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?
I’m not here acting like I saw this fiasco coming but Carlos Correa just became to Met infielders what Carlos Beltran was to Met managers.
And so, despite Steve Cohen proclaiming we needed another bat “to put us over the top” it looks like Escobar and Baty are what we’ll get in 2023. I have no problem with that. A right-handed designated hitter (Andrew McCutcheon?) might still make sense but better off not being locked into a dozen years of a $300 million injury risk.
Hello from the most active offseason since Omar Minaya reeled in Carlos Beltran and Pedro Martinez.
You are no doubt in receipt of reports today that the Mets have reached a massive 3-year deal with free agent pitcher Max Scherzer after making successful bids late last week for veterans Starling Marte, Mark Cahna and Eduardo Escobar. And with trades, relief-pitching, depth deals and a new manager still ahead, that’s a mighty heavy workload for newly arrived GM, Billy Eppler.
Scherzer has worn 31 in Washington and in LA, but with Mike Piazza having taken that out of the Mets’ rotation, we’re tentatively anticipating he’ll take it up a notch the 32. That figure belonged most recently to Aaron Loup, who departed to Anaheim on a free-agent deal following Noah Syndergaard, who made the very same move.
Syndergaard’s departure marks the final end to a durable, multipronged trade chain dating back to Tim Bogar, who debuted with the Mets in 1993, was traded to Houston for Luis Lopez, who went to Milwaukee for Bill Pulsipher, who went to Arizona for Lenny Harris, who went to Milwaukee for Jeromy Burnitz, whose trade to Los Angeles yielded Victor Diaz, who was traded to Texas for catcher Mike Nickeas, who was sent to Toronto in the Syndergaard trade.
Noah departs as the Mets’ all-time leader in winning-percentage and strikeouts among Guys Who Wore 34. He was three wins short of Mike Pelfrey for the victory title.
Marte is a sports-car enthusiast (true story: I met his car-dealer at a convention in Las Vegas) who looks to take over center field duties as Brandon Nimmo slides over to left field and Canha takes over in right. Marte has worn No. 6 with Pittsburgh and Miami and No. 2 with Oakland and Arizona. One or both could be available depending on whether change-ofscenery trade candidates Dom Smith and Jeff McNeil survive Eppler’s dealmaking in the weeks ahead. Cahna has worn 20 with Oakland and will need a new issue. Escobar, a switch-hitting infielder who looks likely to take a role similar to Jonathan Villar last season, has worn 5 most often in his career and so encounters a retired number in New York. Scientists project he could wind up in 7 here.
As we saw yesterday, hastily but hopefully promoted Luis Rojas officially took over as the team’s 23rd manager. I’m going to “count” Carlos Beltran’s 84-day run–they just happened all to be off-days.
Rojas slipped on the No. 19 jersey–not because his older brother Moises wore 18 and his father Felipe Alou famously wore 17 as a manager–but because of his birthday September 1– 1/9 as they would say in in most places.
Rojas would be first first Mets manager to wear 19, and the first issue of the number since late last year when Sam Haggarty (Sam Who-herty?) appeared, mostly as a pinch runner. Haggerty–who was one of the guys they got from Cleveland in the Kevin Plawecki deal–was dropped from the 40-man roster a few weeks back when Dellin Betances came aboard, and subsequently scooped up by Seattle.
Here’s a newly updated list of Mets Managers By the Number:
*-Switched to 26 upon announcement of Jerry Koosman retirement, 9/24/19
Since our last update you must be well aware the Mets were secondary effect victims of the Houston cheating scandal and so beat Carlos Beltran out of town like a bat into a trash can. As you know I wasn’t exactly on board with Beltran to start with, so while it all looks wobbly for the Mets the pivot to Luis Rojas probably isn’t all bad. I could see a small danger in providing a rookie skipper so little time to prepare for his first Spring Training–I tend to believe that smooth springs are a sign, if not the only sign, of good things ahead–and am aware of how poor starts in both his years were among the things that doomed Mickey Callaway’s clubs so count me as cautiously optimistic.
