Spring Training Game 6

Freddy Garica

No doubt the NY tabloids tomorrow will say that Freddy’s slipping out of the starting rotation race. Don’t believe it. Garcia’s stats are terrible, and he gave up a couple bombs, but his stuff looked pretty good compared to his previous outing. I’m still not liking his velocity — he’s in the 82-84 range on his fastball — and he may need a few extra weeks to get strong enough to pitch at the big league level. However, his curveball still has excellent bite, and he had more command of it in this game compared to the last. He also pulled the string on several nasty changeups with good down movement (in fact, one of his changeups was mistakenly reported by Kevin Burkhardt as a curveball).

For some pitchers — particularly older ones and those coming off injury — it can take a few outings before they start to “get in the groove”. I think it’s premature to pass judgment on Garcia. If his ERA is in double digits in late March, that’s another story.

Jon Switzer

This guy is a prime example of why a lefthanded young man should consider learning how to throw a baseball. Switzer reminds me of a poor man’s Tony Fossas, which isn’t saying much. It will be nice to have an extra LOOGY stashed in AAA, if only to use in one or two series against the Phillies. He’ll provide a different, probably unscouted look, which in itself can be enough to get past many batters once or twice.

Dillon Gee

Poor kid had a tough debut. Unlike Garcia, there wasn’t anything positive to take away from Gee’s performance. His fastball was below average in velocity and he had zero command of it. He reminded me of Steve Trachsel — picking around the corners, falling behind, and then having to come into the batter’s wheelhouse. Also like Garcia, however, it may take Gee some time to get going, and I’m guessing he had some jitters. It can be unnerving for a kid to face the likes of Albert Pujols, even in a meaningless spring training game. I hope he sticks around another week or two so we can see him at his best.

Jose Valentin

I’m just thrilled to see him on the field and swinging a bat. The #99 on his back is mildly comical. It looks to me like he’s closing up a little too much from the left side, turning his hips just a bit too much during his stride, which is causing him to fly open a little too much. When he hit well in 2006, he stayed more square to the pitcher. Regardless, the odds are against him.

Marlon Anderson

Starting at first base in place of WBC-bound Carlos Delgado, Marlon was one of the few bright spots for the Mets, clubbing two doubles. OK, one of them was a routine fly ball that got caught up in the wind, but I’m pulling hard for Marlon to make this team.

Carlos Muniz

Like most of the Mets pitchers on this day, Muniz did little to help his case as far as the stat line goes. I did like some of the low, hard heaters he threw after giving up a bomb to Joe Thurston.

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 March 4, 2009 at 9:12 am
    For Garcia to make the rotation and be somewhat productive, he’s going to have to ramp up his fastball to at least 87-88. Even Pedro, who underwent the same procedure as Garcia and someone who I think Garcia most closely resembles at this point of his career, was getting his fastball in the 87-88 range. The problem right now with Garcia is that his fastball is far too hittable and he doesn’t have pinpoint control of it, which means if he misses his target even by the slightest amount, you get what we saw yesterday. The kneejerk reaction would be to cut Garcia, but I agree that’s not the right move – especially considering that he’s signed on a minor league deal and can be stashed away in AAA (as long as he’s willing) until his stuff returns to him. But we must admit, if he’s still topping out at 85 two weeks from now, there’s little chance he can be contributive come April.

    I’d also chalk DIllon Gee’s poor outing up to poor defense behind him, namingly Jose Coronado. A bad throw on a routine play to begin the inning, and then taking a feed from the pitcher on the start of a double play attempt 5 feet off the bag. The umpires won’t give that much leeway, even if it’s just a spring training game. I’m surprised Coronado got the start, as well, while Alex Cora saw no game action. What if Jose Reyes goes down (god forbid) for a few weeks? Is this to tell us that Jose Coronado gets first crack as a replacement? Let’s put the $2-mil we gave to Cora to good use and see what he can do for 9 innings at SS.

  2. joe March 4, 2009 at 10:31 am
    It’s way too early to judge Garcia’s velocity. If you notice, nearly everyone is throwing in the low- to mid-80s. When I coached in college, we’d put our kids through a gradual “build up” over 6-8 weeks just to get their pitch counts up. It was only at around week 10 that many guys finally started to reach their maximum velocity — and some didn’t get there until even later. And Garcia shut himself down part of the way through the winter league season, so I’m betting he didn’t do too much throwing before reporting to Port St. Lucie.

    Yeah, you could blame the inning on Coronado, but I didn’t like Gee’s approach. He was picking around like he didn’t have confidence in his stuff, like he was trying to not fail.

