A Pennant Pandemic

Down by one ace pitcher and the most reliable of their outfielders, the Mets have tested positive for Pennant Fever.

Tyler Naquin appears to vomit into his helmet then look wobblingly unsteady up there at the plate, which may as well be symptoms, as were two walks, a hit, a run, and just one whiff last night. Mark Cahna, Eduardo Escobar and even Mychal Givens appear to have been exposed. And the slumping Daniel Vogelbach seems to have caught something last night too and looked again he that could be our good year blimp.

It’s still rough for Darin Ruf but perhaps the arrival of rookie Mark Vientos will make Ruf touch his own face and forget to wash his hands. Vientos is a right handed masher who has shown fearsome power at AAA Syracuse but the Mets have been wary of his defense. He’s been assigned No. 27 and may appear in today’s starting lineup at DH so you may as well forget the Jets this afternoon.

I caught something too in the form of a gentle rebuke for the cranky tone of the last post. I hadn’t fully realized that the building drama interfered with my Ya Gotta Believeism, either. I conked out before last night’s Seattle-Atlanta game but seeing the result this morning confirmed my case.

Here’s another thing I realized only today. Both of this year’s most exciting call-ups, Brett Baty and now Vientos weren’t even born when this site first went up. That was in 1999, another year where a Mets-Braves September pennant race was pretty sick.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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SHaMeful

Not to put too fine a point on it but September pretty much sucks far for the SHaMs, with patsies beating us up and the Braves still winning and we’re not in first place anymore, at least not alone and at least until the first half of what had better be a sweep today in Pittsburgh, or else.

Max Scherzer is on the disabled list, veteran lefty Alex Claudio has joined the group and Yoan Lopez is back as the 29th Man. How silly is that? Baseball should have smaller rosters, at least smaller active ones like hockey does. 25 guys, dress 22 or 23. Doubleheader, switch between games.

I get it, there’s something in the player’s union for this. These easy to beat Mets put me in a bad mood.

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Mountains of Geese

Here we go again.

The Schwinden-of-the-Moment is Bryce Montes de Oca, a name even more distinctive than the guy he succeeded numerically, Rob Zastryzny. Translated, the name Montes de Oca means “Mountains of Goose” which if you’re feeling optimistic could suggest Bryce could be a bigger version of Rich “Goose” Gossage, a Hall of Fame reliever who like Montes de Oca, throws hard.

Bryce as you may have seen is a giant of a guy, listed at 6-foot-7, 265, and he fired a few 100-mph pitches last night. He’s also not just any brute but the valedictorian of his Kansas high school and a U of Missouri product who at one time was rated a top-100 draft guy but whom the Mets got in the 9th round of the 2018 draft because he’d had a ton of injuries including a Tommy John so he was something of a Powerball lottery pick.

Montes de Oca, whose father was born in Cuba, is the third guy to wear 63 this year, after the Polish duo of Zastryzny and Thomas Szapucki were spit out. He’s been more walkable than hittable over his minor league career and everything but his uni number looks promising if he improve his control. Were it up to me I’d issue Montes de Oca a more intimidating number, like 98 or something, so as to avoid the Fate of Schwindens.

Montes de Oca got the call when Trevor May caught COVID. The other September call-ups are Deven Marrero (again) and Adonis Medina (again). Medina didn’t have much last night. Let’s hope Max Scherzer is OK.

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The Amazin’ Rise, the Sudden Fall, and the Painful Revenge of Johnny Lewis

Twenty-four was a meaningful number in New York long before the Mets came along.

Once they did, there were six Mets who played in 24 before Willie Mays, and three since. We’ve addressed the first two of the latter group already in Kelvin Torve and Rickey Henderson. Today is for the most Mays-ish of the former group, Johnny Lewis.

Like Mays, Johnny Joe Lewis was born in Alabama. Also like Mays, he was considered something of a five-tool player, hitting for power and average, throwing well, and running well. And while keeping things in perspective for the atrocious Met clubs he’d played for, Lewis was the Mets’ own Willie Mays in 1965, leading the club with 2.4 Win Shares according to Baseball Reference, and was the top scorer in a separate ranking of the ’65 club according to the Crane Pool Forum.

