Mets Game 133: Loss to Phillies

Phillies Sweep MetsSorry it took so long … Weehawken’s finest are not well-prepared for roof-jumpers. Luckily the FD came by with a net strong enough to withstand my 220-pound frame.

Anyway …

I don’t even know where to start … no point in re-hashing … we’ll go straight to the notes.

Notes

El Duque was due to have a bad day, what are you gonna do? Willie made the right move pulling him to keep the rally going … though, you wonder if Duque might have rapped a hit himself in that situation.

For the majority of the contest (the first three hours), it seemed like the only Met who understood he had to elevate his game was David Wright. Endy Chavez tried to provide a spark as well (2-5, 2 runs, 2 RBI), but Wright singlehandedly kept the Mets in the game, going 3-for-4 with a walk and two runs scored and making countless fine plays in the field.

Half of the Mets’ 10 hits came from D-Wright and pinch-hitters. Add in Endy’s two and that’s 7 of the 10.

Willie made another good move, bringing in Billy Wagner to face the heart of the Phillies lineup in the eighth. However, he forgot to remove Wags in the ninth. Had Billy pitched an easy, 1-2-3, 10-pitch inning, then fine — leave him in to close things out. But after seeing him struggle a bit, and throw over 20 pitches … be smart. Once again, the myopic Randolph managing a game like it’s the 7th Game of the World Series, not considering that there are three games with the Braves this weekend. In the end, Wags threw 45 pitches with an already “dead” arm — he’s done till Sunday, at least.

Next Game

John Maine goes against Tim Hudson. If ever there was game that Maine needed to rise to the occasion and pitch a 9-inning shutout, it’s tonight. Game time is 7:35 PM, it will be carried on WPIX / CW-11.

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. Micalpalyn August 30, 2007 at 4:45 pm
    Hmmm,

    Willie: If wags got the heart of the order in the eighth why cant Heilman get the (last 2 batters) in the 9th?

  2. isuzudude August 30, 2007 at 4:51 pm
    Mic: STOP IT PLEASE. Wagner is the closer and the only way he was coming out of the game is if he got hurt or if the game went into the 10th. There is no argument against Willie’s use of the bullpen in this one.
  3. Brad August 30, 2007 at 5:20 pm
    Do I even want to poke my head in here today? What a ball-breaking defeat. Ugh! Luckily, you’ve still got a few games on Philly. Hold ’em off!
  4. isuzudude August 30, 2007 at 10:00 pm
    11 PM on Thursday night and no game recap. Anyone know of a high ledge Joe may be hanging out on?
  5. Walnutz15 August 31, 2007 at 7:56 am
    “There is no argument against Willie’s use of the bullpen in this one.”

    I have to take issue with this angle.

    Wagner doesn’t pitch for a week, citing “dead arm” — yet Willie leaves him out there to FRY for upwards of 50 pitches over 2 innings of work.

    Attaboy, on both counts…..

    There is no way in hell that Wagner was going 2 innings for that save. I had a co-worker in my car (female Met fan) who even said “What the hell is going on here?” when hearing that Wagner was called upon in the 8th inning.

    I explained the “lefty” situation to her, but said that if he stays in the game for the 9th — then the Mets don’t have a chance.

    Lo and behold, Wagner fries with no one even warming in the ‘pen — and the Mets lose another game in the standings.

    I understand Willie’s increased lack of confidence in Heilman, that’s been abundantly clear of late. But maybe if he didn’t utilize Sosa the same way Torre burnt out Proctor (everyday usage) — he could’ve been brought in.

    Hell, I like my chances with Heilman in either one of those innings over using Wagner for 2!

    He’s never been a 2-inning pitcher, so let’s try it during a dead-arm period, with Atlanta on the horizon?

    Clueless utilization, and quite panicked if you ask me.

  6. isuzudude August 31, 2007 at 10:04 am
    When Wagner came into the game in the 8th, there was no doubt he was going to go for the 2 inning save. He hadn’t pitched all series so you would think his “fragile” arm would have been able to handle a bit more excessive workload. And if you saw the game, he was still pitching 96 MPH against the last few batters he faced in the 9th, so he obviously still had gas in the tank despite the relatively high pitch count.

    You know what’s funny, is that you’ll be the same fans who would be calling for Willie’s head anyway if he went to Heilman in the 9th and he blew the game too. “Why wasn’t Billy allowed to go one more inning against the bottom of the lineup,” you’d ask. You guys can’t have it both ways. Billy is the closer on this team, and by all means he should have found a way to get Werth, Ruiz, and Iguchi out in the 9th. Werth’s single was a bloop shot anyway…Marlon Anderson was practically playing with his back against the LF wall on that play. Then Lo Duca pussied out and failed to even TRY and throw Werth out on back to back stolen base attempts. In a 1 run game in the 9th and Citizens Bank Park, do you really trust Aaron “Mr home run giver upper in a big spot” Heilman? And if not, who else do you go to? Sosa after pitching two innings the day before? MOTA?

