Mets Game 33: Loss to Pirates

Pirates 11 Mets 2

Not a great day for Jonathon Niese nor the Mets.

Mets Game Notes

For the second straight start, Niese was awful and unable to complete five innings. It was the fourth time in eight starts that Niese pitched five innings or less, and the third time he completed less than five. Reportedly, he’s suffering from back stiffness of some sort; could that be part of his problem? Absolutely. Can pitching through a back problem potentially damage other parts of his body, such as his arm? Absolutely. Should the Mets pull him from his next start if he continues to have back issues? Ideally, yes, but the problem is, who will take his spot? Collin McHugh?

As has been the case all year, Niese’s arm angle was lower than it should be, he threw from various arm angles, did not repeat his mechanics, and often telegraphed his pitches. For example, on the curveball he slows down his motion just a hair and tilts his shoulders slightly back toward second base. His fastball is completely flat — moving on one plane. His cutter wasn’t terribly effective. I didn’t notice the change-up. The curve, as mentioned, was telegraphed and it was hanging.

Though Mets pitching allowed a dozen runs, it didn’t much matter, since the offense managed to plate just a pair. They had 7 hits and 2 walks and struck out 16 times. SIXTEEN TIMES! For those who missed the game, Nolan Ryan did not come out of retirement to pitch in this ballgame. The Mets hitters K’d 16 times against the likes of Tony Watson, Justin Wilson, Bryan Morris, and Francico Liriano, who was making his first start of the season. And no, I’ve never heard of Watson, Wilson, or Morris, either.

Robert Carson — er, I mean, “Rob” Carson — seems like a nice guy, fun guy, and great teammate. Thus far, though, he’s not shown to be a very good pitcher. He gave up a run in his two-inning appearance, which seems to be his modus operandi — he’s allowed at least one run in four of his six appearances. My guess is he’s on the way down to the minors very soon.

Daniel Murphy had another oh-fer and is now down to .258. He’s pulling off the ball on every swing — just watch his head move up and turn down the first base line (and watch his front shoulder and hips follow, opening up too soon). When he does make contact, it’s the Rod Carew-style wave; it kind of resembles a tennis player trying to drop the ball just over the net. Further, Murphy’s body language is awful, and the look on his face screams confusion and lack of confidence. He expresses complete cluelessness and negativity.

Speaking of slumps, remember when John Buck resembled Babe Ruth? He’s now down to .228 with a .262 OBP. He does have ten homers, though.

In a pinch-hitting appearance, Jordany Valdespin was drilled in the right arm. Purposely? I’m thinking yeah. My guess is the Pirates didn’t take kindly to ‘spin’s showboating in Friday night’s contest. And you know what? I don’t necessarily blame them. I do like to see ballplayers express themselves, I love to see them showing they love the game, and I don’t see anything wrong with showing emotion while playing. But ‘spin’s actions sometimes go over the line, toward hot-dogging — some of his antics remind me of Tito Fuentes and Willie Montanez. Fuentes and Montanez added color to the game, and it was refreshing, but both established themselves as everyday, solid ballplayers who were maybe a tick below All-Star status in their primes, and hung around the big leagues for 13-14 years. What, exactly has Valdespin done in his brief MLB career to earn the right to watch homeruns like Reggie Jackson? I think that’s what gets under the skin of opponents (and teammates) — the fact that ‘spin has yet to really do anything substantial as a big leaguer. Sure, he has a handful of dramatic late-inning blasts, but otherwise, what’s he done? He’s a .240 hitter with an OBP under .300, and he has yet to crack the everyday lineup of team that is among the five or six worst in the league. Again, I enjoy expression and color in the game — and I think we need more of it. But, how about at least establishing yourself as an everyday ballplayer and performing well over a sustained period of time before waltzing around like you own the league?

Next Mets Game

It’s Matt Harvey Day and Mother’s Day as the Mets and Pirates play their final game of the series on Sunday afternoon at 1:10 p.m. The Bucs offer Jeanmar Gomez as the sacrificial lamb to god-beast Harvey.

