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Date: Tuesday, 16 Sep 2014 03:54

Marlins 6 Mets 5

The game couldn’t have started out better for the Mets, and couldn’t have finished much worse.

Mets Game Notes

Jacob deGrom tied a modern record by striking out the first 8 batters of the ballgame, and the Mets jumped out to a 2-zip lead in the initial lead. With deGrom cruising through six frames, it seemed the game was in the bag for the Mets. Certainly, no one would have predicted the eventual final score based on what was seen in the first six frames. But, that’s the beauty of baseball, right? Anything can happen, and things can change in an instant.

Of course Jordany Valdespin hit the two-run single to tie the ballgame in the 7th. Of course Reed Johnson hit the sac fly to untie the game a few minutes later.

Credit the Mets for fighting back after the Fish took over the lead in the 7th, though, much of their success was due to a rare off-night for A.J. Ramos. Unfortunately for the Mets, Jeurys Familia also had a rare off-night. Though, it’s not like the Marlins were crushing Familia; rather, they poked a bunch of Daniel Murphy-like hits against him. They merely stuck out their bats and made contact, and the ball found spots to fall safely. It happens.

Are the Mets the only team in MLB who are shorthanded in the bullpen right now? How is that possible? Rosters can expand to the full 40, yet the Mets don’t have any extra arms. Is this because they are nickel-and-diming and not calling minor leaguers up to avoid paying them a MLB salary? Is that really possible? Can’t be.

Josh Satin still thinks he has a better view of the strike zone than the home plate umpire. Does he realize it’s embarrassing to strike out looking on a pitch over the middle of the plate, and then bark at the umpire?

Can we all agree that the camouflage Mets uniforms are not just ugly, but downright FUGLY? For the kids, what I mean is “Frankenstein ugly.” For the adults, you know what I really mean.

Next Mets Game

Mets and Marlins do it again at 7:10 PM on Tuesday night. Bartolo Colon faces Nathan Eovaldi. For what it’s worth, the Fish have lost Eovaldi’s last six straight starts.

Author: "Joe Janish" Tags: "Mets 2014 Games"
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Date: Monday, 15 Sep 2014 16:22

Nationals 3 Mets 0

Nationals 10 Mets 3

Mets 4 Nationals 3

The Nationals mathematically eliminate the Mets from winning the NL East. At least the Mets didn’t get swept.

But before we go any further, a question: have you already formulated an opinion on the Mets season? Or do you need the final 12 games to judge 2014?

Mets Game Notes

Friday night I was busy pouring wine in Boston. Saturday I was driving back from Boston and then working another event that evening in NJ. Sunday afternoon I chose to spend the gorgeous afternoon on a bike ride rather than sit inside and watch a Mets game (I guess I wasn’t buying into the idea that these were meaningful games). So there isn’t anything for me to discuss specifically about what happened in the ballgames.

With a dozen games left — half of which are against the Nationals and Braves — the Mets are 72-78. There’s a really, really good chance they win at least two of those final twelve and at least match last year’s 74-88 record. If they go at least 6-6 through these final two weeks, their record will be 78-84. If they go 12-0, they’ll finish 84-78, which could mean a second-place finish but might not mean a Wild Card spot (though, the possibility does remain).

There are a number of different ways these final dozen games can go for the Mets, and I’m curious: will you judge the club based on what happens between now and the end of the season, or have you already formulated your opinion?

Let me put it this way: let’s say the Mets completely tank and lose all 12, or at least 9, of these final games — will their resulting losing record change your perspective on who they are and what they accomplished (or didn’t accomplish)? And in the reverse, if the Mets win 10-12 of their final games, and finish with a winning record, will it change your view of the season compared to where they are today?

Or, have you already decided what this club is / was in 2014, based on the first 150 games?

Sound off in the comments.

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Marlins begin their final series against each other of the season at 7:10 PM. Jacob deGrom faces Jarred Cosart.

Author: "Joe Janish" Tags: "Mets 2014 Games"
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Date: Friday, 12 Sep 2014 05:47

Nationals 6 Mets 2

Mets play a team that doesn’t stink.

Mets Game Notes

There was a brief discussion by GKR about open and closed stances, and Gary Cohen asked why closed stances were so common back in the day, while today we see more open stances. Keith Hernandez‘s theory was that people are more cognizant of getting their dominant eye facing the pitcher, and also that open stances tend to promote pulling the ball, ergo, more homeruns. I agree with Keith re: the dominant-eye issue being part of it. However, I also feel that stances today aren’t so much “open” as they are “even,” and that’s a function of what we’ve been able to learn about the most efficient swing over the past 30 years, thanks in part to slow-motion video technology. Further, the reason we saw so many closed stances in the old days is because it was a way for batters to protect themselves — remember, ear-flap helmets didn’t become required standard issue until 1983, and helmets of any kind weren’t popular until the late 1960s / early 1970s. Back in those days of flapless helmets, hitters learned — at a very young age — how to get out of the way of the baseball. The safest, most efficient technique is to turn the head back toward the catcher and squat down, if there’s time. Pitchers threw inside MUCH more often prior to about 1990, so needing to get out of the way of pitches was as much a skill as knowing how to bunt or hit and run. With an open stance, it’s harder to make that turn back to the catcher. With a closed stance, you’re already halfway there.

Speaking of hit batters, considering the way the game is run today per the instruction of BeelzeBud Selig, I didn’t see a problem with Bartolo Colon getting ejected for plunking Jayson Werth — mainly because Colon ALSO plunked Ian Desmond (which looked to me like it was intentional) in the first inning immediately after Adam LaRoche‘s two-run homer. Further, home plate umpire John Tumpane made Terry Collins‘ job easy by tossing Colon — he was not pitching effectively, and likely was leaving the game soon, anyway. Instead of thanking Tumpane, Collins had himself ejected, to show that he was standing up for his pitcher.

Does Anthony Recker hit a home run every single time he starts? He reminds me of Todd Pratt in that way.

Dario Alvarez reminds me of Pedro Feliciano, circa 2004. I could see him hanging around as a LOOGY if he throws a slider every single pitch.

In other baseball news happening in New York, former Met Chris Young broke up a no-hitter and hit a walkoff, three-run homer to push the Yankees over the Rays. Of course he did.

Do we need to discuss much else? I’m tired.

Next Mets Game

Mets and Nationals do it again at 7:10 PM on Friday night. Dillon Gee faces Gio Gonzalez.

Author: "Joe Janish" Tags: "Mets 2014 Games"
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Date: Thursday, 11 Sep 2014 16:03

Leigh Castergine’s lawsuit against Mets COO Jeff Wilpon is unlikely to be settled quickly. We may be looking at the beginning of a long, financially draining case.

There are at least two interesting stories written today, one by Jeff Passan and another by Craig Calcaterra. Calcaterra’s take is particularly interesting because he is a former attorney who specialized in employment cases (hat tip to MetsToday reader “Matt T“).

After reading the Calcaterra piece, I reached out to a currently practicing attorney specializing in employment law and discrimination cases — Robert Tandy, Esq., who handles all aspects of employment law litigation, from the initial stages of investigation and discovery through trial. He has extensive experience in a wide variety of employment law issues, including discrimination, sexual harassment, hostile work environment, whistleblower rights, retaliation, and wage & hour issues. Robert represents employers and employees providing him with significant insight to the decision making processes of both groups. He regularly provides training for supervisors and managers, as well as non-supervisory employees in all areas of employment law.

All that said, I think he’s qualified to answer a few questions related to this story. Here is the quick Q&A:

JJ: Do you agree with Calcaterra’s opinion that “…this suit looks like it could be a big, big problem for Jeff Wilpon and the Mets.”? Why or why not?

RT: Any lawsuit has the potential to be a “big, big problem” for a defendant. This lawsuit may create, however, a larger public relations problem than your typical employment discrimination lawsuit based simply on who are named as Defendants.

JJ: In your experience with this type of lawsuit, do deposed witnesses tend to tell the truth when put on the stand, as Calcaterra asserts?

