Archive for Who Is This Guy

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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Whole-Assed to the Finish Line

The biggest series in years starts tonight and with a surprise: Francisco Alvarez is batting 7th and wearing No. 50.

Alvarez is the fourth and we can assume final right-handed attempt at DH this year, and is no doubt energizing Met fans who’ve seen JD Davis, Darin Ruf, and now Mark Vientos try and fail. Alvarez is the biggest fish they’ve got and it surprised me.

Alvarez is considered the Mets’ top prospect and possesses the big-assed build of a catcher. He would be the first 50 to squat behind the plate for the Mets, if and when he gets there. He’s also the first non-pitcher to wear 50 in 17 years: Victor Diaz was last, but let’s hope Alvarez has some Benny Agbayani in him.

I regret to have failed to mark the arrival of Vientos here but little actually changed. Now is the time. Very exciting…

Let’s Go Mets!

 

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Mountains of Geese

Here we go again.

The Schwinden-of-the-Moment is Bryce Montes de Oca, a name even more distinctive than the guy he succeeded numerically, Rob Zastryzny. Translated, the name Montes de Oca means “Mountains of Goose” which if you’re feeling optimistic could suggest Bryce could be a bigger version of Rich “Goose” Gossage, a Hall of Fame reliever who like Montes de Oca, throws hard.

Bryce as you may have seen is a giant of a guy, listed at 6-foot-7, 265, and he fired a few 100-mph pitches last night. He’s also not just any brute but the valedictorian of his Kansas high school and a U of Missouri product who at one time was rated a top-100 draft guy but whom the Mets got in the 9th round of the 2018 draft because he’d had a ton of injuries including a Tommy John so he was something of a Powerball lottery pick.

Montes de Oca, whose father was born in Cuba, is the third guy to wear 63 this year, after the Polish duo of Zastryzny and Thomas Szapucki were spit out. He’s been more walkable than hittable over his minor league career and everything but his uni number looks promising if he improve his control. Were it up to me I’d issue Montes de Oca a more intimidating number, like 98 or something, so as to avoid the Fate of Schwindens.

Montes de Oca got the call when Trevor May caught COVID. The other September call-ups are Deven Marrero (again) and Adonis Medina (again). Medina didn’t have much last night. Let’s hope Max Scherzer is OK.

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Bush v. Gore and Mazeika v. Mazeika

Terrance Gore, I guy I only knew because he once wore No. 0 for the Kansas City Royals, is your newest Met, taking the roster spot of Brett Baty who injured a thumb and can’t be counted on to return to the bigs this year even if they say mid-September.

Gore is 31 and spent most of his career in the bushes. He last appeared in MLB in twon games with the Dodgers in 2020. He most recently belonged to the Atlanta organization and was signed by the Mets as a minor league free agent in June. He looks more destined to be used as a pinch runner than a pinch hitter and is outfitted in No. 4, which freed up when Patrick Mazeika was signed away by San Francisco where he currently toils in their minor league organization.

I’ll remember the Zeeker for his accidental walk-off dribblers leaving him shirtless and Gatorade soaked, his goggles and beard. And for being the Mets’ all-time leader in every category among those who wore No. 76, as he was the first and only. But this year’s change to 4 made remarkably little difference:

No.  AB  R  H  HR  RBI  BA  OBP  SLG 
Ma76ieka (2021)  79  6  15  1  6  .190  .253  .266 
Mazie4a (2022)  68  4  16  1  6  .191  .214  .294 

In other comings and goings: Yolmer Sanchez was DFA’ed then sent to AAA Syracuse, Connor Grey was optioned back there without making an appearance, Tommy Hunter, David Peterson and Eduardo Escobar are all back.

I was at Tuesday’s game which was a disappointment to say the least. If Buck had listened to me he’d have had Lindor try and squeeze home Marte on the first pitch in that first inning. But nothing worked until Cahna’s home run, which drew a gasp from the crowd. I don’t know if it was where I was sitting but the fan energy wasn’t high that night either. Nice to follow up with a solid win yesterday, setting up this afternoon’s showdown.