    Ok so yes, Wagner’s meltdown and consequent high pitch count will cost him a game or two in Atlanta, but to my recollection the Mets season is starting to hang by a thread. The end of the world is approaching. And when facing armegedon, isn’t it best to have your best relief pitcher on the mound? It was as much as a must win game as a must win game can get on Thursday, and there’s no better option out of the pen then Wagner – dead arm or not. You can not disagree with that.

    Question Glavine coming out early on Tuesday, question the offense for doing a whole bunch of nothing over the first three games of the series, but do not question the game Thursday. The Phillies were the better team, so tip your hat and move on.

  7. joe August 31, 2007 at 10:12 am
    ” … you’ll be the same fans who would be calling for Willie’s head anyway if he went to Heilman in the 9th and he blew the game too.”

    Not sure about the others, but personally, I was screaming at the radio when the bottom of the ninth opened, hoping Willie would hear me — I had good information, too — that Wags had already thrown almost 25 pitches.

    Do I want Heilman in there for the ninth? Of course not, I want Wags, but we needed Wags for the eighth, so that bullet was gone. I reiterate — if Wags had an easy inning, then he goes out for the ninth. This is what galls me — Willie stubbornly going ahead with a plan no matter what. Yes, when he toed the rubber in the 8th, it was for a 6-out save. But when things don’t go as planned — he gives up a dinger, throws a lot of pitches, you have to change the plan.

    Further, Billy is not Mariano Rivera, and nearly always fails when called upon to go more than three outs. Torre uses Rivera a dozen times a year for 4 outs / 5+ outs, but Wagner never does it. You can’t train a guy to go all out for 20 pitches, then be surprised when he can’t suddenly double it.

    Oh and if we don’t question and criticize nearly all of Willie’s key decisions, then what the heck are we going to blog about? This would be a pretty boring blog if we didn’t play armchair manager.

  8. Walnutz15 August 31, 2007 at 10:14 am
    ” … you’ll be the same fans who would be calling for Willie’s head anyway if he went to Heilman in the 9th and he blew the game too.”

    Doubtful, as you don’t know me.

  9. isuzudude August 31, 2007 at 10:57 am
    Ok, this isn’t difficult to deduce. Obviously, we all think the Mets are the best team in the NL. However, our possible downfall this season is our beleaguered, battered, overworked bullpen. The culprit of making our bullpen this way is Willie Randolph. So if it’s the manager’s fault we’re not winning as many games as we should, shouldn’t he be fired?

    Will anyone come out and say this? I don’t think so. Yet it’s all his fault the Mets lose. Give me a break, guys. You’re all clammoring these are “grown men” and should be able to pitch regardless of high pitch counts. But somehow Billy Wagner fits into the “dead arm” category and gets excused for not being able to throw 50 pitches after being dormant for a week. 50 pitches! I didn’t see Wagner’s arm fallig off. I didn’t see any drop in velocity. I saw a bloop single and a catcher too afraid to throw any baserunners out. So if you want something to talk about and play armchair manager, question why Lo Duca doesn’t have the arm strength to throw anything past the pitchers mound, or why Marlon Anderson was playing LF in the 9th inning in a big game. Not why Heilman didn’t come in for Wagner.

  10. Micalpalyn August 31, 2007 at 11:54 am
    Isu:

    I did not see the game, I ‘m entrenched at work with the gamechannel on. I knew my comment would crawl straight up your ASS.

    After a critical game, and it was critical (NOT SEASON ENDING), I was interested in the blogworld’s summation especially since I havd limited perview. On the surface I felt as u did…and still do …THAT IS WAGS JOB. If you read my comment after the BS (blown save) after the Pads game then you would have not have sounded off so indiscriminately.

    ‘I had good information, too — that Wags had already thrown almost 25 pitches.’ …thats really what I was looking for. I am not a baseball player but i have seen various times when pitchers including Ollie, Maine and Wags have
    all gotten ‘tired’ with out losing velocity at different times for different reasons. Sometimes its attributed instead of fatigue to ‘focus’, ‘rest’, change in arm angle.

    Which brings me to you ultimate question A question that introduced me to Joe:
    http://www.metstoday.com/uncategorized/2007/planet-randolph/#comments

  11. Walnutz15 August 31, 2007 at 11:58 am
    Aaron Heilman didn’t pitch on Sunday, Monday or Wednesday. In fact, this whole week he’s only pitched on Tuesday night.

    I’m not even one to blame Randolph for every little thing.

    I like Willie as a player’s manager, but increasingly — I feel he makes bigtime strategical mistakes, when put into practice.

    The tragic flaw yesterday was thinking he could actually get 2 innings out of Wagner, with the lead still in tact. Anyone who’s watched him this year knows that Wagner has been treading on very thin ice lately, and the chips were obviously stacked against him bigtime.