Lewis came to the Mets along with lefty Gordie Richardson in a December 1964 trade with St. Louis for pitcher Tracey Stallard and infielder Elio Chacon.

In his first season as a regular player in his career, the 25-year-old Lewis hit .245 with 15 home runs, 45 RBI and led the Mets in runs scored, walks, and on-base percentage. His 106 OPS+ was the only “plus” on the club that year but for rookie Ron Swoboda (103). Lewis was a lefthanded batter whom Casey Stengel often batted first, third or fourth in the order. Lewis split time in center field and in right, where he showed off a power arm.

On April 15 at Shea against Houston, Lewis caught a Jimmy Wynn fly ball with runners on first and third, and gunned down Walt Bond at the plate. Catcher Chris Cannizzaro then fired to second where Roy McMillan slapped a tag on the advancing Bob Aspromonte to complete a triple play. The game was won 5-4 on a walkoff 10th inning home run by Bobby Klaus.

Bill Gallo, New York Daily News

Bill Gallo’s Daily News cartoon said it best. Though Lewis and the Mets were on their way to their best start in their short history, they’d be buried by 47 games by the end of the year, and Lewis’ own fortunes would turn as well. As he slumped in August, the Mets had Lewis outfitted with eyeglasses; and by 1966, they were were tinkering with his batting stance.

According to John Stahl’s SABR bio, Lewis felt that manager Wes Westrum, who replaced Stengel late in 1965, may have had it in for him.

 “I had more homers and runs batted in than the Mets’ four other outfielders,” he said. “I only played when someone was hurt but I was always in there against the top pitchers. If (manager Wes Westrum) had something against me, or if I had done something wrong, I’d understand. I must say I didn’t get a fair shake by the Mets. But I’ll give them 100 percent.”

Lewis hit just .193 in 1966 when he was farmed out midseason. By the time he’d resurfaced in 1967, the Mets had given away his uniform number 24 to newly arrived third baseman Ed Charles. Charles however gave it back to Lewis when he was called up in May. (Charles took the No. 5 belonging previously to Sandy Alomar (Sr.) who was sent down when Lewis was recalled). When Lewis was sent back to Class AAA in June of ’67, his big-league playing career was over and the Mets were still looking for their Mays.

Lewis was not done with baseball, however, nor with ex-Mets. Cardinals GM Bing Devine, who crossed paths with Lewis in the Mets’ organization, named Lewis the Cardinals’ first-ever Black field coach in 1973. Lewis subsequently became Whitey Herzog‘s Cardinals’ hitting coach from 1985 through 1989. Lewis wore 48 in that treacherous stint, however, as 24 belonged to Herzog.

 

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Bush v. Gore and Mazeika v. Mazeika

Terrance Gore, I guy I only knew because he once wore No. 0 for the Kansas City Royals, is your newest Met, taking the roster spot of Brett Baty who injured a thumb and can’t be counted on to return to the bigs this year even if they say mid-September.

Gore is 31 and spent most of his career in the bushes. He last appeared in MLB in twon games with the Dodgers in 2020. He most recently belonged to the Atlanta organization and was signed by the Mets as a minor league free agent in June. He looks more destined to be used as a pinch runner than a pinch hitter and is outfitted in No. 4, which freed up when Patrick Mazeika was signed away by San Francisco where he currently toils in their minor league organization.

I’ll remember the Zeeker for his accidental walk-off dribblers leaving him shirtless and Gatorade soaked, his goggles and beard. And for being the Mets’ all-time leader in every category among those who wore No. 76, as he was the first and only. But this year’s change to 4 made remarkably little difference:

No.  AB  R  H  HR  RBI  BA  OBP  SLG 
Ma76ieka (2021)  79  6  15  1  6  .190  .253  .266 
Mazie4a (2022)  68  4  16  1  6  .191  .214  .294 

In other comings and goings: Yolmer Sanchez was DFA’ed then sent to AAA Syracuse, Connor Grey was optioned back there without making an appearance, Tommy Hunter, David Peterson and Eduardo Escobar are all back.

I was at Tuesday’s game which was a disappointment to say the least. If Buck had listened to me he’d have had Lindor try and squeeze home Marte on the first pitch in that first inning. But nothing worked until Cahna’s home run, which drew a gasp from the crowd. I don’t know if it was where I was sitting but the fan energy wasn’t high that night either. Nice to follow up with a solid win yesterday, setting up this afternoon’s showdown.

