Mets vs. Nats Notes

I had a long work day, and skimmed through the game quickly via fast-forward on, so the notes are extra brief.

Jonathon Niese once again had a solid outing, pitching six strong innings. I am still frustrated by his inability to use gravity to his advantage, and beginning to accept the fact that it will never happen. However I can’t guarantee that I won’t harp on this issue going forward. He’s getting results — now, anyway — so my concerns are likely falling on deaf ears anyway.

The Mets made several defensive mistakes in this ballgame, punctuated by Daniel Murphy‘s miscues in the late innings. It’s looking like the Mets will be a team that will rely almost exclusively on offense to win ballgames. That strategy worked in the late 1990s and through most of the first decade of the 2000s, but may have trouble finding success in this most recent evolution of the game, where pitching is stronger and defense has become more of a priority. Where the Mets are right now may be similar to where the Texas Rangers were in the early 1990s — a team that could score a lot of runs, but gave up just a few more.

Don’t look now, but Jayson Werth is finding his stroke, and, just as importantly, his confidence.

Although Daniel Murphy had two hits, including an RBI single, I didn’t like his facial expressions and body language; he looked like he was unsure and a little less confident than he is usually. I wonder if the fielding issues are weighing on his mind, and if so, could that negatively affect his hitting. Expanding on that point, I wonder if Murphy might put extra pressure on himself to produce with a bat in his hands to make up for shortcomings in the field; if so, he’ll be tense and he’ll have unhelpful thoughts in his mind clouding his focus, which will lead to diminished performance.

Lucas Duda continues to look like a beast in the making. Let’s hope this continues after Opening Day, when pitchers are bearing down. Yeah, it’s that Mets pessimism ingrained in my soul that refuses to let me think positively. But I am anticipating fun and excitement from the Duda – Davis Show this year.

Even though the defense didn’t help, I’m still not seeing anything encouraging from the people supposedly filling the back end of the bullpen.

That’s it for now. Help me out and post more reactions and notes in the comments.


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. Joe March 29, 2012 at 9:25 am
    The new pen, injuries and Pelfrey were the two things that concerned me this Spring. I wonder if anyone around here is going to read Dickey’s book. Darn thing is over 300 pg.
  2. MikeT March 29, 2012 at 10:48 am
    Joe, I often wonder about the offense first approach to winning. Back when the Rangers were all offense and no pitching I believed that that formula could not work. Then the past two seasons the Rangers were in the World Series and last year the Cardinals won it all. The Cardinals and Rangers were 12 and 13 respectively by ERA last year. In 2010 the Rangers were 10th but managed to have a higher ERA than last year. Yes, being lat in the league in pitching and first in hitting will not work; but neither can being last in batting first in pitching. The Giants in 2010 were 17th in runs scored. I think the takeaway here is that you can be markedly (and relatively) better in hitting than pitching and still win. The old adage that good pitching and timely hitting wins baseball games is still true, but I would argue that good hitting and timely pitching also wins.
    • Joe Janish March 29, 2012 at 11:10 am
      The old school argument is that hitting is streaky, but defense, pitching, fundamentals, and speed never slumps. Therefore teams strong in the latter will tend to have more success over time than the former.

      However some people believe that pitching can also be streaky, which if true would hurt that argument. Personally, though I believe pitchers can have bad days on occasion, for the most part there are far fewer “streaky” pitchers than streaky hitters. When pitchers have long stretches of hot or cold, it’s usually due to either a physical/injury issue or a matter of under-exposure / over-exposure.

      • argonbunnies March 31, 2012 at 1:47 am
        Sure, defense, pitching, and speed never slump… They just lose effectiveness due to injury… About as often as hitters slump. *shrug*

        I don’t see a big difference between the hitter who has two 2-week slumps and the speedster who has one 4-week period where he stops stealing because of an unreported calf strain. Or the reliever who sucks for 4 weeks because of a sore knee.

        The end result is that I consider it challenging to find any player whose contributions remain constant. Has any Met done anything well for months on end since ’08?

  3. hart March 29, 2012 at 11:58 am
    My concern with poor defense for this particular team: I’m not sure this is a pitching staff equipped to deal with having to get extra outs in an inning, Mike Pelfry being exhibit A for that concern.
  4. Joe March 30, 2012 at 11:22 am
    Nice to have a laugher against the Astros. It was the Astros and I’m sure something could be pointed out that was wrong, but it was nice while it lasted all the same.