Mets Game 98: Loss To Padres

Padres 2 Mets 1

At least they weren’t no-hit.

Mets Game Notes

Hey! Look who’s back! Didja miss me? I had not watched a baseball game — of any level — since Mets Game 90. Due to business travel, the All-Star Exhibition break, and a hint of vacation mixed in between, I went without baseball for nearly two weeks — perhaps the longest in-season break in my life in about 15 years. Not that you care, and not that it matters. But, funny how quickly things can change. Prior to my hiatus, the Mets were on their way to yet another awful season, poised to finish the year far below .500, with Terry Collins seemingly on the brink of unemployment. I return, and what do you know? Sandy Alderson is quoting Tug McGraw, the Mets are on a 8-2 streak, and Mets fans are starting to believe that the boys from Flushing just might play interesting games in September. Further, the team went on this wild run going into the AS Exhibition, and would be playing perhaps the worst team in MLB after the break — a perfect way to keep the momentum going in the second half.

Oops.

The Mets success train didn’t exactly start up again in San Diego. Don’t blame me — if I had that kind of power, I’d use it for far more worthwhile causes than helping the Mets win (world peace, for example). Though, the train hasn’t run off the rails, either. Starting the second half 1-2 isn’t the end of the world, but it’s not the ideal way for a previously hot team to begin, either.

There are three ways to look at this particular ballgame. First, the Mets’ fan viewpoint: “Ugh, what an awful way to lose!” Second, the Padres’ fan perspective: “Gee whiz, it was about time they came through with a run-scoring hit!” Then, the neutral baseball fan: “Finally, the agony is over!”

It was agonizing — truly — to watch the offensive ineptitude of these two clubs. Nearly every time the Padres got something going, it happened with two outs and the pitcher coming up to the plate. The Mets, meanwhile, didn’t get anything going until the eighth inning, when they finally managed to collect a base hit. Odrisamer Despaigne — btw, I couldn’t possibly pronounce his first nor last name, and wasn’t able to type out either without help — no-hit the Mets through 7 2/3, until Daniel Murphy finally broke it up by rapping a double into the left-center alley. David Wright followed with a ground-ball single that bounced through the infield and “poof!” the Mets tied the ballgame. Honestly, I didn’t believe San Diego would win this game. Looking at their stats and watching their horrendous collection of “hitters,” it seemed that one run was their absolute peak. This was my feeling particularly after Despaigne was removed from the game — I thought for sure the mental state of the Mets would change to a much more positive frame of mind, and they’d manage to score at least one run, if not several, against a Padres pitcher without the name “Despaigne” on his back.

Instead, it was the Padres who continued to mount fruitless threats, until finally breaking through with the winning run in the ninth — thanks primarily to two poorly handled balls back to the pitcher. Were those lucky? I guess, sure. Might you also blame the Mets pitchers — Vic Black and Josh Edgin — for not being able to field their position? Well, yeah, and then luck doesn’t enter the picture (#littlethings). Oh, and then there was the issue of walking the leadoff batter (#littlethings) to start the ninth.

The Mets actually got away with a number of #littlethings, thanks mainly to the Padres inability to hit with RISP (or hit, in general). There was the ground-rule double by Chase Headley, on a ball that appeared to bounce off of Bobby Abreu‘s toe (and why were neither Abreu NOR Ruben Tejada running full-out for that pop-up? Do they both fear collision? We know Abreu’s history with walls …). There was the leadoff triple by Will Venable that resulted in no runs scoring. There was the botched relay by Daniel Murphy on that triple by Venable. There was the nearly botched double-play by Murphy in the ninth. There was the Padres going 1-for-11 with RISP and leaving 11 on base. So while it was a “tough way to lose” if you were only living in the final moment of the game, at the same time, there were several situations when the Mets barely squeaked out of trouble. A team can live on the edge only so many times before it finally falls over.

Despaigne was impressive, though I wonder how much of his success was due to the magic of mystery / unfamiliarity. To his credit, he threw a ton of strikes, and he changed both speed and location on every single pitch. He reminded me a bit of fellow countrymen Orlando Hernandez and Luis Tiant in that regard (and his leg kick also is reminiscent of El Duque). It will be interesting to watch how his career continue — will he be another El Duque or Tiant, or more like Alay Soler or Yunesky Maya? We’ll see …

Meanwhile, Zack Wheeler pitched well enough to win — but didn’t. It happens, though it shouldn’t happen against the Padres.

