We are Pham-i-lee

Catching up on recent Mets news, the club signed outlaw/outfielder Tommy Pham to a one-year deal and lists him wearing No. 28, which is unfortunate for Darin Ruf who’s the incumbent reserve outfielder/DH who also wears 28. Pham’s been a bit of an inconsistent performer who’s been moved around a bit; I thought he might have been a candidate to acquire last summer when he played for the Reds, but he wound up going to Boston instead.

Pham’s worn 28 with St. Louis, San Diego and Cincinnati so in the rare event he and Ruf both make the club I’d guess Pham takes 28.

You can probably search the archives of this site and find me advocating to move Jeff McKnight McNeil, who seemed at times unhappy and miscast, but I’m pleased to have been proven wrong. He signed a four-year extension this week that’ll keep him in blue and orange through age 35 and heightens the chance he, along with Brandon Nimmo, will be long tenured one-team-only Mets.

Barring injuries, Nimmo will no doubt overtake Todd Hundley as the club’s most prolific No. 9 of all time–he’s still about 1 season’s worth of games and at-bats behind Hundley and already leads all 9s in on-base percentage and runs scored.

McNeil’s shot at uni number immortality would seem to be the best three-numbered Met of all time. Ron Darling probably holds that title today.

 

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Over the Top

What if things go wrong now? Will they trade Eduardo Escobar or turn him into a designated hitter? What of the young players like Brett Baty and Mark Vientos?

I’m not here acting like I saw this fiasco coming but Carlos Correa just became to Met infielders what Carlos Beltran was to Met managers.

And so, despite Steve Cohen proclaiming we needed another bat “to put us over the top” it looks like Escobar and Baty are what we’ll get in 2023. I have no problem with that. A right-handed designated hitter (Andrew McCutcheon?) might still make sense but better off not being locked into a dozen years of a $300 million injury risk.

 

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Feliz Narváez

Despite being handed a seemingly critical role for the 2023 Mets, Omar Narváez hasn’t gotten the try-on-the-jersey-for-the-cameras business yet.

Thanks in part to the merciful jettisoning of James McCann, the Venezuelan vet will presumably be our starting catcher most nights while serving as a sensei to a young Venezuelan catcher, Francisco Alvarez. Longtime reader Stu below brought up the question of what Narváez would wear; he was 10 the last three seasons in Milwaukee, but spent three years wearing 38 for the White Sox and one year in Seattle wearing 22.

As I tend do when these questions come in I check to see what guidance the Mets’ official roster would provide and the answer is often inconclusive. But in this case it’s also weird. The roster page lists Narváez as 10, as it does Eduardo Escobar who wore it last year and remains a Met for now. But when I click down on Escobar, look what comes up:

 

 

I’d like to think the Mets have folks working hard as me making this accurate but I’m sure some AI software glitch is to blame. I don’t think the Mets are giving away 5 ever again.

As to Narváez it looks like the available numbers are 2, 7, 15, 16, 18, 25, 29, 30, 33, 40, 43, 44, 45, 46, 48, before we get into the 50s. Alvarez may want one of those lower numbers himself. It’d be cool if Narváez gets 15, and Alvarez takes 16, while Escobar stays in 10.

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Correan War

Woke up this morning to the shock that the Mets had given a 12-year contract to Carlos Correa, the free agent infielder who’d almost signed with the Giants for 13 years but for an unnamed injury concern. That solidifies 2022-23 as the most spectacular offseason the Mets have ever had and worries me a little because I’m a worrier at heart. What if things go wrong now? Will they trade Eduardo Escobar or turn him into a designated hitter? What of the young players like Brett Baty and Mark Vientos?

There was something satisfying to the 2015 Mets with so many homegrown players, now we’re down to Brandon Nimmo, Jeff McNeil and Pete Alonso, I think. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not about to complain, it’s just a thought. Most of us I’d say were ready to go to war with what we had 24 hours ago is all I’m saying.

