Mets Game 112: Loss To Giants

Giants 4 Mets 3

Parallel parking is a struggle for him. He loved The Godfather, Part III. At the supermarket, he brings 13 items to the “10 items or less” express lane. He eats pizza with a fork. He puts ketchup on his hot dogs … and he spells it “catsup.” Sliding glass doors get the best of him. He can’t shuffle a deck of cards. He’s The Least Interesting Man In The World.

Mets Game Notes

The taunting signs, I’m sure, had nothing to do with Hunter Pence breaking out of his slump and doing everything in his power to beat the Mets over the past few days. He doesn’t even know what The Godfather series is about, for crissakes!

I didn’t see this live, so I zipped through it on the DVR and missed quite a bit. However, a few teaching moments for the kiddies and the coaches out there …

Slight contrast in receiving styles of Travis d’Arnaud and Buster Posey. Posey, most of the time, attempts to catch a particular “side” of the baseball — something I teach instead of “framing.” The method is fairly simple: as the ball is coming in, the catcher tracks it and determines which half of the plate it will pass — inside or outside. Assuming a righthanded hitter is at the plate, if the ball will pass “middle in,” then the catcher will try to catch the left side of the ball in his fingers (thus, the pocket will be facing back toward the plate). If it will pass “middle out,” the catcher tries to catch the right side of ball. If it’s a pitch at the top of the strike zone, he tries to catch the “top” of the baseball (Anthony Recker did this effectively in Sunday’s ballgame to steal a strike). When properly executed, the glove should “stick” — in other words, the ball is caught and held in place with no movement whatsoever. I prefer this method because the catcher is not trying to fool the umpire, and umpires don’t like to look like fools. The idea is to reach out slightly and catch the ball when it’s a strike, rather than waiting back for it, catching the “back” of the ball (assuming the “front” is facing the pitcher), and then “framing” the glove back into the strike zone. Catching a “side” is quieter and generally more effective in my opinion. In consecutive innings, there were pitches in almost the same exact location thrown to the two catchers. Travis d’Arnaud waited for the ball, attempting to catch the back of it; to do so, his left elbow flew out to his left (away from the plate). However, the ball deflected off his glove and skipped away, allowing Pablo Sandoval to advance from second to third. Ron Darling called it “a lack of concentration” but I disagree; I believe it was a poor choice in technique. It was clear to me that d’Arnaud wanted to catch the back of the ball and kind of “ease” it back into the strike zone to “steal” a strike, but the ball tailed a little more than he anticipated, and once that happened, his hand and arm were not in position to react quickly enough to adjust. About an inning later, there was a high inside curveball to David Wright that was called strike three. Why? Because Posey caught the inside half of the baseball, when it was a strike (and it WAS a strike — it caught enough of the plate and was exactly at the baseline of the letters). It’s really hard to understand or see the difference from the center-field camera — you need to see it from the umpire’s view (which is the one that matters). It’s like night and day.

By the way, I’m not picking on d’Arnaud. In truth, he frequently seems to be trying to catch a “side” of the ball, and I’m betting it’s a new technique for him and he’s in the midst of learning it. I am aware of all the advanced stats suggesting that d’Arnaud gets or “steals” more strikes than most MLB catchers (it makes me want to vomit that it’s described as his ability to “frame,” as I hate the use of that word). However, I think his receiving skills can and will improve going forward, and I wonder if the “framing” metrics take into consideration the number of passed balls a catcher makes when attempting to “frame,” and if so, how much of an impact do those PBs have? I think he’s up to at least 10 on the season already, which is too many.

