Random notes on Tuesday afternoon’s televised split-squad spring training game between the Mets and Nationals.
Chris Capuano was hammered by the Nats bats. Hitters looked very comfortable in the box against him, took good swings and made solid, hard contact even on outs. It’s been a while since I’ve seen Capuano pitch, and I don’t remember his motion being so linear and flat; after his leg lift he immediately drops his body down and pushes forward, thereby eliminating much of the advantage provided by gravity. I’m not terribly concerned about him just yet, though, as it’s still early and he could just be working on some things. Further, his performance wasn’t awful when you look at the outcome; I just wasn’t terribly impressed by the process.
On the other hand, I am worried about Oliver Perez, who didn’t pitch in the televised game but reportedly was awful in the other split-squad matchup. Or maybe I’m not worried, since there’s no point in worrying about someone who may not exist on the 25-man roster come Opening Day.
Mike Nickeas made a nice throw in the first inning to nail Nyjer Morgan attempting to steal. I like Nickeas’ footwork and arm strength, don’t love the way he transfers the ball by moving his glove to the hand. But he gets away with that minor flaw and he has a quick release with accuracy. He also loses a lot of strikes by dropping forward to his knees when he catches the ball; doing that disrupts the umpire’s view of the pitch.
Every time Nickeas comes up to hit I think for a moment it’s Nick Evans.
Evans, by the way, stroked a nice RBI single to drive in Dan Murphy in the sixth. Keep on keepin’ on, Nick.
Every time Evans comes up to hit I think for a moment it’s Mike Nickeas.
It seems like Willie Harris hits the ball hard every time he comes to the plate, but it’s always right at someone.
Taylor Buchholz continues to show the sharp, big breaking curveball that
caused his elbow injury makes batters’ knees quiver. However he’s not throwing it in the strike zone consistently yet, and he’s having trouble commanding his fastball as well. No worries yet; he has three weeks to get it together.
I’m not sure why, but Justin Turner reminds me of Jeff Kent. Turner is looking like the best all-around solution at second base, but he’s most likely to start the year in AAA anyway.
Mike O’Connor did a nice job of changing speeds and hitting spots, striking out both a lefty and a righty hitter. He could be useful coming out of the ‘pen over a short term.
Jason Isringhausen allowed a solo homer to the first batter he faced, but that’s not something that should affect his chance to make the team. More importantly, this was his first time pitching in back-to-back games, and his velocity was in the same 88-91 MPH range that it was the day before, and his curveball had good bite. His fastball command, however, was a bit shaky; he was riding up in the zone and the ball had too much movement in. Both of those issues are due to his arm lagging behind slightly — possibly a sign of fatigue. To me this isn’t a red flag, as I don’t believe he’s anywhere near in the kind of throwing shape he needs to be just yet.
Cory Vaughn got an at-bat in the 8th inning and went yard to tie the ballgame. Yes the wind was blowing out but he “got all of it” in sending the ball far beyond the left field wall. Wally Backman insists Vaughn has the tools to be an MLBer some day; we’ll see soon enough.
Slugger Sean Ratliff also got a late AB and stroked a single. I’m excited to see how he progresses this year in AA / AAA.
Mike Morse is a beast. If he keeps blasting balls over fences like this when the regular season starts, the Nats won’t miss Adam Dunn. Ron Darling made an apropos physical comparison: Jack Clark.
Speaking of Darling, what happened to the Weight Watchers diet?
The Nats continue to display poor defensive skills; they made a few errors, dropped balls, and didn’t get to some balls.
The left field wall at Traditions Field was injured when Morse slammed into it in the third inning; it was treated with ice after the game and is expected to remain standing for Wednesday’s ballgame.
The next televised game will be Mets vs. Cardinals on Wednesday at 1pm on SNY.
About the Author
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.