Mets ST Game 12: Johan Starts

A roundabout of comments

Johan Santana

The hits and runs don’t bother me in the least. Neither does the Dan Uggla blast. If you recall, in Johan’s first spring training start last year, the now-defunct Juan Gonzalez demolished one of his pitches into the stratosphere. No worries then, no worries now.

Johan’s fastball was riding around 90-91 in his first inning and a half, topping out at 92. That’s about right, considering that he was shut down for a while and is way behind schedule. In his last inning, he slowed to 89. Again, not a concern — it merely means he needs to build up his endurance. He was around the plate with both his fastball and his changeup, and his change was anywhere from 78-82 MPH. Perfect.

All in all, a good day for Johan. It will be tough for him to build up to 85-100 pitches by April, but so what? He looks healthy and should be at full strength by early May.

Tim Redding

Ouch. There was mild concern when Redding could manage only one out before allowing five hits and five runs against the University of Michigan. After allowing nine runs to the Nationals, I think it’s fair to say that he’s reached a new level — from “mildly concerning” to “concerning”.

“This has not been a good night for Redding” – Ralph Kiner.

His fastball started out at 86-87 MPH and sat there for most of his appearance. He had no command of the pitch, either, and was mostly wild high. When he found the plate, he caught most of it and set it up on a chest-high tee.

Like Santana, Redding was shut down for part of spring training, and is behind schedule. Unlike Santana, there wasn’t much positive to take away from this outing, other than a few sharp-breaking curveballs. Yes, he may have caught a few bad breaks that extended his first inning of work, but he also consistently fell behind hitters, and didn’t throw with any conviction or confidence. He was visibly laboring, and I’m betting that his shoulder is still barking, but he’s not going to say so. From what I understand, he’s a pretty tough character and could be pitching through pain to win a job in the rotation and to back up his early chest-pounding remarks that he was the favorite for the fifth spot.

I’m not ready to write off Redding, as he’s at least 2-3 weeks behind where he should be, and he’s likely ailing. My hope is that he doesn’t further damage his shoulder and can make a contribution of some sort in 2009.

BTW, Redding’s baseball card says he’s 6’1″ 180 lbs. but he looks closer to 225-230 to me — though it could just be the baggy uniform. Of course, weight isn’t an issue unless your performance is terrible (ask David Wells).

Tony Armas, Jr.

I felt Armas was a nice pickup last year, and would’ve been a serviceable, if unspectacular, spot starter to shuttle back and forth from AAA had he not been injured. He looked OK, hitting 88-89 with a heavy fastball that sat between knee- and belt-high, and mixing in an 83 MPH offspeed breaking ball.

Like Santana and Redding, he’s behind schedule, and like Redding, he’s looking a bit on the hefty side — though, it’s not as noticeable when you pitch a scoreless inning.

Sean Green

He looks like he’s hurting himself on every pitch. With Duaner Sanchez gone, he’s your 7th inning man.

Nick Evans

Again, Nick turns on a pitch and moshes it over the leftfield fence. He also blasted a double over the rightfielder’s head earlier in the game. He looks to me like a guy in a zone, unconscious — similar to when Mike Jacobs first came up, or when Kevin Maas made his debut with the Yankees about a hundred years ago. Can he keep it up? If he can, the Mets have to find a spot for him on the 25-man roster.

Ryan Church

Church is drilling the ball to all parts of the field. Though, I’m not sure that he’s as good a hitter as Daniel Murphy (heh heh).

Ron Darling

Ron had some nice comments during the game, including one that really stood out regarding the evaluation of a pitcher based on watching the catcher. One thing I took issue with, though, was his assertion that Duaner Sanchez needed to earn his dough and “be a crossover guy, someone able to retire both righties and lefties”. But check the stats: righties hit .268 in 123 ABs against Dirty last year, while lefties hit .200 in 100 ABs. If that’s not a crossover guy, what is?

The rest of Darling’s analysis of Sanchez was spot on, particularly the point that a guy making his salary would need to earn that by being a lights-out 7th inning guy, which he wasn’t looking like this spring.

Ricky Nolasco

The kid is finally maturing. He looked extremely sharp and ready to start the “real” games. Nolasco may be a force in 2009. No kidding.

Dan Uggla

Speaking of ready for the regular season, Uggla hit some rockets. But will he have anyone else besides Hanley Ramirez hitting around him?

