Mets Game 29: Win Over Phillies

Mets 5 Phillies 2

The Mets couldn’t beat Roy Halladay, but they were able to beat the Phillies on a night that Halladay pitched.

Mets Game Notes

Jonathon Niese had some struggles in the early frames, leaving his fastball up and flat in the zone and bouncing his curveball — which is fairly unusual, as his curve rarely hits the dirt. I wonder if he was working on a new grip, release, or location. Beyond his lack of command, I didn’t like his body language — he had a kind of resigned, almost defeated look on his face in those early frames. It was as if he knew he didn’t have his good stuff and was thinking that Halladay had all the runs he needed to win. Or, maybe that was simply what was going through my head, and I projected those thoughts onto his less-than-confident body language.

I can’t put my finger on what exactly is wrong, but I think there might be a physical issue with Roy Halladay. His follow-through looks cut off, with his upper body staying a bit too high from what I remember. In fact he’s putting too much stress on his arm with his finish. Additionally, his arm angle occasionally dropped a bit below low three-quarter — he was just about sidearm on several pitches. He’s also throwing more curveballs than his normal rate. Finally, his arm tended to drag behind his body, particularly as the game wore on. All these factors suggest that he may have either a shoulder or back issue. I hope that’s not the case, because as a baseball fan I absolutely love watching him deal. Let’s just say I won’t be stunned if at some point this season he goes on the DL with an arm and/or back problem.

One thing I really love about Halladay is his pace. He starts his next pitch almost immediately upon receiving the ball back from the catcher. No messing around — gimme the ball, and here you go, try to hit it. There’s a fine line between what he does and “rushing.” By controlling the tempo alone he has a significant advantage over the opposition.

Hunter Pence befuddles me. He has always looked awkward and unathletic, yet puts up big offensive numbers and makes remarkable plays on defense. But the thing that truly blows my mind is that his swing looks as though the only thing he can accomplish is a grounder to the left side — and that’s generally all we ever see him do against the Mets. Further, he grips the bat so tight I expect to see sawdust come down from the handel. But, at the end of the year he’ll finish with 20-25 HR and a .290-.300 AVG. How does he do this when all he hits are grounders to short?

For a short while, it appeared as though Ike Davis had come out of his funk, but now he’s back into a slump. Keith Hernandez pointed out Ike’s big hitch but Ike has had that same hitch from the time he first appeared in a Mets uniform, so as much as I hate it, I don’t thin that by itself is the issue. Rather, what I see is a timing issue. Ike has a long swing with a number of moving parts, and it takes more time to get started than an “orthodox” swing. That said, I think he’s simply getting his swing started a few milliseconds too late, and it’s causing him to rush everything forward. If I were his coach I’d suggest he try starting his stride just a hair earlier, then sit back and try to punch the ball up the middle or over the shortstop’s head. Of course, it’s much easier to say or think than it is to do.

I’m not sure how Bobby Parnell walks Juan Pierre. Pierre is never, in a million years, going to go yard against Parnell, and it’s unlikely he can catch up to Bobby’s 95+ heat. Yet somehow Parnell managed to throw four balls to him in one at-bat — with the fourth nearly hitting the bull (OK, if there was a bull, Parnell might’ve hit it). All I can do is shake my head.

With Freddy Galvis barely hitting his weight — and he’s not a heavy guy — I was surprised to see him hit for himself with one out in the eighth, men on second and third, and one out. If there was ever a spot for Jim Thome, that was it. Ah, but Thome is on the DL, and for some reason Charlie Manuel was saving his next-best option — Laynce Nix — for a two-out opportunity (why?). Geez, you know the Phillies are depleted when Erik Kratz (who?) is one of their best pinch-hitters. As it was, Galvis hit a Baltimore chop that turned into an out at the plate and a concussion for Josh Thole.

Who does Mike Nickeas think he is, stroking a double with two strikes against Jonathon Papelbon? Moreover, what the heck is Papelbon doing giving Nickeas anything other than heat after Nickeas looked overwhelmed by the fastball?

Jordany Valdespin swung from his heels on the first MLB pitch he saw, with the bases loaded. He missed. This time, though, he connected. For just a moment, and as awful as you may have felt about it, were you pleased that Ruben Tejada was on the DL? C’mon, be honest …

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Phillies do it again at 7:05 p.m. on Tuesday evening. Miguel Batista faces Joe Blanton.