In addition to Correa, who looks likely to take No. 4 belonging most recently to Terrance Gore, the Mets dressed Kodai Senga in No. 34. I’m excited about him, like I’ve been with most of the imported newbies. He’s also going to be a key figure for this team.

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Would You Dare?

Japan’s Kodai Senga is reportedly en route to Flushing as you know, and he’ll be wearing a different number than the 41 he rocked while a member of the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks. I think there’s a good shot he winds up wearing 18, a number traditionally associated with Ace pitchers in Japan, and happens to be available since Nick Plummer departed.

One other available number comes to mind: 48. Do you think the Mets ought to mothball Jacob deGrom‘s number, or give it away? deGrom is a special case of his class of pitchers. Steven Matz‘s 32, Matt Harvey‘s 33 and Noah Syndergaard‘s 34 all found their way onto other guys’ backs pretty rapidly. Me, I’d be okay if the Mets reissued 48 but would feel better were it for an organization comer and not some reliever who bounces between Syracuse and New York.

Is there an appropriate period of time before you’d issue it again? One full season seems appropriate. By then at least the Rangers will have won the World Series.

Thoughts?

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Zimmo!

I couldn’t be happier the Mets were able to retain Brandon Nimmo, who was something of a small superstar last year and a rare centerfield commodity on the market. His 8-year deal would practically assure he stays a Met throughout his career even if he’s destined to wind up in left field.

The Mets also added veteran reliever David Robertson to a 1-year deal, shoring up a bullpen that appears to be losing Trevor May, Seth Lugo and maybe also Adam Ottavino though it doesn’t appear that any of those palookas have a deal with someone else yet. But Trevor Williams just signed with Washington. Drew Smith will be back.

The new bullpen will have a bunch of new faces. There’s John Curtiss who was signed last offseason, spent 2022 recovering from elbow surgery, and still hasn’t been assigned a number.

Also on the 40 are brief visitors from last season Bryce Montes de Oca (63), Yoan Lopez (44), and Stephen Nogosek (85). Plus new guys awaiting number assignments: Jeff Brigham, Zach Greene (pinched from the Yankees in Rule 5), Stephen Ridings (waiver claim from the Yankees); Brooks Raley (trade with Tampa Bay), Tayler Saucedo (waiver claim from Toronto), and William Woods (waiver claim from Atlanta).

Elieser Hernandez might fulfill the Trevor Williams role. He came over with Brigham from the Marlins in a skirt-Rule-5 trade that cost the Mets fancypants prospect Jake Magnum.

The Mets already list Robertson as No. 30–that’s been his figure for most of his career and supersedes what we were discussing below about Raley taking 30. As pointed out in the below comments, Raley is now listed in 43, most recently belonging to unforgettable infielder Yolmer Sanchez.

 

 

 

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The Replacements

Here’s a quick exchange with friend of MBTN Dave on Twitter.

I confess to being somewhat ignorant of the 11-year career of Jose Quintana other than his involvement in a big trade between the White Sox (where he was an All-Star in 2016) and the Cubs, who coughed up the then big prospect Eloy Jimenez to get him. He’s a lefty from Columbia who’s worn 62 or 63 throughout his career which included subsequent stops with the Angels, Giants, Pirates and most recently, the 2022 Cardinals where he wore 62 and 63, not certain in which order. Here’s a fun fact: He was originally signed as an amateur free agent by the Mets. Now he’s essentially Taijuan Walker‘s replacement. I liked Walker, now he’s a Philly. Diabolical.

So let’s say Quintana keeps 62, and Drew Smith changes to something he prefers.

The Mets you may have seen made another deal, coughing up a lefty minor leaguer Keyshawn Eskew to the Rays for lefty reliever Brooks Raley. Raley who wore 30 last year with the Rays — but neglected to wear a pride patch and didn’t bother to get vaxxed — looks to be this year’s Joely Rodriguez. Joely wore 30 too.

I gotta say I’m not too excited about this guy.