RT: Credibility of witnesses is crucial in “he said she said” type lawsuits, which, to a large part, this case appears to resemble. Beyond credibility of witnesses, however, one needs to examine the factual circumstances surrounding her claims, i.e., it may prove difficult for Mets’ management to assert that her individual performance was the legitimate non-discriminatory justification for her termination given she had, if proven true, received substantial increases in her compensation structure during her tenure of employment with the Mets as alleged in her Complaint.

JJ: Do you see any major holes or issues in the filed complaint that could make it difficult for Castergine to prove her case?

RT: At this stage, only a complaint has been filed. Thus, it is only a small glimpse what Plaintiff asserts she will be able to prove at trial. It is way too early to tell whether there is any factual merit to her claims and whether Defendants have a legitimate non-discriminatory basis for taking the adverse employment action against her in this matter. I will say, however, in my experience, if an employer is going to proffer that an employee’s performance was the legitimate cause of the termination, they best have documentation establishing negative performance. Juries do not like to simply hear allegations of poor performance after the fact. Juries tend to want to see documents establishing poor performance. Documentation becomes more important when you have allegations of substantial salary increases and bonuses in the months leading up to termination.

JJ: Do you expect this to be a long, drawn-out affair, or something that can be quickly handled with a settlement fee?

RT: In general, litigation takes 1 1/2 to 2 years to complete. At any point in time, however, the parties are free to enter into a settlement agreement to resolve the matter. Typically, each party conducts a cost benefit analysis to determine if it is in the party’s best interest to settle the matter. I expect the back pages to be active for a long time in this matter given the nature of the allegations already asserted in the Complaint.

JJ: According to the complaint, Castergine went to the Mets’ HR department several times to report the way she was mistreated, but HR officers allegedly did nothing other than suggest that she quit. Is that a common response for a HR department of a company the size of the Mets? Was there a legal process that should have been executed by the Mets HR department upon hearing Castergine’s complaints?

RT: Pursuant to the law, all employers are faced with an affirmative obligation to act in the face complaint of discrimination by an employee. It is not unusual for an HR Department to conduct an “investigation” into the allegations and advise the employee of its findings. Unfortunately, however, it has been my experience that HR Departments typically provide the allegations have been determined to be “Unsubstantiated” — leaving an employee with limited recourse and forced to seek legal counsel. This is especially true when allegations of discrimination are made against high level executives in a company.

JJ: Do you have any advice for women who may be experiencing similar disrespect / discrimination in their workplace? Is going to HR a
necessary first step, or is it better to go directly to a lawyer? In other words, what would be the proper legal process?

RT: If you are experiencing discrimination, harassment or retaliation in the workplace, you should seek the assistance of experienced legal counsel.

If/as this story drags on, I may check in with Rob for more insight. In the meantime, feel free to post any questions or reactions in the comments.

Author: "Joe Janish" Tags: "News Notes Rumors"
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Date: Thursday, 11 Sep 2014 03:58

Mets 2 Rockies 0

Jenrry Mejia didn’t provide quite the same excitement as the evening before, so the entertainment value of this game was a little lower, but in the end the Mets swept the Rox and that’s all that matters to Mets fans.

Mets Game Notes

This didn’t feel like a “pitchers’ duel,” but rather, just a boring ballgame. Though, I do admit to my attention being divided thanks to the news that our country is now on record with going to war. Or maybe it had something to do with the Rox being a really, really crappy team right now.

Rafael Montero earned his first MLB win. He reminded me of a poor man’s Orlando Hernandez, in that he seemed to purposely keep the ball outside of the strike zone most of the time, looking to get strikes from swings and misses at breaking pitches and sinking fastballs off the edges of the plate. It worked well enough, as he no-hit the Rockies through four and two-thirds innings. However, that strategy also ran up his pitch count to 90 through five frames.

I nearly fell off my chair when the word “kinesiology” was uttered in the SNY booth by Ron Darling — that may have been the first time ever. However, it was unfortunately referenced to former MLB pitcher Mike Marshall, who created an entirely new way to toss a baseball, which has nothing to do with what scientists describe as the “overhead throwing motion.” It’s truly a shame that the rare times anyone in baseball mentions kinesiology, they can’t help themselves but to mention Marshall, whose theories, research, and methods remain questionable and not accepted by the majority of the scientific community despite over 30 years of experimentation. Why can’t baseball people mention kinesiology and talk instead about the many years of evidence-based research that has been proven to keep arms healthy? Is it because the evidence is not worthy of baseball’s attention unless it’s “discovered” by a former MLB pitcher? Sure seems that way. Maybe some day a former Cy Young Award winner will make a second career in science and be the “prophet.” And please don’t mention Tom House in the comments — his doctorate is in nutrition, and has only very basic surface knowledge of human kinetics; in other words, he knows enough to be dangerous.

Not sure I agree with giving Drew Stubbs third base with two outs in a 2-0 game and Jeurys Familia on the mound, considering Stubbs’ speed and Familia’s habit of spiking pitches. I understand the short backstop argument, but also know that a spiked fastball tends to jump high and unpredictably. As it turned out, the steal by Stubbs was moot as Familia didn’t throw a wild pitch, but I’m going on record with my opinion despite the benefit of hindsight.

Next Mets Game

Mets next host the Nationals in Flushing on Thursday night at 7:10 PM. Bartolo Colon faces Tanner Roark.

Author: "Joe Janish" Tags: "Mets 2014 Games"
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Date: Wednesday, 10 Sep 2014 20:01

Oh my … following up on the Leigh Castergine story, it turns out that the investigative journalists WERE in fact doing their due diligence — it just took a week to gather the facts.

According to The New York Post, Jeff Wilpon fired Leigh Castergine because “he was morally opposed” to her out-of-wedlock pregnancy.

Wow. Just, wow.

I’m not sure how the Wilpons will be able to keep the Mets, considering the recent bad PR situations created by the owners of the NBA Clippers and Hawks. But this will be an interesting story to see develop.

You can read the entire filed complaint by Castergine vs. Wilpon and the Mets here.

Author: "Joe Janish" Tags: "Shea What?"
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Date: Wednesday, 10 Sep 2014 02:42

Mets 2 Rockies 0

Mets win another heart-stopper against the Rockies as they move to within 5.5 games of a Wild Card berth. Ya Gotta Believe!

Mets Game Notes

Jacob deGrom was again awesome. In my book, he’s the ace and he’s the guy who gets the ball in the one-game elimination on October 1.

However, I might move Jeurys Familia — or maybe Zack Wheeler — into the closer’s role for that Wild Card, all-hands-on-deck contest.

Why didn’t deGrom remain in the game to the end, by the way? I agree with Keith and Ron, in that when a pitcher dominates a team through 7-8 innings, it doesn’t matter who is brought in — the opposing club is thrilled to see someone different, and their confidence perks up.

One of the discussions in the booth by GKR was whether Terry Collins / the Mets might push Jacob deGrom a bit past their arbitrary (and illogical) innings limit if it will help his chance to be voted Rookie of the Year. Keith Hernandez‘s stance was that you want deGrom to be a healthy contributor for 8-10 years. Gary Cohen brought up the fact that in today’s game, most teams are “protecting” their young arms by limiting innings. Ron Darling‘s take was much the opposite — he would like to see deGrom keep pitching as long as he remains in a groove, and let him finish out the year.

So my opinion is in line with Darling’s — let the kid pitch, let him finish the year. Why not? Is there ANY valid, proven evidence, anywhere — as in, from the scientific community, rather than unofficial “studies” and theories by lay people — that suggest limiting innings somehow keeps a pitcher safe? If such research exists, please point me to it. Jacob deGrom is going to blow out his arm at some point, probably sooner rather than later, and it has very little to do with his pitch counts or his innings load. He’ll injure his arm because he has a flaw in his mechanics that was never corrected after he underwent Tommy John surgery in 2010, and because MLB imposes upon starting pitchers a dangerous routine of throwing off a mound within 48 hours after a 90+ pitch start. This idea that a pitcher has “only so many bullets” is nonsense if/when pitchers are properly trained, watched, corrected, and maintained, but it is a self-fulfilling prophecy when rules and proven scientific research are completely ignored. I know there are skeptics out there who poo-poo my incessant diatribes on using science to keep pitchers healthy, but guess what? What MLB is doing now ain’t working, and all the “right things” that are applied and considered are NOT based in science but rather are a patchwork of theories from people who are mostly unqualified to speak on the subject of human kinetics and position-specific strength and conditioning.

