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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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Roster Churn: A Fabricated Oral History

CHAPTER 92: STOCK, NOGOSEK & HARTLIEB

Following the Mets’ heaven-shaking, seven-homer, eleven-inning 15-11 triumph on Monday night July 19, their active roster didn’t have time to settle down. Dave Jauss, running the club during Luis Rojas’s two-game suspension, had announced in the aftermath of that historic victory — it was the only the second time the Mets had ever won, 15-11 — that Robert Stock would start the next night, July 20. In the hours leading up to first pitch Tuesday, it was confirmed Monday’s starter, Jerad Eickhoff, would be designated for assignment to make room for Stock. Eickhoff had given the Mets three-and-two thirds innings, in which he allowed seven runs, albeit only two of them earned.

EICKHOFF: I need all the help I can get out there. Suffice it to say my defense didn’t give it to me.

LUIS GUILLORME, infielder: Usually I wear a glove. That night I wore a frying pan, I guess. Three errors…I swear I never did that before. Can you apologize to Jerad for me? I feel really bad.

JAUSS: Luis had developed a reputation as a good fielder. He was just having one of those nights. Gosh, that was a tough move, having to let Jerad know the organization couldn’t find a spot for him. Honestly, he didn’t pitch that badly. He just caught some bad breaks.

EICKHOFF: I caught the next plane out of town is what I caught. Guillorme probably would have missed that, too.

The DFA of Eickhoff, his second of the season, marked the eighth designation for assignment of a 2021 Met directly off the active 26-man roster.

JAKE HAGER, utilityman: I was DFA’d after a week. We were on the road the whole time. I hear I set a record for Mets who never played a home game: five games, all away from…what’s the name of their stadium again? Doesn’t matter. Whatever it’s called, it’s a long way from where I wound up in Tacoma.

CAMERON MAYBIN, outfielder: The most embarrassing part of being DFA’d is when 29 teams say ‘”no thanks, we don’t need that guy for basically nothing.” To be fair, I had hit basically nothing for the Mets. Even still.

WILFREDO TOVAR, infielder: That’s right. I was on the Mets in 2021. Wow. I’d forgotten.

TRAVIS BLANKENHORN, infielder: I wasn’t DFA’d, but I was optioned a couple of times, including after I hit a big home run in Pittsburgh in a really wild comeback victory. I didn’t even make it to Cincinnati the next night. How is that even possible?

BILLY McKINNEY, outfielder: They told me it was a numbers game. I put up numbers for them, but I was out of options, so “designated for assignment” it was. Whatever, dude. Call my agent, y’know?

The ink on the Eickhoff-for-Stock transaction was barely dry when the Mets surprised those who follow them closely by announcing infielder Jose Peraza was going on the injured list minutes before the Tuesday game.

PERAZA: Did ya ever? I hurt it turning a double play during that 15-11 craziness. First I lose playing time when McNeil comes back. Then I think maybe I’m gonna get some when Lindor goes out. At the very least, I’m the dangerous hitter off the bench. Now I’m on the IL. No chance I’ll get lonely there.

The placement of Peraza on the injured list marked the 26th different time the Mets transferred a player from the active roster to the IL in 2021. That didn’t even count players who’d had yet to have played for the major league club during the season.

JOSE MARTINEZ, utilityman: I can play first. I can play outfield. But when you get hurt in Spring Training, nobody knows what you can play. I’m surprised you even remembered me.

DELLIN BETANCES, relief pitcher: That’s right. I was on the Mets in 2021. Wow. I’d forgotten.

JOEY LUCCHESI, starting pitcher: Do the guys still make the churve gesture with the fingers? That was so cool. Do you know if I still have a locker at Citi Field? I left some stuff there before going on the IL. Man, that might not’ve been a good idea.

Taking Peraza’s place on the roster would be Geoff Hartlieb, a pitcher rather than an infielder, called up to reinforce the Mets’ overworked bullpen.

