Mets Game 13: Loss to Rockies

Rockies 9 Mets 8

Mets seemed to have this one in the bag, leading 8-2 after five. Then, out of thin air (pardon the pun), the Rockies chipped away, tied it, then iced it in extras.

Mets Game Notes

I’m still not feeling Sean Green Greg Burke. How about you?

Rockies manager Walt Weiss reminded me of a tennis player in the fifth inning. You know how tennis players give up on a point because they know they can’t get to a ball and figure it’s best to conserve their energy? That was Weiss in the fifth frame, leaving Jeff Francis out to dry (or freeze?) as the Mets singled him to death. Weiss didn’t even have a reliever warming up (if such a term can be used on an evening like this) until the Mets were up 6-2. I guess it made sense — the Rox already won the first game of the double-dip, and Weiss likely figured it a better plan to leave the veteran throwaway Francis out there, rather than a) burn a reliever and/or b) chance injuring a pitcher with a future in the icy weather. Though, there’s a fine line between “keeping it close” and “chasing losses.” In the end, Weiss’ team won so this would seem moot, but I have to wonder if this game might’ve ended in nine innings had Weiss acted with more urgency in the fifth.

In contrast, Terry Collins was taking nothing for granted looking to stomp on the Rockies’ necks in that top of the fifth. Already up 7-2 with one out and the bases loaded, Collins sent Jordany Valdespin up to swing from his keister and hit for Aaron Laffey. Valdespin reached on an infield hit, scoring the eighth run. Good thing Collins made that decision; he needs to nail down every possible win he can this year. Nothing can be taken for granted — not for a manager in the last year of his contract, and who was scolded all spring.

In the third inning, Yorvit Torrealba made two throwing errors, the first of which led to two runs, the second of which nearly led to a third. The second error came when he attempted to throw out, from his knees, a stealing David Wright. First off, a catcher can’t be throwing from his knees unless he has a goshdarn shotgun for an arm, which Torrealba does not. And by goshdarn shotgun I mean a young Benito Santiago, Tony Pena, or Joe Janish. In all seriousness, even if a catcher has a great arm, a catcher with proper footwork will still be as quick or quicker throwing with his feet underneath him than he will from his knees — because it’s impossible to get the same kind of “hop” (i.e., velocity) without using the legs and core. Yeah, a catcher MIGHT be able to get rid of the ball more quickly, but there won’t be anything on it. What catchers at every level should strive to do is throw to second with absolutely perfect, repeatable mechanics — the same as a pitcher’s goal. Yes, that’s difficult when you’re reacting to, rather than controlling, the ball. But it’s still possible, and it should be the goal. See Anthony Recker, who has an above-average but not outstanding arm — but does a great job of repeating his footwork and throwing mechanics. It’s that consistency that allows him to throw out runners, because in the end, whether or not a runner is thrown out attempting to steal is rarely up to the catcher — it’s almost always a function of the jump the pitcher allows / runner gets, combined with the runner’s speed, the speed and location of the pitch, and the deftness of the fielder catching the ball and applying the tag. There are so many things that have to go right, and so little the catcher has in his control, that it behooves the catcher to focus only on consistent mechanics — forgetting entirely about all the other factors. It’s not easy, but it’s the best approach.

Torrealba was atrocious all game, with lazy glovework and footwork that led to two errors and a passed ball.

Though, Torrealba did hit a two-run double in the fifth that closed the gap to 8-6. The fly ball he hit was terribly misjudged by Mike Baxter, who had just entered the game for Lucas Duda (who left with lower back tightness). Ironically, he looked like Lucas Duda going after the ball. Can you blame the cold weather, and perhaps the wind, on misjudgment? Maybe, but this is getting to be a disturbing habit by likeable Mike. I say “likeable Mike” because I’m beginning to wonder if everyone thinks Baxter is a good fielder because we like him and want to believe he’s a good fielder. With this latest muff added to the heap of several others so far in this young season, maybe we should be thinking differently of Baxter’s defensive “prowess.” Perhaps people should stop themselves from saying/writing “uncharacteristically poor defensive judgment by Mike Baxter.”

Ruben Tejada‘s sixth error of the season allowed Colorado’s seventh and eighth runs, tying the game in the bottom of the eighth. It was a wild throw that followed an uncontested steal of second base by Carlos Gonzalez; reliever Bobby Parnell didn’t even look over at first base, and CarGo was off and running before Parnell lifted his front leg. By the time Recker caught the pitch, CarGo was about ten feet from the bag; if the ball were loaded into a bazooka, it wouldn’t have made it in time, and with a man on third, Recker wisely held the ball.