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 May 12, 2013 at 12:05 am
    Good news! Finally, someone who matters agrees with you about Niese’s arm angle. The money quotes from Niese:

    “I think it’s to the point now where I created a bad habit with dropping down my arm angle, and I’m kind of opening everything up. It’s something I’m going to work on in the bullpen to get it back . . . Hopefully I can get it back, and hopefully I can get back on track. Everything is flat right now. There’s not much depth on the pitches.”

    It seems that Murphy is one of the many Mets who are slow to fix their mechanics when things break down. Do all teams struggle with this, or is it just the Mets? I used to think it was noteworthy when it took Carlos Delgado 2 months to correct a problem with not getting his front foot down in time, but now that sort of lingering malfunction is becoming almost expected.

    • Joe Janish May 12, 2013 at 12:20 am
      Bunnies, thanks for sharing that, as I hadn’t seen it.

      Huh … I vaguely remember stating that it was a bad habit TWO YEARS AGO.

      But what the heck do I know?

      I’m not sure about whether it’s the Mets or just a general baseball problem to tweak mechanics. In terms of pitching, it’s a bit easier to make small fixes because the pitcher is more in control of his actions and has time to think, whereas a hitter has to react very quickly and therefore is relying on motor skill memory.

      My guess is Murphy works himself into slumps by over-thinking and practicing too much.

      • Andrew May 12, 2013 at 3:28 pm
        At what point does Hudgens’ job become an issue? The offense dropped off a cliff in the second half last year. The anomaly appears to be the hot start to the year; what we’re seeing now can be considered the norm for this team.

        Maybe he’s just doing the front office’s bidding in preaching working the count; but what is sure is he is not of much help getting these hitters mentally and physically trained to hit.

        Also, the front office itself really has just done a poor job with this club. Let’s recall that Omar Minaya drafted Harvey; not one of Sandy’s moves have really panned out yet at a major league level.

  2. gary s May 12, 2013 at 12:58 am
    If Harvey finally has a so so game tomorrow, is there any reason to continue the season???I refuse to watch a game when Harvey is not pitching.Btw, i think Banner Day is as necessary as hitting a player with a pie after a walkoff game winning hit.The Mets appear to be lost in some kind of parallel universe these days.Sad to watch..
  3. Happy59 May 12, 2013 at 5:02 am
    Terry still has a job? His usual third year team managing collapse comes early. Remember Houston and Angels…. Terry means well but his intensity overwhelms his players. I had fun following the Mets ’60s/’70s mediocrity, however, today it is unacceptable and definately not humorous. Owners, if you don’t want to buy a power hitter at least buy out the rest of Terry’s contract, your not paying him that much for the rest of the season anyway.
  4. Izzy May 12, 2013 at 6:52 am
    Concerning Niese; If back is hurting he should miss start regarless of who would replace him. Its not his fault nor Collins’ fault that the GM assumed a perfectly healthy rotation. There are tons of mediocre arms to sign to have in Norfolk, whoops, New Orleans, whoops Buffalo, whoops Vegas to bring up for a couple outings and then DFA. Everyone oes it now except the cheap skate teams…AKA Mets, Marlins, Astros.
    Re Valdespin getting plunked. Done the right way.Everyone knew it was coming. No head hunting, no useless warning from the ump. Did you see West and Fort MecKenry laughing afterwards?
    Re: Happy and Collins. I don’t like Collins but does anyone think the team wins anything if he is dumped? How about the GM who produced this inept team. The manager is losing it no doubt, but he’s trying to find a wee bit o gold in the pile of cow manure given to him by Alderson…
    Regarding slumps; Maybe oif there was a hitting coach who concentrated on each guys strenghts and weaknesses vice making them all zombies who looked for a pitch in the tiniest of boxes, the slumps would be shorter and less frequent. But hey, they gotta get the starter out of the game soi the bullpen can all look like Mariano an inning sooner right?
    • Joe Janish May 12, 2013 at 9:28 pm
      I don’t think it matters whether or not another manager will help the team win. This team began the season with attendance problems, and it’s getting worse as the team continues to lose. The Mets might need to make a managerial change for no other reason than to make a change, thus offering the perception that they’re trying to do something different (i.e., do something other than continue losing).

