Section 518

Where we endeavor to stay positive about the 2011 Mets…

Posts Tagged ‘Chris Carter’

Mets With Presidential Surnames

Posted by JD on February 20, 2011

With Monday being Presidents Day, I thought it would be fun to rank the Mets with presidential surnames. There are 23 of them (although Russ Adams is in camp and played for Buffalo last season, he’s never suited up for the Mets and doesn’t qualify for this list), and I used Baseball-Reference’s version of Wins Above Replacement to rank them in reverse order. I have a feeling that you’ve probably already guessed the top three, but here we go:

23. Paul Wilson (-2.8 rWAR): I’ll admit, this one surprised me. I knew Wilson struggled while he was with the Mets, but I didn’t realize how much. A former number 1 overall pick and member of “Generation K”, Wilson started 26 games for the 1996 Mets, going 5-12 with a 75 ERA+ (and a 5.38 ERA). In terms of rWAR, Wilson’s 1996 is the single worst season by a Mets pitcher. Craig Anderson (-2.0 rWAR, 1962) and Randy Jones (-1.8 rWAR, 1981), are in the discussion, but it’s not really close. Wilson would go on to have moderate success in Tampa (and later in Cincinnati), but he seriously under-performed his hype while with the Mets.

22. Hawk Taylor (-1.8 rWAR): Robert Dale “Hawk” Taylor was a catcher/first baseman/left fielder for the Mets from 1964-67. According to the Wikipedia, Taylor appeared as a pinch hitter in the first game at Shea Stadium on April 17, 1964. This is true, though not especially significant (he struck out, and he wasn’t even the first pinch hitter used: that “honor” belonged to Ed Kranepool). The Wikipedia also credits him with hitting the first pinch hit grand slam in franchise history (against the Pirates, on August 16, 1967). So he’s got that going for him.

21. Darrin Jackson (-0.6 rWAR): Darrin Jackson had to very good years for the San Diego Padres in 1991 and 1992, posting 4.4 and 3.8 rWAR respectively as the Padres made an ill-fated push for the NL West pennant. Jackson was then caught up in the Padres’ infamous fire sale and traded to Toronto for future-Met Derek Bell (and minor leaguer Stoney Bell). It didn’t work out in Toronto and Jackson was traded to the Mets on June 11, 1993 for fellow former Padre Tony Fernandez. Jackson slashed .195/.211/.241 in 31 games for the Mets, which translated into a woeful 22 OPS+ (78% worse than the average outfielder). Jackson left for the White Sox during the following offseason where he rebounded in the strike shortened season (2.4 rWAR).

20. Roy Lee Jackson (-0.5 rWAR): Possessing one of the cooler names in franchise history, Jackson appeared in 40 games for the Mets between 1977 and 1980 (starting 14 of them). He was on the AAA shuttle for most of his time with the Mets: 28 of his 40 appearances came in 1980 (when he was worth 0.1 rWAR). Jackson was traded to Toronto (for Bob Bailor) and had some success for them in 1981 (1.2 rWAR) and 1982 (2.1 rWAR).

17 – 19. Mark Johnson, Chuck Taylor, Billy Taylor (-0.4 rWAR): I’m not going to bother splitting these guys up, but I will add these three comments: 1). When he signed with the Mets, Johnson was one of three active “Mark Johnsons” in MLB. He wasn’t the best, but he wasn’t the worst, either. So there’s that. 2). This Chuck Taylor did not have a signature shoe line. 3). Billy Taylor was involved in one of the worst trades in franchise history, having been acquired for Greg McMichael and Jason Isringhausen. While Taylor was gone from the Mets after the 1999 season, McMichael and Isringhausen combined to produce 1.5 and and 11.8 rWAR in their careers. On a related note, Steve Phillips stinks.

16. Brian Buchanan (-0.2 rWAR): Buchanan was involved in two fairly big trades: the Yankees sent him to Minnesota with Eric Milton, Christian Guzman, and Danny Mota for Chuck Knoblauch, and the Twins later sent him to San Diego for Jason Bartlett. His last appearance in the majors came with the Mets on August 29, 2004.

