Mets Game 51: Loss to Pirates

Pirates 3 Mets 1

For the second time in three days, the Mets engaged in a pitchers’ duel, but unlike Sunday’s win over the Marlins, were on the short end of the sword.

Johan Santana pitched poorly for Santana, but good for a mere mortal, and unfortunately not good enough for a win. He scattered seven hits through six innings, allowing three runs. I believe that qualifies as a “quality start”. Quality starts, though, don’t guarantee wins.

Pittsburgh pitcher Zach Duke was just a little better, holding the Mets to one run on eight hits and a walk. The only run allowed came on a sacrifice fly by Luis Castillo that scored Ramon Martinez.

Buccos catcher Jason Jaramillo blasted his first MLB homerun off Santana in the fifth, a “no doubter” deep into the left field stands. The Pirates’ went ahead in the sixth inning, when Freddy Sanchez led off with a single, advanced to second on a wild pitch, and scored on a Nate McLouth double. Moments later Adam LaRoche hit another double to score McLouth with the insurance run.

The Mets staged a two-out rally in the top of the seventh but Duke extinguished it without damage.


Martinez dislocated his pinky while scoring the Mets’ only run. He beat the throw easily but seemed to be caught between sliding and staying up. For those who have never played baseball before, he should have received direction from the on-deck hitter (Fernando Martinez) as to whether he needed to slide or run in standing up.This is a basic fundamental which is taught to American and Japanese children during little league. It is absolutely implausible and embarrassing that the Mets, an organization competing at the highest level of the game in the world, did not instill such a basic fundamental during F-Mart’s 3+ years in their system. I learned it as a 10-year-old in a league that played a 15-game season. *** EDITED — see isuzudude’s correction in comments *** Shame on the Mets, who by the day become exposed as a Mickey Mouse operation. (I won’t edit the final comment, because the Mets do belong in Disneyworld, for a hundred other reasons.)

While we’re on the subject of plays at the plate, Jeremy Reed was thrown out by several feet in the third inning after a Castillo single. Watching the replay, third-base coach Razor Shines was giving Reed the green light by circling his left arm as Reed approached third base. However, as Reed was rounding third (with his head down, something you do as a runner to make sure you touch the bag), Shines put up a stop sign with that same left arm, which Reed ran right through. Keith Hernandez commented that Reed “had plenty of time to stop”. I disagree.

A third base coach has to decide whether or not to send the runner BEFORE the runner hits the 3B bag. If he’s going to wait longer, then the coach has to position himself further down the third-base line, toward home plate, at an angle where both he can see the ball being handled by the outfielder and the runner can see him clearly as he rounds the bag. If Shines were in the proper position, then he can put up the stop sign “late”. But, Shines was at the edge of the 3B coaching box, and not in a good position to put up a late stop sign. What compounded the issue was that he used his same left hand to give the “stop” sign, which could have been construed as a continuance of the “go” sign. When as a coach you want the runner to put the brakes on, you put BOTH hands up, high over your head, using forceful, obvious body language. Again, fundamentals.

Brandon Moss reminds me of Ryan Klesko. Zach Duke reminds me of Tom Glavine. But the Pirates do not remind me of the Braves of the 1990s.

Losing to the Pirates twice in a row doesn’t concern me, since half the team is on the disabled list or in the infirmary with flu symptoms. The shame is that the Mets aren’t able to take advantage of playing a poor team by beating up on them.

Danny Murphy had a pinch-hit single in the seventh off Duke, a lefthander. Murphy is now hitting .423 in his career as a pinch-hitter, and I truly believe he may be able to carve a career serving in such a role — particularly since he is unfazed by the lefty-lefty matchup. Kind of like Gates Brown, Manny Mota, or Lenny Harris. Obviously there’s something about his approach that makes him so effective as a pinch-hitter, and a man can make a long and financially fruitful career exploiting such a talent.

Keith Hernandez suggested that Santana might be tipping pitches, as evidenced by the Bucs looking very comfortable swinging the bat in that fateful sixth frame. There may be something to that theory.

Santana was removed after 85 pitches. Probably a good thing, since he threw 120 in his last start (and 118 in the start before) and the Mets offense wasn’t doing anything anyway.

