Mets Game 157: Loss To Nationals

Nationals 4 Mets 2

One team played a very crisp, clean, fundamentally sound game, while the other, didn’t. Which was which? Check the final score.

Congrats to the Mets for clinching their sixth consecutive non-winning season.

Mets Game Notes

Maybe I’m crazy (who are we kidding? there’s no debate), but it seems that every time Carlos Torres entered a ballgame, someone in the SNY booth praised him for a “yeoman’s job,” being a “pleasant surprise,” “quietly” being a key component of the Mets’ staff/bullpen, and being “an unsung hero” (or terms to that effect). I agree that Torres has been extremely valuable. However, how many times can you praise someone for being “unsung” or “unrecognized” before it’s an incorrect comment? I think Carlos Torres is the most sung-about unsung hero since Jose Valentin. Or maybe Fernando Tatis.

In a somewhat similar vein, every time Bartolo Colon has made a defensive play, much hay was made about his being “athletic” despite his girth. It must be the end of the season, because that story has worn old as well. Yeah, Colon is a grossly overweight guy. But he’s still one of the 750 best ballplayers on the planet, and you don’t get into that stratosphere without being a world-class athlete. So yes, it would be surprising if the portly butcher down the street made a remarkable play on a rocket hit back to him in a Sunday softball game, but it shouldn’t be THAT surprising to see a tremendous but obese athlete do something athletic. Yeah, it must be the end of the season.

Why was it announced that Terry Collins would return in 2015? Didn’t he have a contract for 2015, or did I miss something? Was it because Wally Backman was in the dugout, that the Mets felt the need to make clear Collins was / would still be the manager?

Congratulations to Sandy Alderson, who, in true Mets fashion, was rewarded for four years of losing and dwindling attendance with a three-year extension to his contract. Many of us wish we could be as ineffective in our jobs and get not fired but rewarded. Fits perfectly into Bud Selig’s grand plan of MLB parity / socialism. Oh crap did I go too far? Never mind, back to the baseball …

Is it me, or does Daniel Murphy look refreshingly comfortable / not awkward at third base? It’s too bad he couldn’t have had a larger sample there, as he might draw more trade interest from other clubs if he could prove that, in fact, he DOES have a position after all. Hmm … maybe instead of dumping Murphy before he gets another raise, the Mets can find a taker for David Wright‘s big contract …

I’m still liking both Matt den Dekker and Kirk Nieuwenhuis, and believe both should be at minimum be valuable platoon players for someone over the next 3-5 years. They kind of remind me of Gary Roenicke / John Lowenstein when those two played for Earl Weaver in Baltimore — players who have some flaws but can play the entire game, and can be really effective at a championship level when used properly and not over-exposed. I get the feeling, though, that their best years won’t happen with the Mets.

Every once in a while, Bobby Ojeda exasperates me with his talk about pitching mechanics. Usually, though, I thoroughly enjoy his postgame comments, and after this game in particular he was spot-on in so many areas. What struck me most was his explanation of Nationals manager Matt Williams‘ desire to keep his team in the right frame of mind — despite already clinching the division — and doing everything possible to win this game. The Nats were playing with an intensity we have not seen by other Mets opponents of late, and, as Ojeda pointed out, were taking nothing for granted in this final week of the regular season. Every player was going all-out, their focus was sharp, and execution mostly stellar (save for one mistake by Bryce Harper). I’m excited to follow the Nats as they go forward in October.

Speaking of that missed fly ball by Harper … hmm … on the one hand, the fact he jumped toward a ball that went off the wall, it’s hard to give him an error. At the same time, shouldn’t a MLB outfielder make that catch? I’m kind of torn, but fine with the official scorer’s decision to grant Travis d’Arnaud a triple. Oh, and how often do you see a catcher hit a triple in consecutive games?

It was also announced that Jacob deGrom has made his last start. I need to ruminate on this, and maybe write a separate post as I think it deserves its own discussion.

I’ve never, ever liked Drew Storen‘s mechanics — from the time he was a rookie — though I’ve always liked his competitiveness and stuff (I also loved his dad on XM’s MLB Home Plate back in the day). Though he’s been effective lately, Storen reminds me a bit of Jorge Julio, in that he seems to be winding up on egg shells, thinking too much about his mechanics, and appears to be one brain fart away from going completely Rick Ankiel at any moment. If the Nats don’t get to the World Series, I’m betting it’s because Storen craps the bed and Rafael Soriano is equally unreliable.

