Mets Game 51: Loss to Phillies

Phillies 10 Mets 6

This game was much closer and low-scoring than the final score would suggest. Mets fans might lament that this was one that got away. In contrast, Phillies fans might believe that their old “fightin’ Phils” are merely back to their comebacking ways. It’s all about perspective, right?

Mets Game Notes

On a positive note, nice seeing the Mets mount a comeback of their own in the ninth — even if it was too little, too late. It’s hard to win when the opposition scores nine runs in the final three frames.

Jimmy Rollins just loves killing the Mets, doesn’t he? The Mets set up their defense in a shift toward the right side, so he poked two hits to the left. And then there was the fly ball that went over the shifted infielders, the outfielders, and the fence.

An interesting pitchers’ duel, in that Dillon Gee put forth about as good of a performance as he’s capable on the same night that Cliff Lee was not quite on his game. The result was a very tight ballgame that was thrilling to watch — for those of us old-schoolers who enjoy games of this type.

And yes, when Cliff Lee allows three runs, that’s a bad night for Cliff Lee — even if it’s a “quality start” for mere mortals.

Regarding the run scored by Daniel Murphy in the first inning on David Wright‘s double: first of all, Murph ran right through a vehemently issued stop sign by third base coach Tim Teufel. Big deal? Not really, though if I’m not mistaken at least a few other Mets have been running through Tuff’s stop signs lately. If that’s true, one has to wonder about the players’ trust in their coach’s decisions. As it was, Murphy slid home safely, just ahead of Brian Schneider‘s tag. I watched the play in slo-mo about a dozen times, trying to figure out how Murph got in there, because Schneider did an excellent, textbook-perfect job of blocking the plate both properly and safely. The reason Murphy wasn’t out was because although Schneider’s bottom half was in proper position — blocking home plate with his left knee facing the runner — he reached both toward the ball and slightly upward to catch it, then had to reach back and down to tag the sliding Murphy. Here’s the thing: a thrown ball moves about ten times faster than the body can rotate at the hips. Thus, the best plan for a catcher in that situation is to receive the ball as late and deep as possible — i.e., as close to home plate as he can. In the case of a high throw, of course, one needs to reach up to get it; but still, one wants to catch it as late as possible. To me it didn’t look like the relay throw from Jimmy Rollins was THAT high. If nothing else, it was on the money. I think it’s possible that Schneider made a mistake by being over-anxious in reaching forward for the throw, and that was the difference in allowing Murphy to score. Had he waited back — even if he still had to reach up if the throw was high — Murphy likely would have been out, because the ball had enough mustard on it to travel exactly to home plate. It sounds like a small thing, but when you look at the replay, you can see that Schneider caught the ball a good three feet in front of home plate, then had to reach back those same three feet to apply the tag; with the ball traveling around 75-80+ MPH, Schneider gave up several precious milliseconds. It’s a game of inches, right?

Great heads’ up play by Cliff Lee to allow Dillon Gee’s popped-up bunt to drop in the second inning, allowing Lee to tag Gee and then double-up Rob Johnson at second. Shame on Gee for not running that bunt out; the only reason Lee was able to do what he did was because Gee just stood there watching the pop-up fall into Lee’s glove. It was a rare, out-of-character performance by Gee, and I’ll give him a mulligan on it this time.

Lucas Duda handled Lee easily, and hit his first homerun in over a month against him. He then hit a second homer in the ninth — exactly 21 hours after I finally gave up on Duda and dropped him from my fantasy baseball team. Hmm … maybe I should pick up Ike Davis for a few days and then drop him …

Bizarre play in the top of the fifth. With a man on first and Schneider at the plate, the Mets infield shifted over to the right side. As planned, Schneider bounced an easy DP grounder to Daniel Murphy, who was confused by Omar Quintanilla encroaching on his territory and Wright covering second base. As a result of the brain fart, Murphy froze, and instead of starting the DP at second, threw to 1B.

A few minutes later, Cliff Lee accidentally foul-tipped a ball off of the knob of his bat. It reminded me that girls softball players actually do that on purpose, though they try to poke the ball in fair play; it’s kind of a modified bunt.

Speaking of Lee at the plate, his crouched batting stance is kind of funny for a pitcher, isn’t it?

How annoyed were you when Brian Schneider’s fly ball sailed over Andres Torres‘ head only moments after Keith Hernandez suggested that Torres was playing a little too shallow? Yeah, me too.

How much more annoyed were you when Bobby Parnell hung a knuckle-curve to Carlos Ruiz to tie the ballgame just moments after that? Yeah, me too.

Wasn’t Juan Pierre‘s career supposed to be over three years ago? Hey, maybe there’s still hope for Luis Castillo — who is essentially the same player, offensively.

