Brach … And Roll

Here we go guys. The new frontier of the no-trades-past-the-deadline era are free agents dumped onto the market for various reasons, like Donnie Hart, Asdrubal Cabrera and now, Brad Brach. We got two out of those three, and may have a fourth if reports hold true and soon-to-former-Giant Joe Panik arrives.

Brach, the former Oriole All-Star reliever released by the Cubs, will replace Hart in the Mets bullpen. He looks to be a victim of bad luck and less than ideal control but could shore up the corps ahead of this weekend’s crucial showdown with Cabrera and the Nationals. Brach’s a strapping righty out of Springsteen Country (Freehold, Monmouth) who’s worn four numbers in four big-league stops: The 29 he rocked most recently in Chicago is available here, so it’s our guess he gets it.

The Mets aren’t officially Panik-ing quite yet but with Robbie Cano out for weeks, consider Joe’s a local guy too (born in Yonkers, went to St. John’s), plays second base, bats lefthanded and is somewhat of a surer bet than Luis Guillorme (much less Cano) to perform for the rest of the year, if one can overlook the fact that he hasn’t been very good for the last two seasons and grew up a Derek Jeter fan. The 12 he’s worn for all six years of his career with the Giants belongs to Juan Lagares, but lucky for him No. 2 is available since Gavin Cecchini’s disappearance from both the Mets’ 40-man roster and their future, given his .225/.286/.314 line at AA Binghamton this year.

Let’s update all this when word’s official. Till then, LGM or as Pete Alonso might say, LFGM. For Pete’s sake.

 

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Gotta Have Hart

What can you say? The Mets have been fortunate to combine the best pitching they’ve gotten all year with a stretch of the schedule featuring one sloppy, less-fortunate club after another, and like good teams do, the Mets are making hay.

Now before we get too overconfident let’s take care of the Marlins. New arrival Donnie Hart, a lefty reliever waiver-claimed from Milwaukee, made his debut yesterday in 68, a number we most recently saw on Wilmer Font, who’s now pitching in Toronto.

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Deadline Headlines

Don’t look now but the SHaMs have won five in a row and 11 of 16 since the break and if they aren’t too careful they just might get back to .500. From there we can talk about the fringes of the second Wild Card, yet it would appear that so much of that depends on what happens in the coming hours today.

All of which makes it curious that in this silly trade deadline, where out-of-it clubs like the Mets and Reds are absorbing the prize assets, that they traded Jason Vargas to the Phillies for a 26-year-old AA catcher hitting .190. Vargas, whose struggles last season were a major reason the club performed as badly as it did in the first half and who probably isn’t vital to a first- or fifth-place finish for anyone, was at least holding his own this year, despite revealing himself to being a bit of an asshole. It would be a weird kind of self-inflicted wound were the Phillies to use Vargas to hold us off.

Joel Sherman, whose reporting this time of year I think is as good as anyone, wrote a good piece examining the Mets’ curious position. I think he’s right: The club rarely achieves sustained success because that’s not something it ever bothers to envision; rather they are constantly going for it contemporaneously. Occasionally that’s going to result in deadlines like this one where a poor-performing club trades for the best pitcher available and might (probably should) also trade the centerpiece of the previous winter’s spree, “closer” Edwin Diaz. If you stayed up late enough last night you’d have seen why they oughta and, likely how little they’ll get. in return.

But if you think the Mets will learn anything from the whole experience you can forget it.

Go SHaMs!

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Chief Brodie Strikes Again

Oh, those unpredictable Mets.

Season-appropriate Mets jersey I spied at Citifield this past week.

Amid speculation that their disappointing season warranted a dramatic teardown that could include Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler and others, Brodie “Trade Tomorrow for Today” Van Wagenen instead pulled a surprise dealĀ  for one of the other hot names on the starter front, Marcus Stroman of the Blue Jays.

The deal will cost the Mets yet another two prospects–promising starters Anthony Kay and Simeon Woods-Richardson–but in Stroman returns a Long Island native who’s a pretty darn good pitcher himself and is under team control for another couple years.

Presumably, there will be another shoe to drop here: He makes one of Wheeler, Syndergaard or Jason Vargas expendable, and Brodie–or his bosses–don’t appear to care too deeply for the assets acquired by his predecessor. The deal also comes at an interesting moment for the club, which lately looks at least a little bit more like the club that we thought might contend this season, though part of that has to do with some indifferent play from their opponents and whatever it is, it’s almost assuredly too late.

I in fact confess as a fan to have mentally packed it in for them last Wednesday, when their arrogant lack of preparation and propensity for making the same mistakes over and over again doomed them a loss with three Wild Card rivals in reach, but whackier things have happened. What if they only wind up trading Vargas? They’d have a good starter on the mound just about every day.

