Mets Game 59: Loss to Cardinals

Cardinals 9 Mets 2

If nothing else, the Mets looked really nice in their uniforms.

Mets Game Notes

The game showed early promise for the Mets, as they jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the initial inning. However, that was not only the beginning but the end of the scoring for the home team.

That first inning was really the best opportunity for the Mets to win the game. They had rookie Michael Wacha on the ropes, with a golden opportunity to step on his neck, but instead, they did what bad teams do: they beat themselves senseless. With the bases loaded, one out, and Wacha struggling to find the plate, experienced, savvy veteran Marlon Byrd swung at two balls out of the strike zone, the second of which was lifted to center field for a sacrifice fly. OK, he got a run home, but with Wacha having all kinds of trouble throwing strikes, it could’ve — and should’ve — been a bigger inning had Byrd taken a strike. Normally, I like to see aggressiveness with runners in scoring position, but you have to consider the circumstances. And in that circumstance, the pitcher was looking like he was playing pin the tail on the donkey. Byrd gifted Wacha by swinging at two balls above his sternum.

Speaking of Byrd, I find it funny that the SNY crew gushes about what a “great job” Byrd has been doing this year. The man is hitting .243 with an OBP that’s barely above .300. I suppose that gives you an idea of how low this Mets team has sunk.

Did Jeremy Hefner deserve better? Probably. But, when you pitch for a team that doesn’t score runs and doesn’t play defense, you have very little margin for error and can only earn wins through perfection. Hefner has evolved into someone who might be a decent fifth starter for a team on the cusp of reaching the offseason. Unfortunately, that’s probably not enough to be valuable trade bait, and isn’t terribly helpful toward getting the Mets to the next level.

With Daniel Murphy and Kirk Nieuwenhuis out of position, and Jordany Valdespin and Justin Turner playing a position they hadn’t played all year, was it any surprise that defensive miscues contributed heavily to the loss? Perhaps it was a surprise to the stat freaks in the Mets front office, who seem to under-value defense. Loading up on guys with high OBPs and homerun power worked OK in the PEDs era, but in today’s game — which, more and more is resembling MLB in the 1970s and 1980s — the immeasurable details are more significant.

It was bad defense all around for the Mets, and the error count didn’t necessarily document their struggles.

In the bottom of the ninth, Keith Hernandez relayed a story from his playing days; he said Whitey Herzog would tell players to “go up and get your swings” in the final frame of a blowout. Keith approved of the edict, saying he “liked it.” Well, I don’t. First, I don’t believe in giving up, at any time, with any score. But perhaps more importantly, in this day and age, where relief pitchers are often vital to the final score and used daily, I think it makes good sense to take a strike in the ninth not only because you’re looking for a walk, but also because you are wearing down a pitcher who might pitch the very next day. Why let a pitcher off just because you’re losing by seven? Why not force him to struggle and pitch, with an eye toward taking him out of the next days’ game or causing him to be perhaps slightly less effective in the event he pitches again?

Speaking of not giving up, my Akadema Axemen won a 12U tournament playing with mostly 11-year-olds (and a few 10s). What was inspiring was that they were losing by 14 runs going into the fourth inning of a six-inning game in the final / championship game. But those tenacious little bulldogs came back to win the game and the tournament. Naturally, I missed the most exciting game of the year due to traveling for work, and now I’m wondering if I should stay away for good luck.

Next Mets Game

Game two begins at 7:10 p.m. on Wednesday night. Dillon Gee faces Shelby Miller.

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. Shea June 12, 2013 at 2:19 am
    Hey Joe, I just wanted to let you know that I love your blog. I’m also on the go with school and work constantly, and I love that for the past 2 years I’ve known that your blog is there to fill me in. Although the beloved Mets aren’t killing it, you still are.

    – Shea (Yes, born into being a Mets fan) Wert

    • Joe Janish June 12, 2013 at 10:44 am
      Shea, thanks so much for visiting and the kind words. There are days that I consider quitting (nearly every day since early 2008, in fact), but continue on because connecting with people such as yourself is worth the effort.

      Looking forward to bantering with you going forward.

  2. Izzy June 12, 2013 at 6:29 am
    Re Byrd: Alderson raved about him as well on Francesa interview. Said it was unfair to have kids play instead of him because he’s doing so well. So much for the phony plan. Hey, in 2020, will they still blame Omar?
    • Sidd Finch June 12, 2013 at 3:17 pm
      How would things be different if Omar wasn’t fired following the 2010 season? What do you think he would’ve done to keep this team from sinking as low as it has?

