Mets Game 153: Win Over Pirates

Mets 6 Pirates 2


Mets Game Notes

Jenrry Mejia‘s line looks good if you focus strictly on the number of runs he allowed (none) and the number of baserunners allowed per inning (6 baserunners in 5 frames). The strikeout rate was so-so; 4 Ks in 5 IP works out to about 7 per 9 (did I do the math right?), which is OK; MLB average is 7.5.

The negative part of Mejia’s start is the number of pitches — 96. Obviously, that’s far too many. At least three issues contribute to this: first, he simply doesn’t have strong command of his fastball. Second, he has no command of his secondary pitches. Third, it appears as though he’s trying to strike out every batter he faces (a.k.a., Ian Snell disease), but he doesn’t have a strikeout pitch.

But things like that can be worked out; Mejia is only 22 years old and missed about a year of development, after all. What’s more concerning to me are his mechanics, which make me ill. I’m serious, and being literal — when I watch him throw, I feel nauseous. I want to vomit. That’s how upsetting it is for me to see him pitch. He has his momentum starting toward 1B, then going to 3B while simultaneously tilting his hips back toward 2B. It looks like he’s about ready to fall over from the imbalance when he wildly changes direction, sort of toward home but due to the laws of physics, more toward the 1B dugout. It’s not unlike what we often saw from Oliver Perez, to give you a frame of reference. It’s kind of like a combination of Ollie and K-Rod, actually — now that I think of it, somewhat similar to Carlos Marmol. In any case, it’s not conducive to long-term health, and it prevents him from having command of any pitch. Why the Mets allow him to continue throwing like this is beyond comprehension. The theory that he might lose velocity and/or effectiveness if his flaws are corrected is absolute dinosaur thinking / rock-head logic, and confirms glaring ignorance of how the human body and physics work.

On a positive note, Ike Davis became a 30-homer guy by belting two dingers to lead the offense. His 5-RBI day was the difference in this ballgame. Remarkably, the Mets not named Davis managed only 4 hits — kind of unusual when a team not known as the “Bronx Bombers” scores six runs.

Josh Thole suffered his 18th passed ball in this game. Remarkably, that’s not leading the league; Wilin Rosario has 20. The Baby Bull, however, has 26 HR and a .850 OPS and is 23 years old. Of course, most of Thole’s PBs are thanks to R.A. Dickey‘s knuckler.

I enjoyed occasionally seeing the almost-behind-home-plate angle on SNY. Where the heck has that been all year? I guess it has something to do with those extra, experimental (empty) seats back there?

Was this a September game or a spring training game? I ask because the Mets used seven pitchers in what seemed to have been a game that was more or less “in the bag.”

Weird seeing Gaby Sanchez in a Pirates uniform. Weirder still to not see him destroying the Mets. What the heck happened to him? He was like A-Gone Lite, now he’s, well, gone.

In the second inning, Gary Cohen described Braves hurler Kris Medlen as having “burst like a supernova.” Apparently, it’s hard to be a saint in the city of Atlanta — right, Boss?

Thank you if you know what I mean by that. Damn you if you’re too young to know (I wish I was your age).

SNY’s celebration of Daniel Murphy‘s defense, both in-game and during Post Game Live, is laughable. Yeah, he sometimes looks like he’s making incredible plays, with his falls to the ground stopping balls, aggressive charges, and jump-and-throws. Looks great on TV. Unfortunately, what he’s actually doing is making routine plays look difficult. If he wasn’t positioned so deep, and had a modicum of range and athleticism, many of those plays would look easy instead of borderline web gems. You have to admire him for his tenacity and effort, but don’t be fooled into believing he’s a Major League second baseman — he’s not.

In addition to Murphy’s inadequacy in fielding balls hit toward his area are the other things he has to do as a second baseman. For example, his duty of covering the bag and receiving throws from the catcher on steal attempts. He completely botched this in the first inning, when he ran several feet in front of the bag to accept a throw from Josh Thole as Josh Harrison slid in safely. Maybe Harrison is safe anyway, but there’s no reason for a big league second baseman to be in front of second base on that, unless there’s a man on third charging for home. That’s something you see in high school and lower levels, where there are catchers who can’t reach the base on a fly.

Am I being too tough on Murph? Maybe, but I feel it’s necessary in order to balance out the hype. MetsToday: the FOX News of the Mets blogosphere.

