Dickey Not Soft, Izzy Displays Deuce
Some notes about the Monday afternoon spring training game between the Mets and Tigers, televised on SNY.
R.A. Dickey was only so-so, having a hard time getting his knuckler to dance in the strike zone. Though he’s reportedly been working on a slower / softer version of his knuckleball, he threw it only once or twice during his 4-inning outing.
Jason Isringhausen threw at least a half-dozen deuces, the first he’s thrown in a game all spring. I’ve always been under the assumption that he threw a knuckle-curve rather than a traditional overhand curve, and further, I also always thought that the knuckle-curve had less impact on the elbow, because there shouldn’t be any hook of the wrist and flip of the thumb toward the sky that a “normal” curve requires (and can put significant strain on the forearm and elbow). Maybe he employs a knuckling grip AND a traditional curveball arm action? If so that might explain his needing three Tommy John surgeries. In any case, it was good to see his fastball velocity in the 90-91 range, but not good to see that he had trouble commanding it.
Michael O’Connor looks like he’s 15 years old. He also has a decent slider and a herky-jerky delivery that could potentially distract hitters at least the first time around the league.
Ryota Igarashi looked surprisingly impressive in his one-inning stint. He’s dialing down the fastball a bit to find location, but his velocity is still in the 93-94 MPH range, which is plenty to be effective in a middle relief role as long as he hits spots and can mix in either his big-breaking curve or his change/split.
Jason Bay looked better at the plate than he did in the last televised contest, hitting the ball hard in the air, finally. I noticed another thing that is causing all the ground balls: as he transfers his weight back before he strides, he crouches slightly, and sometimes he “pops up” out of that crouch when he swings — meaning, he raises the level of his shoulders and in turn causes the bat to swing over the ball. Sometimes he does this, other times he keeps his shoulders level and is able to swing properly through the ball. Considering that he’s changed his stance and style this spring, it’s not surprising that he’s somewhat inconsistent; it will take a while for the adjustments to “take”.
Luis Castillo and Brad Emaus split the game at second base, and neither did anything particularly notable nor offensive. I’m not sure how these spring training games will be used to make a differentiation among the keystone candidates, since they’re only getting a couple of ground balls a game and there have been very few DP opportunities. Seems to me that splitting time among four people at a fairly inactive position is too small a sample size to make any kind of informed decision.
Bobby Parnell displayed a mean-looking beard, but struggled a bit in his ninth inning appearance. He didn’t allow any runs, but had trouble spotting the fastball and his slider was alternatively flat or diving into the dirt too early to be effective.
Dusty Ryan did a nice job of blocking several of the sliders that Parnell buried in the dirt. How? By keeping his glove down and using his body to stop the ball, rather than trying to catch the ball with his glove.