Next Mets Game

The Mets get a long-awaited day off on Thursday, then start a four-game set against the Cardinals. Game one on Friday begins at

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. gary s. May 31, 2012 at 2:05 am
    Oh the pain!!!!The thought of being 7 games over danced thru my head after Duda homered and the ballpark got loud tonite.Torres’s defensive rep is a joke.The play on Schneiders ball in the 7th has to be made.Cap Kirk probably makes that play and is better defensively than this non entity but Collins for some reason thinks Torres is a real ballplayer.Reminds me of Pagan without any power..In other words he stinks and should not be taking at bats away from Neiwenhuis..
    • wohjr May 31, 2012 at 4:01 am

      Totally ditto. Cannot believe that guy is out there to start the 7th. Typical Terry– under-manage and leave Torres in, then over-manage and take Gee out after the double.

      Gary Cohen says Terry is a RIVERBOAT GAMBLER!!!!!

      • Masterwolf May 31, 2012 at 4:14 am
        To start the seventh? I can’t believe this guy is still on the team. Torres should be in a low double A the way he has played. To even think of starting him and benching Baxter is a crime against baseball.
  2. mic May 31, 2012 at 3:53 am
  3. mic May 31, 2012 at 4:22 am
    so Joe, who ARE your favorite *(presently employed) catchers? I note that you regularly laud Schneider.

    As for the Bullpen; How long before Edgin & Cabrera get a look? Why arent we seeing Carson?

    • DaveSchneck May 31, 2012 at 8:27 am
      Carson is not ready, and Edgin is improving but needs more work at AAA after a shaky start at that level. Next up is Elvin Ramirez, who should be with the big team real soon based .65 ERA and .72 WHIP in 27+ innings in 2012. Mejia had a strong AAA start last night and will also be available soon. There will be others from the pen following Acosta shortly, no doubt, this level of performance cannot be tolerated.
    • Joe Janish May 31, 2012 at 8:46 am
      Schneider has always been one of my favorites, for the way he remains quiet behind the plate and receives pitches properly; the way he leads the defense with confidence; his ability to keep pitchers in rhythm; overall toughness; hustle; and sense to nearly always make the right decision.

      I also like Brian McCann for similar reasons, as well as Buster Posey, Joe Mauer, Carlos Ruiz, Yadier Molina, Matt Wieters, and Russell Martin. The kid in Cincinnati – Devin Mesoraco – impresses me. I’m sure there are others I’m missing, but those are off the top of my head.

      Generally speaking, I like catchers with strong leadership qualities and instill confidence in their pitchers and defense. I like to see catchers take complete control of the ballgame defensively, and who clearly are trusted by their teammates. I also like to see catchers who have outstanding balance and quick feet and can remain quiet when receiving pitches; catchers who are moving around behind the plate and “framing” pitches drive me batty. Those are the basics. Of course, I want to see a catcher with a quick release and strong throwing arm as well, but if he already has good balance and quick feet then chances are good he can get the ball down to second base quickly enough.

  4. Walnutz15 May 31, 2012 at 7:35 am
    * I’m glad you’ve zoned in on the horrendous base-running play from Daniel Murphy (that just happened to work out for the Mets – and convince some sects of fans that “it’s what you like to see” from your players – and that because “Murph was pumped up when he scored”, it was somehow a good decision).

    Something tells me we’d be having a completely different discussion, provided he got banged out – running through a stop sign. (Honestly don’t know what these fans watch sometimes.)

    Granted, a gorgeous relay from Victorino to Rollins – on down to Schneider…..Murph runs right through Teufel’s stop-sign – and gets in there by the skin of his teeth.

    Howie Rose was going bonkers on Murph on the radio broadcast…whereas Cohen somehow saw Teufel “waving him home”.

    Not exactly sure what game Gary was watching…..especially since Hernandez just screamed “HE’S OUT!!” over Cohen’s chalked-up call.

    Last night’s game essentially defines Murph’s Major League-career:

    – baserunning gaffe
    – legitimate fielding error on a double-play ball
    – a couple of other gaffes on attempted plays at 2nd base (one you mentioned above; another later on in the 9th inning – coming out too far on a botched rundown play)

    However, he works hard – and people see the 2 singles and a walk.

    One day, he’ll be very valuable to an American League squad as a Designated Hitter. Right now, he’s turning into the one-trick pony we’ve known he’s been with the Mets – all stick, and work-ethic just to be very mediocre at everything else associated with the game.

    RE: Teufel — he’s definitely been iffy (if not altogether awful) over there in the coaches’ box.

    * I’m not seeing what the big advertisement on Andres Torres’ defense was; especially in taking Nieuwenhuis out from the position from time to time (tough lefty match-up last night – for sure…but I don’t see the legitimate “defensive upgrade” in having Torres v. Kirk).

