Catching Up

Wow. So quite a bit has happened since we last caught up. As I’d mentioned I’d sort of involuntarily “opted out” of the fraudulent 2020 season that while deeply unsatisfying in so many ways, is already one of the most consequential for us in orange-and-blue (and in red-white-and-blue too, but that’s another regrettable nightmare that mercifully appears very close to an end as well).

Let’s recap a few things I missed real quick

Goodbye Fred and Jeff

Beat it. I mean, GTFO.

I’m not overstating it even a little bit when I say the Wilpons’ stunning incompetence and inability to learn despite making the same mistakes over and over and over again had so badly damaged my enthusiasm for the club I was losing interest in something as natural and enjoyable as this goofy little project. I understand that there’s no sure bets in life and financial realities interfere from time to time, but it was never too big an ask that an owner avoid actively making the process of rooting for a team you love an exercise in futility and self-hatred. How hard could it be to sell the Mets to Mets fans?

Don’t answer till you consider these guys not once but twice failed to execute a sale of the team (remember the Einhorn debacle?) mainly because they couldn’t NOT interfere. I’ve been re-reading THE WORST TEAM MONEY COULD BUY recently and reminded that Fred was screwing things up back then too, a pattern that would continue for nearly 30 years. Stunning! Most recently the stealth coup that landed the Mets most recently with a green chair-throwing general manager who promptly mortgaged the future for a steroid case, let a terrific starting pitcher walk to a division rival, screwed up his only chance to name a field manager, and leaves a worse team than he found.

Thank goodness Steve Cohen had the sense to give Sandy Alderson a chance to rescue the team once again. Did you notice Terry Collins and Omar Minaya are also out? What a turn of events. I’m not on the Cohen Crack like everyone else quite yet but his performance so far indicates he’s at least diagnosed many of the same problems we fans have (how hard could that be?) and I’m confident things cannot possibly get worse than they’ve been.

Other Comings and Goings

Sandy and his non-existent front-office team so far have signed a decent relief pitcher (Minnesota’s Trevor May, who seems like a swell guy and as mid-career bullpenners go, not a bad shot), invited a bunch of intriguing guys to Spring Training (OF Mallex Smith, SS Jose Peraza, RP Arodys Vizcaino) and picked up a lottery ticket or two including a 6-foot-7 minor league reliever called Sam McWilliams. The qualified offer to Marcus Stroman was accepted raising the possibility they’ll have a No. 0 after all. This week they got contracts done or offered to fringe 40-man guys that by now include the exasperating Omar-Era Holdover Steven Matz and outfielder Guillermo Heredia whose garbage-time arrival in September wasn’t even noted in our numerical rosters till just now. Sorry about that. He wears 15. Brian Dozier, whom I’d forgotten was ever a Met, no longer does. Chasen Shreve got whacked. So did Paul Sewald.

May by the way wore 65 in Minnesota, which belongs to the damaged Robert Gsellman.

And Now

The Mets have lots of possibilities again. Brodie didn’t necessarily screw up everything beyond what ought to have been decent chances this year and last, thanks mainly to the core assembled by his predecessor and successor.

Cohen has said he’d open up the checkbook so it seems likely they could add a pitcher like Trevor Bauer, reassembling a slate of strong starting pitching they had until Brodie interfered (and possibly interiting the No. 47 surrendered by Shreve). George Springer is available as is uni No. 4, uselessly occupied by Jed Lowrie for two friggin years. J.T. Realmuto (no. 10 in Philadelphia) might catch on, but someone new will at any rate.

We could see some new coaches (were the Wilpons so dumb that thinking did a hitting coach could work from home?) and front office personnel, a trade or two. I’ll try and pay attention.

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RIP Warren “Zvon” Fottrell

Hang around the “Metsophere” long enough and you’ll meet some characters. Warren Fottrell, better known as “Warren Zvon” was one of the good ones.

