Archive for Who Is This Guy

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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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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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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