Mets passed on Jason Marquis pretty early

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Jason Marquis, 31, turned in an impressive 15-13 record, 4.04 ERA and 1.38 WHIP last season in 33 starts for the Rockies and set out in search of a lucrative free agent contract this winter.  He made it known early on — in mid-November, in fact — that he wanted to play for the Mets, a team he grew up rooting for as a native of Long Island, New York.

“There’s definitely interest there,” Marquis said of the Mets five months ago. “We’ll see what direction they want to go.”

The Mets made some initial contact with Marquis, but never pursued an actual deal.  The right-hander explained the situation Saturday while donning a Nationals uniform in Viera, Florida.

“I wanted to come home to New York to play in front of family and
friends — you’ve got people on your side,” he said. “Washington showed
aggressiveness. They wanted me. … I wasn’t expecting anything [from the Mets], [But] it was very
disappointing when we didn’t hear back from them.”

Perhaps Mets general manager Omar Minaya made the right move by holding off on Marquis.  After all, he had an ugly 4.57 ERA and allowed 97 hits in 92 2/3 innings after the All-Star break last season and was left out of Colorado’s postseason rotation.  Still, isn’t it odd that Minaya and Co. cut off contact so quickly?  It’s not like the club is rolling out a bunch of sure-fire aces this year.

Another interestingly named player is promoted by the Pirates

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When you promote a player from the minors, the first and foremost consideration is whether or not he can help your ball club. But, assuming that’s taken care of, teams should really, really make it a priority to call up dudes with cool sounding names because it makes life more interesting for the rest of us.

The Pirates are doing that. The other night Dovydas Neverauskas made his big league debut. In addition to being the first Lithuanian born-and-raised player in major league history, it’s a solid, solid name. Now the Pirates are making another promotion: Gift Ngoepe.

Yep, Gift Ngoepe. He’s an infielder from South Africa, making the leap to the bigs due to David Freese‘s hamstring injury. Ngoepe, 27, was batting just .241/.308/.379 through 66 plate appearances this season with Triple-A Indianapolis, his ninth in the minors, so he’s not exactly a prospect. But man, that’s a killer name.

It’s also worth mentioning that Gift and Neverauskas were arrested together in a bar fight last August in Toledo, so there is already a good basis for some bonding here.

Good luck, Gift. Gift Ngoepe. Mr. Ngoepe. G-Ngo. Man, I could do this all day.

Manny Machado teaches us to never give up

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The Rays beat the Orioles last night, but the play of the game belonged to an Oriole defender.

Evan Longoria was batting and he chopped a ball foul down the third base line. At least it started out foul. As we all know, however, it doesn’t matter where the ball starts, it matters where it is when it crosses the bag.

Manny Machado knows this and didn’t give up on the ball despite it starting several feet in foul territory. He watched it come back, stayed with it and threw out Longoria who, unlike Machado, did give up on it, assuming he’d merely get a strike and another hack. Watch:

Longoria would get Machado back, however, fielding a ball Machado smoked to third base in the ninth inning, recording the second to last out of the game.