Mets Game 139: Win Over Brewers

Mets 6 Brewers 5

The much-anticipated debut of Jonathan Niese was less than auspicious. However, it was pretty obvious that the kid was shaking in his boots — I believe he’ll show us a much better performance in future starts, when he’s more relaxed and tense-free.

After being handed a 5-1 lead, Niese couldn’t escape the fourth inning, allowing four runs to tie up the game. He exited with the only possibility a no-decision — so it was up to the Mets bullpen and the bats to take the game from there.

Not surprisingly, the offense pulled their sleepwalking routine for the next six frames. Surprisingly, the relief corps did more than an admirable job of keeping the Brewers at bay.

The game remained tied until the tenth, when Daniel Murphy started things off with a single up the middle. Jose Reyes followed with a sacrifice bunt that catcher Jason Kendall threw into right field, allowing Murphy to scamper to third. Endy Chavez (remember him?) then followed with a long fly to right to score Murphy easily and put the Mets ahead.

Joe Smith threw three pitches for the win, and Luis Ayala earned his fifth save — though not without a little bit of stress.

Notes

Keith Hernandez keeps harping on the fact that David Wright has a “curveball swing”, is “flying open” with his front side, and not going the other way. It looks to me like David is “loading up” more than usual — meaning, he’s bringing his hands back and up further than earlier in the season. The telltale sign is that you can see his entire name on the back of his uniform, and his right elbow fly up above his head as the pitch is coming in. Some rotation is vital to generating power, but too much can be detrimental (though, there is one school of thought led by former MLBer Mike Epstein that believes “rotational hitting” is the best way to generate power). For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, so Wright’s over-rotation in his “load” is likely causing his front side to fly open. Those who are paying attention will recognize this is the exact issue that caused John Maine’s shoulder problems. Luckily for a batter, over-rotation means you’ll be pulling everything, but not hurting yourself.

Keith also pointed out two terrible slides by the Brewers — one on a play at the plate that cost them a run, and one at second base that cost them a runner in scoring position in the 8th inning. Excellent analysis by Keith, and shame on big league teams for not stressing the fundamentals and/or teaching their players how to properly slide. It’s the little things that win and lose ballgames.

I distinctly heard “Hava Negila” played during the seventh inning by the Milwaukee organist (while Guillermo Mota was pitching). Nice to hear, since they don’t play it at Shea since Shawn Green retired.

Is it me, or does Jon Niese slightly resemble Michael Phelps?

Carlos Beltran was 2-for-3 with a three-run homer, and is smoking the ball all over the place. Can you say, September 2004?

Some strange moves by Jerry Manuel that could be criticized after the fact. For one, he chose to let Fernando Tatis swing away with no outs and men on first and second with the score tied. Tatis bounced into a double play. Later, Manuel allowed Nick Evans to hit with Argenis Reyes on second base with two outs in the seventh, Guillermo Mota on the mound, and five lefthanded bats waiting on the bench. In a stunning about-face, Manuel replaced Evans with Endy Chavez as a defensive replacement immediately after Evans grounded out to end the inning.

Next Game

Wednesday’s game is an afternoon affair, as they celebrate the day after Labor Day as Labor Day in Wisconsin (or something). First pitch is at 2:05 pm EST and will be thrown by Dave Bush. Oliver Perez pitches for the Metropolitans.

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. isuzudude September 3, 2008 at 6:15 am
    I tell ya, this team appears to be peaking right about now. It’s hard to find another team in the NL as hot as the Mets. And I know all these close ballgames are shaving years off all our lives, but one thing it is doing is building character. Close win after close win is becoming old hat for the Mets, and when the games really start meaning something later on, hopefully all this close game experience will pay dividends. I just can’t help but be reminded of 2006, when we would jump out to a big league, cough it up as the starter can’t get out of the 4th, then the bullpen shines and the offense does just enough to pull out the victory. It’s a far cry from just a week ago when this team went up by 7 against the Phillies and lost.

    I’m seeing more of a Sean Penn resemblence, Joe.

    Here’s a thought: when Jerry informed the media that he wanted to get more righties in the lineup, it appears as though he was referring to giving Easley more playing time over Castillo rather than Evans/Tatis over Murphy. Castillo hasn’t even gotten into a game yet this series, and I’m beginning to wonder if the team has just completely soured on him. I know I have. Say all you want about what he “potentially” brings to the table, the fact is this guy is well past his prime with dozens of nagging injuries and diminishing skills. The rumor is the Mets are going to give Murphy mucho playing time during winter ball at 2B, which tells me they want him to be their 2B of the future…perhaps as soon as 2009. And if the Mets don’t want a $25-mil contract sitting on the bench, I’m guessing Omar may be working the phones to find a suitor for Castillo this offseason. Before you scoff at that notion, remember we thought it was impossible to dump Mota on anybody, yet Omar found a way. With Castillo’s big contract, it’ll likely have to be a swap of underperforming, high priced veterans. Maybe Castillo to Seattle for Carlos Silva? Maybe not, but still I say the Mets are going to put in some extra hours this winter trying to unload their albatross at 2B.

  2. joe September 3, 2008 at 7:42 am
    The Easley idea makes sense now that we’ve seen he was put into the lineup. However I don’t know if that was the original intent — Manuel on several occasions mentioned that Ryan Church wasn’t coming around as quickly as he hoped, but then swung the bat well on Monday.