13 – 15. Sammy Taylor, Tom Wilson, Preston Wilson (0.0 rWAR): Again, I’m not going to bother splitting them up, but I will add three comments: 1). Sammy Taylor actually appeared in 90 games for the Mets in 1962-63. I thought this was a record of sorts until I found that former Met Willie Montanez’ career total was also 0.0, but in 1,632 games. Now that’s impressive. I guess. 2). Tom Wilson was hitless in four at bats (with one walk) for the 2004 Mets. 3). Preston Wilson went on to have a decent career, but I doubt there’s a single Mets fan that wouldn’t have traded him for Mike Piazza.

11. & 12. Chris Carter, Ben Johnson (0.1 rWAR): I’m sure you remember the Animal (I’m going to miss that character. Not much, but still). Ben Johnson was acquired (along with pitcher Jon Adkins) for Heath Bell and Royce Ring. Adkins pitched one (flawless) inning for the Mets and Johnson received 30 plate appearances over nine games. Ring’s bounced around (-1.0 rWAR) but Bell became one of the best closers in the game (91 saves in 111 opportunities, 9.0 rWAR for San Diego). This is probably Omar Minaya’s worst trade.

9. & 10. Bob Johnson, Stan Jefferson (0.2 rWAR): A pair of championship Mets. Bob Johnson of Aurora, IL (Wayne’s World! Party time, excellent!) was a September call-up for the 1969 Miracle Mets, throwing 1 2/3 scoreless innings over two games. That offseason, he was traded to the Kansas City Royals (along with Amos Otis) for Joe Foy in one of the seemingly-countless trades the Mets made for third basemen. Most of the angst in this trade is generated by the loss of Otis, but Johnson had a decent career himself (6.6 rWAR over his next six seasons. In a twist of fate that means absolutely nothing to no one other than this author (and maybe his parents), Johnson played his final major league game on the day I was born.

A native New Yorker, Jefferson was a September call-up for the World Champion 1986 Mets, slashing .208/.296/.375 in 27 plate appearances (over 14 games). That offseason, he was sent to San Diego along with Kevin Brown (thankfully, not the Hall of Fame candidate), Kevin Armstrong, Shawn Abner (the second former number one overall pick referenced in this post) and Kevin Mitchell for Kevin McReynolds, Gene Walter, and Adam Ging. Two September call-ups on championship teams later involved in franchise altering trades. How’s that for a coincidence?

8. Claudell Washington (0.5 rWAR): Washington appeared in 76 games for the 1980 Mets, his only season with the club. I always remember Washington as a Yankee in the late ‘80’s (he had his second-best season with them in 1988), and I kind of wondered why the Mets let him get away. In the long run, it turned out to matter very little: the Mets outfield was more than solid for the rest of the decade.

7. Vance Wilson (2.5 rWAR): This was another surprise for me. Although he wasn’t an offensive superstar in his six seasons with the Mets, Wilson hit well enough (.254/.308/.354) to be slightly above replacement in each season. Wins Above Replacement is a cumulative stat, and he compiled enough steady seasons (in which he did little to help, but even less to hurt) to accrue a decent career rWAR.

6. Al Jackson (4.5 rWAR): An original Met, Jackson was something of a bright spot on some pretty crappy teams. Though never even a league-average pitcher (his highest ERA+ during those seasons was 94 in 1962), Jackson didn’t embarrass himself: he was never worth less than 0.5 rWAR in any given season and was worth 3.1 in 1962. His second stint was less successful (-0.6 rWAR in 1968-69). He didn’t get to see the Miracle Mets reach the promised land in 1969, but he returned to the club after retirement and has held a number of front office positions since.

5. Ron Taylor (4.8 rWAR): Another member of the Miracle Mets, Taylor had a productive run with the club from 1967-71, averaging almost a full win above replacement each season (0.96 rWAR). A spot starter earlier in his career, Taylor was exclusively a reliever with the Mets. He appeared in 269 games and earned 49 saves while never having an ERA+ lower than 94 (his average ERA+ in those years was 115). His post-playing career was also very successful: he graduated medical school in 1979 and became team physician for the Toronto Blue Jays in 1979.

