Mets Game 73: Win Over Twins

Mets 5 Twins 2

Are the Mets this good, or are they really lucky? Or is it something about The Field at Shea Bridge that intimidates opposing teams?

The Mets continued their dominance of the American League by beating a Twins team that played very much unlike the Twins. Meaning, Ron Gardenhire’s club is known for excellent fundamentals, solid pitching, and homerun power from middle of the lineup. But what we saw instead were two errors in the field, mediocre starting pitching, and lack of punch from the meat of the order (though leadoff hitter Denard Span went deep to start the game).

Game Notes

Mike Pelfrey struggled early, but settled down and mowed down the Twins after the Mets took the lead — something you expect an ace to do. He allowed 2 runs on 6 hits in 6 innings, walking none and striking out 2 in a somewhat inefficient 116-pitch outing.

David Wright was the star on offense, going 2-for-3 with a double, a homer, and two RBI. Keith Hernandez says he “likes what he sees” from Wright, and also suggests that David Wright “might get back to where he was before”. Gee, thanks Keith … but D-Wright is hitting close to .400 this month, so that’s not exactly a revelation.

Jose Reyes also had two hits and scored a run.

Jason Bay hit a monster RBI double in the fourth, his 18th of the season.

Ruben Tejada also blasted a double off the wall to extend his hitting streak to 8 games, the second-longest of any rookie in MLB. He is scorching hot, and now up to .264. He reminds me of a righthanded Robinson Cano, and could be a batting champion some day. Alternatively, he also reminds me of Alex Cora, and could be a backup middle infielder some day. Time will tell.

Tejada scored on a sac fly in the fifth, somehow eluding the tag of Joe Mauer. Keith Hernandez went on and on about Mauer not properly blocking the plate, but Keith was WAY off base (pardon the pun). The fly ball was hit down the left field line, and was caught by Delmon Young very close to stands and his momentum took him into foul territory. If Mauer set up his target closer to the baseline, Young likely would have thrown the ball in the same path as Tejada, which in turn a) might’ve resulted in the ball hitting Tejada in the back; and/or b) Mauer getting his view of the ball screened by Tejada. Mauer absolutely was in the right position by being a few steps to the right of home plate on that particular play — it’s kind of like when the catcher drops a third strike and the first baseman sets up in foul territory to receive the throw. Stick to hitting and first base play, Keith.

Other than Wright and Reyes, and the blasts to the wall by Tejada and Bay, not much excitement from the offense — which has been kind of the story recently. As Wright and Reyes go, so go the Mets. Remember to include Wright in that statement.

Francisco Rodriguez threw 24 pitches en route to his 17th save. He lost his balance and fell flat after one of his pitches. Could his old and chronic ankle issues be flaring up?

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Twins do it again at 1:10 PM in the afternoon on Saturday. Johan Santana faces his old team while Carl Pavano pitches for the Twins.

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. June 26, 2010 at 3:30 am
    joe, please cut tejada a break.he's young, he has a decent stick and is playing a terriffic 2nd case and every game he starts is one less game tha castillo can't play in.i'm on the fence about trading for lee or oswalt (brett myers?).but i am positive tha the less castillo plays, the better the team will play
  2. Matt, F June 26, 2010 at 3:43 am
    seriously, i totally agree with Gary ^, i think its disgusting that castillo is even being mentioned..either the mets dump him off in a trade for Lee or Oswalt, or just release him. while he had a great comeback year in 09, and a was pretty consistent in april and may, clearly this Tejada kid can play superb defense and can hit at least a 290. clip in 150 games..he looks like a stud..hes even got some power. that double tonight was off the middle of the wall in left center, a homer in almost all other parks, and he also put one of the left field wall last week.
  3. transpacificus June 26, 2010 at 3:58 am
    Watching the Tejada / Mauer play I had similar thoughts. It seemed like he was way too tough on Mauer. Moreover, Hernandez is there to help break things down for us, and pointing out mistakes by players is a part of that – but he can be judgmental in a way and with a sort of lecturing tone that comes off like a stern parent who doesn't ever allow his kids to have fun in little league. And he can sound a bit smug – like, I can do this, why can't you? Whereas Ron Darling conveys a warmth and understanding about the humanity of the players. I'm not saying we can't be critical of these privileged multi million dollar athletes, but there are different ways to do that.
  4. Lee June 26, 2010 at 5:53 am
    In fairness to Keith, he was pretty explicit (in response to Gary) that he didn't think Mauer should have originally setup along the baseline — he suggested that Mauer should have adjusted his position once he saw the trajectory of the ball, caught it backhanded, and tagged Tejada while blocking the plate.

    Whether or not this is a feasible or reasonable suggestion is beyond me.


