Marcus Down As Undecided

Marcus Stroman, who already made club history by becoming the team’s first pitcher to wear a single-digit uni number, will be making more news soon.

Stroman says will no longer wear the No. 7 he was issued upon his trade to the Mets from Toronto in July, saying that he didn’t feel right playing in the same uni as a childhood idol Jose Reyes.

Obviously we all want Stroman to wear what he’s most comfortable wearing but in the bigger picture I’m wondering whether this notion of respect has gone completely overboard. It has always seemed to me that you could argue just as persuasively that wearing the same number your idol did on the same field would be the ultimate way to pay respect, and that pointedly avoiding a number for that reason in particular, while admirable, is an awfully passive statement in practice.

I’m also left to wonder what this will mean to the newly respect-sensitive Mets and their plans to take an untold batch of jerseys out of circulation in coming years. This began only recently with the deserving but curious announcement they would hang up 36 next year. Who knows if the Mets stay on task with this, but you figure such an approach would have to include Ed Kranepool at some point, a different No. 7.

Until then though, you wonder if the club will now have the stones to issue anybody No. 7 as long as Stroman is on board. Did he inadvertently just mothball No. 7 teamwide? Let’s wait and see.

Let’s also wait and see what Stroman finally settles on. Will he continue to buck tradition and take a single digit? If so there’s but two choices and a similarly wobbly third: Zero is available now; 2 belongs to the free-agent-to-be-but-I’d-sure-love-to-be-back infielder Joe Panik; and then there’s 8, which has gone unissued now for 17 years (!!) as the Mets seemingly make up their minds on Gary Carter’s legacy (If you’re listening Mets, don’t do it. Name the St. Lucie minor league team the Kids instead. Give out a Gary Carter Award every year for the team’s best citizen. Don’t take out numbers for guys with 2 good years on the club and more concrete legacies elsewhere).

Stroman’s Toronto No. 6 belongs now to Jeff McNeil and Stroman said he wouldn’t ask for that. I’ll bet you a beer he’s the next 0.

 

 

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Now It’s Time To Say Goodbye to All Our Company

As often the case I have mixed feelings about the departure of a Mets manager. I think Mickey Callaway tried his best, but he wasn’t served well by his lack of experience, the departure of what few champions he had in the front office, and a tendency to look unprepared, say dumb things and give back advantages, but I wondered if by the end of this last fun and furious run — the SHaMs went from 10-under to 10-over .500, that’s a 90-some win clip over the course of a long year — if he wasn’t finally getting the hang of it. Perhaps Mickey might now go off to some place like Pittsburgh or Kansas City and use the hard lessons he absorbed Queens to become something more than an average manager.

Jim Riggelman, hired as bench coach just in case Mickey sent up a better not properly listed on his lineup card, was naturally let go as well, freeing up the No. 50 I hardly remember even seeing this year.

This will give us all plenty to speculate about in coming days and weeks but my early sense is that the Mets, as usual, will abruptly overcorrect and hire an experienced guy, making sure they make a show of what they learned the last time they signed a rookie skipper.

Who do you like? I think there’s some bad stuff hanging around Buck Showalter, but hasn’t the guy demonstrated he can win? Joe Girardi won’t screw up at Mickey’s pace but will he infect this seemingly fun-loving group with his sense of dread? And is there something to this buzz around Luis Rojas and his magnificent control of quality? Stay tuned.

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You Kooz, You Lose

The Mets do a lot of curious things, frequently for all the wrong reasons, but today’s out-of-the-blue announcement that they’re retiring No. 36 in honor of Jerry Koosman, 40 years after he left the team, is curiouser than most, and is sure to have consequences that’ll ripple through our uni-verse for some time.

Jeff Wilpon in an announcement today said the club’s Hall of Fame committee, whoever they are, made the recommendation, but appeared to acknowledge that taking uniforms out of circulation was primarily a thing the fans wanted to see and would became the way the Mets suddenly do things from now on, so it can expected they’ll cave to the even louder fan drumbeat and similarly take out the jerseys of Hernandez, Strawberry, Carter, Gooden, Wright, Kranepool and who knows how many more with similar honors in the years ahead.

I have nothing against Jerry Koosman, who was was my Mom’s favorite Met and compares favorably with lefties from other organizations who’ve had their numbers retired, like Ron Guidry, for example, but again it’s a head scratcher inasmuch I’ve received literally hundreds of emails and comments over the years about number retirement and none of them clamor for the Kooz.

Personally I’ve always been uneasy about the precedent of retiring numbers and find the “fans want it” defense weak. I’d prefer they re-issue the good ones. Mickey Callaway of all people talked about what an honor it was to have worn 36 but sitting there in his new number 26, also confessed he didn’t care what number he wore, as long as it didn’t belong to a player. On message as always!

Congrats Kooz. Goodbye 36.

 

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Better Jed Than Dead

Sorry for the dearth of updates! Was traveling for 2 weeks and lucky to have missed the Atlanta and Chicago series–not to mention the awful Player’s Weekend uniforms.

This Mets team is really driving you nuts, isn’t it? There’s a disease in the bullpen, the team itself is prone to sudden periodic shutdowns, so they are never safe from embarrassing themselves but at the same time the 2019 Mets are as accomplished as any group they’ve run out there for years. I suppose this is an indictment of their manager but it’s more than just that. And with Cano and Nimmo back … and now Jed Lowrie even (!!) they’re arguably better now than they’ve ever been, so I’m not ready to give up, even though I have twice already: Once back on July 24 after they’d slept-walked though a home loss to San Diego, falling to 46-55; and again the other night when Mickey, Sewald & Diaz teamed up to deliver that joke of a 9th inning.

Anyway, the Mets won 14 of 15 after my first surrender and they’re undefeated since the second.

You guys know this by now but Sam Haggerty is wearing 19. Haggerty came over in the Kevin Plawecki trade from Cleveland’s minor leagues. He’s a fleet switch hitter and the first 19 since Jay Bruce. Lowrie took over No. 4 from Wilmer Flores.

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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 deal  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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