Another teaching lesson: fourth inning, d’Arnaud gets caught in a rundown between third and home, but Chris Young doesn’t advance from second to third. Darling said it was a “tough read” for Young, but, again (sorry Ronnie), I disagree. First off, Young needed to stray a few more steps off of second as that rundown developed, because there’s no way a fielder is going to throw back to second while there’s a runner caught between third and home — there’s too much at stake to lose focus on someone who could potentially score a run. Continuing with that in mind, the moment Brandon Crawford began to chase d’Arnaud toward home, Young should have broken for third. Why? Two reasons: again, the fielder is focused on getting that runner, and once the runner is going toward home, he HAS to be tagged, so all concentration is on making sure the runner is put out — in other words, there’s no worry by Young that Crawford might suddenly spin and throw to third. Additionally, once the fielder’s momentum is going away from third base, it’s going to take at least 3 seconds for him to tag the runner, stop in his tracks, change direction, and make a perfect throw behind him to third base. If Young is about 25 to 30 feet off second, he needs to only cover 60-65 feet in those three seconds (assuming the fielder’s execution is absolutely perfect). Every MLBer not named Ryan Howard or Bartolo Colon should be able to cover 60 feet in three seconds or less. Further, once a fielder commits to tagging that runner, he’s more or less conceding advancement of the runners, and if he can’t make a perfect throw, and be sure his throw won’t go wild and result in a run scoring anyway, he’s going to “eat it.”

Now you may be saying, “but Joe, how can a runner figure out all this in the short time that the play is happening?” Well, he’s not — it’s called mental preparation, and it’s what every single player on the field and on the bases should be doing during all that time in between pitches: going through possible scenarios that might happen after the next pitch is thrown, but be ready to react. And really, once a ballplayer has been through a few thousand games, he should already have most situations “filed away” in his brain — it’s not like Young had to figure all this out for the first time.

And no, I’m not necessarily picking on Young. Rather, using that play as an opportunity for a teaching moment for the youngins’.

Oh, and for another teaching moment related to that play … the situation occurred because Juan Lagares reached for a pitch down and away and off the plate, and he dribbled it to Sandoval. At the time, Lagares was ahead on the count 1-0, so there was no reason to be lunging and reaching (unless it was a hit and run, which I doubt highly). When you’re ahead on the count, and there’s a runner on third base, look for a pitch you feel comfortable hitting — ideally, a pitch that you can lift into the outfield. You’re looking for a sac fly at minimum, a long drive preferably, when you’re ahead of the count in that situation.

Another great teaching moment: if you can see the replay, watch Juan Lagares throw out Gregor Blanco at home in the seventh inning. It was perfect execution by both Lagares in charging the ball hard and letting loose with an on-target throw, and by d’Arnaud, who was set up in exactly the right place (inside the baseline, a few feet in front of the left corner of home plate, giving the runner a lane to the plate but in the right spot to catch and tag quickly). Where d’Arnaud set up, and how he tagged, is how catchers should have been executing even before the new interpretation of the rule book.

Since I’m disagreeing with Ron Darling today, I may as well pile on. I also disagreed with his feeling that the “rookie umpire” shouldn’t have reacted the way he did after the Mets bench started squawking after Lucas Duda was called out on strike three looking in the bottom of the seventh. Hey, I’m with anyone who believes that pitch was ball four — it looked to me like it was low. But home plate umpire Ben May called it a strike, and yes, I would have reacted too, and yes, I likely would’ve been tossed out of the game as well for arguing balls and strikes — and I would have expected as much, because that’s what happens when you argue balls and strikes. I get that many (most?) MLB managers grumble frequently about ball and strike calls, but, clearly, May heard something — or enough — to result in Terry Collins getting ejected. Darling’s “it’s a joke … man up …” comments were inappropriate, disrespectful, and condescending. Further, it excuses the jawing by the dugout, and suggests that talking back to the umpire is OK — as far as I’m concerned, that’s not a message to send to the kiddies, parents, and amateur coaches out there (remember, today’s recap is about teaching moments for the kiddies). Arguing with the umpire is less effective than trying to fight city hall — and we all know “you can’t fight city hall.” The crybabies have gotten their wish — there’s replay now. But guess what? For some calls, there is still a human element involved, and I’m fine with humans being imperfect.

Speaking of imperfection, did anyone expect Jeurys Familia and Jenrry Mejia to be absolutely perfect in every outing for the rest of the year? Hey, it turns out that both are human. Stuff happens. What’s important is how each of these young fireballers respond in their next outings. Hopefully, they forget about it and get right back to doing what they’ve been doing all year.

