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Poll

What Number Should They Issue to 'Fartinez'?
6
12%
8
18%
12
6%
16
6%
18
6%
22
12%
24
6%
26
0%
27
0%
28
0%
29
0%
30
0%
38
0%
39
0%
43
0%
44
12%
47
0%
49
0%
58
12%
Other?
12%
Total votes: 17

 

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Mets by the Numbers

The Mets Website That Counts

Met Mysteries

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Bat Boys Bat Boys Whatcha Gonna Do

A few quick notes before I head out of town to spend some time at the home of the band whose song is referenced in the title of today's post:

 

1) Several readers including David reminded me that I (and the mets.com roster I ripped off) left Jenrry Meija (I had to have spelled that name wrong) off the spring training roster where he should be noted to be wearing No. 76.  

 

2) I neglected to mention this website recently passed its 11th birthday on Feb. 22. That's in part because I made such a wreck of the 10th birthday bash, neglecting to make it all the way down the 'top 10' countdown as promised. Shameful. But I haven't stopped doing this. Shortly after I return next week, the website will be freshly updated with a new look & feel I'd been working on for the last month with the crack team at Crooked Number. The changes -- necessitated mainly by an upgrade of the operating system that would make the current look go kablooey -- may look plain at first, but is much more powerful beneath the hood and is only a start. 

 

3) I first got this question a few years ago, and didn't know what to say then or now: What will the Bat Boys be wearing in 2010? As I recall the history, Met bat boys went numberless until 1986 (maybe 85?) and have in most years worn the figure of the year -- except in 1999 when they skipped ahead to 00 so as not to mess with Turk Wendell's mojo. Despite the second-straight curious spring training issue to Andy Green, it seems as if No. 10 will be available this year, but I'm thinking maybe 00 might be better. I've never been a fan of the 'BB' designation some teams use and I'd hate to see it here. Thoughts?

 

4) I'm again happy to have been asked to contribute an article for the 2010 Maple Street Press Mets Annual, which is arriving on area newsstands now. My contribution -- a look at 2009's injuries and their place in team history, got a terrific boost from longtime MBTN contributor Jason E., whose comprehensive history of the Mets disabled list made it all work. Did you know who the all-time leader for separate trips to the disabled list is? What body part has been injured most often? Who was the first Met ever to go on the DL? Then pick this thing up now. Also, there's good articles. 

 

5) We're scheduling another Amazin' Tuesday March 23 at Two Boots Tavern on the Lower East Side. Deets to come.

 

See you in a week! 

More Mets

The Mets are hitting the leftovers like the day after Thanksgiving. Only hours after posting the numerical roster below, one number, 35, came available again when the Mets claimed outfielder Jason Pridie from Minnesota with a waiver claim and designated pitcher Jack Egbert for assignment. Egbert joined the Mets roster late last season when they claimed him off waivers from the White Sox, fulfilling the destiny of all baseball players on the downside of their careers from the tri-state area.

Anyway, Pridie, a potential challenger for innings in center field, is in and not yet assigned a number.

The Mets were hardly done, it turned out, signing former Met Mike Jacobs to a minor league deal and a chance to pressure incumbent Daniel Murphy at first base. There's been some speculation that Jacobs would take his old No. 27 and leave Nelson Figueroa to search for a new uni, but I doubt that comes to pass. Jacobs hasn't really earned any equity in 27 and I think he's a longshot to be anything more than a Buffalo Soldier this year, as attractive as ability to punish mistakes by righthanded pitchers is. He could really help his cause by taking up catching again, though. My guess is he takes Egbert's 35.

Also new to the NRIs is Tokyo Giants lefty Hisanori Takahashi (no relation to Ken as far as I know). This Takahashi could land in the vacant No. 21, that was his jersey back East. Ex-Rays catcher Shawn Riggans, like Jacobs a shaky defensive player with power, accepted an invite and looks to me destined for 73 or 76.

Unaccountable

Not to toot my own horn here but the latest JJ Putz flap only goes to support the idea expressed way back when that the Mets cared not about the results when they committed five guys and $10 million to get Putz, only the illusion that they'd boldly gone out and created some kind of impenetrable bullpen.