      (BTW, this has nothing to do with Alderson, so please refrain from trying to frame my questions around me being another some kind of SA fanboy…because that’s not the case.)

      I want your honest opinion about how he could’ve kept an already sinking ship from running aground.

    • argonbunnies June 12, 2013 at 11:53 pm
      Agreed, Izzy. If Terry’s telling the team that performance earns playing team, he can hardly sit Byrd.

      It really is up to the GM to either pass down a mandate that 2013 is about development over wins, or to trade Byrd so that the only players who can earn playing time are kids.

  3. NormE June 12, 2013 at 6:40 am
    Hey Joe, welcome back!

    Don’t look now, but the middle of the Marlins batting order features Ozuna, Stanton and Morrison. On paper it’s far better than anything the Mets can put up.

    • Joe Janish June 12, 2013 at 10:44 am
      Thanks Norm!

      I think you have inspired a future post …

    • Sidd Finch June 13, 2013 at 11:51 am
      The Marlins have more young major league talent than the Mets but it’s more than probable that two of those three players won’t be there in 18 mos. Regardless, the Marlins are have plenty on the farm to replace Morrison and Stanton. If Loria doesn’t screw it up, they’ll be the best team in NL East in 2-3 years.
  4. Ms Met June 12, 2013 at 8:15 am
    Totally agree with NormE that the marlins now have a better middle if the order. The team, Alderson, ownership are just one giant embarrassment. The francesa interview was a sham on both sides. No matter how bad they will not spend a dime.
  5. Steve June 12, 2013 at 8:59 am
    I keep hearing the BAD NEWS BEARS music playing in my head when I watch this team play ball. IKE will be back sooner than later so that the moronic owners and GM can justify NOT trading him when he had value and other teams wanted him!

    Tejada is just another in a LONG line of Met busts that were force fed on the fans and over hyped to the media and baseball world. This trainwreck of a franchise is already regretting not keeping Reyes OR trading him for a bunch of players with some value.

    Tejada felt entitlement, which is the WORST thing a young player can do. He earned NOTHING; he fell into the starting spot because Reyes bolted and the Mets had NOTHING else at the SS position anywhere in the minors.

    This is the WORST franchise in MLB……records don’t mean bubkus at this point. Even the Marlins & Astros have SOME young talent…….

  6. TexasGusCC June 12, 2013 at 8:59 am
    Is it me, or do Murphy and Wright (especially Wright) look bummed out, just going through the motions?
    • Joe Janish June 12, 2013 at 10:48 am
      Definitely see that with Wright. At first it looked like frustration, but now he’s on the verge of mailing it in.

      The All-Star festivities should put him a good mood, temporarily at least.

  7. Dan B June 12, 2013 at 9:47 am
    The most interesting development was Murphy going to first. Since there is no way Murphy’s future is at first does this mean he also has no future at second? If he did he’d still would be at second. And does this mean Duda’s future is in left field? The saddest revelation about this year is that the Mets are even further away from fielding a competitive team then we thought. How many players worthy of starting on a playoff team are on the 40 man roster? And of the players worthy, how many have not been to the majors and we are guessing about? When you compare the Mets this way to other teams it really gets depressing.
    • Joe Janish June 12, 2013 at 10:51 am
      Dan, I’ve been batting the same thoughts through my head. If Daniel Murphy is your second baseman, why are you putting him at 1B — especially when your next-best option at 1B is Duda? Is this all about seeing what Valdespin can do at 2B? And if so, then, as you suggest, have the Mets decided Murphy is not their 2B? Or is this some kind of desperate showcase for ‘spin, with the hopes that another team finds him interesting?
  8. Joe June 12, 2013 at 11:05 am
    Since “perfection” is not even possible against the Mets much of the time, and Harvey (who would have got a no decision here probably) only has it sometimes, Hefner clearly had no chance.

    If he managed to still be a decent fifth starter on this team, he should go up a notch at least on a better team. This might be useful trade bait along with something else or he can ride the season and they can trade Marcum or Gee. It’s easy to root for the guy.

    Shifting Murphy to 1st — Murphy along with Wright basically the only every day player consistently showing anything — pisses me off. He has adapted better than most expected at 2nd and now he has to go to 1B and you knew he was going to flub something.

    The Mets being the Mets, it ultimately led to 5 unearned. This along with Edgin walking in a run the first time he came in is if nothing else predictable.

  9. Walnutz15 June 12, 2013 at 2:13 pm
    RE: Murph to 1B

    Typical scenario around here, but this is what happens when too many mentally-weak ballplayers rise through your ranks.

