A flurry of fast-vanishing minor league palookas have inhabited the bullpen lately. We’ve seen Edwin Uceta (64), Zach Muckenhirn (71), and Dominic Leone (50), not to mention emergency starters Jose Butto and Denyi Reyes. Leone appeared so suddenly he beat the transactions column.
While inputting some of these guys I realized I’d neglected to mark the end of their predecessors like RJ Alvarez for Muckenhirn and the unforgettable Nate Fisher for Uceta. Early May seems too soon to be this deep into bullpen depth, but these guys are churning already. Only Leone is still up, now that Tommy Hunter and Stephen Nogosek are back from injury.
I’m not certain how the Mets shake themselves out of this malaise but more consistent work from the top three in the lineup would a place to start. They gave off “Worst Team Money Can Buy” vibes this week in Detroit.
As uninspiring his outings have tended to be, losing Carlos Carrasco to elbow problems is not what the Mets needed right now, seeing as they’ve already got two dudes in the rotation who might not have been in the blueprint, since Jose Quintana and Justin Verlander have yet to appear. Is Joey Lucchesi the next to appear? I’m not sure.
Last night (I didn’t stay up to watch) Jeff Brigham made his first Met appearance and struck out the only two guys he faced. Brigham came over in a small offseason trade with the Marlins and has some experience with them. He’s the immediate solution for Carrasco till his turn in the rotation comes up.
Also with the big club now are Edwin Uceta, who came up along with Brett Baty, when Tim Locastro went onto the disabled list. Uceta, whom the Mets acquired on a waiver claim from Pittsburgh, has been issued No. 64.
The new beach towel attached to the sleeves of the Mets jersey looks even worse on the road, doesn’t it? Fortunately the Mets look a little better than that.
A 10-game West Coast road trip has gotten off to a promising start on Oakland although the Mets experienced the first roster churn of the year when Stephen Nogosek went down with an injury and Max Scherzer‘s start was delayed.
In Nogosek’s spot is Jimmy Yacobonis, whom I saw throwing in the bullpen yesterday wearing 42 in honor of Ron Hodges Day but who looks likely to turn up in the same 73 he wore in spring. That would appropriate for the 50th anniversary celebration of the Swingin’ A’s World Series championship being held in Oakland today. The Mets by the way aren’t going to bother with an Old-Timers day this year.
Adding Yacobonis to the 40-man roster meant designating the out-of-optins Dennis Santana for assignment; he looked okay to me so hopefully he clears and accepts a Syracuse appointment. Pitching instead of Scherzer this afternoon is Jose Butto who we saw briefly last year wearing No. 70.
You wonder if this isn’t some psychic damage from having lost Diaz and Quintana and Verlander at inopportune moments, but the Mets look awful in Milwaukee so far.
Last night if you could bear to watch you saw Max Scherzer give up a buttload of hard hit balls and get relieved by Denyi Reyes, who was making his Mets debut. Reyes was in because Tommy Hunter went to the injured list after himself getting beaten up the day before. Reyes, who was signed as a minor league free agent and has a few innings of MLB experience with the Orioles, was wearing 72, last seen on the back of Jake Reed last season.
You’re bound to get thumped a few times over the course of a long season but you’d prefer they not be in a row during the season’s first week. It makes you look unprepared and that’s a thing that has to rankle Buck. Let’s hope they get out of Milwaukee with some dignity and a winning record.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!