Frewsberg’s Finest

I have no idea who Connor Grey is.

My trusty assistant Google then revealed: Frewsberg Native Connor Grey Called Up to the New York Mets, only then I didn’t know where Frewsberg was and had to look THAT up. It’s way out in Western New York; the nearest big city is Erie, Pa. The article was actually quite informative and kudos to author Matt Spielman on a nice piece of small-paper breaking news journalism. Here’s the nut graf.

Grey, who was issued uniform No. 72 by the Mets, was drafted in the 20th round, 599th overall, by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 2016 MLB draft after a four-year career at St. Bonaventure University. In six seasons in the minor leagues, he went 34-27 with a 4.24 ERA and 461 strikeouts in 516 innings pitched. If he appears in a game, Grey would become the 11th Bonnies alum to appear in the majors and first since Danny McDevitt, who played for the Kansas City A’s in 1962.

New York thought highly enough of Grey to grant him one of their eight coveted spots in the Arizona Fall League where he went 1-2 in six appearances, including three starts, for the Salt River Rafters.

So Grey is definitely a Schwinden and could see action tonight especially in Taijuan Walker‘s recent back spasms necessitate long relief. He’d be the first 72 since Jake Reed was lost in a DFA move to Los Angeles in July, and the 7th 72 overall. The first, Carlos Torres, made my day when he “liked” my Tweet back in 2015. (Phillip Evans now holds the title with 10 hits).

Grey’s ascension came as the Mets activated Tomas Nido from the COVID list and DFA’ed fellow Schwindens Rob Zastryzny and Nate Fisher.

Let’s try not to linger on that disappointing loss to the Yankees last night. Mets were flat.

 

  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon

They’re Snakebitten, Baby

That was some game yesterday, and some series, and some season series with the Phillies. If I hadn’t said it already, Philadelphia are exactly like just about every edition of Wilpon Era-led Mets club, good enough to pretend they will contend, but invariably cut too many corners to get there, then think, “Boy did we get unlucky or what?” every time they are humiliated by a team with fewer problems and a better approach. If Fred Wilpon owned the Phillies, he’d have watched that game and remarked “We’re snakebitten, baby.”

I’m not going to recap it, just note that Sunday’s win came while we met new Mets: Jose Butto, the rookie who wore No. 70 and looked right away like he was doomed to an embarrassing defeat only wasn’t; and Nate Fisher, a lefty they invented in time to provide three innings of scoreless middle relief to mount the first big comeback. He wore 64.

How obscure was Fisher? Now that players and personalities dominate the game, his profile page looks like this.

Butto, as mentioned before, was a prospect of some renown at least among the Mets. He’s been something of a stealth prospect but geeks like you and me knew something of him and the only revelation I’d had was seeing his body language and motion for the first time (only on highlights for me I listened to most of the game while waxing the car, and doin other Weekend Dorky Dad activities in the garage. Howie and Wayne were great. I tuned in when it was already 4-0). Butto’s a strong burly guy who doesn’t throw as hard as his body type would suggest and looked very much like a competitor.

Fisher as everyone knows by now was an undrafted prospect who signed with the Mariners, was released when COVID cancelled the 2020 MiLB season, became a banker in Omaha, hooked back up with Seattle in 2021 and was signed as a Minor League free agent with the Mets last offseason. He was primarily a starter at Syracuse and wouldn’t have been an option, presumably, had Steven Nogosek not gone onto the DL after his stint earlier in the Phillies series.

Both these heroes will be rewarded by being sent back down soon, I would presume, before Round 2 of the Mets-Yankees series begins Tuesday tonight! LGM!

 

  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon

To Dwindle or Vanish: A Short History of Every Met 63 Ever

The first Met in history to wear No. 63 was Chris Schwinden, a righthanded starting pitcher of middling stuff often described nicely as “organizational depth” and not-so-nicely as a “Class AAAA,” synonyms both for a guy who is useful only when the parent club needed an arm in a pinch but was never really considered a part of the long-term plan. Because baseball is unpredictable, and the nature of Met Fandom and Met Ticket Sales are both deeply embedded in the notion of “Ya Gotta Believe” the Mets would rarely describe guys like Schwinden as “not a part of their future,” though, even if its obvious to the team, the fans and even the player.