    No matter how many official scorers at Citi look the other way to defend Daniel Murphy (and believe me, they always have) — he’s bordering on butchery.

    I can already hear the whining about reality, but give Murph his due:

    – He’s a professional (streaky) hitter, who works hard and has played the good soldier role.

    ……and that’s about the extent of it for me.

    The only part of the equation where I’d genuinely “feel sorry” for him is that he can’t seem to find a long-term comfortable place in terms of defensive position with this organizaton.

    Otherwise, he should be happy to have had so many opportunities to start at the Major League-level.

    In another organization, maybe he would have had the opportunity to play 3B over the long haul…..but really, I don’t think it’s been all that rough on him as a member of the Mets.

    Yes, he should have been playing 2B earlier on than they chose to explore it, and yes – he’s been asked to play a handful of positions – but at the same time, he’s gotten legitimate chances at starting all-throughout.

    Pretty good for a guy who’s essentially a one-trick pony, and an inconsistent one at that.

    Good guy, works hard, hustles — but isn’t the kind of guy I’m looking to keep here for his entire career. I’m actually amazed he’s been here for parts of 6 seasons already.

    If they could get something significant with him headlining the package – then I’m all over it.

    Yes, he’s been “serviceable” at 2B. Don’t kid yourself into thinking that Met official scorers haven’t kept that as much in tow as they’ve realistically been able to, through the years.

    That includes the periods of 2009 and 2010, where everyone was convinced he was such a “good defensive 1B”, also — he had plenty of miscues there, that incredibly just never got recorded on the scorecard as well.

    Not too many weeks go by where he won’t cost you in the field, or on the base-path. In fact, he just cost them the other night — and again, last night. A ground ball’s a ground ball, and I think he’d be the first to admit that himself.

    Don’t even get me started on his baserunning, like over the weekend in the 20 inning debacle – where he got pegged in the 9th, representing the winning run on 3rd base with one out.

    His 1st instinct was to take a break for home, before going back to tag — and unshocking to anyone who truly knows him as a player…he was banged out on a collision where he should have slid.

    That’s a lot of forgiveness for a guy who sometimes hits — and as a result, looks like an “All-Star” (eyeroll) compared to the rest of the sadsack bunch hitting within the same lineup.

    If the plan is to keep Murphy, then yes — it’s a pretty dumb move to toy with him starting everyday at 2B.

    But, to me – it’s pretty clear Alderson’s looking to move Murphy in a package… he was said to have been close on w/Upton — apparently he was willing to include him and Tejada, along with whatever else it would have taken.

    And I don’t blame him one bit. You get offered something nice with him “headlining”, you act upon it – IMHO.

    • TexasGusCC June 12, 2013 at 10:44 pm
      Walnutz, I can follow most of your thought, but there is one point that I must ask you to elaborate: Murphy’s defense has improved to where he is much more confident and his range is at least average. I can recall the double play he made against the Yankees when the runner was already running (that took guts), and the fact that he covers a wider range even if it doesn’t look fluid.

      Valdespin’s ceiling may be like a Bonafacio-type player; a little here, a little there, 400 Abs in the season. I can’t see more than that for him right now until he proves otherwise. But, we will not know until he plays.

      • Walnutz15 June 13, 2013 at 11:10 am
        I fully give Murph the credit he deserves, in having worked very hard to play 2B to a level of “passability”. In fact, I’d even give gim the nod over certain guys I’ve seen play there in the past.

        However, I’d be remiss not to mention that he’s often playing short RF — so, really, it doesn’t take much to charge in on a ball all the time and make the play. It’s the same tactic that Duda tries to employ in LF… minimize damage on balls they really have to move for.

        Murph’s work around the bag may have worked out this year, but I’m also of the train of thought that sees him a split second from getting himself killed — like he’s already done twice already, with limited exposure to the position.

        Not that he couldn’t play there, and better with extended time — but I just don’t see Murphy as an untouchable player, which many within the Met fanbase have…..for years.

        I’d move him if the package included something I liked. Just don’t see the same intrigue as everyone else, that’s mainly due to having such horrible lineups to begin with.

    • argonbunnies June 12, 2013 at 11:51 pm
      I completely agree with your evaluation of Murph, Walnutz. I still like the move to 1B, though, as it’s an attempt to build organizational value. Murphy has proven he can play 2B; if Valdespin can do likewise, that gives the Mets 2 trade candidates at a fairly weak position.
      • Walnutz15 June 13, 2013 at 11:15 am
        No doubt, Bunnies.