When is Star magazine or National Enquirer going to get the scoop on Tejada’s romantic problems? Or is there something else preventing the young shortstop from focusing?

Aaron Laffey gave the Mets four so-so frames, allowing 4 hits, 3 walks, 2 runs, striking out 3.

Speaking of Laffey, seeing him from the centerfield perspective, forty-seven spread across his slim back, slinging soft sliders from the south side, my mind races to scenes of Jesse Orosco. (Did I just channel Bruce Springsteen?) Though the Mets will never retire “47,” I don’t believe I’ll ever, ever associate that number with any other Met — and it’s weird to see another lefthanded pitcher wearing it.

Is it me, or does it look like Laffey is perpetually in the middle of a shrug?

While on the subject of hurlers with weird numbers, I get why Adam Ottavino wears “0,” but that doesn’t mean I have to be comfortable with it. I think you have to be really, really good to get away with wearing “0” or “00.” Off the top of my head, the only MLBer able to pull it off gracefully was Al Oliver. Oddibe McDowell was a close second. I never really bought in to “00” worn by Jack Clark — who was much too skinny and gawky for such a number — nor Jeff Leonard, who always seemed more sullen than cool. You have to be cool — like, Miles Davis cool — to wear zero or zeroes on your back. Sorry, I seem to have digressed …

I was slightly surprised to see Troy Tulowitzki appear as a pinch-hitter for Reid Brignac in the seventh with the bases loaded and two out. If the temperature were above 40 degrees, it would not have been surprising. But when the plan seems to be to rest your franchise player in the second game of a doubleheader, and it’s so damn cold, and he’s been sitting for several hours, you’d think that one would stick to the plan rather than risk injuring said franchise player — particularly since that franchise player has had a history of injury issues. But what the heck do I know? As it was, Tulo whiffed on three pitches — taking two strikes and then swinging at a ball two feet off the plate; that’s what happens when a player comes off the bench cold (literally and figuratively). Yes, the numbers suggested Tulowitzki would get a hit against Scott Atchison (career 1-for-3 with a HR), but sometimes the circumstances should prevail over the stat sheet.

Ike Davis dropped a broken-bat single into short left-center in the top of the eighth for only his sixth hit of the season. Adding to the concern: the pitch he hit was over the middle of the plate. How do you break your bat on a hanging 83-MPH breaking ball over the middle that’s hit to the opposite field? That’s really hard to do; a bat breaks on a pitch like that if the batter is ahead, and hits it off the end of the bat. But Ike was jammed, which defies logic considering how far he stands from the plate and the location of the pitch. He did step a bit toward home plate on his stride, but he started with an open stance so it didn’t cause him to be too close once his foot came down. Maybe he’s using a 38-inch bat? I can’t figure it out.

Props to the home plate umpire, who went barehanded all game. Couldn’t someone get him a pair of those convertible gloves, the ones where the tips come off, so he could keep his hands warm and still work the ball/strike/out clicker? I would have at least offered him a pair of batting gloves.

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Rockies will attempt to play game three on Wednesday night at 8:40 PM EDT. Scheduled pitchers are Jeremy Hefner and Jon Garland.

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 April 17, 2013 at 1:38 am
    Joe, tonight I caught the nine and tenth innings of game two on the Rockies network. The Rockies announcers are very fair, by the way. However, on the post game show, they said that Tejada dropped his arm to flip it to first and the ball went awry. He seems to have lazy defensive fundamentals.
    • Izzy April 17, 2013 at 9:12 am
      We all tend to over value and over rate our guys. Last year Met fans went wild for Tejada, led by the PR stuff from Cohen and company. Everyone wanted him to be a golden glover so Reyes wasn’t missed. But, if you talk to fans of other teams and listen to them they would tell you that Tejada gets a late jump on every ball hit. Its only a tad but in the bigs the tad late means he doesn’t get to balls that a SS should and he has to make “great” plays to make what is normally routine. He’s too slow to be a SS He’s a 2nd basemen where he can cheat more to make up for his slow reactions. Watch him closely and you’ll see the outsiders have him pegged. The Mets need a long term SS along with all the other holes that one move a year Alderson hasn’t addressed.
      • TexasGusCC April 17, 2013 at 9:49 am
        Izzy, I think that way too, but just looking at Desmond and Rollins, all three of them get about similar assists. Tejada last year avg. 2.5 assists per game, Desmond was 2.39, and Rollins 2.41. Although, the year before Rollins was 2.84. For the last three years, Jose Reyes averages 2.61, 2.94, and 2.71. So, Tejada may be passable, if he is making the plays; he just isn’t. I agree with Joe’s comment further down that Tejada is too comfortable. Maybe he needs a vacation in Las Vegas to remind him that the big leagues are not to be taken for granted.
        • Izzy April 17, 2013 at 12:56 pm
          I can’t look at statisitcs to say a SS is good or not. If you have K pitchers or fly ball pitchers your numbers are different than if you have a different pitching staff. Just watch him and other SSs closely. You’ll see he doesn’t jump as quickly as the good SSs do. Its not a knock on him. Its just a fact.
      • TexasGusCC April 17, 2013 at 9:52 am
        P.S.: I like how Terry Collins said after the game that he understands that it is hard to grip the ball in that cold, but a few minutes later says the weather is no excuse because everyone has to play in it.
  2. AC Wayne April 17, 2013 at 7:55 am
    One of the worst loses I’ve seen in quite some time, I have zero confidence in Tejada’s defensive right now and in the bullpen, I think it’s time to give Tejada a day off to reflect, someone has to be held accountable, it can’t be Lyon (his play was equally worst) because we are going to need him today, Hefner won’t get past the fifth, how do you lose a game when your up 8-2 to a team that just wants to get into a warm bed and drink a hot cup of coco, we’re 13 games in and I need a reprieve, HELP!!
  3. Walnutz15 April 17, 2013 at 8:16 am
    Did’ja mean Tony Clark over Jackie-Boy, Joseph?

    I know I would have hated the 80’s Cardinals that much more, provided someone like Jack Clark was leading the charge with a “00” on his back.

    Speaking of douches, Rey Ordonez also wore “0” at SS for a spell.

    Brutal double-dip. I didn’t think they’d play 1, let alone both games – with the way the snow removal process was going, delaying Game 1.

    Tejada needs a couple of nights on the pine, if for nothing else but to remind himself he’s not some kind of grizzled veteran with a guaranteed Major League job.

    Would be nice to see the Mets call-up Quintanilla, so that they actually have another option to stick at SS.

    And you’re right, there’s no reason to have both, Nieuwenhuis and Baxter on the roster at the same time. Was a curious call from the first day, in deciding to bring Nieuwenuis up North.

    Baxter’s been overrated by certain sects of Met fans in similar fashion to how legions of fans loved Endy Chavez.

    They are who they are as players, and it’s funny how a specific play or two (HE SAVED JOHAN’S NO-HITTER!!…..HEY, HE HAD 5 WALKS IN A GAME LAST YEAR!!) gets embedded into their brains.

    Will be interesting to see how this team responds to their upcoming schedule. Ain’t a cake-walk anymore.

    • Joe Janish April 17, 2013 at 8:45 am
      Tony wore 00 too? I think I remember that. Jack did, but not with the Cards – it was with the Padres, after his sentence with the Yankees expired.

      Ordonez wore a different number every week …

      Yes, time for Quintanilla. Maybe his presence will spark a fire under Tejada’s butt.

      • Izzy April 17, 2013 at 9:19 am
        Disagree about Tulo. He likely wasn’t sitting for hours in the cold. He was in the heated dugout, the heated locker room or more likely the heated batting cage. He was in the cold a total of maybe 2 minutes and he was bundled uo for about 25 below zero when he batted.
        • Joe Janish April 18, 2013 at 9:13 pm
          Whether he was sitting in a clubhouse or in the dugout is irrelevant. The body has to be physically “warm” to help prevent injuries, and “warm” means raising body temperature by one degree. It’s very difficult to raise body temp in normal conditions, much less when it is near freezing.

          As it turned out, nothing bad happened, so whatever. But if I was the manager, I’d be thinking twice before putting the franchise player into that situation.

      • Walnutz15 April 17, 2013 at 10:21 am
        “Yes, time for Quintanilla. Maybe his presence will spark a fire under Tejada’s butt.”

        When it comes to Tejada, I’m not one that’s accepting of the “cold weather” excuse. Not when your home games come out of Flushing, NY – and it becomes a fallback as “validation” when playing on cold nights, etc.

        Maybe a bench guy, who only gets a game a week to start – being inserted into the lineup on a cold night, making a couple of errors?

        Not a starting SS who already has 6 errors (with definitely at least 1 more he wasn’t charged) in the first 13 games of the season.

        In observing Tejada since his call-up, they’re already had a few issues of wondering about his preparation. Not saying this is the only reason for it, but I’d also like someone at least on the roster – to look at as a potential “pusher”, in the event Ruben decides to coast.

        This is just easier to do with a SS who isn’t truly elite. A lot of guys are capable of stepping in, hitting 8th, and playing just passable “D” at SS.