Because in baseball there is a complete misunderstanding and hardheaded blindness to the facts, the Mets are damned if they do, damned if they don’t in regard to deGrom and all of their young pitchers, for that matter. If deGrom is shut down after some arbitrary innings level is reached, they’ll be criticized for not giving him the chance to get the Rookie of the Year. And if they push him to get to 10 wins or whatever magic number earns him RoY votes, and he blows out his UCL in 2015, people will point to the decision to push him. It’s not unlike the Johan Santana no-hitter argument — one which I admittedly have a different opinion than I did two years ago, thanks to keeping my mind open and having an eagerness to learn. The notion that pushing Santana through a 130+ pitch effort was the reason he blew out his shoulder for a second time was completely unfounded. The thing about that performance that was detrimental to his shoulder was that his “extra rest” came at the wrong end of the rest period — it should have happened in the first 96 hours after his start, not 24 hours prior to his next. You can’t let the body’s healing process start, and then put it on hold until you’re ready to rest it later — which is essentially what MLB pitchers do by taking a day off after a start and then throwing a bullpen on day 2 and/or day 3. Once the healing is interrupted, the healing stops. This is basic anatomical / muscle tissue stuff that is completely ignored by everyone in MLB.

So, I’ve gone a little off course … but in my opinion, sure, let deGrom pitch as long as he’s not showing fatigue. It makes little difference toward what happens in the future.

Another discussion by GKR was in regard to Wilmer Flores at shortstop. The general consensus was that Flores’ defense was “acceptable” on an everyday basis IF he could be “an offensive-mined shortstop,” with Jhonny Peralta provided as an admittedly not-great example. Hmm … is it me, or was this a talking point devised by the Mets front office and sent down as a directive to the SNY producer? This discussion came off the heels of Sandy Alderson’s warning that the Mets were unlikely to spend big bucks on a big-name free agent in the coming winter — so you see why I’m suspicious, and developing a conspiracy theory. But then, my profession is in public relations, my job is to spin stories — the same as Alderson — so I look at news and actions much differently than the average bear. Can’t you just see SNY and the Mets selling Flores as a legit everyday shortstop through the final weeks of September, and using it as a “viable” excuse not to go after free-agent Hanley Ramirez or trade for Troy Tulowitzki? We’ll keep an eye on whether this story develops and compare to the messages we hear in December and January.

Maybe it’s time to make room in the booth for Mike Shannon. Michael Cuddyer made an impressive diving catch in right field early in the game, and it was barely described with a yawn. Gold Glove Candidate Juan Lagares makes an equally impressive running catch in the eighth, and the GKR gushing flows. Hey, I was impressed with both catches, and not annoyed with the Lagares gushing — more annoyed with the lack of recognition for Cuddyer’s effort. Every day the SNY booth gets more and more annoyingly “homer.” Sorry, it’s a turn-off for me.

On another note, David Wright is out for the season. Does this affect the Mets’ playoff hopes? I don’t think so.

Next Mets Game

Mets look to complete the sweep of the Rox beginning at 7:10 PM on Wednesday night. Rafael Montero takes the mound against Tyler Matzek.

Author: "Joe Janish" Tags: "Mets 2014 Games"
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Date: Tuesday, 09 Sep 2014 10:47

Briefly, the song “Crimson and Clover” went through my head. I prefer the Joan Jett version, to Tommy James and the Shondells’ and in fact, would likely prefer anything Joan Jett covered. Oh, and for whatever reason I sometimes confuse / combine Tommy Dorsey and Henry James with Tommy James, even though Frank Sinatra never sang with the Shondells — though Frankie may have covered some of the same Christmas songs as the Shirelles.

Oh my, I digress … “Dilson or Daniel, over and over” … maybe it’s the Murphy/Irish thing. Get it? Clover, as in four-leaf? Yes, it’s September, I’m as shot as second-division MLB clubs, deal with it.

Anyway …

Daniel Murphy is scheduled to return from the DL today, which means there isn’t room for Dilson Herrera. That may be the best thing in the world for the New York Mets.

When we didn’t know the severity of Daniel Murphy’s calf strain, there were hints that his 2014 season could be over — especially considering Murphy’s all-out hustle, which would make him more susceptible to a re-injury if he returned too soon. As it turns out, Murphy’s back sooner than expected. Is that a good or bad thing?

For sure, the flash of Dilson Herrera we’ve enjoyed has been just that: a flash. A very small sample size. But it was enough for us to see the possibilities — like looking into a crystal ball. No doubt, the just-turned-20 Herrera has exciting defensive skills, speed to burn, and showing a bat with surprising pop, discipline, control, and clutchness (for those who don’t believe in “clutch,” pretend I mean he seems to be relaxed/calm in stressful situations).

Many Mets fans, I’m sure, would love to see more of Dilson Herrera at second base — in fact, many may have secretly wished that Murphy would be out for the year, so that Herrera could be observed for a full month. With Murphy back, no one wants to see Herrera on the bench, but, in the end, things couldn’t have worked out better for the Mets. How so?

First off, Daniel Murphy proving he’s healthy makes him more attractive as a winter trading chip. Probably, a season-ending injury to something as seemingly harmless as a calf strain shouldn’t have much effect on a player’s value in the offseason — it’s not like a hip reconstruction or an achilles tear. But, it’s a little thing that can mildly affect trade negotiations, and when a player can come back from any injury and prove to be 100% when the season ends has that much more value, and quell any concerns about a chronic issue.

Along the same lines, Dilson Herrera showing he’s near-ready for MLB makes him a much more attractive trading chip. At the same time, he wasn’t spectacular enough to put the Mets into a position where they’d be perceived to be desperate to move Murphy. That theoretically means the Mets should be able to get a bit more for Murphy than if teams knew they were itching to move him. (On the other side of that argument, of course, is that teams know the Mets want to move Murphy regardless, because of the huge pay raise due to him this winter.)

Another thing to consider is that Herrera, at a very young age, showed he could handle MLB pitching and promise in the field in a small sample size. Might his flaws become more glaring with more play at the big league level? Limiting Herrera’s exposure and cutting him off when he’s performed positively can only increase his trade value. It doesn’t hurt the Mets’ negotiation with Murphy, either, and, further, helps quell / placate the fan base in the event the Mets jettison Murphy this winter. After all, the Mets’ PR message / selling point in the Sandy Alderson era has been “homegrown” players and focusing on youth. How perfectly fitting would it be to get fans exciting about young (and cheap) Dilson Herrera at the exact moment Daniel Murphy becomes prohibitively expensive?

Even with the spirited play of Herrera, the Mets are probably a better team over the final three weeks with Murphy’s bat in the lineup. And the Mets want to win as many games as possible, so as to avoid having their first round pick protected. Wait, what? Oh, that conspiracy theory will be revealed in an upcoming post.

What’s your thought? Do you prefer to see Dilson Herrera or Daniel Murphy playing second base through the end of this season? Do you see Herrera’s performance thus far playing into the financial side of the Murphy situation in the offseason? Sound off in the comments.

Author: "Joe Janish" Tags: "Featured, Opinion and Analysis"
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Date: Tuesday, 09 Sep 2014 03:47

Mets 3 Rockies 2

Were you like me, and just waiting for the Mets to win this game from the get-go? I don’t know why, but it just felt like the Mets would win this game.

