Random Thoughts On NLCS Game 5

Remember when I said the season was over for me? Yeah, that didn’t last. My body found itself in front of the TV due to the magnetic pull of baseball.

A few random observations:

- Barry Zito was an absolute pleasure to watch.
There’s excitement and awestruck amazement in watching a power pitcher like Nolan Ryan or Justin Verlander dominate hitters. Similarly, yet contrastingly, there is a beauty in seeing someone shut down MLB hitters without throwing more than 85-86 MPH. The former is intriguing because you’re watching something that seems superhuman. The latter is enjoyable because it’s being done by someone who could just as easily be yourself (or at least, very close to it).

Further, I have personal interest in seeing Zito’s success because at least some of it can be traced to my good friend Angel Borrelli. Zito was a student of Borrelli while pitching for the A’s, but he decided to follow the philosophy of an instructor who shall remain nameless when he joined the Giants. This instructor completely changed Zito’s mechanics with the goal of gaining velocity. The results, as we all know, were disastrous. Finally, a year ago, Zito went back to Angel for help. Certainly, Zito’s mindset and hard work ethic had much to do with his success in 2012, but I also believe strongly that at least part of it also had to do with readjustment of his mechanics — with which Angel played a part. Zito’s return to effective pitching helps me keep faith in the idea that there is such a thing as efficient (and safe) mechanics, and that efficient mechanics can and do lead to positive performance.

Also: didn’t Zito remind you of R.A. Dickey or Tom Glavine with that savvy push-bunt to drive in a run with two out in the fourth? That’s a ballplayer, and that’s one of the myriad reasons I despise the DH.

- Angel Pagan is stepping in the bucket.
I remember him doing this on occasion as a Met, but he seems to be doing it every swing in the NLCS. Will he or his hitting coach notice and make an adjustment? Also in regard to Pagan, is it me or is he playing stronger and smarter defense than we remember? Of course, it could just be the small sample size of the postseason. Pagan’s flaws became more magnified over the long haul.

- Brandon Crawford is a solid shortstop.
He may be unspectacular, and only so-so offensively, but the kid is smooth as butter in the field, making all the plays he has to make, never making a mistake, and making it look easy.

- Trevor Rosenthal is some kind of talent.
The 22-year-old reminds me a bit of Craig Kimbrel or Billy Wagner with his ability to place 98-99 MPH fastballs at knee level — and often painting the corners. His combination of command and velocity is downright scary.

- Rosenthal, Mitchell Boggs, and Jason Motte in one bullpen suggest that having relievers who throw 95+ is not so special.
I see these flamethrowers hitting great spots throughout the strike zone, keeping cool in high-pressure situations, and complementing their heat with plus secondary stuff, and the first thought comes into my head is this: why can’t Manny Acosta, Bobby Parnell, Jeurys Familia, and Jenrry Mejia pitch like this? The Mets value these individuals in particular specifically because of their velocity. But perhaps 95+ velocity is not as special as we think it is – perhaps, the real uniqueness is in commanding and working off that velocity. They say you can’t teach velocity, but maybe the truth is that you can’t teach command. Hmm …

- There’s nothing stylish about Yadier Molina’s neck tattoo.
Just sayin’.

- Hunter Pence still does everything ugly.
Doesn’t matter whether he’s wearing an Astros, Phillies, or Giants uniform; he looks awkward and spastic in everything he does, and it continues to amaze me that he hits 25 HR / 90 RBI / .280 AVG annually. When is he getting all these hits and driving in these runs?

12-13 Offseason

About the Author

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.

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