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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

citifield-foulballs

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: "Shea What?"
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Date: Thursday, 28 Aug 2014 02:15

Braves 3 Mets 2

Same score, but teams turned around.

One positive: it was entertaining to the very last pitch of the ballgame.

Mets Game Notes

Zack Wheeler pitched well — just not as well as Julio Teheran. Wheeler held the Bravos to 4 hits and 3 walks in 7 innings, and only 2 earned runs. But, there was an unearned run that made the difference between winning and losing. Or, you could say the leadoff homerun by Jason Heyward was the difference. Pick your poison.

Teheran struggled mightily with his command. He couldn’t find his curveball at all, missing drastically with it 4 times out of 5, yet, it seemed like that one time it worked was the time he needed it to in ending an at-bat. Most of the time he found a way to get ahead using the slider or a running fastball. I have to wonder if his command issues are related to a physical issue, such as a fatigued forearm. His mechanics are less than efficient. Gary Cohen pointed out that Teheran was among the NL leaders in innings pitched, and would likely go far over 200 IP for the season, and it was an unusual total in this day and age for a pitcher so young (23). I agree that it’s unusual, but am on the fence on whether the innings total can be dangerous. As has been pointed out here many times in the past, it’s not necessarily the volume that hurts MLB pitchers, but rather their lack of proper rest in between starts combined with flawed mechanics.

During the SNY postgame, Bobby Ojeda said that Teheran and Wheeler were very similar pitchers, and tried to support that with an argument that didn’t hold water. Bobby, I love you and agree with you about 80% of the time, but not in this case. They’re completely different pitchers, to my eyes. Teheran is more of a crafty guy with average fastball velocity who relies on the batter not knowing which pitch is coming, while Wheeler is a power pitcher with a hard sinker who, if not for his velocity, would struggle mightily. To me, Wheeler is the power-sinkerball pitcher that Mike Pelfrey was supposed to become, but never did, because he couldn’t maintain the high velocity and never developed a somewhat reliable off-speed pitch.

Remember what I said in the game 132 post about winning ballgames with defense in 2014, citing Juan Lagares? Yeah, that statement again, but this time put “Andrelton Simmons” into the blank.

Speaking of, I’m sorry, but again, I’m not on board with the unbelievable gushing over Lagares’ defense as if it is unusual — particularly when B.J. Upton made at least one outstanding catch of a long fly ball over his head. As mentioned the last time, I do love watching Lagares, and he IS among the elite. But there are others on his planet. I don’t know that he’s “the best” because I’ve seen other center fielders make similarly fantastic plays and haven’t had the luxury of watching some of them play every day. Watching Lagares every day, yes, I appreciate him greatly and believe he is a special fielder. But he’s not the only special fielder. I suppose if you are a Mets fan you don’t mind hearing all the uber-hype but as a general fan of baseball, again, I find it disrespectful to some of the other outstanding center fielders in MLB to repeatedly identify Lagares as the very best in the game. It would be much more acceptable if the SNY crew would say something like “that’s why he’s among the best there is in the outfield.”

Similarly, there are other shortstops in baseball who would’ve made that outstanding play to save a run that Simmons made in the bottom of the 8th on Travis d’Arnaud. It was amazing, it was clutch, and not EVERY shortstop makes that play. Like Lagares, Simmons is among the elite, but he’s not necessarily alone.

Oh, and not for nuthin’, but kudos also to Freddie Freeman, who made two outstanding Simmons plays hold up with outstanding scoops. I doubt the highlight reels will mention Freeman’s ability to dig, but without it, Simmons doesn’t make the highlights. #littlethings

Big cohones move by Fredi Gonzalez to bring the infield in with one out, men on second and third, and Ruben Tejada at the plate. But then again, it was Craig Kimbrel vs. Ruben Tejada, and I think Gonzalez had to like his chances in that situation, figuring that Tejada should have trouble making solid contact against Kimbrel, even when Kimbrel is having an off-night. And with both David Wright and Daniel Murphy out of action, Terry Collins didn’t have much choice but to let Tejada bat in that situation — his hands were tied by the roster situation. Though, I suppose he had Jacob deGrom available — who might be a better hitter than Tejada and who played two years of shortstop at Stetson. Hmm … tempting … but I doubt we’d see that, except possibly in a very long extra-inning game.

Gary and Ron Darling briefly discussed a pertinent topic to Mets fans: the Braves’ decision to trade away Randall Delgado as part of the package for Justin Upton. At the time, Delgado and Julio Teheran were the Braves’ top two young pitching prospects, and, in order to get a player of Upton’s caliber, it was necessary to part with at least one of them (if not both). As it’s turned out — so far — the Braves “guessed right” in keeping Teheran, but that’s not necessarily the point. Sure, it worked out well and the Braves look like geniuses now, but the point is that you have to give up something to get something, and the Braves were comfortable parting with someone who might’ve been their #1 prospect in order to get an elite and established, still relatively young, position player. Similarly, the Mets will have a decision to make this winter: whether or not to part with one of their top young pitching prospects toward getting an established, impact position player. Gary and Ron also touched on the fact that teams need to scout themselves as much as they scout opponents, and it pays to know your own talent better than anyone. Again, I can’t say for sure that the Braves knew that Teheran would work out better than Delgado, but maybe that was part of their decision. It could’ve just been lucky; remember that in the past, the Braves traded away Adam Wainwright and Jason Marquis to get J.D. Drew — though, that was over ten years ago.

Next Mets Game

The final game of the series begins at 7:10 PM on Thursday night. Jonathon Niese faces Mike Minor.

Author: "Joe Janish" Tags: "Mets 2014 Games"
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Date: Wednesday, 27 Aug 2014 17:16

Mets 3 Braves 2

Remember when the Mets lost most one-run games?

Mets Game Notes

It was Juan Lagares Night in Flushing, as the skilled center fielder beat the Braves almost singlehandedly by chasing down fly balls that were potential extra-base hits and hitting a two-run homer. Yes, you can win MLB games with defense here in 2014.

The other Mets run was driven in by Ruben Tejada. What is it with Tejada? It seems like every time you’re about to forget he’s on the roster, he gets big hits and makes sparkling plays in the field — but he can’t maintain it. Is it a matter of motivation, or is he a player who can’t be over-exposed? Hard to tell, really, because at times he can look fairly athletic. He may turn out to be a Ronny Cedeno (who by the way is listed as 31 years old … hmmm … he’s an OLD 31).

Dillon Gee wasn’t spectacular to the eye, but mowed down the Braves hitters nonetheless and posted a very nice final stat line. His change-up worked well and had the Braves batters off balance — a good thing to do to all-or-nothing sluggers. Gee allowed 8 baserunners in 6 2/3 innings, and wiggled out of several jams by the skin of his teeth, bailed out by Lagares and multiple double plays. I was stunned to see him start the seventh inning, and couldn’t believe he wasn’t removed after Chris Johnson walked to make it first and second and none out with Evan Gattis at the plate in the 7th. Gee was completely out of gas at that point, but Terry Collins left him in, held his breath, and Gee induced a double-play grounder. I suppose you could call that “great instinct” by Collins, and/or Gee “being tough” or “reaching back.” Or maybe it was a lucky roll of the dice. In any case, it worked.

