Mets Game 97: Loss to Nationals

Nationals 5 Mets 2

Not even the great R.A. Dickey can halt this slide into the abyss.

Mets Game Notes

It’s official: R.A. Dickey has fallen to Earth. It’s sad, for so many reasons. When I learned he wouldn’t be starting the All-Star Exhibition, I didn’t really care, because I don’t care at all about the Exhibition. But now, in retrospect, and seeing R.A. as a mere mortal again, the snub makes me sad. Even though the ASE is complete crap, Dickey starting it would have been the final piece of what was an absolutely wonderful, inspiring story — a Disney movie without the script. We need more happy stories in life.

Now, though, R.A.’s knuckler is spinning, which means it’s not fooling anyone. That’s not entirely true; many of his knuckleballs are fooling most of the people, most of the time, and some of the people, all of the time (i.e., Bryce Harper). But it’s no longer fooling all of the people, all of the time, and as a result he’s giving up hits and runs — just like any other pitcher / normal human being. The timing couldn’t be worse for the Mets, who now have no one to look to for a miracle (other than Matt Harvey).

From the luxury of our armchair and with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, can we take another look at the decision to put R.A. out there for an inning two days ago? Maybe it had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that his knuckler was spinning then and spinning again in this game. But really, was it worth the gamble? For those who think fatigue is limited to the shoulder and/or indicated solely by velocity, I’d like to point out that pitching is done with the entire body, and often, velocity can be maintained by pitchers through not only fatigue but also injuries — almost always by adjusting mechanics (usually negatively). Maybe R.A. still had the arm speed and mechanics to get his knuckler to the plate, but the fatigue was in his fingers and ligaments between his hand and elbow — those all-important body parts that are responsible for “feel” and release of the baseball. What do you think? Are those elements important in executing a knuckleball?

Not that Dickey’s downfall meant much; the Mets did nothing against Nationals Cy Young candidate Gio Gonzalez — unless you count two hits and an unearned run as something other than “nothing.”

Jordany Valdespin provided all of the excitement for the Mets with one swing of the bat. Yes, he hit yet another pinch-hit homer — his fifth — and now has seven homers in 94 plate appearances. Those seven dingers are the third-highest total by a Met this year. I don’t see much reason to put him in the starting lineup, though — rather, let’s see him finish the year with 22 pinch-hit homeruns. Oy!

Jason Bay had another bad day. He’s shot, finished, done. Though he continues to hustle, there’s a constant look of confusion and bewilderment on his face; he’s playing in a fog. It’s sad to see, because when he’s “right,” he’s a wonderful, inspiring, entertaining ballplayer — a true pleasure to watch. He made a terrible throw in the fourth on Danny Espinosa‘s double, and another awful toss on Jesus Flores‘ single in the sixth that resulted in an error and an extra run scored. Bay wasn’t lazy on that single, but he was strangely methodical in surrounding the ball, as if he wasn’t sure where it might go (this was something I saw as a benefit of being at the game, and you may not have seen it on TV). To me that’s a sign of lack of confidence. The result was an overthrow that missed the cutoff man as well as the final target of home plate. I don’t care what Terry Collins says about giving him time — Bay desperately needs a change of scenery, and the sooner, the better.

Fundamental mistake: in the second inning, Scott Hairston stole second. I’m going to glaze over the fact that Bay could have been called out for interference when he walked in front of the catcher, temporarily delaying the throw. I’m also going to glaze over the fact that Hairston may still have been tagged out in time, despite that advantage. Instead, I’ll point out that shortstop Steve Lombardozzi planted the tag, and then, rather than holding his glove on Hairston’s leg, immediately jerked his glove in the air to present to the umpire. Meantime, Hairston over-slid the bag — and would have been out had Lombardozzi’s glove not retreated from his limb. Since I’m a catcher by trade, I’d LOVE for an infielder to let me know why in god’s name one would show the umpire the ball immediately after tagging a runner? I understand presenting the ball on a shoestring catch of a pop fly or line drive, but what benefit is there when it’s done on a tag? It’s completely illogical, and we see infielders lose outs at least a dozen times a season because of this stupidity. Kids, don’t do as the big leaguers do in this case — instead, tag the runner, and hold the tag on him for a few moments, just in case.

OK, at least we can pull something positive from this ballgame.

Next Mets Game

The final game of this godforsaken series begins at 12:10 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon. Jeremy Hefner goes to the hill against Stephen Strasburg. Gee whiz. Hey, maybe the most difficult matchup on paper will turn out to be the one that works out best for the Mets; crazier things have happened.

FYI, I’ll be busy at my real job while this game is occurring, so a postgame won’t be published until tomorrow evening, if at all.

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 July 25, 2012 at 2:53 am
    In the big scheme of things could the season go any better?