Logan Morrison

This guy might be a year or two away, but he looks to me like another Adam Dunn. Who knows, he might be the guy to help Uggla and Ramirez with some pop in the middle third of the lineup. Though, supposedly another youngster named Gaby Sanchez is ahead of him at this point.

Cameron Maybin

Wow … Maybin can FLY. He reminds me of a slightly more polished Carlos Gomez circa 2007. I doubt he’ll be a star in his rookie year, but I can definitely understand why people are so excited about him. Great raw talent, and he seems to have a solid head on his shoulders.

John Lindsey

Seeing guys like this make me sad. Lindsey hit .316 with 26 HR, 36 doubles, and 100 RBI (.964 OPS) last year in AAA. In 2007, he mashed 30 HR, 32 doubles, 120 RBI, and a .317 AVG (.975 OPS). But, he was a late bloomer — 2007 was his first year above AA, and he was 30 years old. He struggled, but hung around in A ball, from age 18 to 24, and didn’t start really hitting until age 25 — but a 25-year-old dominating A ball is written off as a non-prospect. He turned 32 in January, and isn’t likely to be seen on an MLB roster this year, nor next. Hopefully he’s picked up some things in his 13 years beating the bushes, and can eventually develop into a coach or manager. I’m rooting for him.

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. Walnutz15 March 13, 2009 at 7:02 am
    Encouraging sign from last night: Johan threw 47 pitches tonight — 32 were strikes. Figure he was looking to work on that… addition to some location-related work.

    The homer he gave up to Uggla was to start him off on the 1st pitch of the AB — and he got a good “arms-extended” swing on a pitch too far out over the plate. That was a jack and a half…..but whatever.

    I was pleased with his Johan’s outing….he mixed it up and changed speeds well for the 1st time out. And as stated already, the velocity in his fastball consistently ranged from 88-91 or so……I also saw him top out at 92, Joe.

    Onto Redding……as someone who used to be listed as 6′ 3″, 190lbs. in the college press guide — and in gaining some weight through the years myself…..there is no possible way that Redding’s a buck-80.

    Nice try, pal. And even now, at 225 myself — I don’t look as hefty as Redding. In all seriousness, he may be around 240……and even though it’s still early, he looked downright atrocious, with a flatter than flat fastball.

    I’m not one to exaggerate, really — but even with tempered-“Trachsel-like” expectations, Redding looked really bad…..and this is the 2nd time this Spring where he’s gone out and officially logged a BP-session appearance. Don’t know if you guys all saw his line vs. Michigan — but he got tanked out there, too.

    From the day he was signed…..Redding, to me, was gonna be one of those — throw him out there and cross your fingers — starters…..similar to a Trachsel. (If he even winds up a starter at the back-end!) In the pen, he’ll be no more than an Aaron Sele-type mop-up man.

    There’s not much hidden “stuff” behind him….as you know what you’re gonna see. If he’s up in the zone, watch out for the fireworks show — otherwise, he’s going to rely upon pin-point precise location…which he simply doesn’t have right now. And had better pray that his off-season surgery isn’t gonna hold him back much during the season.

    If that’s what’s keeping him from looking like a Double-A pitcher right now…….then it should really be shocking to no one that it was going to affect him. We saw how the toe bothered Pedro for the longest time when he was on the mound — and I see Redding no differently……without anything remotely resembling Pedro-stuff.

    Harsh, maybe……but I was never a fan — and already had less than zero expectation level from him. Maybe he’ll surprise, but I doubt it.

    Nice to see the first couple of Met-hits continue along the OPPO-trail……Castillo swiped at a pitch on the outside corner to start the game — and laced it down the LF line for a double — and Church punished a ball to the LF wall early on as well.

    I like that these guys have looked like they’ve had a better approach at the plate this Spring. Hopefully, these guys don’t get too far away from it during the season……Jerry and HoJo should keep drilling it into their heads when the Bigshots get back from the WBC.

    P.S. — Maybin’s gonna be a stud — and both he, and Bonifacio can absolutely burn it on the basepaths.

  2. isuzudude March 13, 2009 at 8:41 am
    Agreed that Johan look strong, and it appears the contingency that opined that Johan’s elbow injury was nothing to worry about were right. Still, excuse me for being a bit concerned when the team’s best player might have been hurt. Uggla’s HR was off a fastball, and he’s a dead fastball hitter, and if the game really meant something I’m sure Johan wouldn’t have given him a fastball in the wheelhouse. Right now he’s just working on his pitches, so no big deal. has a blurb that says Johan’s “velocity was down throughout,” but unless I missed the games last year where Johan was throwing in the upper-90s, I’d say they have their facts wrong.

