Author Archives: mttlg

The Many Autos of Matthew Reynolds

A case of life imitating art?

When the World Series rosters were announced today, there was only one small change on the Mets side – Juan Uribe is back! After missing the NLDS and NLCS due to injury, clubhouse sensation Uribe was back on the roster, not quite 100 percent but good enough to get a spot. And why not? It’s not like the Mets have been relying on their bench for much in the postseason. Uribe’s presence alone is a big add.

But it came at a price. Matt Reynolds, who seemed due for a 2015 debut at the start of the season, only made it onto an active roster in October because of Ruben Tejada’s injury in the NLDS. He did not appear in the remaining three games of the NLDS. And he did not appear in the four-game NLCS sweep. And then he was bumped off the World Series roster for Uribe. An improbable postseason MLB debut now looked impossible (barring another shortstop injury). But for Matt Reynolds, this is nothing new. Story of his life, in cardboard at least.

Matt Reynolds began his professional career as token compensation for the loss of a fan favorite. With Jose Reyes signing with the Marlins after the 2011 season, the Mets were left with two draft picks as compensation, a comp round pick at the end of the first round and the Marlins’ second round pick. The Mets used their first round picks in 2012 on shortstop Gavin Cecchini and catcher Kevin Plawecki and then selected Reynolds with their acquired second round pick.

Cecchini and Reynolds already had certified autographs from 2011 Topps USA Baseball. But there woud be no autographs from Reynolds in 2012. Mostly. Cecchini and Plawecki both had autographs in 2012 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects; Reynolds must have just missed the cut. This repeated itself in the final Topps product of the year, 2012 Bowman Sterling. But wait, what’s this on Sterling’s Bowman Black Autographs checklist? None other than Matthew Reynolds of the New York Mets.

As a redemption. Matt Reynolds got his first professional card issued as a redemption. Does that even count? I sure don’t know.

Matt Reynolds started off 2013 with autographs in 2012 Panini Elite Extra Edition alongside Cecchini and Plawecki. Finally, he had real professional cards with photos and everything. But no team names or logos because Panini can’t get a license for those. Still, it’s a good way to start the new year. And hey, maybe those Bowman Black cards will get sent out soon…

Or not. Eight months later, Topps would put out Matt Reynolds autographs. In 2013 Bowman Chrome. And those Bowman Black Autographs? Um…

No, that’s not the fulfilled redemption from 2012 Bowman Sterling. Matt Reynolds finally got his Bowman Black Autograph card, but it was inserted into packs of 2013 Bowman Chrome. It’s dated 2013 on the back and everything. And since Bowman Black is a multi-year running autograph set that doesn’t repeat players, these cards render the previous year’s redemptions useless.

Matt Reynolds had a last-minute professional cardboard debut vanish inexplicably. And now it looks like his MLB debut will take a similar course. Presumably, he’ll debut at some point at 2016 and we’ll get to go through this all over again waiting for his first Rookie Cards.

2015 Mets Debut Autographs

Well, that’s a relief…

With Cespedes on board, the Mets cruised to their first NL East title since 2006. But not without getting some extra relief help first. Eric O’Flaherty got the first shot, but that didn’t work out so well. Next came Addison Reed, who has earned a spot on the postseason roster. Barring an emergency postseason call-up, the 2015 list wraps up with Tim Stauffer, who was picked up to bolster the AAA staff. As usual, the “throw a bunch of relievers against the wall and see who sticks” method of bullpen construction doesn’t yield the best results, but at least the Mets had some time to experiment in games that didn’t really matter.

Michael Cuddyer John Mayberry Jr. Jerry Blevins Alex Torres
6 April 2015 6 April 2015 6 April 2015 9 April 2015
Sean Gilmartin* Daniel Muno* Kevin Plawecki* Hansel Robles*
10 April 2015 17 April 2015 21 April 2015 24 April 2015
Jack Leathersich* Johnny Monell Noah Syndergaard* Darrell Ceciliani*
29 April 2015 9 May 2015 12 May 2015 19 May 2015
Akeel Morris* Logan Verrett Steven Matz* Michael Conforto*
17 June 2015 18 June 2015 28 June 2015 24 July 2015
Kelly Johnson Juan Uribe Tyler Clippard Yoenis Cespedes
25 July 2015 25 July 2015 28 July 2015 1 August 2015
Eric O’Flaherty Addison Reed Tim Stauffer
5 August 2015 1 September 2015 13 September 2015

