Mets Game 23: Loss to Phillies

Phillies 5 Mets 1

The Phillies not only sweep the Mets in Flushing, but they also leap-frog over them in the standings, sending the Mets to fourth place.

Mets Game Notes

Jonathon Niese continues to throw from low three-quarters, and he slows down his entire body on the curve, likely telegraphing it to the hitter. He’s getting very little bite on the curve because of that angle; it turns into more of a slow slider that has to be bounced lest it hang up and be mashed. This issue was most glaring in the sixth and seventh innings, when all of his pitches were completely flat. He got the results he did more because he’s a fierce competitor than due to his stuff.

It could be argued that Terry Collins made the wrong decision in bringing in righthander Scott Atchison in the seventh, allowing Charlie Manuel to pull his wild card of Ryan Howard. However, I’d go back several more batters and suggest that Collins made the wrong decision in allowing Niese to start the seventh inning. Even though the results were there, the process was flawed and it was only a matter of time before the Phillies hitters took advantage — which they did. But then again, with the way the Mets bullpen has been performing, I can’t really fault Collins for sticking with Niese. Does anyone remember me stating concern about innings-eaters and solid relievers? This is an example of why — the quality pitchers who the Mets want to have around and healthy two-three years from now need to be protected. Injuries of overuse (as well as bad mechanical habits) occur when an athlete is pushed beyond fatigue, and there were signs that Niese had reached fatigue.

Speaking of Howard’s blast to deep right center: where in the world was center fielder Collin Cowgill playing Howard? It was clear that the strategy was to pound Howard inside, and with that strategy, you expect him to hit to the right side. Yet, Cowgill was playing too shallow for the beast, and too straight-up considering the strategy. It didn’t really matter — it was a blast and unlikely to be caught as well as unlikely to be held to a single.

Also in regard to that Howard blast: two big “boos” for Howard, who watched the ball in flight as he thought it was going over the fence, and for Jimmy Rollins, who was trotting (or “Cadillacking”) around the bases instead of sprinting with a full head of steam.

In contrast, I was coaching a 12U team on Saturday, and our leadoff hitter ripped a pitch a good 15 feet over the 210-foot fence in left field. He went like a bat out of hell around first and second bases, and had no idea it went over the fence until he was approaching third base and the coach there was telling him to slow down. This young man doesn’t get paid eight figures to play baseball — he does it for free. Yet the pros can take a lesson from that.

In the end, did it really matter how well or how poorly Niese or the relievers pitched in this game? No, not when the offense manages only three hits and one run. The Mets did draw 6 walks, but unfortunately, none of them came with the bases loaded.

Cole Hamels had pretty good stuff — swing and miss stuff — but had a hard time keeping it in the strike zone. There were several pitches, though, that looked darn close but he wasn’t getting, and I think that was a combination of the umpire keeping the zone tight (he was tight for both sides) and Carlos Ruiz trying to frame too often. I love most of Ruiz’s game back there, but HATE that he’s constantly jerking the glove on borderline pitches. I bet if he would just catch those pitches and “stick” (hold the glove), he’d get many more close calls. As soon as the catcher moves his glove, the umpire thinks, “huh, must’ve been outside the zone if he’s trying to frame it in.” At least, that’s what MLB umpires should be thinking — at any amateur level, it’s another story.

Freddy Galvis used a one-iron to lift a Niese curveball out of the dirt and over the fence to put the Philies on the board. It reminded me of that old golf joke: if there’s lightning on the course, play the rest of the round with your one-iron — because not even God can hit a one-iron.

After a hot start, Daniel Murphy continues to look weak at the plate, losing his legs and waving at the ball. Granted, Hamels is a tough pitcher who had him in fits, but this one-handed waving thing began several games ago.

Next Mets Game

The Mets fly down to Miami to face the Marlins for a three-game series. Game one begins at 7:10 p.m. and has Matt Harvey going against Jose Fernandez.

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. wohjr April 28, 2013 at 11:41 pm

    You’ve been slamming Byrd and rightly so for his past flirtation with the wrong side of the rules, but nary a hint of the patented Janish acid snark when discussing Ruiz? Say it aint so!

    • Joe Janish April 29, 2013 at 10:23 am
      1. Ruiz was caught using adderall, which is a stimulant. It doesn’t make it OK — it’s still against the rules — but it’s HARDLY the same as taking steroids or HGH. The adderall may have caused Ruiz to be more alert or hyped up, but it didn’t make him unnaturally stronger or faster. Maybe it helped him be less tired but he still had to rely on his physical limitations. Adderall doesn’t help someone increase their bench press by 150 lbs. or turn a 90 MPH fastball to 94.