 

 

 

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Rickey & Willie

The Mets’ announcement on Old Timer’s Day that they’d retire Willie Mays‘ No. 24 addressed another long-neglected historical oversight of the Wilpon Era. That there was an Old Timer’s Day at all erased a bit of Fred-dom as well.

Both were solid hits with the fanbase, though the Mets as a brand might have gone a step further had they retired 24 for Joan Payson–or Willie AND Joan Payson–as I don’t believe any club has retired a number for a woman before.

For me personally, it was fortuitous timing as I’d just finished reading RICKEY: THE LIFE AND LEGEND OF AN AMERICAN ORIGINAL, a bio written by ESPN’s Howard Bryant. I read a fair amount of baseball books and I thought this one was outstanding as Bryant writes powerfully about an enigmatic subject he argued was often misunderstood, mocked and degraded even as destroyed one all-time baseball record after another and forced his way into the innermost circle of baseball’s greatest all-time players, including Willie Mays.

When Henderson became a Met at age 40 in 1999, he was issued No. 24 for the first time since it belonged to Kelvin Torve and, it was emphasized at the time, with the blessing of Mays. What Bryant’s book revealed was that Mays was the reason Henderson had the odd distinction of batting righthanded and throwing lefthanded: Though a natural lefty, he simply imitated how Mays hit, and Mays was the reason Henderson was best-associated with the No. 24. Bryant also reveals that Rickey actually preferred No. 35 as “his” number–over his 25-year career with nine different teams, including four separate stints with Oakland–he’d worn 35 in Oakland, Seattle and Red Sox.

When the Mets acquired Henderson as a free agent over the 1998-99 offseason, 35 belonged to Rick Reed.

Henderson was born Rickey Nelson Henley in an Oldsmobile in Chicago on Christmas Day of 1958. His father John Henley soon separated from Rickey’s mother Bobbie who relocated to her hometown in Arkansas then moved with the Great Migration of Southern Blacks to Oakland–a destination of thousands of Black families that became the cradle of dozens of accomplished professional athletes with whom Henderson played with as children in the 1960s and 1970s (Mike Norris, Shooty Babitt, Lloyd Moseby, Gary Pettis, Glenn Burke, Dave Stewart and many others). Rickey took the last name Henderson after Bobbie remarried, and grew up determined to play football for the Oakland Raiders but was persuaded by Bobbie and a local scout, Jim Guinn, that baseball was the safer path. Because of his great ability in sports, Rickey was indifferently educated and hadn’t learned to read by the time he first turned pro.

Rickey is quoted, but sparingly—he’d never been trustful or particularly open with writers—but the book seems driven by input from Rickey’s wife, Pamela, who’d been his sweetheart since she was 14. Dozens of players, managers, writers and fans are interviewed, including Sandy Alderson, Rickey’s GM for much of Rickey’s stay career in Oakland and today is the Mets’ president who summed up how baseball viewed Rickey while predictably using the word “optics.”

In Alderson’s view, even the most astute baseball men … seemed preoccupied with the Rickey optics—the delivery, the flash, the personality, the whispers, the moods. Their inability to see through all that thus diminished his obvious ability in their eyes, partly because of their own prejudices, and partly because Rickey made the optics impossible to ignore. Rickey was a great player but, because of his moods and temperament, he was not quite a leading man. When it came to Rickey, baseball men focused on what he wasn’t often more than on what he was.

Although admired by fans for peculiarities that became urban legend (including the facetious John Olerud story, addressed within) Rickey was not a “class clown who reveled in what he did not know,” Bryant asserts. “He was a ferociously competitive, goal-driven athlete.” He never remembered names because that was difficult for him but his determination was such that he never forgot a perceived slight, whether it was money and respect (salary arbitration players who made more money than him, like Jose Canseco, or endorsement deals) or in competition with pitchers or catchers who prevented him from stealing bases) or writers (“The press wanted it have it both ways with Rickey: they wanted him to cultivate and trust them while they simultaneously mocked him,” Bryant writes).

