Mets Game 94: Win Over Phillies

Mets 5 Phillies 0

A strange occurrence in Flushing on this lazy Sunday afternoon — the Mets won at home, with Matt Harvey on the mound.

Mets Game Notes

Matt Harvey dominated the Phillies. Not much else to say — he did what he’s been doing pretty much all season. The only thing that made this different from other starts was that the Mets gave him offensive support at home.

Meanwhile, Cliff Lee struggled mightily. If in fact that WAS Cliff Lee and not someone who looks a lot like him. Lee allowed 5 runs and 3 home runs, which seems to be a common theme for him lately. He even walked a batter. Bad timing for a slump if the Phillies are looking to trade him at the deadline.

Harvey and the Mets received all the runs they needed when David Wright hit a solo shot in the initial inning. Marlon Byrd followed with another, making it the first time all year the Mets went back-to-back with homers.

Byrd is having a career year at the age of 35, about to turn 36. Is there really no one even a little suspicious? Really? Even if he hadn’t been suspended last year for PEDs use, and even if he hadn’t “trained” under the watchful eye of former BALCO owner Victor Conte? Hey, maybe his PEDs use was actually suppressing his talent. Hmmm …

Juan Lagares is officially red-hot — he’s now 7 for his last 10 — and continues to play a stellar center field. Is he the Mets’ answer in the middle of the outfield? Color me skeptical. He’s on fire, so it’s difficult to judge him objectively. As mentioned in the previous post, I see no separation between stride and swing, as well as diving into the plate and hitting off his front foot. Many MLB hitters have used this style, few, if any, have won a batting title. Not that I expect Lagares to bat .350 — the point is that it’s not a sustainable approach. His homer off of Lee came on a hanging curveball, with most of his weight forward on the front foot. I’m not being critical to be a jerk — merely pointing out that the method is flawed, and suggesting that eventually it will be a problem (as it was earlier this season). In other words, enjoy his hot streak while it lasts, but don’t point to it as evidence of being the Mets’ center fielder for years to come.

I found it mildly hilarious hearing the SNY crew suggest that Terry Collins could be concerned about sealing the victory after Delmon Young hit a one-out double in the top of the seventh. Harvey was still on the mound with a five-nothing lead. The funny part was that SNY was probably right. How bad is your team (and/or your bullpen management) when you’re worried about a victory, despite have a five-run lead, with seven outs left, and one of the top five pitchers in baseball chucking for you? But that’s the concern when you manage every single game like it’s the seventh game of the World Series, and often need five relievers to get three outs.

It will be interesting to watch what the Phillies do in terms of their roster over the next two weeks. It’s almost a certainty that the Wild Card will come out of the NL Central, so a postseason appearance would be possible only by winning the East. If the Phillies are going to make the kind of run necessary to overtake the Braves, they absolutely have to beat teams like the Mets. I don’t think they’ll sell — mainly because they seem earnest in staying the course, but also because they’d be selling low on most if not all of their potential chips. Cliff Lee is looking bad over his last few starts, Chase Utley is in a walk year, Jonathan Papelbon is no longer elite (and has an expensive contract), Jimmy Rollins is doing poorly in the first year of an expensive contract, Carlos Ruiz is struggling, and Roy Halladay is still disabled. They might be able to get something for Delmon Young or Michael Young, but I get the feeling they want to keep them both around.

Don’t look now, but this underperforming Phillies team is in second place. The Nationals are free falling. This is likely why Philadelphia feels they’re still “in it” — because technically, they are. Makes one wonder: with the NL East teams performing well under expectations, what if the Mets had spent a few dollars in the offseason, and were more earnest in efforts to fill holes? Might THEY be in second place right now?

Next Mets Game

On Monday night the Mets begin a series against the Braves in Flushing. Game one start time is 7:10 PM; the pitching matchup is Dillon Gee vs. Julio Teheran.

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. crozier July 21, 2013 at 8:45 pm
    I think if the Mets had one more impact player, they’d be in in a much better position now. But I base that on the overall mediocrity of most NL teams, not the Mets’ performance per se. Still, by the current standard, the Mets have played well for over a month, and you have to at least question if they have enough spirit to finish respectably.

    Joe, given your skepticism of this team and its lack of real, in-depth talent, but I’d love to see how your blogs would read for the ’69 season – talk about over-performing. Look at the roster, and find one great player in the everday lineup after Cleon Jones (and for that matter, find any reliable starting pitching once you get past Seaver and Koosman). I think you’d be scratching your head after every win from August onward. Just for fun, imagine the Mets playing .600 ball the rest of the way, despite how impossible it seems at the moment. Right, it probably won’t happen. But it could.

