Mets Game 79: Loss to Nationals

Nationals 2 Mets 1

There is this idea — supported to a degree by Beaneheads — that a manager has very little to no influence on the won-loss record of a team.

A game like this would beg one to differ.

Game Notes

As usual, Johan Santana didn’t have his “best stuff”, but it was somewhat better than most of his outings in 2010. Kind of. His fastball velocity was a whopping 90-91, which was up from his usual 88-89. His command was somewhat better than its been, and his efficiency was good. Though, his low pitch count could have been more of a function of the ridiculously aggressive and planless Nationals hitters. Outside of Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham, that lineup is full of clueless Joes.

But, Santana was stellar through seven innings, allowing one run on 6 hits and 2 walks, striking out 7. Unfortunately for Johan, the Mets offense could not give him ample support to win the game. Which was surprising, considering the big bats Jerry Manuel packed into the lineup — such as Alex Cora, Jesus Feliciano, Henry Blanco, and Ruben Tejada. Granted, it wasn’t all Jerry’s fault, since Jose Reyes was suffering from back spasms, and Rod Barajas has been having some back problems himself, and Angel Pagan (who did eventually get into the game) was just getting off a torso issue. Despite the unavailability of these three regulars, Manuel saw it fit to rest Jason Bay. Go figure.

In fairness, Blanco and Feliciano combined to go 4-for-7 with a run scored in the ballgame. But, that only makes the decision correct after the fact. I contend it is the overall process that matters more than the result — and in this case, both the process and the result were bad, even if those two players happened to have good days. You can argue this all you want, but my point is that when you make MANY bad decisions, eventually they catch up to you and in the end you get burned. It follows with the strategy of throwing many cans of paint at the wall to see what sticks — yes, you will get a few paints to stick to make you look brilliant, but at the expense of how many cans that drip to the floor? At some point, smart decisions have to be made, or you are relying completely on luck.

And yes, I’m one of the people who has been wondering why Chris Carter hasn’t been given more chances, and he was playing in Bay’s place, but … hmm … this wasn’t the spot where I’d be giving Carter that opportunity. Bay needs to be in the lineup with so many others out.

You may be wondering why Carter played in Bay’s spot instead of Jeff Francoeur’s. Well, Francoeur had a .438 career average vs. Livan Hernandez — so give props to Jerry if that’s why he left Frenchy in the lineup.

After the game started, Manuel’s in-game strategy also was open to criticism — particularly in his decision to pull Johan Santana after 97 pitches. On the one hand, it wasn’t a terrible decision, since Santana had looked brilliant up until his last inning, when the Nats finally “broke the seal”. But Manuel replaced Santana with Elmer Dessens, and then followed Dessens with Pedro Feliciano — who pitched a full inning — and then followed up Feliciano with Ryota Igarashi.

Dessens has pitched way over his head, so I get that part. And Feliciano has been the closest thing to a “setup man” thus far, so I sort of get why Manuel left him in for a full three outs. Though, as you know, I’ve questioned the (over)use of Feliciano for some time now. What was troubling to me was why Manuel left Dessens in until there was a crisis before bringing in Feliciano — who perhaps could have faced Adam Dunn in the 8th. Then, with the game on the line, Ryota Igarashi was the pitcher who was ready, rather than Francisco Rodriguez — because it was not a save situation, and it was a game on the road. OK, if you must go by “the book”, I guess that’s the right move. Except, other than against a few batters in Puerto Rico, Igarashi has been less than good for the past month, and this was an effort by Santana you do not want to waste — especially considering that you have your worst three starters finishing this series.

By the time Feliciano loaded the bases with one out, it probably didn’t matter who came in relief. But you have to wonder why a game would end this way with your top relief pitcher sitting idly in the bullpen. Can he ONLY pitch if it’s a save situation, or a tie game in the ninth at home?

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Nationals do it again at 7:05 PM on Friday in DC. Jon Niese goes against Luis Atilano.