        What kills me with Valdespin is, you could have ALREADY seen what he brings to the table – by letting him get a solid week or two of playing time.

        There’s been ample time to see what he could do, at multple positions now.

        He produces? Then it’s a little easier to “justify” his presence on the roster….amidst all of the crying everyone does about him in the locker room.

        He falls flat on his face over a 2-week span of AB’s — meaning, actual reps and not ice-cold PH appearances?

        Then you take care of it, however you deem fit……send him to Triple-A, Guam, what have you. And you wouldn’t have an inkling of guilt about it, since you at least took a look!

        Right now, he’s holding his own (believe me: we’ll talk again when he makes a crazy base-running blunder – or does something to warrant WWIII, don’t worry )…..but until he absolutely proves he’s incapable of it, you’ve gotta at least give gim some burn (in my opinion).

        Does nothing for no one if you don’t.

  10. Sidd Finch June 12, 2013 at 3:05 pm
    No matter what era you’re in having a team full of high OBP guys is a key to a team’s success. This is especially true for a “small ball” team thrives on guys with high OBP because they are not going to get a lot of one swing runs via the HR. You must put a some kind of value on OBP yourself, since you used it to demonstrate how Byrd’s is “barely above .300” to support your position that he’s not having a great season. Which he’s not, but there’s a couple of obvious reason why they are trying to create that perception.
    • Joe Janish June 12, 2013 at 4:56 pm
      OBP is PART of a team’s success, not the most significant factor. This regime values OBP and home runs over all other aspects of the game, and that’s a steroid-era strategy that no longer works.

      Yes, I value OBP and HRs, but in today’s game a player also has to play defense, run the bases with intelligence, and be fundamentally sound in order to provide value. It used to be that walks and homers would make up for other deficiencies, but they don’t occur often enough any more to do so.

      • argonbunnies June 12, 2013 at 11:48 pm
        Yeah. You can get over Duda’s D pretty quick if he’s a 120-walk, 35-HR guy. A mere 70 & 25, and all of a sudden all those balls not reached in LF are a high price to pay.

        Of course, Duda was on a 120-35 pace for the first 18 games of the year, when he was taking everything except the exact pitch he wanted. Then the fans and the media and the team started complaining about him taking those 3-1 fastballs down the middle in RBI spots, and he got aggressive and has basically been awful since.

        I think it’s time to admit that Duda simply doesn’t have the talent to hit the way we might like him to, and let him do what works for him.

        Or he could stop bending over on his swing and go back to his 2011 mechanics…

  11. Jon C June 12, 2013 at 5:06 pm
    I hate jerking murph around to 1st, this is a terrible coaching decision. Not putting this player in the best chance for him to succeed. Lots of mets fans like to hate on him, but I’d take him on my team. Do I think hes an all-star? no. Does he have his flaws? yes. Do I think he can contribute on a playoff team? yes. Put him in another MLB lineup and I wonder how many hits he would get.

    What bothers me even more is calling up satin and not letting him play. The guys hot at the plate right now. You call him up and and let him sit on the bench for a week then give him one start, I wonder how he will perform? Do I think this guy is the savior? no, but if your calling him up to the club then give him a shot, and let him prove himself or fail. Again, not putting the player in the best chance for him to succeed. They did this to Brown earlier in the year as well.

  12. murph June 13, 2013 at 1:38 am
    If Ike Davis’ time in Las Vegas is considered to be temporary, then somebody is going to get a temporary try out.
    Should it be:
    – Valdespin at 2B (moving Murphy to first)
    – Lagares in LF (moving Duda to first)
    – Satin at 1B

    The Mets decided it will be Valdespin. Fine.

    With Wilmer Flores slated as a future second basemen, the Mets will probably trade either Valdespin or Murphy. Playing both of them now makes sense to showcase them both.

  13. Walnutz15 June 13, 2013 at 10:49 am
    “With Daniel Murphy and Kirk Nieuwenhuis out of position, and Jordany Valdespin and Justin Turner playing a position they hadn’t played all year”

    ^ Only other “nit-picker” I can provide here is:

    Valdespin did actually play an inning or two at 2B, prior to these starts. I only remember because the 1st time occurred — curiously — in the bottom of the 10th inning, during a game the Mets had just come back on the Braves in.

    This was the game on May 3rd, where I actually witnessed Collins make a smart managerial move….one of the few he’s ever made at the helm.

    Right after doing so, he chose to insert Valdespin into the game for his 1st inning of work at 2B — in the 10th inning of a comeback victory.

    Luckily, it didn’t cost him.