That said, I think there's more room for debating whether the team treated JJ Putz's injuries properly than whether an impenetrable bullpen really exists. In other words, the Mets screwed up no matter how Putz's health turned out.

A look at the Mets roster will tell you how unspectacular this offseason's been by contrast. A little more than two weeks before pitchers and catchers report, and 11 men on the 40-man roster have yet to be officially assigned numbers, and a couple of them (Eddie Kunz, Tobi Stoner) are no locks to return in what we saw them wear last (40 and 29, respectively).

Behold the unassigned:

Jack Egbert, P

Kelvim Escobar. P (probably 45)

Clint Everts, P

Ryota Igarashi, P (probably 18)

Arturo Lopez, P

Jay Marshall, P

Henry Blanco, C

Chris Coste, C

Shawn Bowman, INF

Chris Carter, INF-OF

Gary Matthews, OF

Also invited to camp on minor-league deals:

R.A. Dickey, P

Elmer Dessens, P (wore 64 last year)

Bobby Livingston, P

Russ Adams, INF

Jolbert Cabrera, INF-OF

Mike Cervenak, INF

Andy Green, INF (wore 10 29 last year)

Mike Hessman, OF

Jesus Feliciano,OF

Frank (Smithtown's Own) Catalonotto, INF-OF

 

 

Know Your Millers

Meet Bob Miller and Bob Miller.

They weren't related but shared a name and a Polo Grounds locker room for the 1962 Mets, becoming one of the mildly amusing sidelights in that sadly comic debut season.

 

That's Robert Lane Miller on the left. He came to the Mets in the expansion draft from St. Louis, where he was a 1957 Bonus Baby and though unproven at the major league level, was just 23 with a promising right arm. Observers of the '62 squad would say Bob L. Miller (No. 24 in your scorecards) had some of the best "stuff" on staff, but they also felt he hadn't handled adversity well despite getting his share of it with a 1-12 record. He was traded after the season to the Dodgers and quietly began building a solid resume as a relief pitcher. Miller wound up pitching for 17 seasons for 11 different teams -- including the Mets again in 1973 and '74, when he suited up in No. 30. In retirement Miller became the first pitching coach in the history of the Toronto Blue Jays, and was a scout for the Giants when he was killed in an auto accident in 1993.

His roundfaced teammate to the right was Robert Gerald Miller, also a former Bonus Baby (Detroit, 1953) but a lefthanded minor-league journeyman when acquired by the '62 Mets in midseason.Bob G. pitched exclusively in relief for the '62 Mets, including five times in relief of Bob L. Miller, racking up a 2-2 record but a 7.08 earned-run average that year, wearing No. 36. He was released shortly after the season and never pitched in the majors again, but confessed to reporters he was often mistaken for his more accomplished teammate.

BIG thanks to longtime MBTN supporter Ed A. for providing the cards (he sent along even more cool stuff we'll get to). And stay tuned for ruminations on the Bobby Joneses, Pedro Martinezes and Mike Marshalls.

Bobby in Disguise

We recently got an inquiry from a reader who asked about the circumstances around Met coaches Bobby Valentine and Bill Robinson switching uniform numbers before the 1985 season.

You might recall that in 1984, Robinson, then in his first season as the Mets hitting and first-base coach, was wearing No. 26 while Valentine was issued No. 22 until the Mets traded for Ray Knight late in the season. Valentine at that point switched to 28 to allow Knight to wear his customary 22.

By the beginning of 1985, Valentine gave up 28 for No. 2 and Robinson moved into 28, a jersey he'd wear for the next five years. No. 26 wasn't issued agin until Terry Leach arrived in July.

A little bit of research explains Robinson's preference for 28: He'd worn that number as a player for the best years of his career with the Pirates. It was available with the Mets in '84 but not until Scott Holman was released at the end of spring training. Holman's subsequent re-signing as a minor leaguer may have kept the number in near-term mothballs.

Anyone with memories of this situation- - or even why Valentine seemed to prefer No. 2 -- is welcome to chime in. Thanks as always for the questions!

 

Blanco, Inc.

The Mets on Thursday signed chubby veteran defensive specialist Henry Blanco to further bolster a catching corps that earlier in the week landed Chris Coste and apparently isn't done shopping yet.