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. July 1, 2010 at 11:12 pm
    joe, u know how i feel about worst nightmare is the mets win 85 games or so, miss the playoffs by a few games and the wilnots give this imbecile a 3 year extension.
  2. Kevin July 1, 2010 at 11:16 pm
    D’bags fired their manager and GM. I guess they can go find a summer job at McDonald’s since they’re both still in high school.

  3. Anthony July 2, 2010 at 6:33 am
    Agree with you 100% Joe. Great piece as always.

    Have a happy and safe 4th of July Weekend.

  4. Jim July 2, 2010 at 7:39 am
    I can’t believe you forgot to mention Ryan Zimmerman – the guy who drove in the winning run – as a threat on the gNats team. And yes, I’m a Mets fan but I’m also a baseball fan I know he’s not an ‘average Joe’.
  5. isuzudude July 2, 2010 at 8:47 am
    Mets last 7 road games: 2-5. Is it possible the Mets never shed their road woes, but instead just happened to bump into some horrifically pathetic teams in Baltimore and Cleveland to create the mirage that they can win away from home?

    I’m a HUGE Jerry Manuel detractor, but I see this game more as a tough-luck loss than a managerial botch. You can make the argument to include Bay in last night’s lineup, but he did have poor career numbers against Livan, and he did play 3 straight games on the hard surface in San Juan, so perhaps his body needed a day off. Just playing devil’s advocate. In addition, KRod had pitched 2 days in a row leading up to last night’s game, so perhaps Jerry wanted to avoid going to Frankie until there was a save situation afoot. The likelihood of pitching in 3 straight games hasn’t stopped Jerry from summoning KRod in the past, but that is something we here at MetsToday have criticized Jerry for, so in the spirit of being consistent I can’t fault Jerry for opting not to bring in Krod last night. I don’t know what else Jerry could have done to help coax a win out of last night’s troops. They managed no extra base hits, they struck out 9 times opposed to no walks, and you had your best left-handed reliever facing 2 left-handed batters in the 9th, and he failed to get either of them out. What else is Jerry to do? The team simply failed to execute last night. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

  6. John July 2, 2010 at 12:04 pm
    I can understand why Bay sat. Many of the reasons were cited above. And you have to manage with the season in mind not a single game. They got in at 7AM , Bay has played almost every game and he just has looked tired.
    As for K-Rod, Jerry managed by the book. My problem is with the book. I think managers have created this mystique over the ninth inning. To me your best relief pitcher needs to pitch in the game deciding situation whenever that is. If the game is on the line in the 7th inning then that is when your “closer” should be pitching.
    But with the advent of the “save” and the dollars associated with it have made that impossible for a manager.
  7. loge mezzanine July 2, 2010 at 12:31 pm
    Sounds like John is a Beanehead!
  8. Joe Janish July 2, 2010 at 12:58 pm
    Jim – you’re right, I was remiss in not including Ryan Zimmerman. Thanks for pointing him out!

    John – we discuss long-term / full-season management all the time here, so I get your point. At the same time, the lineup Manuel threw together resembled one of those that Willie Randolph used to put together on day game after a night game getaway / throwaway days. Bay’s tired, I get it. But w/o Reyes, Pagan, and Lord of the High Flies Barajas available, Bay has to be in there — he can take a rest TODAY, when Barajas and Pagan have had an extra day.

    ‘dude – tell me again why K-Rod was in the game that last night in PR ? 😉

    What bothers me is Manuel’s managing style was pedal to the metal while his job was on the line, but now that the Mets are near first place, all of a sudden he can throw away ballgames. All seat of the pants, reactionary decision making. No consistency or plan.

    And if Manuel is managing for the full season and not one game, then why have we seen Pedro Feliciano 45 times already — particularly when he’s supposed to be a full-inning setup guy and not a LOOGY any more?

  9. mic July 3, 2010 at 12:48 pm
    Pedro lite IS a LOOGY…period. stretching him into a long term set up role has a 5yr history of badness.