You know you were sweating after Jenrry Mejia walked Justin Upton to start the ninth inning. I was a little surprised that Upton didn’t attempt to steal second, considering all the double plays the Mets turned during the evening, and Mejia’s inability to hold runners close. But, that’s the Braves — all or nothing.

Next Mets Game

Mets and Braves do it again at 7:10 PM on Wednesday night. Zack Wheeler faces Julio Teheran.

Author: "Joe Janish" Tags: "Mets 2014 Games"
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Date: Tuesday, 26 Aug 2014 17:34

The Mets have slowed down Matt Harvey‘s rehab schedule, and have planned to shut him down completely at the end of the season. Their reasoning? The “cautionary tale” of Jeremy Hefner‘s setback. It’s illogical, and dangerous — quite the opposite of their supposed intention of keeping Harvey safe.

I’m not sure why everyone involved in baseball thinks that slowing down the rehab process is somehow safe, or will prevent reinjury. It’s not just with Harvey, it’s with a number of MLB pitchers coming back from injury — teams think it’s OK to go off the prescribed medical plan and do their own thing. It’s akin to tossing the map, GPS, and directions out the window and driving the car off the road and onto an uncharted trail. If you’re not going to follow directions, and go your own route, you’re doing so at your own risk, and you don’t know where you’ll wind up — nor what you might encounter.

Pitching motion expert Angel Borrelli explains the risks involved when going against a prescribed rehabilitation schedule in the most recent episode of The Fix:

Current Baseball Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with On Baseball on BlogTalkRadio

If the above doesn’t play for you, you can try listening on BlogTalkRadio. You can also try downloading the episode and listening on your own software.

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Author: "Joe Janish" Tags: "Featured, matt harvey"
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Date: Monday, 25 Aug 2014 14:39

Mets 11 Dodgers 3

Not just a win, but an old-fashioned spanking!

Mets Game Notes

The Mets beat Kevin Correia to a pulp, then pummeled Carlos Frias, as well. A thundershower of power reigned (rained?) down on the Dodgers, as the Mets bats struck 12 hits in the first 6 innings.

The charge was led by Lucas Duda, who blasted two homeruns, and, of all people, Ruben Tejada, who reached the seats for the third time this season. Travis d’Arnaud also popped a solo shot — and guess what? He has a dozen dingers this year. That didn’t seem likely back in May, did it?

Bartolo Colon returned from inaction without missing a beat, performing his usual artistry of painting the corners for six innings, allowing two runs on five hits and a walk.

Oh, and the Mets turned a triple play!

This game might turn out to be the highlight of August, though there are still six games left this month.

Next Mets Game

The Mets batters, I’m sure, are tired from swinging, so luckily they have the day off on Monday as they travel back to the Right Coast. The Mets host the Braves in Flushing on Tuesday at 7:10 PM. Dillon Gee goes to the hill against Alex Wood.

Author: "Joe Janish" Tags: "Mets 2014 Games"
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Date: Sunday, 24 Aug 2014 18:51

Terry Collins reads Mets Today! Or at least he must have read this article about the batting order as he has fulfilled almost all of my requests. Sorry about that.

The Mets are on pace for another sub 75-win season, meaning they will begin the 2015 season just about the same way they have ended every year since 2011. Probably not a coincidence but just like the end of the 2011 season, they must begin to plan for 2015 by first looking for a shortstop.

No small amount of keyboard strokes have already covered this topic ad nausea. As always, Mets Today has our own unique and frequently irreverent POV on this subject. Here are a few thoughts on some of the potential solutions to the Mets shortstop problem:

Troy Tulowitzki: Tulo has a serious injury, will be on the wrong side of 30 and whoever is stuck with his contract will be paying him for what he used to do. After several seasons of austerity and finally developing a pipeline of useful players, the Mets giving the Rockies two or three top prospects for Tulo (as well as taking on that contract), is equivalent of pinching pennies for five years, only to suddenly pull the jar full of them off the top of the fridge, driving down to the casino and putting it all on red. I can’t say with confidence that the Mets are smart enough not to make this move. In case you missed the point, I am against a trade for Tulo, unless the Rockies take Jonathon Niese and Curtis Granderson off the Mets hands, don’t demand a top pitching prospect and pick up part of his salary.

Those Cub Shortstops: Let’s see—Starlin Castro has a big contract and Javier Baez strikes out a lot. Both of those are show-stoppers IMHO, to either player becoming a Met. Now Addison Russell, well there’s a good fit. I would support a trade involving one of Zach Wheeler, Noah Syndergaard or Jacob deGrom for Russell. There is a lot to like about Russell, but I doubt that Mets GM Sandy Alderson would pull the trigger on one of his young arms. While the word is that the Cubs don’t need to make a trade, I think that their GM Theo Epstein understands it’s smart to trade one or more of his offensive prospects before they struggle while learning a new defensive position and lose some value.

Those D-back Shortstops: Speaking of losing value, Didi Gregorius is a prime example of how major league pitching can expose any hot prospect. His 216/297/368 slash line is worse than Ruben Tejada‘s. In retrospect, Arizona should have listened harder to Alderson when he reached out to them about Didi two winters ago. I have read that the Diamondbacks still consider Chris Owings as part of their core. Whether that is just an opening bargaining position or an actual belief remains to be seen.

Elvis Andrus: It is fairly obvious that the Rangers’ window of opportunity has slammed shut. I have no knowledge of if they would move Elvis, who has a Texas-sized contract and is working on his second straight sub-700 OPS season.

J.J. Hardy: I still maintain that Jhonny Peralta was Alderson’s main target last season, until Peralta’s asking price destroyed Sandy’s well-laid plans. Hardy’s 2014 has been better so far than Peralta’s 2013 was and Hardy doesn’t have a PED suspension cloud over him, the way Peralta did. How do you think this will play out?

Jed Lowrie: See Hardy, JJ

Roberto Carlos: When I saw the Post headline about the Mets pursuing a Cuban, I hoped to read Yasmani Tomas’ name. Instead, it’s someone most of us have never heard of. Depends on his asking price, I guess.

Everth Cabera: He has all the earmarks of an Alderson acquisition–He’s a Padre, he had one good season about a zillion years ago and he has an affordable contract. The Pads probably wouldn’t expect much more than Logan Verrett or Rainy Lara in return, so it’s a trade Sandy could “win.”