Rickey became as Met only months before this site was launched. At the time  my enduring impression of Rickey was that shared by many white guys who’d seen his career form afar: He was a buffoon who diminished his own stolen-base record by declaring he was “the greatest” on the same day Nolan Ryan pitched his seventh no-hitter and reacted with “class.” On that day, May 1, 1991, I was putting together the sports page for a small daily newspaper and had my own aspirations to one day be a big leaguer in that field. I was certain then I was right and would have said then race hadn’t a thing to do with it. I was wrong about that, and Bryant’s book reminded me so. So did a resplendent season in 1999, perhaps Rickey’s best late-career year.

Here’s something else I’d forgotten about Rickey, he was a Mets’ coach in 2007.

Go buy Howard Bryant’s book.

 

 

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The Legend of Kelvin Torve and the Say-Hey Kid

Art: Superba Graphics

Below is a reprint of an interview with Kelvin Torve I’d done nearly 13 years ago and first published here. In light of the Willie Mays announcement yesterday it’s just as relevant but I want to note here the phrase I used in the headline then, “Accidental 24” I’ve come to believe was more of a clandestine experiment than a goof. I’ll have more to say about the Willie Mays situation soon.

Kelvin Torve was a journeyman ballplayer whose brief career with the Mets is remembered as much for his uniform as for his game. But his moment in history reveals much.

A 10-year minor-league veteran when called up to the Mets to replace an injured Kevin Elster in August of 1990, Torve became the unwitting victim of a procedural screw-up that gave him temporary custody of a uniform number that was supposed to have been kept under guard for one of the team’s immortals. For reasons unexplained to this day they gave him No. 24, a uniform that hadn’t been issued to a player since Willie Mays finished his career with the Mets in 1973.

Joan Payson, the Mets’ original owner and unabashed fan of the Say Hey Kid dating from his career with the New York Giants, had promised Mays the Mets wouldn’t issue No. 24 following his retirement. The succeeding Met ownership, however, never got around to officially retiring the number, leaving 24 in an uncomfortable state of limbo just waiting for a situation like Torve’s to arise. (They should retire it in honor of Mrs. Payson, is what they ought to do). Embarrassed as public outcry grew, the Mets shortly re-fitted the South Dakota native in No. 39.

Torve, who today [as of February 2018] works as a salesman for a packaging company and teaches at youth baseball clinics around his Davidson, N.C., home, for his part remains a good sport about his accidental casting in a freaky Met episode. In the following interview, parts of which were conducted for, and included in, the Mets by the Numbers book, Torve discusses his career including his moment as an overnight sensation in Willie Mays’ clothes.

Tell me about your career leading up to the Mets.
I was drafted by the Giants and played four years with them. I was traded to the Orioles and played three years with them, making it all the way to AAA. Signed as a free agent with the Twins and played two years with them, mostly in AAA and part of 1988 with the Twins in Minnesota. After that, I spent two years with the Mets.

When you played, were you mostly an outfielder or a first baseman?
Mostly, I was a first baseman. I dabbled in the outfield, mostly if there was a chance to get another first baseman who hit lefthanded into the game. I also went to Instructional League with the Twins to learn how to catch, but that lasted about six weeks, and I was never to darken the doors of catcherdom again.

I guess that was not all that unusual for a player like yourself who was in the game for a long time and trying to be as useful as you can be.
Right. And I appreciated the Twins for giving me that opportunity. I learned a lot, but it didn’t work out. The ultimate goal would have been for me to be a third catcher with somebody, be a pinch hitter, play outfield and first base and in an absolute emergency go back there and put on the catching gear.

In your minor league career, you were a pretty good hitter [.303/.392/.453 in AAA Tidewater in 1990].
I hit well enough to be employed for 13 years. I was a good AAA hitter and had one good year in the big leagues with the Mets. My bat was what kept me in the game. I had a few opportunities but when you’re a minor leaguer for as long as I was you really have to make a splash immediately if you want to stay. The first year with the Mets, I did, and I got quite a few at-bats. The second year, I think I had only 8 at-bats. I hit the ball hard but didn’t get the breaks. That’s the way it goes.

You were a first baseman who didn’t hit many home runs.
That was the knock on me. I was a first baseman who didn’t hit enough home runs. But the Mets at that time had a guy at first base, Dave Magadan, who didn’t hit many home runs either. They at least had the foresight to challenge that stereotype. In baseball, like in a lot of careers I suppose, if you get a label like that, it’s hard to lose.