Mets Game Notes

It was an exhilarating win for the Mets and their three dozen loyal fans. Tons of excitement and emotion after Wilmer Flores hit a shallow sacrifice fly to score speedy Curtis Granderson from third to win the ballgame against 2013 Mets closer LaTroy Hawkins. Thrilling. #buytixsavethewilpons

This was a game the Mets should have won, and needed to win. And they did. Who cares if it looked like they might not until the 9th inning? A win is a win, right? Sure. Bask in the afterglow. You deserve it, for paying attention this long. At this point, though, I’d like to push the focus more to the process rather than the outcome. I don’t really care about the Mets “finishing strong” blah blah blah. They’re not going to the postseason and they’re playing a terrible team. If you watched this game to bring brief happiness to your life on a Monday evening, super. Otherwise, you’re probably indifferent and thinking about next Sunday’s Jets or Giants game. Amiright?

Granderson, by the way, is Cholula-hot right now. Where was that in the first 140 games of the season? #septemberbaseball

Jon Niese plowed through 6 2/3 innings with nothing — absolutely nothing — and left the game allowing just one earned run. Mental toughness? Competitiveness? Batters who can’t hit in thick air? September swooning? Combination of all three?

Is it time to seriously consider Kirk Nieuwenhuis as a regular? The Mets are now 16-2 when Captain Kirk is in the starting lineup, and that’s not necessarily a coincidence considering that he had a .915 OPS as a starter going into this ballgame (he has a 1.029 OPS when participating in all Mets wins in all roles, for whatever that’s worth). Why might the Mets win so often when he’s playing? He does strike out a ton, but he also does everything well; he’s a “ballplayer.” Nieuwenhuis always makes a positive contribution, even when he doesn’t hit, because he runs the bases with excellence, he fields very well, he hustles all the time, and he rarely makes mistakes. He’s a winning ballplayer, plain and simple. All the little things add up in today’s post-PEDs, post-homerun-derby game. I don’t buy into the excuse that Nieuwenhuis is more valuable off the bench because he’s been so effective coming off the bench — a.k.a., Gates Brown Syndrome. He’s valuable because he does everything well, and he has some occasional pop. Just a theory, of course, that putting winning ballplayers into action could result in winning games — a theory toyed with by Vince Lombardi.

David Wright hit his first “triple” of the season in the third. If you missed it, it was a dying quail that caught the right fielder “in between” — he wasn’t sure whether to dive in to make a highlight-reel catch, or to field it on a bounce. The indecision resulted in an awkward attempt to scoop the ball after it hit the ground, and it bounced by and rolled to the wall. The home-team official scorer ruled it a triple instead of a single and a two-base error. Inconceivable! Hey, it’s September, it’s a meaningless game between two terrible clubs, so who’s paying attention, right? Right. But how can you trust ANY statistics when this kind of thing happens all the time? That’s one reason why I trust my eyes more than the numbers when making evaluations — I don’t necessarily trust stats based on other people’s eyes.

Why was Josh Rutledge bunting with none out, tie ballgame, and a man on second in the top of the third? It looked like a drag bunt for a hit, but still — not bright, not good baseball, and indicative of a second-division club. It was clear early on that Jonathon Niese did not have great stuff, was getting hit hard even when the Rox were hitting into outs, and that made the decision to bunt all the more mind-boggling. Swing away there, for goodness sakes!

Not for nuthin’, but Colorado pitcher Jordan Lyles should probably bat much higher than ninth in the lineup — especially when the Rox are away from the thin air of Coors Field. That guy is a hitter. What a concept — a pitcher who can hit. #killtheDH

Another example that the Rockies are a terrible club: Michael Cuddyer and Wilin Rosario completely botching an easy foul pop-up up the first base line off the bat of Dilson Herrera in the seventh. Herrera wound up striking out, so it didn’t matter all that much, but still. Kiddies, this is the way it works: if you are the catcher, you really need to go aggressively after any popups you can chase after. If you have trouble seeing the ball, and an infielder calls for it, yield to him/her. If you see it fine, can set your legs and feel confident catching the ball, you call off anyone and everyone else immediately — it’s your job to be the leader and trump all others. Sorry, Keith Hernandez — I disagree that the catcher should always peel off if someone else calls for the ball. ONLY if the ball is outside the catcher’s range, and/or the catcher lacks confidence he can catch it, for whatever reason. Otherwise, the catcher should be calling for the ball immediately and with gusto. In that particular case, maybe Rosario lost the ball in the lights, but I doubt it — it looked to me like he was deferring out of lack of desire or laziness; he didn’t seem to WANT to catch the ball from the get-go, which was why Cuddyer took charge of the situation and called for it first. Certainly, it was within his reach, as the ball wound up falling safely about 15 feet away from home plate.

While I’m in an instructional mood … for the second time in the past week, I heard GKR discuss Travis d’Arnaud‘s “wiggle” when he throws the ball to second base, how that’s wasting precious moments, and that’s a big reason why he’s not throwing anyone out. Furthermore, it’s been expressed by both Keith and Ron Darling that the fix for d’Arnaud is to “go directly to the ear and throw from there.”

OK. Please erase all of that from your memory and let’s start from scratch.

First off, I’m a catcher who teaches catching. The techniques I teach come from long discussions and experimentation with multiple people who have advanced degrees in kinesiology (the study of human movement). Through the first 15-20 years of my catching career, I knew only the hearsay that’s been handed down from former professional catchers — who had zero qualification to talk about efficient movements by the human body. That’s not to say I’m an expert — I’m not. But I do feel that the scientists provide better information than those who relay on hand-me-down guesswork.

With that out of the way …

Yes, d’Arnaud’s “wiggle” is a time waster, and the movement itself is part of the reason he’s not throwing out baserunners. If you’re not sure what the “wiggle” is, it’s this: when he brings the ball out of his glove and back, he hesitates for a split second and executes an extra movement of cocking his wrist before moving his hand forward. It’s not efficient, and it’s throwing off his timing, but it’s not where I’d start in the correction process. Rather, I’d go all the way back to his footwork, which puts him into a less-than-efficient, imbalanced, and not-so-powerful position. The movement and placement of the feet are the key to throwing the baseball regardless of the position, but because of the short amount of time a catcher has to throw out a runner at second, it’s all the more vital to be precise. Travis d’Arnaud is not throwing out runners because his first movement with his right foot is going too far to his left — he’s “shuffling” his foot about to the spot where his left foot was originally placed. That’s too far — the right foot should move to below the exact middle of the body, just below the belly button (or bits and pieces, as my cockney friends like to refer). By traveling too far with his right foot, he’s putting his entire body out of balance, and when the lower body is out of balance, the upper body, to compensate, has to do something to put the body back in balance and make up for the timing as well — in d’Arnaud’s case, it is by wiggling. He’s wiggling / cocking his wrist because his lower body is not getting into position quickly enough, so his arm action is slowing down to give his feet/legs a chance to catch up (the hands always move much more quickly than the legs, in EVERY athletic movement).

Now, here’s the good news: I’ve been watching d’Arnaud intently for the past month, and his footwork in this game was much better than I’ve seen previously — he was shuffling/sliding MUCH further before, as well as a little backward, which was why his throws were flying up and away and toward right field. I don’t know for sure if he knows what he’s supposed to be working on, but he looked better in this game, and if he can shorten his right foot shuffle just a bit more, he’ll be in perfect position.

One more thing: don’t ever, ever listen to the nonsensical “instruction” of throwing the ball “from the ear.” It’s absolutely inefficient, deprives the catcher of his full strength, and puts undue strain on both the elbow and the shoulder. There is ZERO gain in efficiency between taking the ball directly next to the ear compared to putting the ball and arm in the correct position — which is with the forearm at closer to a 90-degree angle to the ground. I don’t know where, why, or when the idea of throwing like a shot putter was made popular in catching instruction circles, but it’s been taught for decades and it’s completely illogical. It doesn’t matter what position on the field you play, the throw should be pretty much the same in regard to where the ball should be and the arm angulation when the front foot comes down.