Rojas has good lineage–he’s among 10 children of Felipe Alou (he’s a product of his 3rd of his four wives, making him a half-brother of one-time Met Moises Alou, a nephew of one-time Met Jesus Alou, and a half-cousin of one-time Met Mel Rojas, himself a half-brother to Felipe, Jesus and Matty). “Alou” was Felipe’s mother’s last name and was “assigned” that when his father’s surname Rojas was lost in translation, yet passed along to Luis. Mel took his father’s name as he was born of a different mother than the Alou siblings. Got that?
Now, what number will he wear? Rojas in previous outings with the Mets has worn No. 60 as a guest coach and last year, a “quality control” coach. A look at the developing Mets roster would suggest however that 60 is assigned currently to both Rojas and assistant pitching coach Jeremy Accardo. We’ll figure it all out soon I hope.
Speaking now of the roster, that’s also coming into play… a little. In addition to Rojas coaches Jeremy Hefner, Tony DeFrancesco and Hensely Muelens have yet to be assigned, as have new 40-man arrivals Stephen Gonsalves, Jordan Humpheys, Thomas Szapuki, Ali Sanchez and Andres Gimenez, so I’ll stop short of publishing a full spring roster quite yet.
But I am noting the following new assignments: Jake Marisnick in 16; Rick Porcello in 22, conflicting for the moment with Dom Smith; and Michael Wacha in 45. Hopefully they they figure it all out by Spring Training.
Do you collect scorecards? I’m teaming up with a longtime MBTN benefactor to inventory our source materials (for me, all pre-1999 as this site has kept track since then). The collection, inspired in part by the Andy Hassler mystery mentioned below, has already turned up some very interesting new wrinkles which I’ll share with you all soon, one of them about the newest Met Hall of Famer, Jon Matlack. If you have old scorecards and want to help, do me a big solid and shoot the roster page, note the date to the best of your ability and send it in!
We got one right for a change. Pitcher Marcus Stroman revealed in a tweet that he would wear the rarely-issued No. 0 jersey in 2020, switching from the 7 he’d originally selected but preferred not to wear because he felt it would interfere with memory of Jose Reyes.
We covered the dubious reasoning below and even correctly predicted his new landing spot but wish Marcus the best of luck in his new jersey and hope that in addition to becoming the 1st, 2nd and now 3rd Met pitcher ever to wear a single-digit uni number he makes other team history as well. Among Zeros, he joins Terry McDaniel (1991), Rey Ordonez (1996-97) and most recently, Omar Quintanilla (2014).
In other matters for someone not entirely comfortable with the selection of a new manager, the news that Carlos Beltran reportedly played a role in the creation of Houston’s cheat scheme is a mixed message at best. If they knew it must have been a factor in the decision to hire him. If they didn’t, it’s a black eye for Carlos before making a spring training lineup. Same old Mets?
We’ll see what Chief Brodie does in his second visit to the Hot Stove in the weeks ahead but between us I’d be pleased were we to retain Zack Wheeler then figure out what to do next. It’s been signaled that the Mets are shopping for a real center fielder, which to me seems like a pretty good idea, while upgrading the defense behind the plate would also help.
Congratulations to Carlos Beltran who in a move I can barely get my head around is returning to the Mets, as their manager, apparently with Terry Collins as his bench-coaching sidekick.
The move is so unusual on so many levels, and I’m so suspicious of the Mets’ motives generally, that I’m having a hard time getting past downside scenarios and telling myself this was another one of those gigantic Wilponian compromises that reveals the club’s elemental obsession to be praised and its terrifyingly paranoid internal workings.
It’s a move with something for everyone: Fans get a figure they loved; players get a guy who engenders reverential respect; Brodie gets a back-page win and enhances his brand of bold unpredictability; Fred gets a white-haired old baseball man; Jeff gets ticket sales and presumably, cover for budget consciousness; and the press gets lots to write about and a return of not one but two good quotes.
But I still found myself though with lost of worries off the bat. If things go wrong, and they will at times, how will the rookie skipper manage? And if gets really bad, and it might, will the club ever have the juice to fire a guy certain to be elected to the Hall of Fame during his tenure as manager? Is Terry here as a kind of shadow Xs and Os man and Beltran merely a front–and what happens if they don’t get along? What will the players make of the re-installation of a guy they were told wasn’t good enough to manage them only a few seasons before? And would you trade the new manger for 7 more years of Zack Wheeler?