HARTLIEB: That’s H-A-R-T — no “e” — L-I-E-B, “i” before “e.” And Geoff with a “G” and an “o” in the middle, which isn’t how most people spell it. When I was a kid, I used to take a lot of ribbing from the other kids. At first, I thought it was in good fun. But you know how kids can be. To be honest, I’m still a little traumatized.

Stock and Hartlieb represented half of the contingent of pitchers the Mets had brought up between their weekend series in Pittsburgh and their next stop in Cincinnati. On Monday night they had promoted Anthony Banda, who the Mets had acquired from San Francisco to little notice at the beginning of the month, and Stephen Nogosek, a reliever who’d last pitched for New York in 2019.

BANDA: I replaced Jacob deGrom on the roster. Got that? That makes me the new Jacob deGrom! I’m gonna ask for a raise! Geez, I shouldn’t even kid about that, should I? I’m sorry, that’s blasphemy. There’s only one Jacob deGrom. My thoughts and prayers are for his speedy recovery from his tight right forearm. Just put down that I was happy to be here. Can we start over?

NOGOSEK: You’re starting at my mustache, aren’t you? I’d appreciate it if you…yo, my eyes are up here. C’mon.

When Stock was handed the ball in the bottom of the first at Great American Ball Park, he had been staked to a 1-0 lead, thanks to a solo home run off the bat of a resurgent Pete Alonso, still sizzling from his win in the previous week’s Home Run Derby.

ALONSO: Man, that was so sexy winning the Derby, then hitting some bombs in Cincy. But the main thing is I just wanted to get runs on the board for…oh, help me out here. I’m sorry, but I have a hard time keeping track. Eickhoff was the night before, right? Did we still have Yamamoto had that point?

JORDAN YAMAMOTO, starting pitcher: He said that? Damn, I hadn’t pitched for the Mets since like May. Geez, Pete, get a clue.

ALONSO: No, I wanna get this on my own. Szapucki? Oswalt? OK, I give…Stock? That was my next guess, seriously. Raymond Stock is a totally good dude. What’s that? Robert? That’s what I meant. Robert Stock. Totally good dude.

STOCK: Cincinnati’s a tough ballpark to hold a lead in. To be fair, every ballpark seems like a tough ballpark to hold a lead in to me. Have I even pitched with a lead? To be honest, I’m just repeating what I’ve heard some of the other guys say.

Stock gave up a run in the first on a leadoff homer to Jonathan India, but worked around further trouble. He came up to bat in the top of the second with two runners on and two out.

STOCK: This is the league without the DH. I keep forgetting which is which. Anyway, I was pretty excited to get my cuts. And I made contact. But then I forgot about the running to first and by the time I remembered, I felt something.

Stock injured his right hamstring in making the third out of the second inning.

STOCK: If I’d known that’s what we were supposed to do — swing, hit, run — I would have practiced the whole thing as a set. I have to blame the commissioner. He makes it easy to forget which league is which. I’d really hoped to pitch a second inning.

Once Stock’s injury became apparent, Jauss had to go to the Mets bullpen early, the third time in three days that was the case for New York’s exhausted pitching staff.

JAUSS: We prepare to have our players prepared for all eventualities. Nevertheless, you don’t want to pick up the phone that quick during a game.

ROJAS: I was watching from my hotel room when I saw Dave and everybody gather on the mound around Stock. “Oh, I know what that is,” I thought. Let’s just say the hospitality staff needed to refill my minibar a couple of times after that.

The unexpected exit of Stock meant the even more unanticipated entrance of Nogosek. The mustachioed righty had registered a 10.80 in seven appearances for the Mets two years earlier.

NOGOSEK: You’re gonna describe me as “mustachioed” or some shit like that, aren’t you? I get it. I’ve got a unique look. It works for me, I believe. It distracts the hitters. And, I’m not gonna lie, I catch myself in the mirror and say, “all right, Nogo.”