Matt Reynolds: Let’s go back to the Tulowitzki Casino for a minute. If I had to handicap it right now, I would give Reynolds a better than even chance of being the Mets 2015 Opening Day shortstop. It is somewhat hard to ignore his offensive numbers, even with the PCL qualifier. Plus it might give Alderson and the Wilpons some smug satisfaction reminding everyone that both of the players they drafted as the result of losing Jose Reyes (Reynolds and Kevin Plawecki) are on the 25-man roster, so in effect they didn’t muff the Reyes situation.

Ruben Tejada: Because they really do want to piss us off.

Author: "Dan Capwell" Tags: "Featured, Opinion and Analysis"
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Date: Sunday, 24 Aug 2014 04:26

Dodgers 7 Mets 4

Mets swallowed by Chavez Ravine as they drop to ten games below .500.

Mets Game Notes

Once again, Zack Greinke did not have his “A-game” against the Mets, and the Mets again made him pay. Unfortunately, Jacob deGrom didn’t have his “A-game,” either, and the Dodgers made him pay a little more. While deGrom flashed great velocity — he hit 97 MPH a few times — he left a few too many pitches up in the zone and over the middle of the plate. He also didn’t get any help from the gloves behind him. He did, though, help himself with the bat, swatting a double and a single in his first two at-bats. Interestingly, deGrom’s worst at-bat came when he was asked to sacrifice bunt, and instead bunted into a fielder’s choice that did not advance the runner. I would’ve let him swing the bat in that situation — he was one of the best-looking Mets hitters of the night.

One of the worst-looking Mets hitters of the night? David Wright. Wright failed every time he came to the plate, and he came up in big spots with runners in scoring position. He was one of the main reasons the Mets were 2-for-12 with RISP and left 8 runners on base.

Juan Lagares has been one of the bright spots of a dismal Mets season, and I enjoy watching him play center field. I also find his hitting progress encouraging — he may not one day be a batting or home run champion, but he looks like he’ll be a positive offensive contributor with more experience. And again: I enjoy watching him in the field. However, unlike those in the SNY booth, I don’t think Lagares is a shoo-in for a Gold Glove this year, nor do I think he’s “head and shoulders above all other center fielders” in the big leagues. He’s really, really good — better than most. Is he the best? Maybe, but I think watching him every day makes us appreciate him more than outfielders we don’t get to see every day, and it influences our perception. Someone in the SNY booth talks about Lagares like he’s on another planet all by himself, and that’s simply not the case — he’s elite, for sure, but others are “in his league,” so to speak. Carlos Gomez, for one. Peter Bourjos — who in many ways is very similar to Lagares. Denard Span. Ben Revere is up there. Billy Hamilton has been damn impressive, especially for someone who has never been in the outfield before. Yasiel Puig may not look as polished, but his raw tools put him in the conversation. And when he’s paying attention, B.J. Upton makes it easy getting to the long flies in the same way as Lagares. When and if A.J. Pollock gets back to the big leagues, he’s in that same elite class. If you extend the discussion to the Adulterated League, there’s Jacoby Ellsbury, Leonys Martin, Lorenzo Cain, and Austin Jackson. Look, I’m not trying to belittle Lagares’ skills, and I absolutely, positively believe he is among the elite. Rather, I’m trying to make clear that it’s not THAT unusual to be a fantastic-fielding center fielder in the big leagues right now. Will he get the Gold Glove this year? It would be nice, but I doubt it, mainly because he’s going to finish the year with somewhere around 120-130 games played, while others in his defensive class will likely play 150+. Yes, Juan Lagares is an outstanding fielder. Assuming he keeps up his pace and stays in the lineup, he should win a Gold Glove some day. But to say that there’s no one better, and to suggest that it will be “a crime” if he doesn’t get a Gold Gloe this year, is being both ignorant and disrespectful to some of the other elite fly chasers in the league. There’s an entire universe playing baseball outside of Planet Mets.

Lagares, by the way, not only played his usual outstanding defense, but also went 2-for-4 with a three-run homer.

Nice to see Matt den Dekker finally break out of his slump with hustling double. I was beginning to worry that his first week back in MLB was a mirage.

There was an ironic discussion by Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez regarding Jenrry Mejia‘s initial displeasure with pitching out of the bullpen. Mejia felt that he became injured because he pitched in a relief role, rather than considering the possibility that his mechanics were dangerous (they are). Here’s the irony: as a starting pitcher, Mejia would be more likely to find himself back on a surgeon’s table at an earlier point, in part because of the volume of pitches but mainly because of the illogical MLB habit of starters throwing bullpen sessions on the second day after a start. Mejia likely will still injure his arm again, but, an injury would probably happen a bit quicker if he remained in the rotation. I’m glad Keith mentioned the risk of Mejia’s “herky jerky” motion.

Also nice to hear Keith say about Don Mattingly, “he’s got my vote for the Hall of Fame.” If you’re old enough to remember, there was something of a fan-induced rivalry between Keith and Don when both played in New York. Many a heated debate occurred on bar stools around the NY-Metro area between Mets and Yankees fans over who was the better all-around first baseman, and who was the better fielder. I’m sure Keith and Don never considered themselves rivals — they never played against each other in those pre-interleague-play days — yet it still seemed awkward to hear Keith hold Donnie Baseball in such high regard. Oh, and as far as I’m concerned, Donnie in the HoF is a no-brainer — as is Dale Murphy. Keith? I’m not sure, but he’s closer than the voters have judged him. And for the record, neither Keith nor Don was the best first baseman I ever saw — that would be Mike Squires. No kidding.

Next Mets Game

Mets and Dodgers do it one more time on Sunday afternoon at 4:10 PM. Bartolo Colon is scheduled to make the start against Kevin Correia.

Author: "Joe Janish" Tags: "Mets 2014 Games"
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Date: Saturday, 23 Aug 2014 04:56

Dodgers 6 Mets 2

Maybe the Mets were as tired, bored, and uninspired as I was in having to wait until after 10 PM Right Coast Time for the game to begin. Yawn! At least they outhit their errors.

Mets Game Notes

Jonathon Niese’s line wasn’t awful, but he didn’t exactly pass the eye test with flying colors, either. Kind of ordinary stuff, fairly hittable, and though Niese was victimized by some sloppy play behind him, he also threw too many hittable pitches and got away with a number of them; he may also have been helped just a pinch by a large strike zone (as was Dan Haren).

Not a great day in the field for Wilmer Flores. I’ll leave it at that, because he looks and seems like such a nice kid — wouldn’t you invite him to your table for Thanksgiving? I would. But he’s not an everyday Major League shortstop. Maybe if his bat progresses — which is very possible as he’s only 23 — he’ll have some kind of role on a MLB roster. Perhaps a utilityman. Maybe a left fielder. Maybe a first baseman. Probably not a shortstop, though. Still, we want to see him there through the final 30 or so games, to see what he can do with the bat. Bottom line is he has to hit to stay in the bigs, and he has 1 HR in over 150 PAs, with an insipid .550 OPS. (“Insipid” is a word we use in the wine industry for a watery white wine, like a cheap pinot grigio; compare it to “anemic.”)