 

 

 

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Frewsberg’s Finest

I have no idea who Connor Grey is.

My trusty assistant Google then revealed: Frewsberg Native Connor Grey Called Up to the New York Mets, only then I didn’t know where Frewsberg was and had to look THAT up. It’s way out in Western New York; the nearest big city is Erie, Pa. The article was actually quite informative and kudos to author Matt Spielman on a nice piece of small-paper breaking news journalism. Here’s the nut graf.

Grey, who was issued uniform No. 72 by the Mets, was drafted in the 20th round, 599th overall, by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 2016 MLB draft after a four-year career at St. Bonaventure University. In six seasons in the minor leagues, he went 34-27 with a 4.24 ERA and 461 strikeouts in 516 innings pitched. If he appears in a game, Grey would become the 11th Bonnies alum to appear in the majors and first since Danny McDevitt, who played for the Kansas City A’s in 1962.

New York thought highly enough of Grey to grant him one of their eight coveted spots in the Arizona Fall League where he went 1-2 in six appearances, including three starts, for the Salt River Rafters.

So Grey is definitely a Schwinden and could see action tonight especially in Taijuan Walker‘s recent back spasms necessitate long relief. He’d be the first 72 since Jake Reed was lost in a DFA move to Los Angeles in July, and the 7th 72 overall. The first, Carlos Torres, made my day when he “liked” my Tweet back in 2015. (Phillip Evans now holds the title with 10 hits).

Grey’s ascension came as the Mets activated Tomas Nido from the COVID list and DFA’ed fellow Schwindens Rob Zastryzny and Nate Fisher.

Let’s try not to linger on that disappointing loss to the Yankees last night. Mets were flat.

 

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They’re Snakebitten, Baby

That was some game yesterday, and some series, and some season series with the Phillies. If I hadn’t said it already, Philadelphia are exactly like just about every edition of Wilpon Era-led Mets club, good enough to pretend they will contend, but invariably cut too many corners to get there, then think, “Boy did we get unlucky or what?” every time they are humiliated by a team with fewer problems and a better approach. If Fred Wilpon owned the Phillies, he’d have watched that game and remarked “We’re snakebitten, baby.”

I’m not going to recap it, just note that Sunday’s win came while we met new Mets: Jose Butto, the rookie who wore No. 70 and looked right away like he was doomed to an embarrassing defeat only wasn’t; and Nate Fisher, a lefty they invented in time to provide three innings of scoreless middle relief to mount the first big comeback. He wore 64.

How obscure was Fisher? Now that players and personalities dominate the game, his profile page looks like this.

Butto, as mentioned before, was a prospect of some renown at least among the Mets. He’s been something of a stealth prospect but geeks like you and me knew something of him and the only revelation I’d had was seeing his body language and motion for the first time (only on highlights for me I listened to most of the game while waxing the car, and doin other Weekend Dorky Dad activities in the garage. Howie and Wayne were great. I tuned in when it was already 4-0). Butto’s a strong burly guy who doesn’t throw as hard as his body type would suggest and looked very much like a competitor.

Fisher as everyone knows by now was an undrafted prospect who signed with the Mariners, was released when COVID cancelled the 2020 MiLB season, became a banker in Omaha, hooked back up with Seattle in 2021 and was signed as a Minor League free agent with the Mets last offseason. He was primarily a starter at Syracuse and wouldn’t have been an option, presumably, had Steven Nogosek not gone onto the DL after his stint earlier in the Phillies series.

Both these heroes will be rewarded by being sent back down soon, I would presume, before Round 2 of the Mets-Yankees series begins Tuesday tonight! LGM!