I realize a lot of these worries have upside too and as expressed below I might personally have been inclined to try a guy with less built-in like Tim Bogar but I’m willing to give it a shot. That, as they say, is why they play the games.
As to the unis, 15 is available for Beltran and 10 most recently belonged to first-base coach Gary Disarcina who may or may be not be back.
And speaking of those who won’t be back and for that matter of center fielders from Puerto Rico, the Mets have made it official they were parting ways with Juan Lagares, who started off better than anyone expected but who also would progress less than might have been hoped. Juan played more games wearing No. 12 than all but John Stearns and Ken Boswell and departs as the uniform’s greatest triple-hitter of all time. Joe Panik (2) and Donnie Hart (68) also became free agents after refusing minor-league assignments.
Other Met free agents are Luis Avilan (43), Brad Brach (29), Rajai Davis (18), Todd Frazier (21), Rene Rivera (44) and Wheeler (45).
The Mets appear to be narrowing the list of managerial candidates to succeed Mickey Callaway, with second interviews reportedly granted to Joe Girardi, Carlos Beltran, Eduardo Perez, Luis Rojas and Tim Bogar.
While the buzz until very recently would have Girardi as the favorite, reports indicate he may even have stronger internal support in Philadelphia, where the ex-Yankee and Marlin skipper has also interviewed.
Count me among those suspicious of Beltran, whom I liked enough as a player but whose history with the club for all its success wasn’t terrific, particularly in the realm of communication, and despite how seemingly easy it’s been for reporters to find folks to say all the right things about him. The other argument I’ve heard for Beltran is this idea that he’s the only man alive who could possibly get Yoenis Cespedes to contribute. I simply don’t believe that on its face.
Speaking of fanciful notions there are perspective-challenged fans out there threatening mutiny if Girardi doesn’t come aboard; I’m sure the fact he’s been hired twice and interviewed by two clubs this time around speaks for his general acceptability for the role but it’s never as though there’s only one possibility. If the Phillies want him so bad, make him rich.
I don’t have much of an opinion of Eduardo Perez as a guy or a broadcaster, and all I can say about Luis Rojas is that the organization thinks highly of him, given how frequently he’s appeared in the dugout wearing weird numbers over the years.
And that brings us to Tim Bogar.
Tim Bogar? Why not?
He’ll be coming to the organization with the pixie dust of the Houston Washington juggernaut. His “experience” managing a big-league club is limited to 22 games– he was interim skipper for the 2014 Rangers following the firing of Ron Washington in 2014 and Texas went 14-8 under him (.636 winning percentage-a 103-win pace!!), but he’s a three-time minor league manager of the year and is well-thought of enough to have been in the employ as coach of good big-league teams like the Astros and Red Sox. Bogar also has front-office experience, serving his ex-Met teammate Jerry DiPoto when DiPoto GM’ed the Angels.
Though DiPoto’s reign in Anaheim ended amid friction with manager Mike Scioscia, DiPoto reappeared in Seattle and sent for Bogar who was named bench coach to Scott Servias. So one could argue Bogar has experience helping Robinson Cano have a productive year.
Finally, Bogar for all his seeming lack of sex appeal, is a Met–drafted by the club in 1987, and eventually making it to New York as a righthanded hitting, noodle-bat utility player/”emergency catcher” who lasted the entire Dallas Green era and the beginnings of the Bobby Valentine one, before being traded during spring training in 1997. (Interesting to note that as a coach in Boston, Bogar was said to have not gotten along with Valentine there either). Bogar you may remember wore No. 23 as a Met but surrendered that jersey in 1996 when the club acquired Bernard Gilkey and wore 11 that year.
But even Bogar’s trade–to Houston for Luis Lopez–paid ongoing dividends for the club as that deal was the seed in a still-flourishing trade tree that yielded Noah Syndergaard. Let’s follow it:
In 1997 Bogar was traded to Houston for Luis Lopez, who was traded in 2000 to Milwaukee for Bill Pulsipher, who was traded to Arizona later that year for Lenny Harris, who was swapped in 2001 to Milwaukee for Jeromy Burnitz, whose 2003 trade to Los Angeles yielded Victor Diaz, who in 2006 was traded for catcher Mike Nickeas. Nickeas remarkably lasted long enough in the organization to make the Mets in 2010 and was included in the earthshattering R.A. Dickey trade to Toronto in 2012, a deal yielding Travis d’Arnaud (whose branch died upon his release this year) and Noah Syndergaard.
