Mets Game 16: Win Over Cubs

Mets 5 Cubs 2

The Mets did nearly everything they could to give Chicago the game, but in the end the Cubs just weren’t interested. As a result, the Metropolitans won their first series of 2010.

Game Notes

Johan Santana did not have his best stuff, but had enough to win. Hey … where have I heard that before? Oh, yeah — in all of his starts thus far. Once again the velocity was on the low side (though higher than in previous games) and his command was less than stellar. However, he had an occasionally nasty, vanishing change-up that induced many swings and misses. A few more crafty, savvy performances like this and we may start to wonder if this is what we’ll expect from Santana as a rule, rather than an exception. If so, that’s OK, as long as he keeps winning. Though, the high pitch counts that keep him from plowing through a full seven innings will eventually take their toll on an already overused bullpen. I’m going to assume that Johan’s slow start to the season has something to do with the recovery from elbow surgery. By mid-June he may be at full strength and these so-so (for Santana) starts will be considered a temporary anomaly.

Jerry Manuel is operating like a man managing for his life. In other words, he’s managing every game like it’s the seventh game of the World Series, with a beheading certain to follow a loss (previously he managed every game like it was the seventh game of the World Series, but with the assumption that his life would be spared if he were unsuccessful). This short-sighted strategy may get him through May, but will be detrimental in the long run — particularly to the bullpen. His desperation to win this game and this series led to four relievers in the final 2 2/3 innings, including Fernando Nieve’s 11th appearance and a five-out save from Francisco Rodriguez.

Speaking of, Fernando Nieve is on pace to appear in 110 games this season. In contrast, K-Rod is on pace to save 10 games over the course of the year.

Enough of the negativity; on to the positive.

Ike Davis had 3 of the Mets’ 7 hits, going 3-for-4 with 2 runs scored. He also collected his first Major League extra-base hit, a double to left field in the 8th. Granted, Alfonso Soriano was standing next to the peanut salesman in the stands along the left field foul line, and took his time in chasing the ball, but we’ll take it. Half of Davis’ 6 hits in this series came against lefthanded pitchers.

David Wright had only one hit, but it was a big one — a double to left that scored Jose Reyes for the first run of the game. Wright struck out three times on the night and was down 0-2 in that particular at-bat, but fought back and took a strong cut to blast the ball over Soriano’s head. God bless Alfonso Soriano.

Jeff Francoeur also had only one hit, but his also was a biggie — a single to score Wright only moments later. Frenchy flew to first base on the hit, having shed a gorilla-sized monkey off his back (he had been 0 for 24 prior to the RBI single).

There’s just one more middle-of-the-order slugger to bust out of a slump, and I won’t mention his name but you may currently think of him as the righthanded Jeromy Burnitz.

The Mets are in last place in the NL East but currently have a better won-loss record than the Boston Red Sox — so, there’s that. See, I can see a silver lining.

Next Mets Game

The Mets host the Braves for a three-game weekend series in Flushing beginning at 7:10 PM on Friday. The matchup pairs two winless starters in John Maine and Kenshin Kawakami.

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. gary s. April 23, 2010 at 1:14 am
    joe, i like the bay to burnitz comparison..same far, same production..ZILCH!!
  2. isuzudude April 23, 2010 at 8:55 am
    Joe, I’m kinda confused about something. In my interpretation of your analysis, I’m gathering that you weren’t happy with Jerry’s usage of the bullpen last night because he was managing too aggressively to get a win. And I mostly agree. Fernando Nieve has been used far too often to start this season, and using KRod for anything more than a 3-out save is begging for trouble.

    However, in the previous night’s game, you criticized Jerry for the exact opposite thing of conserving his bullpen ‘aces,’ with the Mets trailing by 2 runs, by going with the likes of Acosta, Valdes, and Takahashi. So I guess I’m confused over how exactly you want Jerry to use his bullpen. You don’t want him going to his less-reliable arms in close games, yet you don’t want him using his most-reliable arms too often. Don’t those two philosophies contradict each other?

    It’s possible he can avoid going to his worst relievers and avoid over-using his best relievers if he left the starting pitchers in the game longer. But each of the last 2 games the starting pitchers (Ollie & Johan) were close to or over 100 pitches, and were justifiably relieved from the game (Ollie was lifted for a pinch hitter, while Johan looked to be out of gas). So I’m not sure if that theory would necessarily apply to the last two games.

    You know what my track record is as far as criticism for Jerry. But this time I’m just not seeing it. Perhaps your criticism is directed more towards Omar than Jerry, as Minaya is the one supplying Jerry with the unreliable entities like Acosta and Valdes, and since Jerry can’t be using Feliciano and Nieve in EVERY game, he’s eventually got to go with the less desirable options in some close games. In which case your point is understood. I’m just wondering if you can clarify your position.

  3. Mark April 23, 2010 at 9:42 am
    Another positive that you did not mention Francoeur’s defense – he saved the Mets pitching a base in a couple of situations by getting good breaks, aggressively going after the ball and making strong throws. Might not show up on a box score, but it is important.

    I agree with you on Jerry’s use of the bullpen. I don’t think its an issue of using the top guys vs. the bottom guys, rather its more not staying with guys after they’ve warmed up and gotten into the game (for example, pulling Nieve after one batter). The number of appearances is going to wear them down very early. Its a good thing that they have someone who can eat lots of innings when Maine / Perez crash and burn early in starts like Figueoroa. Oops.

    Davis has looked good so far, both at the plate and in the field. I still think the Mets should bring up Carter, though, if for no other reason than to use him as a PH and to spell Francoeur against tough righties. Carter has earned it. Perhaps we should all become fans of the facebook page “Free Chris Carter”

    Oh, and Igarashi’s injury – coupled with Acosta’s ineffectiveness – pretty much confirms that they won’t be sending Jenry down to AA to stretch him out. Damn.

  4. joejanish April 23, 2010 at 9:59 am
    ‘dude – In game 15, seeing Acosta, Valdes, and Takahashi was an indictment on Omar for assembling such an underwhelming assortment of slop — but also a general critiscism of Manuel, Warthen, and Minaya for stocking the bullpen with LOOGYs and ROOGYs while sending away more versatile arms such as Brian Stokes and Nelson Figueroa — knowing full well that no starter other than Johan could be counted on to go as many as 6 full innings. So yesterday’s post was more about the personnel decisions, today about a desperate man managing for his job.