Tag Archive for Taijuan Walker

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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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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Oh My Nose!

Well that was gross. I’m talking of course about the Mets performance over the weekend in Florida and not last night’s gruesome hit-by-pitch which broke the nose of basically our best player this year, Kevil Pillar. Typically, mopping blood off the playing surface is a hockey thing, and in that spirit, let’s salute Pillar for going into the dirty areas, winning those one-on-one battles, keeping his feet moving and all all those other cliches Butch Goring admiringly ascribes to Casey Cizakas as the Islanders face their own long odds in the playoffs.

The injuries never stop: Our new outfield is Johneswhy “Huggy Bear” Fargas, wearing No. 81; Khalil Lee, No. 26, whom we referred to below; Jake Hager, No. 86; and likely, another reserve palooka to be named later. We will enter those into the database shortly, but I don’t need to tell you that Fargas and Hager are about to rewrite every record for the guys to have worn those jerseys, which is none unless you “count” Wally Backman’s September coach callup in 2011, which we do but not very enthusiastically.

Taijuan Walker in the meantime is hurting, Carlos Carrasco is returning slower than anticipated, Joey Lucchesi isn’t working out and don’t look to Syracuse nor Binghamton for reinforcements: Both of those clubs are having awful starts as graduates and Brodie’s trade-the-farm-and-finish-in-fourth approach is delivering that bloody nose we knew was coming.

I’m silently advocating they say the hell with it and promote Ronny Mauricio from Single A Brooklyn. The guy’s going to have to move off shortstop eventually.

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A New Low for the Mets

The Mets made history last month and I didn’t even realize it.

Their 4-0 victory over the Phillies April 13 was achieved behind a starting lineup whose summed uniform numbers totaled 64–obliterating the  lowest combo we found the last time we researched this question, which I’m also pretty sure is the only time that question has ever been asked. Granted there are Marcus Stroman wearing No. 7 starts that our data scientists are busy researching. But here’s the new winning combo:

  • 9 Nimmo, CF
  • 12 Lindor, SS
  • 2 Smith, LF
  • 20 Alonso, 1B
  • 6 McNeil, 2B
  • 11 Pillar, RF
  • 1 Villar, 3B
  • 3 Nido, C
  • 0 Stroman, P

That 64 crushes the combined 84 we’d found from July 3, 1962.

But there’s still more. The Stroman start came in the second game of a double-header in which Taijuan Walker started the first game, making for an unbeatable spread between starter digits. It also happened to be only third time in club history the the Mets had Black starting pitchers start both games of a doubleheader, according to research from my friends at the Crane Pool Forum. Al Jackson and Roadblock Jones started a twin-bill on April 29, 1962. And On Aug. 17, 1980, Ray Burris and Roy Lee Jackson did it.

So three all-Black-starter doubleheaders; all of them against the Phillies; the Mets split ’62; were swept in ’80; and swept in ’21.

Sorry to have overlooked this incredible achievement; I have to admit, I only realized this because I was thinking the other way.

With James McCann turning into a double-play machine and magic squirting out of the bat of Patrick Mazeika, I thought “Why not give the rookie a start?” And if we did, why not pair him up with Taijuan Walker? That  starting-battery sum of 175 I’m certain would be a club record. The Nido-Stroman duo is also the lowest-ever, darn near the lowest possible.)

But when trying to construct a mock Met lineup whose combined total would surpass the magic number of 300 I could barely do it (the record for highest-ever lineup, we’ve figured, occurred back in 2016, when it totaled 324). There are simply too many guys with sensible numbers on this team. Plus two outrageous outliers in Walker and Stroman, creating the opportunity to make history every time out there. You could look it up.

*

A seven-game win streak was put to a stop last night as Lindor, Conforto, Alonso, and Smith combined to go 0-for-15 (throw in McNeil, 1-for-19), and the bullpen couldn’t save a tight one.

Not everyone can be as hot as Villar or Pillar. And if you told me we’d get 7 in a row without deGrom…

Albert Almora, who intrepidly smashed face-first into the fence the other night at Citifield (we we over in the left-field corner: the sound was scary), is on the IL and Khalil Lee, the prospect acquired from Kansas City in the three-team deal that facilitated Andrew Benintendi’s move from the Red Sox to the Royals (Franchy Cordero went to Boston, along with Josh Wincowski, a relief pitcher the Mets acquired in the Steven Matz trade–plus an Ex-Met To Be Named Later) is up with the club, wearing No. 26, and has inherited Almora’s role as the least-used guy on the roster. Like Daniel Zamora, who’s been up-and-down a couple of times already, he’s yet to seen any action.

Lee is a lefthanded-hitting speedster who strikes out too much but can go get in center field. Let’s hope he can complement the “Bench Mob” behind this recent hot streak.

 

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Pillarious

It’s just as well Brandon Drury hasn’t shown up for camp yet because they don’t have the laundry for him anyway. That’s the story now that the Mets have dressed the newly arrived Kevin Pillar in his customary 11 while the non-roster infield longshot Drury will chose among the few left available in our updated chart below, perhaps 15 as Guillermo Heredia sure enough was whacked and subsequently waiver-wired by the Braves, where he’ll be obligated at have at least one turn at-bat we’ll regret this year.