 

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To Dwindle or Vanish: A Short History of Every Met 63 Ever

The first Met in history to wear No. 63 was Chris Schwinden, a righthanded starting pitcher of middling stuff often described nicely as “organizational depth” and not-so-nicely as a “Class AAAA,” synonyms both for a guy who is useful only when the parent club needed an arm in a pinch but was never really considered a part of the long-term plan. Because baseball is unpredictable, and the nature of Met Fandom and Met Ticket Sales are both deeply embedded in the notion of “Ya Gotta Believe” the Mets would rarely describe guys like Schwinden as “not a part of their future,” though, even if its obvious to the team, the fans and even the player.

If nothing else, the name “Schwinden” strikes me as a strong German word. I looked it up only to find it was indeed German in origin and translates as a verb meaning “to dwindle, decrease, shrink or vanish,” and that’s the perfect description of every Met 63 ever. This was also true the last time I wrote about 63 a year ago when I said:

Sixty-three is a number for longshot midseason minor league callups whom you hope to get a few innings out of when the team is banged up or there’s a spate of rain make-ups ahead, and not a real player.

Now I have an even better description and my own new addition to the MBTN vocabulary: A Schwinden is a player who dwindles, shrinks, decreases or vanishes. So far, all 63s are Schwindens.

It holds up. It started with Chris Schwinden, a 22nd-round draft pick who was called up for the first time in September of 2011 and made four appearances which as I recall were in line with a guy who met modest expectations of a decent short term solution, and after three more appearances in 2012 (up and back on two separate occasions as a limited-time replacement), he was DFAed, passed between three other organizations who also DFAed him in the space of one month (Blue Jays, Indians and Yankees) only to wind up back with the Mets organization, but by then the Mets had already found a new Schwinden and though no one knew it at the time, Chris Schwinden had already pitched his final MLB game on May 30, 2012. Unlike 2011, Schwinden effectiveness shrunk, dwindled and decreased in 2012, hit hard in each of his three appearances that year.

Preliminary research on LinkenIn indicates a guy named Chris Schwinden also residing in Schwinden’s hometown of Visalia, California, today is a Service Technician at San Joaquin Pest Control. His name will always be important here, as not only the club’s first-ever 63, but as a word to describe any organizational pitching depth product who dwindles, decreases, shrinks or vanishes. That’s just what 63s do.

Next up was Gabriel Ynoa, a Dominican righthander who was a middling prospect who had his all three of his Mets appearances in 2016 including a victory in his first one, only to dwindle: He was sold to the Orioles over that offseason, for whom he had a short career.

Tim Peterson was a right-handed reliever and a 20th-round draft pick who was called up for the first time as the Mets faced a period of highly disappointing play in 2018. He lasted longer than any 63 in games and innings and is the career leader in just about every meaningful statistic including wins (2), and career ERA (5.91), which tells you something about Met 63s, making him the current Greatest Met 63 Of All-Time. Peterson started 2019 with the Mets but lost his job and never pitched for them again the same day the Mets traded for Brooks Pounders, and Peterson left that offseason as a free agent to the Angels organization for whom he never appeared.

It was just as well Tim Peterson vanished when he did because by then a better Peterson, David Peterson, was about to arrive.

Lefthanded starter Thomas Szapucki for a time was among the organization’s brightest prospects (No. 5 rated in 2018), and by far the most promising Met ever to don the No. 63 jersey. But his itinerant and brief Met career only proved that by the time he arrived he had already dwindled, decreased, and shrunk, before he vanished only weeks ago in the J.D. Davis-Darin Ruf trade. This cannot even be argued. He was blasted in his very first appearance in 2021, coughing up 6 earned runs and seven his in 3 2/3 innings of relief in a 20-2 battering by the Braves after which he was sidelined by an injury. When he returned this year, he made two appearances and was hit hard in both. He carried a 18.78 career ERA upon his trade to the Giants, where he’s currently pitching in relief but had also spent time at the Class AAA Sacramento club.

That brings us to yesterday’s surprise reliever, Rob Zastryzny, who pitched one full inning (2 outs in the bottom of the seventh and one out in the bottom of the eighth) and was responsible for the Phillies fourth and final run due to a triple surrendered to Kyle Schwarber who later scored in the 8th). He and Szapucki together create a subset of Met 63s with Polish surnames. We’ll watch closely to see which emerges as the best of those two.