I’m well aware it was Daniel Murphy who broke up the no-hitter, but he didn’t look great at the plate in this game prior to that at-bat. He looks tired, and his back side is dipping again, and he’s rolling over on pitches he should be driving. Looking at the game log, his batting average has dropped from .303 on June 30 to .289 after this ballgame, with his OBP going from .353 to .336 over the same time frame. So far in July, he’s hitting .204 with a .232 OBP. Ouch. Is it possible that he’s wearing out? Should he have been given a few more breathers in the first half? He’s played in all but four games this year, and two of those games came at the very beginning of the season, when he took off on paternity leave.

One last thing: how is Chris Denorfia still in MLB, and, for that matter, starting in RF and batting 6th in a MLB lineup???? I get that it was a Sunday afternoon ballgame, and that’s when the scrubs get their chance. But is it truly possible that Denorfia is the 25th-best player in the Padres’ organization? There’s not ONE player in AAA or AA who is better? There isn’t someone on the waiver wire who is better than Denorfia? Denorfia was kind of fun and interesting about six years ago, when he was a surprising, blue-collar, hustling, everyman super-sub in the Joe McEwing mold. But now he’s 33 years old and has no business starting in right field and batting sixth for even the worst team in MLB. People wonder why I believe MLB talent is watered down today, and here is a prime example. Denorfia should have a hard time finding his way into the starting lineup on a Sunday afternoon for a AAA club, much less one that plays in the Major Leagues.

Next Mets Game

The Mets move on to play the Mariners in Seattle on Monday night. Game time is 10:10 PM Right Coast Time. I can’t promise that I’ll give you a good recap, as I’ll likely be asleep by 11. Jonathon Niese returns from his mysterious DL stint to face Roenis Elias — yet another Cuban pitcher.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Walnutz15 July 21, 2014 at 8:38 am
    I didn’t watch yesterday, but am sitting here marveling over the fact that Daniel Murphy can manage to work some kind of defensive blunder into almost every contest he’s written into.

    Whether it’s:

    – Physical?
    – Mental?
    – Something that didn’t cost them right away – but ultimately led to their demise later on?
    – Something that didn’t wind up costing them at all…..

    You can essentially set your watch to it happening at some point; not unlike Jon Niese’s annual injury and D.L. stint.

    I lost it (laughing) when Murph almost tossed a hand-grenade into the stands in the 9th inning on Friday night, having no shot whatsoever on the runner he was attempting to get at 1st base; launching instead of eating.

    Luckily, it didn’t cost them – and fortuitously caromed back onto the field. They had just fought to take the lead back, and he seemingly did everything in his power to want the Padres to have a runner in scoring position.

    Mejia looked filthy, though – so it didn’t wind up costing them.

    I’m glad that certain players have looked a world better (d’Arnaud) – but really, the same kind of questions are going to have to be asked of this team this off-season as we asked last winter.

    Anything north of 78 wins this year would be a miracle, IMHO…….and by that token, considered a “success” in my book.

  2. gary s July 21, 2014 at 9:33 am
    Good points all..Mind blowing that they let Tejada bat with bases loaded yesterday..I have no idea how this guy starts everyday for a major league team..Letting him bat with the bases loaded yesterday was criminal..
    • crozier July 21, 2014 at 1:02 pm
      What would have been mind-blowing is pinch hitting for the guy with the second-highest OBP in the starting lineup. The situation called for a single or walk, and Tejada has demonstrated the ability to generate good ABs. Wish he had shown more patience in this particular at bat, but oh well.
      • DaveSchneck July 21, 2014 at 2:25 pm
        Crozier,
        I’ll have to disagree. Don’t be fooled by those numbers. There isn’t a player in the Met line up that the opposing pitcher would rather face in that spot more than Tejada. He has no pop whatsoever, and while he does give some good ABs here and there, his slugging percentage is under .300. I think a RHP would rather face him than deGrom in that spot. Campbell has the more dangerous bat by far and in every way, shape and form. Collins was hamstrung only because he knows sticking Campbell at SS would look about as pretty as sticking Murphy at SS. I still would have PH Campbell myself and maybe stuck deGrom at SS, he is very likely the 2nd best SS on the roster, and maybe the best SS offensively on the roster.
        • crozier July 21, 2014 at 4:55 pm
          “Don’t be fooled by those numbers.”

          DS, on the absolute contrary, the numbers are there to tell us when our eyes and hearts are fooling us. Tejada doesn’t merely have a .350 OBP; he has one that’s over .400 since May.

