If you want to win a game, the best possible formula is Jacob deGrom and Seth Lugo. Tonight, that’s what the Mets had, and it led to a separately needed win against a Diamondbacks team ahead of the Mets in the Wild Card standings.
For his part, deGrom was great furthering cementing his Cy Young case. His final line was 7.0 innings, three hits, one run, one earned, one walk, and 11 strikeouts. That one? Well, that was courtesy of our old “Friend” Wilmer Flores.
But that wasn’t as damaging as a homer as a run against deGrom would normally be as deGrom actually received run support tonight. In fact, two of the three runs scored for him came off the bat of Pete Alonso who hit his 46th and 47th homers of the year.
Your major league HR leader.
4⃣6⃣ and counting… pic.twitter.com/qJWAPd1eSG
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 9, 2019
Is this guy good? Asking for a friend. pic.twitter.com/5r71hysahc
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 10, 2019
The other run came courtesy of an Amed Rosario RBI single in the fourth scoring Wilson Ramos. What made that interesting is Ramos had reached on a double against the shift. That shift was an unorthodox two outfielder shift. Presumably, this was implemented in response to Ramos’ ground ball rates, and yet, his hitting the ball up the middle was an automatic double.
Going back to deGrom, what makes him so impressive is how he is dominant no matter what part of the game. He rips through the order the first, second, and third time through. The lineup turns over a fourth time just briefly. He gets the bad and good hitters. For example, he struck out Ketel Marte three times.
Another note here is deGrom controls all parts of the plate. He gets batters out north, east, south, and west. While we’ve seen his recent rise to dominance correlate to pitching up in the zone, he did it working the lower half tonight.
If a team thought they’d get a respite when he leaves a game, they’d be wrong as Lugo followed him to pitch the final two innings. The fresh Lugo was economical striking out four of the six batters he faced needing just 21 pitches to earn his fifth save of the year.
With the win, the Mets gained a game on both the Diamondbacks and Phillies. It’s still an uphill climb, but the Mets are still alive.
After a brief hiatus after a nice family vacation, I’m back watching games at home instead of on the app and able to get back to things like the 20/20 Hindsight. Without further ado:
1. The 1969 and 1973 Mets overcame five game deficits entering September and so can this team, but in order to do so, they need to complete sweeps and not settle for 2/3.
2. There’s a lot of attention on Mickey Callaway for losing Sunday night. No matter your opinion on the moves, when you boil it down, the Mets lost because Jeurys Familia was flat out bad. They also lost because their three best hitters (Jeff McNeil, Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto) didn’t get the big hit in the eighth after the inning was set up for them to deliver.
3. Seeing Luis Guillorme get that bunt down, we see a player who does all the small things really well. It’s also a reminder how much time the Mets wasted on Jose Reyes and Adeiny Hechavarria instead of giving him his chance.
6. On the call-ups, it was great to see Brandon Nimmo back. His getting a walk and drawing a run shows how terrific a player he is. That said, he needs to throw to second.
7. Zack Wheeler set the tone. Steven Matz slayed some Citizen’s Bank Park demons. Marcus Stroman had his best start as a Met. The starting pitching really stepped up in this series after it disappointed against the Cubs.
8. Speaking of starting pitching it was nice seeing the Mets getting a chance to hit against Jason Vargas, who was his typically bad self on the mound.
12. Paul Sewald has been a godsend, and it’s at the point where he may be the most reliable right-handed reliever not named Lugo.
14. Past two weeks, Wilmer Flores is hitting .429/.478/.810, and J.D. Davis is hitting .209/.306/.488. Both have 0.7 WAR for the season with Flores playing fewer games and not costing three prospects. The Diamondbacks are ahead of the Mets in the Wild Card standings.
15. Wilson Ramos hitting streak has come at a critical time. Mets need him to keep hitting at this level if they’re going to have a real chance.
20. Four back of the Cubs is still doable. Three would have been moreso. Of course, this all overlooks how much the Mets blew it against the Cubs.
With Travis d’Arnaud struggling in his limited chances since returning from Tommy John surgery, he was designated for assignment. Instead of seeking to outright him to Syracuse, the Mets opted to release d’Arnaud. Now, d’Arnaud is reunited with Bob Geren in Los Angeles. It’s easy to forget now, but with Geren being the Mets catching coach, he got the very best out of d’Arnaud.