I wonder if you can set the scene for me. You’re called to the Mets in 1990 and issued a jersey for the first time. What do you recall about it?
24Nothing out of the ordinary. I just got there and saw a locker with my uni in it, No. 24. I didn’t give a second thought to it. I don’t know who assigned the number, it might have been Charlie Samuels but I’m not sure. I guess they didn’t give much thought either.

They didn’t ask you if you had a preference?
Oh, no.

So you’re in a situation where they take what they give you.
Yes. I had spent a long time in the minors. I was just happy to be there. I would have taken two-point-four if they’d asked me to.

When do you become aware that there’s some kind of outcry?
When I was called up we had a homestand with the Phillies and I think, the Cubs. Then we went on the road, to California, and while we were out there Charlie came up to me and said, “Listen, we made a mistake with your number. Some people have been calling in and writing in. So we’d like to change your number.”

I just said, “Shoot, that’s fine with me.” I didn’t want to be a pain about it. And I guess they wanted to keep it low-key, not make a big deal about it. So I just started wearing No. 39 from that point on.

Did you have any preference as to what number you would have wanted?
Not really. I’d played so long in legion ball and college and the minor leagues. I think I’d worn every number there was. I didn’t have any preference at all.

Did you hear anything from the fans, or pick up on it, while you were at Shea?
No, I didn’t. That’s not to say they weren’t yelling at me – just that I didn’t hear anything. The first time I was aware of it we were on the road and Charlie came up to me in the locker room and told me that’s Willie Mays’s number, so we have to change it. And I said, that’s fine.

I looked it up, and you were batting better than .500 in the No. 24 jersey.
Hopefully I did OK in it, because I know Willie Mays did it proud as well.

You played briefly with the Mets again in 1991, then to Japan, correct?
Two years, I played for the Orix Blue Wave. It was a good time. I’m nostalgic when I look back on that time, but while you’re over there it can be frustrating the way they play the game. It’s different than in the United States, and you’re a long way from home. But after leaving Japan, reflecting on it, I realize how much I did enjoy my time there, what it a blessing it was.

I was a teammate of Ichiro over there. When I was there he was a rookie. He was so young he rode his bicycle to the games!

Could you tell at the time he would accomplish as much as he has?
Yes, though back then nobody from Japan was coming to the United States. Watching him play you would say, it’s too bad they don’t because this kid could play in the big leagues. He was 18 at the time and the only thing he couldn’t do well then was throw, and he’s obviously gotten a lot better throwing since then. You could tell he was going to be really good.

What about your time with the Mets do you remember most?
I recall it as a good time because I was in the big leagues. My first at-bat, I got hit by a pitch. My second at-bat, I hit a double that knocked in a few runs [pinch-hitting in a contentious game featuring a Phillies-Mets brawl]. The morning after that I get a call that there’s some policemen waiting to see me in the lobby of the hotel.

Turns out a sports talk radio show had talked about me getting called up, being a kid from the prairie in South Dakota, and being in the big city for the first time. These New York City cops heard that and showed up at my hotel and gave me an escort to the ballpark! They said, we hear you might need help. It was all good natured. I got to be good friends with one of those cops and his family, a guy by the name of Al Weinman. We kept up with Al for years after that.

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Frewsberg’s Finest

I have no idea who Connor Grey is.

My trusty assistant Google then revealed: Frewsberg Native Connor Grey Called Up to the New York Mets, only then I didn’t know where Frewsberg was and had to look THAT up. It’s way out in Western New York; the nearest big city is Erie, Pa. The article was actually quite informative and kudos to author Matt Spielman on a nice piece of small-paper breaking news journalism. Here’s the nut graf.

Grey, who was issued uniform No. 72 by the Mets, was drafted in the 20th round, 599th overall, by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 2016 MLB draft after a four-year career at St. Bonaventure University. In six seasons in the minor leagues, he went 34-27 with a 4.24 ERA and 461 strikeouts in 516 innings pitched. If he appears in a game, Grey would become the 11th Bonnies alum to appear in the majors and first since Danny McDevitt, who played for the Kansas City A’s in 1962.

