Mets Beat Up Bosox Farm Team
The Mets looked formidable in their spring training action on Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately, it didn’t provide much information for us, since the Mets had more or less their starting MLBers facing a combination of players who will split their time between Pawtucket and Portland in 2011.
Still, there were some things we could glean from the afternoon …
Jon Niese became the first Mets pitcher to go beyond the fourth frame. He had a good rhythm going during most of his outing, until he ran out of gas in the fifth. He was repeating his delivery, but throwing on a flat plane, so he didn’t get much sinking action on any of his pitches. It’s OK to be a high-ball pitcher when your home park is Citi Field, but I had hoped this spring to see him stay more upright longer in his delivery to get more leverage. He did this frequently prior to 2010, using a motion that took strain off his arm and better incorporated his legs; additionally, by getting “on top” of the ball he had great bite on the curve and the potential to throw sinking fastballs.
Daniel Murphy continues to look comfortable at the plate, and his upright stance has turned him into more of a low-ball hitter. He spent most of the day at second base and looked shaky; though he didn’t make any errors, he backed up on routine ground balls and fielded them to the side of his body rather than out in front. Manny Trillo got away with that back in the day, but Murph is no Manny Trillo.
Carlos Beltran was the starting DH and looked good at the plate. On the bases, he seemed to be straining. It will take some time for him to get into all-around playing shape — assuming he can.
Jason Bay seems to have altered his batting stance; he’s holding his bat at a 45-degree angle rather than close to 90 degrees, and has closed his front side by a few inches. He used to be slightly open, a starting point that made sense because he has a habit of stepping toward home plate when he strides, and by starting open, the stride toward home left him fairly even when his foot came down. Now, he’s starting slightly closed but still stepping toward home, which is locking up his front hip. This causes his back shoulder to drop and his his front side to open up early in order to clear his hip to swing — resulting in a slight uppercut that puts topspin on the ball and produces lots of ground balls. I call that kind of swing a “worm beater”.
Former Marlin lefty Andrew Miller was throwing absolute gas — reaching 97-98 MPH — but was throwing straight, up in the zone, and hitting the middle of the plate. As a result, the Mets teed off on him. Ike Davis looked like he was hitting batting practice against him; Miller threw him the same exact pitch twice in a row, and the second time, Ike sent it far over the fence.
Former Cubs pitching prospect Rich Hill is now fighting for a LOOGY spot in the Boston bullpen, and has dropped his arm angle to a sidearm style that sort of resembles where Pedro Feliciano delivers from. He looks awkward and his follow-through is dangerous, as he snaps his arm back after release rather than allowing the hand to continue forward and the arm to decelerate. Kids, don’t throw like this.
The next televised spring training game is on Monday afternoon, 1 PM, on SNY.