This Is Our Hill, And These Are Our Beans

The wealthy but needy Mets pulled off a little trade yesterday for Rich Hill, the elderly lefthander who will help patch a leaky rotation and according to the narrative will be a Veteran Playoff Experience Intangible superspreader.

The Mets are listing Hill in 53, which belongs to pitching coach Jeremy Hefner but probably won’t matter much because Hef never shows a jersey.  As Matt remembers in the comments below, this has happened before. Nobody will notice anyway.

Tommy Hunter and a minor league catcher go away so it’s not a heavy price. Hunter surrenders the normal number no. 29 in the deal, which we also seem in short supply of.

Traveling this week and updates are going to be tricky! I’m sure more news will come…

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Banda Gypsies

Do you remember when the Mets were terrible and forced Sandy Alderson to weakly step aside without actually firing him and packed it in July, trading guys like Asdrubal Cabrera and Juerys Familia?

I barely can either, but was reminded of it this week when its reverberations played out over this ridiculous road trip. Familia went to Oakland for an infielder called Will Toffey, whom the Mets employed as a minor leaguer for years until flipping him a few weeks back for Anthony Banda, a lefthanded reliever who became a kind-of star in Monday’s crazy win in Cincinnati.

Banda wore 77, becoming the first Met to get that number since David Peterson wore it last year. Also arriving for the first time this week was Geoff Hartlieb (who?) a former Pirate waived away from their org and scooped up by the body-hungry, first-place, beaten-up Mets, given No. 40 (already issued once this year to since-released gascan Jacob Barnes), and thrown out there. (Tuesday not Monday)

And speaking of trade deadlines of the recent past, Steven Nogosek is back again! Nogosek, whom I think has been on and off the 40 about a million times is the only remaining detritus of the Addison Reed Trade. Nogosek first appeared wearing 72 in 2019, then resurfaced a year ago with 85 on his back. Just spitballing here but of guys who have worn two numbers for the Mets, I’d guess Nogosek’s sum of 157 is the highest ever. Also, he’s got a fresh mustache now.

The Mets will likely in be in this waiver claim-DFA-IL cycle all year: Guys strive to get up, then go right back down and/or get waived when they work (Jerad Eickhoff, Nick Tropeano), or get hurt (Corey Oswalt, Robert Stock, Sean Reid-Foley, David Peterson, Jacob deGrom, Joey Lucchesi, Jordan Yamamoto, Thomas Szapucki, Jose Peraza, Francisco Lindor) and cycled out or picked away by the first group. We can’t help but wind up losing some we might do better keeping this way (Billy McKinney, who did a nice job, was just flipped to the Dodgers in his DFA limbo, and we just DFA’ed the speedy and spirited Johneshwy Fargas). About a third of the roster this year is in a state of constant and unstoppable churn.

We also just grabbed a reliever from the Cardinals called Roel Ramirez whose career ERA is 81.00 (1 IP, 1 9 ER). He’s been assigned to Syracuse but we will probably see him this weekend. With Fargas on the way out, it’d be a shame if he didn’t wind up wearing 81.

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Not Half Bad

The Mets reached the All-Star Break still leading the East and having endured dreadful starts by some guys (uh, Lindor) and injuries to many others but only hit the magic 10-games-over-.500 mark once, and retreated from that pretty rapidly, and still with questions as to who’s going to pitch twice a week, which reliever is going to be most reliable, and who’s going to be traded where and for whom as they address the challenge of improving.

Because as good as things broke for the First-Half Mets, the SHaMs will have to be considerably better.

There’s been signs of life from Lindor in recent weeks and reuniting the lineup with Nimmo and Conforto (will someone remind him there’s a massive contract to still play for?) are encouraging trends. That said we’re also too frequently running out palookas like Robert Stock (the club’s first-ever No. 89) and waiver-wire roster-riders like Geoff Hartlieb (assigned Jacob Barnes’ since-surrendered 40) and Nick Tropeano (52) who won’t likely be positives for a pennant-winner over the long haul, so I’m expecting something of a massive trade or two in the days and weeks ahead.

There are 75 games to go. The Mets realistically need to shoot for winning 45 of them. Go SHaMs!

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Coming From Behind

So if you’re going go ahead and DFA Jerad Eickoff anyway, you may as well issue the same No. 43 to the rookie callup to take his place but the Mets are too busy do that kind of stuff anymore. Get a number in spring, it’s yours to keep all summer, which is why long-simmering righty starter prospect Thomas Szapucki is up and wearing 63.

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. Our last 63 was Tim (not David) Peterson, who’s now in the minors with the Angels. Our first was Chris Schwinden, whom I recall getting reliably beaten up every time he went out there. Gabriel Ynoa, who did a have a few years with the Orioles ahead, was the second.

The lucky ones, it seems, are those who come from so far below the surface they didn’t get any attention, like Tylor Megill, who as you know by now wears No. 38, chews gum while he throws, is like, 9 feet tall and might be the best 4-inning starter in club history, if he keeps it up. Megill actually has quietly succeeded his way up the ladder, and is the second member of his family to debut in the bigs this year. His older brother Trevor, who’s also very tall, wears No. 74 for the Cubs.

Megill is the first 38 since Justin Wilson; I still see Tim Leary when I think of 38’s and for whatever reason, Jerrod Riggan.

