Should this have been written in 2017? Perhaps. But in an off-season as exciting as this one, it’s hard to find a place for evergreen features.
(First of many sighs.)
Background: I have a trio of binders, long ago dubbed The Holy Books (THB) by Greg, that contain a baseball card for every Met on the all-time roster. They’re in order of matriculation: Tom Seaver is Class of ’67, Mike Piazza is Class of ’98, Noah Syndergaard is Class of ’15, etc. There are extra pages for the rosters of the two World Series winners, the managers, and one for the 1961 Expansion Draft. That page begins with Hobie Landrith and ends with the infamous Lee Walls , the only THB resident who neither played for the Mets, managed the Mets, or got stuck with the dubious status of Met ghost.
If a player gets a Topps card as a Met, I use it unless it’s truly horrible — Topps was here a decade before there were Mets, so they get to be the card of record. No Mets card by Topps? Then I look for a minor-league card, a non-Topps Mets card, a Topps non-Mets card, or anything else. That means I spend the season scrutinizing new card sets in hopes of finding a) better cards of established Mets; b) cards to stockpile for prospects who might make the Show; and most importantly c) a card for each new big-league Met. At the end of the year I go through the stockpile and subtract the maybe somedays who became nopes. (Circle of Life, y’all.) Eventually that yields this column, previous versions of which can be found here , here , here , here , here , here , here , here , here , here , here  and here .)
Anyhoo. Here are your 2017 Mets, in order of matriculation:
Paul Sewald: 2017 began without a single new Met on the roster, which had me gabbing  about how the 2017 club could break the rather odd record set by the 1974 Mets, who featured no new Mets until Jack Aker arrived on June 16. Fans protested the ’74 team was being run cheaply and ineptly — Bud Harrelson broke his hand but was kept on the active roster as a pinch-runner — and it wasn’t much of a stretch to see grim parallels there. As it turned out, the foreshadowing was of something rather different. Sewald was summoned almost immediately and made his debut on April 8; the 2017 Mets would feature a numbing, endless parade of has-beens and most-likely-never-will-bes, making our preseason worries about stagnant rosters seem like hubris. As for Sewald itself, he pitched dutifully and bravely, reminding me of long-ago first-year relievers Joe Smith and Jerrod Riggan. Which is an overly complicated way of saying he was a middle reliever making his debut. 51s card.
Adam Wilk: A veteran roster-filler, Wilk was summoned from Vegas when Matt Harvey did one of the unhelpful/self-destructive/immature things that you now increasingly think of when someone says “Matt Harvey.” He took the mound against the Marlins in the rain, was taken deep by Giancarlo Stanton, and basically never heard from again. As we’re about to see, this is not actually the worst thing that can happen. 51s card.
Tommy Milone: This is the worst thing that can happen. Every team winds up throwing a retread starter to the wolves a few times a year when some starter has a balky something and roster considerations/throw days don’t line up at Triple-A. It happens. Milone was summoned in early May after proving less than useful to the Brewers, pitched tolerably in his Mets debut (a horrifying loss), was terrible in his next two starts and then was shipped off to Vegas. As noted, it happens. But then he came back. You know how the cavalry rides in to save the day at the climax of old Westerns? Tommy Milone returning to the roster in late August was the opposite of that, the plot twist that’s never in those movies because it would be fucking depressing. It was the cavalry being recalled to barracks and the Apaches exchanging surprised looks and then burning everyone alive in the stockade. And it summed up the 2017 Mets perfectly. Years from now, if you need a bit of shorthand for the 2017 season, mutter “Tommy Milone” and watch the other people in the conversation scowl and pull at their beers as if they contain medicine. Milone got a Topps Update card, which in theory was good for The Holy Books but actually just made me madder about everything.
Neil Ramirez: Another thing that happens, except it was 2017 and so it kept happening. Ramirez arrived after neither the Giants nor the Blue Jays could find any use for him, which didn’t exactly fill us with optimism. He then managed to underwhelm those low expectations by being steadily, reliably awful, a metronome of suck that no one seemed willing to turn off. Years ago, the veteran beat writer Marty Noble did a regular Q&A for some digital outfit that got increasingly entertaining as Noble became increasingly crabby. The high point, for me, was the day a Met fan flayed Aaron Heilman for general hangdog tragedy and Noble asked what, exactly, the fan wanted the Mets to do with Heilman — send him to prison? By the time Ramirez was excised from the 2017 Mets roster after nearly two miserable months, prison struck me as a perfectly reasonable destination for him. He got a Topps Update card, which I’d prefer not to admit exists.
Tyler Pill: Middling 27-year-old prospect pitched poorly when called up to a terrible team. Not the outcome anybody wanted, least of all Pill, but it would be pointless and mean to blame him for that. 51s card.
Chasen Bradford: It was never clear whether he wanted to be called Chasen or Chase. By the time it became a question, everyone was too low and numb to particularly care what he wanted. 51s card.
