Tag Archive for Darin Ruf

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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A Pennant Pandemic

Down by one ace pitcher and the most reliable of their outfielders, the Mets have tested positive for Pennant Fever.

Tyler Naquin appears to vomit into his helmet then look wobblingly unsteady up there at the plate, which may as well be symptoms, as were two walks, a hit, a run, and just one whiff last night. Mark Cahna, Eduardo Escobar and even Mychal Givens appear to have been exposed. And the slumping Daniel Vogelbach seems to have caught something last night too and looked again he that could be our good year blimp.

It’s still rough for Darin Ruf but perhaps the arrival of rookie Mark Vientos will make Ruf touch his own face and forget to wash his hands. Vientos is a right handed masher who has shown fearsome power at AAA Syracuse but the Mets have been wary of his defense. He’s been assigned No. 27 and may appear in today’s starting lineup at DH so you may as well forget the Jets this afternoon.

I caught something too in the form of a gentle rebuke for the cranky tone of the last post. I hadn’t fully realized that the building drama interfered with my Ya Gotta Believeism, either. I conked out before last night’s Seattle-Atlanta game but seeing the result this morning confirmed my case.

Here’s another thing I realized only today. Both of this year’s most exciting call-ups, Brett Baty and now Vientos weren’t even born when this site first went up. That was in 1999, another year where a Mets-Braves September pennant race was pretty sick.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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Those Meddling Kids

It was a dark and stormy night…. First it was Luis Guillorme, then Tomas Nido, then Carlos Carrasco to the injured list, and now Taijuan Walker and Eduardo Escobar are at the least compromised.

In two days, the momentum that seemed unstoppable ground to an abrupt halt, and we’ve been overpowered twice by the Braves who have the opportunity to make back all of what they lost during their humiliating 4-of-5 defeat in New York.

So I finally learned last night who R.J. Alvarez actually is and our first meeting didn’t go well. Same with Deven Marrero. Same also with Michael Perez, the catcher I once thought was on his way to replace an injured Nido, only for a different injury. Nido by the way is dealing with a “Non-Injury Related Illness,” or NORI which is one letter less than COVID as a signifier. Perez wears 35, and knew he wasn’t the first catcher to wear it as I recall John Gibbons wearing 35 in 1986–another eerie parallel to that championship season. I checked the records just to be sure and his debut last night came just one day before Gibbons’ run in 35 began on Aug. 17, 1986–or 36 years ago today. Mike Jacobs and Joe Nolan were also 35 as Met catchers.

We also learned that Darin Ruf is our best emergency reliver but pushing our luck won’t be advisable.

Pretty spooky stuff right? And that reminds me of a remark a few few posts back from the alert reader Jim A who said:

Lost in all of this is the fact that 2022 may be the year of no fewer than FOUR “Phantom Mets”. That is, players who spent time on the active roster, but never got in a game.

#25 – Gosuke Katoh
#71 – RJ Alvarez
#46 – Sam Clay
#15 – Kramer Robertson

Alvarez last night removed himself from that list, still wearing 71, and in my mind enters a category something akin to an “Apparition Met,” being a Phantom Met whose disguise was yanked off him in the top of the third inning last night as though Walker’s back spasms were the gang from Scooby-Doo revealing Alvarez was not a ghost, but a shaggy-haired, bearded relief pitcher about to turn a 0-0 game into 3-0 game via tape-measure home runs and hard-hit balls everywhere, and he’d have gotten away with it were it not for those meddling kids. Marrero was unmasked as a flamed-out first-round draftee of the Red Sox with experience there and as a Marlin whom the Mets added from the roster of the Long Island Ducks in June.

I’ve covered Katoh before and somehow missed both Sam Clay and Kramer Robertson. Clay is lefty reliever who’s done a tour of the NL East’s farm clubs this season being DFAed first by the Nationals then by the Phillies before he arrived as a Met depth guy and remains on the 40-man roster where he’s assigned 46.