    In the first two weeks of games, the management likes to take a good long look at the youngins’ and also let the veterans have it easy and go play golf. Cora’s guaranteed contract — remember, he makes almost as much as Orlando Hudson — means the Mets don’t need to see him, because they know what he can do and are confident in his skills. He’ll get his reps soon enough.

  3. upson March 4, 2009 at 11:37 am
    guys, I do not want to nitpick, but – although it’s hard to believe – Alex Cora is participating at the WBC for Puerto Rico. His $2 million were put in good use yesterday against the Twins. He came as in a SS replacement and recorded 1 walk in 1 plate appearance.
  4. joe March 4, 2009 at 11:55 am
    upson, that’s not nitpicking, that’s called CORRECTING … thanks !!!!

    silly mistake …. if you’re Met, chances are good you’re on someone’s WBC team ….

  5. upson March 4, 2009 at 1:38 pm
    thanks, I considered it nitpicking in a sense that, whether or not Cora played yesterday, has no impact on the main point that he is overpaid – given this year’s market. Let’s hope that he proves us wrong.
  6. isuzudude March 4, 2009 at 3:03 pm
    That would be my bad, Upson, and thanks for the correction. I’m just surprised that any country would want Alex Cora representing them.
  7. prospecor March 4, 2009 at 5:18 pm
    Gee’s Debut was on theFeb 26h against FLORIDA – Line:
    Gee (H, 1) 2.0 1 0 0 0 2 0 0.00

    Actually watched both games on MLBtv, and the kid definately doesnt nibble, maybe even goes after hitters to much (only walked 24 in 157 innings through AA last year i think). Most counts were 0-2/1-2, 2 went to 3-0 resulting in a HBP and groudout. I’d say for a 22 year old in his first BLST and working with bases loaded after 2 infield errors, A bloop broken bat single over 2nd base, and an infield single to SS, and Pujols at the plate when he should have been out of the inning, he held up pretty well.
    As far as velocity, it does appear to be down from what I have seen earlier, usually sits 89-92 reaching 93-94 occasionaly, These three guys were really pushed this year to get their 200 innings in (Gee,Antonini, Stoner) and only had a little less than 1 month rest from Puerto Rico to here. Stoner is down with shoulder problems, Atonini I havent seen yet in ST. and Gee’s velocity appears down. Hopefully he just needs to catch his secound wind and it comes back.
    I really like following these three kids especially Gee and hope they all keep impressing.

  8. joe March 4, 2009 at 6:44 pm
    Prospecor, thanks for the scouting report and the insight.

    I saw Gee’s stats which was why I attributed the nibbling to first-time jitters. It’s not uncommon for young pitchers known for their control to suddenly have issues when facing MLB All-Stars and a smaller strike zone (technically, it’s not supposed to be smaller, but I think umpires might have slightly wider zones at lower levels).

    The “rest” between ST and Puerto Rico is intriguing … do they shut down and actually rest for that month or do they continue with a maintenance-type throwing program? I’m not sure and would like to pose that question to a Mets official.

  9. Walnutz15 March 5, 2009 at 8:12 am
    Completely unrelated to any ST analysis: My lasting image of Alex Cora will ALWAYS be, seeing him drop to the dirt — face-down at 2nd base — while Warren Morris ripped around the diamond….after blasting that walk-off to win the ’96 College World Series for LSU.

    Where have you gone, Warren Morris…..a nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

  10. isuzudude March 5, 2009 at 8:52 am
    Anyone see JJ Putz’s line while trying to close out a game yesterday for Team USA against the Blue Jays triple-A scrubs?

    2 outs, 3 hits, 3 runs, 2 walks, 1 strikeout, blown save, loss.

    Looks like the more things change, the more they stay the same.

  11. joe March 5, 2009 at 10:16 am
    Warren Morris … LOL …. I loved that guy …. what was he, five-foot-nothin’? MLB needs more little guys like him back in the game. The stupidity of stocking every roster full of 6’4″ mules makes me seethe, and doesn’t help with the PEDs issue. And I’m a big guy myself.

    This game’s about skills, not size. Give me Warren Morris, Freddie Patek, Dustin Pedroia, Dave Eckstein, any day of the week.

  12. joe March 5, 2009 at 10:20 am
    ‘dude, I didn’t see Putz in that game, but we pointed out he was only topping out at 89 MPH in Mets ST game 5. Now, I know better than anyone that it takes a few weeks to get the velocity up, but when a guy who supposedly throws in the 95-97 range is riding at 86-87, it’s a cause for at least a little concern. Even Billy Wagner, who routinely took until mid-June to get up to his 97-98 range, was busting 90 in the first weeks of ST.

    Let’s just hope Putz is a slow starter. And don’t expect him to be “lights out” until his velocity raises.