New York thought highly enough of Grey to grant him one of their eight coveted spots in the Arizona Fall League where he went 1-2 in six appearances, including three starts, for the Salt River Rafters.

So Grey is definitely a Schwinden and could see action tonight especially in Taijuan Walker‘s recent back spasms necessitate long relief. He’d be the first 72 since Jake Reed was lost in a DFA move to Los Angeles in July, and the 7th 72 overall. The first, Carlos Torres, made my day when he “liked” my Tweet back in 2015. (Phillip Evans now holds the title with 10 hits).

Grey’s ascension came as the Mets activated Tomas Nido from the COVID list and DFA’ed fellow Schwindens Rob Zastryzny and Nate Fisher.

Let’s try not to linger on that disappointing loss to the Yankees last night. Mets were flat.

 

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They’re Snakebitten, Baby

That was some game yesterday, and some series, and some season series with the Phillies. If I hadn’t said it already, Philadelphia are exactly like just about every edition of Wilpon Era-led Mets club, good enough to pretend they will contend, but invariably cut too many corners to get there, then think, “Boy did we get unlucky or what?” every time they are humiliated by a team with fewer problems and a better approach. If Fred Wilpon owned the Phillies, he’d have watched that game and remarked “We’re snakebitten, baby.”

I’m not going to recap it, just note that Sunday’s win came while we met new Mets: Jose Butto, the rookie who wore No. 70 and looked right away like he was doomed to an embarrassing defeat only wasn’t; and Nate Fisher, a lefty they invented in time to provide three innings of scoreless middle relief to mount the first big comeback. He wore 64.

How obscure was Fisher? Now that players and personalities dominate the game, his profile page looks like this.

Butto, as mentioned before, was a prospect of some renown at least among the Mets. He’s been something of a stealth prospect but geeks like you and me knew something of him and the only revelation I’d had was seeing his body language and motion for the first time (only on highlights for me I listened to most of the game while waxing the car, and doin other Weekend Dorky Dad activities in the garage. Howie and Wayne were great. I tuned in when it was already 4-0). Butto’s a strong burly guy who doesn’t throw as hard as his body type would suggest and looked very much like a competitor.

Fisher as everyone knows by now was an undrafted prospect who signed with the Mariners, was released when COVID cancelled the 2020 MiLB season, became a banker in Omaha, hooked back up with Seattle in 2021 and was signed as a Minor League free agent with the Mets last offseason. He was primarily a starter at Syracuse and wouldn’t have been an option, presumably, had Steven Nogosek not gone onto the DL after his stint earlier in the Phillies series.

Both these heroes will be rewarded by being sent back down soon, I would presume, before Round 2 of the Mets-Yankees series begins Tuesday tonight! LGM!

 

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To Dwindle or Vanish: A Short History of Every Met 63 Ever

The first Met in history to wear No. 63 was Chris Schwinden, a righthanded starting pitcher of middling stuff often described nicely as “organizational depth” and not-so-nicely as a “Class AAAA,” synonyms both for a guy who is useful only when the parent club needed an arm in a pinch but was never really considered a part of the long-term plan. Because baseball is unpredictable, and the nature of Met Fandom and Met Ticket Sales are both deeply embedded in the notion of “Ya Gotta Believe” the Mets would rarely describe guys like Schwinden as “not a part of their future,” though, even if its obvious to the team, the fans and even the player.

If nothing else, the name “Schwinden” strikes me as a strong German word. I looked it up only to find it was indeed German in origin and translates as a verb meaning “to dwindle, decrease, shrink or vanish,” and that’s the perfect description of every Met 63 ever. This was also true the last time I wrote about 63 a year ago when I said:

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.

Now I have an even better description and my own new addition to the MBTN vocabulary: A Schwinden is a player who dwindles, shrinks, decreases or vanishes. So far, all 63s are Schwindens.

It holds up. It started with Chris Schwinden, a 22nd-round draft pick who was called up for the first time in September of 2011 and made four appearances which as I recall were in line with a guy who met modest expectations of a decent short term solution, and after three more appearances in 2012 (up and back on two separate occasions as a limited-time replacement), he was DFAed, passed between three other organizations who also DFAed him in the space of one month (Blue Jays, Indians and Yankees) only to wind up back with the Mets organization, but by then the Mets had already found a new Schwinden and though no one knew it at the time, Chris Schwinden had already pitched his final MLB game on May 30, 2012. Unlike 2011, Schwinden effectiveness shrunk, dwindled and decreased in 2012, hit hard in each of his three appearances that year.