And now, the Mets’ “Mount Rushmore”:

4. Lance Johnson (8.9 rWAR): As Patrick Flood noted, Johnson is “The Trivia Answer”: he holds so many unique distinctions that, as Flood so aptly put it, “If you ever see a Mets trivia question, and the answer could be Lance Johnson … the answer is probably Lance Johnson”. I hated the trade that sent him away, but in hindsight it wasn’t that bad: Johnson accumulated just 0.3 rWAR in his remaining three seasons. It appears as if he emptied his tank in 1996-97. Sure, we had to put up with Mel Rojas, but Brian McRae at least had one decent season and the Turk Wendell experience was pretty awesome, so I guess it wasn’t as bad as I thought at the time.

3. Gary Carter (11.2 rWAR): “The Kid” cracks the top three on our list of Mets with Presidential surnames. Carter was a WAR machine from 1977 to 1985, averaging 6.02 rWAR and failing to top 5 rWAR once (in the strike-shortened 1981 season). His 1986 wasn’t too shabby either (3.8 rWAR), but he fell off a cliff the next three seasons: 0.9 (1987), 0.1 (1988) and -0.3 (1989). Like Lance Johnson, he makes this list because of two excellent seasons.

2. Mookie Wilson (19.4 rWAR): I make no bones about this: Mookie Wilson is one of my favorite Mets of all time, and I’m thrilled to see him make this list. He was like clockwork from 1982 to 1988: he accumulated 17.8 rWAR during these seasons, averaging 2.5 rWAR and never going lower than 1.8 (1982) or higher than 3.2 (1984 & 1986). And, to top it off, he had one of the most pleasant public image I’ve ever seen an athlete have. I have to digress for a moment and share two personal stories about Mookie, one big, one small:

  • 1986 was my first full season as a Mets fan (I only started watching baseball in the summer of 85). On that fateful night, I went to bed at some point during the game. I guess my parents felt that bedtime was more important than the World Series, but I’ve never asked them. And, as a dumb kid, I listened to them and went to bed. Anyway, I have mixed memories about what happened next. My Dad definitely woke me up with the Mets trailing 5-3 in the bottom of the tenth. For a long, long time I thought he did it to let me watch my favorite team’s season end, but for the past ten years or so I’ve had a sneaking sensation (a false memory maybe?) that he woke me to see a bit of baseball history: the Red Sox’ first World Series since 1918. I’ve never talked to him about it because I’m not sure I want to know. But I do know this: what happened next was one of the greatest moments to ever happen to me, and I love my Dad for waking me up.
  • My first game professional game was the second half of a day/night doubleheader against the Cubs. I think it was 1987, but it could have been 1988. Either way, I remember being terribly confused and almost violently upset when the Shea faithful booed as Mookie Wilson lead off in the bottom of the first. My uncle laughed at me and explained that they were screaming “Mooo!” Needless to say, I screamed it at the top of my lungs each time he came to the plate after that.

1. Howard Johnson (24.7 rWAR): Hojo’s 1989 (7.7 rWAR) was a season for the ages: according to B-R.com it was the fifth best season in Mets history, trailing only John Olerud’s 1998 (8.1), Bernard Gilkey’s 1996 (8.1), Carlos Beltran’s 2006 (8.0), and David Wright’s 2007 (7.8). His six-year peak was generally excellent as well: he averaged 4.84 rWAR from 1986 to 1991 and received national recognition for it with three top-10 MVP finishes (including top-5 in 1989 and 1991) and two all-star appearances. And just like that, it was over. He earned just -1.4 rWAR over his final 1,165 plate appearances for the Mets, Rockies, and Cubs.  In a minor coincidence, he left the organization (after they made him wait months for a job offer that turned out to be a major demotion) in the same year that Mookie Wilson returned to it.

And so, to recap:

  • 23 Mets share a surname with a POTUS.
  • There are five Johnsons (Andrew, Lyndon Baines), five Taylors (Zachary), five Wilsons (Woodrow), and three Jacksons (Andrew), two Carters (Jimmy), one Buchanan (James), one Jefferson (Thomas), and one Washington (George).
  • When their careers are combined, the 23 Mets are worth 70.0 rWAR.

