Neil 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.
Later 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.
In 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.
Interesting day out in Nashville, no?
No 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.
Walker 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.
In 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.