          The Mets needed a walk or a single, not a double (which would have been nice) or a home run (which would have been all but unprecedented). Why swap out a contact hitter like Tejada in that situation and weaken the defense so late in the game?

          Across the Mets universe, people speak with utter disbelief that Tejada remains in the lineup, despite that he gets on base with regularity and fields his position better than the majority of NL shortstops. It’s tiring; it’s like hearing how Duda doesn’t hit with runners on (which I read constantly), when the numbers tell you he actually hits better. That perception is from 2013, and it needs updating.

        • DaveSchneck July 21, 2014 at 11:20 pm
          Croz,
          We can beak it down by the numbers if you’d like. Campbell is superior in every way offensively to Tejada and was available to hit in that spot. He did not only because Collins has no backup SS. Neither of those two statements are available. Ruben has certainly performed adequately this season, and partially offset his poor average and slugging percentage with walks. However, he is the eighth hitter for a reason, and both the eyes and the numbers back it up.
        • Joe Janish July 22, 2014 at 12:20 pm
          I don’t know that Tejada fields better than the majority of NL shortstops. Advanced fielding stats have him up there for this year, but I’m told that UZR isn’t useful in small sample sizes. My eyes see an average defender in a league that is filled with good, very good, and outstanding shortstops. Better than “the majority” would be in the top 7 or 8, right? I don’t believe Tejada is better defensively than Cozart, Crawford, Simmons, Tulowitzki, Hechevarria, Segura, and Rollins. I’m not sure he’s better than Castro and Peralta with the glove. He’s better than Hanley right now, MAYBE better than Desmond. I’m not saying Tejada is a bad by any stretch, and I’m not saying every other NL shortstop is THAT MUCH better than him — rather, I take issue with pronouncing him “better than the majority,” because I’m not seeing him as all that.

          As for Tejada being a “contact hitter” — well, he’s hitting .235 and his AB/SO rate is 4.5, which puts him just barely above average and in a group hitters who are excused for striking out that often because they hit with power (Adam LaRoche, Todd Frazier, Garret Jones, Freddie Freeman, Yasiel Puig, Anthony Rizzo are all between 4.3 and 4.7; Tejada sticks out in that group like a sore thumb). Maybe I’m being picky or my standards are too high, but that kind of K rate combined with that kind of batting average is not how I describe “contact hitting.”

          He does walk fairly often, and has two walk-off hits, but that’s about it. I remember Rod Barajas and Henry Blanco collecting several dramatic walk-off hits a few years back, but it didn’t change my perception of either hitter’s true ability (or lack thereof).

    • crozier July 21, 2014 at 1:20 pm
      Welcome back, Joe. Nice to see your time away did nothing to soften your outlook. There I was, thinking Wheeler’s continuing to recover from a middling season, and this Despaigne guy has the goods (1.31 ERA after 5 starts, 2 of which were against SF). Abreu’s tongue-in-cheek complaint to the ump that Despaigne was “cheating” was hilarious.

      So, good pitching duel? Nah: “It was agonizing — truly — to watch the offensive ineptitude of these two clubs.”

      Oh. Okay, noted. I just thought, you know, if the pitchers were effective, even “impressive,” the hitters wouldn’t hit so much.

      It’s also nice to get back to the Murphy bashing after a break. Yeah, I know I called him an “idiot” a month or so back, but of course he isn’t – he has concentration lapses, and it’s not a small deal; he needs therapy or something. But regardless, he provided considerable value to the team through June, which is more than I can say about Mr. Wright.

      Wright has finally shown some of his old self in the last few weeks, and it’s reflected in the uptick of his OPS and WAR, but when Lagares is outslugging you (as was the case at the beginning of July), you have to wonder what’s going on in DW’s head – or shoulder, as the case may be. For the team’s sake in its race to .500, I hope he’s back on track.

      • Joe Janish July 22, 2014 at 12:51 am
        Pitching duel? Not a chance. Wheeler’s location was average to below-average. Despaigne — as mentioned — did a nice job of changing speeds, pitches, and location, but no-hit stuff? No. Padres hitters, to my eyes, are absolutely awful. The stats back up what I saw. The majority of the Mets lineup belongs in AAA, and they seemed to have an off-night. So yeah, I’m sticking to my guns on this one — I’ve seen enough non-Mets MLB games to know when bad hitting makes decent pitching look like very good pitching.

        Do you disagree that Murphy needs a rest? He’s running on fumes, it looks to me.