The Mets will become Blanco's 8th team in 12 years. His numerical history is just as busy, having worn 54 (Dodgers), 35 (Rockies), 12 (Twins), 20 (Braves), 21 (Twins), 9 and 24 (Cubs) and most recently, 28 with the Padres.Given that Blanco looks to inherit Omir Santos' old role as primary reserve, he could wind up in No. 9, but I think he takes what he gets. Surely he's a better bet for the 23 jersey Brian Schneider just gave away. Or they could salute themslves for being Blanco's newest employer and dust off the old No. 8 that's been in storage for years while they tentatively wrestle with the idea of honoring Gary Carter. But I wouldn't count on that.

Who Blanco caddies for remains a mystery. The Mets are said to admire Bengie Molina though I cannot understand why. As said before perhaps they look into a trade. Ryan Doumit of Pittsburgh? Dionner Navarro of the Rays? Who knows.

Thanks to Jack Looney's indespenable NOW BATTING NUMBER for the Blanco history.

Coste-Benefit Analysis

Ouch. The Mets officially got their off-season work underway this week by re-signing veteran Alex Cora and giving free agent catcher Chris Coste a split contract and a shot at the 2010 Mets. In the meantime they saw their own catcher, Brian Schneider, sign with the Phillies, accepting the backup job he probably should have had here all this time.

Cora, it is to be assumed, will step right back into the same No. 3 jersey he wore last season, when unexpected and especially slow-healing injuries to starting shortstop Jose Reyes thrust Cora into a full-time role he was never physically up to. Playing with one and then two sprained thumbs was admirable and gritty, but it didn't do much to help the Mets win, which raises the question why the Mets would expect a different outcome should Reyes get hurt again. Is he even healed yet? Who knows.

The Schneid and Cute Wifey Jordan in better times.Looks doubtful from here that Coste comes out of his Mets experience with fodder for another inspiring true-life bestseller, but with a decent right-handed bat and some experience playing first base, it's not out of the realm of possiblity he helps some in 2010. At worst he could be the 2010 Robinson Cancel; much may depend on who winds up with the starting assignment behind the dish: Henry Blanco? Bengie Molina? I'd prefer a trade.

Coste wore 27 with the Phillies (and 41 more recently in Houston) but with Schneider shedding 23, he might slide in there. I've always felt Schneider never got enough credit for playing as poorly as he did for the Mets -- his defense was less than advertised and his bat was nonexistent but for stretches of both his years here -- but news accompanying his signing with the Phillies that he grew up a Phillies fan I'm sure will bring the boo-birds out upon his next visit to CitiField.

Murder By Numbers

The Mets today said that bitching about changes to the 2010 uniforms will begin in December, later than originally scheduled, but timed to coincide with the period during which fans will bitch about the players acquired to wear them, so it will all work out.

 

With that in mind, the following chart may help you navigate the upcoming shopping season, with a selection of free agents and potential tredees mentioned in recent rumors and speculation, their most recent uni number, and our analysis of the chances they maintain it with the Mets.

Apologies for the ugly chart. They don't pay me enough here to fix it.

 

Rumored Guy     Current Team    Uni No.     Available?     Notes

 

Joel Pineiro        St. Louis   35    Sorta     Technically belongs to Lance Broadway

Brandon Phillips Cincinnati   4     Yes       Wilson Valdez not on the 40

Aaron Harang     Cincinnati   39   No         Bobby Parnell could switch

Matt Holliday     St. Louis     5/15 Neither  Wright and Beltran won’t switch

Jason Bay         Boston       44   Sort of    Tim Redding cannot make demands

John Lackey     Anaheim     41    Nope     Don’t ask

Ryan Doumit     Pittsburgh   41   No         See Above

Randy Wolf       Los Angeles 21 Yes         Delgado won’t return

Jason Marquis  Colorado 21 Yes         See above

Roy Halladay     Toronto     32   Yes         Unissued in 2009

Benji Molina     San Francisco 1 No         For now; Castillo is rumored to go

 

Behold: Numbers That Don't Count

Johnson would reject Bamberger's hand-me-downs. Click to embiggen.