If nothing else, the name “Schwinden” strikes me as a strong German word. I looked it up only to find it was indeed German in origin and translates as a verb meaning “to dwindle, decrease, shrink or vanish,” and that’s the perfect description of every Met 63 ever. This was also true the last time I wrote about 63 a year ago when I said:

Sixty-three is a number for longshot midseason minor league callups whom you hope to get a few innings out of when the team is banged up or there’s a spate of rain make-ups ahead, and not a real player.

Now I have an even better description and my own new addition to the MBTN vocabulary: A Schwinden is a player who dwindles, shrinks, decreases or vanishes. So far, all 63s are Schwindens.

It holds up. It started with Chris Schwinden, a 22nd-round draft pick who was called up for the first time in September of 2011 and made four appearances which as I recall were in line with a guy who met modest expectations of a decent short term solution, and after three more appearances in 2012 (up and back on two separate occasions as a limited-time replacement), he was DFAed, passed between three other organizations who also DFAed him in the space of one month (Blue Jays, Indians and Yankees) only to wind up back with the Mets organization, but by then the Mets had already found a new Schwinden and though no one knew it at the time, Chris Schwinden had already pitched his final MLB game on May 30, 2012. Unlike 2011, Schwinden effectiveness shrunk, dwindled and decreased in 2012, hit hard in each of his three appearances that year.

Preliminary research on LinkenIn indicates a guy named Chris Schwinden also residing in Schwinden’s hometown of Visalia, California, today is a Service Technician at San Joaquin Pest Control. His name will always be important here, as not only the club’s first-ever 63, but as a word to describe any organizational pitching depth product who dwindles, decreases, shrinks or vanishes. That’s just what 63s do.

Next up was Gabriel Ynoa, a Dominican righthander who was a middling prospect who had his all three of his Mets appearances in 2016 including a victory in his first one, only to dwindle: He was sold to the Orioles over that offseason, for whom he had a short career.

Tim Peterson was a right-handed reliever and a 20th-round draft pick who was called up for the first time as the Mets faced a period of highly disappointing play in 2018. He lasted longer than any 63 in games and innings and is the career leader in just about every meaningful statistic including wins (2), and career ERA (5.91), which tells you something about Met 63s, making him the current Greatest Met 63 Of All-Time. Peterson started 2019 with the Mets but lost his job and never pitched for them again the same day the Mets traded for Brooks Pounders, and Peterson left that offseason as a free agent to the Angels organization for whom he never appeared.

It was just as well Tim Peterson vanished when he did because by then a better Peterson, David Peterson, was about to arrive.

Lefthanded starter Thomas Szapucki for a time was among the organization’s brightest prospects (No. 5 rated in 2018), and by far the most promising Met ever to don the No. 63 jersey. But his itinerant and brief Met career only proved that by the time he arrived he had already dwindled, decreased, and shrunk, before he vanished only weeks ago in the J.D. Davis-Darin Ruf trade. This cannot even be argued. He was blasted in his very first appearance in 2021, coughing up 6 earned runs and seven his in 3 2/3 innings of relief in a 20-2 battering by the Braves after which he was sidelined by an injury. When he returned this year, he made two appearances and was hit hard in both. He carried a 18.78 career ERA upon his trade to the Giants, where he’s currently pitching in relief but had also spent time at the Class AAA Sacramento club.

That brings us to yesterday’s surprise reliever, Rob Zastryzny, who pitched one full inning (2 outs in the bottom of the seventh and one out in the bottom of the eighth) and was responsible for the Phillies fourth and final run due to a triple surrendered to Kyle Schwarber who later scored in the 8th). He and Szapucki together create a subset of Met 63s with Polish surnames. We’ll watch closely to see which emerges as the best of those two.

* * * *

As predicted, Yolmer Sanchez was recalled and made his first appearance, and Deven Marrero (15) was designated for assignment. Sanchez appeared in 43 which is unusual for position player (he’s only the sixth all time–Ted Schreiber (1963), Billy Beane (1984 only), John Gibbons (1985 only), Todd Pratt (1997 only) and Shane Spencer (2004) are the only others. This goes without saying but any subset of Mets in which Shane Spencer is the best Met is a world of opportunity, though it doesn’t appear Sanchez is the guy to topple any of Spencer’s 43 all-time offensive records like home runs (4) and RBI (26) despite how modest they are. Who’s the guy with most at-bats as a Met 43 overall? Pitcher Jim McAndrew. Who’s the best 43 of all-time? R.A. Dickey.