 

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Cy Old

It didn’t take long for the Mets to address the vacancy of Jacob deGrom as Steve Cohen threw a pile of money at Cy Young winner Justin Verlander who joins 38-year-old Max Scherzer at the top of the rotation. Verlander will be 40 next year so I’m tempering my expectations while still fretting over the prospect of retaining or replacing Brandon Nimmo, securing a reliable designated hitter, and making sure the club has a rotation that’s young enough and deep enough to count on. Carlos Carrasco, the current No. 3 starter, will be 36. Then you’ve got the relatively unproven arms of Tylor Megill and David Peterson. Another arm would be nice.

Verlander will be the first Mets 35 of any substance since Dillon Gee (2010-2015) even though eight guys have worn it since him, most recently the emergency catcher Michael Perez.

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Exes in Texas

If you believe the reports there wasn’t anything that could have been done to prevent Jacob deGrom to fulfill his childhood dream to play for the Texas Rangers, which I always thought to be one of those teams who every so often bang a fist on the desk and insist they win a free agency lottery.

As wonderful a player as deGrom was–and he was awesome from the start–he was also inscrutable and frustrating. Even his injuries were mysterious, and it hurts that he turned his back on us like it did when Darryl Strawberry departed, albeit with a more obvious chip on his shoulder. Let’s say deGrom is departing with a chip on his elbow.

I can only imagine how Steve Cohen will take this bit of news but I’m preparing for one or two big strikes on the free agent market. I’m not a big fan of 40-year-olds, but Justin Verlander is out there; a decade younger but with a spottier track record in Carlos Rodon, then there’s the promising Japanese League import Kodai Senga with whom the Mets have reportedly met in person. I could see the club sign two of the three and bring back Chris Bassitt too.

Meantime the Mets continue to collect obscure castoffs that might make for bullpen depth or sixth starters: Most recently ex-Ray Jimmy Yacabonis; and Denyi Reyes, formerly of Baltimore.

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Going, Going, Dom

Dom Smith, who on his best days looked to be a challenger for Pete Alonso and on his worst an AAA outfielder/first baseman who couldn’t fulfill the glaring need for a left-handed hitting DH, was nontendered by the Mets last night, ending a career with the club that started as a first-round draft pick in 2013. Smith was tossed aside along with Sean Reid-Foley, the bulldoggish reliever who came over from Toronto in the Steven Matz trade.

Dom Smith departs as the Mets’ all-time leader in home runs among guys who wore No. 2 (with 21, surpassing Marv Throneberry‘s 16!) but it should be remembered that Smith spent the early part of his career wearing 22 where his 25 jacks rank a distant third to Kevin McReynolds (122) and Donn Clendenon (45).

You could make a case that Smith was the Mets’ all-time No. 2 but Mackey Sasser is the best compiler (most plate appearances, most RBI and the highest batting average). Free-agent Justin Turner would be third. Of the brief visitors let us not forget Juan Uribe, though my all-time No. 2 remains Bobby Valentine.

Reid-Foley was released while undergoing rehab from Tommy John surgery. Smith had his own injury woes over the years including a famous sleep disorder and an ankle sprain. The acquisition of Daniel Vogelbach and his more cost-effective salary sealed Dom’s fate.

These moves came as the Mets shore up the fringes of the 40-man roster which as of now has just 33 guys, so there’s a lot more to come, presumably more impactful than the quintet of DFAed relievers they’d also recently acquired. They are William Woods, a righty fringe prospect from the Braves; two former Marlins arms, righties Elieser Hernandez and Jeff Brigham; Stephen Ridings, a towering righty from Long Island who pitched last for the Yankees; and Tayler Saucedo, a lefty snatched from the Blue Jays. None of these guys have assigned numbers yet. Hernandez and Brigham cost the Mets a low-level prospect in hard-throwing Franklin Sanchez.

They Mets made no moves to protect their eligible prospects from the forthcoming Rule 5 draft–outfielder Jake Magnum seemed the likeliest–but it would seem the Mets could add this way if they so chose while keeping an eye on resigning or replacing dudes like Seth Lugo, Jacob deGrom, Brandon Nimmo, Chris Bassitt, Taijuan Walker and Adam Ottavino.

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