  5. José June 26, 2010 at 7:04 am
    I thought Keith was dead on. As already mentioned, it's not where Mauer initially set up the target that was the issue. It's that he didn't block the plate when he received the throw. It should have been a fairly routine block and catch.
  6. KDAD June 26, 2010 at 12:55 pm
    Okay so do we wanna talk Zamrano now? I think that if we eat his salary and throw in O.P. and a second tier pitcher maybe he waves his no trade clause and becomes our number three… I would rather have him then Oswalt and his issues last night was with the two ground balls that first and third did their best Braun impression from Major League…
  7. KDAD June 26, 2010 at 12:56 pm
    sorry Zambrano
  8. Nick June 26, 2010 at 1:35 pm
    Have you seen Zambrano pitch this year? He's just awful. As his own GM publicly said, something along the lines of him being one of the worst pitchers since being given that contract. You want to trade Perez's awful contract for this monster (which looks like one of those "shake your head" contracts). At least Zambrano had a lot of pedigree walking into that contract, but lets not take his pedigree three or four years ago and apply it today… I made that mistake with Dontrelle Willis and look at him now, he never got it together.
  9. logemezzanine June 26, 2010 at 3:26 pm
    The idea of trading Ollie to bring in Zambrano makes my head hurt. Although it would be interesting to see Ollie start and have Zambrano come on in relief. It could be called Implosion Night. But seriously, no thanks.
  10. MikeTomaselli June 26, 2010 at 4:09 pm
    Love that sarcasm on Tejada, Joe. Matt, F you are getting way ahead of yourself bro. Tejada's career minor league numbers don't project to anything that you are saying. HOWEVER, he is young (just 20) and was consistently rushed in the minors by Tony Bernazard. So I think he still have much room to grow. Ideally this would be in AAA. Again my biggest issue is the Tejada criticism is that no one actually knows his ceiling, and everything we have seen from him is positive. He's not completely weak, he is very smart, he is already showing a capability with the bat (bunting, moving runners over) that leads to success, and to a lesser extent Jose Reyes seems to be a great influence on him.

    That Zambrano idea is ridiculous. Only someone who is only looking at names would make that suggestion. Use your eyes, Z is a mess and a bad clubhouse presence. Also his contract makes him an albatross. BTW, Ollie's contract is up after next year. As bad as it was, it was only 3 years. I can live with it. Z's is another 2 years after this and is still owed about 45 million. No thank you.

    One last thing, I was talking to an old Mets fan from home in NY, someone who works too much to really follow the Mets like he and I used to, and when I told him Wright was leading the NL in RBI his response was "how is that possible?" The NY media is brainwashing NYers into hating DWright and Reyes it seems. Please promote Wright and Reyes to everyone you know as the great, possible Hall of Fame players they are on track to be.

  11. metstoday June 26, 2010 at 5:02 pm
    Cut that Kool-Aid with some warm water. Tejada is on a hot streak and hitting .260. He's can't "hit at least .290" at the MLB level — not yet anyway. And his defense is not superb. He is showing good skills, but also making mistakes. He's about average.

    That doesn't mean we can't enjoy watching him right now, but at the same time be realistic. Or be prepared for a serious letdown two months from now when he's hitting .220.

  12. metstoday June 26, 2010 at 5:05 pm
    How was Mauer supposed to block the plate in one place and receive the ball in another? His left arm would've had to be nine feet long.

    Keith's an idiot.

  13. metstoday June 26, 2010 at 5:09 pm
    It would be really great to see Tejada in AA with Mejia, where BOTH can make mistakes, learn from them, and develop at a pace that gives them the opportunity to succeed over the long term. I like some of the raw defensive skills that Tejada is showing. His offensive skills are spotty, and need polish. It's one of the reasons I keep comparing him to AHern — because AHern also never fully developed his offensive nor defensive skills because of being at levels he shouldn't have been at (and injuries).
  14. José June 26, 2010 at 8:00 pm
    You're wrong. Here's a screenshot of the ball arriving.
    The white streak is the ball. Mauer actually had to shift to his left from where he was set up to receive it. He could have easily been blocking the plate with his lower half and caught the ball.
  15. metstoday June 26, 2010 at 8:28 pm
    Thanks for providing proof I'm right. If you look at the photo, and as you point out, Mauer is shifting his weight to his left leg — and leaning toward the baseline. He is in the midst of receiving the ball a good 5-6 feet inside the baseline — which is about 1-2 feet to the left of where he set up the target.

    How do you propose he would be able to set up his lower half in the baseline and in front of home plate, while simultaneously catching the ball 6 feet to his right? Again, it would take someone with a nine-foot-long arms.

