Niese Nice

A few random notes regarding the most recent televised Mets spring training game …

Jon Niese was very efficient, had good rhythm, and repeated his mechanics. I still don’t love his mechanics — I think they are too flat and side-to-side rather than up and down and forward — but for him, they’re working. He reached 95 MPH on the radar gun, and if that was accurate that’s impressive. Just as impressive was Niese mixing in a handful of change-ups, which were thrown at an appropriate speed, spotted well on the edge of the plate, and had a bit of nice downward run.

Josh Thole hit another homerun. He has learned how to make the most of chest-high fastballs over the middle of the plate. Good to see; he should be able to knock 8-10 homers in 400-500 PAs, which is something I didn’t expect before now.

Jason Bay struck out every time up. To me he looks like a mess at the plate. His body movements during the stride and swing are different every pitch, and he continues to crouch down then raise up his upper body, causing him to swing over the ball. There are still a few weeks for him to get his “new” swing going, but color me mildly concerned.

Brad Emaus finally got a hit. Finally. Two, actually.

Luis Castillo also collected two hits. What if he keeps hitting? What will the Mets do with Emaus, Murphy, and Hu?

After much fanfare (not), Les Walrond made an appearance. Walrond is one of 17 lefthanders vying for the LOOGY role vacated by Pedro Feliciano. Walrond, like Feliciano, spent a year pitching in Japan. Walrdon kind of sort of reminds me of Darren Oliver, because of his simple, stand-up pitching motion and low-velocity, mediocre slop. He made the team out of a tryout camp a few weeks ago.

Bobby Parnell made an appearance, mixing a 90-91 MPH sinker with a 93-94 MPH four-seamer and a slider. I’m starting to worry about hm, because he stays fairly upright through the follow-through and therefore puts most of the stress of deceleration on his shoulder. That plus the hard sliders he keeps throwing tells me he will be in line for TJ surgery sometime within the next year or two. I hope I’m wrong because I really like the kid.

Willie Harris was installed at second base late in the game. Can anyone else be thrown into the 2B auditions? Maybe we see Bret Boone make another comeback.

The Marlins continue to display absolutely awful fundamentals in the field; they committed 66 errors in 9 innings. OK, it wasn’t that many, but there were a lot. This has been a chronic issue going back at least 4 years, and it’s inexcusable, since defensive ability comes about more because of hard work than pure talent. The organization does a great job of identifying and drafting athletic ballplayers, yet they can’t seem to develop them into skilled defenders. I guess they just have their youngsters spend all their time in batting practice.

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. Oblomov March 12, 2011 at 1:46 pm
    First off I want to say that I am a big fan and long time reader of your blog. Unlike other bloggers, your baseball experience (playing and coaching) allows you to see past the boxscore to details and insights that would otherwise be lost on me. However, I have a nit to pick. I find your constantly harping on the worrisome nature of pitchers’ mechanics a bit overwrought. Its like watching Football with someone constantly reminding you that everyone playing will have debilitating brain damage, and that 60 percent will be dead, broke or depressed within 5 years of retiring. Or put another way, Its like going to a doctor and having him tell you “you are going to die.” He wouldn’t be wrong, and its a smart way to bet, but sure does take the wind out your sails. Arm injuries for pitchers are occupational hazards. Pitchers with bad mechanics break down, but so do pitchers with great mechanics and some of the most storied pitchers have had terrible mechanics. There is a big difference in morbidity between “his shoulder is opening up causing his pitches to stay up” and “the hard sliders he keeps throwing tells me he will be in line for TJ surgery sometime within the next year or two.” One offers insight the other offers nothing but vague sense impending loss. As Mets fan we are oversupplied of the latter and if not for your site we’d often be undersupplied of the former, but there is no need make things bleaker than they need to be.
    • Joe Janish March 12, 2011 at 4:51 pm
      Oblomov, thank you for visiting the site and for your feedback.

      I admit that I harp on pitching mechanics quite a bit here, particularly poor mechanics. I wish that weren’t the case — I wish I could write about good mechanics but unfortunately I rarely see them.

      My point is not to be bleak; rather, it is to point out the many dangerous things pitchers are doing to their bodies needlessly. In fact I’m trying to make a point, in the hopes that some of the cement-heads that run “organized ball” will sit up and take notice.

      Arm injuries do not have to be an occupational hazard in MLB — they are because people in baseball don’t understand how the body works. And I disagree strongly with your statement that “Pitchers with bad mechanics break down, but so do pitchers with great mechanics …” — as do scientists and doctors who study kinesiology and more qualified than I to comment on the subject of pitching motions.

      There will be more coverage here on the subject of pitching mechanics coming in the future. The goal is to teach the parents and coaches of young pitchers how to pitch safely, and to make them understand that they should NOT necessarily try to emulate the pitching mechanics of MLBers — because most of their motions are dangerous.

      I’m sorry if this coverage gets in the way of your enjoyment of the blog, but I do this to help the kids.

  2. Frank March 12, 2011 at 10:28 pm
    Love your blog Joe. Willie Harris at 2b? Please what are the Met coaches thinking? We have enough guys auditioning at 2B. Do we need to waste anymore innings putting this guy there? Plus, is there any reason other than this guy kills the Mets, that Harris is on the team? Enough already, cut this sad act.
  3. Walnutz15 March 12, 2011 at 10:49 pm
    Sadly enough, Harris has been one of the “bright spots” so far this Spring.

    …..doesn’t speak much for the rest of the crop that has been brought in. However, it’s “still early”.

  4. Joe Janish March 13, 2011 at 1:57 pm
    Yeah Willie Harris getting so much time and being a bright spot is a bad sign. The better Harris plays, the better the chance that Nick Evans winds up on another team come April. And what does that do for the 2012-2013 Mets?