We discussed in the comments of the previous post my theory of why Sanchez chose 43 and that’s because it ends in “3” and he’s Venezuelan infielder. They all seem to want to wear 13 if it’s available; ironically it’s not because Sanchez is essentially replacing a Venezuelan descendant who already wears 13 in Luis Guillorme. How sad he’s injured.

Also outta here via DFA are R.J. Alvarez, who’s already back at AAA Syracuse. Reliever Sam Clay followed Alvarez to “Apparition Met” status, appearing in his first game and wearing No. 46 and subsequently reassigned to AAA Syracuse between games of the doubleheader, making room for Zastryzny in Game 2.

Gotta win today behind Jose Butto, who is expected to make his MLB debut in a few hours. We’re into that depth I’d mentioned only a few days back. I don;t know his number yet but I’ll guess… 45.

 

  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon

Why R.J. Alvarez Is A Half-Used Chap Stick and Thomas Szapucki Is Foreign Currency

We’re at a point in the Mets’ season where the injuries have piled up and so have the solutions, and my own failure to keep up has made the Mets roster resemble a junk drawer. You’re looking for something and you find an old watch, coins from a foreign country that you don’t collect, a half-a-dozen half-used Chap Sticks, leftover business cards from a job you no longer have, various pens and pencils, cheap earbud headphones that may or may not work and you definitely don’t want to stick back in your ear to find out.

What I’m trying to find in this drawer are the available numbers, so let’s start by gathering up the half-used Chap Sticks, or the guys DFAed in the flurry of recent and not-so-recent moves that I’d failed to completely catch up on.

Into the ziplock bag have gone designated-for-assignment Mets Travis Blankenhorn (27), R.J. Alvarez (71) , Patrick Mazeika (4), Jake Reed (72), Kramer Robertson (15), Chasen Shreve (43), Travis Jankowski (16), Yennsy Diaz (64), and Nick Plummer (18), making those numbers available. I put them in a ziplock because some have already latched back on line in the organization (like Jankowski and maybe Mazeika) so it’s not like their numbers are likely to be reassigned at least right away. Some Chap Sticks however went directly to the trash if they’ve already latched onto another organization (like Jake Reed) or been released (like Yennsy Diaz).

Those foreign coins I can’t spend and don’t collect are now in a separate pile reflecting number changes I’d failed to account for or through looking for additional free numbers are failed to realize till now. For example the database never reflected till now that Mazeika ever wore 4, I fixed that, or that Mason Williams was still “current” at 70, and forgot to note that Thomas Szapucki (63) was traded in the Ruf deal. No longer.

The used business cards are coaches who are tricky to get into the database due to a design error we haven’t yet fixed between the awesome Ultimate Mets Database, where I record and store these records (Note to self: Eric Chavez 51, Craig Bjornson 52, Glenn Sherlock 53, Wayne Kirby 54, Jeremy Hefner 55, Joey Cora 56). That’s because data is generated when players appear in games and coaches don’t appear in games…. We’re working on that and have a longterm solution in mind that will make both the data easier to find and also easier to display.

I’m doing all this clearing out in anticipation of meeting Yolmer Sanchez tonight in Philadelphia. Sanchez is a switch-hitting versatile reserve infielder who spent most of his career with the White Sox but whom was just DFA’ed by the Red Sox. He’s expected to joining the club tonight in Philly where another consequential series begins that’s even more important since the Braves gained much of what they lost when a compromised Mets squad lost 3 of 4 this week. That also means that Deven Marrero is about to turn into a Chap Stick, and the 24 hours of fans moaning and groaning on Twitter when they learned he was up and Baty wasn’t was a colossal waste of time and energy because too many people on #MetsTwitter are ignorant and don’t know it, which is one reason I’m cleaning my junk drawer this morning instead of wasting time on Twitter.