Come to think of it, no one on the Mets had a particularly great night. Maybe they had too much rest, with the off day on Thursday. Errors all around, sloppy, uninspired play; they looked kind of like a San Diego Padres club, circa 1975 — just showing up, enjoying the fresh air and beautiful sunshine.

What kind of team do you have when Andre Ethier is just hanging around on the bench in the 8th inning, doing nothing but counting his $15.5M paycheck? And to think, the Dodgers have studly phenom Joc Pederson — who has hit 31 HR in 414 ABs and mashing a 1.009 OPS in AAA — chomping at the bit. This is the definition of “embarrassment of riches.” Whenever I hear some Mets fan talk about how their team is just “one or two bats away,” I have to wonder if they’ve noticed the ridiculous depth of clubs like the Dodgers. Remember when LA was trying to find playing time for Yasiel Puig? Their quantity and quality of talent is sick.

Absolutely stunning to see Don Mattingly call the squeeze with one out in the fifth, Justin Turner at third, and Dan Haren at the plate. Haren is an AWFUL bunter, bunted into a double play in his previous at-bat, and looked horrendous in a sacrifice attempt one pitch prior. Further, Haren is a pretty decent hitter for a pitcher, despite his 2014 average of .143. Haren completely missed the pitch (as he did in his sac attempt) and Turner was a dead duck. As it turned out, the Mets did a terrible job of putting out Turner — the rundown took three throws, and it should’ve taken one — and as a result, Erisbel Arruebarrena had time to advance from 1B all the way to 3B, and scored moments later on a Haren single. Another single and an error by Wilmer Flores loaded the bases before Adrian Gonzalez grounded out to end the inning, and I have to wonder how big that inning might’ve been had Mattingly let Haren swing away from the get-go. #littlethings

Curtis Granderson hit his first homerun in 94 at-bats. Wow. That’s quite a drought for a power hitter. But, Grandy tends to be streaky, so he may hit 6 or 7 in his next 50 ABs.

The Mets did not have a runner in scoring position until there were two outs in the 8th inning, when J.P. Howell couldn’t find the plate and walked pinch-hitter Eric Campbell.

Next Mets Game

Mets and Dodgers do it again at 9:10 PM Right Coast Time on Saturday night. Jacob deGrom faces Zack Greinke

Author: "Joe Janish" Tags: "Mets 2014 Games"
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Date: Friday, 22 Aug 2014 15:55

Is it time to shut down Jenrry Mejia? Or maybe the question is, why haven’t the Mets yet shut down Jenrry Mejia?

Do you remember when Mejia was a young and promising fireballer, but went down with a shoulder injury before he was old enough to drink?

Do you remember when he came back from that injury, only to go down with a UCL tear that required Tommy John surgery?

Do you remember when, after coming back from TJ surgery, Mejia went down again with an elbow issue, and had his season shut down to have surgery to remove bone spurs in his elbow?

That most recent issue was only a year ago. If you recall, Mejia threw all of 51 innings in 2013 — all as a starter.

This year, Mejia began the season in the starting rotation, then was moved to the bullpen. He’s done fairly well in his new role, all things considered. I think it’s fair to say that he shows potential as a closer, and, certainly, his future would seem to be pitching in the later innings of ballgames, rather than the earlier ones.

Today, Mejia has a sports hernia, a back problem, a mysterious thigh issue (perhaps related to the hernia?), and a chronic calf issue. He’s also still pitching with the same dangerous mechanics that put him on the surgeon’s table three times in three years. The Mets are 8 games below .500, 8 behind in the wild card standings, and fading fast.

So what’s the point in continuing to send Mejia to the mound? He’s already appeared in 47 games in 2014; to put that in perspective, consider that he appeared in 51 professional games from 2011-2013 combined. MLB coaches, managers, and executives like to blab about “innings limits,” but we know from history that counting innings means nothing. What matters (after mechanics) is rest and recovery. This is the first year that Mejia has pitched as a reliever, and the Mets broke the recovery rules a few times with him — most alarmingly, when he came out of the bullpen to face the Yankees only three days after a 101-pitch effort. Although Mejia hasn’t racked up innings in his relief role, that doesn’t mean his arm hasn’t taken a beating. Granted, it’s far less of the beating it would’ve taken had he remained in the starting rotation (my bet is he’d have been on the DL with another arm injury by now if he had), but pitching a few times a week is a stressful load, particularly for someone who has had so many arm injuries so recently. Point being, Mejia has pushed himself far enough for this year, both he and the Mets are somewhat lucky that he’s still able to climb onto the hill and hurl the ball 95 MPH — why push it any further? Toward what end?

There’s no need to question Mejia’s toughness or competitiveness — he’s proven to be both tough and competitive. He’s fearless. We’ve seen his stuff — it’s wipe-out, nasty stuff when he’s on. We know he also has occasional lapses in focus and/or command — most high-energy closers do. We know he sometimes can lose his cool. Maybe he’ll mature some more and work out those negative issues, but chances are, he’ll be this way for life (see: Jose Valverde, K-Rod, etc.), because that’s part of who he is. Even if he can work out those issues, the maturation process is going to take more than another five weeks at the end of a meaningless season.

So, again — why is Jenrry Mejia still being given the ball, while suffering from all of these various ailments? Are the Mets TRYING to send him back to the operating table? Do they want to see just how far his body can be pushed before it breaks down YET AGAIN?

I don’t get it. Mejia would seem to be one of the pieces of the Mets’ future — a high-octane collection of late-inning relievers that would presumably include he, Jeurys Familia, Vic Black, and Bobby Parnell. So why push the envelope? Why tempt fate? Is it because he’ll have more value as an offseason trading chip if he finishes out the year? I can’t figure it out. He already has a history of arm issues and bad mechanics. Pitching with lower body issues can only put even more undue stress on the arm. Is that a ticking noise?

What’s your thought? Do you have any idea why Jenrry Mejia has not yet been shut down? Post your theory in the comments.

Author: "Joe Janish" Tags: "Mets Injuries, Opinion and Analysis, jen..."
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Date: Thursday, 21 Aug 2014 15:03

Mets 8 Athletics 5

Where did that come from?

Mets Game Notes

After a long drought, the Mets bats came alive. Maybe it was being in an Adulterated League park that inspired them. Maybe it was having an extra hitter in the lineup — a “designated pinch hitter” in place of the pitcher. Maybe it was familiarity with the pitcher whose last name is hard to spell. Maybe the Mets are simply a “daytime” team (they’re now 25-19 in day games this year).

Whatever the case, the Mets beat Cespedless A’s, and scored a whopping 8 runs in the process (and did it with more than four hits!).