      Winning and losing is irrelevant at this point; the Mets’ main goal is revenue, and they need to do whatever they can to maintain interest in the club. If they don’t bring up Wheeler soon, they may have to fire Collins.

  5. Tommy2cat May 12, 2013 at 7:25 am
    Tito Fuentes’ bat flip was cool… he’d bounce the handle on home plate and flip it back into his hands while getting set in the batter’s box. Yeah, I perfected that one… 😀

    Willie Montanez’ gave the “snatch-catch” it’s original moxie, and would retrieve the ball from behind his back. Wristbands galore! Good ball players.

    Poor Valdespin – he’s a really nice guy with a boat load of talent that happens to be on a team that has otherwise purged Omar’s Latino imprint.

    Yes, he did hit a homerun worth admiring, but so did Andrew Brown. Their reactions were different. I watched replays of both home runs and I think the Bucs got pissed b/c Valdy peered into their dugout during his home run trot when rounding third. If he did that, then he’s fair game, sorry to say.

    Other fans/witnesses report that he was showing up Collins, which wouldn’t surprise me. That’s no basis for the opposition to retaliate, however.

    Look, if we’re going to suck, which appears to be the case, then we might as well start giving the young kids some experience – teach Andrew Brown (who has a world of talent) to lay off the high fastball & low & away slider, or encourage Juan Lagares to use the entire field.

    Brown and Lagares’ inclusion in the outfield has tightened up our defense. Both guys get excellent jumps, and Marlon Byrd provides steady defense in right field. Valdy should see more action at 2nd base and allow Murphy time to clear his head.

    Anthony Recker is playing like he wants to play. Buck needs some time off as he’s descending faster than an anvil in free fall.

    Strange, but Ike appears more comfortable at the plate recently. Murphy does look lost and needs a break. Duda is looking more and more like a platoon player.

    I suspect that we’re going to get really ugly before we get pretty.

  6. argonbunnies May 12, 2013 at 7:33 am
    Lagares’ defense is nice. It’s a shame to be wasting his development time in a league where he’s clearly overmatched. His pitch recognition is not close to MLB-ready; he swings at (or takes) every pitch as if it’s a fastball. Also looks like a high-ball hitter; I wonder if that plays better in the minors, where pitchers aren’t as adept at keeping the ball down?
    • Joe Janish May 12, 2013 at 11:55 am
      Well, when Carlos Gomez was a Met rookie, he swung at every pitch like it was a fastball, and look where he is now. Though, Gomez was only 21 at the time and Lagares is 24.

      It would make sense that Lagares would see more high-ball strikes than low-ball strikes in the minors. Good point.

      From my perspective, Lagares’ swing-at-all approach is pretty much what Collin Cowgill was doing, but with swings that are perhaps slightly more controlled.

  7. Happy59 May 12, 2013 at 12:36 pm
    Replacing Collins now with a manager adept at dealing with young players. Allowing them to develope without feeling that the uptight Collins isn’t going to glare at them after each ‘mistake’……. I repeat he is simply way to intense to be managing, the players must see it, feel it and it effects them. The few older players will also appreciate the disappearance of Collins’ intensity. I get tense just seeing him on the TV screen during a ballgame the way he stares through everyone…….. how can players have fun under such intensity? I’m not saying Collins isn’t a nice man, just not MLB manager material,
    Players in Houston & Anaheim [where players rebelled]suffered as well.
  8. Dan B May 13, 2013 at 9:24 am
    shame on all of you for having the wrong attitude. The Mets are in a prolonged spring training. Wins and losses are meaningless when you are just letting guys play and experimenting with positions and mechanics. Spring training will continue until March of 2015. Sit back and enjoy the chaos.