    – If you dont contend , you cant worry about July31st.
    -Wilponis: Sold tickets.
    -Santana’s back….kinda….just shut him down early PLZ.
    -Harvey anyone?
    -Wheeler to follow. Familia and Jenry not too far off.
    We are seperating the pretenders from the core of young Mets…

  2. meticated July 25, 2012 at 5:31 am
    -almost done hammering and carving the epitaph for 2012 season-….-looking around-….”anyone know the english translation for kamikaze?…”….”no matter i will just use self- immolation…”
  3. Izzy July 25, 2012 at 6:13 am
    For the first time in his Met tenure, Bay has taken his ABs to the field. He may need a change of scenery or he may be done… You want to dump him, the only option is release. Nobody is taking him for more than minimum salaray. The Cubs can’t dump Soriano and at least he can still hit HRs. An anyway, he fits the mold for the Alderson/Collins/Wilpon future. Old and washed up or old and never was any good. Look at the outfield of the future last night. How encouraging to see the future in Bay/Torres and Hairston while, Kirk and Valdespin sat and rotted and Duda looked for a ticket to hell I mean Buffalo. Poor Harvey, hope they don’;t f you up like theyt did the other kids they screwed around with.
  4. argonbunnies July 25, 2012 at 6:24 am
    Dickey looked great through 2 outs in the 6th. Then he thought he had Morse struck out on a fastball that was (correctly) called inside. Then he thought he had Morse struck out on a checked swing (but the 1B ump, bucking recent trend of calling anything close, said no). Morse then proceeded to have a great AB, foul off some tough pitches, and drill a single to LF.

    At that point I had to wonder why no Met had had an AB that good against Gonzalez. That’s been one thing the team’s continued to do well, but not this time. Has the losing enervated them?

    I don’t know what Morse’s AB did to Dickey — was he mad at the umps, physically tired, frustrated or despairing over his inability to polish him off? — but he was a completely different pitcher after that.

    All the more reason I wish we’d done that at least once against Gonzalez.

  5. Walnutz15 July 25, 2012 at 8:38 am
    The less we see of guys like Bay, Torres, and Hairston – the better.

    It’s not gonna matter much going forward, so you may as well start playing younger, more athletic guys in different spots.

    If Duda were still here, I’d roll with:

    Duda – LF
    Valdespin – CF
    Nieuwenhuis – RF

    ……match-ups don’t matter as much to me, when the “right” lineup vs. LHP went out and got you 3 hits last night. 1 from a guy who is kept on the bench, to hit late-inning HR’s.

    This season has gone from 0-160mph on the “Nightmare” speedometer in 5 seconds flat. Let the keeds play….especially the ones with better numbers from off the bench, than 2 veteran outfielders who are afforded every opportunity to play regularly.

    (Look at Valdespin’s numbers, as compared to Bay and Torres. Have a nice, hearty laugh.)


  6. Micalpalyn July 25, 2012 at 8:44 am
    Is Bay on course to activate his option?
    • Walnutz15 July 25, 2012 at 9:06 am
      Bay’s still got 2013 as a guaranteed pay-day (another $16MM is owed to him next year).

      His 2014 option is guaranteed with 600 Plate Appearances in 2013; or with 500 plate appearances in both 2012 and 2013.

      For the record, he’s currently up to 107 — so I don’t think we’ll have to worry about the 500 PA’s, both seasons.

      I’d “amicably part ways” with him over the winter…..only because no one will want to take on any kind of money attached to him in a trade before then.

  7. Steve S. July 25, 2012 at 9:38 am
    I like the INF, with Davis, Murphy, Tejada, and Wright, but the OF is crappy almost anytime that Bay, Torres, and Hairston are starting. Too bad there aren’t any good OFers in the high minors (except maybe Duda for LF, if he gets it together). C? Nickeas should be released.

    And the weakness against LH pitchers continues. Satin or Lutz on the bench soon? With Baxter almost ready, we’re adding another lefty on the bench! Will Kirk be sent down to play regularly? Probably.

    And don’t get me started on the bullpen! Hey Sandy, you waited too long to make a move. Now, it’s too late for this year. Bullpen guys for next year? Francisco, Parnell, Edgin, Byrdak, and maybe Ramirez. Help in the minors? Nothing much now.

    Starting rotation NEXT year? Santana, Dickey, Niese, Harvey and Gee. With Wheeler ready to move up next.

  8. DaveSchneck July 25, 2012 at 9:41 am
    I can hear the late Dandy Don Meredith’s voice loud and clear, and the 2012 party is over barring the unthinkable. Strasburg should pull the plug today so spring training 2013 can begin with game 99 and Harvey’s MLB debut.
  9. friend July 25, 2012 at 3:38 pm
    “To me that’s a sign of lack of confidence. ”

    Or possibly a lingering symptom of concussion.

    • Joe Janish July 25, 2012 at 11:10 pm
      Hmm … you think so? Hard to say, partially since Bay showed a similarly foggy look before the injury.