*MLB Debut

Previous Editions:

Lefty LOOGys, Righty Bats

Ignoring the shortstop position, the Mets were in the market for two types of players coming into the 2015 season: right-handed corner outfielders and left-handed relief pitchers. The former came together quickly in the form of Michael Cuddyer and John Mayberry Jr., but the latter was looking a bit shaky as spring training entered its final week. Then, in the span of an afternoon, the Mets turned Matt den Dekker and Cory Mazzoni into lefties Jerry Blevins and Alex Torres. All three made the Opening Day roster, but early results are mixed. Gilmartin’s ability to get Freddie Freeman out though could be a big point in his favor.

Them’s the breaks

It didn’t take long for the season to start wearing down this team. While Daniel Murphy made it into the Opening Day lineup despite a spring training hamstring injury (which seemed to still be bothering him weeks later), a hamstring injury would put David Wright on the DL just a few games into the season. Eric Campbell should have been there to replace Wright, but the Mets were playing with a short bench and opted for Anthony Recker at third for one inning until Campbell could be recalled. Daniel Muno was then called up to make his major league debut as the backup to backup-turned-starter Campbell (and, inexplicably, as the ineffective DH in one game against the Yankees) before sanity took over and Daniel Murphy moved to third to make room for Dilson Herrera’s return. When fractures sent Jerry Blevins and Travis d’Arnaud to the DL, Kevin Plawecki and Hansel Robles were called up as replacements. Jack Leathersich also got a brief look in the pen before Johnny Monell was called up to back up the bench as the reserve roles remained in flux. And then the starting rotation got in on the action with Dillon Gee going on the DL with a groin injury, opening a door for Noah Syndergaard. In years past, the team might have tried to go day-to-day with a minor injury to a starter, but the combination of top MLB-ready pitching talent in AAA and a dwindling division lead made this a no-brainer.

Mr. 1,000

With the AAA well running dry and the division lead no more than a fading memory, the Mets needed help. Badly. On July 23, they made history as only the second team in the modern era (and the first that was actually trying to win games) to field a lineup with the number 4 and 5 spots occupied by sub-.180 batters. These are guys who shouldn’t even be on the bench in the majors, yet for the Mets, they were starters. The next day, Michael Cuddyer, who had been injured for the past month, finally went on the DL, opening a spot for, um, someone? When a trade failed to materialize, that someone became 2014 1st round draft pick Michael Conforto, the first position player in Mets history to be called up the year after being drafted and the 1,000th Mets player. With that bit of trivia out of the way, it was time for some new talent from outside the organization. Which was next on the agenda for that busy day…

Deadline Deals and Highlight Reels

If you thought a rookie straight out of AA would send the Mets into the postseason, you obviously haven’t been following the Mets. Luckily, the front office had much more in the works. Shortly after calling up Conforto, they announced the acquisition of Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe from Atlanta for minor league pitchers John Gant and Rob Whalen. The Mets finally dealt from their pitching depth to bring in legitimate major league players. Whalen in particular was hard to let go of, until you look at some of the team’s recent lineups. Getting a couple of average MLB players, even as rentals, was well worth it.

Just a few days later, two more moves changed the shape of the Mets bullpen. First, it was announced that Jenrry Mejia tested positive for two more banned substances while serving his suspension for testing positive for a banned substance. Just another case of Jenrry being Manny, I guess. Getting additional bullpen help was already a good idea when Mejia was only out for the postseason, but it became essential when his Mets career effectively ended. That same day, the Mets announced that they had acquired reliever Tyler Clippard for minor league pitcher Casey Meisner. This one stung a bit more, but with Mejia getting kicked to the curb and Alex Torres still getting innings, something had to be done.