    He’s gotten burnt deep a few times now, dating back to his very first game at Citi Field as a Met. It was in the back of my mind before last night, and just looks worse now.

    * Haven’t been impressed in the least with Ramon Ramirez, either. (Though it was time for Pagan to go, anyway – and get a fresh look around here.)

    * Found it funny that Gary Cohen started that whole horrible home-plate sequence with Murphy, stating “what a break for the Mets, that they’ll miss Ruiz this entire series”….lol

    Probably one of his worst calls, all-around – start-to-finish – as Ruiz came up to kill Parnell late in the game.

    * Strong outing from Dillon Gee. Too bad it was wasted.

    * Nice to see Duda finally swing with some authority.

    • Joe Janish May 31, 2012 at 8:54 am
      ‘nutz, have to agree with you on all counts. The Murphy hype is maddening – few realize how often his “little” mistakes here and there tally up and become part of the reason for losing a ballgame. You pointed out something I also have noticed: the stark contrast in perspective between Gary Cohen and Howie Rose. Cohen, ever the Mets fan at heart, can only see the good in Murphy. Meanwhile, the more tempered and critical eye of Rose regularly points out Murphy’s mistakes. If one fan only watched the Mets on SNY, and the other only listened to games on the radio, the two would have very different opinions of Daniel Murphy’s skills.

      To some, it’s all about the process. To others, it’s all about the result; ends justify the means. Guess which camp thinks Dan Murphy is doing a fine job as an everyday second baseman?

      • Walnutz15 May 31, 2012 at 9:21 am
        Well, thankfully – Rose gets the real point across on the radio….otherwise, you’d have people thinking last night that Murphy was “being waved home” by Teufel – and scored easily (“MURPHY WILL SCORE!!” shouted 3 seconds before the throw almost nailed him at the plate) if Cohen were doing the broadcast.

        I’m not looking to bury Murphy, as much as I’m citing that he’s really nothing special when all these things start to accumulate.

        There have been a bunch of blunders, throughout – and while “he’s learning on the job” (at 2nd base)……..there’s something to be said for actually having a clue as a guy playing the game.

        That means running the bases to a level of competency, too. At the very least, picking up your coach.

        • gary s. May 31, 2012 at 9:42 am
          I agree about Murphy being sorely lacking in baseball awareness.Always has been and always will.My biggest problem with him this year has been his lack of power.To put up with limited skills at second and on the bases, the only advantage i saw playing him at 2nd was if he banged 12-15 dingers.Instead he has morphed into a singles hitter with zero power.That would be fine if he could steal bases and play good defense, but Murphy is a one trick pony who belongs in the AL as a dh/utility man.One other thing that was puzzling last nite was the overshifts againts Rollins and Schneider, one of which cost us a doubleplay.Why the Ryan Howard treatment ??
        • Joe Janish May 31, 2012 at 11:12 am
          Gary, I agree with you and Walnutz: Murphy’s lack of baseball sense, poor fundamentals, and below-average defense are easily overlooked, but when added together, compound into a negative overall. As you point out, Gary, we might have been able to live with the negatives if Murphy continued to develop power — and homerun power in particular. He does have 14 doubles, which is great, but no HR and no triples, plus his OBP is only slightly above-average — he’s essentially become a poor-man’s Rod Carew. Hmm … that might be a good subject for a post …
  5. Walnutz15 May 31, 2012 at 11:49 am
    Good to see Chris Young’s comin’ along, though…..crickets:

    A scout told Bob Klapisch of the Bergen Record that Chris Young (shoulder) is only hitting 81-83 mph.

    That’s obviously a pretty bad sign. Young did well in three rehab outings at High-A St. Lucie but seems likely to be exposed now that he’s moved on to Triple-A Buffalo. The 33-year-old right-hander seems doubtful to make any sort of impact in the major leagues this season.

    May 31 – 10:33 AM

    Source: Bob Klapisch on Twitter

  6. Steven May 31, 2012 at 12:39 pm
    Great post Joe. Does one suspect that the reason they keep on looking very hard at Jordany Valdespin is they want to see if they can trade Murphy. I am also very disappointed at Torres’ defense. The hype on the trade was that what we would lose in average by trading Pagan would be made up with a terrific fielder, that would cover ground to make up for Duda’s limitations. I would have to think come June 30, there may be some changes and Kirk is basically given a half season to show what he can do against all pitchers in the same way as Duda last year.
    It is really sad to see Schwinden keep on coming up and consistently failing against ML pitching; what are the Mets seeing that we are not.
  7. Frank May 31, 2012 at 2:57 pm
    We better start developing starters who can pitch 9 innings cause we don’t have 1 good relief pitcher. At best, the best of them is mediocre. Tired of seeing Gee & Santana lose wins cause 7 relief pitchers can’t get 6 or 7 outs!