Now I have a better organized drawer and can say for sure that, barring any other changes, the available Met numbers as of now are:

  • 4
  • 7*
  • 8*
  • 15 (almost assuredly)
  • 16**
  • 18
  • 27
  • 43
  • 45
  • 50
  • 58
  • 63
  • 64
  • 66

And that, Sanchez will most likely appear in 15 or 18. My money’s on 15. The junk drawer is nearly clear.

*-Unlikely to be issued because they appear to be in number retirement limbo

**-Unlikely to be issued pending a September roster expansion

  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon

First Impressions

Just a quick update here to tell you something all of us already know: The Brett Baty thing was a thing, and it couldn’t have gone better. He wore No. 22 which I also had associated with him because as noted in the comments below by Gene (and confirmed by Matt), he wore 22 in Binghamton and knew also that finding him assigned 2 in Syracuse seemed unusual to me, but only because I didn’t know how recently he’d been assigned there but it was much less that I thought. I also knew he was considered something like Wright but seemed to have been surprised then to find he batted lefthanded. I can adjust for that a little and say he also resembles a young Robin Ventura.

The other thing I’ll mention here is that I’m old and decrepit enough to have a specific memory that Benny Ayala became the first Met ever to hit a home run in his first at-bat and that means I actually have been alive and paying attention to all five.

No. Player Date Details Fun Facts
18 Benny Ayala Aug. 27, 1974 Solo HR 2nd inning off LHP Tom Wilson at Shea. Mets 4, Astros 2 Ayala was traded to St. Louis on March 30, 1977 for a minor league infielder Dog Clarey, a day after it was revealed that GM Joe McDonald had been driving while intoxicated when his car collided with a bus a few days earlier. McDonald said he hadn’t been drinking prior to the accident but had drinks the night before. He said he was out to pick blueberries to put on breakfast cereal when the accident occurred the following morning.
 20 Mike Fitzgerald September 13, 1983 Solo HR, 2nd inning off RHP Tony Ghelfi at Veterans Stadium. Mets 5, Phillies 1 The pitcher who surrendered Fitzgerald’s mighty blast, Tony Ghelfi, never pitched in another MLB game. It was only his third appearance in one.
 25 Kazuo Matsui April 6, 2004 Solo HR, top of the 1st off RHP Russ Ortiz at Turner Field. Mets 7, Braves 2 Matsui knew how to enter a room. Not only was his first hit a home run, his first pitch he saw he put over the fence. He’d twice more hit a home run on opening day, including in 2005 (2-run HR off ex-Met Paul Wilson of the Reds) and the following year, an inside-the-park home run off Jake Peavy in Petco Park.
27  Mike Jacobs Aug. 21, 2005 Pinch-hit for Juan Padilla, 3-run HR, bottom of the 5th, off Esteban Loiaza at Shea. Nationals 7, Mets 4 Jacobs’ home run saved his place on the roster and he would hit .310/.375/.710//1.085 through the end of the year. He’d later be a key piece in the Carlos Delgado trade.
22 Brett Baty Aug. 17, 2022 2-run HR, top of the 2nd  off Jake Odorizzi at Truist Park. Mets 9, Braves 7 Baty was a 12th-overall pick. His parents and sister had driven from Texas to be in the park and were on camera as he hit it. Be on the lookout for a MLB “Enjoy The Show” commercial like they made from this one.

 

  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon

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.

  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon

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.

 

 

  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon

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.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Jon Springer (@jon.springer)

  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon

Every Mets Position Player Ever Who Wore 32 Before Daniel Vogelbach

1.Kevin Mitchell, 1984

2. Mark Carreon, 1987-89

3. Bill Pecota, 1992

4. Eli Marrero, 2016

Oddly, I remember only two of them: Carreon (whom I liked-who didn’t?) and Marrero (who I remember, because he was all we had to show for all the energy wasted in the entire Kaz Matsui Saga). Mitchell was only that September, and me, I’d just moved away from radio range, had no TV, the internet didn’t exist, and there were 18-22 year-old girls everywhere I looked: I had just started college. And Pecota. Still out of the local TV market, plus a) sour on Jeff Torborg’s Mets before it was cool and so, b) more of a Mets fan with a paper bag on my head then.

  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon

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.

 

  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon