Mets Spring Training Game 2 vs. Nationals

Nationals 6 Mets 4

Does this count as a two-game series?

Mets Game Notes

Collin McHugh still doesn’t impress me with his stuff. But, it was his first appearance of the spring, so I won’t base my judgment on it. At some point, though, he’ll need to get more velocity and sink on the fastball, and more rapid bite on the overhand curve.

Wilmer Flores looked pretty good at second base, turning a few DPs and, while looking a bit mechanical, fielded the balls that came his way without incident. A small sample size, but he looked better than I expected.

Nats’ leadoff man and center fielder Eury Perez has blazing speed. He reminds me a bit of a young, pre-firecracker Vince Coleman, in that he completely telegraphs the fact he’s stealing, but he’s so fast and so good at getting a jump that it doesn’t matter.

Other than starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez, not one National player expected to be in their starting lineup appeared in the game. Just sayin’.

From what I understand, Terry Collins is very high on Jamie Hoffmann, whom Collins oversaw while working in the Dodgers’ minor league system. The 6’3″, 235-lb. outfielder has hit 77 homeruns in 8 minor-league seasons — a career that includes over 300 games in the PCL. How a man that big can hit so few homers is curious; perhaps he suffers from the same disease afflicting Jeremy Hermida and Lyle Overbay. Hoffmann turns 29 in August.

Elvin Ramirez may be this year’s Manny Acosta. The young man has tantalizing stuff and good velocity, and appears to be the kind of pitcher that would make batters uncomfortable, but there seems to be a disconnect somewhere between his head and his body. Or, there is too strong a connection between his head and his body — ya know what I mean?

Nats shortstop Zach Walters has a gun. I noticed it in the first ST game and it was confirmed in this one. He likely will be playing in AAA this year, but it’s a detail to keep tucked away.

I know Ike Davis hit a prodigious bomb in this game, but his new stance is pretty wide and you have to at least question why he’s tinkering around. Ike hit 20 homers in the second half, so why fix what ain’t broke? On the other hand, he struggled mightily against lefties, and the adjustment is supposedly aimed toward minimizing that vulnerability. Personally, I don’t see his stance as the crux of his struggles. Rather, it’s his evolution as a dead pull hitter. In his rookie year, he went the other way frequently. Now, he tries to pull every pitch, regardless of location. Even the moon shot he hit in this game was hooked; it was a middle-out fastball that he hit well out in front of home plate and jerked over the fence in right-center. The result was marvelous, but the process was flawed. Is spring training about results, or process? Why would there be any concern about a 400+ foot homer? Because eventually, scouting reports catch up, and both pitching and defensive strategies will be geared toward exploiting the vulnerability that comes with a dead-pull approach. Hey, if Ike can continue to jerk ‘em over the fence, it won’t matter. But he’s likely to continue to struggle against any lefty with a rinky-dink slider, and defenses will play him similarly to how they line up against hitters like Ryan Howard

Also in regard to Ike’s issues — he has so much movement in his stride, between his hitching hands and leaning over, that his head moves as a result, which in turn causes the baseball to “move” on him, and that’s why he’s always arguing with the home plate umpire and taking called strike threes. Because his head is moving, his view of the ball is moving. To understand what I mean, stand up, focus on an object, and hop up and down; you’ll see the object hopping. What Ike needs to do is keep his head still once the pitcher begins his motion and as the ball is coming in.

Nats youngster Matt Skole looks like a future beast. He takes a fine cut, a long cut, at the ball. I wonder if his nickname is “Bandit”?

John Buck looks like he could be a fishing and game warden, and/or the guy you want with you on a hunting trip.

There’s no question that Justin Turner looks like a Muppet; the question is, which one?

Matt Den Dekker did what he does best: swing and miss. It’s really upsetting, because the kid otherwise looks like a great athlete who should be able to make more contact. I noticed that he chokes up an inch, which is a good sign, but he has no ability to let the ball get deep before committing to swing. I have to ask the obvious: when was the last time he had his eyes checked? Den Dekker did mix in a single up the middle, which was nice to see.

The first look at Greg Burke was intriguing; I’ve been anticipating seeing him since the Mets signed him, as I have a “thing” for submariners. However, he looks more like a sidearmer than a submariner — more Sean Green than Chad Bradford. He mixes up his angle, though, which could be a good thing if he can keep command. It doesn’t hurt that he’s a Jersey guy. We’ll keep a close eye on him this spring.

The first few times I saw Reese Havens play — in Brooklyn — he impressed me. I loved is hard-nosed approach, enthusiasm, confidence, and the professional way he carried himself. Now, though, he looks puzzled, hesitant, and lacking in confidence. It’s upsetting to see the negative body language and facial expressions from someone whose intangibles were once a major asset. I suppose it has something to do with his chronic injury history knocking him down, and the fact he knows he should be further along than he is. I hope he finds a way to get his confidence back and get back to being the guy that was so impressive five years ago.

Notable absence from the lineup was Lucas Duda, who has struck out six times in seven at-bats thus far — but Terry Collins explained that he sat because his previously injured wrist was acting up. Hmm.

Also notable was Ruben Tejada‘s absence, but his was definitely due to injury. Tejada is suffering from a strained quadricep. Uh-oh — that’s the same issue that afflicted him last year. Remember the last time the Mets had a shortstop with chronic leg injuries? It’s like deja vu all over again.

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. TexasGusCC February 26, 2013 at 4:30 am
  2. TZ1993 February 26, 2013 at 8:32 am
    It’s not exactly game 2, Mets played Astros and University of Michigan the day before
    • Joe Janish February 26, 2013 at 1:39 pm
      You have quite an eye for detail. Should we be counting the intrasquad games as well?
  3. Walnutz15 February 26, 2013 at 10:31 am
    While it doesn’t bode well for Duda, striking out in 6 of his first 7 AB’s – I find it amusing that he’s fast becoming a “dump on me” guy with the Met fanbase.

    Amazin’ alright.

    I’m not even the biggest Duda guy, but this all ties back to the “stat-geek” video game mentality far too many Met fans have these days, where you expect a certain version of a guy to just report to camp “programmed to play to his simulated numbers”.

    *adjusts coke-bottle glasses*

    Anyone who’s ever picked up a baseball bat knows that the wrist thing is significant, especially amidst making changes to stance and approach.

    Doesn’t mean he’s going to mash when healthy, because he does have a ton of work to do to get himself right —- but you’ve got a ton of stuff at play for Duda already.

    …….and knowing what we know about his overall mindframe, that might not be the best thing for him.

    Gonna show a lot about his ability to stay focused this year…..already on iffy ground, from last year. Hopefully, he’s able to throw it all out the window somewhere and get back to being aggressive/making good contact at the dish.

    I hate what Hudgens did with him last year, attempting to “mold him into a patient hitter” —- the Mets love their one size fits all catch-all’s. Let the friggin’ guy rip what he wants to, gain some confidence, and adjust accordingly.

    If Matt den Dekker shows any sort of progression at the plate at all, I’d say he’s closer to challenging Nieuwenhuis for some burn somewhere early on in the season – than he would be riding the pine anywhere.

    His defense was never oversold (dude’s legit, way before last night) – while Nieuwenhuis is showing you he’s always going to struggle mightily vs. lefties. Looked pretty bewildered by the breaking stuff he saw in the 8th inning last night.

    I’m also of the belief that if Daniel Murphy can “play 2nd base”, then Wilmer Flores will likely be able to with some more reps. Hitting the baseball will get anyone on the field this year, with this particular team.

    ………but we’ll see what happens.

    • DaveSchneck February 26, 2013 at 12:00 pm
      Walnutz,
      All good points.
  4. Walnutz15 February 26, 2013 at 10:45 am
    “Nats youngster Matt Skole looks like a future beast. He takes a fine cut, a long cut, at the ball. I wonder if his nickname is “Bandit”?”

    P.S. – It has been awhile, but I picked up a tin of Skoal Crisp this week. Think they tried packaging a “sweet” flavor into a non-descript type of name….since NY can’t sell flavored tobacco anymore (bastards).

    Not bad! Tastes like a mix of the Apple and Citrus. My wife would kill me if she knew I was dipping.

    • Joe Janish February 26, 2013 at 1:41 pm
      I’m glad someone caught the reference!
      • Walnutz15 February 26, 2013 at 2:54 pm
        Always, my brotha. I was contemplating purchasing a Tike Redman years back — not for the player, but in tribute to the Chief.
        • Walnutz15 February 26, 2013 at 2:55 pm
          …….and that should have read Tike Redman jersey.
  5. MikeT February 26, 2013 at 11:17 am
    No one ever said Wilmer Flores was a butcher. He’s slow. Anything he can get to he fields cleanly. He has soft hands and all of this points to 3rd base as a potential long term home. With Wright there though the Mets decided he needs to try 2nd. If he proves he can handle it defensively then I honestly believe he can hold his own in the big leagues with the bat.