Back in 2012, the Mets would trade reigning Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey to the Toronto Blue Jays for a package which included d’Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard. At that point, d’Arnaud was the best known prospect, and he was certainly a coveted one having previously been traded the Phillies to the Blue Jays so the team could obtain Roy Halladay.
The book on d’Arnaud was he was going to be a good hitting catcher. Being a good hitter or even a catcher was something which was next to impossible to ascertain when d’Arnaud was first called up to the majors in 2013. He didn’t hit at all, and he struggled mightily behind the plate. After that year, d’Arnaud would put his work in and become a much better player.
While the bat never quite materialized the way we anticipated, he did became very good behind the plate. We saw d’Arnaud become one of the best pitch framers in the game. It was one of the reasons why he was in the top 10 in Rookie of the Year voting in 2014, and it was one of the reasons why the Mets would take off in 2015.
Like he would most of his career, d’Arnaud would have injury issues in 2015, but he would be an impactful player when he was on the field. His elite pitch framing helped a staff featuring Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Syndergaard not only win the division, but also go all the way to the World Series. It gets overlooked, but d’Arnaud didn’t contribute with his strong play behind the plate, he also contributed as a hitter.
In the 2015 postseaon, d’Arnaud would hit three homers. That included one in Game 1 of the NLCS which would actually hit the Home Run Apple, which led the Mets to put a temporary band-aid on it prior to Game 2.
Of course, the homers overlook his key moments in the NLDS. In a pivotal Game 3, it was d’Arnaud who hit the RBI single which tied the game in the second, and it was d’Arnaud who hit the three run homer in the third which helped the Mets begin to pull away. We also forget with the heroics of deGrom, Jeurys Familia, and Daniel Murphy in Game 5, it was d’Arnaud who had the sacrifice fly which had tied the game setting the stage for the Mets to eventually take the lead and head to the NLCS.
After the 2015 season, d’Arnaud would deal with injuries including the torn UCL which practically cost him the entire 2018 season. Still, when he played, he was a terrific pitch framer, who was an asset to his pitching staff. He would still have the occasional highlight like his 16th inning homer against the Marlins.
One thing which really stuck out with d’Arnaud was how he was a team first player. In his tenure with the Mets, he wore three different numbers partially because he changed from number 7 to accomodate Jose Reyes when he returned to the organization. There was also the August 16, 2017 game which will live in infamy.
With both Wilmer Flores and Reyes unable to play due to injuries, and with Gavin Cecchini and Matt Reynolds unable to arrive from Las Vegas in time for the game, it meant someone was going to have to play out of position. That player would be d’Arnaud, who donned David Wright‘s mitt while switching back and forth between second and third with Asdrubal Cabrera. The lineup card was a mess with it reading d’Arnaud played “3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B.”
In the game, d’Arnaud would hit a game tying sacrifice fly in the sixth. Despite all of Terry Collins‘ machinations, the ball would finally find d’Arnaud when Todd Frazier popped it up to him in the ninth. With d’Arnaud securing it, he now stands as the Mets all-time leader in fielding percentage among Mets second baseman.
When it comes to d’Arnaud, aside from that magical 2015 season, he was never quite the player everyone hoped he would be. He battled injuries during his Mets tenure, and he was never the hitter everyone expected even if he was above average at the position. Mostly, he was very good behind the plate having been one of the best pitch framers in the game.
His Mets tenure ended with a whimper. While fans villified him for what he wasn’t instead of celebrating him for what he was, d’Arnaud opted for the high road thanking the fans and the organization for everything and expressing his gratitude to all.
While things ended poorly here, he is now playing for his hometown team. It is a team who has his former catching coach, who get everything out of d’Arnaud’s talent. He’s at the place where former Met Justin Turner‘s career took off. He’s playing for a very good team, a smart organization, and he will be put in a good position to succeed.
In his tenure, d’Arnaud was a good Met, and the 2015 run doesn’t happen without him. Despite everything, he never complained, and he was willing to do everything asked of him. Every Mets fan should wish him the best of luck. I know I will.
In 2017, Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith were Top 100 prospects, and they both appeared to be cornerstone players for the Mets. They were supposed to join Michael Conforto as the wave of young position players who could help a pitching staff led by Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard win a World Series.
As we all know that hasn’t happened, and in all likelihood, it’s not going to happen.