* * * *

As predicted, Yolmer Sanchez was recalled and made his first appearance, and Deven Marrero (15) was designated for assignment. Sanchez appeared in 43 which is unusual for position player (he’s only the sixth all time–Ted Schreiber (1963), Billy Beane (1984 only), John Gibbons (1985 only), Todd Pratt (1997 only) and Shane Spencer (2004) are the only others. This goes without saying but any subset of Mets in which Shane Spencer is the best Met is a world of opportunity, though it doesn’t appear Sanchez is the guy to topple any of Spencer’s 43 all-time offensive records like home runs (4) and RBI (26) despite how modest they are. Who’s the guy with most at-bats as a Met 43 overall? Pitcher Jim McAndrew. Who’s the best 43 of all-time? R.A. Dickey.

We discussed in the comments of the previous post my theory of why Sanchez chose 43 and that’s because it ends in “3” and he’s Venezuelan infielder. They all seem to want to wear 13 if it’s available; ironically it’s not because Sanchez is essentially replacing a Venezuelan descendant who already wears 13 in Luis Guillorme. How sad he’s injured.

Also outta here via DFA are R.J. Alvarez, who’s already back at AAA Syracuse. Reliever Sam Clay followed Alvarez to “Apparition Met” status, appearing in his first game and wearing No. 46 and subsequently reassigned to AAA Syracuse between games of the doubleheader, making room for Zastryzny in Game 2.

Gotta win today behind Jose Butto, who is expected to make his MLB debut in a few hours. We’re into that depth I’d mentioned only a few days back. I don;t know his number yet but I’ll guess… 45.

 

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Why R.J. Alvarez Is A Half-Used Chap Stick and Thomas Szapucki Is Foreign Currency

We’re at a point in the Mets’ season where the injuries have piled up and so have the solutions, and my own failure to keep up has made the Mets roster resemble a junk drawer. You’re looking for something and you find an old watch, coins from a foreign country that you don’t collect, a half-a-dozen half-used Chap Sticks, leftover business cards from a job you no longer have, various pens and pencils, cheap earbud headphones that may or may not work and you definitely don’t want to stick back in your ear to find out.

What I’m trying to find in this drawer are the available numbers, so let’s start by gathering up the half-used Chap Sticks, or the guys DFAed in the flurry of recent and not-so-recent moves that I’d failed to completely catch up on.

Into the ziplock bag have gone designated-for-assignment Mets Travis Blankenhorn (27), R.J. Alvarez (71) , Patrick Mazeika (4), Jake Reed (72), Kramer Robertson (15), Chasen Shreve (43), Travis Jankowski (16), Yennsy Diaz (64), and Nick Plummer (18), making those numbers available. I put them in a ziplock because some have already latched back on line in the organization (like Jankowski and maybe Mazeika) so it’s not like their numbers are likely to be reassigned at least right away. Some Chap Sticks however went directly to the trash if they’ve already latched onto another organization (like Jake Reed) or been released (like Yennsy Diaz).

Those foreign coins I can’t spend and don’t collect are now in a separate pile reflecting number changes I’d failed to account for or through looking for additional free numbers are failed to realize till now. For example the database never reflected till now that Mazeika ever wore 4, I fixed that, or that Mason Williams was still “current” at 70, and forgot to note that Thomas Szapucki (63) was traded in the Ruf deal. No longer.

The used business cards are coaches who are tricky to get into the database due to a design error we haven’t yet fixed between the awesome Ultimate Mets Database, where I record and store these records (Note to self: Eric Chavez 51, Craig Bjornson 52, Glenn Sherlock 53, Wayne Kirby 54, Jeremy Hefner 55, Joey Cora 56). That’s because data is generated when players appear in games and coaches don’t appear in games…. We’re working on that and have a longterm solution in mind that will make both the data easier to find and also easier to display.