    Redding blew, bottom line. If he’s hurt, shut him down. If not, god help us all. I do, however, really like Tony Armas. He had a great season at AAA New Orleans last year, and was serviceable in his one spot start against the Cardinals. He might have been in line for more starts after that, but went on the DL with a pulled ab muscle, and then underwent hernia surgery, ending his season. Again, he’s a guy who won’t blow the opposition away, but he’s a darkhorse candidate to get starts as the #5 this year, if the likes of Livan, Freddy, Tim, Brandon, and Nelson fail. Count me in as a fan.

    It’s funny how the Mets were so quick to re-sign Tatis, and how most of us were clammoring for the Mets to add another RH bat for the OF when Nick Evans has been under our nose this whole time. He’s choosing a good time to turn heads.

  3. isuzudude March 13, 2009 at 8:46 am
    Some things I forgot to add:
    1. What’s up with Brian Stokes, getting hammered by a bunch of AA-ers? Along with Sean Green, I’m sure Stokes is going to be leaned on from time to time to get big outs in the 7th inning. Hope he gets his act together before openning day.
    2. See the Mariners signed Chad Cordero. Hope this one doesn’t come back to bite us.
    3. Jerry Manuel was quoted yesterday (or Wednesday) as saying Reyes will be back as the de facto leadoff hitter this year. I understand not messing with a good thing, but if Castillo keeps getting on base at a .500 clip, like he is this spring, what’s wrong with batting him leadoff and Reyes 2nd? Joe, you have any thoughts?
  4. Walnutz15 March 13, 2009 at 10:23 am
    No matter where Castillo hits in the lineup — we’ve seen what we wanted to see from him throughout… approach at the plate — sustained effort — and moreover, actual results (in terms of getting on base successfully).

    I don’t think anyone realistically bought-into the idea of Manuel taking one of the best leadoff men in the game — out of his spot………but seeing the motivational tactic — coupled with potentially having other options for the lineup, to safeguard against slumps/getting other guys going/etc. — this is probably the best thing that could’ve happened.

    Not only for Castillo……..but for Manuel as well.

    I think that Reyes should stand pat, in the leadoff spot — while Jerry tinkers a bit, to see what’s best in terms of our #2 hitter. Castillo does take a ton of pitches, and will allow Reyes to run when he wants……however, I’m not sure who Manuel will ultimately decide to hit there.

    Murphy takes a good at-bat, and is a guy I can see hitting 2nd…..Reyes, Murphy, Wright looks like something that could work, long-term.

    Then again, I would also like to eventually tinker with a Reyes, Beltran, Murphy 1-2-3, too……seeing Wright in the clean-up hole — and Delgado hitting 5th — depending on who’s pitching.

    There will be a ton of possibilities — and I’m just glad that Manuel’s actually open to tinkering. That other guy who managed, almost never went “outside the box”, so to speak.

    And clearly, to win what you wanna win — you’re gonna HAVE to tinker with things, provided they’re not working.

    We’ll see what happens.

    I like what Evans has shown so far….but don’t think he’ll start the season with the club. It’s going to be interesting to see how the bench shakes out by the time they break camp.

    As well as he’s hitting right now, I’d still love to shed Marlon Anderson before the end of ST — it’s a shame, because I think a guy like Bobby Kielty could really help this team in the “Marlon-Role”…..I just think Anderson’s finished, and will be kept because he’s a good guy to have around in the locker room….and the fact that he’s making over a million dollars, guaranteed.

    They’re probably not gonna bite the bullet there unless he really tanks the rest of the way.

  5. isuzudude March 13, 2009 at 12:56 pm
    Walnutz, I’ve seen it mentioned a lot elsewhere and I see you bring it up as well. I don’t understand having Beltran hit 2nd. In my amateuristic view of baseball offense 101, I would want my highest OBP guys 1, 2, and 3, and my highest SLG guys 3, 4, and 5. That way, the guys who have the highest probability of hitting a home run are coming to bat with guys on base. Over the past 3 years, Beltran has averaged 33.6 home runs per season, the highest average out of anybody on the current team (Delgado 33.3, Wright 29.6). Thus, in my rationale, I would think that Beltran is best suited somewhere in the 3, 4, or 5 spot in the order, giving him a better chance at driving in the runners that are hitting ahead of him in the order. If Beltran were hitting 2nd, he would only have the likelihood of having 1 baserunner on base, making him more of a “table setter” for the batters behind him, rather than a “base clearer.” Whether he hits 3, 4, or 5 doesn’t matter much to me, I just think those are the spots he belongs in and not anywhere higher up.