Starting in 2017, we didn’t see the results from either prospect. In 46 games, Rosario hit .248/.271/.394. He had a 75 wRC+, 1 DRS, and a 0.3 WAR. He had glimpses of pure excitement, but he didn’t hit, and his fielding was not the Gold Glove level advertised.
Unfortunately, things have gotten worse for Rosario. Since his 2017 debut, he is hitting .257/.296/.380. He has an 85 wRC+, which is fourth worst among Major League shortstops over that span. As bad as that is, his -22 DRS is the worst among Major League shortstops, and it is the fourth worst of all Major League players. In total, he has a -1.5 WAR.
Despite these struggles and his failing to make noticeable progress from a statistical standpoint, Rosario’s stature with the team has never been challenged. In 2018, the team had Jose Reyes as the backup shortstop and mentor. This year, the Mets entered the season with Luis Guillorme, and they sent him down after just 16 games leaving Rosario as the only shortstop on the roster.
While we have not seen Rosario yet develop, we have also not seen him challenged by the Mets in any way, shape, or form. This is a completely different experience than Smith’s.
As bad as Rosario has been since his debut, Smith has been worse. In 2017, Smith hit .198/.262/.395, and he had a -1.1 WAR. Because of his struggles, the Mets brought in Adrian Gonzalez in a first base “competition.” Smith certainly made things easy for the Mets when he was late showing up for the first Spring Training game.
During the 2018 season, the Mets gave time to Gonzalez, Wilmer Flores, and Jay Bruce at first base while they moved Smith to left field, where he faltered. As the season progresses, Smith saw his status of the first baseman of the future complete evaporate with every Pete Alonso homer.
The end result was Smith obviously being part of the Mets long term plans. Even though he came into Spring Training in phenomenal shape and having made clear improvements to his game, he didn’t get much of a chance to fight for the first base job, one Alonso arguably won anyway. Smith didn’t even get a small chance like Mike Olt once did while the Cubs waited to get an extra year of control over Kris Bryant.
No, the Mets just passed over Smith. They punished him for not being what they hoped he would be. Ironically, he may just be showing the Mets he’s ready to be that player hitting .400/.516/.480 as a bench player and late inning defensive replacement.
Conversely, Rosario continues to struggle. He’s not hitting or fielding well despite being given every opportunity to do so. At some point, the question needs to be asked if Rosario received the treatment Smith received, would he be a better ballplayer now? We don’t know, and we will never know.
The only thing we do know is there were two different sets of rules for Smith and Rosario. One was allowed to struggle, and the other wasn’t. One was challenged, and the other wasn’t. So far this year, one has improved, and the other hasn’t. Time will tell if the double standard will have cost the Mets the future of both players.
There have been a few times in the Mets history where they have surprised or even shocked the World in making their run to the postseason. The biggest example is 1969, which occurred 50 years ago. The Mets would make their Miracle run in 1973, and they would emerge in 1999, 2006, and 2015.
When you look at those rosters, there are players who are comparable to the players on this year’s Mets roster. Here’s a look at how it breaks down:
Wilson Ramos (Paul Lo Duca) – Ramos may not have been the catcher the Mets may have originally expected to bring in during the offseason, but like Lo Duca, he could be the perfect fit for this team and surprisingly be a very important piece to this club.
Juan Lagares (Endy Chavez) – Chavez was the defensive oriented player who was pressed into more action than anticipated, and his play on the field was a big reason the 2006 Mets came withing a game of the World Series.
Corey Oswalt (Logan Verrett) – The Mets need a low round drafted prospect to put together a string of great starts to help put this team over the top. With his increased velocity, this could be Oswalt.
And finally, there is Mickey Callaway, who we are hoping will be able to accomplish what Willie Randolph accomplished by proving himself a good manager in his second year and by leading the Mets to being the best team in the National League.
While this is the 50th Anniversary of the 1969 Miracle Mets, it is also the 20th anniversary of the 1999 Mets. As part of the 1969 celebration, it appears we will finally get to the Tom Seaver statute Mets fans have been clamoring for over the past decade. However, it does not appear there will be similar celebrations for the first Mets team to make consecutive postseasons this year.
You could present the argument the Mets could do something subtle like dusting off the black jerseys and wearing them like the Mets wore the old racing stripe jerseys three years ago. Of course, the mere mention of bringing back those jerseys tends to set off a firestorm. With that in mind, our roundtable answers the question as to whether the Mets should ever bring back the black jerseys in any way, shape, or form:
Pete McCarthy (OABT)
Only the black hats with blue brim.