Next Mets Game

Mets and Nationals do it again at 7:05 PM on Wednesday night in Washington, D.C. Dillon Gee faces Gio Gonzalez (or Mr. Hyde) (or Oliver Perez?).

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. argonbunnies September 24, 2014 at 1:27 am
    Torres is unsung because Collins handed the coveted and money-making 8th and 9th-inning roles to a bunch of noobs instead. Vic Black had the 7th when he was healthy. So, regardless of what any given fan or media member might think, Torres does appear to be under-appreciated by his own team.

    I wish I could say, instead, that Terry realizes that there are other important relief situations than just protecting leads, and actually IS handing Torres big innings in a non-traditional way… but I kinda doubt that that’s his logic.

  2. argonbunnies September 24, 2014 at 1:28 am
    You like Nieuwenhuis, huh? Hey, here’s a quick quiz:

    You have two right fielders. Both strike out a lot, and can go into slumps where they do nothing but whiff, leading to low batting averages. Both have power, and can hit some bombs when they get hot. Both are lefties, and can’t hit lefties at all. Both work long ABs, and wind up drawing a decent number of walks.

    Player A had a great MLB career, but is in his 30s, in his 3rd straight year of decline, isn’t very good in the OF, and can’t throw at all.

    Player B has had a lot of injuries and not a lot of MLB success, but is 26, has looked good lately, and is an above-average OF with a solid arm.

    Which guy do you prefer going forward? A) Granderson or B) Nieuwenhuis?

    I think the great MLB career counts for a lot, and Kirk’s floor with the bat is certainly a lot lower, so I wouldn’t blame anyone who picked Curtis. But it’s a close call, right?

    Great use of the second-biggest contract on the team, Sandy. Did you actually bother to scout that Grandy was old & slow & couldn’t throw, or did you end your analysis at how many HRs from 2011-2012 would still be HRs at Citi Field?

    • mckeeganson September 24, 2014 at 2:35 am
      While Granderson has certainly been a disappointment and is not the player he once was, I do believe that he will improve going forward. Beltran had a poor first season with us as well and Granderson struggled in his initial season with the Yankees before hitting his groove the second season. He absolutely needs to be moved to left field next season, where I think he’ll be about average defensively. If you look at his BABIP (batting average on balls in play) he has been way below his career numbers this season and should see at least a slight improvement next year. He also has walked a ton and struck out less as the season has gone on, overall he should be fine as the #6 hitter next year, just don’t expect more. Considering he has been our biggest bust and is still very playable we should be alright, after all he’s been better than Josh Hamilton, Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran, Jay Bruce, Mark Teixeira, Ryan Howard, Tim Lincecum, Justin Verlander, Prince Fielder, John Danks, Andre Ethier, Nick Swisher and the list goes on. All those players made more than Granderson this season. His contract shouldn’t be an impediment at this point. As for Kirk and MDD, I think we should hold onto Kirk and trade MDD to a team where he could play Center Field which would fully utilize his skills. Kirk is our best pinch hitter and even if he fails to develop any more as a hitter, he carries tons of value for his power bat and defensive versatility.
      • Joe Janish September 24, 2014 at 3:55 pm
        Granderson MIGHT do better next year as a result of spending a full year in a new league, which often is a challenge for a veteran ballplayer.

        However, it’s not fair to make the comparison to Beltran, who was 28/29 and in his physical prime when the Mets signed him (as well as access to PEDs if he so desired to use them). In contrast, Granderson is in his early 30s and not expected to maintain his performance — particularly considering the home ballpark.

        I’m with Argonbunnies below re: BABIP. Granderson’s troubles don’t have much to do with luck, from what my eyes tell me. He does a lot of swinging and missing, and hits a lot of fly balls to the warning track that would have been out of smaller parks.

    • Joe Janish September 24, 2014 at 3:51 pm
      I’ve said this before and will say it again: Granderson was signed primarily to sell tickets to New York fans who were familiar with him as a star player for the Yankees. Secondarily, Mets management was hoping he still had something left.

      It was never, ever a priority to add a piece that might help the team win. It was about selling tickets.