Zack Wheeler won again, and his line looks OK, and maybe it could’ve looked better had it not been for sloppy play behind him. Then again, he didn’t appear to be so dominant, either. Not that he has to be every time out. What made me curious was Terry Collins saying after the game that he and Dan Warthen had arbitrarily decided, prior to the contest, that Wheeler would be capped at about 100 pitches, because he threw 120 in his previous outing. Why? Is there an injury? Do they know that the way to take care of Wheeler was to keep him off a mound for four days after the start? No, they don’t, and neither does anyone in MLB. I’ll keep harping on this until you are sick and tired of it and until someone, somewhere in pro ball considers the wild-eyed notion of applying science instead of mythology toward keeping pitchers healthy. Evidence-based fact: the mature, human arm needs four days’ rest after throwing 89 or more pitches. “Rest” means “stay off the mound.” In MLB, starting pitchers go on a mound to throw a bullpen within 48 hours after a start, which means they are disrupting the recovery process. This is not theory, it is science. The healing process — which involves tissue and cells — takes time. Why MLBers think their cells are different from other humans is not known; it could be that they believe throwing 90+ MPH makes their body chemistry different from others. Most were born on Planet Krypton, right?

I’ll be nice and say nothing about the Mets errors in this game.

Big stat: Mets were 4-for-7 with RISP.

Big bomb: by Lucas Duda, his 23rd tater of the year. That’s 15 more than Ike Davis — just sayin’.

Eric Campbell also hit one out, his third of the year. That’s 20 less than Marlon Byrd — though, Campbell’s only had 161 plate appearances to Byrd’s 524. Why do I bring this up? Not to pick on Campbell, by any stretch. Rather, to bring attention to the absence of Byrd, whose 2014 salary is $500,000 more than the Mets are paying Chris Young to take an early vacation.

Curtis Granderson swatted two hits and drove in a run. His OPS is now up to .698.

Jeurys Familia threw 29 pitches in 1 2/3 innings to notch his fourth save. He’ll need one day of rest, and he’ll get it, as the Mets are off on Thursday.

The A’s are 8-11 since trading Yoenis Cespedes, for what it’s worth. Small sample size. They were 66-41 with the slugger.

Next Mets Game

Mets get a day off before returning to NL competition to face the Los Angeles Dodgers. Game one on Friday night begins at 10:10 PM Right Coast time. Jonathon Niese is scheduled to face Dan Haren.

Author: "Joe Janish" Tags: "Mets 2014 Games"
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Date: Wednesday, 20 Aug 2014 05:23

Athletics 6 Mets 2

Finally, the Mets collect more than four hits.

Mets Game Notes

The Mets had a total of seven hits, in fact, and almost all from the bottom half of the order. Batters one through four went 1-for-13. Batters one through five were 2-for-17, but had one homerun (nicely done, Travis d’Arnaud).

Dillon Gee was not very good (again), yet he managed to muddle through 5 1/3 innings, allowing 4 runs on 8 hits and 2 walks. He seemed always to be in a bases-loaded situation, and even when he wiggled out, the bases would inevitably refill. Even a cat has only nine lives, and eventually, the Athletics made Gee pay for keeping the bases inebriated. Gee hung around in the upper half of the strike zone and above, and struggled mightily to get his curveball snapping consistently.

Meanwhile, Scott Kazmir set down the Mets from the get-go, with strong command of all his pitches and matching body language — he simply looked like he was in complete control of the tempo and the game. I was mildly surprised that he was removed after six stellar innings, but the A’s have great confidence in their bullpen and everybody knows that pitchers can’t go far beyond 100 pitches without turning into a pumpkin.

Oakland reliever Ryan Cook has put up excellent numbers in his two and half years as an Athletic, but I’m betting he’ll go down with an elbow injury and be on the operating table for Tommy John surgery sooner rather than later. The way he “hooks” the ball behind his back is a bad idea, as is the double-tap of his throwing hand against his glove. As is his habit of raising his throwing elbow above his shoulder prior to moving the ball up and forward. As a result his arm is far behind his body, and he’s putting undue strain on both his elbow and his shoulder, and, likely, the elbow will give out first.

Josh Reddick. Careless Whisper. Shoot me. I must’ve heard that vomitous tune a thousand times during a dark, sad, five-month period of my childhood when the radio wouldn’t stop playing it, yet, remarkably, I never knew its title. Go figure. Guns and Roses couldn’t arrive on the scene soon enough. If it weren’t for heavy metal bands like Judas Priest, Metallica, Metal Church, Megadeth, Slayer, and Black Sabbath, I might’ve given up on music altogether. Oh, and thank goodness for Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, and Queen. Crazy bit of trivia: Rob Halford and Freddie Mercury never met, not once. That’s nuts, right? Oops, I mean, that’s hard to believe, isn’t it? Anyway, I digress …

Sean Doolittle. For Whom The Bell Tolls. Now we’re talkin’! Time marches ON!!!!

Glad to see Gonzalez Germen has finally kicked that virus. Was it West Nile? African sleeping sickness? Dengue fever? Did I ever tell you guys about my bout with Dengue, by the way? And how it led to my holding the baseball in my hand that was the ball that Endy Chavez caught off the bat of Scott Rolen in October 2006? Remind me to tell you about that, perhaps over the winter when we’re bored (or are we bored now?).

Carlos Beltran is doing 5 Hour Energy
commercials? Whoa, how the mighty have fallen.

Next Mets Game

The Mets and A’s do it again on Wednesday afternoon starting at 3:35 PM. Zack Wheeler takes the hill against Jeff Samardzija.

Author: "Joe Janish" Tags: "Mets 2014 Games"
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Date: Tuesday, 19 Aug 2014 06:20

Cubs 4 Mets 1

Sixteen hits in four games. It’s a miracle they won two.

Mets Game Notes

In case you were wondering, I was referring to the New York Mets, who collected exactly four hits in each of these four games against the Cubs. Is that some kind of record? Even back in the day when I started watching baseball — the late 1970s — it was uncommon for a team to collect only four hits in a game, four games in a row (actually, getting only four hits once in a row was somewhat unusual). It was rare for such a thing to happen twice against the same club, I think — but, then again, my memory is not so reliable. Maybe it was a common occurrence. But if it was, it was when dominant starters such as J.R. Richard, Nolan Ryan, Steve Carlton, Tom Seaver, and Vida Blue took the mound against lineups that included at least two or three (or four) easy outs IN ADDITION TO the pitcher — i.e., a Braves lineup that included Rowland Office, Pat Rockett, Joe Nolan, and Rod Gilbreath; or a Padres lineup that had Bob Davis, Mike Champion, and Tucker Ashford littering the bottom end. But for this to happen today? It has to be some kind of precedent. The Cubs pitchers are pretty good, but they’re not Koufax / Drysdale / Gibson / Jenkins. Maybe I’m making more of this than I should; maybe being held to just four hits in a game, four games in a row, against a club that was 18 games below .500, is more common than I suspect.