One more teaching moment! In the top of the ninth, with Mejia in trouble, Dana Eveland starting warming up in the bullpen. Eveland threw 32 pitches in Sunday’s ballgame, less than 24 hours prior. The ASMI pitching recovery rules dictate that an outing of 27 pitches or more requires a minimum of one day of rest. That means one day off of the pitching mound. 32 is five more than 27, so that meant that Eveland should have taken the day off, and not tossed one pitch from a mound. Yet, he was warming up on a mound in the bullpen, and, had the game gone differently, might have appeared in the game. Note: these ASMI rules were not made to be broken — unless, of course, you want your pitchers broken.

Of course, MLB pitchers are superhuman and do not apply to any rules. Ha!

Hey guys, keep breaking rules in every way you can, then scratch your head and wonder why every other pitcher is going down with an elbow or shoulder injury. Those in MLB will continue to forge their cement heads forward. The rest of us can at least try to see if scientific research can keep arms safe. What do you have to lose?

Next Mets Game

The Mets fly down to the nation’s capital to face the Nationals. Game time is a very democratic 7:05 PM and pits Zack Wheeler and Gio Gonzalez.

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. meticated August 5, 2014 at 12:21 am
    A memo from the department of obvious: We have a wealth of pitching…established and on the near rise…This is our precious mother lode. However, we suck, to put it mildly, on offense; in every possible category. ..there’s the essential dilemma. Something’s gotta give. Flores raking consistently or a in-house platoon that hits in the clutch in left would be godsend. Could it be that we don’t have to mortgage the future, and one reluctant yet sensational trade could be the tipping point? Methinks, Kemp is dealt this winter, we should be first in line…change of scenery scenario anyone?
  2. david August 5, 2014 at 2:13 am
    Gazing to 2105, we will have Harvey; Colon; Niese; Wheeler; Gee; DeGrom; Hefner; Montero; Syndergaard; and Matz on deck, with Dice-K possibly returning as a long man / spot starter. That is a heck of a lot of starting pitching.

    Sandy clearly has the chips, and I hope he pulls off a couple of good deals for a hitter or 3 even if it means we need to deal some of our everyday players. I am glad he realised the error of sending down Kirk and keeping Abreu. Over under for C Young being DFA’ed and Den Dekker being called up is 12 days.

  3. Kent August 5, 2014 at 6:47 am
    I personally don’t think Flores is the answer consider his good offensive triple-A number is partly inflated by the extremely favorable hitting environment in PCL. If I’m sandy I’ll try to trade or sign a shortstop. By the way I really don’t see Flores has a much meaningful role on this team (unless Mets trades Murphy, which I wouldn’t do), so I’m in favor of trading Flores, he could developed into an adequate bat, I just don’t see he does it with the Mets.
    • Eric Schwartz August 6, 2014 at 10:16 am
      The Mets have THREE shortstops in the high minors with a combined batting average of .340 I would be very disappointed if they traded for one and let these guys wither. They are Matt Reynolds, Dilson Herrera (who also plays second base), and T. J. Rivera. Check out their numbers.
      • DanB August 6, 2014 at 12:38 pm
        Eric, do you remember former Met farmhand, Jesus Feliciano? He was tearing it up in AAA but the scouts had no faith. When he finally got promoted, the scouts were right. From what I’ve read, Mike Reynolds reminds me of Feliciano. That said, since the Mets are treating the 2014 season as extended preseason, what the heck! There is nothing to lose but more games. But I hope the Mets are not relying on your guys for 2015.
  4. Bat August 5, 2014 at 7:13 am
    But Kent I don’t understand how you know how inflated Flores’ numbers are. Meaning: okay, he plays in Vegas but he was one of the best hitters in AAA at 22 y/o. So are his numbers inflated by 10% or 25%?

    One way to find out is to play him for 6+ weeks out of the remaining 7.5 weeks of the season but for some reason the Mets seem unwilling to do that even though the team is going nowhere this season (i.e., the playoffs are not happening).

    I will say that for all of the comments about Flores’ defense, he hasn’t looked that bad in the time I’ve seen him. Not great, but I’ve seen worse. Small sample size caveats apply of course.

    • Joe Janish August 5, 2014 at 3:33 pm
      Agreed on Flores’ D. He’s been far less than horrible. Not great, but not bad, and only once or twice embarrassing.