You know it’s a meaningless game in September between two sorry teams when you hear silly remarks exclaimed such as “Josh Rutledge had no chance against Buddy Carlyle and his fastball!” Buddy Carlyle’s simmering 92-MPH fastball? Yes, it should overmatch a 16-year-old in American Legion, but one of the best 750 players on the planet? Hmm …

Do I sound bitter? Maybe it was those awful camouflage uniforms the Mets wear too many times (once is too many). How can Keith Hernandez disparage the green Irish heritage uniforms worn by the Cincinnati Reds yet remain quiet every time the Mets wear these atrocious camo unis?

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Rockies do it again at 7:10 PM on Tuesday night. Jacob deGrom faces Christian Bergman at 7:10 PM

Author: "Joe Janish" Tags: "Mets 2014 Games"
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Date: Monday, 08 Sep 2014 16:10

Mets 4 Reds 3

Reds 2 Mets 1

Mets 14 Reds 5

Mets win a weekend series in Cincinnati to remain two games over .500 for the month of September.

Mets Games Notes

Mixing it up for a change today; instead of intensive, thoughtful, precise notes in response to individual ballgames, I decided to do relay mundane thoughts in a series wrap. Why? Perhaps I’m taking a cue from what I’ve been seeing so far in September from “Major League” teams — playing out the string. That’s not specific to the Mets games, either — it appears rampant from the small sample of games seen in the past week.

Maybe this happens every year and I don’t notice it as much for one reason or another. Or maybe it doesn’t really happen, and I’m hyper-sensitive to what looks to me like “mailing it in.” But there must be something to it, otherwise the baseball idiom “don’t trust what you see in March or September” wouldn’t exist.

And that’s what makes this past weekend so difficult to evaluate, isn’t it? The Mets looked like world-beaters, crushing the ” Big Little Red Machine” on Friday night, very nearly beating one of the best pitchers in baseball on Saturday, and then coming away with a one-run victory on Sunday. Suddenly, everyone on the team is hitting — even Curtis Granderson, who had been seen only on the side of milk cartons since late June. With the way Grandy has been swinging the bat of late, there’s a really decent chance of him reaching the 20-homerun milestone before season’s end — something Jason Bay never did (hmm … why would I bring up Bay?).

Fellow veteran-counted-on-to-be-slugger-but-failed-miserably David Wright also has been swinging the bat well of late — among his singles he’s sprinkling in a dash of a double here and there. Heck, he looks right now like he could hit his first homerun since July 11th any at-bat now. And don’t look now, but Travis d’Arnaud is finally fulfilling the offensive promise that convinced the Mets to part with a Cy Young Award winner and cult hero. Do you know d’Arnaud leads all NL rookies in homers, is 19 for his last 51 (.373), and is hitting .286 with 10 homeruns and 29 RBI in the 57 games he’s played since returning from Wally Backman‘s care (a complete coincidence, I’m sure)? Oh, young Travis is also LEADING THE METS with a .500 slugging percentage since the All-Star Exhibition. (Bet you would’ve banked on that being Lucas Duda.) There’s been buzz about Jacob deGrom winning the Rookie of the Year, but if d’Arnaud keeps hitting this way through the end of the month, he just may sneak himself into the conversation.

Speaking of rookies, is it truly possible that Mets fans would rather see Dilson Herrera than Daniel Murphy play the rest of the season at second base? My, how quickly things change, even for the Golden Boy. Murphy is having a career year, yet I’d bet 7 Mets fans out of 10 were secretly hoping he’d played his last game of 2014.

In addition to Juan Lagares campaigning for a Gold (or Platinum?) Glove, he’s become Rickey Henderson at the top of the lineup — taking pitches, getting big base hits, and, most surprisingly, stealing bases with such deftness and efficiency that he’s gained the attention of Danny Ocean.

Wilmer Flores is 9 for his last 27 with a homerun and two doubles, and hasn’t botched a game with his glove in two weeks. Anthony Recker seems to hit a home run every time he starts behind the plate. No one can touch Jeurys Familia — or deGrom, for that matter. The pitching looks so good right now, in fact, that no one’s clamoring for Noah Syndergaard. Lagares, Matt den Dekker, and Kirk Nieuwenhuis just might be one of the best outfields in baseball.

Yes, the Mets look like world-beaters right now — so much so, it seems implausible that they’re in a three-team race for bottom, rather than the top, of the NL East. And hot off their two wins in Cincy, the Mets next face the lowly Colorado Rockies — one of only three clubs in MLB with less than 60 wins. And they’re playing the Rox in Flushing. The Rockies have a .290 “winning” percentage away from Coors Field. That’s not a syntax error — they’ve won only TWENTY-NINE PERCENT of their road games. August was the first month since May that they reached double-digits in wins (they were 10-18). So it seems that the Mets momentum could keep on rolling.

But, wait … the Rockies are 5-1 so far in September. Hmm …

It makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

Something strange about September. Can you trust what you see this month, from anyone? Answer in the comments.

Next Mets Game

Mets and Rox fight it out as the US Open Men’s Finals concludes. Jon Niese faces Jordan Lyles on one side of the 7 Train tracks, while Roger Federer does not face Novak Djokovic on the other at 5 PM. That’s right: two relative unknowns smashed their way into the finals — Kei Nishikori and Marin Cilic. Perhaps the strangeness of September extends beyond MLB?

Author: "Joe Janish" Tags: "Mets 2014 Games"
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Date: Thursday, 04 Sep 2014 05:12

Mets 4 Marlins 3

Mets take the series from the floundering Fish (see what I did there? It’s the #littlethings that keep me inspired!)

Mets Game Notes

The Marlins really made Jacob deGrom work in the early innings — he was averaging about 24 pitches per inning through the first three frames, which is far too many. Somehow, though, he lasted through six innings, allowing only one run. I’m still not sure how he managed to do that, though the Pitcher’s Best Friend — the double play — certainly played a part. Still, too too many pitches by deGrom, and I’m not sure why he had to toss so many. Was it a matter of not having a “put away” pitch? Was he trying too hard to nibble and get strikeouts — perhaps because of the Mets’ recent defensive issues and taking a cue from Zack Wheeler? Was it just a weird night? Usually we see the young Marlins hacking away and ending their at-bats as quickly as possible; this was something of an aberration, from the perspective of both the Fish and deGrom.

Kind of cool to see Matt den Dekker, Juan Lagares, and Kirk Nieuwenhuis playing in the same outfield together. Now, if someone said THAT is potentially one of the best-fielding outfields in baseball, I’d be on board. It might also be among the outfields with the most strikeouts in baseball, but, hey, it’s give and take. That quip by Chris Young back in March seems laughable now, doesn’t it? By the way, you should really go back and read that post — it’s more interesting now that we have the benefit of hindsight.

If Lagares is taking this leadoff thing seriously as an audition, he’s so far doing a darn fine job of making a case for hitting at the top of the lineup in 2015. Of course, there are 22 more games to go, but so far, so good.

I sort of wish Keith Hernandez was in the booth for this series, just to hear him say, “I like the way this young man swings the bat,” every time Christian Yelich came to the plate. Yelich reminds me a bit of a young Keith, and I imagine he might see the similarity as well.

In being charged with the loss, Miami reliever Mike Dunn is now 10-6 on the season. Sounds like a record of starter, doesn’t it? Or Dick Tidrow from back in the day.

Next Mets Game

The Mets have a day off on Thursday as they trek to Cincinnati to face the Reds on Friday night. Bartolo Colon faces Alfredo Simon on Friday at 7:10 PM.

Author: "Joe Janish" Tags: "Mets 2014 Games"
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Date: Wednesday, 03 Sep 2014 12:16

Terry Collins is not held accountable for the Mets’ losing record.

Sandy Alderson is not held accountable for four consecutive losing seasons.

However, Leigh Castergine is held accountable for subpar ticket sales.

Go figure.

According to New York Post writer Fred Kerber:

Fans weren’t paying at the box office so a Mets executive paid with her job.

With only the Diamondbacks and Marlins selling fewer tickets in the National League than the Mets, the team has fired Leigh Castergine, senior vice president, ticket sales and services who had been with the team since 2010.

“Leigh Castergine, Senior Vice President of Ticket Sales & Services, is no longer with the organization. Although no replacement has been named yet, we have a talented staff in place to handle all ticket related business while we embark on a national search for this role,” the team said Sunday in a statement to The Post.