This Stroman fellow, you may know, is noted for the unusual No. 6 he wears on his Blue Jays duds. This he related, owes to his grandmother’s birthday (March 6) and portends a showdown with current occupant Jeff McNeil. The Mets have never had a single-digited pitcher, though positional players pitching (Desi Relaford in 8 and Todd Zeile in 9, also Jose Reyes in 7) have made appearances.

Will Stroman celebrate granny’s birthday a day later and take the vacant 7? Would he and McNeil make some kind of a side deal? Will 34 and 45 and 44 and 39 and 21 suddenly become available?

This is the Mets. They’ll do anything.

Update: Stroman has indicated, however cryptically, that he would wear No. 7.

 

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Come and Get The SHaMs

Brodie Van Wagenen this afternoon did his best to deflect questions and spin the horrific job he’s done so far as GM of the Mets, who’ve wasted another half-season on overinflated expectations and underperformance on the field. He also spoke highly of the collaborative evaluation process that led to the disaster that is the current season and said he’s looking forward to the process of collaboratively evaluating processes so as to come up with a evaluative process of collaboration moving forward.

And with that, another sad season begins for the SHaMs (Second-Half-Mets).

Sounds like Zack Wheeler, Todd Frazier and Jason Vargas will soon be departing and Mickey Callaway a little later. Wilmer Font has been whacked already and Chris Mazza is back.

Good luck, SHaMs!

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Star Search

Well the season remains frustratingly hopeless, and I’ll shortly be off to Flushing to watch Zack Wheeler (along with returning bullpen stiffs Avilan, Familia and Wilson) audition for the Yankees, but let’s take a moment to celebrate the naming of three deserving All-Stars from this year’s roster.

It needed to be pointed out to me that Jeff McNeil became the first Met All-Star ever to wear the number 6; then again, McNeil is doing lots of things no No. 6 has ever done. And that prompted my pals at the Crane Pool Forum, particularly Faith & Fear’s own Greg Prince, to assemble this handy numerical list of all Met All-Stars, by the number. (correcting the accident of transposing the Cone appearances):

1 Ashburn (two games-1962), L. Johnson
2 Valentine (Mgr)
3 Harrelson (2)
4 Snider
5 D. Johnson (Mgr), Wright (7)
6 McNeil
7 Kranepool, Reyes (4)
8 Berra (Mgr), Carter (4)
9 Hundley (2)
10 Collins (Coach 2x, Mgr)
12 Stearns (4), Darling
13 Alfonzo, Wagner (2)
14 Hodges (Mgr)
15 Grote (2), Beltran (4)
16 Mazzilli, Gooden (4), Lo Duca
17 Hernandez (3), Cone-1992
18 Youngblood, Strawberry (7), Saberhagen
20 H. Johnson (2), Alonso
21 C. Jones
22 Leiter
24 Mays (2)
25 Bonilla (2)
26 Kingman
27 Familia
28 B. Jones, Murphy
29 Viola (2)
30 Conforto
31 Franco, Piazza (7)
32 Matlack (3)
33 Hunt (2), Harvey
34 Syndergaard
35 Reed (2)
36 Koosman (2)
37 Stengel (Coach)
40 Zachry, Colon
41 Seaver (9)
43 Dickey
44 Cone-1988
45 McGraw, Martinez (2)
47 Orosco (2), Glavine (2)
48 deGrom (3)
49 Benitez
50 Fernandez (2)
52 Cespedes
57 Santana
75 Rodriguez

Well, this means the Mets still need an 11, a 19, a 23, a 38, a 39 and a 46 to make the All-Star club.

As to the roster changes, relievers Wilson, Avilan and Familia are up and that means Brooks Pounders, Steven Nogosek and Chris Mazza are down. Along with Carlos Gomez’s recent DFA, that’s a lot of high-uni numbers banished. Also, Luis Guillorme is back, and Chris Flexen is down. Lotsa high numbers out.

 

 

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Sorry State

The Mets are a wreck again, determined to waste unbelievable years from a core of young players, while little has changed since last week’s coach firing squad and subsequent reporter-threatening-fake-contrition act. The bullpen still stinks under new pitching coach Phil Regan and returning bullpen coach Ricky Bones and as a result they remain a rotten road club that’s going backwards in the standings when they had every opportunity to move up.

Regan was given the same No. 58 removed from Dave Eiland a week but the Mets should have played along and given him No. 82. Bones, who replaced Chuck Hernandez, was given the same No. 25 he’d worn in his previous role, while Hernandez surrendered No. 59. A new “pitching strategist,” Jeremy Accardo, is wearing No. 60. It hasn’t helped.

