– meant sitting near a camp group which we didn’t want. Also I know that not being between the bases at CitiField usually means some kind of compromise.

In Section 105, it’s temporary ignorance of there being two “main” scoreboards and coming very close to a point where the line of vision to the batter is compromised by the equipment securing the foul-ball netting. Other than that it was a few “grown men” in section 106 amusing themselves and no one else by chanting “Let’s Go Brandon” during Nimmo’s turns at-bat, but only a few pitches into it, further demonstrating their ignorance. Nimmo by the way has a new walk-up song, “I Feel Like A Woman” but some country star, I think Shania Twain.

The only other thing that went bad was the concessions. I was in search of a good beer with no alcohol–if you know about beer that’s one thing the craft beer guys have run with as innovation–and found one (shout out to my friend Michael who knew where to look first). Only the lady at the Coors Light stand brings me the wrong thing, cracks it open before I can see it and charges me for a 16-ounce craft beer which I’d paid for since its all self-service before I take it from her and realize I was charged for a 16-ounce real beer not a 12-ounce pretend beer which I asked for by name. I also tried to joke when she carded me, so I said non-alcoholic beer twice–once when I ordered it and again when she carded me unnecessarily. So she owes me $5.50 and caused a little aggravation. I didn’t stick around to see if the guy behind me got that beer for cheap.

It was a hot sunny afternoon and after about 4 innings of it we agreed to get up into the shade and get something cool to drink. Milkshakes! Only we didn’t expect to miss two innings on the wrong line at Shake Shack. That has to be faster.

I shelled out for field level seats, bought the boy a Taijuan Walker shirsey since he’d long grown out of all his previous ones — Wright, Nieuwenhuis and Syndergaard if I recall. The combination of Walker’s turn in the rotation and what he agreed was a cool number, 99, sealed the decision and helped me to suggest his inclination of a Megill 38 shirsey was kind of cool but only if he remembers to wear it again in 10 or 15 years.

I in the meantime replaced a banged-up Mr. Met mug that has been my No. 1 morning coffee companion ever since receiving it as a David Wright Era father’s day gift. The new one is pictured here.

All of this to say we had a great time, the Mets are better than ever, but there’s still room to improve the experience so as to meet the level of a team executing this well.

Do it, do it, do it.

 

 

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Sucker Punched

Nothing to be alarmed about, but now I have a different reason for temporary spotty availability. But while I’ve got the chance to say it I was shocked the Mets didn’t do any more at the trade deadline and underwhelmed with what they did but that it appears to be working so well shows how little I knew, and not for the first time. The takeaway as I see is Billy Eppler and Steve Cohen’s hedge-funded baseball geniuses might know more than me and I should trust them now, or we’ll find out I was right along but now I don’t want to right now.

I never thought Contreras, even as he fit one need rather nicely, being a catcher who could hit, was quite the right solution (catchers are hard to break in the best of circumstances and with Alvarez en route, foolish to put those kinds of expectation on him in the moment). It also tells us the Mets had seen enough of the each of nearly every opening-day best-case-scenario options at DH (Robbie Cano, Dom Smith and JD Davis), have all three failed given the shots they had; but also they saw none of the temp-depth guys (Inciarte, Jankowski, Blankenhorn, Lee, Plummer) belong here at least now.

Plus Tyler Naquin was the last of the three Reds I might have taken soonest (Luis Castillo and Tommy Pham were available too, no surprise).

And that they had a lot more faith in me of the following:

We’d see Jacob deGrom ever again.

That Trevor May would ever resurface. Maybe even Tylor Megill.

That the problem with Drew Smith wasn’t, as I’d suspected, part of the bad luck all around the night Max Scherzer called for the trainer and walked off the mound, when it appeared all Smith could do to resist an inappropriate thing on on a baseball field with 30,000 watching with one of the three Sports Illustrated swimsuit models throwing out a ceremonial first pitch right there between home plate the pitcher’s mound (she seemed to be considering it is all I’d say as a body language interpreter in the Promenade that night). Instead it was some kind of injury, only the kind of injury that makes you give up way too many home runs.

So that’s also why we have Mychal Givens in the bullpen, along with May, and deGrom is in the rotation but I missed most of the game. Givens is a guy whom I know Buck trusted, so you have to think he asked for it too and though so and I’m beginning to definitely trust in Buck. Like Megill, Givens’ first name seems spelled wrong too.

Quick wrapup for these Mets who are unpredictable in all the right ways and went sneaky-smart at the deadline when balls-out was the seeming call to action.