Preliminary research on LinkenIn indicates a guy named Chris Schwinden also residing in Schwinden’s hometown of Visalia, California, today is a Service Technician at San Joaquin Pest Control. His name will always be important here, as not only the club’s first-ever 63, but as a word to describe any organizational pitching depth product who dwindles, decreases, shrinks or vanishes. That’s just what 63s do.

Next up was Gabriel Ynoa, a Dominican righthander who was a middling prospect who had his all three of his Mets appearances in 2016 including a victory in his first one, only to dwindle: He was sold to the Orioles over that offseason, for whom he had a short career.

Tim Peterson was a right-handed reliever and a 20th-round draft pick who was called up for the first time as the Mets faced a period of highly disappointing play in 2018. He lasted longer than any 63 in games and innings and is the career leader in just about every meaningful statistic including wins (2), and career ERA (5.91), which tells you something about Met 63s, making him the current Greatest Met 63 Of All-Time. Peterson started 2019 with the Mets but lost his job and never pitched for them again the same day the Mets traded for Brooks Pounders, and Peterson left that offseason as a free agent to the Angels organization for whom he never appeared.

It was just as well Tim Peterson vanished when he did because by then a better Peterson, David Peterson, was about to arrive.

Lefthanded starter Thomas Szapucki for a time was among the organization’s brightest prospects (No. 5 rated in 2018), and by far the most promising Met ever to don the No. 63 jersey. But his itinerant and brief Met career only proved that by the time he arrived he had already dwindled, decreased, and shrunk, before he vanished only weeks ago in the J.D. Davis-Darin Ruf trade. This cannot even be argued. He was blasted in his very first appearance in 2021, coughing up 6 earned runs and seven his in 3 2/3 innings of relief in a 20-2 battering by the Braves after which he was sidelined by an injury. When he returned this year, he made two appearances and was hit hard in both. He carried a 18.78 career ERA upon his trade to the Giants, where he’s currently pitching in relief but had also spent time at the Class AAA Sacramento club.

That brings us to yesterday’s surprise reliever, Rob Zastryzny, who pitched one full inning (2 outs in the bottom of the seventh and one out in the bottom of the eighth) and was responsible for the Phillies fourth and final run due to a triple surrendered to Kyle Schwarber who later scored in the 8th). He and Szapucki together create a subset of Met 63s with Polish surnames. We’ll watch closely to see which emerges as the best of those two.

* * * *

As predicted, Yolmer Sanchez was recalled and made his first appearance, and Deven Marrero (15) was designated for assignment. Sanchez appeared in 43 which is unusual for position player (he’s only the sixth all time–Ted Schreiber (1963), Billy Beane (1984 only), John Gibbons (1985 only), Todd Pratt (1997 only) and Shane Spencer (2004) are the only others. This goes without saying but any subset of Mets in which Shane Spencer is the best Met is a world of opportunity, though it doesn’t appear Sanchez is the guy to topple any of Spencer’s 43 all-time offensive records like home runs (4) and RBI (26) despite how modest they are. Who’s the guy with most at-bats as a Met 43 overall? Pitcher Jim McAndrew. Who’s the best 43 of all-time? R.A. Dickey.

We discussed in the comments of the previous post my theory of why Sanchez chose 43 and that’s because it ends in “3” and he’s Venezuelan infielder. They all seem to want to wear 13 if it’s available; ironically it’s not because Sanchez is essentially replacing a Venezuelan descendant who already wears 13 in Luis Guillorme. How sad he’s injured.

Also outta here via DFA are R.J. Alvarez, who’s already back at AAA Syracuse. Reliever Sam Clay followed Alvarez to “Apparition Met” status, appearing in his first game and wearing No. 46 and subsequently reassigned to AAA Syracuse between games of the doubleheader, making room for Zastryzny in Game 2.

Gotta win today behind Jose Butto, who is expected to make his MLB debut in a few hours. We’re into that depth I’d mentioned only a few days back. I don;t know his number yet but I’ll guess… 45.

 

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