Bre S. (That Mets Chick)
I wouldn’t completely bring them back but it would be cool to see them on occasion. The Mets wore the 86 racing stripes in 2016 on Sundays. It would be nice to see them maybe on Friday nights. (Sunday day games might be too hot for black uniforms).
James Schapiro (Shea Bridge Report)
I love the black jerseys, but it’s strange because until last September, David Wright would have been the last active Met to wear them. Now, as far as I can tell, assuming Jose Reyes is done, the only remaining Mets who wore the black jerseys during their original run are Jason Vargas — maybe — and Carlos Gomez — probably. That’s nothing against the jerseys; it’s just a hell of a thought that Juan Lagares is the longest tenured Met, and the current Mets who go back the farthest as Mets are Jason Vargas and Carlos Gomez. I guess my point is yes, absolutely bring back the black jerseys, but also wow, what a weird, crazy world we live in.
Metstradamus (Metstradamus Blog)
I’m not nostalgic about the black unis, especially since we only stopped wearing them seven years ago. I can’t get nostalgic about a uniform that a truckload of Mets fans complained about when they actually wore them. Love the blues much better and would rather wear those on Friday nights.
That said, if you want to bring the black unis back to mark an anniversary, save them until next season. This season belongs to ’69. A truly historic team like that deserves the entire season. Sneaking in a ’99 tribute seems odd to me. Instead, honor the 2000 team. They are probably the most underappreciated team in Mets history. Partly because the ’99 team overshadows them, and partly because they lost to the Yankees, who overshadow everybody. I understand that the roster was essentially the same, but the 2000 team never even got so much as a congratulatory rally at Shea Stadium. A good amount of pennant winners who lost the World Series at least got that, and I think the Mets would have had that if they had lost to anybody except the Yankees. They deserve their due. (Even Armando Benitez.) So I say do it next season.
Greg Prince (Faith and Fear in Flushing)
Come 2022, I’d endorse doing for the 60th anniversary what the Reds are doing for their 125th, sprinkling in different throwbacks throughout the season, the black ones included.
Greg, I thought of that too. If we want to have throwbacks for years ending in 9, give us the ’69 unis, the black unis, but also the two button pullovers from ’79 and the Mark Carreon specials from ’89.
I do like the special days one. Personally, I thought Piazza’s 31 should’ve been in black.
Decade Nights or whatever shouldn’t take that much imagination to pull off.
It also requires a tacit admission that the Mets existed in years besides 1969, 1986 and the current year.
Joe Maracic (Loud Egg)
I was never a huge fan of the black jerseys but if it makes the Mets money they may bring them back. Seems like so many sports teams had a black third jersey and it kind of got played out. From a design point of view, you use black as a shortcut to make the uniform look better… but it doesn’t always work.
The real question: black uniforms or snow-whites?
James, black over the snow whites. Not close.
Whites were always too Brooklyn Dodgers for me
I dare the Mets to bring back the 1997 ice cream hats for one game in 2022. The pillbox hats from 1976. And, of course, the Mercury Mets getup from 1999.
I actually liked the ice cream hats on their own. With the white jerseys, they were terrible
They had a chance to bring back Mercury Mets on the 20th anniversary. Of course they blew it.
Mercury Mets would be ideal for 2021. That was the date of “the future,” in 1999.
Mark Healey (Gotham Baseball)
I’m torn on the black. I did like them, but like always, the team ruined the concept by never truly executing the look properly. The hybrid cap, black with blue bill was atrocious, & did not match the jersey. (Sorry, Pete). They also de-emphasised blue in criminal fashion, wearing the home uniform with black undershirts / sleeves and socks made the team look hideous. If they bring them back, which they will, the all black cap and special one Tim only snow White pants (it looks terrible with the pinstripe pants) is the only way the jersey should be worn. Also Mercury Mets = infamnia.
But I hate the introduction of black as a major element because it ruined the rest of the uniform. That the Mets wore this monstrosity at home in the World Series still irritates me to no end. Hybrid cap, black undershirt, black drop shadow = again, infamnia
I hated the cap, I really, really hate it. If Mets bring back this hideous thing, then I vote No on black alts.