      Nevertheless, I like Grandy very much as a person and an athlete and it’s been sad to see him continue his downhill path this year.

  3. argonbunnies September 24, 2014 at 3:47 am
    All good points, but I’m skeptical about the BABIP one. When a fly ball hitter like Granderson gets fewer flies over the wall, those are more outs factored into his BABIP. So some decline should actually be expected. Also, a dead pull hitter playing in the world of increasing shifts will see more hard grounders turned into outs. So I’m not banking on a resurgence. Did you watch him hit this year and think, “Gee, this guy’s been unlucky”? I didn’t.

    I think this is who he is — a guy who can put up a .908 OPS for 60 games and then a .583 OPS for his next 60. Does a guy who’s either great or terrible count as “very playable”? I dunno, maybe, but the contract IS an impediment because of the Mets’ cheapness. We don’t get to have MORE $15 mil players.

    If the Mets were open to trading den Dekker, they should have been playing him in CF since Lagares’ injury, to let other teams get a look. I think Matt’s our 2015 LF.

    • argonbunnies September 24, 2014 at 3:48 am
      Oops. That was supposed to be a reply to MCKEEGANSON
    • DaveSchneck September 24, 2014 at 8:17 am
      I see MDD as a good piece for the Mets next year. We all know about Lagares’s D, but he has been disabled 3 times this season. Additionally, I sense Alderson may look to a guy like Cuddyer or Morse to bring some affordable RH power. If so, MDD, or even Kirk, could find himself with a lot of action vs. tough RHP and in the later innings, and could play CF if (when) Lagares goes down and/or if his offense struggles. Kirk has some value too, but MDD has a little more speed and OBP potential, and the MEts have a glaring need in the leadoff spot, barring an acquisition.
      • argonbunnies September 24, 2014 at 9:22 pm
        I like platoons more than most, and I think your idea of having some mix-and-match power-speed OF options is excellent.

        Terry would need the guts to pinch-hit or D-sub someone in the 6th inning, though, Oakland style, to make it work. No more of that “our 2nd catcher can’t pinch hit” mentality. Yes, occasionally an early sub will bite you in the 9th, but that’s worth it if you’re regularly getting the advantage earlier.

        Here’s a thought on how to fit them onto the roster: go back to the original version of the 5-man pitching staff, which was basically 4 full-time starters plus one guy who was otherwise your long reliever and got skipped in the rotation whenever you could. Give Harvey, deGrom, et al 35-36 starts instead of 32-33, use a guy like Matsuzaka to make 18 starts and also be your 7th reliever, and now you can carry enough position players to use guys in optimal spots.

        Or just let 6 relievers be your default, and have a 7th guy on the AAA shuttle with your 25th man. Waste fewer days with guys who can’t pitch on the roster — give them the 15 days on the DL and promote someone else. We’ve never actually needed more than 6 healthy relievers anyway.

        Pardon the rant. I intended to just applaud your idea, Dave. I like it. Lagares isn’t an iron man, and we should be prepared for that.

  4. Dan42 September 24, 2014 at 7:19 am
    Glad I read down before writing pretty much the same thing, Granderson, Wright ane Colon take up too much of the limited payroll to not hamstring any effort to actually improve the team next year. Even if Granderson did better next year, it is not likely to be worth anywhere near the 15M he will be paid, with two more years to go.

    The smart move would be to dump those albatross contracts and continue rebuilding from within, but as long a it’s a Wilpon show it ain’t happenin’.

  5. Dan42 September 24, 2014 at 7:19 am
    Glad I read down before writing pretty much the same thing, Granderson, Wright and Colon take up too much of the limited payroll to not hamstring any effort to actually improve the team next year. Even if Granderson did better next year, it is not likely to be worth anywhere near the 15M he will be paid, with two more years to go.

    The smart move would be to dump those albatross contracts and continue rebuilding from within, but as long a it’s a Wilpon show it ain’t happenin’.

  6. Bat September 24, 2014 at 8:13 am
    Typically upbeat (meaning: sarcastic and negative) post by Joe for the second consecutive day.

    One thing on which we can agree is that I do not understand why Alderson needed to be extended now. The typical response in baseball to this question is that lame duck GMs (and managers) are a distraction and throughout the year the media will constantly be questioning every decision made by the GM (and manager) and the criticism will build and build to a cacophony that will be a big distraction to the team’s and impact its performance.