Posted in Flushing Frivolities, Mets, Mike Piazza | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Another Domino Falls

Posted by JD on June 21, 2010

As you’ve undoubtedly heard by now, Jenrry Mejia was finally sent down to Binghamton to resume his rightful career path as a starting pitcher (Bobby Parnell will take his place in the bullpen on Tuesday). He logged 26 2/3 innings in the Mets bullpen over 29 games, including a scoreless inning (with one strikeout) in yesterday’s game against the Yankees. Even though he had a 122 ERA+ and accrued 0.3 WAR during his time in Flushing this is undoubtedly the right move: starting pitchers are more valuable than relievers, and the Mets should take the time to figure out whether Mejia has what it takes to be a successful major league starter. Kudos to Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel for finally doing the right thing.

The roster continues to evolve, and in a good way. Ne’er-do-wells Sean Green, Mike Jacobs, Frank Catalanotto, GMJ, John Maine, and Oliver Perez have either been consigned to the Disabled List or released and the Mejia demotion fits in this trend. He wasn’t exactly a liability in the bullpen but the franchise is far better served by allowing him to hone his craft as a starter in the minors instead of eating low-leverage innings in the Mets’ bullpen. We still have to deal with Alex Cora’s steady march toward a vesting option and the DL assignments are a ticking time-bomb (acutely highlighted by Maine’s recent rehab starts), but lately Minaya has been making all the right moves.

I’ll be honest: I feel weird writing that. However, the standings have forced my hand: it’s June 21 and the Mets are 2.5 games out of first place with 95 games to go, and I suppose it proves the cliche that “late” really is better than “never”. We’ll never know how much better off they would be if Ike Davis, R.A. Dickey, Chris Carter or Jesus Feliciano had been on the roster from day one (I suspect they’d have at least one more win, if not two or three), but in the immortal words of former Jets coach Herm Edwards, we can build on this.

What’s done is done. Cora aside, the Mets’ roster is about as about as optimized as it can be at this point. The next step is acquiring a starting pitcher at a reasonable price. If Minaya can do that without stripping the farm system the Mets should at least be able to contend for the Wild Card, which is better than I expected back in February.

***

But I digress…let’s get back to Mejia. The Eastern league plays 140 games in a season and Binghamton has already played 67 games. With 73 games left to play, I figure that Mejia can get 14 starts. If he averages seven innings in each he’ll get approximately 98 innings of work, which would leave him with a season total of 126 innings. That’s a big jump from last season’s total of 94 2/3 innings pitched. There’s some doubt as to whether the Verducci Effect is a reliable predictor of pitcher injuries, but a thirty-plus inning increase should be enough for one year. In other words, hopefully the Mets don’t call up Mejia for bullpen duty when the roster expands in September. The limited benefit would far exceed the possible risk.

***

One final tangent: Mejia will make his first start on “Salute to Boy Band” Night. The sheer awesomeness of the moment is unmeasurable. That is all.

Posted in Ike Davis, Jerry Manuel, Mets, Oliver Perez, Omar Minaya | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Feliciano, Please

Posted by JD on May 31, 2010

Jesus Feliciano is absolutely tearing it up in Buffalo. Named the International League Player of the Week for May 17-23, Feliciano is has a hit in 13 of his last 19 at-bats and has raised his batting average to .403 (as of May 30th). I know I’m going way out on a limb here, but I think the Mets should give this guy a chance as soon as possible.

Calling up Feliciano isn’t going to vault the Mets into first place: he’s a 31 year-old career minor leaguer who is experience the best three weeks of his career as I write this. But it’s not all smoke and mirrors. Yes, his BABIP this season is .396, which is probably unsustainable. He’s due to cool off as his career BABIP entering the season was .310. But based on his numbers with the Zephyrs/Bisons, for whom he’s compiled a .311 average (and .345 BABIP), I think it’s fair to expect him to be a productive player at the major league level.

He won’t hit .400. Heck, he probably won’t hit .300, but considering that he plays all three outfield spots (and even pitched: he has a career 4.35 ERA in eight appearances), he would be an immediate upgrade over GMJ.

I don’t know what the Mets are doing with GMJ. If it weren’t for Oliver Perez, Matthews would be the least productive player on the roster. The difference between the two is a little more $19 million dollars. The Mets still owe Ollie approximately $21 million (about $9 million this year, $12 million next year) and GMJ $1.5 million (about $600,000 remaining this year and $900,00 next year). He’s appeared in 34 games this season, but only has four at-bats in the past eleven games. I’m not advocating that he get more, but why carry him on the roster if you’re not going to use him?