You’ve probably seen Warren’s work out there; he’s the creator of hundreds of custom virtual baseball cards showcased on a website he called “Baseball Cards Like They Oughta Be” and a terrific Mets fan who professed to be among the throngs who, as teenager, stormed the Shea Stadium grounds following their 1973 playoff victory over Cincinnati. His cards reflected the Topps styles of his youth but covered a wide range of ballplayers, eras and events, frequently bleeding into his other interests in music, history and pop culture, many of which we also shared (Todd Rundgren and the Beatles, for example). His work had a zany, colorful, DIY energy to it; you’d never mistake it for a product of a polished studio, it was far too passionate, personal and funny for that.

I’d come across Warren first as a participant at Crane Pool, where a bunch of us have been good-naturedly enduring the Mets virtually for close to 20 years (please join us!). He was quick with a graphic for any occasion there and though never asked to, invariably created thoughtful and personal cards commemorating events like birthdays. I’m not even scratching the surface of the kind of things he could do. Though I never met him personally– I didn’t even know his last name until today–he was a good kind, wildly creative guy who I found out only this morning passed away earlier this month at age 62. He’d evidently been battling health issues he never talked much about.

Here’s to Warren and the rest of us who find creative ways to turn an often pointless and unsatisfying passion of following a sports team into a way of expressing themselves and enriching the experience for others. Warren’s work said all that and more.

PS– Guillermo Heredia is here. He wears No. 15. Let’s leave the 2020 Mets obituary for another day.

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Bam Bam

Thanks to Faith & Fear’s Greg Prince for pointing out the other day that with Miguel Castro in town and wearing No. 50, the Mets had quietly assigned coach Jeremy Accardo with No. 59. Great, I thought, this solves another mystery–only to discover that seemingly revealed another conflict.

Only this conflict I apparently created on my own.

Apologies if you used my data to order your Hensley Muelens jerseys and shirseys, but the bench coach was and had been listed as 58 since his arrival and not the 59 I mistyped when entering into the database. This was even reflected in our previous posts on the topic, so sorry for overlooking that. We’re up to date!

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King Jeremy the Wicked

I confess not to like seeing Todd Frazier in any uniform with Mets on the front, never mind what’s on the back.  And I don’t mean it that way. What I mean is, I don’t like seeing Todd Frazier hit. His swing has to be the most aesthetically displeasing in the game, perhaps even, the ugliest swing in team history. Leaning over, one handed, I don’t even know how he does that. Can you think of one any worse?

Defensively, Frazier is perfectly easy to watch by the way. I’m surprised as many of you guys are that he’s wearing 33 but as we suspected below, Billy Hamilton was designated for assignment and so I’d expect Frazier to get back 21 soon (I spotted him in the dugout yesterday still wearing 33). Erasmo Ramirez, a journeyman reliever whom I believe was also hanging around in spring training, has been called up and issued No. 43. If and when he appears it Ramirez would be the first Nicaraguan ever to join the Mets.

In the meantime I’m still trying to figure out the implications of Miguel Castro’s issuance of No. 50. The Mets roster still lists pitching strategist Jeremy Accardo as wearing 50 but interestingly, sharp-eyed MBTN reader Chris points out the same roster now lists Jeremy Hefner in 93 and not 53. Did the Jeremys switch up and not tell anyone? Since I’ve rarely actually seen these guys in uniform (they wear, you know, uni pants and undershirts for the most part) I don’t know. For now it interferes with the data.

Robinson Chirinos was not issued 61 but 26, it turns out. You saw Ariel Jurado soil the No. 49 jersey the other day, he’s out now along with Hunter Strickland, again.

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Terrific

Tom Seaver, who led the Mets from laughingstocks to world champions and whose singular pride and in his excellence altered the franchise in profound and sometimes controversial ways, passed away Sept. 1 in California at age 75. No player in team history was as revered or influential as No. 41.

What strikes me about Seaver wasn’t just his remarkable ability but the dedication to that ability. He took a pride in craftsmanship and professionalism as few players did and was mindful and protective of what it meant to be excellent. No player took more pride in being among those selected as Hall of Famers. Seaver was better than most other ballplayers and knew it, worked hard to be sure it stayed that way, and wanted very much to be among others who shared that sentiment. That determination and pride would occasionally land him in controversy, clashing with two generations of club management inadequately prepared to deal with such a player and ultimately altering both the trajectory of Seaver’s career and the franchise’s very fortunes. I wrote about that unusual dynamic here.