    In response to that argument I would question whether the negative outweighs the positive attributes of a GM / manager being in the last year of their contract and being perhaps more motivated to keep their jobs? And further isn’t this type of fishbowl mentality already prevalent in New York? Put another way, is it that much more of a distraction that individuals in these positions can’t deal with this?

    Unlike Joe and some others who post on this site, I don’t think Alderson has done a bad job. For example, this tweet from Andrew Vazzano of SNY doesn’t tell the entire story but it might put things in perspective a bit:

    Frank Cashen’s first four years as GM: .409 winning percentage
    Sandy Alderson’s first four years as GM: 469 winning percentage

    Does that mean that every GM who had a better record than Cashen in the first four years of his tenure is a better GM than Cashen and will also build a World Series champion? No, of course not. But I think it does say that rebuilding is rebuilding and it can take a little while for a team to create the foundation for success: the Mets had to suffer through some losing seasons before they ultimately accomplished what Cashen sought to do. I think Alderson is doing just that and the Mets will start to win soon.

    With respect to TC, I am the first person on this blog to rip him for his bullpen management and unwarranted love of EYJ and Tejada, but I will say that he continues to have this team play hard for him even when the games are meaningless in this year and prior years. You can dismiss this as something any manager can do, but when you look at teams like the Braves I think it is not a guarantee and many teams give up before the end of the season. The team does seem to play hard for TC and that is a plus although admittedly fundamentals are often MIA in the hard play (at the end of the year and at all other times).

    All in all, I am happy that Alderson will continue to be the GM and while I am not a fan of TC I would have given him one more year at the helm. I note the following: Alderson said the 2016 option (of Collins) has not been picked up at this time. “We’re focused on 2015,” Alderson said. But again I wonder why can Collins be a lame duck manager next year but Alderson cannot? Alderson has rebuilt the farm system but no harm to see what happens next year before extending him I think?

    Last thought of this (lengthy) post:

    Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon said yesterday the club exercised Alderson’s option for next season and added two years to his deal. Wilpon said ownership is pleased with the job Alderson has done, and he has payroll flexibility to continue to improve the team through free agency or trades.

    I don’t believe that last clause for one second. That is, Wilpon says Alderson has payroll flexibility to continue to improve the team through free agency or trades. Jeff’s “payroll flexibility” is: “Sandy, if you want to spend money then first trade Colon, Niese, or Murphy and you can spend whatever money they were going to earn.”

    • Dan B September 24, 2014 at 9:01 am
      Connie Mack could be GM and it wouldn’t matter. Jeff Wilpon makes too many decisions and it will always drag the Mets down. Luckily bad businessmen eventually force themselves out.
    • Joe Janish September 24, 2014 at 4:26 pm
      I thought this post was unusually upbeat in comparison to what I’ve written over the past few months.

      I’m not understanding the Cashen vs. Alderson comparison, because it’s apples and oranges. When Cashen took over, the Mets had NOTHING to work with. Absolutely NOTHING. Lee Mazzilli was their marquee player and their farm system was completely barren, other than Wally Backman, Hubie Brooks, and Mookie Wilson. Alderson started with a star-studded roster and a farm system that was immensely better than anyone will ever publicly admit — and those who argue, I ask, are you the same people who are pleased to have any or all of Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Dillon Gee, Lucas Duda, Juan Lagares, Jeurys Familia, Jenrry Mejia, Josh Edgin, Matt den Dekker, and Kirk Nieuwenhuis on the roster? Heck, you could throw in Rafael Montero as well, who was Alderson’s first sign thanks to the scouting reports provided by the previous regime, and Steven Matz, if you think he’s a valuable asset.

      Again, the best player Cashen inherited when he began his rebuilding was Mazzilli. He didn’t have anyone NEAR the level of Jose Reyes, David Wright, Carlos Beltran, Francisco Rodriguez, Johan Santana, or R.A. Dickey to work with. I mean, Pat Zachry? The perpetually injured John Stearns? Doug Flynn? Joel Youngblood? Pete Falcone? Skip Lockwood? Those were Cashen’s “stars.” Though, he DID have Neil Allen, and eventually turned him into Keith Hernandez. But really, trying to compare the two GMs is ludicrous. One had to start from scratch, the other had PLENTY to work from in terms of personnel.