      2. Ruiz served his sentence of 25 days’ suspension. I’m still waiting for Byrd to serve his suspension. I don’t count being unemployed as suspended.

      You can agree or disagree with my thoughts, and obviously, MLB disagrees with the suspension / unemployment thing, but you asked me to explain my position and that’s what I’m doing.

  2. Izzy April 29, 2013 at 6:55 am
    I’d have to say that Collins move was one opf the worst managerial instances of over managing in Met history. How could any manager allow his team to be put in position to have a Howard at bat with the game on the line, a Howard who is getting hot right now, versus a fringe major leaguer is absolutely pathetic. How can a guy get out managed by himself.
  3. Gabriel Pena April 29, 2013 at 8:38 am
    Hi Joe. Why Niese and/or Warthen don’t see what you’re seeing with his mechanics. I mean it makes perfect sense that pitching with that angle the curve does not bite, then what are they thinking? Will Niese exclude the curve from his repertoire? Is he trying to focus on the “cutter”? (Something I know you hate). What do you think are the reasons?
    • Joe Janish April 29, 2013 at 10:33 am
      Despite Niese’s mechanical issues, he’s performing well, and in baseball that’s the bottom line (ends justify the means). There’s a strong sense of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” in MLB, particularly with pitchers.

      If forced to make a choice, Warthen and Niese will take the cutter over the curve because the cutter is an easier pitch to throw with success. Niese can probably get away with dropping the curve IF he uses the change-up more often and more effectively.

      Also, there is the information we don’t know — for example, maybe there is a physical issue preventing Niese from going high three-quarters. Mike Pelfrey pitched the entire 2010 season with a strained rotator that wasn’t made public until 2011.

      Finally, maybe the Mets coaching staff doesn’t see what Niese is doing as a problem. Maybe it’s just me.

  4. James April 29, 2013 at 9:02 am
    I was at the game. My fourth game this year. The Mets won the first two and lost the last two, a fair reflection of their season (I have not seen Harvey yet). I won’t comment on the three errors, or Collins’ questionable decision in how to deploy a AAA bullpen, or the Mets AAAnemic offense.

    However, I will comment on the quality of the fan experience. I brought my nine year old daughter and splurged on Ceasars Silver seats two tiers up in section 321, right below the press box and right behind home plate. The place was quieter than a library, and only came alive when Howard got his hit — it was the loud Phillies fans, who put the Mets fans to shame. Are we any better than the Anaheim Angels fans in the early 90s? We are all milling around buying fancy steaks and All Star tshirts during a 1-1 game and the place is quiet. My daughter and I would start let’s go Mets chants and maybe one person would join in. We came in the Seaver entrance, a place of privilege for the more expensive seats, but I would rather have given up the orange and blue carpet experience for the shoulder to shoulder experiences of many other ball parks, including Chicago, Boston, St Louis, Philadlephia, and at times, the old Shea. I think a boycott of the Wilpons are in order, because the ardor has been taken out of being a Mets fan, there is no amazement, only AAAnemia for their having fielded a triple AAA ball club. Since the Mets left Shea it’s been all down hill, ownership has taken the soul out of this franchise. And it goes beyond the cheapness, its the creation of a stadium for the upper classes with too few seats (42,000) in the largest baseball metropolis in the world, out of greed, out of total disdain for the middle class Mets fan, let alone the working class fan. I am not going back for a long long time, and would like to start a boycott if others will join me. James

    • Joe Janish April 29, 2013 at 10:35 am
      What James said !
    • Izzy April 29, 2013 at 12:13 pm
      Looking at all the seats missing human beings in them, I would say that Met fans have started the boycott way before you did James.
      • James April 29, 2013 at 1:18 pm
        Izzy touche. I guess I am suggesting making the boycott explicit, complete the burning of game tickets and the Wilpons in effigy at the Met apple outside of Citifield and not watching games on TV (the core of the team’s revenue). I would allow games on radio because that reinforces the lost magic of baseball, and the fans that are true fans need some outlet for their fandom. Any takers? We can schedule our first protest in May 🙂
        • Izzy April 29, 2013 at 4:22 pm
          Sounds enticing James. However, I live over 200hundred miles from Queens and to go there and get arrested for starting fires in public and still helping the Wlpon’s by buying tix to burn is a loser. I think the emptiness of the morgue that Freddy built says it all.
  5. DaveSchneck April 29, 2013 at 9:07 am
    Good point on Cowgill’s positioning. A good CF would have had a chance on Howard’s fly. I can feel Collin’s pain, as he is trying to keep his job with a team that is basically a train wreck, but he has had a lousy managerial start to this season.

    Mr. Wilpon, Mr. Alderson, this is already ugly, and April was a favorable schedule. I hope you treat those fans disguised as empty seats very well this summer.