Mets Game 69: Loss To Braves
Braves 2 Mets 1
Where to begin? At minimum, a team needs to pitch, field, and hit to win baseball games. One out of the three isn’t enough.
Mets Game Notes
Jacob deGrom was brilliant through seven, and was still pretty darn good through another third of an inning, yet Terry Collins removed him because it was hot and deGrom had thrown 97 pitches. I’m not sure what either of those explanations are supposed to mean. I’m pretty sure a 27-year-old athlete in world-class shape and is properly hydrating should be able to continue in that spot. I don’t know about the 97 pitches thing, when deGrom has thrown as many as 109 pitches this year. Collins said he saw a flat slider. OK, I saw a hanging curve that Andrelton Simmons was sitting on. Either way, one mistake. Beyond that, my eyes saw a pitcher who was cruising and confounding Atlanta’s hitters. I also saw a pitcher who — at that precise moment — was the Mets’ very best option. Certainly, far better than Rule 5 draftee who ranks somewhere between the 11th- and 13-best pitcher on the roster. It seemed that Collins was reacting more to the situation — one that resulted in a lefthanded hitter coming to bat after Ruben Tejada didn’t anchor on a sacrifice bunt back to the pitcher followed by Wilmer Flores making a very bad play to allow Pedro Ciriaco to reach base and put runners on the corners.
Though Tejada made the wrong play on the bunt, it’s really hard to fault him — it’s not Tejada’s fault he’s at third base, a position at which he has very little experience. (For the record, Collins said during the postgame that Tejada “made the right play” — he most assuredly did NOT.) I don’t blame Tejada for charging a ball that was easily handled by the athletic (but apparently overheated?) deGrom. Rather, I blame Mets management for putting him in a situation to fail. Likewise, I don’t blame Flores for botching the routine ground ball turned into an infield single, because, again, it’s the fault of Mets management that Flores is out of position. Wait — isn’t shortstop Tejada’s “natural” position, and wasn’t third base supposed to be Flores’ main and eventual position back in 2012? Eh, what’s the difference? Keep pushing those square pegs into round holes, and hope that players hit enough to make up for the defensive deficiencies. It works well in Strat-O-Matic.
Speaking of Flores, I will fully admit to not watching much Mets baseball this year compared to the past nine years. However, it seems that every time I watch a Mets game, Flores makes an error, and/or doesn’t make a play that a below-average MLB shortstop makes routinely (often with a hit awarded to the batter instead of an error), and/or commits some kind of mental error or suffers a brain freeze that results in runners advancing. Is this just a wild coincidence or is Flores regularly making life more difficult for Mets pitchers?
And please, before you call me a “hater” or berate me for criticizing Flores, I’ll say it YET AGAIN: it’s not Flores’ fault he’s out of position, it’s the fault of Mets management. And if you agree with Mets management that Flores belongs at shortstop on a MLB team, then we can’t have a conversation. Feel free to talk at me in the comments, but I will not respond — this argument is getting tired and boring (just like the Daniel Murphy at 2B discussion). If it’s true that Flores will eventually be an impact bat at the Major League level — and there is plenty of reason to believe that can happen — then put the kid in a corner, any corner, and let him focus on hitting.
While Flores is driving in runs, it’s kind of funny that Tejada’s OPS is over 45 points higher than Flores’. Though, we’ll check that number again a month from now and see if there’s still reason to chuckle.
Oh, let’s get off the backs of the Mets’ good-hit, no-field infielders. Let’s get back on Terry Collins’ case, and wonder aloud why he not only removed deGrom in that fateful 8th, but also needed 4 pitchers to get 3 outs, and why oh why oh why did he send Jeurys Familia to the mound to get the third out? Is it October already? If it is, are all those moves still necessary or logical? Collins is acting strangely desperate for a manager in first place. To add injury to insult, Familia’s five-pitch outing resulted in a “cramp” that may keep him out of action for the weekend. Wait, what? Is this more heat-related stuff? Can someone please feed the Mets salted bananas and pour Gatorade down their throats so they can stay on the field?
And not fer nuttin’, but it’s not fair to put all the blame on the Mets’ defense and Collins’ mysterious management decisions. At the end of the day, the Mets scored one measly run, and it was driven in by a 55-bouncer that took a fortuitous and unexpected 12-foot-high skip on bounce #54 to barely escape the reach of Atlanta shortstop Andrelton Simmons. In the boxscore, of course, Michael Cuddyer hit a line drive to left — but if you saw the game, you know better. Even with near-perfect pitching a team can only expect to win so often when the offense scores a single run — just ask the 1974-1977 Mets.
On a side note, both Braves runs scored on a double to center by Jace Peterson. The ball was a rocket that went over Juan Lagares‘ head. I didn’t expect Lagares to get to that ball by any stretch — Willie Mays on the “red juice” AND steroids couldn’t have caught it. What struck me was that Lagares didn’t get his customary great jump on the ball — he seemed to hesitate. WSJ writer Jared Diamond saw the same thing, and led me to his article on Lagares’ defensive drop. The stats say Lagares is only an “average” fielding center fielder, with Diamond suggesting it is due to his injury woes. I concur, and wonder how long the Mets can continue to play him regularly. Recently, Lagares has been hot at the plate, so there’s every reason to keep him in the lineup. But overall his offense is nothing special — despite healthy-looking .280 batting average, he has a .309 OBP and .681 OPS. Those numbers are fine from someone providing world-class defense, but unacceptable from someone brandishing an average glove. Being made aware of Lagares’ defensive struggles this year, I now understand why the Mets brought back Kirk Nieuwenhuis and are giving Darrell Ceciliani an extended look — Lagares may require a platoon partner soon.
Did anyone else wish for a Bob Ojeda guest appearance on SNY Postgame Live to rip the Mets’ play and Collins’ management to shreds in his raw, real style? As mentioned many times previously, I am a fan of Nelson Figueroa the player and person, and what he says is spot-on, but his delivery is chamomile tea when we want Cholula hot sauce.