    As for Castillo, why would the Mets sour on him already? He was 4-for-9 in his last two starts and played fine defense. I think it’s more a case of wanting to keep Castillo healthy — he’s NOT 100% — and keeping Easley sharp than burying Castillo.

    However I do agree that if the Mets can, they will find a way to dump his contract in the offseason. But forget about that for the moment. Also scrap my theory of his potential if you wish, because right now, even with myriad injuries and diminishing skills, his OBP is still 50 points higher than anyone else who plays 2B, and he’s the only second baseman who is a legitimate basestealing threat. In all other areas — except for power, where Easley has the advantage — the skills are comparable among the three 2Bs. So what it comes down to is you either have an average all-around second baseman with occasional pop (Easley), or an average all-around second baseman with speed and on-base ability in your lineup.

    Concerning Murphy, he has to move back to the infield because of his bat. It makes no sense to play a singles hitter with average speed in left field. Not even Wade Boggs hit enough to play LF. (Of course, playing LF for the Mets is the opposite of anywhere else lately). If, however, he develops some power — and he certainly has time — then that argument changes drastically. But he has plenty more value as an infielder than as an outfielder. The move to 2B is as much about being lucrative trade bait as taking over the position in ’09.

  3. Micalpalyn September 3, 2008 at 11:13 am
    Its been a long time since i have seen the Mets with more organizational depth. despite giving up Gomez, humber, Deolis and ? we have developed nick evans, niese parnall, muniz and Murphy. add Carp, F-Mart to that mix. …Kudos omar!

    On murphy: There are 2 other points of view: castillo IS the 2nd baseman. I dont see his contract as that prohibitive. But your arguement has him playing 2nd everyday. unless money is a problem….and i doubt it is then Castillo would platoon at 2nd for me. I think murphy and Castillo would share time there. Right now the problem is Murph has not played 2nd enough to do it now …hence the AFL assignment.

    B. Dont rule out trade. His natural spot is 3rd base and the FA market is really weak this yr. Plus we have Nick Evans. I think we can get a good young pitcher back. As we look to next yr Petey is a question mark. now his shoulder is acting up again. Plus El duque and Moises are retired on duty already. with dillon gee, antonini and Brad Holt looming, I could see looking at murphy and others packaged….(a guess would be for Matt cain/jon sanchez).

    Looking further downstream….Could wilmer or ruben Tejada play 2nd in say 2-3 yrs?

  4. isuzudude September 3, 2008 at 11:22 am
    Joe:
    You make very solid points about Castillo. I guess I was just anticipating this dude to hit closer to .300 with 20-some SBs this season, and we’ve gotten barely half that production. When compared to our other alternatives right now, yes I can see how Castillo is still the starter on paper. But in my mind I see Castillo continuing to regress as he ages, and I’d like to eliminate this problem before it festers into a full-blown Kaz Matsui fiasco all over again. And I think I’d be much more receptive to an Easley/Murphy platoon in 2009 instead of another full season of Castillo’s mental blunders and DL stints.

    Mic:
    Wilmer Flores looks like a beast, but not sure if he’s cut out for 2B. I think you should also throw Reese Havens into your consideration. One thing’s for certain – the Mets sure have enough options as far as what they can do for the future.

  5. joe September 3, 2008 at 11:48 am
    I really like Reese Havens … remains to be seen where they put him on the field, because I doubt he stays at SS. Pre-draft rumors had him moving behind the plate, but I’m not sure about that. Second base makes sense.

    I haven’t seen Wilmer nor Tejada so can’t comment.

    I’m not sold on the organizational “depth” yet …. and don’t believe any of the players you mention have been “developed” as much as have been “forced into a job”. Murphy has surprised me, but the others remain overmatched — just because they’re up here doesn’t mean they belong, and to me, they’re still minor leaguers in the midst of development.

    I know, I’m a pessimist and it’s not nice to rain on the parade nor stifle your enthusiasm. But that’s the way I see it. I was much more excited with the tools Carlos Gomez flashed a year ago than anything we’ve seen this year from the kids. He might not ever develop the ability to hit for average but the rest of his game is exciting. And I like what I’ve seen of Havens. So I’m not always negative, just realistic.

    At this point in time, all of the Mets “prospects” are OK, not great. From a pure talent perspective, there are dozens of minor leaguers exactly like or better than Evans, Parnell, Holt, Muniz, Kunz, Carp, etc. Niese’s advantage is he’s lefty; if he were a RH, there wouldn’t be as much excitement. Right now all these kids have youth on their side, but if they don’t develop quickly, will soon be “organizational players”. Ask me again in two years.

  6. Micalpalyn September 3, 2008 at 5:51 pm
    if the players were not producing they would not be playing or getting promoted. your comments echo the voice of Bill Randolph for whom we all know murph and Evans would not be playing and Brian Lawrence would have started last night. 🙂
  7. joe September 3, 2008 at 6:23 pm
    Heh heh …. well even “Bill” put Lastings Milledge and Carlos Gomez in the starting lineup. And as long as Ricky Ledee remained retired, I imagine he would have given Murphy and Evans at least a few starts before looking elsewhere.

    I think you should re-consider your definition of “producing”. Jon Niese, Carlos Muniz, Nick Evans, and Eddie Kunz have yet to produce anything of consequence at the MLB level. Although Keith Hernandez thinks Evans has been “fabulous”, I’m not sure I agree — his .260 AVG / 1 HR / 6 RBI / .294 OBP / .389 SLG through nearly 100 at-bats are not exactly overwhelming. I do LOVE Evans, and think he has a chance to do something in the coming years — but not now.