With Noah Syndergaard set to return after missing two starts with a hamstring issue, Walker Lockett was up and down in 61. Yesterday the Mets promoted a guy called Chris Mazza and gave him No. 74. When Mazza appears it will be the first appearance of that stupid number in club history.

Can the Mets be fixed? I don’t think so. There are a few things overhanging this season that are casting an ominous shadow. Chief among them is the idea that the offseason’s alleged “big bang” has been a complete disaster with Edwin Diaz unreliable at the top, and Robinson Cano stifling the offense by hitting third every night despite being one of the worst everyday players in the league. Let’s just admit it: The Mets would better off having not made that trade in the first place; instead they bet their whole identity on it.

Speculation as to when the club fires Mickey Callaway is another dark shadow. As we advocated for a few weeks ago it only appears to be a matter of time for him and this latest incident and the reporting around it hasn’t helped. As often the case with the Mets it comes with questions as to who’s really pulling the strings. My working theory today is that the stealth coup pulled off before last season–hamstringing Sandy Alderson in order to get Omar Minaya back in the organization– is still quietly doing evil at the behest of old Fred. Brodie Van Wagenen isn’t the mastermind here but rather the polished public face and salesman for the idiotic and regressive Minaya Playbook: Move heaven and earth for some other team’s relief pitcher and take the baggage with him. This is where it’s got us. Now how about that apology.

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Quarter Pounders

Hi you may have seen the enormous righthander Brooks Pounders debut the other day. There’s a guy who looks like his name, no? He’s wearing No. 46, last issued to Gerson Bautista last year and rarely if ever to a significant Met: Ollie Perez, Neil Allen (before he changed); Tyler Clippard (before he changed); Randy Niemann (before he changed). You get it. Anyway, you also know we needed the help and perhaps the big dude can provide some. So far, so big, so good.

Also this week the Mets recalled Daniel Zamora (again) and welcomed Steven Nogosek for the first time. I’m just gonna say without looking it up that’s the first and only time a 73 and 72 were recalled on the same day.

Nogosek came along with the aforementioned Bautista and Jamie Callahan (remember him?) in the famous Addison Reed trade and has been having a good year in the minors. 72 is of course an outrageous number. Perhaps not as big an admission of not trying than dressing Jack Rheinheimer in it last year but you get the message. Another June, another Met club dangling to the notion of being relevant.

I’ll happen to be in Wrigley on Friday and will report from there on whatever stupid number they give to whomever pitches.

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Rajai and Out

Those unpredictable Mets keep on churning the roster and you never know what’ll happen next.

This week, with Nimmo and Conforto out, we introduced Rajai Davis and Aaron Altherr as special guest outfielders and each of them hit a home run in their first plate appearance. Davis, who didn’t get an R designation on his nameplate despite the team already employing two other members of the Davis family (JD & Chili) wore No. 18, and Altherr took the 23 jersey most recently belonging to Keon Broxton. The Mets in the meantime signed Matt Kemp to a minor-league contract, then DFA’ed Davis to make room for the returning Conforto.

Should Kemp make it up here–and signing a veteran All-Star is becoming something of a Mets tradition given the recent history of Jose Bautista and Adrian Gonzalez and James Loney–they’ll need to find another uniform number than the 27 he’s previously worn over 1,700 games for Los Angeles, San Diego, Atlanta and Cincinnati. Juerys Familia has already kept 27 from Carlos Gomez.

The new additions and subsequent roster crush has resulted not only in Davis’ assignment but also cost Paul Sewald and Tim Peterson spots. The latter two escaped the scrutiny even of the Washington Nationals and have landed back in Syracuse.

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Stepping Out of A Hole

Well, what do you know.

Mickey Callaway hasn’t been fired and the Mets have started winning again. Those things no doubt will change at some point, maybe soon, but let’s enjoy it now while we can.

The injuries are slowly piling up, for example. Jed Lowrie and Yoenis Cespedes might never get here. Conforto is concussed, Nimmo is out with a sore neck and Cano might have hurt himself hustling. New Mets hero Rajai Davis is here and wearing No. 18; interesting inasmuch he was issued 11 in Spring Training, but that went to Adeiny Hechavarria. And with Seth Lugo joining Justin Wilson and Luis Avilan on the shelf, Hector Santiago arrived. He’ll be wearing No. 33.

Along the way we can close the book on Keon Broxton, traded to Baltimore for draft money yesterday, and perhaps on Paul Sewald, one of those organization relievers whose champions, if he had them, left the building a while ago.

Poor Sewald. Of the six pitchers who wore No. 51 in team history none have seen more action than Sewald’s 107 games and 128.2 innings, but all of them have at least as many wins, which is to say zero. He departs as the losingest pitcher (13) without a win in Mets history.

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