    This is why baseball is so much fun; anything can happen.

    • Joe Janish July 21, 2013 at 11:12 pm
      The 1969 team, from what I understand (I wasn’t born yet), had fairly decent pitching beyond Koosman and Seaver, and above-average defense except for the Swoboda/Shamsky platoon in LF.

      If the 2013 Mets had Jerry Grote behind the plate, Bud Harrelson and Al Weis/Ken Boswell manning the keystone, and Tommie Agee in CF, I wouldn’t be nearly as skeptical.

      The stat-minded Sandy Alderson front office discounts defense and fundamentals — possibly because neither can be accurately measured. But I’ve watched, played, and coached enough games to know that there really is something to the “strength up the middle” theory, and in particular, having a rock-solid backstop. John Buck is about average — Grote was elite. Harrelson would run circles around Q/Tejada, and Daniel Murphy is not a Major League second baseman.

      This 2013 team is flawed, and I disagree that it “could” play .600 ball the rest of the way — it’s not capable, no matter how random baseball may seem. That’s my opinion WITHOUT factoring in Harvey’s shutdown in September.

      • Dan42 July 22, 2013 at 5:18 am
        Gary Gentry and Tug McGraw came to mind as pitchers, as well as some guy named Nolan. Don Clendennon and Amos Otis are another names off the top of my head. Ron Swoboda (mostly RF) had a shotgun arm, and did make at least one game saving catch. Shamsky played mostly RF and 1B, and was Rube Walker slow. And some Guy named Hodges made a big difference as a manager that year. No comparison between that team and any since.

      • crozier July 22, 2013 at 9:10 am
        I don’t think they’ll play .600 the rest of the season, either, but I don’t think it’s impossible.

        The ’69 club was picked to finish last that year, pretty much by consensus. It’s true that they had great fielding up the middle, and that Grote was the best commander in the league; that’s significant. But they weren’t a 100-win club; they experienced the kind of unfathomable good fortune that graces teams from time-to-time (like the 2012 Orioles, for example). In 1970-72 the Mets came back to earth (in ’73 they were no better, but that was just weird).

        My “anything can happen” comment wasn’t suggesting baseball is random, but that conditions change on a daily basis, and the structure of the game can make for unlikely short- and long-term outcomes.

        Anyway, playing .600 ball the rest of the way would probably give them a second-place finish at best. I get the impression that you’d be kind of irritated if that happened.

        • Joe Janish July 22, 2013 at 10:12 am
          It’s not the Mets that irritates me, it’s MLB in general. The watered-down talent and lowered quality of play is disappointing.
        • DaveSchneck July 22, 2013 at 10:40 am
          I heard Gardenhire in an interview last week say that Friday after the all-star break was the first time his team took infield and OF practice since spring training ended. He said it isn’t done league-wide any longer due to access to field, travel schedule, etc. I think this is a big reason why teams don’t look as “tight” in the field as they used to…even the best in their craft have to practice regularly to maximize peformance.
      • Ray August 3, 2013 at 12:58 pm
        Swoboda/Shamsky platoon was in RF not LF (Cleon Jones).
  2. Jacobson July 21, 2013 at 10:39 pm
    Byrd did not suspended for PED use, he is suspended for the masking substance that he has a perfectly legitimate reason but did not receive proper approval. He actually never test positive for PED substances
    • Joe Janish July 21, 2013 at 11:02 pm
      Oh, right, my bad. Thanks so much for the correction.

      What I should’ve written was, “even if he hadn’t been suspended for testing positive for a banned substance that is used by men at the end of a steroid cycle for treating gynomastia,a condition caused by Schedule C substances — such as dianabol, deca-durabolin, and anadrol — that cause the body to produce abnormal amounts of estrogen.”

      Probably would’ve read a lot smoother that way.

      Thanks again!

  3. DavwSchneck July 21, 2013 at 11:01 pm
    I have been wondering what you stated in your final comment for quite some time. The most talented team in the division is Washington. With the struggling, the division is wide open. Yes, the Braves are up by plenty, but they are a team of whiffers and the bullpen injuries leave them vulnerable. Too bad Alderson didn’t take this season seriously (despite his words to he contrary). That, along with dropping 8 of 11 against the Marlins. This is also why there is no excuse for not fielding a playoff caliber team on opening day 2014. Each season is its own story and should never be abandoned before the games begin.