        I agree that D-Wright has not been his normal self thus far this year, but why is he part of the Murphy conversation? If it’s because he’s supposed to be providing protection for Murphy, I’d argue that D-Wright has had even worse protection.

        Here’s what I’ve noticed: the Mets’ best month — by far — has been July, when D-Wright has posted his best OPS (.884), while Murphy has had his worst month. So it could be said that “as goes Wright, so go the Mets,” whereas even the best efforts of Murphy have little to no effect on the team’s success. Hmm … I guess, then, it’s fair to put some of the blame of the Mets’ first-half woes on The Captain.

    • Victor Chu July 21, 2014 at 5:02 pm
      Gary Spitz … is that you???
  3. Bat July 21, 2014 at 10:27 am
    Joe, good to see you back.

    I believe Colon will be pitching against the Mariners in the three game series. I am hoping Colon has a strong game and that strong game entices the Mariners to acquire him.

    Obviously the Mariners (and other teams) have scouts watching other games he’s pitching, but it would be good to see him perform well at Safeco Field and impress with July 31 (and Aug 31) approaching.

  4. DaveSchneck July 21, 2014 at 12:24 pm
    Joe,
    Welcome back, and yes, you were missed. Too bad you had to return with such a lemon of a game. I’ll even chalk up the offensive ineptness to good/unfamiliar pitching by the Padres’ El Duque. And, I’ll give the Mets credit for some grittiness to battle back with 2 outs none on in the bottom of the 8th. However, that bottom of the 9th was downright dreadful.

    Vic Black throws hard and has some upside but he has no business being in a tied game in the 9th, or extra innings, until the Mets are out of pitchers. I believe that is the second time that he walked a leadoff hitter on 4 pitches on the road in sudden death (Pittsburgh?). He is a 6th/7th inning guy at this point and for the foreseeable future. Not much to say about Edgin’s tumbling, and the end of the Yankee game was probably worse, but it looked like Duda didn’t even attempt to be in position to make a stretch on the play, even though it didn’t matter #littlethings.

    How the GM can field a team in the majors without a legit backup middle infielder is beyond me, especially when the 6th OF is essentially a DH. Murphy does look tired, given his all-start trip etc, but unfortunalely, the backup 2B, and the backup SS for that matter, is the starting SS, with no legit backup at either position. Claiming Campbell is the backup SS is a farce, as Collins has no faith in his defense or he would have hit Campbell for Tejada in both 7th inning bases loaded two out spots. Campbell is an emergency SS, just like he may be an emergency C. Alderson has a direct hand in the losses Saturday and Sunday based upon this mind-boggling roster construction. Not that I want Flores on the bench watching, or consider him a SS, but they need to fix this quickly. Lastly, Collins making a million pitching changes Sat. night when the Mets were lifeless and down by a bunch of runs makes no sense. His handling of the pen, despite its limitations, is very concerning.

  5. DanB July 21, 2014 at 5:24 pm
    The Mets haven’t had a legitimate shortstop since December of 2011. The Mets haven’t had a backup middle infielder for close to a month. How can this be justified? As bad as Tejada is, what if he gets injured? What if the Mets trade Murphy? Does anyone think the Mets have a plan for that? All the middle infield prospects are in the low minors. By the time they are productive (if they pan out), Wright will be old and Harvey will be gone via free agency.
    • Eric Schwartz July 21, 2014 at 6:06 pm
      Matt Reynolds, hitting .350 for the year, is at Las Vegas. That’s not exactly low mnors. Dilson Herrera, (.330) who can play either 2nd base or shortstop, is right behind him at Binghamton. While there are legitimate questions about Reynolds’ fielding, you can’t ignore his hitting. The 1986 Mets went with Wally Backman at second, although he was not that good a fielder, alternating with Tim Teufel — ditto — remember that his error cost the Mets the first game, which they lost 1-0 (Bill Buckner just evened it out).
      • crozier July 21, 2014 at 7:34 pm
        I must be in a bad mood today that I can’t let this comment pass. Buckner didn’t lose Game Six — that was Calvin Schraldi, who gave up 3 straight singles with two outs. Did Buckner make the most egregious error? I’d argue Bob Stanley did — his wild pitch tied the game. Still irritates me that Buckner gets all the blame when it was an utter collapse in pitching in games six and seven did in the Sox.

        Oh, and also, anything other than a good defender at short will be a net loss for the Mets. And Tejada’s a good defender.