        Thing about Quintanilla? He’s not even on the 40 Man.

        Not like they couldn’t cut about half the guys on this one right now — lol…..I’d have cut LaTroy Hawkins the second he left the mound in Philly.

        • argonbunnies April 17, 2013 at 6:34 pm
          Just how awful would it be to have Turner at SS? Yeah, Quintanilla will get to a few more balls over the course of a month, but is that really a huge difference?

          Justin hits in the clutch, appears to be hot right now, has handled the difficult job of Bench Player admirably, doesn’t make many mistakes in the field, and has only gotten one shot at regular MLB playing time, when he had a broken thumb. I’m willing to suck up a few grounders-not-reached for that.

  4. Walnutz15 April 17, 2013 at 8:55 am
    I try to forget these days, too.

    Can’t believe Laffey’s going again vs. the Nats. Watching him in that 1st inning last night was like a slow torture.

  5. Steven April 17, 2013 at 9:00 am
    People also need to be honest on Josh Edgin who has frankly been ineffective last September, all Spring, and now this season. I predict that he gets replaced by Feliciano in about one week
  6. Dan B April 17, 2013 at 10:31 am
    Can someone tell me when I can say, “I told you so”? All off season I was saying the Mets should trade Tejada while his value was high because I didn’t think he was the long term solution. He was good in the first half of 2012. That’s it. The rest of his professional career doesn’t project to much. I hope I am wrong and this is just a blip, but….
    • Izzy April 17, 2013 at 1:01 pm
      Do you really think he had high trade value? Even with his good season, he has no speed, no power, and on defense little range. He will make a good utility guy like turner is, but everyday guy, I don’t think any scouts would rate him as one. Alderson is a failure, as the team has several more holes today than it did when he came to save the Wilpons. Even if his two awesome super duper terific minor league acquisitions pan out some day if he ever calls them up, he has 4 holes on offense and several holes in the rotation and bullpen. The team is not close to contending and he didn’t even rebuilt properly.
  7. DaveSchneck April 17, 2013 at 1:36 pm
    If the CIA used a tape of this game on people being interrogated, there would be an uproar like there was when they waterboarded. That was brutal to watch, weather or not. 2014, 21015, blah blah blah, the bottom line is that the Mets only have 2 MLB caliber starters on the team right now, at least two guys in the pen that should be minor leaguers or out of baseball, and a terrible team defense for several years in a row. But, hey, they see 156 pitches a game. This is 90% on the GM, plain and simple.
  8. argonbunnies April 17, 2013 at 6:28 pm
    Here’s what I saw:

    Murphy clearly feels good up there (hit an absolute rocket for an out) but it looks like he feels he can hit anything and is starting to expand the zone, making outs on pitches below the knees.

    I think Duda’s jumping at the pitcher a bit, rotating his upper body early, which might be interfering with him squaring up the ball. At least he’s showing a good eye and punishing the occasional mistake.

    Tejada looks slow and unathletic. Whoever’s brilliant idea it was to add strength to the quick little infielder, or whether he’s simply fat, the added mass seems to have killed his fielding. Oh, and he isn’t hitting HRs either. And he’s getting under the ball every time, hitting lazy outfield flies that only occasionally drop in for singles. At least he fouls off pitches, doesn’t chase too many, and makes the pitcher work… but otherwise, he looks awful.

    I can’t tell whether Wright has improved his swing, because the Rockies keep throwing it into the only zone he’s been hitting, down and middle-in. What do they pay scouts for? Geez. When Wright hits a line drive on a pitch away, then I’ll share Keith and Gary’s optimism.

    On the replay of CarGo’s steal in the 8th from the camera behind home plate, I thought Recker could have had him with a great throw. If he chose not to throw because of the runner on 3rd, I think that’s a bad decision. That’s playing scared. Good teams don’t do that.

    Postgame, Collins said he’s glad Parnell is concentrating on the hitter instead of the baserunner. Wow, Terry — way to lower the standards. Isn’t a major league pitcher expected to be able to do both? I mean, I can’t fault him for not criticizing his player to the media, but I hope he doesn’t actually believe what he said.

    As for Baxter’s defense, I think he runs well and covers a good amount of ground, but he has a weak arm. His number of misplays right now is alarming, but I’m not yet convinced that it’s chronic rather than a simple bad stretch. Pagan alternated awful and excellent D, and I could never figure that out, so I can’t claim to understand the phenomenon.

  9. Dan B April 18, 2013 at 2:19 pm
    Stop arguing, the best number 00, hands down, is Mr.Met. Shame on all of us for not remembering that sooner.