    Regarding Lagares, I agree that we should enjoy the good run but hold off on any conclusions. Same with EYjr. Lagares clearly needs work at the plate, improving on pitch recognition and discipline. That said, if he can OPS around .700, with his premium defense, he can be a good asset as a complimentary player. Despite being raw at the plate and on the bases, he just has the look of a good ballplayer in the making. I want to see him playing 5 of 7 from here on in. Ditto for EYjr.

  4. TexasGusCC July 21, 2013 at 11:34 pm
    • Quinn July 22, 2013 at 3:01 am
      seems as if given consistent PT JV can contribute
      • Dan42 July 22, 2013 at 8:34 am
        I wouldn’t get too excited about PCL numbers, most parks are launching pads, and a recent example of how decent performance translates would be Ike Davis.
        • Quinn July 22, 2013 at 8:42 am
          I was being mildly sarcastic, but Ike hit sub .300 there and JV is hitting .464. .464 is .464 its not like everyones average is that high. Obviously he is not a piece going forward but if some team wants to take a gamble on him those numbers sure look good.
        • crozier July 22, 2013 at 9:19 am
          Yeah, I don’t get too excited about a 9-for-19 run anywhere. But if JV succeeds elsewhere and grows up along the way, it’s a Mets leadership failure. The management and its coaches are responsible for making better players, inclusive of player attitudes. Not that this always works: Jeff Kent, Kevin Mitchell, and Gregg Jeffries became positive contributors elsewhere, and to my knowledge none of them evolved into what you’d call David Wright types.
        • Joe Janish July 22, 2013 at 10:20 am
          On the flip side, it could be argued that some players need a few years to “grow up” and/or require getting traded/released to wake them up into realizing an attitude adjustment is necessary.

          But in the case of Valdespin, I feel strongly that the Mets organization has failed him miserably. Rewarding negative behavior can only promote more negative behavior.

        • Gregg Jefferies July 22, 2013 at 1:32 pm
          Why can’t anyone ever spell my name correctly?

          Not like it’s Nieuwenhuis or somethin’. Sheesh!

    • Joe Janish July 22, 2013 at 10:14 am
      Put David Wright’s name in the middle of that lineup and it looks like it could be a Mets boxscore.
    • Dan B July 23, 2013 at 9:47 am
      Another interesting find in that box score was Mike Jacobs playing for the Reno Aces and hitting the cover off the ball.
  5. Quinn July 22, 2013 at 2:58 am
    Of course Byrd is on something thats why they should trade him now before he gets suspended and he cant play or be traded. I know he is our “clean up” hitter but i seriously doubt he can duplicate this performance next year.
    Regarding EY and Lagares, how long is their probationary period? While yes both are on a hot streak its not like there going to hit like Ike when they cool off?
    As for Lagares’s swing, at least he is hitting, isnt a simple mechanichal fix something our hitting coach is spossed to correct. Not to be to optimistic but he doesnt seem to have the ego Ike does so maybe he will listen to some advice and be able to hold his own at the plate. After all he was hitting well in LV before he got called up.
    • Joe Janish July 22, 2013 at 11:31 am
      That will be the question, won’t it, for Byrd? If he does keep up his pace and finishes with 20-25 HR, is it worth it for the Mets to re-sign him? And at what cost? And how likely is it that he’ll go back to being Marlon Byrd in 2014 — as Scott Hairston regressed this year?

      Probationary period – that’s a good one. My skepticism for EYJr and Lagares is based on what I see in their method, combined with what they’ve done in the past. Playing semi-regularly, EYJr had his best year ever last year in Colorado as a 27-year-old, so maybe he’s “figured it out” or maybe he’s best suited in a role in which he’s not exposed (i.e. platoon) — hopefully we’ll find out between now and the end of the year.

      As for Lagares, he has a career .322 OBP in the minors with 441 Ks to 133 BBs — suggesting that he doesn’t have a good idea of the strike zone and/or not well-disciplined. That MIGHT be OK if he was a power hitter, but hitting 31 homeruns in nearly 2600 minor-league plate appearances over 625 games suggests he’s not. His flaw is generally not something that is easily corrected — it’s likely the way he’s hit all his life.

      I’m not saying that either player could be for real — I’m just pointing out that their current runs are not necessarily reliable enough to predict future performance.

  6. Jason M. July 23, 2013 at 9:45 am
    That stat about the Mets not getting back-to-back HRs until Game 94 is pretty pathetic and doesn’t bode well for this aim to go .600 over the rest of the season. Even the shameful ’82 Mets probably had back-to-back HRs earlier in the year than that…