On the hat, I agree. As I noted previously, the hats need updating. I also think the jerseys themselves were overused. If the Mets were so inclined, I think bringing them back for Friday nights may be the best possible solution, mostly because I associate the Friday night black jerseys with Mike Piazza hitting that home run to cap off a 10 run rally against the Braves.
Overall, this was one of my favorite roundtables thus far, and I hope this roundtable encourages you to check out the excellent work of the people who contributed to this roundtable.
According to reports yesterday, Mets infielder T.J. Rivera is struggling in his return from Tommy John surgery. While people assume it is easier for position players to return from the surgery, Rivera seems to be dispelling that notion. In fact, it would appear he is struggling to return from his surgery much in the same way Zack Wheeler did. It should be noted while Wheeler had his surgery in early 2015, he was not what we believed he could be until the second half of last season. So far, Rivera is dispelling any real concerns:
T.J. Rivera downplays the discomfort he's been feeling in his surgically repaired right elbow. He described it more as another bump in the road: pic.twitter.com/mVyEwU22LB
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) February 28, 2019
When looking at his career, this is just the newest obstacle for him to overcome.
Rivera was a 22 year old undrafted free agent who had bounced around in college before landing at Troy University. Fortunately, at one of Rivera’s stops prior to Troy University, he played for former Met Mackey Sasser, who would recommend Rivera to a scout. As an undrafted player, he had an uphill climb ahead of him needing to prove himself at every turn. Rivera has done just that hitting over .300 with an OBP over .350 at nearly every minor league stop.
Really, Rivera stuck around because he hit. Yet somehow, despite his hitting at every stop, he was overlooked in the Rule 5 Draft multiple times. He had been in the minors for five-and-a-half years when the Mets were dropping like flies. Rather than give him a chance, the Mets would give playing time to players like Eric Campbell and Matt Reynolds. They’d even bring back Jose Reyes despite his domestic violence arrest and suspension. When it came time to call someone up, they’d call up Ty Kelly over him.
It would not be until the middle of August until Rivera would get called up, but he still wouldn’t get a chance. He’d be up and down a few times in August. Finally, with Walker being done for the season with a back injury and Wilmer Flores injuring his wrist on a collision at home plate on a very questionable send by Tim Teufel, Rivera would finally get his chance.
In 20 September games, Rivera hit .358/.378/.552. In those 20 games, the Mets would go 13-7. It’s important to consider the Mets claimed a Wild Card spot by just one game. If the team had not turned to him when they did, it’s possible the Mets miss the 2016 postseason. It’s also worth mentioning Rivera was one of the few Mets who got a hit off Madison Bumgarner in the Wild Card game. If someone had driven him in after his leadoff double in the fifth, we would be having a completely different conversation about him, that season, and each of the ensuing seasons.
Despite his being the hero of the 2017 season, the Mets would not so much as guarantee him a roster spot. They wouldn’t do that even with him playing well as the first baseman for a Puerto Rican team which reached the championship game of the World Baseball Classic. Instead, Rivera would spend his 2017 season up and down and the out with the season and potentially career altering UCL tear.
Seeing the depth the Mets have accumulated and the team likely adding at least Adeiny Hechavarria to the roster, 40 man roster spots are becoming tenuous. With him being unable to play, the odds are once again not in Rivera’s favor. Based upon past history, we should not count him out. In fact, for a team with postseason aspirations, he may ultimately prove to be an important player who can put the Mets over the top.
For the first time since 2004, David Wright is not in Spring Training with an eye towards being the Mets third baseman. Sadly, that went by the wayside when he played his last few games as a member of the Mets last year. Since that time, Wright has joined the front office, and he has not been the typical fixture in camp. Surely, the players notice it, especially Noah Syndergaard at lunch time.
But while people may feel it, there does seem to be a level of business as usual. After all, Robinson Cano has Wright’s old locker, and the third base position is a battle of sorts between Todd Frazier and Jed Lowrie. Really, there is a lot going on right now. With all that is going on, there is a question about how much you have noticed Wright’s absence.
There’s definitely a different vibe at camp this year. Is it because David Wright isn’t there? Or is it because there’s a new order? Maybe it’s a little bit of both. I feel like Wright’s there in spirit, and his presence is irreplaceable. But I also think he’s left behind an example for everyone in the room to follow going forward, it feels like a new chapter has begun with the Mets, for better or for worse.