  16. John June 26, 2010 at 10:29 pm
    I agree with you Joe, it is way too early to tell what Tejada will be after a few games. To suggest that he can hit at least .290 can't be taken seriously at this point.
    But I think he has several things going for him. 1) He has improved at every level that he has played at compared to the previous level. Also he has started slow at each level and got bet over time. This is a real good sign in that he seems to be able to make adjustments rather than other players figuring him out and his being not able to adjust. A kid who can make adjustments on the fly can have a long career.
    2) He is only 20 and has not really matured physically yet. Although I don't think he is the next Robinson Cano I think he may add some gap power which for him in that ball park could be triple power.
    3) For a young kid with a slight frame he hasn't had any injury or durability issues so far. So I think this is a kid who could be a real solid major leaguer for a lot of years. Not flashy, not a super star, probably not even an all star but someone who can be a central part of a winning team.
  17. José June 26, 2010 at 10:44 pm
    Thanks for providing proof I'm right.
    Are you insane?
    If you look at the photo, and as you point out, Mauer is shifting his weight to his left leg.
    He's shifting his weight to his left foot because he set up too far to the right. How could you possibly think that supports your case?
    How do you propose he would be able to set up his lower half in the baseline and in front of home plate, while simultaneously catching the ball 6 feet to his right?
    Mauer should have set up with his left foot in front of the plate and backhanded the ball, just as Keith said. Catchers do this all the time. No 9 foot long arms required. Here's another image where I've moved Mauer where he should have been.
    The ball is still well within reach.
  18. KDAD June 26, 2010 at 10:52 pm
    And just how long until we start shaking our heads about Santana(before I get killed for that one please know I am a very large JS fan)? All that I said is that I would rather have him then RO…I believe his contract runs through 2012 and would be about 40 more year for 10 mill and at that time he will be about 32…

    Keep in mind I am not pining for this, just looking at it..

  19. joejanish June 26, 2010 at 7:31 pm
    Jose –
    I am most definitely insane — why else would I spend so much time watching the Mets and writing this blog?

    And I’m right, so again, thank you.

    Mauer should NOT have set up with his left foot in front of the plate as the target, because if he had, Young would have thrown the ball into Tejada’s back from that angle. At best, the ball wouldn’t have hit Tejada but Tejada would’ve screened Mauer’s view of the ball and thereby would’ve been unlikely to catch something he couldn’t see.

    Further, the ONLY way Mauer could have possibly received the ball with his left leg in front of the plate and caught the ball is if he spread his legs really wide just like he is depicted in your new picture. Notice that the left leg is bent sideways? That makes it weak and vulnerable to getting demolished — i.e., out for the year.

    Catchers are taught to block the plate with the left knee facing potential impact with the leg completely perpendicular / 90-degree angle to the ground, to minimize injury.

    You’ve missed the entire point that Mauer could not have set up his target in that spot because of the throwing angle. AGAIN, very similar to when Keith himself might’ve set up in foul territory to receive a throw from the catcher on a 3rd strike wild pitch.

  20. José June 26, 2010 at 8:56 pm
    Further, the ONLY way Mauer could have possibly received the ball with his left leg in front of the plate and caught the ball is if he spread his legs really wide just like he is depicted in your new picture.

    He’s not supposed to catch the ball and freeze like a statue. He supposed to catch the ball and then drop into into a better position.

    You’ve missed the entire point that Mauer could not have set up his target in that spot because of the throwing angle.

    NO I HAVEN’T! For god’s sake, nobody is saying he set up the target incorrectly. Not Keith. Not me. Stop with this ridiculous straw man. We’re saying that once the ball was in the air, he should have adjusted accordingly. He didn’t. How hard is that to understand?

  21. joejanish June 26, 2010 at 10:27 pm
    Freeze like a statue? Is that what Mauer did?

    You make it sound like Mauer had five minutes to catch the ball and then block the plate. It was a bang-bang play. Maybe it looked like he had time to catch and block by watching the slo-mo replay, but in real time it was impossible.

    You’re also assuming that the ball came in perfectly, without tail or dip or anything, which is definitely impossible from the distance the ball was thrown.

    So if you and Keith are so smart, can you explain WHY Mauer wasn’t in the position you wanted him to be in?

    BTW what does “ridiculous straw man” mean? Is it a reference to the Wizard of Oz or something?

  22. isuzudude June 27, 2010 at 8:27 am
    I guess it was a good thing I was away from my computer for much of the weekend. If I had been around to reply to:
    1) someone saying Tejada is a .290 hitter;
    2) someone saying to trade Ollie for Zambrano;
    3) someone arguing with Joe, the former catcher and current baseball instructor, about the fundamentals of fielding the position;
    I probably would have flipped out. Must’ve been a full moon out this weekend or something for these crazies to be coming out all at once.