        • Joe Janish July 22, 2014 at 12:54 am
          Agreed – Buckner was FAR from the goat of that collapse. He just happened to let one go through the wickets at precisely the wrong time. Only the most inattentive fans would blame Buckner for that game. The goat was a competition between Stanley and Schiraldi, who proved to be a choke artist.
  6. Bat July 21, 2014 at 8:35 pm
    Crozier, thanks for pointing out (indirectly) something that most people seem to forget:

    The game was already tied by the time that Buckner made the error!!

    That is, the Red Sox had already blown a 5-3 lead and the game was tied 5-5 by the time Buckner committed that error!!

    But Calvin Schiraldi, Bob Stanley, Rich Gedman, and everyone else did nothing wrong and Bill Buckner did everything wrong….

  7. DanB July 21, 2014 at 8:43 pm
    Not only was it not Buckner’s error that lost the game, but if he fielded ?the ball, Mookie would of beaten him to the bag. However, Crozier I still disagree with you about Tejada. Just because he is hitting well right now doesn’t mean he will continue to hit well. From a statistical stand point, there is no such thing as a hot hitter. No matter what Tejada has been hitting since May, in his next at bat he will be more likely to hit according to his career averages rather then a very small sample of is last few at bats. Statistical analysis tells us that Tejada was not a good batter to have in that spot (if it wasn’t for the fact that there is no real backup shortstop).
    • crozier July 21, 2014 at 10:04 pm
      Please do disagree – everybody being on the same page here would be a drag.

      But saying Tejeda is hitting well due to a hot streak is wrong two ways – he’s been consistent, not hot – but even at his best he isn’t a great hitter. What he’s doing right is seeing more pitches, getting on base, and hitting fewer balls in the air. Despaigne walked two batters that inning and seemed to be losing his bearings, so I liked the Mets’ chances in that circumstance. Tejada, in fact, had a bad at bat, which is unfortunate. But I’ve seen him have plenty of good ones in similar situations. Two of them won games in walk-offs.

  8. DanB July 21, 2014 at 10:32 pm
    A wise man once said, “the numbers are there to tell us when our eyes and heart are fooling us”. You think Tejada is a new man and his previous numbers are less meaningful. However, you also argued that the statistics back you up. Dont you see you are contridicting yourself? Statistics say Tejada will convert to his career average. My eyes and heart believe he will convert back after watching hit the same way in the first half of 2012 only to convert back the next one and a half seasons. I don’t mean to nitpick with you however statistics say fans (and managers) overstate the importance of a hot streak. But I prefer to believe Tejada is a smarter hitter like you say.
    • Joe Janish July 22, 2014 at 12:55 am
      I’m waiting for someone to say “Ruben Tejada is the least of the Mets’ problems ….”

      😉

    • argonbunnies July 23, 2014 at 4:01 am
      I was cool with one SS on the roster until Tejada fanned on 3 Ross sliders low and away. We need a pinch-hitter there.

      Ruben’s respectable stats are based largely on the Mets’ pitchers hitting .050 — lots of IBBs to pad the OBP.

      It’s nice to see Ruben’s no longer the completely automatic out he was last year, but no one should mistake him for a solid hitter.

  9. DanB July 22, 2014 at 8:00 am
    Actually, Joe, I think Duda has taken over that role!
    • Joe Janish July 22, 2014 at 12:25 pm
      Ha, yes, I’ve already heard that one. Exactly my point. Every year it’s the same nonsense.

      Dan Murphy is the least of the Mets problems …

      Lucas Duda is the least of the Mets problems …

      Ruben Tejada is the least of the Mets problems …

      People love to use that sentence, yet, the Mets as a unit have SERIOUS problems. That’s what happens when half the roster is the “least” problematic.

  10. argonbunnies July 23, 2014 at 4:09 am
    Despaigne got away with plenty of mistakes, but his fastball-change up velocity differential might be the best in baseball. Fastball sitting at 88 but touching 93; change up at 74-75. That’s unheard of.

    Wheeler’s breaking balls were pretty well-behaved, and I don’t mind him working on his (currently awful) change up, but it was disappointing to see a cruddy lineup like the Pads look comfortable against his fastball. He hasn’t had good movement on it in a while.

    • Joe Janish July 23, 2014 at 12:59 pm
      The change-up velocity differential is Heilman-like.

      Ah, I’ve been waiting all year to mention Aaron Heilman. He should be about ready to return from Tommy John surgery by now — I think he had it in late 2012.