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I Cough

It was bound to happen. The Bench Mob eventually came back to Earth and are now getting hurt themselves, and the offense is scuffling along as the starters reemerge. That this all happened only once the Mets hit the 10-games-over high-water mark and resumed intra-division play is worrisome, moreso given that Alonso, Lindor, Smith or McCann are still looking for some kind of consistency.

Jeff McNeil, Kevin Pillar and Albert Almora came back, Joey Lucchesi, Jordan Yamamoto, Juerys Familia, Tommy Hunter, and Robert Gsellman are out, and now it looks like Jonathan Villar and Tomas Nido might be hurt.

Last night we saw the Mets debut of Jerad Eichoff, the first 43 since the unforgettable Erasmo Ramirez last season. Some guy called Travis Blankenhorn was up and back wearing No. 73. Steven Tarpley (46), Sean Reid-Foley (61) and Yennsy Diaz (64) are back with the group; Mason Williams (70) is designated and Jacob Barnes (40) was designated then traded to Toronto.

My friend Edward raised an interesting point that the 40-man roster as a thing has remained constant despite nearly everything else affecting it (disabled-list assignment lengths, roster sizes etc) all changing–some dramatically so, and it’s made a mess of the Mets. I actually looked this up, it’s the 100th birthday of the 40-man roster as a thing, despite a few tweaks over the years (a 48-man roster to allow for Wartime players in the 1940s; and a brief period before imposition of the player draft in the early 1960s when dumb rules forced clubs to carry prized young talent or risk losing them (the roster size then was 41, not 40).

It’s time to reinvent again.

 

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Phoenix Risers

Having somehow survived until now the banged-up-but-still-in-first-place Mets are finally getting a few reinforcements.

Returning tonight in Arizona are reliever Seth Lugo (67), first baseman Pete Alonso (20), and smashed-face outfielder Kevin Pillar (11), and AAA outfielder Mason Williams has been promoted. Going down are useful guys with options: Patrick Mazeika (76), Sean Reid-Foley (61) and Khalil Lee (26); Cameron Maybin (15) and lottery-ticket relief prospect Sam McWilliams have been designated for assignment.

They coulda just torn the “Mc” off and given him 52, but Mason Williams will wear No. 70 because that’s how they do it these days. Williams is lefty-hitting former Yankees’ prospect who’s also had a cuppa with the Reds and Orioles. He was evidently hitting his way out of Syracuse in a way that Lee was not.

Let’s keep it going guys.

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60 Seconds

Leave it to the Mets to trade for a guy who was just waived by Milwaukee, suit him up in No. 60, and bat him cleanup.

Billy McKinney tonight becomes the second position player to wear No. 60 for the club (Andres Gimenez wore it last year) despite No. 7 sitting around unissued. Anyway McKinney seems a decent emergency outfielder with the ability to hit one out now and again and a tendency to get exposed over longer periods as a starter. Like a lot of our guys, he’s a former Blue Jay and Brewer.

We’ve been over this before but just because Marcus Stroman found 7 sacred doesn’t mean the Mets have to, and the idea that they are “saving” it (along with 8 and 17 which were all once okay to use but today are mothballed as the club slow-plays retirement ceremonies that troublingly intermingles jersey retirement and club Hall of Fame) is really coming around to roost with 17 guys on the disabled list. And unless they’re also stealth-retiring Rick Aguilera and RA Dickey, I think 38 and 43 are still out there. Or have I lost count again?

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What Outfield?

It’s a shame Sandy used that joke already because anything to diffuse the one on the field every night would be welcome. Lots of bad news on the injury front–besides the return of Jacob deGrom this evening which I’ll be watching live (or dead) in Citifield tonight.

Quickly catching up on Team Scrubeenie, there’s Yennsy Diaz in 64; Brandon Drury in 35; Wilfredo Tovar (man he’s put some weight) in 72 and as expected, Cameron Maybin in 15. James McCann is hitting 3rd and playing first base because Tomas Nido is the best hitter on the team. Johneswhy Fargas is the second-best so he went and collided with the wall last night.

 

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Viva Los Scrubeenies

Is it magic? Is it sustainable? Is it just that the Braves are more screwed up than us right now?

I’m not ready to buy into any explanation of how the Mets continue to defy the odds and lead the division with this group, whose underperforming stars have been obscured by overperforming reserves for weeks now. You could be positive and say they simply possess that winning gene but let’s wait till we’re at least 10 games above .500 before we entertain that.

Even guys like Khalil Lee, whose swings reveal inches of space between bat and ball, are managing to contribute with their gloves. Johneswhy Fargas in the meantime is already the club’s top cheerleader and has obliterated every record for guys who wear No. 81.

It would seem likely that Lee, who needs more work on contact, would be the guy to go back down if and when the newly acquired Cameron Maybin arrives. This guy was once a top draft pick (went ahead of Mike Pelfrey that year) and hopefully invested some of that bonus money in luggage: The Mets will be his 10th organization and represent his 13th move among franchises: He’s a three-time Detroit Tiger and two-time Marlin, and also toiled for the Padres, the Braves, the Angels, the Astros, the Mariners, the Yankees and the Cubs.

No. 15 is still available (as is 35, now that Trevor Hildenberger was waivered-up by the Giants) so let’s expect 15.

Kevin Pillar, who said all the right things following his frightening beaning, was replaced on the roster by infielder Wilfredo Tovar who last appeared for the Mets wearing No. 70 in 2014. He’s wearing No. 72 this time around.

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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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