Carlos Torres jumped in for Bartolo Colon and did a yeoman’s job, as he always seems to do when put on the spot. He’s not a great pitcher, but he’s a good guy to have around — kind of like Tom Hausman or Terry Leach back in the day.

Buddy Carlyle let in the go-ahead run, and Jenrry Mejia allowed an extra two in the ninth. But no need to blame either, since the Mets only scored once.

Though, one has to wonder when the Mets will shut down Mejia, who is suffering multiple nagging injuries. Are they waiting for an arm strain of some sort to rear its ugly head before putting him on the DL? Is this some kind of test, to see how mentally tough he is? Do they keep running him out there because he’s their best closer option, and believe they’re still in the postseason hunt? I’m not sure what to make of this situation, and it gets more befuddling by the day. Surely there’s someone in AAA or AA who can be promoted for bullpen use. What about all the yakkety-yak we’d heard of fireballers Cory Mazzoni and Darin Gorski over the past few years? What about Chase Bradford or Jack Leathersich? Shouldn’t the Mets see if any of these guys might be options for 2015 now, rather than waiting until rosters expand and everyone has less-than-MLBers littering their rosters?

Next Mets Game

The Mets attempt to stroke more than four hits in a game against the Athletics in Oakland on Tuesday at 10:05 PM Right Coast Time. But guess what? The A’s pitchers are even better than those on the Cubs. Game one pits Dillon Gee against former Met Scott Kazmir.

Author: "Joe Janish" Tags: "Mets 2014 Games"
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Date: Monday, 18 Aug 2014 10:38

Cubs 2 Mets 1

Mets 7 Cubs 3

Mets 3 Cubs 2

If I told you the Mets would collect no more than four hits in each of three games, and they’d win two of them, would you believe me?

First off, for various reasons, I saw a grand total of about four innings of these three games, and heard another ten or so on the radio. That said, I don’t have much game detail detail to discuss. And by “much” I mean “none.”

During Saturday night’s win I was working a wine tasting in Atlantic City, and so I didn’t see how the Mets managed to score 7 runs on 4 hits — with no home runs; I’m hoping the game is still on the DVR so I can see, because this is truly fascinating. That’s a pretty darn efficient use of hits, IMHO.

Friday night’s win I understand, because all the runs came from one swing of the bat. That was a typical win circa 1977, except it was Eric Campbell with the three-run homer instead of Roy Staiger.

As for Sunday … well … the Mets ran into a very good pitcher, and Starlin Castro ran into a not-very-good pitch from Jenrry Mejia to re-take a Cubs lead and win the ballgame.

On the one hand, the Mets really should take three of four from the woeful Cubs. On the other hand, what does it matter? Tough to say.

It’s hard to believe that the Mets are only seven games out of the wild card with about a month and a half of the season left to play, while also being seven games under .500. They’re on pace to finish 76-86, which is two games better than the past two years but 14 games below their 90-win goal.

I’m getting the feeling that the Mets are on the cusp of that end-of-season swoon that every Terry Collins-led team has suffered. Blame it on injuries, blame it on lack of personnel, blame it on whatever you want, but the bottom line is that TC’s teams finish floundering rather than flourishing, and it’s feeling like the Mets are on auto-pilot. Any day now, it seems like Mejia is going to be shut down, another one (or two?) of the starting pitchers will suffer a season-ending injury, David Wright will be playing out the string physically compromised (which seems to have already been the case), and players out of position and/or out of their element (i.e., AAAA players) are on the verge of being exposed. Meaningful games in September are a long shot, to say the least.

Next Mets Game

The final game of the Cubs series begins at 12:10 PM on Monday afternoon. Bartolo Colon faces Kyle Hendricks (no relation to Kyle Kendrick).

Author: "Joe Janish" Tags: "Mets 2014 Games"
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Date: Friday, 15 Aug 2014 04:53

Nationals 4 Mets 1

In case you hadn’t already heard, the Nationals have beat the Mets in Citi Field 11 straight times.

Mets Game Notes

I wonder if Swiffer will ever have the marketing smarts to sponsor a series like this, and, one day, instead of calling it a “sweep,” it will be referred to as a “Swiff”? These are the silly things that run through my mind sometimes. Hey, I never thought that college bowl games and sports stadiums would be branded — aren’t sports references next to be monetized?

Anyway …

I admit to not seeing too much of this game. I caught bits and pieces live, then watched a few innings later on the DVR. What it looked like to me was that Dillon Gee was not sharp, and if he’s not sharp against a good-hitting team, he gets beat.

Thank goodness the Phillies stink, or the Mets might be sitting in the cellar right now. Is it really possible that the Padres — who looked like the worst team in baseball just a few weeks ago, and traded away a few of their better players prior to the deadline — have hopped over the Mets in the Wild Card standings? Did that really happen? Remarkable.

Great insight by Keith Hernandez during the fourth inning on when and why to stretch a little extra or get off the bag as a first basemen when receiving wide throws from infielders. In short, he explained that when the throw is from the second baseman, you’re more inclined to make the stretch, because you know the catcher is backing up behind you and has plenty of time to get to a wild throw. As the ball moves further and further away from the second baseman and the second base bag, the angle gets tougher and tougher and

I hope Daniel Murphy took out the official scorer for a steak dinner after this game. First, Murphy was awarded a hit on what could have been charged as an error on Ian Desmond in the fourth (which was what the above paragraph referenced). Then, Murphy was awarded a stolen base instead of a caught stealing when the PERFECT throw from catcher Jose Lobaton kicked off the heel of Anthony Rendon‘s glove. Seriously? Seriously? Seriously? Yes, I’m going to ask one more time — SERIOUSLY???? The ball beat Murphy by at least ten feet. The ball hit leather. It was a really bad move — a stupid move, in fact, by Murphy. But instead of being ethical, the official scorer gave Murphy the stolen base, and to add insult to injury, Murphy’s absolutely stupid baserunning was rewarded when he scored on a sac fly to give the Mets their only run. Murphy’s Law, and we’ve been seeing it for years. I would be really curious to know if there is any other MLBer who has come out of so many dumb decisions smelling like a rose. Murphy is like the Inspector Clouseau of MLB. Can you tell this sort of thing irritates me?

As an aside … There was a comment in one of the game recaps that pointed to David Wright‘s underperformance this year as a major reason for the Mets’ inability to be a .500 club or better. Well, sure, I guess. But consider this: the Nationals were without Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman, and they still swept the Mets. Imagine if the Mets were without Wright and, say, Daniel Murphy or Curtis Granderson or Lucas Duda (or, heck, pick any other man considered one of the Mets “top” offensive threats) — would the Mets even look like a AAA club? Sometimes it’s good to step back and take a truly realistic perspective on this Mets team. As has been the case for several years, there is absolutely no depth, and as a result, they have a tremendously slim margin for error and similarly slim margin for loss of assets. Anyone who is of the theory that the Mets are “just one bat away” from playoff contention, think again — this game is as much about depth as it is about high-level talent.