So long, Tom Terrific.

 

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Proof of Being 21

It’s a little more than an hour before game time in Baltimore and the tension is thick.

With Todd Frazier reacquired and Billy Hamilton still on board (I think) who wears No. 21?

The Mets quietly added Frazier, along with his Texas teammate Robinson Chirinos and Baltimore reliever Miguel Castro, in deadline deals that illustrate that even unaccomplished, old and/or boring guys might make a difference on a Mets club that can do little right so far this year and still acts like it might be a playoff team.

Frazier was something a guy to be endured and not necessarily welcomed back but hopefully represents some right-handed power we’d been missing since Cespedes quit and Pete Alonso and Wilson Ramos are taking the year off more stealthily, and JD Davis hurt. Frazier, as I’ve probably noted here before has one of the ugliest swings in club history but I cannot deny he’s a pro. The Mets list both Frazier and Hamilton in 21, the latter guy would seem to me to be on the verge of release, having encountered but not delivered on more than a few Rajai Davis Moments. Hammy could alternatively slide down to 15 or 7.

Chirinos, a 36-year-old catcher and career .231 hitter, I suppose is seen as an upgrade on Ali Sanchez or Tomas Nido as a reserve but I’m already confusing him with Ramon Castro and Rod Barajas and any number of chunky Latin backstops who’ve passed through. Wearing the No. 61 jersey most recently belonging to DFA’ed pitcher Walker Lockett could distinguish him; having never traded Kevin Plawecki for Lockett in the first place might have helped more.

And not to continue with the stereotypes but Miguel Castro–acquired for a legit lefthanded starting prospect, Kevin Smith–looks like your standard crooked-cap-wearing reliever with good strikeout figures and lousy stats otherwise. At 25 and with a contract that keep him on the club for another year cheaply, he’ll get a look and could still succeed, and also, could not. Castro gets No. 50 and another Uni Controversy given tat’s the number also assigned to Jeremy Accardo, the pitching coach. Stay tuned!

Finally I have no idea who the guy starting tonight is other than his name, Ariel Jurado. The Mets acquired him from Texas a few weeks ago when I was out of town and he’s presumably been hanging out in Brooklyn with the Sewalds, the Stricklands and the Locketts. Jurado, a young Panamanian righty with a 5.85 career ERA over part6s of two seasons with the Rangers, gets No. 49, last worn these parts by the fake-news relief prospect Tyler Bashlor.

Let’s Go Islanders, I mean, Mets!

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Opting Out of Reality

I haven’t completely “opted out” this year, but between the weird games, the dumb rules, the danger, the fake crowd noise, the home games away, and so on, there’s a fraudulence embedded into this season that at some level, I’ve been reluctant to want to legitimize.

Take Juan Lagares as one example. As we know, the erstwhile Met, until not long ago the most tenured figure on the club, was issued the humiliating No. 87 and appeared as a pinch runner. His 12? That belongs to Eduardo Nunez, whom I’ve forgotten was/is a Met, just another disabled one for the moment. They tried to right this injustice a day later by issuing Lagares the freed-up 15 most recently belonging to released Brian Dozier and his .133 batting average, only to release Lagares once Andres Gimenez and Michael Wacha and David Peterson and Jake Marisnick returned.

Guys are coming and going every day: third- and fourth-string catchers like Ali Sanchez and Patrick Mazeika, resplendent in Nos. 70 and 76– along with 87, a first-ever issue for an active Met. Walker Lockett up and back. Drew Smith. Corey Oswalt. It’s all a big free-for-all. Joining soon, maybe today, perhaps tomorrow, is the Cuban outfielder Guillermo Heredia, picked up from Pittsburgh. The Mets list his assignment (temporarily, I hope) as 00. Heredia bats right and throws left, a perfect sort of oddball for this whacky year.