    Heilman is the 8th inning guy (or at least supposed to be.)

    The Mets had a two run lead at the time so there was some room for error. At the very least I would have started the inning with Heilman and if he struggled then gone to Wagner.

    “Why couldn’t Heilman have started the 8th inning, is my question?”

    And of course, the argument will go that 2 lefties were due up — and Willie’s by the book to a fault. Heilman, with his sinker, is more than capable of getting lefties out…..provided he doesn’t leave it up in the zone.

    Like you, I don’t agree with the whole coddling of closers, either. I’m on board with the absurdity of crying over throwing 45-pitches….citing dead-arm when you throw no more than 1-inning at a time in 99% of your appearances.

    Duly noted.

    But yesterday tells me, the Met bullpen is in absolute shambles — and Willie’s more than hesitant (read: terrified) to use certain guys in certain spots.

    Gonna be interesting as we head toward the finish line.

  12. Micalpalyn August 31, 2007 at 11:58 am
    On Willie:

    I dont doubt that Omar is evaluating the same way we are and leaving willie in to pitch the 9th. but if he loses and we dont make the playoffs what are the odds Willie is still here next april?

  13. joe August 31, 2007 at 1:12 pm
    “You’re all clamoring these are “grown men” and should be able to pitch regardless of high pitch counts. But somehow Billy Wagner fits into the “dead arm” category and gets excused for not being able to throw 50 pitches after being dormant for a week. 50 pitches! I didn’t see Wagner’s arm falling off. I didn’t see any drop in velocity. I saw a bloop single and a catcher too afraid to throw any baserunners out.”

    isuzudude, you continue to group the starters and relievers into the same trash bin. As I’ve explained before — it’s all about the recovery. Yes I expect a starting pitcher to go to a “high” pitch count — BECAUSE he’ll have four days to rest. In contrast I do not expect a reliever to be able to throw 25-45 pitches at full speed every single day. Further, I don’t expect a guy who has been conditioned to go 15-20 pitches three times per week, suddenly have the ability to pitch effectively after going more than doubling that usual routine. It’s simply the way the human body works — you can try it yourself. For one month, do 25 push-ups a day, every other day. Then, take a week off and try doing 60 one day — and you tell me how good your form is on those last 20. I guarantee your arms are shaking, you’re sweating like a pig, and you’re squirming back and forth to force out the last five. Conditioning pitchers is similar — their bodies are trained for a highly specific task, and equally specific repetitions. Pushing WAY beyond those limits is asking for trouble.

    And BTW velocity is often an indication of freshness vs. fatigue, but not the be-all end-all. Wagner may have still been lighting up the gun, but did not have his command. He might have made an adjustment that kept the MPH up but affected his control — all it takes is a tenth of an inch difference in release point or arm angle.

    Also, isuzudude, if all you saw was a bloop single and a rag-arm catcher, you missed some crucial points in the game. There were two other hits in that ninth inning, not to mention a homerun in the eighth. But I will agree that LoDuca is starting to remind me of Piazza behind the plate. He must have been playing too much bocce ball during his mini-vacation.

  14. isuzudude August 31, 2007 at 2:40 pm
    I understand and sympathize with the differing points of view. Joe, your analogy using push-ups put things in a different light. And I somewhat agree that Wagner was pushed past his limits. But to summarize, I’ll just state the following…

    1. Willie cannot be blamed for every mistake. Wagner’s making more than enough dough to pick the team up for one extra inning when they really REALLY need him.

    2. The only other viable option for Wagner in the 9th was Heilman, and he’s not really the most trustworthy arms out of the pen either. And with the way Philadelphia seemed destined to win these games, it probably didn’t matter who we put in there, the same result was still going to happen.

  15. joe August 31, 2007 at 7:42 pm
    1. Willie is not blamed for every mistake. He’s blamed for a gross mismanagement of the bullpen, and his occasional strategy goofs. And he’s also blamed for sitting second basemen who hit .350. I think I’ve stated on many occasions that I would like Willie to remain manager for a long time.

    2. That is the awful truth we as Mets fans would prefer not to admit.

  16. Micalpalyn August 31, 2007 at 8:34 pm
    joe; we blog because we are passionate. yes we armchair manage but how often do we say ” I cant believe Willie did that”

    Willie is too stubborn. A good manager has to know his personnel, some he can push, some need to be patted. And willie made some great postgame cooments. In fact Wags has often refered to his seasonal dead arm periods. (leading him to suggest Bell save games last yr). Likewise Loop was his closer for a full yr, even when the Mets were pushing to a playoff spot.

    MY final awfull truth is no one manages forever anymore and MUCH better managers than Willie have been fired. I for one said in week two, this team seems to miss Manny Acta.

  17. joe August 31, 2007 at 8:45 pm
    Good points, Mic … especially in regard to Acta. He might one day be mentioned in the same breath as a LaRussa or Cox — though, not for a while. I can see him returning to the Mets at some point in the future.