Why was Ramon Martinez starting at shortstop after Wilson Valdez hit like Barry Larkin on Sunday afternoon? The explanation was that Jerry Manuel wanted to get a look at Martinez before making a personnel decision. Are you kidding me? Believe me, I’m not on the bandwagon for Valdez, but it’s plain as day that he is head and shoulders above Martinez in every aspect of the game (which isn’t necessarily saying much). He has a stronger arm, better range, better speed, and a slightly stronger bat. He had me at hello. To give a guy a start as a tryout is unacceptable at this point in the season — the games are too important, and the lineup is already devoid of legit MLB talent.

Next Mets Game

The Mets attempt to avert a series loss on Wednesday evening by sending Mike Pelfrey to the mound against former Yankee Ross Ohlendorf. Game time is 7:05 PM.

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. gaimanotaku June 2, 2009 at 11:14 pm
    At least Shines didn’t try to tackle the runner off the baseline. That’s kind of an improvement
  2. gary s June 2, 2009 at 11:41 pm
    joe, u are right..this is a mickey mouse organization.we have mickey mouse owners, a mickey mouse gm and a mickey mouse manager.after 2 games it was evident to me and all of met fans that ramon martinez is not a major league shortstop.the guy is an error machine and can’t hit, but manuel still needs to “get another look” before he can make a decision??he’s still young, but to quote casey stengel, fernando martinez is 20 and in 10 years has a good chance to be 30 years old.another part of the met “hype” machine??
  3. murph June 3, 2009 at 12:14 am
    I guess Ramon Martinez’ pinky will save him the embarrassment of getting cut, as they can put him on the DL for a while until the next guy gets hurt.

    I was thinking the same thing about Daniel Murphy’s pinch-hitting ability. It will keep him around until he finds a permanent home somewhere. Still not convinced its at first base.

    Agree about the poor fundamentals. When your coach (Shines) displays poor fundamentals, how can we expect the young players to learn them?

  4. isuzudude June 3, 2009 at 9:30 am
    OK, I seriously think this Fernando Martinez bashing has gone on long enough. Reading your post and remebering the debate on David Wright not helping Beltran decide to slide or stand a week or so ago, I would concur that Fernando is at fault for displaying poor fundamentals if he did not help Ramon Martinez at the plate last night. But, for the sake of acurateness, I decided to watch the replay on (see “Castillo scores R.Martinez with a sac fly”)

    And guess what I saw? FERNANDO MARTINEZ WAS DIRECTING RAMON AT THE PLATE! He was signaling for Ramon to slide, which he did, but Ramon still slid awkwardly for some unbeknownst reason. So this leads me to a few conclusions. 1) Joe, you saw the play and consequent replays without seeing Martinez in the camera’s field of vision and assumed he forgot to help Ramon. So if we’re only seeing 10% of the game thru the camera’s eye and missing all the mistakes the Mets are making, as you wrote in a previous post, isn’t also possible the camera isn’t showing us all the things they are doing right, as well? 2) Joe, you have it out for Fernando. Don’t know why that would be. Maybe you’ve already decided to judge Martinez as a fundamentally poor numbskull based on the 1 game he didn’t run out those flyballs. Or maybe you just don’t like that song by Abba? 3) Joe, you are trying too hard to make the Mets out to be fools. And take it from me, I don’t think the Mets have to try very hard these days to look like fools. But why criticize a player when he’s done nothing wrong?

    But what has happened now is that you haved smeared Fernando. Who knows how many people have read this article with the impression, proven false by the replay, that Fernando has no clue of proper fundamentals and is continuing to make “implausible and embarrassing” mistakes. With these type of smear tactics in place, there’s no way Fernando’s going to get a fair chance to succeed with the Mets, because the majority of fans, who develop their beliefs and opinions after reading posts like this, already have dismissed Fernando as a worthy talent and hate his guts for being lazy and stupid. Joe, please be more responsible than this in the future. I expect more from you.

  5. joejanish June 3, 2009 at 11:32 am
    ‘dude, thanks for the correction, duly noted. My mistake.

    Though, now that you’ve pointed it out, Fernando initially had his hands up in the air, signaling Ramon to come in standing, and in Ramon’s final steps, Fernando made a gesture with his hands down and to the left, suggesting that he slide. I’m not going to blame Fernando for a late signal, though, that’s an experience thing and he gets a pass. I only point it out because you couldn’t understand Ramon’s awkwardness.