Above all, it’s hard to tell what the heck is going on with the team in general. The lineup can hit but can’t score, the bullpen is full of good arms that are unreliable and nobody knows who’s starting. Gsellman and Lugo both are in the rotation. Matz is in the bullpen, or something like it. McNeil’s head is up his ass. Alonso looks horrible except when he doesn’t. Dom Smith is an MVP candidate. Opponents you expect to be formidable, like the Red Sox and Yankees and Nationals, aren’t, and it’s still a monumental struggle. The Marlins outhustle you. You’re just a couple game out of first and would make the playoffs if they began today but have played most of the year like shit.

The new manager loses almost all his video-replay challenges, his coaches are working remotely and on the disabled list, the general manager gets caught ripping the commissioner when he meant to rip the owners; they get back at him by issuing statements misspelling his name while blessedly prepping again to sell the club, probably for a hundreds of millions less than they agreed to a eight months ago.

Let’s Go Mets! Thanks for your support!

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Franklyn Mint

Franklyn Kilome, the beanpole prospect the club received in the Asdrubal-Cabrera-to-the-Phillies trade of 2018, made a wobbly-but-ultimately-successful big-league debut last night during another worse-in-on-the-field-than-in-the-boxscore, humiliating Mets defeat. Rene Rivera went to the injured list to make room for Kilome.

Kilome became the third guy to wear No. 66 which was represented best by Josh Edgin who broke it in between 2012 and 2017. Ty Kelly wore 66 briefly in 2018, after 55 and 56.

Also this morning, word came the club had traded DFAed pitching prospece Jordan Humpheys to San Francisco for center fielder Billy Hamilton. Hamilton will not give away his shot to overtake Ryan Cordell as the noodle-batted, right-handed-hitting pinch-running, centerfielding reserve. He’s worn No. 6 in Cincinnati and Kansas City and 9 in Atlanta.

Also, Jared Hughes has been activated and will wear No. 35, replacing Kilome who was optioned back to Brooklyn. Hughes was out with the COVID virus.

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Welcome Back

The 2020 Mets are pretty dreadful so far, giving back both games to an equally awful-looking Boston club this week and demonstrating they’ve solved none of the problems Brodie’s signature trade presented them with, namely, an old and declining second baseman who jams up the middle of the order, and a closer with great stuff, no control and no consistency whose once again devouring the confidence fans and teammates. They also whiff too often, execute poorly, don’t field well and give leads back.

Joining this disappointing group this week were outfielder Ryan Cordell (in for another injured Brodie acquisition, Jake Marisnick) and infielder Brian Dozier, a one-time All-Star with a good chance of being this year’s Joe Panik. Cordell is wearing 18 as he did in spring and summer training. Dozier wears 15.

Congrats to Andres Gimenez, however, who blew past the all-time mark for hits (1) and RBI (0) by a guy wearing No. 60 this week.

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Move Over, Buddy Baumann

David Peterson, a low-key name among recent top Met draft picks, will make his MLB debut tonight as the Mets face the Red Sox in an eerily empty Fenway Park.

He’ll be wearing No. 77, the same digits issued to him back in real spring training, and becomes the fourth Met to wear the jerset, following DJ Carrasco in 2011-12; a brief appearance by Tomas Nido in September of 2017, and a brief appearance by Buddy Baumann in 2018. I can barely remember Buddy at all (three appearances, a 24.00 ERA and a ticket back to wherever); Carrasco was no great shakes, and Nido, whom I kinda root for a little, resurfaced the following spring in No. 3.

So who’s this Peterson guy anyway? A tall lefty out of Oregon State drafted 20th overall in 2017 who’s made slow but steady progress up the ladder, highlighted by a respectable showing in the Arizona Fall League last fall, the showcase for so-called top prospects.

You may have noted in the meantime the Mets have demoted Corey Oswalt after a punching-bag mop-up job the other day, briefly recalled perennially disappointing prospect Tyler Bashlor in his place, then (I think) sent Bashlor away to make room for Peterson, raising the possibility he joins some other club on a waiver claim, probably the Marlins at this rate.

By the way had a tech issue inputting some changes into the all-time roster I hope to have solved soon, including updates and additions to the coaching staff. Stay tuned!

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