      I suppose the issue is having two below-average defenders in the middle. It’s hard enough to live with one on a full-time basis, but two would result in too many baserunners over the long haul.

      The Mets might be afraid to over-expose Flores at SS, perhaps hoping to trick some other team into thinking he has value as a middle infielder (and thus used as a trade chip).

  5. Bat August 5, 2014 at 7:18 am
    Just my humble opinion Meticated, but acquiring Kemp would be almost as bad as acquiring Ryan Howard.

    If I’m not mistaken, Kemp is due 5 years / $100 million after this year and he is showing all the signs of a player who is aging early.

    I feel slightly more confident that Kemp will rebound rather than Howard because he is younger and in better shape, but I still don’t think the odds are high that he returns to MVP-type caliber.

  6. mckeeganson August 5, 2014 at 2:29 pm
    It seems like the last thing we’d need is another 20 million a year contract to a player who’s in his 30s. What I don’t understand is why people are looking to add more bloated contracts when we just spent years stuck under the one’s for Bay, santana, k-rod, Perez, Castillo, Pedro, etc. Older players are greater injury risks, and while the hall of fame types can often produce into their mid and late 30s, most others begin the decline in their early 30s. Even tulo, between injuries, age and contract, would be a huge risk. Kemp and Car-Go? Hells to the no. if you’re going to trade the farm, I would prefer it would be for a younger guy like Goldschmidt, Michael Brantley, or Brian Dozier
    • Joe Janish August 5, 2014 at 3:29 pm
      The Mets weren’t “stuck” under big contracts until Bernie Madoff’s money tree fell over.

      Why consider expensive contracts?

      1. There is no significant offensive help coming from within anytime soon.
      2. Younger and/or inexpensive talents like Goldschmidt, Dozier, etc., are generally unavailable, and if they are, one has to overpay in trade.
      3. Because of #2, the only way to acquire someone with difference-making potential is to take a risk.

      Even beyond baseball, success in life usually requires some risk-taking.

      A New York-based team with a $85M payroll should have plenty of room to take on a risk or two — that’s the advantage of being in a big market, is the ability to spend more dollars than others. Unfortunately, small-market owners are running this big-market franchise. It’s ridiculous that Mets fans have to be worried about the team taking on too much payroll, considering the amount it costs to dine (and watch a ballgame) at Citi Field.

      • DanB August 5, 2014 at 3:52 pm
        If Player A is better then Player B but Player A makes more money, it still makes your team better to replace Player B with Player A. You don’t get penalized for having a bigger payroll. I also feel everytime someone talks about working with the Wilpon’s limited budget, you are only excusing them and encouraging them. If there was more outrage, it would put public pressure on the Wilpons to spend or sell. They will remain owners as long as the fans allow them.
        • DaveSchneck August 5, 2014 at 9:36 pm
          The outrage only matters if it results in less revenues via a drop in paid attendance, lower TV ratings, and/or less licensing sales. Sadly, the Wilpons have weathered the storm. Now is definitely the time to for this franchise to take on some risk to enhance the likelihood of offensive production. If they aren’t ready to spend a little now, they never will be, Especially if they find a taker for Mr. Colon. 2 legit bats, with these arms, puts them in the mix in 2015.
  7. DaveSchneck August 5, 2014 at 2:30 pm
    Great teaching points, but please don’t limit them to the kids. As a long retired little league caliber player, I really enjoy the explanations, which help continue to make baseball fascinating.

    Regarding Meticated’s point above, I am in the camp that wants the Mets to retain as much of their pitching as possible. I am also leery of the Tulo, Cargo, and Kemp types that carry injury/performance risk with big money commitments. That said, the Mets clearly need more offense. I can live with two professional bats instead of one big bopper if it preserves pitching depth. This will require dealing Colon and using some money to sign a free agent, like a Hardy at SS. The complicating factor is that while Duda has looked good, Wright has looked horrible, and they may need a #3 bat, which doesn’t exist within the organization. A Tulo or Kemp would provide that type of bat, so I can’t say that I’m totally against it. However, I want to keep Harvey-Syndy-Wheeler-deGrom, so not sure what they can bring back without offering those arms.