      • argonbunnies September 24, 2014 at 9:00 pm
        Agreed, I don’t see many similarities — yet. Alderson was handed a decent team and then ordered to dismantle it (that or magically find another way to cut payroll in half). Cashen was handed a team that had already been dismantled. It might be more fair to compare Cashen’s fifth year as GM to Alderson’s seventh.

        Turning Beltran and Dickey into Wheeler and d’Arnaud can be considered Alderson’s version of drafting Doc and Darryl, as the superior team Sandy inherited has prevented any chance at top-3 draft picks.

        Now we just need to let the kids develop a bit more, trade some spare parts for Pedroia and Bruce, and we’ll be all set!

        Let’s go 2017 Mets!

        (Pedroia was the best Keith comp. I could find — high OBP, great defense, proven winner & leader. As for Carter, I found a power hitter with a great arm, subbing in the downside of Bruce’s streakiness for Carter’s aging knees.)

  7. Bat September 24, 2014 at 9:31 am
    I agree 100% Dan B and I have said this in other posts as well.

    Sandy has generally done a good job and I am not sure anyone could win with the Wilpons (Jeff, but also Fred) as owners.

    The Mets have suffered since Doubleday sold his interest to the Wilpons and let’s hope the Wilpons ownership ends sooner rather than later. But unfortunately I doubt that will be the case.

    • argonbunnies September 24, 2014 at 9:07 pm
      Sandy has done a good job if you go by the constraints we assume he’s been operating under. If you go by his public mission statements, on the other hand, he’s done an abysmal job.

      Personally, I don’t like being lied to. As a fan, I’m holding him to what he’s told the fans. And that was that we’d be doing everything possible in 2011-2012 to prepare for the future (we didn’t — no selling high on Reyes, Hairston, Parnell, Niese or Ike), that 2013 would be a bridge year with a competitive team (it wasn’t — 74 wins was no improvement) and that in 2014 we’d be in serious postseason contention (not close).

      If your conclusion is that Alderson couldn’t possibly have delivered on these promises because of the Wilpons, then fine, but in that case he shouldn’t have #$@&ing made them.

      • Murder Slim September 25, 2014 at 12:56 pm
        I don’t think Alderson ever lies – at least by the legal definition – he just (and this should be blatantly obvious to everyone) dances around every issue. Seldom has a man taken so many words to say absolutely nothing.
        Why does he do it? Imagine a paycheck on the end of a stick. Does that make him evil or even a terrible GM? I don’t think so. He’s made good and bad decisions under financial strife, but I go cross-eyed when people fall for the PR talk.
      • Dan B September 25, 2014 at 1:04 pm
        It all started with the biggest lie…Madoff would not effect baseball operations because the money was separated. Or maybe it started when Fred Wilpon said his son Jeff (who was once a prospect and “drafted” by Montreal) would be a great COO for the Mets. But maybe there is hope from an unlikely source–Wilpon DNA. Jeff’s son just finished terrific high school career as a right handed starting pitcher (5-1, 1.50 era) and was drafted in the 36th round by Boston. He turned Boston to study at the Wharton School of Business at UPenn. (I guess intelligence can skip a generation like baldness). While you guys were studying prospects for the backup second base position, I was studying COO prospects.
        • DaveScheck September 25, 2014 at 2:27 pm
          At times I wonder why I spend the time that I do following Met baseball games and the internet chatter. Yes, Joe does a yeoman’s job in a labor of love. But every now and then comes a nugget, and you have a knack if delivering them. That baldness gene reference regarding Jeff’s offspring was a gem. That will get me through the offseason and naybe even another sub .500 campaign. Thanks.
  8. DanB September 25, 2014 at 3:33 pm
    Ahh, thanks (especially thanks for ignoring all my typos). As much as I love Joe’s writings, I believe this blog stands out because of the quality of writing of its regulars such as you, AB, Crozier,
    • Joe Janish September 25, 2014 at 4:25 pm
      I agree! The value of MetsToday is in the quality of our conversations and the people participating. If this blog stands out, it’s because of the activity in the comments section, not my conversation-starting hot air.