Entering Sunday, the Mets had averaged 26,631 per home game, surpassing only Arizona (25,088) and Miami (21,484) in the National League. Seven American League clubs had averaged less.

Clearly, there is a stark difference between PAID attendance and ACTUAL attendance. There’s no way the Mets are averaging over 26,000 people walking through their turnstiles. I’d be surprised to learn that the true average is over 20,000. But that aside …

I have no idea why Leigh Castergine was fired. It may have nothing at all to do with ticket sales. Maybe the Mets simply wanted “to go another direction” — a phrase used by Jeff Lunhow when announcing the firing of Astros manager Bo Porter.

If indeed the firing was performance-related, it would seem unfair. How is someone expected to sell a minor-league product to people expecting Major League quality? And at Major League prices, no less?

In typical Mets fashion, the news was announced during a long holiday weekend, in the hopes it would get lost under a pile of news by the time people were paying attention again. The strategy seems to have worked, because no one other than Kerber and Adam Rubin have made mention of it.

Why aren’t any of the Mets beat writers touching this story? OK, maybe they don’t want to go there — it’s a sensitive subject. So where are the other guys, who feed on this stuff? (I’m looking at YOU, Craig, Jeff, and Joel — is there really THAT much to discuss regarding Bo Porter, preseason football, and the U.S. Open? Surely something this salacious is worth a little digging.)

For what it’s worth, there’s a petition to re-hire Castergine. It reads thusly:

The New York Mets, who have played under .500 ball for the past 6 years have fired the Vice President of Tickets Sales and Services. Leigh Castergine held the position since 2010. The men responsible for the debacle of a team on the field have been held harmless for poor fan attendence. This includes General Manager Sandy Alderson, Field Manager Terry Collins and team owner Fred Wilpon.

As a Met fan since 1962 I find the team’s ineptitude frustrating but I find blaming the VP for ticket sales for a lack of attendance appalling. The focus needs to be on the on-field product.

Rehire Leigh Castergine. She did not hit .140 for the month of August.

Again, I have no idea why exactly Castergine was let go, but it IS curious, isn’t it? I just want to know why this is being dismissed as a non-story. It’s not ALWAYS the salesperson’s fault when a product doesn’t sell — sometimes the blame needs to be shared by the creators and managers of the product.

Your thoughts are eagerly awaited in the comments.

Author: "Joe Janish" Tags: "Featured, Shea What?"
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Date: Wednesday, 03 Sep 2014 05:06

Mets 8 Marlins 6

Mets collect their first meaningless win of September.

Mets Game Notes

DISCLOSURE: Last night, I found something MUCH more interesting, fulfilling, entertaining, and better to do than watch the Mets play a meaningless game against the Marlins. So the following notes are based on a very quick zip through the game via the modern magic of DVR.

Jonathon Niese “earned” his 8th win of the season. Hmm … 6 earned runs on 10 hits in 6 innings? A win, sure, but a positive performance? Not quite. Depends on whether you want to judge the result or the process. I didn’t like the process — he’s still landing incorrectly (a correctable flaw), which puts a tremendous amount of stress on his already fragile shoulder.

Is it a coincidence that Brad Penny‘s initials are “B.P.” and that’s what he was throwing? Penny was living in the middle of the plate, which is generally a bad place to be. Usually, MLB pitchers like to live on the edges, putting the ball where it’s more difficult to hit. I think Penny and A.J. Burnett should retire together in mid-October.

Give credit where credit is due: Penny served up meatballs, and the Mets batters mashed them into flat, two-minute hamburger patties. Nice to see from a club that has struggled to hit for most of the second half. And the first half, for that matter. And all of 2013, as long as we’re on the subject.

In only the second game of September, David Wright has already doubled the extra-base total he collected in all of August, and matched his combined extra-base total since the All-Star Exhibition through Labor Day. As Mel Allen might say, “How about that?”

In addition to providing his world-class defense, Juan Lagares put on a clinic in the batter’s box, lashing line drives all over the field in a 4-for-4 day that included a walk, three runs scored, and an RBI. But a request to the people who develop the talking points for every Mets game: please, please, please, PLEASE stop the gushing over Lagares and the obvious politicking for a Gold Glove. It’s far overdone and now obnoxious, to the point where not only do I not want to hear it, I may start holding it against the young outfielder. I get that it’s necessary to hype individuals in a lost season, in part to provide some modicum of excitement and enticement toward season ticket sales for 2015. But every time I hear Gary Cohen talk about Lagares being up for a platinum glove as the best defender in the league, or Ron Darling blurting that Lagares is the best outfielder in baseball, I feel like I need to take a shower. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love watching Lagares (as stated many times previously), and I’m thrilled to see him becoming a complete player and possibly developing into a star before our eyes. But I really, really don’t like being told what to like. Just let it be, let happen what will happen. We can fully enjoy watching Juan Lagares be magnificent without anyone reminding us every time he appears on the screen.

Speaking of defense, it could be argued that the difference in this game was lack of execution by the Fish. In the first frame, Penny induced a routine double-play grounder from Curtis Granderson, but first baseman John Baker bungled the ball and could only get Granderson at first, allowing Lagares to reach second. David Wright followed with an RBI single and Penny allowed two more singles and another run before the third out was recorded. Of course, it could also be argued that, had Penny emerged from the first inning with the game scoreless, Miami manager Mike Redmond might have been fooled into thinking Penny was having an okay night, and thus may have left him in the game long enough for the Mets to batter him for another two runs anyway. Surely, Redmond did not want to make a call to the bullpen as early as the fourth inning.

Again, Giancarlo Stanton might have hit more than one homerun in this game. His long flyout to right in the initial inning might have been over other fences. He is a beast, and looks like a man among boys in a way we haven’t seen since the glorious days of PEDs.

Always happy to see a local guy get into the game. Colts Neck, NJ native Anthony DeSclafani hurled one inauspicious inning, allowing three runs on four hits. He did make Curtis Granderson look foolish, though, so there’s that.

For the curious, no, Jeff Conine did not make an appearance. However, it’s rumored that Robb Nen was warming up in the bullpen.

Next Mets Game

Mets and Marlins do it again at 7:10 PM on Wednesday night. Jacob deGrom faces Tom Koehler.

Author: "Joe Janish" Tags: "Mets 2014 Games"
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Date: Tuesday, 02 Sep 2014 04:10

Marlins 9 Mets 6

A comedy of errors. Yet, the game sent me closer to tears than laughs.

Mets Game Notes

As a fan of baseball, this game was difficult to enjoy. Soooooo many mistakes, including a few by veteran players that one expects to be better. So many disgraceful occurrences, I can’t recount them, as it was difficult enough to watch them the first time.

Zack Wheeler struck out 8 in 4 2/3 innings; that’s about the only positive to mention about his brief outing. Considering how poorly the Mets defense “performed,” Wheeler had the right idea in attempting to strike out every batter. In case you missed it, the Mets made six (6) errors in the ballgame, including three (3) in the eighth inning. SIX. And those weren’t the only mistakes made; there were other instances that could be described as “errors” yet don’t appear on the scoreboard as such (for example, cutting off throws to home that shouldn’t be cut off; overthrowing cutoffs; baserunning blunders; etc.).

The Fish weren’t that much better, despite recording only one error on the scoreboard. Like the Mets, they also made many mistakes that didn’t appear in the boxscore. It was a contest of folly.

In the end, it was a meltdown by Jeurys Familia that made the difference. Familia’s inability to throw to bases is obvious, and it will be interesting to see if teams other than the Marlins pick up on this and force him into uncomfortable situations. This is one of the reasons I hate the designated pinch-hitter rule — because they don’t have to hit, some pitchers think all they have to do pitch, and nothing else. They don’t try to be “ballplayers,” but merely specialists who toss the ball off a hill. But baseball doesn’t work like that; the moment the pitcher lets go of the ball, he becomes an infielder — not an obstacle, nor a non-entity. Pitchers — and especially relievers — don’t have THAT much to do to keep their bodies in shape to throw a baseball 15-20 times a day. There’s plenty of time to work on all other aspects of the game. It’s an embarrassment both to the player and the organization when a pitcher can’t throw the baseball to bases — and the Mets have at least two of those, in Familia and Jenrry Mejia. There’s no excuse.

