How Einstein Can Help the Mets
Over and over during the Mets’ last 16 games, we keep hearing utterances such as “…we’ll get out of this thing …” , “… we have to ride it out … ” , ” … we have to get through it …” , and etc.
This 13 losses out of 16 games slump is a RESULT — not a tangible object. Yet the manager, players, writers, and fans often refer to lack of success as something like a rainstorm — and that it will eventually, magically pass.
Contrary to popular belief, the Mets’ lack of success is not due to the baseball gods raining down upon them, nor bad luck, nor a voo-doo spell, nor any other mystical, uncontrollable force.
Further, no magic potion or other elixir is going to turn the Mets from losers to winners.
The Mets are losing because they are thinking like losers, feeling like losers, and executing like losers. How can they revert to winning? It’s really quite simple.
Albert Einstein once proclaimed the definition of insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. That said, the Mets are insane, because for the entire month of June, they continue to do the exact same things, game after game, and yet expect to win.
The most glaring and impactful issue is the current team-wide approach to hitting. No one — other than maybe Shawn Green — is consistently taking pitches and getting into deep counts. Evidence of this is seen by their walk total: the Mets are dead last in MLB with 40 walks in June — and 6 of those were intentional. 34 unintentional walks in 18 games in this day and age of the shrinking strike zone is abominable.
You want to hear something REALLY unbelievable? There are only four Mets with more than two walks in the month of June — and two of those players are Julio Franco and Ruben Gotay!
Should the Mets start taking until there are two strikes? Not necessarily — but it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to go up with the idea of taking a strike in some situations, depending on the score and the pitcher. Most Little Leaguers know to take a strike when they’re behind in the score — why can’t Major Leaguers use the same philosophy? QuesTec has narrowed the strike zone, and several of the homeplate umpires recently had unusually tight zones — which the opponents picked up on, but the Mets did not.
Willie Randolph keeps saying that the Mets are running into good pitching, but that’s not entirely true — the hitters are making it easy for the opposing pitcher to beat them. A prime example came on Tuesday night against the Twins. Yes, Johan Santana is a great pitcher — maybe the best in all of MLB — but he’s been beaten six times this year. His four-hit shutout was due more to the Mets’ stupidity than Santana’s skill. Don’t believe it? Check the pitch-by-pitch account of the contest — of the 31 batters Santana faced, he started off 16 of them with a ball. Sixteen Mets got up against the Great Santana and were ahead 1-0. In 10 of those 16 instances, the batter swung at the very next pitch. Nine of those ten occurred after the Mets were already down by five — so clearly, the idea to take a strike, maybe draw a walk, was not a consideration. Why? Because Santana doesn’t throw balls? Bull — you won’t know until you give him the opportunity. Santana might have had an off-night, but the Mets never gave him a chance to fail. Had the Mets gone up to the plate with the mindset that they’ll take a strike, maybe Santana gets the count to 2-0, or 2-1, or 3-0 — much better hitting counts. Who knows, he might have walked a batter or two, might have gotten into some trouble — but we’ll never know.
I understand the idea that Santana is so great that a batter may only get one pitch to hit in an at-bat, but that shouldn’t preclude a hitter from allowing Santana to throw one strike. A 1-1 count does not put the batter at a disadvantage, so why were the Mets so anxious to swing on 1-0 — especially five runs down? Even if you get a good pitch to hit, it’s not like you can slam a five-run homer.
As mentioned in a previous post, this change in approach rests with Rick Down. It doesn’t matter whether Down is an advocate of getting deep into counts or not — the point is, the Mets aren’t approaching their at-bats with any kind of sense. If Down is trying to get them to be more patient, but isn’t getting through, then someone who CAN get through has to come in (newsflash: Rickey is on the way).
Or, the Mets can continue their over-agressive ways, and prove Einstein’s definition of insanity.