In one of their busiest trade deadlines in recent memory, the Mets brought in two utility players and a high-leverage reliever. They were just one big bat away from being a legitimate playoff contender. One of the more intriguing names on the market was former Met Carlos Gomez, who headlined the Johan Santana trade. Now a star with the struggling Brewers, he was sure to be moved. So it came as no surprise when he started to be linked to serious negotions with the Mets the day after the Clippard deal. Details emerged nearly in real time on Twitter until the final terms were known: Carlos Gomez for Zack Wheeler and Wilmer Flores. The deal was done, pending physical. Word got to Flores while he was in the middle of a game, mysteriously not pulled from the field as is typical for a player being traded. Flores was in tears receiving standing ovations from the crowd as the world watched with morbid fascination. After the game, it was announced that there was no trade and Carlos Gomez would not be a Met. Apparently the Mets weren’t convinced that Gomez was being entirely truthful about his hips and that scuttled the deal, much to the relief of Flores and Wheeler. But the Mets still needed a bat.

This one went down to the wire, in more ways than one. In the hours leading up to the non-waiver trade deadline, the Mets were still working multiple deals. After the deal with the Brewers fell through, talks with the Reds didn’t fare much better. Finally, a name emerged: Yoenis Cespedes. The 2013 Hume Run Derby champion was one of the big names left on the board but would be costly and was almost certainly just a rental. With just 13 minutes left on the clock, the deal was done. For real this time. The cost would be Michael Fulmer and Louis Cessa. Fulmer would be the biggest prospect traded by the Mets, next on the list of pitching prospects after Syndergaard and Matz. It was a steep price, but a necessary one to shore up an underperforming outfield. Cespedes was an immediate game-changer.

Or was he? Even though he was only in Baltimore, the Mets didn’t activate Cespedes until the following day. It seemed like a senseless delay, especially if the game was close in the late innings when he could have been ready to go. But this night did not belong to Yoenis Cespedes. Wilmer Flores was still a Met. Wilmer Flores made a spectacular diving catch early in the game. Wilmer Flores drove in the team’s first run. And it was Wilmer Flores who, in the 12th inning, hit a walkoff home run to cap a crazy week of Mets baseball. Long after everyone the Mets traded for is gone, Wilmer Flores will still be getting standing ovations in Queens.

Product Spotlight: 2015 Bowman

In which I praise Topps for getting (some) things right

The evolution of the Bowman brand has been interesting lately.  Since the last major redesign in 2012, Bowman has added ice parallels, wave refractors, and mini shimmer refractors, removed the First Bowman Card designation, added a new 1st Bowman designation, introduced Bowman Black autographs, confused collectors with 2013 Kris Bryant Bowman Chrome autographs in 2014 products, added wrapper redemptions, ended wrapper redemptions, dropped the pretense of a “base set” in Bowman Draft, and much, much more.  After three years of incremental improvements, Topps reshuffled the deck in 2015 and brought order to an increasingly chaotic product.

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2015 Mets Draft Class Autographs

No first round pick? No problem.

Full list of 2015 Mets draft picks

Thanks to the Michael Cuddyer signing, the Mets didn’t make their first pick in the 2015 draft until #53.  While you can understand (even if you don’t agree with) the reasoning behind reluctantly giving up a first round pick when the goal is to win now, it certainly makes it hard to get excited about the draft.  The Mets had to be hoping that some signable top talent would fall into the second round.  As a collector, I was just hoping for someone who would make it into the fall’s autograph lineup (though last year’s top Mets pick Michael Conforto is still waiting for his Bowman Chrome autograph, due out this Friday).  September is here and there is reason to hope for some nice prospect autographs from this group in the coming months.

With their top pick, the Mets took Desmond Lindsay, who was left off most amateur top prospect lists due to injury.  The Mets obviously thought he was worth the risk and saw him as clear first-round talent.  So far, he has performed well enough to earn a promotion to Brooklyn and should be the obvious choice for a Mets representative in upcoming draft products.

Once again, this year’s draft class had plenty of autographs available on draft day thanks to Leaf.  After Lindsay, Max Wotell, Thomas Szapuki, Sixto Torres, Brendan Illies, and L.T. Tolbert (who apparently goes by a variety of names) all have Leaf Perfect Game autographs.  Of them, all but the last two signed with the Mets.