    You seem to miss the whole point. This isn’t about Fernando Martinez. I would like to like him, just as I would like to like every player on the Mets. From all accounts F-Mart is a good kid. I’m not indicting the kid, I’m indicting the people shaping him. This is about the entire organization, from the Wilpons on down to the disgraceful Tony Bernazard, Omar Minaya, etc.

    Minaya went on record, on WFAN last Friday morning, telling millions that you don’t discipline a player for not hustling, and basically stating that it’s OK and acceptable for players to not give 100%, 100% of the time. Sorry, that’s not acceptable to me. To me, that’s a disrespect to the game, to yourself, and to the people paying money to watch you. It’s a loser’s attitude.

    If it’s OK with you for players to slack off here and there, that’s your prerogative. I can’t argue with you in that case, because we’re in completely different stratospheres on the subject.

    You think I’ve “smeared” Fernando Martinez? Please. There is so much cheerleading going on, for Martinez and every other aspect of the Mets organization, it’s nauseating, and my little blog is barely making a dent in the pom-poms. If anything my two cents of negativity is providing some balance against the multi-millions of empty optimism.

  6. gary s June 3, 2009 at 12:03 pm
    reyes ran hard on everything till the mets decided to have rickey henderson “mentor” him.maybe they can hire rickey back to teach fernando some of his “special” skills.the way our outfielders are going down, we might have henderson making a comeback any day now as an active player.
  7. isuzudude June 3, 2009 at 6:47 pm
    I did not miss your point, Joe. I also wrote “And take it from me, I don’t think the Mets have to try very hard these days to look like fools.” My overall point was summed up as: “But why criticize a player when he’s done nothing wrong?” But you have now corrected the problem so all is well.

    I am 95% of the way in the same boat as you. The Mets conduct business, on and off the field, like clowns, and have for too many years now. And yet the same nincompoops (Omar, Bernazard, Jerry, and the Wilpons, most noteably) keep their jobs, and the same mistakes keep taking place. However, all I ask is that the criticism stay fair and truthful. I trust you did not purposely single out Fernando because you have a personal vendeta against him, but instead because it was an honest mistake. And if you’re making mistakes, Joe, then surely we’re all allowed to make them as well.

    However, honest mistakes are one thing. Exscusing yourself or your players for a lack of effort is totally different. I haven’t heard the interview with Omar on WFAN that you allude to, but if what you write is true, then I don’t agree with being accepting of anything less than 100% either. Players who give 100% are still going to make the occassional error in judgement, botched play, or mental lapse. It happens. And I think that’s what plagued Fernando in the game you went to. Just my opinion. But for the players purposely not trying as hard as they can, or going through the motions because they don’t care enough about winning (going back to the lack of heart debates), there simply is no excuse or justification. That is where we agree 100%, and I can’t see anyone of sound mind disagreeing with that philosophy.

    As far as the smearing goes, you’re tiny little insignificant blog is not the only one bashing Fernando for every little thing these days. If you are a Met blogger, chances are you’re bashing Fernando. And if you take a look at the comments section of those blogs, most fans are spewing hatred towards Fernando as well, taking their cues from the blog hosts themselves. That’s what I’m referring to. The eternal optimism eminating from SNY serves less as talking points for fans and more as the basis of what to disagree with. Much like the way Fox News is for liberals. Still, if you have something critical to say about someone or something, then all is fair as long as you’re being accurate and honest about the criticism. But if people start making stuff up just to be critical, or choose to focus solely on the bad and not the good, then the smear machine is in full effect, regardless of how large or small the audience is. Don’t take that as an accusation, just a viewpoint.

  8. joejanish June 3, 2009 at 7:37 pm
    ‘dude, you read Mets blogs other than this one? Why???


    Seriously though, the other blogs I frequent haven’t been bashing F-Mart. My eyes and ears have been pounded mostly by the cheerleaders at SNY (on all things Mets, not just F-Mart). It gets a little old after about 20 seconds.

    I’m actually in F-Mart’s corner, and want to see him do well some day. That doesn’t mean I won’t criticize him, or the organization. The way I see it, he needs a LOT more time in the minors, to both play and learn the game. Don’t forget I was one of the more critical voices of Willie Randolph, but at the same time loved having him as Mets manager. It’s not hatred, but disappointment.

    You should listen to the Omar interview, it’s here:

    He doesn’t come right out and say that laziness is tolerated, but he said enough to imply it. You may infer his words differently than I, who knows. You should make that decision rather than take it from me.