Kramer Robertson sounds like a made-up name to me but he’s a journeyman minor league infielder who was assigned 15 and called up to the Mets and DFAed a few days later, and re-signed by St. Louis, making him an Actual Ghost Met and not just a potential one. His number now belongs to Marrero, who is a flamed out one-time First Round Draftee of the Red Sox with experience as a reserve there, Arizona and Miami and whom we scooped up as AAA depth in late June when he was cut loose by the Marlins.

It’s not all terrifying though. Anthony DiComo has already published an encouraging article that suggests the Mets have more pitching depth than it seems, including soon-to-return guys like Joey Lucchesi (47) and Tylor Megill and a fast-moving prospect whose still something of a longshot at least presently, Jose Butto. And Marrero, reports say, is on his way out as the one of the team’s most promising prospects, third baseman Brett Baty, is reportedly en route to Atlanta. Baty was a No. 1 Mets’ draft pick in 2019 and has been compared to David Wright. He’s killing it wearing No. 2 for Syracuse; on the Mets’ 40-man roster, that number belongs to Baty’s current AAA teammate, Dom Smith, which should be frightening if only for Dom and what remains of his cheering section.

Otherwise it’s sunny-side up despite a scary start to a difficult road trip in which the compromised SHaMs face back-to-back tests from their closest two pursuers.

LGM YGB etc.

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Sucker Punched

Nothing to be alarmed about, but now I have a different reason for temporary spotty availability. But while I’ve got the chance to say it I was shocked the Mets didn’t do any more at the trade deadline and underwhelmed with what they did but that it appears to be working so well shows how little I knew, and not for the first time. The takeaway as I see is Billy Eppler and Steve Cohen’s hedge-funded baseball geniuses might know more than me and I should trust them now, or we’ll find out I was right along but now I don’t want to right now.

I never thought Contreras, even as he fit one need rather nicely, being a catcher who could hit, was quite the right solution (catchers are hard to break in the best of circumstances and with Alvarez en route, foolish to put those kinds of expectation on him in the moment). It also tells us the Mets had seen enough of the each of nearly every opening-day best-case-scenario options at DH (Robbie Cano, Dom Smith and JD Davis), have all three failed given the shots they had; but also they saw none of the temp-depth guys (Inciarte, Jankowski, Blankenhorn, Lee, Plummer) belong here at least now.

Plus Tyler Naquin was the last of the three Reds I might have taken soonest (Luis Castillo and Tommy Pham were available too, no surprise).

And that they had a lot more faith in me of the following:

We’d see Jacob deGrom ever again.

That Trevor May would ever resurface. Maybe even Tylor Megill.

That the problem with Drew Smith wasn’t, as I’d suspected, part of the bad luck all around the night Max Scherzer called for the trainer and walked off the mound, when it appeared all Smith could do to resist an inappropriate thing on on a baseball field with 30,000 watching with one of the three Sports Illustrated swimsuit models throwing out a ceremonial first pitch right there between home plate the pitcher’s mound (she seemed to be considering it is all I’d say as a body language interpreter in the Promenade that night). Instead it was some kind of injury, only the kind of injury that makes you give up way too many home runs.

So that’s also why we have Mychal Givens in the bullpen, along with May, and deGrom is in the rotation but I missed most of the game. Givens is a guy whom I know Buck trusted, so you have to think he asked for it too and though so and I’m beginning to definitely trust in Buck. Like Megill, Givens’ first name seems spelled wrong too.

Quick wrapup for these Mets who are unpredictable in all the right ways and went sneaky-smart at the deadline when balls-out was the seeming call to action.

Naquin is hitting the crap out of the ball in 25. Givens is No. 60. Darin Ruf (who seems to spell his first AND last names improperly) was assigned 28 and platooning with Babe Ruth Vogelbach at 32. That Davis-Ruf trade was also a straight-up Uni-Swap and I think the Mets paid more for him and for Vogelbach as I liked Holderman and Davis but I’m not arguing with results.

That was a magical win over Atlanta last night, in a magical year, and they did it while the Braves did seemingly did so much more to prepare. I watched the game last night and wanted nothing more that to be there. That was something, and I was at the Wednesday night Yankees game.

Someday I’ll tell that story.

 

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