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 May 8, 2012 at 12:43 am
    With all the interference calls (or, you know, so it seems) going against the Mets, it was nice one went their way.
  2. Tommy2cat May 8, 2012 at 3:07 am
    Hi Joe:

    Halladay – agree with your comments about Halladay and his pace. He controls the hitter’s at-bat with his pace and varies the speed of his pitches based on his ability to read the hitter. Uncanny baseball acumen, if you ask me.

    Collectively, the Phillies are dirtbags. Victorino’s slide into second, Porky Pig’s cheap shot at Thole’s head at the plate, Hamel’s hitting the Nats rook – all of it will spell really bad Karma for this crew with no end in sight.

    About Tejada – I know what you[re saying, but here’s my take.

    First, I’m happy to see Valdespin at the major league level. I’d be happier to see him integrated into the everyday line-up much as Capt. Kirk is these days. However, I thought Mike Baxter would’ve been a better choice for the at-bat that Valdespin went yard. BTW, my 13-year old son called the homerun on the pitch.

    Second, and this may seem sacrilege to some, but I’d really like to see Murphy shipped to the Blue Jays for outfield prospect Jake Marasnick or Giants OF prospect Gary Brown, or Murphy-plus for catching prospect for Travis d’Arnaud. All three prospects are very, very highly rated and all three bat from the right side.

    So, it wasn’t so much that I was glad that Tejada wasn’t available, but was glad Valdespin was in a NY Met uniform. He’s dynamic and makes things happen. He has raw speed, hits for power & is a better projectable fit at 2nd base to tandem with Tejada than our beloved Daniel Murphy, who is best suited to play in the American League. I wish that weren’t so.

    As an organization, the Mets need to shuffle serviceable bats and deal for some right-handed hitting talented ballplayers. In my view, every prospect except Harvey, Wheeler & Valdespin should be expendable and guys like Duda, Davis & Murphy are prime candidates for the trading block to acquire top tier talent.

    As for the game, it was a good, well-deserved win. Parnell really showed us something – men were on base but I didn’t get the sense that he lost control of the inning and that he had enough weapons to stymie the Phillies threat. Byrdak is money, period.

    • DaveSchneck May 8, 2012 at 8:26 am
      Good post. Sweet win last night. FYI Baxter pinch hit earlier in the game and popped out. I agree on Spin playing, and as much as I love Murphy I also agree that shoud Spin show he can stick, Murph will be a chip to fill a need. Oustide of a quick deal to fill Pelfrey’s spot, they need to target a C. Not that I don’t like Thole, or Nickeas as a back-up, but Josh in a platoon with a righty prospect with big upside would be the best case scenario, and their system (thanks Omar) is starting to develop the depth elsewhere to make up for th eshortfall at C.
    • Joe Janish May 8, 2012 at 9:00 am
      Tommy, I’m with you on everything but the “dirtbag” label. Maybe I’m from the old school, but I saw nothing wrong with the plays you mention. To me, those were clean plays – contact is part of the game. Victorino was out of the baseline and was properly called out for it, but he wasn’t trying to inflict physical harm — he was simply trying to break up the double play and got too carried away. In the case of Wigginton, Thole was in front of home plate — exactly where he should have been — and the runner has the right to pursue home plate. What’s he supposed to do? Pussyfoot around the catcher? Jump over him? If the catcher is blocking the plate, a collision is imminent, and both parties must know that’s the deal and be prepared for the consequences.

      Maybe the rules have changed but as far as I know, the baserunner has the right to the base and the plate. Again, I’m old school, this is what I was taught, and how I was taught to play the game. You don’t try to go out of your way to hurt anyone, but if someone is in between you and your rightful place on the diamond, one of your options is to physically clear the way with your body — and if you do it in any way but aggressively, you put yourself at risk of injury.

      • jerseymet May 8, 2012 at 1:25 pm
        Just saw the Orioles sent Paulino down to AAA,…we could use that as plan Z.
    • Joe May 8, 2012 at 10:11 am
      The interference thing was stupid but taking someone out in a double play is simple baseball & when Mets do it, I don’t think it is “dirtbag” behavior. And, pitchers (I’m sure Halladay did it at some point) often send messages. Talking about it was stupid. So, maybe Phillies go over the top at times, but “dirtbag” is a bit much.