    Additionally, if Castillo and his high OBP are not being utilized in the 1 or 2 spot, then I think his value drops significantly. We saw it last year when he hit 8th for a while. With the slow footed Schneider batting 7th, there was no purpose to taking pitches in order to allow for a SB, and with the pitcher hitting behind him Castillo was inclined to be less patient with RISP because he knew he was the last line of defense, thus taking him out of his element. I know we are all in love with Wade B….er, I mean Dan Murphy, but let’s let him mature and work out the kinks in the 6 or 7 hole for the time being and not rush him to be somebody he isn’t yet.

  6. Walnutz15 March 13, 2009 at 1:30 pm
    Really, we could go on about lineups for weeks — but from the beginning, I was never under the impression that Beltran would ever be a #3 hitter.

    He has developed some good, legit pop through the year, and is a nice SLG%/RBI guy — but color me silly, when I say…..I’ve been hoping he’d hit out of the 2-hole since 2005.

    That was more or less “put to rest”, so to speak — in seeing traditional 2-hole types — in Lo Duca and Castillo (in theory) — as acquisitions. But, really…….if he has to switch things up and give it a new look?

    I’m not opposed to Beltran hitting 2nd at all. Just a matter of whether or not HE’s comfortable hitting behind Reyes. Imagine Reyes getting on base, the pressure of keeping him close — and having Beltran, of all hitters, coming up seconds later?

    Your pitcher’s on the defensive immediately — starting seconds into the game. Plus, he’s in a position to grab an extra AB or 2, late in a game….or if you go to extras.

    Wright has all the makings of a “true” #3 hitter, no argument there….just saying, though — this can be toyed with a bit, under the right manager.

    Obviously, the Met offense has run as a machine built on Beltran hitting further down in the order…..3rd through 5th — but in the event they need a new look? I think it’d be logical to try him out out of the 2-slot — he did it in Houston, with a high-charged offense.

    Imagine the fastballs he’d see with Reyes on base? Or the SB’s Joe would rack up — provided they kept trying to get Beltran to chase curves…..if nothing else, it’s intriguing.

    Reyes SS
    Beltran CF
    Wright 3B
    Delgado 1B
    Tatis RF
    Murphy LF

    On days where they’re facing a lefty? — I like that….and am amazed at how deep that lineup could’ve been, provided another “legit” RH bat were explored where Tatis sits in the 5-hole (not necessarily Manny…but just saying — an Abreu at $5MM looks awfully enticing there — considering you don’t really know what to expect out of Church over the long haul…….)

    BUT, I’m ready to find out.

    Manuel will have a ton of different ways he can play with this lineup. I just hope that whichever one he decides upon will click from the starting gates.

    NY Times article from 2004:

    ”I prefer hitting third, but second is a good spot for me,” Beltran said. ”Hitting third, it’s more like people expect you to hit the ball out of the ballpark all the time.”

    ^ For his career, it’d also show that he’s MORE than comfortable hitting 2nd….in over 1,000 Plate Appearances, here are Beltran’s numbers out of the 2-slot:

    893 AB’s
    190 Runs Scored
    262 Hits
    55 Doubles
    13 Triples
    49 Homers
    155 RBI
    122 Walks
    51 SB’s

    .293/.379/.549/.927 OPS

    Granted, he’s being paid to be a bigtime bopper — but history has shown us to be ridiculously versatile in terms of where he’s placed within a lineup.

    Just saying: can’t hurt to tinker, provided the situation warrants it.

  7. joe March 13, 2009 at 2:36 pm
    OK lemme catch up …

    Stokes: with Sanchez gone I believe he knows he’s getting a spot in the bullpen no matter what, so I’m guessing (hoping) that he trying out some new pitches — there was chatter about him learning a forkball or something.Though, in my opinion, he simply needs to focus on honing one of his other three pitches. If he’s not working on another pitch, then the culprit to his demise would be his chest-high, non-moving fastball.

    Leadoff: it’s Jose, hands down. I don’t give too much thought into lineups, other than the top three spots. In my mind, your best offensive player should bat first, because you want him up at the plate as many times as possible. The number two guy should be someone who can get on base more than anyone else. The number three guy is your best pure hitter, because you want your best hitter to get an at-bat in the first inning. After that can be a mix of power guys, it matters not.