Tim Bogar for manager!
Title inspiration by the magnificent skinny-tie new waving power poppers Any Trouble (1980):
Goodbye and good luck to Carlos Beltran, who is expected to accept a trade to the Giants and leave the Mets as one of the best players who ever came though here. The Mets are said to be taking back a hot pitching prospect by the name of Zach Wheeler and by the looks of things just might maintain their hold on third place now that David Wright‘s back, Daniel Murphy is hitting like crazy and Lucas Duda suddenly believes in himself.
Beltran’s place as the finest player ever to wear No. 15 for the Mets has long been established, surpassing the contributions of catching stalwart Jerry Grote and fading superstar George Foster even before his knee problems interrupted his progress. But his Metliness also cannot be denied. He was one of the few big-name free agents whose acquisition paid off in addition to the splash it made and his fortunes mirrored the Mets’: Valiently struggling in in 2005, dominant in 2006, receding in 2007, rebounding in 2008, banged-up, controversial and largely unavailable in ’09 and ’10; and suddenly relevant again in ’11.
Following is glance of the career accomplishments of notable Met No. 15s, ranked in ascending Metliness. Pitchers who wore 15 include Al Jackson (early years); Ron Darling (laboring latter years); Rick Aguilera, Don Aase and Dave Robertts. See the full list. Who’s your favorite?
I don’t care much for the Brewers, so I’m glad it’s them and not us who will be sweating out the 55-game timebomb. That we’ll also collect two of their prospects — however long their odds may be — makes the trade of the first and probably last No. 75 in Mets history a winner in my book.
And the Mets? They’ll be fine. Let’s see Jason Isringhausen get a few saves and parlay it into a return engagement with St. Louis, then turn over the closer role to Pedro Beato, who as far as I’m concerned already has closer pedigree — that is, he gets whiffs and groundballs, possesses distinct body language, and has made a few confident remarks in the press. Bobby Parnell may have wicked heat, but his laconic demeanor and country-music theme music need work before he ascends to the role. And that will be that.
I actually admired the contrition and the skills Rodriguez brought with him to the field this year but his contract was recklessly outrageous and a bad deal even before he arrived: You read it here first. Relief pitching just ain’t worth that kinda money, and I’ve always hated how unimaginatively the Mets pursued it.
I’m sure emotions will run higher if and when it comes to moving pieces such as Carlos Beltran, but as said before if he’s going to bring back some real prospects they’d be fools not to investigate, irrespective of where we are on July 31. I think I would be totally OK if the Mets took a few prospects from Pittsburgh for Carlos, because as I said above, I don’t much care for Milwaukee.
By the way: Ryota Igarashi takes Frankie’s roster place, speaking of overpaid relievers.
A strong effort from Johan Santana and (in my opinion anyway) first-half MVP Angel Pagan helped the Mets salvage the final game of the “first half” today, and allow them to reach the break at 48-40, and four games out. Make no mistake they will need a better second half to reach the postseason but given all the uncertainty, and how badly they’ve looked at times, I think they pretty much deserve to be where they are right now and you have to be satisfied with it. Their ability to improve depends in large part on whether Carlos Beltran is ready to resume his usual game. The Mets following the victory Sunday recalled No. 15 and he’ll apparently be in uniform and batting cleanup on Thursday when the season resumes in San Francisco. Jesus Feliciano, who oughta be proud of what he accomplished, was sent down to make room.
Don’t forget today — Monday, July 12, is Amazin’ All-Star Monday at Two Boots at Grand Central Station, where Greg Prince and I will co-host an evening of Met-centric discussion with Howard Megdal, author, journalist and self-professed candidate for Mets general manager; and Marty Noble, Mets beat writer for more than 30 years at the Bergen Record, Newsday and MLB.com. Details at the Facebook invite here.