I’m doing all this clearing out in anticipation of meeting Yolmer Sanchez tonight in Philadelphia. Sanchez is a switch-hitting versatile reserve infielder who spent most of his career with the White Sox but whom was just DFA’ed by the Red Sox. He’s expected to joining the club tonight in Philly where another consequential series begins that’s even more important since the Braves gained much of what they lost when a compromised Mets squad lost 3 of 4 this week. That also means that Deven Marrero is about to turn into a Chap Stick, and the 24 hours of fans moaning and groaning on Twitter when they learned he was up and Baty wasn’t was a colossal waste of time and energy because too many people on #MetsTwitter are ignorant and don’t know it, which is one reason I’m cleaning my junk drawer this morning instead of wasting time on Twitter.

Now I have a better organized drawer and can say for sure that, barring any other changes, the available Met numbers as of now are:

  • 4
  • 7*
  • 8*
  • 15 (almost assuredly)
  • 16**
  • 18
  • 27
  • 43
  • 45
  • 50
  • 58
  • 63
  • 64
  • 66

And that, Sanchez will most likely appear in 15 or 18. My money’s on 15. The junk drawer is nearly clear.

*-Unlikely to be issued because they appear to be in number retirement limbo

**-Unlikely to be issued pending a September roster expansion

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First Impressions

Just a quick update here to tell you something all of us already know: The Brett Baty thing was a thing, and it couldn’t have gone better. He wore No. 22 which I also had associated with him because as noted in the comments below by Gene (and confirmed by Matt), he wore 22 in Binghamton and knew also that finding him assigned 2 in Syracuse seemed unusual to me, but only because I didn’t know how recently he’d been assigned there but it was much less that I thought. I also knew he was considered something like Wright but seemed to have been surprised then to find he batted lefthanded. I can adjust for that a little and say he also resembles a young Robin Ventura.

The other thing I’ll mention here is that I’m old and decrepit enough to have a specific memory that Benny Ayala became the first Met ever to hit a home run in his first at-bat and that means I actually have been alive and paying attention to all five.

No. Player Date Details Fun Facts
18 Benny Ayala Aug. 27, 1974 Solo HR 2nd inning off LHP Tom Wilson at Shea. Mets 4, Astros 2 Ayala was traded to St. Louis on March 30, 1977 for a minor league infielder Dog Clarey, a day after it was revealed that GM Joe McDonald had been driving while intoxicated when his car collided with a bus a few days earlier. McDonald said he hadn’t been drinking prior to the accident but had drinks the night before. He said he was out to pick blueberries to put on breakfast cereal when the accident occurred the following morning.
 20 Mike Fitzgerald September 13, 1983 Solo HR, 2nd inning off RHP Tony Ghelfi at Veterans Stadium. Mets 5, Phillies 1 The pitcher who surrendered Fitzgerald’s mighty blast, Tony Ghelfi, never pitched in another MLB game. It was only his third appearance in one.
 25 Kazuo Matsui April 6, 2004 Solo HR, top of the 1st off RHP Russ Ortiz at Turner Field. Mets 7, Braves 2 Matsui knew how to enter a room. Not only was his first hit a home run, his first pitch he saw he put over the fence. He’d twice more hit a home run on opening day, including in 2005 (2-run HR off ex-Met Paul Wilson of the Reds) and the following year, an inside-the-park home run off Jake Peavy in Petco Park.
27  Mike Jacobs Aug. 21, 2005 Pinch-hit for Juan Padilla, 3-run HR, bottom of the 5th, off Esteban Loiaza at Shea. Nationals 7, Mets 4 Jacobs’ home run saved his place on the roster and he would hit .310/.375/.710//1.085 through the end of the year. He’d later be a key piece in the Carlos Delgado trade.
22 Brett Baty Aug. 17, 2022 2-run HR, top of the 2nd  off Jake Odorizzi at Truist Park. Mets 9, Braves 7 Baty was a 12th-overall pick. His parents and sister had driven from Texas to be in the park and were on camera as he hit it. Be on the lookout for a MLB “Enjoy The Show” commercial like they made from this one.

 

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