By now we’ve heard still more from Taijuan Walker whom I have to say is a lot better at social media than Trevor Bauer. Walker has embraced his 99–as his his only predecessor, Turk Wendell–and explained that he’d come up as a 44 but was bumped off it when he was traded to Arizona and teamed with Paul Goldschmidt so took 99; a move to Toronto put 99 into conflict with Hyun Jin Ryu so took 00; and now Mr. Met forces a move back to 99. When we trade him, he’ll go back to 44.

Updated roster! 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 Kevin Pillar, OF
12 Francisco Lindor, SS
13 Luis Guillorme, INF
14 Retired Gil Hodges
15 Caleb Joseph, C
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 Tommy Hunter, P released
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 Barnes, 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 Cory Oswalt, P
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 Mike Mongomery, P
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/JT Ginn, P BP pitcher
81 Johneshwy Fargas, OF
82 Jared Robinson, P
83 Tom Windle, P
84 Brandon Drury, INF
85 Stephen Nogosek, P
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 Taijuan Walker, P
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Superspreader

Hey all thanks for the updates in the below post. As you guys are aware since our last big blast the Mets have reportedly added a new Pillar to accompany their new Villar, scooped up a matching pair of veteran left-right arms in Mike Montgomery and Tommy Hunter, released Brad Brach, traded Ali Sanchez to St. Louis for cash, waived and then resigned Corey Oswalt, saw Tim Tebow’s pretend career end in retirement, and now have a deal in place to land the intriguing Taijuan Walker to a rotation that’s getting pretty deep.

Hard to imagine that training camp won’t also threaten to be a superspreader event as its already spreading uni numbers all over the place and cover is getting awfully hard to find. These numbers are always in flux: The Kevin Pillar and Walker deals still aren’t finalized and their additions to the 40 may accompany some subtractions, but taking it all in — the 69 guys expected in camp, the 14 uniformed but non-playing personnel, the 6 retired numbers (14, 31, 36, 37, 41, 42) and the other unassigned digits in limbo (5, 8, 17, and the newly complicated 24–a limbo number now in double secret limbo) that leaves at the moment only 7, 69, 84, 85, 98 and 99 free, perhaps 00 also.

Taijuan Walker, whose colorful closet includes jerseys bearing numbers 99, 0 and 00 wondered aloud the other day:

I dunno about that, Tai, but let’s assume you’ll be the first Mets’ 99 since Turk Wendell. 00 is a possibility too but there’s Mr. Met to consider. Pillar in the meantime would almost have to take 7, but I have an especially strong suspicion now that his addition is another indication Guillermo Heredia will be pink-slipped– he’s barely hanging on to a roster slot and the 15 jersey now. As pointed out in the comments below it’s possible now the Mets could move Noah Syndergaard to the 60-day Injured List so a another 40 sacrifice may not need to be made right away but Daniel Zamora  should probably be looking over his shoulder which would free up the always attractive No. 73.

Tommy Hunter a durable veteran righty reliever we most saw most recently with the Phillies but whom I think of an Oriole starter, was assigned the No. 29 vacated by the released Brad Brach. Montgomery, is a tall lefty who’s something like the Jesse Orosco of Chicago, having secured the nailbiting final out of the Cubs’ long awaited 2016 World Series victory but more recently toiled in Kansas City.

The Mets are listing Oswalt in the same 55 he momentarily gave up while he cleared waivers, so we’re assuming that’s the deal.

Happy Birthday to Us

Finally, I always forget this but not this year. This Monday 2/22/21, marks the 22nd birthday of Mets by the Numbers! A quick celebration as we count down the Top 10 Mets’ all-time 22s:

10. Dale Murray (1978-79). Workhorse sinkerballer for the darkest Mets era, his results were a match for the clubs’.

9. Charlie O’Brien (1992-93). Backup receiver in another rotten era. Like Murray, results weren’t any better than the team’s. 22 was his third number as a Met and the best of three three.

8. Jose Valentin (2007). His second year as a Met, only one in 22, worse in every way than the first.

7. Dominick Smith (2017-19). Since moved to greater success wearing No. 2.

6. Xavier Nady (2006). A half-season of exemplary slugging contributed to one of the most satisfying starts in club history.

5. Jack Fisher (1964-67). Wasn’t terribly successful Fat Jack worked. 931.2 innings in four years including a club record that might never be broken unless this “opener” idea really takes off: 36 starts in 1965.

4. Kevin McReynolds (1987-91, 1994). Laconic and unpopular but all the things Joe McIlvaine liked about him were true: He had power, he had speed, he had a good arm, he was solid defensively.

3. Ray Knight (1984-86). McReynolods’ popular predecessor who shouldn’t have to buy a drink in New York but people forget the fan animosity toward Knight was nearly McReynoldseque given how rotten he was in 1985

2. Donn Clendenon (1969-71): Key arrival in ’69, never again needed to buy drinks.

1. Al Leiter (1998-2004): Heart and soul of the Valentine era Mets hurlers that birthed this site and who has long belonged in the club’s hall of fame but remarkably isn’t there. A creative and occasionally exasperating thinker whose effort was laudable as it was audible. Needn’t buy drinks when I’m around.

 

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