Naquin is hitting the crap out of the ball in 25. Givens is No. 60. Darin Ruf (who seems to spell his first AND last names improperly) was assigned 28 and platooning with Babe Ruth Vogelbach at 32. That Davis-Ruf trade was also a straight-up Uni-Swap and I think the Mets paid more for him and for Vogelbach as I liked Holderman and Davis but I’m not arguing with results.

That was a magical win over Atlanta last night, in a magical year, and they did it while the Braves did seemingly did so much more to prepare. I watched the game last night and wanted nothing more that to be there. That was something, and I was at the Wednesday night Yankees game.

Someday I’ll tell that story.

 

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The Stroman-Walker Effect

It’s been a good Mets season by nearly any measure, but the last game of the first half didn’t go well, and neither did the first game of the second half, or what I call Opening Night for the SHaMs (Second HAlf Mets).

At least we’re not waking up like Red Sox are this morning. Go watch the highlights.

If you saw the SHaMs last night, you’d have also seen a new beginning of sorts for Travis Blankenhorn, who was called up from AAA for the first time this year, and given a dignified number at last–27. He was 73 last year, but I had to look that up. I kind of remembered him in 72 and got briefly excited because I realized had that been the case, it would have represented a Reverse Carlton Fisk (I was aware too at that moment, that the Sox were down by like 25 runs in the 6th inning) so I thought it was like a signal of … something.

If you’re old, you’ll recall Carlton Fisk was the famous Red Sox catcher who was so damaged by a procedural contractural screwup by Boston that made him a Free Agent after 1980. The Red Sox tendered a contract too late for the deadline despite having agreed to terms, so when Fisk signed, he signed with the White Sox and not the Red Sox, and to stick it to them, he flipped his digits from 27 in Boston to 72 in Chicago, which was really unusual in 1981, not just the number, but any player disrupting tradition because he had the power to do so and be meaningful.

One way to show how unusual it was, when another player, with arguably more more juice and meaning to his squad, due to a similar procedural screwup that also landed him on the White Sox, four years after Carlton Fisk donned first that powerfully brutalist SOX uniform, put on his for the first time, but it didn’t have No. 14 on the back. Tom Seaver had other reasons of course, but the point is, here was a guy, with a history of being bruised by the team and a reputation of something of a maverick, and who possessed a fastball frightening enough to have given the Mets the brushback pitch they probably deserved, and that may not even have entered his mind in 1985.

And it’s just not like that today. Players with juice are more Fisk-like generally, and also, don’t have to be Hall of Fame-bound guys who write an unforgettable chapter in baseball history. They also needn’t be pissed off about anything to use their juice to disrupt convention anymore. Juice seems more plentiful, because players have all the juice. So in a sense juice is cheaper, and therefore, player-led disruption is easier, if juice is the fuel of disruption.

There’s a lot of Mets fans walking around today thinking No. 7 is sacred and destined to be retired for Jose Reyes, not because of Reyes necessarily, but because, in 2019, Marcus Stroman decided it was. That was only after having pitched half-a-season wearing No. 7, an ironic act that itself was disruptive, because there had never been a pitcher before him to have ever worn No. 7, in the history of the club.

And for some reason the Mets have actually absorbed this too, since they haven’t issued No. 7 since Marcus Stroman essentially told them not to, and fans seemed to be on his side. The Mets in the meantime have begun retroactively retiring numbers, almost pretending that disruption that rarely existed back then, did, and making people like me want to applaud that they are at least thinking of history while also, wondering what happens when they finally get around to 7 and it’s either Ed Kranepool or Jose Reyes? I personally found this outrageous at first, and I’m still not sure I’m behind this, because to me, retiring numbers ought to be the ultimate thing, but players, and fans, and now clubs, think today maybe, they’ve actually been too thoughtless or even disrespectful. For me personally, I wish the the message was “the Mets actually have had a great and fascinating history, just one not good if you judge ‘great and fascinating’ primarily by the volume of numbers on the wall.” But for the Mets at least, something else is also happening, and that’s the goalposts have moved. Retired numbers are cheaper, because there’s more of them. But actually, statues in front of the ballpark are the new retired number, the retired number is now the Mets Hall of Fame, and the Mets Hall of Fame is now what you pass on the your way to the concession shop, or a waiting room for the outfield wall, depending on which side of the retire-the-number debate you happen to be on, if everything else is to remain truly in perspective.

This was pointed out elsewhere, but when Marcus Stroman (who as we recall, chose 0 as his next act of disruption) and Taijuan Walker (a pitcher who not only wears No. 99 but who has never worn a “normal” uniform number in in his career) opposed one another as starting pitchers at Wrigley Field, it represented an unbreakable record for the widest distance between opposing starters’ uni numbers possible. Also, that Adam Ottavino (0) relieved Walker in that game, amplifying the idea that two pitchers with outrageous uniform numbers from a 1981 perspective, is really just a normal thing now.