How many more times is Keith going to describe Bryce Harper‘s swing as “unconventional”? Or maybe the question is, how many more booming homeruns does Harper have to hit before Keith stops describing his swing that way? By the way, if you have ever seen the swing of Sadaharu Oh, you might see some resemblance to Harper’s. Just sayin’.

Not that it matters, but it was nice to hear GKR express their strong support for pitchers hitting / no DH, and their lamenting interleague play. Unfortunately, BeelzeBud Selig has been paving the way for universal DH for several years now, and it’s inevitable; I give it five years. When it happens, no worries, I’ll still be blogging, but it will be about Vintage Baseball.

Next Mets Game

The Mets host the Cubs in Flushing on Friday night at 7:10 PM. Zack Wheeler faces Travis Wood.

Author: "Joe Janish" Tags: "Mets 2014 Games"
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Date: Thursday, 14 Aug 2014 04:49

Nationals 3 Mets 2

If nothing else, the game had your heart racing to the very last out. And that’s ultimately what we want from a ballgame, isn’t it?

Mets Game Notes

Bartolo Colon deserved better. But then, so did Jordan Zimmerman. Something like 22 of Colon’s first 25 pitches of the ballgame were strikes, and then he fell down toward more human performance. In the end, though, he was his usual masterful self, allowing only two runs — one earned — on six hits and a walk in seven innings. Zimmerman went 6 1/3 and allowed only one unearned run on five hits and no walks. Both pitchers were hurt by sloppy play behind them, but persevered through the predicaments.

The Mets really and truly had a great chance to steal the win away from the Nats, as they caught usually reliable Rafael Soriano on an off-night and nearly gained a huge advantage on a steal by Eric Young, Jr. in a first and third situation. The throw from Nats catcher Wilson Ramos was off line but snared by Asdrubal Cabrera (whose solo homer in the 8th wound up being the difference in the ballgame). Cabrera caught the ball and tried to apply the tag behind him and between his legs; I’m still not sure how that ball didn’t get through the wickets and into the outfield. Even bigger than that play was Juan Lagares, in a no-out sacrifice situation, popped up his bunt attempt back to Soriano. Ironically, that play could’ve been even worse if Soriano allowed the ball to drop and turned to throw to second, because Lagares didn’t even run — it would’ve been an easy double play.

Another key play in that action-packed bottom of the ninth was Matt den Dekker getting thrown out at home on a grounder. It should’ve been routine — den Dekker was out by about 15 feet — but because Ramos was kind of, sort of, maybe blocking the pathway of the runner, there was an umpire review of the play. Hey, it was a good call by Terry Collins to take a shot at it — you have to challenge it — but if that had been overturned it would’ve been ridiculous. First off, it’s ridiculous that such an obvious out can be reviewed for that reason. Second, Ramos, when he originally set up his target, clearly had his left foot INSIDE the third base line, and giving a lane to the runner. The throw forced him to move toward and beyond the third base line and into the runner’s path, and that’s why it was a good idea to challenge — to the blind eye, at real-time speed, it could’ve been perceived as blocking the runner’s path. Thankfully, the umpires watching the video screens saw it that way too and made the right call.

Slight disagreement with Keith Hernandez in regard to the situation in the top of the seventh inning. The Nats had a man on second (Adam LaRoche) and none out with Ian Desmond at the plate. Before a pitch was thrown to Desmond, Keith explained that a hitter in that spot needs to try to advance the runner by hitting the ball the other way. I agree — IF the pitcher allows the hitter to do that. Desmond swung through two chest-high fastballs that were middle-in to fall behind 0-2, and Keith was exasperated by Desmond’s “selfish” decision to swing hard at those pitches. Here’s where I have to step in and defend Desmond (who wound up eventually stroking a single up the middle). Sure, it would have been ideal for Desmond to bounce a grounder to the right side and advance LaRoche. But, it’s kind of difficult to hit a middle-in, letter-high, 92-MPH fastball the other way — Derek Jeter can do it, because Jeter tries to inside-out nearly every pitch that comes his way. What is the best goal when a batter sees a letter-high fastball moving middle-in? Driving it to an outfield gap. And a drive to the outfield gap is going to EASILY score even a clod like LaRoche. So I don’t have an issue with Desmond hacking at those pitches — he was working with what Colon was giving him.

In the bottom of the seventh, the Mets found themselves in a rally opportunity when, after getting men on first and second, Washington catcher Wilson Ramos attempted to pick Matt den Dekker off first, but LaRoche apparently didn’t receive the communication, and the ball was thrown up the right field line, allowing den Dekker to advance to second and Lucas Duda to third. Keith asked, “when the catcher doesn’t see the first baseman covering, why can’t he eat it?” From experience, I’ll explain exactly why: because when a catcher is trying to pick off a runner, it has to catch the runner by surprise, and it has to happen very quickly — so there is no time for thought or decision. It’s kind of like when a football offense decides to go on two huts instead of one to draw the defense offsides — you have to blindly trust everyone on the offense to know what’s happening, and catch the defense by surprise. If someone forgets, the play fails, and that’s that — it’s a team effort, and the center can’t, in mid-hut, quickly snap the ball when he realizes that the left guard is about to jump prematurely. Unfortunately for Ramos, he’s the one charged with an error, even though it was LaRoche who missed the communication (though, I suppose it could be argued that it’s Ramos’ fault the communication failed). If such a play is on, to get the runner it’s going to be bang-bang — if the catcher allows something other than reaction get in the way of execution (such as checking for a split-second to make sure the first baseman is moving toward first), there’s almost no chance of getting an out. Further, by hesitating for that split second to take a look, the catcher likely will affect his timing and throwing mechanics and throw the ball away. Oh, and for those wondering if the catcher can kind of take a look down to first while the pitch is coming in, to see if the first baseman is breaking, no, that’s not a good idea — a 90+ MPH pitch is difficult enough to handle cleanly when you have two eyes focused on it. It’s a play based on timing and trust, and it has to operate one way, at one speed, to succeed.

Michael Taylor occasionally looks like a deer in headlights, but he also seems to have a really good idea of the strike zone, and he appears to have rare athletic talent, and I’m betting he’ll be a star one day. When? Maybe later rather than sooner, but the tools are there.

Next Mets Game

Mets and Nationals do it again at 7:10 PM on Thursday night. Dillon Gee faces Stephen Strasburg.

Author: "Joe Janish" Tags: "Mets 2014 Games"
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Date: Wednesday, 13 Aug 2014 02:42

Nationals 7 Mets 1

A solid five frames by Rafael Montero. Let’s leave it at that.