Pete McCarthy (OABT)
It’s hard to say his absence is felt when he has often been injured and rehabbing the last few seasons. Last September was truly special and showed all that Wright gave to the franchise both on and off the field. Hopeful that a player or players can truly ascend to a leadership role now that he is retired and there is no hope of the Captain making a grand return.
Metstradamus (Metstradamus Blog)
That’s probably a better question to ask somebody on the team, since they know the difference. For me, I’m of the mind of “keep moving forward”, and that we care too much about nostalgia in general as a society. (I don’t care which shows premiered 27 years ago today so stop putting it in my Facebook timeline!!!) So while I think of David Wright fondly, I’m ready to look forward and not backward.
Greg Prince (Faith and Fear in Flushing)
The last couple of years prepared us well for our separation from David Wright as an active player. Still, he was such a constant for so long. I always assumed the earliest-reporting employee to St. Lucie every spring was greeted by David bouncing a ball against a wall, waiting for somebody to unlock the door to the facility.
Given his role as a special advisor, I imagine we’ll see him around in some capacity, which is comforting. May he find the new work rewarding and may fans never stop appreciating all he gave this franchise.
Tim Ryder (MMO)
To be honest, no. In my head I’ve already turned that page. This roster is full of talented guys, some of whom learned how to conduct themselves as major leaguers from David Wright. I have a feeling his impact on this clubhouse will continue to manifest itself over the next few seasons. Will I miss him on the field? Always.
Bre S (That Mets Chick)
Have I felt Wright’s absence from the team during spring training? I can’t say I have. That is a better question to ask the players. I can see from videos and players quotes that there is a different and fresh vibe from this team. Wright is no longer on the field with them being their leader and caption. Other players like Michael Conforto, Jacob deGrom, and Brandon Nimmo all know they need to step up in 2019. Whether Mets fans like it or not, the team must move on without Wright being in the clubhouse everyday. This reminds me of 2005. Mike Piazza‘s final season with the Mets. Going into 2006, bright and young new faces emerged the voices and leaders for the Mets: David Wright and Jose Reyes. Similar to 2006, a new leader for the Mets will emerge in 2019 and I can’t wait to see who that is.
James Schapiro (Shea Bridge Report)
I’ll notice the hole at third base once games start. Third base the last few years has almost been defined by “waiting for David Wright,” so now that David isn’t coming back anymore I expect the third-base position to have a completely different dynamic. We have Frazier, who was so-so last year; Lowrie, who can really hit…but may already be hurt? Jeff McNeil, who can also really hit but is unproven and might also be an outfielder; J.D. Davis, who seems like a complete mystery…David Wright’s absence, to me, is going to make itself felt most in the fact that when we go through third base options, there won’t be that pause we used to make, and no one will say, “well, this is just the backup plan until Wright comes back.”
Surprisingly, I have not noticed Wright’s absence. There are a number of reasons why with Pete Alonso fighting for a first base job, deGrom still going without an extension, and the fact there are still big name free agents on the board like Bryce Harper, Dallas Keuchel, and Craig Kimbrel. There is a lot of noise in baseball right now, and it is overshadowing Wright not being a part of the team anymore.
I anticipate I will first feel his absence on Opening Day when Howie Rose is calling out the players’ names. His name will be a noticeable omission. If the Mets are fighting for a postseason spot, I know I will certainly notice Wright’s absence, and I will likely bemoan who Wright is not going to get a chance to get his World Series ring.
While I have not quite noticed Wright’s absence, I do notice the good work from the fine people who contribute to this roundtable. Hopefully, you notice it as well, and you take the time to read their excellent work.
During his time in the minors, Jeff McNeil wore a couple of different numbers. Last year, he wore 12 with Las Vegas, and he wore 1 with Binghamton. Overall, he’d wear a variety of numbers including 3, 5, and 10. Naturally, when the Mets called him up to the majors, McNeil was assigned the number 68.
The significance of 68? Well, it was just next in line.
It was something the Mets seemed to start in 2016. That year, the Mets gave T.J. Rivera the number 54, and Ty Kelly was given 55. When Kelly Johnson returned, Kelly was given 56. Over the ensuing years, we’d see the number gradually climb up and up to the point Kelly would wear 66 last year, and eventually McNeil wearing 68.