    In the Mets’ case, I’ve never understood the idea of batting Beltran in any of the top three positions — UNLESS he’s in one of his hot streaks. To me he is a .260-.275 hitter who might finish a little higher at the end of the season if he ends the season on one of his hot streaks. He’s so wildly inconsistent, both in season and from season to season, that it’s hard to figure what kind of hitter he is. Last year, he was an on-base machine. In ’07, he walked only 69 times, which made little sense after hitting 41 HRs in ’06. He batted over .300 twice before turning 27, but never since, and has hit as low as .266 within the last five years. Some years he strikes out 120 times, others, less than 90. Everyone goes nutty over his 90 games and postseason with Houston in ’04, and point to that as a reason that he should be batting second, but the only reason he batted second in that lineup was because they Berkman, Biggio, Kent, and Bagwell — all better offensive players than him at that time — to flank him. He ends up getting a ton of fastballs because Biggio is on first base and Bagwell, Berkman, and Kent were waiting to get their licks, and he hits 23 HRs in 90 games (it helped that he was “in the zone”). Remarkably, through those last 90 games, his batting average was only .258. Go figure … just another head-scratcher when it comes to evaluating and predicting his offensive performance.

    You would think — based on his power numbers — Beltran would be an ideal #4 hitter, but he doesn’t hit with his best homerun power unless he has protection behind him. If he is to hit .284 and walk 100 times again, he’d be an ideal #3 guy … but how do you know he won’t fall back to the .275 AVG / .350 OBP numbers of ’07? Granted, those are pretty good numbers, but not better than what D-Wright has been posting consistently, so David is the best candidate for the #3 spot — you don’t want to take a chance that Wright doesn’t come to the plate in the first inning.

    If the Mets managed to sign Manny, you’d put Beltran #2 and Manny #3 and Wright #4 and rule the world. As currently constructed, you shoehorn Beltran into the cleanup spot with Delgado behind him, and hope that Delgado continues to mash at the rate he did in the second half of last year. If Beltran gets hot, and the team is struggling, maybe you push him up to #2 to kickstart things. Hard to figure, too many variables with Beltran … the good thing is, you can change the lineup every day.

    I like a healthy Castillo at #2, because he’ll get on base at a .360-.375 clip (he had a .355 OBP last year, in the worst offensive year of his career — still not awful), he’ll take a ton of pitches — which lets Jose steal and also runs up the pitch count and also allows everyone else to see the opposing starter go through his repertoire right away — and he’ll cause some ruckus on the basepaths, giving the #3 and #4 guys some extra fastballs.

    I don’t think it matters that Beltran has strong numbers over his career hitting in the 2-hole — what matters is what personnel you have on hand and how they compliment each other. Also, did Beltran hit that well because he’s comfortable as a #2 hitter, or because for half of those at-bats he had Jeff Bagwell and Mike Sweeney hitting behind him? (Sweeney hit .340 in 2002, a season in which Beltran did a lot of hitting in the 2-hole.) If David Wright goes ballistic and fights for the batting title this year, you can move Beltran ahead of him, but then you’re relying on Delgado, Church, etc. to pick up the rest of the lineup. It worked for the Astros, but does it make sense for the Mets? Maybe, I don’t know. If the Mets had one more “bopper” in the lineup, and I were the manager, I’d experiment with Beltran at #2, mainly because he’s a head case, and allows expectations to affect his game. At #2, in his mind, there are lesser expectations.

  8. isuzudude March 13, 2009 at 3:54 pm
    Great discussion, gentlemen. I agree that in certain scenarios and on certain ballclubs Beltran could be an ideal candidate to hit #2. Unless another legitamite power threat is added, or the offense flat out sucks for a long period of time, I’m just not seeing it as an ideal fit for this year’s Mets.
  9. sincekindergarten March 14, 2009 at 4:16 pm
    Redding’s been shut down, and will likely start the season on the DL. Which makes one Pedro Martinez’ status a tad more interesting . . .
  10. isuzudude March 22, 2009 at 9:29 am
    Well, I wanted to be the first to comment on this, even if this isn’t the appropriate post. Jerry made it official, saying Murphy will be the #2 hitter this year, meaning Castillo will hit 8th. I hate this for so many reasons, but I’ll hold my tongue until further notice. Just wanted to get that off my chest.
  11. joe March 22, 2009 at 10:49 pm
    ‘dude, thanks for the tip, I missed that one. I’ll write a post and we can discuss.