    Regardless, Joe, no one ever said he was a butcher.

    • Wilma Flinstone February 26, 2013 at 11:28 am
      “Regardless, Joe, no one ever said he was a butcher.”

      I don’t see where Joe did, either?

      • MikeT February 26, 2013 at 11:42 am
        “Wilmer Flores looked pretty good at second base, turning a few DPs and, while looking a bit mechanical, fielded the balls that came his way without incident. A small sample size, but he looked better than I expected.”

        Joe is clearly saying that he was impressed by Wilmer fielding routine ground balls. Implying that he was lead to believe that Wilmer was a butcher. Since Wilmer gets bad reviews on his defense, Joe and many others have assumed that means Flores cannot field, a la Daniel Murphy or Lucas Duda. The problem with Flores is agility and foot speed, which is the reason why Flores cannot play the outfield.

        • Joe Janish February 26, 2013 at 1:45 pm
          I never said he was a butcher. I wish he was, as New York needs more good butchers. The guy at the supermarket doesn’t know the difference between tenderloin and filet mignon. And what the heck is “london broil” supposed to be, other than rubbery?

          I spent most of my life catching and know only a bit about playing the infield. What I do know is that slow feet make it very difficult to have soft hands — unless the ball is hit right at you.

          Can any experienced infielders chime in here?

  6. Mama February 26, 2013 at 12:21 pm
    “There’ll be days like this.”

    And remember, you know what happens when you assume…..the word butcher was never utilized.

    • MikeT February 26, 2013 at 1:08 pm
      The word “butcher” is not the point. Are we arguing semantics or actual content here?

      Since people do not follow minor leaguers that closely, including Joe, assumptions are made and end up in writing. Joe developed a bias based on never actually seeing him play. There really is nothing wrong with that either, since it is not for everyone to read minor league scouting reports or watch MiLB games. I am merely trying to educate. Joe did use the phrase “small sample size,” after all.

      • Joe Janish February 26, 2013 at 1:52 pm
        Every report I read and heard was that Flores moved like a sloth. It’s hard to tell if that’s true based on seeing two ground balls and three relay throws. Again, generally speaking, slow feet equal bad fielding. Whether that’s termed a “butcher” or something else is, as you say, semantics. What little I understand about infield play is that one needs to get in front of the ball and be both in control and balanced as the ball arrives; it’s next to impossible to get the hands into correct position and field “softly” otherwise.

        I’m not arguing with you Mike, just laying out what goes through my head when someone tells me an infielder has slow feet.

        • MikeT February 26, 2013 at 2:00 pm
          Arguments are really just discussions where there are opposing view points. I guess argument is not the correct word, because I really did not disagree with you, so much as trying to inform. By your definition Flores might be bad at defense because of his feet. My only point was that all reports I’ve read and what I have seen is that he is very good with his hands and should have no issue fielding anything he can get to, but that his ability to get to things is limited. To me there is a difference, but I see the point where if he cannot quite get to something then he is going to boot it or fail to field it cleanly.

          Perhaps this is semantics.

        • Joe Janish February 26, 2013 at 5:14 pm
          Great. Let’s agree to agree, since we seem to be in agreement.

          Now, let’s also both keep sharp eyes on young Wilmer and compare notes. As of now, I have little to go on. He has a big body, with long arms, and is not quite “fluid” in his movement but he does appear to have athleticism. One possible negative is he seems to take a while to throw the ball (function of the long arm). Based on his body he doesn’t “look” like a second baseman, but neither did Jeff Kent so we won’t hold it against him.

        • Izzy February 26, 2013 at 6:52 pm
          This is a team with Daniel Murphy at second base. it is obvious that defense is irrelevant to this organization. If the guy can only play third he should have been traded to fill an area of weakness. But except for Wilpon’s fave David, weakness means high salary to Alderson and Strength means low salary. so obviously this kid is a strength. His abilities are irrelevant. did you hear Burkhart last night? One would think the Mets have the top 1000 prospects in camp. If they could only run a team as well as they lie. the Mets would be a dynasty.
        • DaveSchneck February 26, 2013 at 10:00 pm
          I’m an optimistic guy but I have to agree the spring training raving is somewhat nauseating.