Sadly, this is a good litmus test for the Oliver Perez situation. The Mets have a farmhand hitting .403 who also represents a defensive improvement, yet management refuses to part ways with GMJ, likely due to the roughly $1.5 they owe him. I think it’s safe to say that if they can’t bring themselves to cut GMJ, they’re going to do everything possible to avoid cutting Oliver Perez. Meaning we’ll be stuck with two roster albatrosses for the forseable future.

I see one scenario that could see Feliciano called up: if he can get a few hits through Wednesday, say 6 for 15 or so, uber-wunderkind Stephen Strasburg is scheduled to start against the Bisons on Thursday. If Feliciano enters the game within a few percentage points of .400 and can get a hit or two off of Strasburg, I can’t imagine management leaving him in Buffalo any longer. Of course, it will probably be Chris Carter that gets sent down…

Posted in Mets, Oliver Perez | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Game Recap: Dickey Delivers

Posted by JD on May 25, 2010

R.A. Dickey brought his knuckleball to the mound, and it was the first time the Phillies faced knuckleballers in consecutive games since 1983, when they saw Joe and Phil Niekro. The Mets took advantage and had a (relatively) easy time of it. Here are a couple of notes from today’s game:

  • R.A. Dickey gave the Mets exactly what they needed tonight, but it wasn’t always smooth sailing. He pitched six scoreless innings and struck out seven Phillies, but he allowed seven hits, walked three, and worked out of three bases-loaded jams in the top of the second and third. With the bases loaded and no outs in the top of the second, Dickey induced Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz into a 1-2-3 double play (I love the 1-2-3 DP: I think it looks awesome on a scorecard). However, he walked Juan Castro to reload the bases before getting Jamie Moyer to strike out to end the inning. Then, in the top of the third, he loaded the bases again before getting Raul Ibanez to line out to Jose Reyes to end that threat. Dickey even survived getting drilled on his left (non-pitching) elbow by a Ryan Howard liner. He played with fire but he didn’t get burned, and the Mets got a quality start from their new knuckleballer.
  • Jamie Moyer also allowed seven hits and only walked two Mets, but he didn’t fare nearly as well as Dickey. Jose Reyes led off the game by grounding one “past a diving Polanco”, advanced to second on a Castillo bunt, stole third, and scored on a hard groundout to short from Jason Bay. It was a classic “Reyes run” and the Mets never looked back (Reyes also had an RBI triple in the top of the ninth).
  • Even though Bay’s streak of reaching base ended at eight consecutive plate appearances, his hard hit grounder was enough to score Reyes. He’s still locked in at the plate and producing.
  • Speaking of producing, Jeff Francoeur had three consecutive productive plate appearances. He missed some very hittable pitches in his first at bat but reached out and pulled an outside change-up to left to knock in the Mets’ second run in the bottom of the second. In the bottom of the fourth, he hit a deep sacrifice fly to center field to score David Wright. He then lead off the bottom of the sixth with a double and scored the Mets’ fifth run on a pinch-hit single from The Animal, Chris Carter. Frenchy is still a below-average hitter, but hopefully tonight’s performance will get him started again.
  • Raul Valdes relieved Dickey in the top of the seventh. He struck out Chase Utley and Ryan Howard and induced Jayson Werth to ground out to Wright. He walked Castro with two outs in the top of the eighth but quickly retired pinch hitter Ben Francisco, then hit a two out, RBI double over Werth’s head in the top of the ninth. He would stay in to finish off the Phightin’s in the top of the ninth, giving the rest of the bullpen an extra day off.
  • The Mets scored three consecutive two-out runs in the bottom of the eighth off of ex-Met Nelson Figueroa, highlighted by Valdes’ double and Reyes’ triple. It was a great relief to see them add to their lead: it’s been awhile since they’ve had nice easy win.

It was a nice, easy win, but tomorrow is another day. Your starters will be Joe Blanton for the Phillies and Hisanori Takahashi for the Mets. Hopefully the Mets will keep the pedal to the medal and pick up some more ground in the NL East. Let’s go Mets!