A bright spot in the afternoon was Dilson Herrera, who continues to impress in the field and the batter’s box. Well, wait … he DID make two errors. Hmm … Still, I like what I’m seeing from him with the glove. He IS only 20 years old, after all, and I remember Jose Reyes making a bunch of errors as a 20-year-old rookie. Herrera blasted his first MLB homerun in his 10th big-league at-bat, and added his first MLB triple; he may be the singular reason to watch the Mets this September.

If this game was played in any other MLB stadium, Giancarlo Stanton would have hit 3 homeruns. I shudder to think what his numbers would look like if his home park was anywhere other than Miami. He might hit 80 HRs in a season if he played half his games at Coors Field or Fenway Park.

Sam Dyson sucked in his 2/3 inning of relief. See what I did there? Hey, I had to do something to amuse myself in describing this wretched ballgame.

Next Mets Game

Game two of this series begins at 7:10 PM on Tuesday night. Jonathon Niese faces Brad Penny. With Penny on the mound, I feel like this should be a throwback game with the Marlins’ old teal uniforms. Maybe Jeff Conine will be added to the Miami roster, as well.

Author: "Joe Janish" Tags: "Mets 2014 Games"
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Date: Sunday, 31 Aug 2014 20:55

Mets 6 Phillies 5

Mets win ballgame and lose the battle for the basement — for now.

Mets Game Notes

Not sure why, but this game reminded me of watching a AAA game. Maybe it was the multitude of mistakes, lack of execution, and general mediocrity of talent competing.

Dillon Gee did what he needed to do, keeping the Mets in the ballgame through six innings. He allowed 10 baserunners but the Phillies could only plate 3 of them, before scoring another pair against the back end of the Mets bullpen.

In the first few innings, A.J. Burnett looked a heckuva lot better than he had in previous starts against the Mets. But then in the fifth, he lost all bite on his curveball, and his sinker wasn’t sinking, but rather hanging around waist-high, over the middle of the plate — pretty much what we’d seen from him all year. His ineffectiveness was most obvious while pitching to Dilson Herrera in the bottom of the sixth. With a runner on second base, Burnett bizarrely appeared to be pitching around Herrera, or, possibly, trying to find a feel for his curve against the 20-year-old rookie. As a result, he walked Herrera on four pitches. His next pitch was deposited into the left field seats courtesy of Anthony Recker.

Burnett has reportedly been considering retirement this year, mainly because his performance has been horrendous. I think it’s a really good idea for him to hang ‘em up.

Not sure what was going on with Chase Utley in the 7th, with none out, score 5-3 Mets, and men on second and third. He took two weak swings off so-so offerings by Dana Eveland and popped out to the infield. Not at all the kind of at-bat you’d expect to see from Utley; maybe he was guessing and guessed horribly wrong.

Speaking of Eveland, it’s interesting that Terry Collins seems to be using him as the lefty specialist, particularly when lefthanded hitters bat about 40 points higher against him than righthanded hitters. In hindsight, of course, Collins made the right move, because after getting into a bit of trouble in the seventh, Eveland retired three straight lefthanded Phillies hitters — Utley, Ryan Howard, and Grady Sizemore. So it worked out, right? Sure, but I wouldn’t expect that kind of result every time. I’m still not sure how he got out of that inning, but he did.

Justin De Fratus didn’t have to worry about any inherited runners in this ballgame. However, he still gave up a run. I think the Phillies would be smart to shop De Fratus’ shiny ERA and peripheral numbers this winter and get something of value in return, because his stats belie what he looks like on the mound. Remember when the Mets thought they were getting a valuable asset in Jon Adkins, when they sent Heath Bell and Royce Ring to San Diego? Kind of like that.

Dilson Herrera looks pretty smooth in the field, and so far, doing a nice job with the bat. It was his single up the middle against a drawn-in infield that scored the Mets final run — at the time, an insurance run, but what wound up being the difference in the ballgame.

Wilmer Flores made a diving play to end the Phillies’ 8th. He also turned a key double-play in the top of the ninth to squash a rally. Do not think this means he might be a capable MLB shortstop. Though the SNY booth made hay out of Flores’ ability to turn the double play, it wasn’t THAT big a deal. If anything, I credit Herrera for getting rid of the ball quickly and making a perfect throw to Flores. Both Keith Hernandez and Jim Duquette during the postgame mentioned it was a great play because Flores had “the runner bearing down on him.” Hmm … really? I guess if people keep repeating the same thing, eventually, people start to believe it — regardless if there’s any truth behind it (see: “Change” as the keyword for the 2008 POTUS campaign). First off, Flores had the tremendous advantage of elephant-footed Ryan Howard being the batter-runner; I think it took Howard about five seconds to reach first base. Second, Utley (the runner “bearing down” on Flores) was originally taking a route to second that would allow him to round the base — kind of a banana route. He looked behind his shoulder to see that Herrera was fielding the ball cleanly and intended to throw to second, and at that point, Utley tried to change his route to more of a direct line to the bag. Had Utley run straight for Flores to break up the DP from the get-go, I don’t know if Flores gets that throw off, because even with Utley’s initial hesitation and banana route, he still got a piece of Flores’ leg just as Flores released the ball. Again, credit goes to Herrera for reading that play perfectly — he saw that Utley wasn’t running directly to the bag, and therefore Herrera felt he had enough time to force him out. Herrera showed good arm strength there, in addition to the quickness and accuracy. I’m surprised GKR/SNY wasn’t making more hay out of Herrera, but I guess the current directive is to hype up Flores.

How did the Mets ultimately win this game? Anthony Recker’s big fly was a main reason, as was the Mets hitting .500 (4-for-8) with RISP. The Phillies, in contrast, had 13 RISP during the game, and plated only 4.

Next Mets Game

The Mets move on to Miami to play the Marlins on Monday afternoon. Game time is 1:10 PM and pits Zack Wheeler vs. Henderson Alvarez.

Author: "Joe Janish" Tags: "Mets 2014 Games"
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Date: Sunday, 31 Aug 2014 03:34

Phillies 7 Mets 2

The 90-win goal is officially an impossibility. Unless, of course, Sandy Alderson was counting spring training games.

Mets Game Notes

Bartolo Colon pitched well, until he didn’t. He shut out the Phils through the phirst phour phrames, then allowed a solo homer to Marlon Byrd. Then, the walls came down in the sixth as Philadelphia chased Colon to the showers (after a brief pit stop at the Viennese dessert table) and scored five runs.

Meanwhile, Jerome Williams shut out the Mets through six, didn’t run out of gas until the seventh, and allowed only two runs (both crossed home with reliever Justin De Fratus on the mound).

Speaking of, De Fratus has a pretty nice stat line for the season, but it seems like every time he faces the Mets, he gives up at least one run. Going into this game, he had a 2.45 ERA against the Mets, but he also gave up 7 hits, 1 walk, and 4 runs (2 earned) in 7 innings. I don’t know how/where to look it up as a split vs. opponent, but I’d be curious to see how many inherited Mets runners he’s allowed to score. Against all teams, going into this ballgame, he’d allowed 8 of 22 inherited runners to score — that’s not so good. If my calculations are correct, his stat is now 10 inherited runners scored out of 25, which means 40% of the runners he inherits wind up scoring. That’s awful. I think the average reliever allows less than 30%.

Congrats to Dilson Herrera, who collected his first hit as a big leaguer in the bottom of the seventh — a single.

Speaking of that seventh inning, when it began, the Phillies had already collected 11 hits, while the Mets had one (1). The Mets finished with a flourish, though, bloating that total to a robust 5 by the end of the ballgame.

So glad that Keith Hernandez mistakenly referred to Ben Revere as “Denard Span” because I also have had those two guys confused for years.