Now, this is not a practice reserved for all prospects, and it has not been a practice always in place. For example, when Jose Reyes and David Wright were called up, they were given their now iconic 7 and 5 numbers. For that matter, when Eric Campbell was called up to the majors in 2014, he went from 24, a number somewhat unofficially retired by the Mets, to 29.
Now, McNeil is going to wear the number 6, a number which was available all of last season. For that matter, Rivera is going to wear 19, which was a number that Jay Bruce had before he was called up to the majors. It should also be noted the 3 he wore with Las Vegas was worn by Curtis Granderson.
Now, there are some restrictions with uniform numbers. For example, recent uniform history suggests Gary Carter‘s 8 and Keith Hernandez‘s 17 are unofficially retired. They may also want to try to preserve numbers for their top prospects like how Peter Alonso was assigned 20 this Spring Training.
Still, there is a wide chasm between not allowing a player to have a certain number and giving them a number in the 50s or 60s. These players have achieved something by making it all the way to the majors. They should be treated as such by giving them a real uniform number, especially as we saw in the case with Dilson Herrera and Juan Uribe, you are going to make the young player switch when a more established player wants the number.
As a side note, it’s more fan friendly as well because if you are someone immediately attached to a player like McNeil, when you go out and get the jersey, or even shirsey, you have the right number and aren’t out money when the player is finally deemed good enough to pick their own real baseball number.
Looking at this past offseason, the Mets have traded away much of their future to improve the 2019 team. Top prospects Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn were part of a package for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz. Ross Adolph, Scott Manea, and Luis Santana were traded for J.D. Davis. Finally, Adam Hill, Felix Valerio, and Bobby Wahl were traded for Keon Broxton.
There has been some debate on each of these moves. Whereas many saw the Mets undervaluing assets, there have been a contingent who have justified the deal under the auspices of how not all prospects work out.
To a certain extent, there is validity to the prospects not panning out. With respect to Generation K, only Jason Isringhausen had a successful career, and that was as a reliever not the front line starter we expected him to be. Outfielders Fernando Martinez, Lastings Milledge, and Alex Ochoa weren’t even so much as a part-time player. Relievers like Eddie Kunz did nothing. The list goes on and on . . . .
Of course, this overlooks the prospects which have had successful careers. Tom Seaver was a Hall of Famer. David Wright, Jose Reyes, Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, and Edgardo Alfonzo were all-time Mets greats. As we know, that list is much longer than that. It also includes Nolan Ryan, which was a trade which lives on in Mets infamy.
That was a trade of a young player who hasn’t figured it out for a past All-Star Jim Fregosi. While prevailing wisdom is that trade was a Mets disaster, the school of thought were you trade young players for proven Major League talent would be fully onboard with that deal. That does beg the question why people are against keeping prospects and are not against the Mets making trades.
Looking over Mets history, this team has made many horrible trades. In addition to the aforementioned Ryan for Fregosi trade, we have also seen several other poor trades in Mets history:
- Amos Otis for Joe Foy
- Lenny Dykstra and Roger McDowell for Juan Samuel
- Jeff Kent for Carlos Baerga
- Jason Isrinhausen for Billy Taylor
- Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano
There are several others which have blown up in the Mets faces. In addition to that, there have been trades for players which have greatly under-performed for the Mets. In addition to the aforementioned players, you can include Roberto Alomar, Willie Mays, Joe Torre, and a litany of others did not perform when wearing a Mets uniform.
With the Mets losing valuable young players and with the team getting veterans who have not performed, you have to wonder why the Mets don’t just operate on the free agent market. Of course, the reason there is the extensive failures the Mets have made on that front. The list is well known, and Mets fans can cite them in their sleep – Jason Bay, Bobby Bonilla, Luis Castillo, Vince Coleman, George Foster, Oliver Perez, and many, many others.
Point is, no matter which way you look, you see a history of failures when it comes to the Mets organization. Their prospects always fail. They only trade for veterans in decline. Every free agent signing is a bust.
Of course, that’s not remotely the truth. When looking at each area, the Mets have had plenty of successes and failures. The goal for every General Manager is to have more success than failures and for those failures to not come back and bite you. That’s what defines periods like the 1980s Mets and also the period immediately thereafter.
So in the end, when judging moves, do it on their own merit and not because you believe the Mets prospects fail, trade acquisitions production declines, and every free agent is a bust.