On the other hand, Ruben Tejada has been a pleasant surprise this year. I fully expected to see far more throwing errors and mental miscues, but he’s been solid in the field and at the plate. If you watch other MLB teams, you know that he’s about average in the field and maybe a tick below average offensively, which is encouraging considering his age. He kind of reminds me of Bucky Dent right now — and in post-PEDs MLB, that’s just fine.

My dog came home on Monday afternoon and has been resting in her bed, though she’s aware and alert. If she eats something by Tuesday afternoon, she can stay home. If not, she goes back to the hospital to have a feeding tube inserted. Fingers crossed that she barks for breakfast in the morning.

Next Mets Game

Game two pits Collin McHugh against Wandy Rodriguez. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m.

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. argonbunnies September 25, 2012 at 1:43 am
    I’ve never seen Mejia, in any game he’s pitched, have any idea where the ball’s going. Your analysis of why is pretty intriguing. I could tell his follow-through was a mess, but I wasn’t sure what he was doing to put himself in that position. Now that you point is out, I do think it’s a bad sign for the organization that some of that early leaning hasn’t been corrected. Sandy/J.P./Depo may have been ahead of the curve 10 years ago, but now I wonder if they’re behind it.

    I gotta say, I miss Rick Peterson. He wasn’t a miracle-worker, but he had brains and knowledge and a plan, and he emphasized sound principles. Maybe he’s a bit too long-winded, academic, and pushy to be popular with MLB pitchers, but wouldn’t he be a solid choice for organizational pitching coordinator? I can’t imagine him letting kids throw like Mejia if he had the authority to stop it.

    One final note about Mejia: his hand is on the right side of the ball when he releases his fastball, almost as if he were throwing a slider. This makes me wonder what his ideal arm slot is.

  2. Dan B September 25, 2012 at 5:59 am
    Try chicken broth and rice. Dogs like it and it is easy on their digestion.
    • Joe Janish September 25, 2012 at 8:56 am
      Thanks Dan! We tried the chicken broth and rice, but she wasn’t interested. She did take a lick of tuna fish, though. Hopefully after a night’s rest at home she’ll be more intrigued with food today.

      Thanks again, it’s appreciated.

  3. Dan September 25, 2012 at 7:14 am
    I hope the dog barked, and if she didn’t try the chicken broth before giving up. Didn’t get the Atlanta reference, but it certainly isn’t due to youth, more likely too old or just getting senile. I only watched Ollie pitching for Seattle once or twice, but I didn’t notice any of the old “Ollie being Ollie”, and stat wise he’s doing well in his new found low wage, low pressure roll out west.
    • Joe Janish September 25, 2012 at 8:58 am
      Thank you, Dan. No barking, but she doesn’t normally bark very often even when she’s feeling well.

      The reference wasn’t to Atlanta; check the words before it – it refers to a song by famous NJ musician. Hint: Asbury Park.

      I haven’t seen Ollie pitch yet, either, and was surprised to see him back in MLB and doing fairly decently. I suppose as long as one can throw a baseball 60 feet with the left hand, one will always have opportunities to play big-league baseball.

      • Dan September 25, 2012 at 8:27 pm
        Song probably would have been enough of a hint, the Boss reference threw me off because I couldn’t figure why a rabid (or semi tepid these days) Met fan would ever consider mentioning a former Yankee owner in his blog that way. The first Google hit for “burst like a supernova”+ boss is your article, the third is the answer,1067254 which falls into the too old category, since most of the seventies and eighties were a sports and music vacuum for me.
        • Joe Janish September 25, 2012 at 11:02 pm
          Ha! I hadn’t considered “Boss” Steinbrenner, probably because I’m from Jersey and Bruce was “The Boss” before anyone pinned the moniker on George (or at least, I think?).

          I still remember a wall in Jersey City spray painted with the words “Springsteen for governor.”

  4. Walnutz15 September 25, 2012 at 7:36 am
    “Thank you if you know what I mean by that. Damn you if you’re too young to know (I wish I was your age).”

    The real question for me would be: can Medlen walk like Brando right into the sun, Joseph?