During the telecast, Steve Gelbs did a spot on Travis d’Arnaud‘s struggles with receiving pitches — in particular, his trouble with passed balls, and how they were related to his “framing” technique. Did anyone notice that another Mets blog covered exactly this topic a few days ago? And, did anyone remember that we discussed exactly this topic during the Game 112 recap? Hmm … is this a complete coincidence? Or is it possible that people preparing talking points for TV are paying attention to blogs? And if so, where does that place MetsToday in the Human Centipede of the blogosphere?

After Gelbs, Keith, and Gary Cohen basically crapped all over d’Arnaud, criticizing the young catcher’s stand and balance, framing, passed balls, inability to block pitches in the dirt, and awful throwing, Keith concluded by saying, “despite it all, I really like the way Travis has done behind the plate.” Oh boy. Keith was referring to the only other aspect of catching that exists — calling a game. Hey, as a catcher, I appreciate pitch-calling, and do believe it is very important, but, a catcher has to do all the other things as well.

For the record, I like Travis d’Arnaud, and believe he can improve. I just found it funny that a) the SNY booth has done a 180 in their opinion of his receiving skills; and b) that they could completely denigrate the kid for five minutes, and then hear Keith say that he otherwise was happy with d’Arnaud’s performance. Maybe I have a strange sense of humor.

Next Mets Game

In the battle of the basement, it’s a one-one tie. Who will win the war? Tune in on Sunday at 1:10 PM to find out. Dillon Gee takes the hill against a suddenly resurgent A.J. Burnett.

Author: "Joe Janish" Tags: "Mets 2014 Games"
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Date: Saturday, 30 Aug 2014 17:08

Mets 4 Phillies 1

Mets win round one of the battle for the basement.

Mets Game Notes

First off, I missed this game because I was sitting in traffic on my way to the Jersey Shore for the weekend (if you’re on LBI, stop in for an ice cream, gourmet shake, or take a ride on a surrey). I did hear some of it on the radio, and from what it sounded like, I didn’t miss much.

Jacob deGrom spun another fine outing. If the Mets win their next 27 games, do you have deGrom start the Wild Card game? I’d feel comfortable giving him the ball in an elimination contest.

If Grady Sizemore catches that ball, how many extra innings does this game go?

Dilson Herrera made his MLB debut! Of course he made an error … of course. I wouldn’t worry about it, I’m sure he was nervous and excited. And I bet he’ll continue to be for at least a few games. It will be interesting to watch him over the final month — I really hope that his name is penciled into the lineup every single day, as there isn’t any point in continuing to wonder whether Wilmer Flores can handle the position.

Future left fielder Travis d’Arnaud drove in the Mets’ first run with a single; it was his 7th RBI of the month. He may need to provide a little more offense as a corner outfielder.

Next Mets Game

Mets and Phillies do it again at 7:10 PM on Saturday night. Bartolo Colon faces Jerome Williams. I have no idea why, but for some reason, every time I see Williams’ name in the transaction report (which is often), I think of Jeriome Robertson — who also was frequently seen in transaction reports (and was property of the Mets for about 60 days, when he threw a few pitches for the Norfolk Tides … remember them?).

Author: "Joe Janish" Tags: "Mets 2014 Games"
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Date: Friday, 29 Aug 2014 15:48

Ryan Doumit‘s 9th inning homerun Thursday off of Daisuke Matsuzaka was the equivalent of pulling the sheet over the corpse that is the Mets 2014 season. With it went the team’s last vestige of relevancy: that of spoiler to the formerly-hated Braves’ playoff chances.

Two stories broke soon after Doumit’s homer landed beyond the right field wall: the first was that the Mets had placed Daniel Murphy on the DL with a strained calf and had called up uber-prospect Dilson Hererra. The second was the revelation that the team has considered moving Travis d’Arnaud to left field. More on the first story in a moment, but let’s look at the d’Arnaud situation for a moment first.

Manager Terry Collins broached the subject with reporters, stating that the team is concerned that d’Arnaud’s history of concussions could lead to permanent injury. That sounds very admirable, as the long-term danger from concussions is becoming more and more recognized. But Terry also inserted catching prospect Kevin Plawecki into the conversation, which raises suspicions of another motive besides concerns over d’Arnaud’s health being in play.

Both Plawecki and d’Arnaud will make the major league minimum next year. Add either Matt den Dekker or Kirk Nieuwenhuis to the left field platoon with d’Arnaud and the Mets have themselves a tidy little troika of players making the major league equivalent of peanuts. Nope, no need to make a deal or sign a free agent, we’ve got left field covered, they’ll be telling us all offseason.

I had the opportunity to observe Hererra in a game this summer (and I even took his picture). He hit a long homerun and looked great in the field. Giving credit where due, GM Sandy Alderson has made a potentially great trade in landing Dilson and Vic Black from Pittsburgh. If Hererra has even a modicum of success in the remaining games, Murphy’s exit from the team this offseason is a fait accompli. Oh, and he was due for such a nice raise next season too.

The great Elvis Costello had a line about being disgusted once but now being only amused. The Wilpons (through their mouthpieces Alderson and Collins) have elevated “slippery” into an artform. On some levels, the d’Arnaud move and the Herrera call-up make sense, especially the latter. Just how convenient is it though, that these “solutions” represent the industry minimum in salary? But, we’re not supposed to look at it that way; instead we are urged to focus on the potential for d’Arnaud, Plawecki, den Dekker and Hererra. Add in those young guns and things could get might interestin’ next summer ‘round Citi Field pardner. Buy those tickets now, ya hear?

One more thought on moving d’Arnaud—didn’t the Mets recently have a very expensive left fielder who suffered a major concussion while playing that position?

Author: "Dan Capwell" Tags: "Featured, Opinion and Analysis"
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Date: Friday, 29 Aug 2014 15:10

Braves 6 Mets 1

The game was much closer and more interesting than the final score might indicate.

Mets Game Notes

For four innings, Mike Minor had a perfect game and had driven in the Braves’ only run. For seven innings, Minor’s RBI single was the only run given up by Jonathon Niese, who didn’t have much problem setting down the everyday Braves batters. But then Minor led off the 8th with a double and all heck broke loose. It kind of reminded me of a little league game, where the best pitcher on a team is also the best hitter, and singlehandedly dominates his (or her, if she’s Mo’ne Davis) opponent.

Except, it was a Major League game, and the Braves position players suddenly remembered they’re generally counted on to provide the offense. By the end of the 8th, Niese was out of the game and the Atlanta lead swelled to 3-0, then expanded to 6-1 as the Braves feasted on Daisuke Matsuzaka in his first game back from the DL. Suffice to say, Dice-K did not look great.

At least the Mets avoided a shutout. But, they managed only four hits and one walk against Minor, striking out six times.

Minor wasn’t the only offensive star — Emilio Bonifacio was 4-for-5 with 2 RBI and a run scored.

Combined, only 250 pitches thrown by the two clubs. Yet the game was still two and half hours long. With that kind of efficiency, one would think the game would have been a little quicker. Dice-K didn’t have THAT much of an impact on the timing, in his two-thirds of an inning of work.

David Wright was back in the lineup — or at least, that’s what it says in the boxscore. He was otherwise invisible.

Back in March, would you have believed that the two biggest holes in the Mets lineup in late August would be Wright and Curtis Granderson? And that Ruben Tejada would have more walk-off hits than anyone else?

The Mets have now reached that magic number of 10 games below .500. Uh-oh.

Next Mets Game

Mets host the Phillies on Phriday night beginning at 7:10 PM. Jacob deGrom faces David Buchanan.

Author: "Joe Janish" Tags: "Mets 2014 Games"
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Date: Thursday, 28 Aug 2014 21:11

Time magazine is publishing an article on Friday on the best places to sit in various ballparks if you want to go home with a baseball as a souvenir.

Your best bet to catch a foul ball in Citi Field? Section 110.

You can read the entire article, and see other good spots to sit via an interactive map, by visiting Time.

Author: "Joe Janish" Tags: "Featured, Shea What?"
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