MBTN reader Matt today sent along a scan of a 1983 Daily News article showing the accompanying photograph of Davey Johnson posing with jersey No. 31. As we all know, by the time Johnson managed his first game with the Mets in April of 1984, the 31 jersey was long gone and Johnson would wear No. 5. Although the article this story accompanied (click the photo to see it) appeared in a December of 1983 and concerned Johnson's eligibility for the Hall of Fame,  the photo itself was taken that October, on the day the Mets introduced Johnson as their next manager.

 

This was an interesting find though. I've got copies of Newsday, the Times and the Post from that day, all of which used the same closeup of Johnson's face to illustrate their stories. But it's not unprecendented. Back in 2004, on the November day the Mets introduced another new manager, Willie Randolph, they presented him with jersey No. 1 and not the 12 he'd show up inonce it was time to play. Similar photo-op phollies struck Mets-in-waiting like Roger Cedeno (11 in the press conference, 19 on the field); Xavier Nady (10; 22), Duaner Sanchez (40; 50); and Chad Bradford (35; 53).

 

Which brings me to an interesting discovery I made while fleeing a rain delay earlier this season at the new park. Ducking into a Promenade-level memorabilia shop to avoid the downpour I came across (not literally) a selection of "game-used" jerseys from scrubs of the not-so-distant past, selling at the relative bargain price of $100 each. Among the KNIGHT 28s (Brandon, not Ray) and SOSA 29s I spied this curiousity: An alleged "game-worn" No. 17 belonging to Willie Collazo, whose short Met career already included one interesting moment in uni history.

 

Collazo, who was up briefly in 2007 and 2008 (but did not play in the latter appearance) was issued No. 36 in both stays, so the 17 was out of place. I didn't think to check whether there were any clues as to what year the jersey was from, but my records show that during Collazo's entire tenure with the Mets, the 17 jersey would have been available only in the month of April 2008, after David Newhan was gone but before Fernando Tatis had arrived (and even then, Tatis had 17 assigned to him).

 

Any theories as to how this happened? And what other cases can you recall where a Met was issued a number but never appeared in it?

 

P.S. The SHaMs are finally off to that run I warned you about... All it took was another embarrassing front-office explosion and a good smackdown by the Nationals, but it's happening...

Francoeur Dujour

The debate over what number Jeff Francoeur ought to wear started in the post below long before I even knew we'd traded Ryan Church for him in a deal begging to be debated long after the Mets and Braves realize it hadn't helped them. Francoeur of course wore No. 7 with the Braves and won't with the Mets as long as Jose Reyes (remember him?) is employed. Let's look at the candidates:

No. 4: I like this one: Single-digit, tossed around amongst a bunch of bums ever since Robin Ventura left town eight years ago.

No. 6: Nick Evans was just demoted -- Angel Pagan returned from the DL -- and the addition of Francoeur does Evans' future no favors. But I like 6 as a scrubeenie signifier and would hate to see it wasted on a guy we'll come to remember -- good or bad -- as much as Francoeur. Didya know he's under team control for one more than Chuch? Oh yes. He's our right fielder through 2011 if we want him, and maybe if we don't Gulp.

No. 8: Still sitting there.

No. 12: Still unissued since Willie Randolph's departure but more of an infielder's number.

No. 19: If there's something to admire about this deal off-the-bat is how brazen a challenge trade it really is: Both right fielders, both considered disappointments, both teams in the same division, both more or less fighting for the same goal. Why not make it a true Del Unser Deal and change up the jerseys as well?

No. 27: Available even though we'll probably need Nelson Figueroa again. This, 47, and 77 are the easiest to imagine emerging from the 7 family if Francoeur prefer to stay with it.

Nos. 30, 32, 35 and 40 are open as well.

As for the trade, I fear it: It seems that if Church only played a little better he'd not have been traded to begin with but it takes more ignorance of on-base percentage than I'll ever have to think we haven't just made a bad offense even worse. That said, Francoeur is right-handed and young and may still become something; while Church, for whatever reason, has fallen out of favor with two clubs already.

Let the challenge begin.

In other troubling news they brought back Argenis Reyes when overmatched youngster Fernando Martinez went on the disabled list. And before I ever had a chance to enjoy his demotion.

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