Mets Game Notes

Nice job by Rafael Montero to keep his sinking fastball at the knees and maybe an inch or two below, on both sides of the plate. If there’s a criticism, it’s that, in two-strike counts, he picked outside the corners looking for batters to chase at strike three, instead of going after them. Trying to strike out every single hitter leads to high pitch counts and too many walks; the better pitchers throw strikes in locations that make hitting them squarely more difficult based on how the hitter was set up in a particular at-bat. Montero’s velocity — if we can trust the SNY radar readings — was higher than I expected. He was regularly in the 92-93 MPH range, and I thought he was more 90-91. Maybe it was adrenaline?

I’d rather not get into the bad stuff that happened to Montero and the Mets in this game. Let’s pretend that rain ended the game after five frames and the Mets lost 2-0 … mmmmmmkay?

Doug Fister is a pretty decent athlete, and has a good swing — he looks more like a position player than a pitcher at the plate (for whatever that’s worth). I’m mildly surprised he has only two hits this year, but I guess part of it is that he’s never hit against MLB pitching on a regular basis before.

Next Mets Game

Mets and National do it again at 7:10 PM on Wednesday night. Bartolo Colon faces Jordan Zimmerman.

Author: "Joe Janish" Tags: "Mets 2014 Games"
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Date: Sunday, 10 Aug 2014 21:47

Phillies 7 Mets 6

I wouldn’t have believed it had I not seen it.

Mets Game Notes

And I nearly didn’t see it. Zack Wheeler was dominating a Phillies team that was clearly tired, worn, and looking to get the game over with before it even started. Once the Mets lead swelled to 6-1, I started getting ready for a big bike ride.

Then, the Phillies scored two in the bottom of the sixth. And two more in the seventh. I set my helmet aside and watched the Mets bullpen completely crap the bed. Terry Collins left Wheeler — and Vic Black — in one or two batters too many, and didn’t leave Josh Edgin in long enough (nor did he bring him in soon enough). Vic Black performed exactly opposite of Keith Hernandez‘s glowing introductory remarks — almost as if on cue. The win was still in place when Jenrry Mejia entered a clear ninth inning. Mejia managed only two outs as the Phillies finished off a rally that overcame a five-run deficit. Ouch.

What’s wrong with Mejia? Maybe it’s the calf thing? Maybe it was the overuse in the first half? Maybe the scouting reports are catching up to him? Who knows?

In Vic Black’s defense, he wasn’t helped by the defense. Wilmer Flores flubbed a play that could’ve been the third out of the inning; instead, it was an infield single for Ben Revere. A good MLB shortstop probably makes that play, but Flores is a below-average MLB shortstop. From there, the inning ran away from Black.

Probably, A.J. Burnett is the worst pitcher in the National League right now. That’s a good thing for Kyle Kendrick, who is not only awful, but gets little help in the field — especially on a day game after a long night game. Or, maybe it’s just that so many hitters hit the ball so hard off of Kendrick on a consistent basis, a few are bound to be misplayed by the defenders.

Though, there was at least one exception — when Ben Revere made a spectacular catch to rob Matt den Dekker of a 3rd-inning birthday present. Unfortunately for Kendrick and the Phillies, that one big play wasn’t enough to make up for the ineptitude of Domonic Brown, who allowed a fly ball to bounce off his shoetop. Not since the days of Lonnie Smith and Jose Canseco patrolling left field have I seen an outfielder get handcuffed by a fly ball, but Brown did it. What the heck is wrong with him this year? Is he injured? On drugs? I understand that the big offensive numbers he put up in 2013 was due mainly to a red-hot May and June, but even without the power production, Brown always appeared to be a standout, “toolsy” athlete. Right now he looks completely lost.

Back to den Dekker for a moment — he is not the same hitter we saw in past years, and his swing has definitely shortened. I like the way his hands look — they’re in a strong, balanced position in the middle of his body as he waits for the pitcher, he has a short take-back, and his hands are going directly toward the ball when he swings. No more big loop, which means he has much more time to decide whether to swing and a better chance of making hard contact. I’m excited to see how he does over the final two months of this season.

Strangely enough, after den Dekker’s single in the ninth, Keith Hernandez said, “I always liked his swing …” Um, Keith, it’s completely different now. Aw, why should I pick on Keith? He was otherwise his usual entertaining self.

Speaking of that single, it was followed by den Dekker ending the inning on a caught stealing. No criticism of den Dekker, it was a good risk to take at that point in the game and he got a good jump — and, he would’ve been safe had he not overslid the bag. What I want to point out was the great job Jimmy Rollins did in keeping his glove on den Dekker until den Dekker’s slid beyond the bag and didn’t remain in contact with it. Too often times I see infielders apply a tag and then raise their glove to show the umpire that the ball is still in their glove. That’s completely unnecessary, illogical, and it prevents the infielder from getting outs the way Rollins did in that situation. Kiddies: keep that glove planted on the runner until the umpire makes a call. In fact, it’s OK to apply a bit of pressure to a runner’s body part (be it a foot or hand) to “help” it lose contact with the bag. #littlethings

Like Gary Cohen, I thought for a moment that the Mets were going to “Dick WilliamsChase Utley and fake the intentional walk with a full count and surprise him with a strike. They were not, though, and Utley was absolutely ready just in case they did. Just before that pitch, it looked like Utley had been struck out looking on a fastball on the outside edge of the plate, but it was called ball three, and Marlon Byrd stole second on the pitch, setting up the intentional walk. Should it have been called strike three? Maybe.

With Utley red-hot on this Sunday afternoon and Howard not the hitter he once was, the intentional walk was the right call. However, Howard must’ve taken it personally, and possibly sharpened his focus just a notch.

Lucas Duda and Travis d’Arnaud hit back-to-back homers in the fifth. If these two guys can keep doing what they’re doing, and keep doing it in 2015, the Mets might not need to make a big splash in the offseason for a big bat. That’s assuming there’s any money to make a big splash.

Oops! Seems Terry Collins and Jenrry Mejia don’t have their stories straight. During the postgame, Collins said that Mejia told him he was completely healthy, and that nothing physical was bothering him. Minutes later, Mejia told reporters that not only is his calf bothering him, but also his back, as well as the fact he was diagnosed with a hernia about three weeks ago. Oh, and he’s not telling “anyone” because he wants to keep pitching through the end of the season. Huh. Well. Huh. Hmm. I wonder if Mejia is aware that Terry Collins has SNY at home, as well as a DVR, and there’s a slight possibility that either Collins, or maybe his wife or a close friend, MIGHT have heard Mejia’s comments, and MIGHT relay that information to Collins.

Next Mets Game

The phinal game of this phour game series between the Mets and Phillies happens on Monday aphternoon beginning at 1:05 PM. Jonathon Niese faces David Buchanan.

Author: "Joe Janish" Tags: "Mets 2014 Games"
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