2 Desmond Lindsay 3 Max Wotell 4 David Thompson 5 Thomas Szapucki
6 Chase Ingram 7 Corey Taylor 8 Patrick Mazeika 9 Kevin Kaczmarski
10 Wilt Haggard 17 Sixto Torres 33 Brendan Illies (DNS) 34 L.T. Tolbert (DNS)

Previous Entries

Previous Draft Class Autographs:

2014 Mets Draft Class Autographs
2013 Mets Draft Class Autographs
2012 Mets Draft Class Autographs
2011 Mets Draft Class Autographs

21 August 2015 – Binghamton Mets at New Hampshire Fisher Cats

Fastball is not The Way

It was a wet and wild night in Manchester as passing storms threatening to delay the start gave way to late-inning walks that threatened to chip away at Binghamton’s commanding lead. Gabriel Ynoa barely made it through six innings before auditions for bullpen September call-ups began. The B-Mets offense, now bolstered by journeymen who began the year in independent league ball, never stopped working and delivered a 9-5 victory that in a far closer game than the final score would seem to indicate.

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2010 Mets Draft Class Autographs

Generation TJ?

Full list of 2010 Mets draft picks

Five years after the bulk of Generation K was drafted, the whole bunch was coming up bust. Whatever excitement had been building was gone as each player would miss significant time due to injury before being dealt away for practically nothing. What does that have to do with 2010? As it turns out, the Mets’ 2010 draft class was loaded with stud pitching. And serious injuries. But that’s where the similarities end.

1 Matt Harvey 3 Blake Forsythe 4 Cory Vaughn 5 Matt den Dekker
6 Greg Peavey 7 Jeff Walters 8 Kenneth McDowall 9 Jacob deGrom
10 Akeel Morris 11 Adam Kolarek 24 Erik Goeddel 30 Josh Edgin

Matt Harvey didn’t exactly excite the fanbase when he was drafted number 7 overall in 2010. A high risk/high upside pick, Harvey was coming off a somewhat problematic stint with UNC after being drafted 118th overall out of high school three years earlier. The talent was there, but could he figure out how to use it? Harvey impressed at every level but somehow never attracted much hype in the minors. That all ended in 2012 when Harvey made his MLB debut and quickly became the Mets’ ace. A month into the 2013 season, Harvey was a hobby hero; his autographs commanded $100 due to their high demand and relative scarcity. When he finally signed his 2011 Bowman Platinum autographs two years late, Matt Harvey was one of the biggest sports figures in New York City. And then he broke.

Harvey wasn’t the first pitcher from this draft class to go through Tommy John surgery and he wouldn’t be the last. Just a few months after the draft, 9th round pick Jacob deGrom, a converted shortstop, went under the knife. After missing a year, deGrom followed Harvey’s path through the minors, quietly impressing with even less hype than the fallen ace. As a 2014 without Harvey loomed, deGrom was almost forgotten among a trio of hot young pitchers starting the season in AAA. Scouts gave deGrom high marks, but most people saw the bullpen in his future. When spots in the rotation opened up in mid-May, Jacob deGrom made it clear that he was not destined for a relief role. Matt Harvey returned to the rotation in 2015 sharing the ace role with the 2014 NL Rookie of the Year.

The bullpen had its share of surgeries in this draft class as well. Minor league closer Jeff Walters had Tommy John surgery in 2014 after setting the AA Binghamton saves record in 2013, and then Josh Edgin, a rare bright spot in some awful Mets bullpens, went down in 2015. This opened the door for Erik Goeddel, a 24th round pick due to signability concerns. Four Tommy John surgeries, two top starters, and two relievers who have contributed at the major league level. Not bad. And that’s not counting Akeel Morris, who is still in the low minors, or Greg Peavey, who was lost in the Rule 5 draft. So what about the bats?

The Mets went with three position players after picking Harvey, catcher Blake Forsythe and outfielders Cory Vaughn and Matt den Dekker. Forsythe was dumped off in the beginning of the 2014 season after ominously being assigned to Binghamton without being issued a number. Vaughn was promoted to AAA after being the most ineffective Binghamton outfielder at the plate and looks like he won’t get any further by the time he becomes a minor league free agent. And Matt den Dekker watched Juan Lagares take over as the Mets’ starting center fielder while recovering from a 2013 spring training injury. While he still got a chance to prove himself in 2014, den Dekker would start the 2015 season with the Nationals after being dealt for bullpen help.

Five years later, Generation TJ has already surpassed Generation K with one more arm still developing. The bats never came around, but with these arms, who needs bats? Right, the 2015 Mets…