      Baxter was used already but yes he is a good pinch hitter. Your 13 year old would realize that over using some rookie when all you needed was a long single. 🙂

      The idea Murphy should be traded for parts is not sacrilege either though “prospects” (you talk about trading Davis … ha … isn’t he the sort of “prospect” that we thought would be a long term keeper on the field and at the plate?) often don’t go anywhere. We know his fielding is suspect and might work best in the AL. OTOH, his fielding seems adequate for the NL if he continues to hit and he brings his own type of presence to the team.

  3. Mic May 8, 2012 at 7:16 am
    RE: joe
    Irony is that the Victorino play is almost synonomous with Mets-Philly games. Add to that Murph as a 2B has a Bullseye on his back everytime there is a DP opp. ABOUT TIME he got that call.
    • Joe Janish May 8, 2012 at 9:07 am
      Nonsense re: Murphy specifically. Every second baseman (and shortstop) in baseball has a “bullseye” on his back when it comes to the DP turn. Breaking up the double play is the goal regardless of who is making the turn. The difference is that you see Murphy getting upended more often than some others because he’s too slow in getting out of the way. Bottom line, he doesn’t have the skill to be a Major League second baseman, and we’ve already seen him injured as a result. Every time I see a DP situation forming with him at 2B I close my eyes, cross my fingers, and hope for the best.
  4. Izzy May 8, 2012 at 8:44 am
    It ok to hatte the Phillies Tommy but be at least a little honest. The slide into Thole wasn’t dirty in the least. As for trading guys, don’t worry, sandy will trade all them when their salaries get to maybe second year arb.
    As for Valdespin, surprised nobody mentions his smile. That smile went all around baseball as he was rounding the bases. Hope his reward isn’t another night on the bench.
    Papelbohn. The guy is a human rain delay. Nobody should be allowed to take so long between pitches. Of all the pitchers in the game watching him get shelled is the best.
    Thank you dave for giving Omar credit for building the farm from the disaster it was when he came on board. The omar haters will blast you and tell you none would have been Mets if Omar stayed!!!!
  5. Paul Festa May 8, 2012 at 11:37 am
    Joe – I watched the game with a Phillies fan, and he was pissed at the slider to Nickeas. I agree, he should have kept pounding him with fastballs. That was the turning point. The pitch to Valdespin wasn’t a bad one, but the high slider to Nickeas was.
    • Joe May 8, 2012 at 2:52 pm
      Nickeas isn’t THAT bad of a hitter. Sometimes, pitchers forget and try to get lazy. Mets made him work a lot there. I wonder if that had something to do with it.
  6. Gary S. May 8, 2012 at 11:46 am
    Can anybody give me a good reason that Batista is starting tonite?Oh I forgot,he is holding the spot till Chris Young comes back.What a joke.They could have used Reyes and Pelfreys money to sign Buerhle or Gio Gonzalez and we would have tremendously improved the rotation without increasing payroll.Francisco’s 6 mill could have been more wisely used for starting depth also.Rauch and Parnell could have given similar results for a lot less money.Valdy has a little of Reyes spark.Curious to see how he does playing everyday even though he is not a shortstop.
  7. Quinn May 8, 2012 at 11:52 am
    Why trade Murphy a proven LH batter to make room for Valdespin, an unproven LH batter? I agree with getting Valdespin more playing time but wernt they grooming him for the outfield in Buffalo? Right now you have Duda and Kirk who could both be long term answers in the outfield and Bay and Torres as essentially fillers why not let Valdespin get a chance at earning the 3rd outfield spot. They let Murph try and handle LF and he is much less athletic than valdespin. Putting Valdespin in the outfield allows you to keep Murphys bat and makes Torres and Bay even more expendable.
  8. Gary S. May 8, 2012 at 12:48 pm
    How about playing people where they belong?Murphy is not a second baseman and Valdy is.Murphy will get killed trying to turn a dp and Valdy will not.Plus he adds much needed speed and probably has more pop than Murphy.If Murphy is not going to hit 15 to 20 home runs it is silly to put up with his shortcomings with the glove.Still a great win last nite.Rain in forecast tonite.Hoping game gets pp and we skip Batista