EICKHOFF: Steve probably catches himself in the mirror better than Guillorme catches grounders. No, I’m not bitter.

Despite no notice, Nogosek retired the Reds in the bottom of the second and then struck out the first two batters he faced in the third before Joey Votto and Aristedes Aquino took him deep in consecutive at-bats.

NOGOSEK: Stock said something like Cincinnati’s a tough ballpark to hold a tie in, and he wasn’t kidding. He’s a wise man. No shame giving one up to Votto, though. Even without a mustache, he’s a monster.

ALONSO: Man, that was some sweet pitching that guy with the mustache did. Not Megill. Not Tropeano. He was like two weeks ago. Was it the guy with the hyphen? No, I think he’s injured. Who? Yeah, Nogosek! That was totally my next guess.

Nogosek gave the Mets three innings in all, applying a tourniquet to the Mets’ pitching woes. New York was down, 3-1, when Jauss turned to Yennsy Diaz.

JAUSS: Yennsy gives us a different look, yes he does. Hey, his name is like that old song, “Yes, we have no bananas, we have no bananas today!” I never noticed that before. I gotta tell my wife that one, though she probably noticed it before I did. She’s a sharp cookie.

DIAZ: I’m not Edwin. I’m not being humble. It’s bad enough the fans think I’m Edwin. They’re not too crazy about Edwin and I’m the one who has to hear about it.

While Yennsy Diaz kept the Reds from increasing their 3-1 lead, the Mets’ bats had gone cold against Cincinnati starter Wade Miley, who hadn’t given up any runs since Alonso’s first-inning homer.

ALONSO: Oh, that dude was nasty. I don’t have to know his name, though, right? I mean he’s on the other team. I’m not as good with names as I am initials. LFGM!

The Mets trusted the sixth inning to Hartlieb, who became the 33rd player to make his Met debut in 2021, the 54th player to play for the Mets on the season and the 1,144th player overall in franchise history.

STOCK: Somebody threw those numbers at me when I came up to pitch against Milwaukee. All I know is I gave up one run in one inning at Cincinnati and my ERA stayed below nine. But that’s only if you include the time I pitched for the Cubs against the Mets. With the Mets only, it’s below six.

PATRICK MAZEIKA, catcher: I really liked being on the Mets. I hope I get to be on the Mets again. They tell you Syracuse is part of New York, yet I haven’t had a decent slice since I got here.

JOHNESHWY FARGAS, outfielder: I figure if I work hard, keep my head down, do all the right things, I have a chance…what do you mean they DFA’d me Monday? What the [indecipherable]?

BRANDON DRURY, utilityman: That’s right. I was on the Mets in 2021. Wow. I’d forgotten.

HARTLIEB: I once asked my parents why I couldn’t have a normal name. They told me not to worry, that Geoff is a very nice name, and if the other kids have a problem with it, well, that’s their problem. I was getting into fights every other day in gym class with those jerks who teased me with “Geoff can’t spell his own name!” Thanks, Mom and Dad.

FARGAS: He said what? Play me the world’s smallest violin, Geoff. I’m Johneshwy, I’m DFA’d and now I’m really [indecipherable].

Hartlieb notched two scoreless innings versus the Reds, holding the fort while the Mets closed the gap to 3-2 when Votto mishandled a throw at first base.

NOGOSEK: HA! Serves that fucker right for ruining my night. No, he’s a good player. A real credit to the game.

EICKHOFF: I got an alert on my phone at the airport that the Mets pulled to within one because of an error. TSA had to check me for bitter irony. I thought I disabled those alerts once I got DFA’d. Must’ve been Guillorme screwing with my settings. Like he didn’t do enough for me on the field Monday.

GUILLORME: I swear it was nothing personal. It was just a bad night and a clubhouse prank I’d forgotten about.