That this happened two weeks ago, and a 23-year-old blog allegedly dedicated to chronicling what happens with Mets uniform numbers is the last to report this, also represents a player-led disruptive change that makes me confront uncomfortable things I’ve also long known, and am learning more about elsewhere in my life. So obsessing about numbers is more plentiful, so that too is also cheaper, and it all has something to do with how baseball players have, over time, gained the upper hand over clubs, and fans. Let’s call this the Stroman-Walker Effect.

And it’s not just star players driving the change. It’s the effect of what happens with all the scrubeenies whom the clubs still rule. I want to argue that the Mets are just lazy when they hustle some meatbag up from the minors wearing No. 86, which might have been necessary in spring training to distinguish him from the all the other guys every club has when spring training begins. That’s why Travis Blankenhorn looked like an idiot out there last year wearing 73. I also want to say I am just lazy when I fail to update the blog and alert the world. But it’s possible also the Stroman-Walker Effect has penetrated baseball culture to a point where a 1981 perspective on what was “appropriate” to wear when you’re in the act of being a Major League Baseball player is just irrelevant anymore. And a 1999 perspective on the fans’ need to know who wore what when also might make this site less useful and gather more dust every day. I’ve known this for a long time, but feel like I should I acknowledge that publicly somehow.

If this feels like a “retirement speech,” it’s not, it’s just that Travis Blankenhorn appearing somewhat unexpectedly in the Mets’ starting lineup last night, somehow knocked something loose for me, and now it’s splattered like blood on the page. And it was a little reassuring, yet also made me think enough to write the first substantial post in a long time here, that Travis Blankenhorn came out wearing No. 27 last night.

Back to baseball for a moment, and I should mention that Travis Blankenhorn’s tenure, as the 30th player in club history to have worn No. 27 for the Mets and the first since Juerys Familia, was over almost before it started. Because shortly before last night’s game, the Mets shipped relief pitcher Colin Holderman to the Pittsburgh Pirates, for Daniel Vogelbach. I just want a second to say I liked Holderman, and his departure is as sure as a sign as any more deals are to come for the SHaMs.

Vogelbach, who doesn’t appear to have been issued a number yet–but I might gamble is 27 despite Blankenhorn’s right to it as long as he’s on the 40-man roster, because of the Stroman-Walker Effect on clubs– will also make Mets uniform history soon but not for the number: It’s possible they just won’t have a uniform in his size. I don’t know if you’ve seen this guy, but he’s a low-average punisher of right-handed pitching generously described as an “infielder” but like, even his hair is fat. And his nickname is “The Babe.” I don’t know if the Mets have ever had a player quite this size. Heath Bell was a hefty guy. Mickey Lolich was kind of walrus-like. Vogelbach is something else, and for the moment, he’s the Man, for the SHaMs.

Oh and just in: In a separate deal, just reported non Twitter as I was writing, the Mets also paid cash to the Pirates for some guy called Michael Perez, a left-handed hitting catcher with a career .155/.204/.305 slash line in 193 games over five years with Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh. This must related to Tomas Nido‘s injury yesterday, but talk about your SHaM Poo.

 

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The Sisco Kid

So what’s up with Chance Sisco? During his stay on the 40 man in Syracuse, he was assigned #15, as befits his kinda sorta veteran status. Then he finally makes it back to the majors, and they give him #77? Maybe as a sign of respect to Mazeika?

That’s a great question (from Jim, in the below post) to which I don’t know the answer. But maybe it has something to do with debuting on a West Coast road trip, and also, something to do with the fact that the team simply has too many guys to keep track of anymore. Sisco is the 61st Met of the year and the 40th guy to have joined the organization for the 1st time this year. With the veteran reliever Heath Hembree also on the way, this team is threatening to surpass the all-time mark for debut Mets set all the way back in the team’s debut, 1962 when every Met–45 of them–was a first-time Met by definition.

It’s Tuesday, so we’ll be out at CitiField tonight. Hopefully we see what number they offer Hembree, but we’ll rooting against an appearance, given the recent trajectory of the career that landed him here. Of greater interest is the anticipated paring of Lindor and Baez in the middle infield for the first time. If there’s any kind of catalyst for this club–and it may well be too late, given the Braves have been even hotter than the Mets have been cold–this is it.

There are 38 games to go. The Mets probably need to win 27 or 28 of them.

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