- Faith and Fear in Flushing - http://www.faithandfearinflushing.com -

Mets of the 2010s: 90-81

Welcome to the second chapter of Faith and Fear’s countdown of The Top 100 Mets of the 2010s. An introduction to the series is available here [1]; you can read the first installment here [2]. These are the more or less best Mets we rooted for as Mets fans these past ten years. Since a decade is coming to a close, we thought it would be fun to round them up and recall a little something about them.
[3]

90. DAISUKE MATSUZAKA, 2013-2014
89. SHAUN MARCUM, 2013
88. BUDDY CARLYLE, 2014-2015

“Prison time is slow time,” Red said in The Shawshank Redemption, a movie that itself runs for two hours and twenty-two minutes. Baseball seasons fly by too quickly, yet in the 2010s, we had three pitchers who conjure thoughts of games that seemed to take a decade to play. Daisuke Matsuzaka, a fallen idol from his Red Sox days, worked so slowly that SNY put a clock on him to measure the time he took between pitches (it would have been snarkier had they labeled their device a Matsuclocka). Eventually, as opposed to quickly, Dice-K evolved into a reasonably reliable reliever. Shaun Marcum’s specialty was the extra-extra-inning game, taking the ball for the final two innings of a fifteen-inning loss on April 29, 2013, at Miami and eight long frames — the thirteenth through twentieth — against the Marlins at Citi Field on June 8 that same year. Shaun’s FIP of 3.64 indicated he deserved better than a 1-10 mark as a Met; his criticism of the sainted GKR booth [4] post-release, however, guaranteed he’d go unmissed in New York. Buddy Carlyle, meanwhile, never showed anything less than happiness to be here, starting with his insertion into the eleventh inning of a thirteen-inning win at Philadelphia on May 31, 2014, that required 5:32 to complete and tested even the good humor of Gary Cohen. Carlyle, whose professional career dated back to 1996, got the win that long night at Citizens Bank, saw his first Opening Day action anywhere in 2015 and saved the first win of the eventual pennant-winning season ahead. Longevity sometimes has its rewards.

87. BOBBY ABREU, 2014
There’s nothing wrong with a dimmed star hanging on until he’s told to let go, and the Mets have certainly provided space on their rosters for players who used to be much better to flicker away. It doesn’t always end with everybody in agreement that the end has come (neither Adrian Gonzalez nor Jose Bautista ever quite retired after the Mets furnished them with what amounted to their respective final moments in 2018). Bobby Abreu, who built a prospective Hall of Fame case with five previous teams between 1996 and 2012, received an exit strategy from the Mets, and Abreu took it. The on-base specialist returned to the field in 2014 after a year’s absence and provided Terry Collins — his first manager, in Houston, eighteen Septembers earlier — a viable lefthanded bat off the bench. On the eve of the season’s final series, Abreu announced this was gonna be it, and on Closing Day, September 28, Bobby went out in style, starting in right and singling in his third plate appearance. Once he reached first, he tipped his cap to a standing ovation and departed for a pinch-runner, the last of his 2,470 big league hits securely in the books.

86. SCOTT RICE, 2013-2014
It happens most every spring somewhere. There’s a pitcher who appears in camp who’s been trying to make the majors forever. He’s not really on anybody’s radar, but he gets a chance, he gets batters out and, with luck and numbers finally on his side, he makes it. That feelgood story came to fruition prior to the beginning of the 2013 season when southpaw Scott Rice, who’d pitched at every level except the highest of them since 1999, made the Mets, a rookie at 31. On April 1, no foolin’, Rice entered the Mets’ Opening Day game at blustery Citi Field and set down the Padres in order in the ninth to seal an 11-2 victory. Scott was no one-day wonder, pitching 73 times in 2013 and 32 more in 2014, earning from Gary Cohen the nickname Scott “Every Minute” Rice. Sometimes it’s the stuff that takes the longest to boil that tastes most delectable.

85. ANTHONY RECKER, 2013-2015
Unless his picture was printed on both sides, it didn’t show up on the back of his baseball card that Anthony Recker was a handsome devil. What did show up was Recker’s predilection for pop from behind the plate, noteworthy for a catcher who didn’t play all that often. Six home runs in fifty games in 2013. Seven more in 58 games in 2014. A couple more as the Mets got serious in 2015. Anthony was a day game after a night game plugger, and he looked damn good filling the role.

84. LOGAN VERRETT, 2015-2016
A ballclub that confidently shapes its five-man rotation is one that knows it better have a sixth starter ready to supplement its efforts. For a team going somewhere at last in 2015, that quintessential spot starter was Logan Verrett, never more so than on August 23 at Coors Field when, with Matt Harvey needing a breather in the year he came back from Tommy John surgery, Verrett elevated his game in the Mile High City. Eight innings of four-hit, one-run ball kept the Mets’ mind-boggling momentum going, as the first place New Yorkers swept the Rockies and took their act to Philadelphia to conclude a road swing for the ages. The next April, Logan proved similarly indispensable, halting a patented Panic Citi outbreak (the Mets had stumbled from the gate 2-5) with another solid outing — 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R — against the Marlins. Starting and relieving, he’d soon build his record to 3-0 as the 2016 Mets refound their footing.

83. RAJAI DAVIS, 2019
The midday ride of Rajai Davis loomed as a nice little story [5]. It became better than that once he emerged from his vehicle. The veteran of thirteen major league seasons and one intensely memorable World Series, yet assigned to Syracuse at age 38, was alerted that he’d be needed in New York. Sitting there in Allentown on May 22, 2019, thinking he’d be playing just another night of Triple-A ball, Davis hauled ass via Uber to Citi Field. The fare was $243. The payoff was a three-run, eighth-inning pinch-homer that assured the Mets a 6-1 win over the Nats en route to a series sweep. Rajai would be traveling back to the minors before long, but he’d also have cause to book a return trip to Queens in time to crush a crucial three-run double that captured an enormous September game from the Dodgers.

82. DEVIN MESORACO, 2018
If they gave out Cy Young Awards to catchers, Devin Mesoraco would have been the same near-unanimous choice Jacob deGrom was among pitchers in 2018. Mesoraco arrived from Cincinnati via a trade of unwanted assets (for Matt Harvey) that May. Besides showing a proclivity for hitting home runs late in games, Devin settled in as the catcher of choice for deGrom as deGrom grew more and more unhittable. The pairing helped result in the lowest ERA by any Met pitcher in 33 years.

81. JASON VARGAS, 2018-2019
(Also a Met in 2007)
The transformation of Jason Vargas from presumably dependable old pro who’d shore up the starting rotation, to possibly the worst pitcher anybody’d ever seen receive start after start, to quietly and rather suddenly reaching the status of “you know, he’s really not that bad” was, in retrospect, a sight to behold. The lefty got few major league batters out between late April and early August of 2018, and his earned run average soared toward a run an inning. But when the Mets visited Williamsport as part of MLB’s embrace of Little League, the man who wore VARGY on his back seemed reborn. Over his final eight starts of ’18, Jason dropped his ERA by nearly three runs. It was still unspeakably high, but improvement is to be applauded at any juncture. Vargas compressed his trajectory in 2019, looking bad at the very beginning, discovering his groove fairly soon and establishing his Met bona fides once and for all by tossing a complete game shutout versus the Giants on June 5. At the end of the month, Vargy sabotaged his well-earned stability, threatening a reporter and essentially punching his own ticket out of town.