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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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Wanna Have a Catcher?

Remember that bruise on Kevin Plawecki’s mitt hand from Wednesday night’s game, the one that was declared just a bruise once x-rays were reported as negative? You will when you look for Plawecki behind the plate and see no trace of him. The hand, we learned from the Post’s Mike Puma Friday morning, is broken from the fastball that hit him in the otherwise rousing top of the eighth inning when the Mets were capturing their otherwise rousing eighth win in a row. This shall we say breaking news followed the Mets revealing on Wednesday that Plawecki’s platoon partner Travis d’Arnaud was out with a torn UCL in the elbow he uses for throwing and is probably done for the year.

If you’re keeping score at home, use pencil for “2”.

Exit, once it’s made official, Travin d’Arwecki, and enter, at least temporarily, Tose Nobaton. Or Jomas Lido. However you line them up, the new catching combo is the minor variation on the major league plan. The Tomas Nido half of that you glimpsed when Plawecki left Wednesday night for his x-ray and possibly witnessed sipping coffee last September. Jose Lobaton, presumably aboard an eastbound flight from Vegas, you’ll recall from killing the Mets as a National. Now he gets a chance to make it up to us.

There are also market solutions, one in Miami if the Mets can shake J.T. Realmuto loose from the Marlins’ loose grip on competitiveness. They’ll probably want prospects and stuff for him. Carlos Ruiz is still out there somewhere, I believe. I always liked him despite his being a Phillie, “always” going back some years, which I suppose is an issue. Ruiz is 39, but played solid defense when he was 38 in Seattle. Wasn’t the very recently DFA’d Miguel Montero considered hot stuff fairly lately? Jonathan Lucroy was an ideal free agent target over the winter, but he went to Oakland. That doesn’t help, I realize, but I just wanted to mention that.

The d’Arnaud-Plawecki platoon, conceived from strong 2017 finishes and born of 2018 budgetary finagling, proved an adequate eleven-game answer as long as something absurd like serious injuries to two catchers didn’t materialize in a ten-minute span. Chalk it up to the Mets amid their best start ever to reserve a roster spot for absurdity.

Catchers, huh? We all know the riff on the first Met selected in the expansion draft. Casey Stengel said the Mets went for Hobie Landrith because without a catcher, you’re gonna have a lot of passed balls.

Great line. And apparently timeless.

The Mets have persevered through stuff like this before. Deprived of the services of Jerry Grote in the middle of 1973, they reached down to Double-A Memphis and elevated Ron Hodges. Hodges would make such an impression en route to the World Series that he fastened himself to the depth chart for a dozen seasons. Hodges was still a Met when John Stearns went down for most of two years between 1982 and 1984, a span by the end of which the Mets were again, at last, serious pennant contenders, just as they were in 1973. Nido is up from Double-A, too.

Precedent can take on whatever significance you choose. The Mets were without Todd Hundley entering 1998 and muddled through nearly two months without a legitimate starting catcher. Hell, they more than muddled. They played better than .500 ball with a mélange of Spehr, Castillo, Pratt, Tatum and Wilkins crouching and putting down fingers. The Mets went 23-20 through May 21 sans Hundley; you could look it up. Oh, then, on May 22, they got Piazza and improved exponentially. We’re probably not gonna be able to get a postmodern Piazza, but we also don’t need to improve exponentially.

I’m running out of heartening examples of catchers going down and other catchers stepping up and the Mets doing fine. Maybe Nido is reincarnated Ron Hodges and 2018 adds a charming footnote to its legend already in progress. Maybe Realmuto flies the same South Florida fire sale shuttle to LaGuardia that once transported ol’ No. 31 out of teal purgatory. Perhaps Phil Evans has gotten really good at his emergency skill set since being sent down. He’s an emergency catcher and we seem to have a bit of a catching emergency.

Anything is possible, including us being 10-1. As Mets fan Dan Rather might advise, courage. Meanwhile, best wishes Travin. May you both heal soon for everybody’s sake.

UPDATE: Additional reports indicate Plawecki has a hairline fracture and may not be out more than three weeks. This may be where we see how the new Met injury protocols perform versus the old club standard of magical thinking. Also, Johnny Monell seems to have come marching home, or at least to Las Vegas. Multiple sources report our 2015 backup-backup catcher has signed anew with the organization.

15 comments to Wanna Have a Catcher?

  • dmg

    hairline fracture? whew. it’s not like a catcher has much use for a healthy hand.

  • Dave

    Under the old regime, I would have imagined that the possibly only 2 to 3 weeks for Plawecki’s down time worked out in reality to the need to amputate his hand. But even with our new-found optimism and trainer not named Ray Ramirez, you break your hand, even hairlinically, and you’re back to allowing Noah Syndergaard fastballs to land in it 2-3 weeks later? Sounds ambitious and extremely painful.

    Mets obviously would not be dealing from a position of strength here, so I don’t think we’ll see any major move (and Realmuto is on the DL himself)…unless Sandy wants to address this long term and turn the page on at least TdA. Royals are more or less in a teardown mode…Salvador Perez…??

    • Matt in DE

      Salvador Perez is also on the DL right now…luggage-carrying related injury.

      As catcher wasn’t a huge position of strength offensively (or defensively) to begin with, I am not seeing this as a huge obstacle.

  • Lenny65

    Ron Hodges…man, the things that guy saw….

  • Greg Mitchell

    The comment about Lobaton, maybe, getting to game from Vegas shows again the absurdity of Mets having team out there–not only a super-long haul but inflated batting/deflated pitching stats….

  • Toon15

    Thankfully the absurdity of having a AAA team in Las Vegas is a problem the Mets have already solved. This is their last year in Vegas. Next year, the Mets AAA affiliate will be in Syracuse, NY.

    Apparently they are already selling Mets t-shirts in the Syracuse ballpark this year, even though the Syracuse team is still affiliated with the Washington Nationals for one final summer. I love sticking it to the Nats, even in this meaningless, trivial corner of the baseball world.

  • sonicnewman

    Does this become the last time we see d’Arnaud as a Met?

  • LeClerc

    Marlins short on starters (you might have noticed).

    How about Nimmo (replaces Dietrich in outfield. Dietrich moves back to his rightful place in infield),

    plus Matz plus Nido – a trio for Realmuto ?

    • That’s way too much to give up. I wouldn’t trade Nimmo straight up for Realmuto. Nimmo is going to be an All-Star. Hopefully it’ll be for the Mets.

    • Daniel Hall

      Don’t you dare give up Matzie for a catcher. The Mets seek replacement for a .154 batter that throws out absolutely nobody. I volunteer! So, no need to shed blood like that in a trade.

  • Pat

    Josh Thole is available. The D’Backs released him in the spring. Just sayin.’

  • eric1973

    Hey, if this were the old regime, it’s still only a bruise, and TC has him in the starting lineup today and tomorrow.

    I can watch that film of Cleon to Garrett to Hodges on a continuous loop, and still get chills every single time.

  • Rochester John

    I saw Anthony Recker pop one out against the Rochester Red Wings last year. He’s only

  • open the gates

    Well, if you want another example, the ’86 Mets played for a month with Barred Ly-Hearns sitting (squatting?) in for Gary Carter. Of course, at that point of the season, the Mets would have practically had to commit mass suicide to avoid winning the division.