    • Clarence September 25, 2012 at 7:47 am
      It’s so hard to watch a game at Citi…….SO HARD, SO HARD!!
      • Joe Janish September 25, 2012 at 9:01 am
        (as saxophone plays in the background)
    • Joe Janish September 25, 2012 at 8:54 am
      He might walk Sal Bando … or dance just like a Casanova.
  5. DaveSchneck September 25, 2012 at 9:03 am
    Another great blog, all great points. Regarding Ike, he now has 30 dingers, chicks dig the long ball, and everyone loves him again. He may be next up for SNY’s adoration hour. Kudos to him for the bounce back, but some reality – Ike’s OPS at home this year is .617 and worse his OPS in 167 PAs vs. lefties is .561. Thole’s OPS is better. And the Mets are going to give his remaining ABs vs. lefties to Duda?
  6. Joe September 25, 2012 at 11:26 am
    “You have to admire him for his tenacity and effort, but don’t be fooled into believing he’s a Major League second baseman — he’s not.”

    The first part contributes to the praise — it is like if one of the replacement refs did a kinda good game & they praised them a lot. The guy just was put in that position last year & even in his natural position (corner infield), he isn’t great. It is admirable he is doing an adequate job. Other people on the team are not doing that in various ways. So, you overcompensate.

    The second part lacks a word — Major League “Quality” second baseman. He’s out there at 2nd. In the major league. If “many” of the plays are only difficult because he makes them, “some” of them are not.

    Yes, he is obviously flawed. He is not the biggest hole. When they find a good catcher and at least one adequate everyday outfielder and maybe another hole or two is filled, we can worry about 2nd.

    Anyway, as to the # of pitchers. Kinda Spring Training. Just look at the starters for this series. The starter went 5. Two went one inning. So that leaves four. You had at least one situational guy and one who ran into some trouble so they brought in Parnell.

    • Joe Janish September 25, 2012 at 11:17 pm
      I don’t believe I needed to qualify the term “Major League” with the addition of “quality,” because it’s inferred. Just because Dan Murphy stands in a region somewhere between first and second bases does not make him a “Major League Second Baseman” in and of itself, anymore than you would call Desi Relaford or Todd Zeile a “Major League Pitcher” just because they stood on the mound one day and threw a few pitches.

      Semantics, I know, but I have little else to quibble over at this point in this dreadful season.

      As for “Yes, he is obviously flawed. He is not the biggest hole. When they find a good catcher and at least one adequate everyday outfielder and maybe another hole or two is filled, we can worry about 2nd.” – I disagree, strongly. I’m tired of hearing this excuse from many, many Murphy apologists. Second base is not a “minor” position to be considered after all the others. It is a PRIMARY position, and placing someone there with legit skills is paramount to winning. Why do you think we saw light-hitting, slick-fielding second baseman (and shortstops) playing for MLB teams for nearly a hundred years? Because the position matters, greatly, to the success or failure of a ballclub. Not by itself, of course, but it’s at least the fourth-most-important everyday defensive position after catcher, shortstop, and centerfield. In fact, some might argue it’s #3, ahead of CF. A team doesn’t necessarily need a spectacular second baseman to win, but it does need a competent second baseman — i.e., one who can play at least average-level MLB defense (that includes turning DPs, taking charge on popups when necessary, providing good relays / cutoff targets on throws from the OF, handling throws on steal attempts, executing rundowns properly, etc.). The baseball tends to find itself near the middle of the field more often than not, so you need to have skilled people there to handle it. The position is underrated because it seems like an easy enough spot,and so much of it is “routine” and focused on “small stuff” and much of it is difficult to measure. But if the routine, small plays regularly aren’t made, it can make a significant impact on the big picture. Every lost out means extra pitches, more swings for the other team, etc. It’s kind of like the magic of compound interest.

      Yes, the Mets desperately need a catcher as a priority. Outfielders? Eh. Yeah, needed, but not nearly as much a priority as shoring up the middle of the infield. Moreover, it’s a heckuva lot easier to find a decent outfielder than it is to find a solid all-around second baseman. It’s just that the Mets are one of maybe three teams in all of MLB that happen to be incredibly shallow at the outfield position at all levels of the organization.

      • Dan September 26, 2012 at 7:29 am
        “Every lost out means extra pitches, more swings for the other team, etc. It’s kind of like the magic of compound interest.” is a classic.
        I plan to use it, with proper attribution, of course.
  7. Chris from Freehold September 25, 2012 at 7:21 pm
    Nothing better than the live version from Hammersmith Odean in 1975! I usually turn on the 18 minute version Kitty’s Back sometime around the 4th inning this time of year.
  8. Walnutz15 September 26, 2012 at 7:08 am
    That’s the best rendition of Kitty’s Back that was ever captured on audio/video.

    The Hammersmith Odeon show was ridiculous. (Wish I was around for those days, in concert.)