Posted in Jeff Francoeur, Jose Reyes, Mets | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Catching Up

Posted by JD on May 12, 2010

Just got back from a business trip which prevented me from seeing a single pitch of the Mets/Nationals series. Here are some tidbits while I try to figure out whether that was a good thing or not:

  • Eric Byrnes signed with the Cyclones…except he didn’t. Damn. I was hoping it was true if only so seat-buddy Steve would stop arguing that the Mets should sign him for their bench. I understand you want to get rid of GMJ: I do too. But Byrnes (12 OPS+) is actually playing worse than Little Sarge (20 OPS+) with little hope of improving. The Mets should bring up Jason Pridie and stay the heck away from Byrnes.
  • Speaking of former major leaguers with dim futures, looks like it might be time to stick a fork in Kiko Calero. From the Short Hops section of this week’s ESPN New York Farm Report (scroll down) comes news that Calero “allowed 13 runs in 1 2/3 innings in a pair of relief appearances last week”. I thought Calero was a great signing in Spring Training and had (foolish) hopes that he might force the Mets into demoting Jenrry Mejia once he regained his form. Now I’m pinning my hopes on Manny Acosta. Hopefully, Acosta performs well enough that his lack of options forces the Mets to keep him after Ryota Igarashi returns, leading to a Mejia demotion. Yeah, that’ll happen.
  • Chris Carter is now on the Mets and Frank Catalanotto is not. I like Catalanotto (and even advocated signing him), but it just wasn’t working out. Even if we’re only talking about the 25th spot on the roster, it’s past time to see what can Carter can do. Ted Berg sums it up his pinch-hitting debut nicely here and provides some kick-ass video (“The Animal roars into second” indeed).
  • Ike Davis continues to fearlessly dive over dugout railings to snag foul balls and he’s not too shabby with the bat, either. Not much more to ad to that statement. Did I include this bullet just so I could link to those plays? You decide.
  • The Nationals are in second place and off to their best start since moving to Washington in 2005. At 18-15, they’re percentage points better than their 18-16 record that season, which they finished at 81-81. Ryan Zimmerman is healthy, Adam Dunn is rounding into shape (he’s just about doubled his slugging percentage in the past two-ish weeks and currently sports a 143 OPS+), Drew Storen is right around the corner and Stephen Strasburg isn’t be far behind (as I write this, he just wrapped up six no-hit innings in AAA Syracuse). It looks like the Natinals might be hanging around for awhile.
  • Apparently the Phillies are stealing signs. I feel as though I’d be remiss in not mentioning it, but it just doesn’t matter that much to me. Stealing signs has been part of the game for a very, very long time. Is it cheating? Yes, especially when it includes non-playing personnel (according to ESPN.com, this particular scenario featured “bullpen coach Mick Billmeyer…peering through binoculars from the bullpen bench at Coors Field”). But it’s nothing to get worked up over, especially now that it’s been publicized. The Mets should change up their signs, keep an extra eye on the bullpen when they play the Phillies, and take it from there.
  • On a related note, Charlie Manuel tried to deflect the controversy by implicating the Mets. According to Manuel, the Mets must be subjected to the same scrutiny because their home record is so much better than their road record. Yeah, that’s the ticket: they were stealing signs! Forget the Cubs’ pitching woes, the Braves’ brain-freezes, the Dodgers’ general incompetence, and the Giants’ total inability to handle a windy Citi Field: the Mets were stealing signs! I’d be offended if I didn’t love rivalries: anything that adds a level of complexity to an already compelling story line is alright by me. Keep talking, Chuck!
  • Last, but not least, the Mets head down to Ft. Lauderdale to face the Florida Marlins. Here’s a series preview from ESPN New York to get you ready. I must admit that I had my doubts when Adam Rubin moved from the Daily News to ESPN New York, but his coverage has only improved since the switch. The series previews are still excellent, and his Minors Reports are, in my mind, the best single reference point for Mets minor league news. Others may cover the individual minor league teams in more detail, but Rubin summarizes it all better than anyone (and now we get daily updates, too).

And on that note, I bid you adieu.

Posted in Ike Davis, Mets | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

 
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