After Hartlieb’s successful Met debut, he was replaced by established Met relievers Aaron Loup and Drew Smith, both of whom threw 41 pitches on Sunday. Each man still looked tired, but the Reds managed only one more run versus the duo.

LOUP: Get this — I’m one of only six Mets who’s been on the active roster since Opening Day. And, y’know, I pretty much just got here. It’s a dizzying business sometimes, but I really appreciate the trust the coach staff has in me.

JAUSS: Between you and me, I just picked up the phone out of desperation before the eighth and waited for somebody to answer. It was Aaron. I did the same thing in the ninth and got Drew. We’re out of arms. I hope Zack [Scott, the Mets’ acting GM] is aware.

ROJAS: Those little bottles in the minibar pack quite a punch. I wonder if they call it the minibar because the bottles are miniature.

Despite the bullpen mostly coming through across eight innings of work, the Mets’ offense could never quite get the big hit they needed to pull even. Guillorme doubled in James McCann in the eighth, but a leadoff walk to Dominic Smith in the ninth led nowhere and the Mets bowed, 4-3.

JAUSS: It’s a funny game. Not that funny when you lose, but still pretty funny. One night we whack seven homers, and that’s a day after we come back from six runs down. Then, we have no pitching to speak of, yet the pitching carries us, but the hitters can’t quite connect. This managing was fun, though, even if we couldn’t win ’em all. Good guys. First place. I get to slide next to Luis again and whisper in his ear for a living. Not bad, huh?

ROJAS: You drink enough of those little bottles, you forget why you were suspended. You can’t drink too many, though, because the next game’s a day game sometimes.

TOMMY HUNTER, relief pitcher: I’m still on the Mets, aren’t I? I mean not on the Mets like on the Mets, but they didn’t DFA me while I was rehabbing, did they? Tell ’em I’m still alive, would ya? The only thing I’ve gotten from them since I went on the IL was an official-looking letter that started “Dear Mr. Hildenberger,” which I don’t think was meant for me.

TREVOR HILDENBERGER, relief pitcher: That’s right. I was on the Mets in 2021. Wow. I’d forgotten.

10 comments to Roster Churn: A Fabricated Oral History

  • Eric

    Yep, pretty much. Clutch Peraza out for who knows how long with a broken finger? Naturally.

    A frustrating habit of this Mets team is the offense not doing its part in unexpectedly well pitched games from back-end or emergency starters or in this case an(other) unplanned bullpen game. 4 runs allowed isn’t a gem, but it was better than expected and should have been good enough to win.

    Stroman complete game today, please.

  • Seth

    No Luis, it’s called a minibar because the bar is really low — all the more confusing as to why it seems you can never reach it.

  • mikeL

    wow greg if that wasn’t THE funniest post of the season – not that you didn’t have a lot to work with ;0]

    and a nice distraction to the current state of the team and the season.

    like the comic who had ’em absolutely *rolling” in the aisles as the titanic was starting to list…

    seth commented about pitching staff glass half full yesterday…not noticing the crack that was about to release it all…

    does strohman DARE leave the game before the final out tonite?
    well luis is back…so yes

  • chuck

    I find it entirely ironic that Nogosek (wait for the irony) gets to say “shit” and “fucker,” but nowhere in the piece (and I swear, I C&P’d the text and searched) does the word “pornstache” appear.

  • open the gates

    Greg, you definitely had way too much fun writing this post. And thank God for that, because the subject matter is anything but funny. It’s either laugh or cry time.

    And by the way, I don’t put any of this on Luis Rojas. If the Mickey ‘n’ Brodie (‘n’ Jeff) show was still in town, we’d be about 50 games under .500 by now. If anything, I think Steve Cohen needs to have some severe conversations with the strength and conditioning staff. There’s gotta be a reason that this ridiculous amount of injuries is happening, short of Ryan Church putting a hex on the team.

  • Daniel Hall

    Cameron Maybin had been on the 2021 Mets. Wow. I’d forgotten.

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