Chris Flexen: Pressed into service as a 23-year-old who was still trying to figure out how to pitch. That’s not his fault; neither are the underwhelming results. It’s entirely possible he’ll return in a year or two as a useful part of the future, in which case it would be kindest to pretend that 2017 was just a bad dream. Some really old Bowman card.
A.J. Ramos: The Mets’ “Wait, we’re buyers?” acquisition, which was confusing. Ramos closed when the Mets didn’t have much to close, and honestly I can barely remember his being around, because I just wanted the torture to be over by then. He spells his name without the periods, but that’s annoying and I refuse to do it. 2017 Topps card as a Marlin, though he’ll have a 2018 Mets card in a couple of weeks. Hooray?
Amed Rosario: It’s tough to be anointed savior of any bad team, and tougher when that happens in New York, where every prospect is a shoo-in for Cooperstown until he fails to hit .300 in his first week, after which he obviously should be given his unconditional release. Rosario finally arrived in August and played 46 games, which didn’t really tell us much. You know what? We’ll talk about him this year. 2016 Bowman card.
Dominic Smith: If nothing else, he’ll be fodder for tons of baseball arguments which are actually about baseball. Smith’s been a divisive prospect since the day he was drafted and managed to be a divisive rookie, flashing impressive power, hitting below .200 and displaying few signs of the soft hands he reputedly had at first base. It’s like some mad scientist fused Butch Huskey with Ike Davis. To be continued. 2016 Bowman card.
Kevin McGowan: Righty reliever. It isn’t actually true that they grow on trees, but it’s close enough. 51s card.
Travis Taijeron: Finally made it to the big leagues and for a while it looked like he would never hit anything, as he started his career 0-for-10 with five strikeouts and showed no particular ability to play the outfield. This ended, mercifully, with a double to left off the Reds’ Robert Stephenson, possibly the last time I clapped in 2017. Whew. Seriously, good for him. 2016 51s card.
Jacob Rhame: Righty reliever who came over, sporting goggles, in the Curtis Granderson trade. Didn’t look ready, probably because he wasn’t. An Oklahoma City Dodgers card that I had to pay a stupid amount of money for on eBay.
Jamie Callahan: Righty reliever who came over, not sporting goggles, in the Addison Reed trade. Looked better than Rhame, though both sample sizes were too small for any responsible conclusion. A Salem Red Sox card that I had to pay a stupid amount of money for on eBay.
Nori Aoki: This seemed like a pointless transaction: the Mets added a veteran outfielder who had no future with the club. And in the larger scheme of things it probably was pointless. But Aoki arrived after Outfielder A’s hamstrings exploded and Outfielder B became a Dodger and Outfielder C became an Indian and Outfielder D’s arm flew off on a swinging strike and became a souvenir for the 7 Line (I’m probably forgetting an E and F in there but honestly it doesn’t matter) and by then everything was so so so painful that it turned out having a professional player competently play the outfield was better than having some poor wet-behind-the-ears kid get booed by 3,000 sullen fans, whatever that poor kid’s future might be. 2017 Topps card as a Mariner.
Phillip Evans: Daniel Murphy isn’t dead — in fact, he’s alive and well and beating the ever-living shit out of us 19 times a year as a Washington National. Still, you could be forgiven for wondering if the Mets had somehow reincarnated him in the form of Phillip Evans, an awkward-looking player without a position, unless being able to really hit counts as a position. Of course, if the Mets could reincarnate players they’d a) be advised to animate a new Strawberry or Piazza instead of trying to replicate Murph’s weirdo career arc; and b) they’d send Sandy Alderson out to piously explain why reincarnation wasn’t the right course of action and then glare at people who asked if the Wilpons weren’t actually just too cheap to pay the electric bill for the Player Reincarnator. 51s card in which it looks like Evans is about to be injured by a grounder.
Tomas Nido: Ah, the caboose transaction in which the team looks done with rookie auditions but then calls up one more dude, usually a glove-first shortstop or an extra catcher. Nido was the latter, which can be perilous. Randy Bobb never got into a game in 1970, though he did have Cub cups of coffee, while Joe Hietpas avoided ghostdom by catching the final inning of 2004. According to legend, poor Billy Cotton got as far as the on-deck circle in 1972, only to see the batter in front of him hit into a debut-denying double play. Nido avoided that fate by getting into a game on September 13; a day later he collected his first hit, a single to left off Felix Pena at Wrigley Field. Approximately two minutes later, he reached third on an awkwardly fielded bunt, tried to score and was apologetically tagged out by Pena about 25 feet from home plate, ending the ballgame. Perhaps in a few years Nido will be an All-Star catcher and able to laugh about that one. Or perhaps he’ll shrug and say, “it was 2017, y’know?” And we will. Oh, we will. Bowman Chrome card.