Mets Game 124: Win Over Braves

Mets 5 Braves 3

Can the Mets make a run?

Mets Game Notes

Considering that both Zack Wheeler and Matt Harvey will be shut down shortly, I’m guessing no — the Mets can’t make a run for second place in the NL East (or any other goal you might be considering). In fact, I’m wondering who is going to be taking the ball come mid-September — anyone else perplexed?

Wheeler pitched very well through 6 2/3 innings against the East’s leaders, striking out 5 and allowing 3 runs on 6 hits and 3 walks. He relied primarily on his fastball, getting an even mix of ground balls and fly outs. A solid game from the young righthander, who’s now a surprising 6-2.

Travis d’Arnaud finally stroked his first MLB hit, a double off former Met Luis Ayala, who was serving up meatballs in his inning-plus stint. That’s not to take anything away from d’Arnaud — just a general observation.

Ike Davis had a RBI single and a towering solo homer. The homer came on a waist-high, hanging slider from the aforementioned Ayala, so don’t get too excited — it was a BP pitch. Yeah, yeah, I know — I’m a wet blanket. Sorry, I call ’em as I see ’em.

Marlon Byrd was also tremendous, as he’s been all year, and if you weren’t aware of his tremendousness, the SNY crew made sure to drive the point home — both during the game and afterward, during the post-game. Oh, and Terry Collins sang Byrd’s praises, too, calling him the the “big story” of the year. I guess that’s what happens when David Wright is gone for the year. Yes, Byrd has been producing far beyond everyone’s wildest dreams. But I can’t get excited about it due to his past and that nagging suspicion in the back of my head. Victor Conte, BALCO, 50-game suspension, “the best shape of his life,” “unbelievable stamina,” a career-high in homers with 40 games to go, muscles popping out of every inch of his body, and turning 36 in ten days? Is it really unfair of me to be suspicious? Is there something wrong with me to be unable to get on the bandwagon and applaud his comeback?

During the postgame on SNY, Bobby Valentine said, “it’s not only about the steroids — it’s about hard work as well.” Agreed. It’s NOT only about the steroids. But thanks to wonderful liars like Ryan Braun, Alex Rodriguez, et al, it’s hard not to believe there’s something fishy going on. I’m admittedly crotchety, old-school, and cynical, but I’ve also yet to meet a reformed liar. / off soap box

Next Mets Game

Mets and Braves do it again at 1:10 PM on Wednesday afternoon. Jonathon Niese faces Alex Wood.

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. Joe Bourgeois August 21, 2013 at 12:37 am
    You are crochety. But also probably right.

    I hope you noticed that Gary (or maybe Keith?) pointed out that the big issue is whether the Mets can afford Byrd’s now-higher-valued services next year.

    • Joe Janish August 21, 2013 at 3:09 pm
      I did note that, thanks for pointing it out.

      Well, they couldn’t afford Scott Hairston, and Byrd will be more expensive. But, they supposedly will be swimming in money once the Bay and Santana contracts end, so who knows?

  2. david August 21, 2013 at 1:20 am
    Whilst it is understandable to be suspicious, it is unfair to repeatedly cast innuendo on Marlon Byrd’s performance based upon the sins of others and even himself. Yes, he is 35 but he does not have that many miles on the clock and his suspension enabled him to focus on getting in shape. Heck, its as possible as the alternative. Ona final note, I find it silly to trot Zach out for the 7th inning. Send Torres out to start the inning. I’d rather see Zach get another start later in the year instead of seeing another pitcher on the DL because of overuse. Treat em like he’s made of glass, IMO.
    • Joe Janish August 21, 2013 at 3:18 pm
      Why is it unfair?

      Is it unfair of me to not believe the words of someone who has lied to me in the past? Is it unfair to distrust the three-card monty dealer on the street corner? Is it unfair to reject a dinner invitation to a restaurant that was recently shut down by the board of health?

      Maybe. But when someone trains with Victor Conte for several years, then later gets caught taking a drug for gynecomastia, and is suddenly having a career-year at an advanced age, it’s hard to be fair.

      Besides, it doesn’t matter whether or not I’m being fair — it means nothing to Byrd. He’s still being more-than-fairly compensated to play baseball, and my distrust is not going to affect his livelihood one iota.

  3. Micalpalyn August 21, 2013 at 2:19 am
    Nice comment David,
    Welcome. You will find that observation made here regularly. In fact per terry Collins tenure..it never seems to him that a pitcher has lost it, until his post game comments.
  4. azulnaranja August 21, 2013 at 8:59 am
    My feeling is that the odds are at least 50-50 that Byrd is using “something.” Everything that Joe says above is something that I have thought about. And I agree that the Mets’ broadcasters should cool it a little in their praise of Byrd.
  5. Walnutz15 August 21, 2013 at 9:11 am
    Lotta positives out of this game:

    – d’Arnaud picks up his 1st Big League hit (very well-struck…no cheapie)

    – Ike goes yard, even if it was a helicopter hanger….that’s a big late-inning insurance run

    – Byrd continues to produce, big-time (“who cares how it’s being done?”, always my motto in the world of professional sports); and

    – Wheeler continues to pitch about as well as I could have expected, best-case.

    Glad he’s developing a sense for what does/doesn’t work vs. an inter-division opponent. Hearing him make “no knock” postgame comments about how he’s comfortable against the Braves, and how they’re an easy game-plan — I’d just caution: don’t let up, kid.

    Could I go nuts about Collins’ bullpen management again?

    Yes, and no.

    Part of me wonders why you’re going to leave your guy in to load the bases w/over 100 pitches – after sending Warthen out to the mound after the 2nd guy reached.

    Janish double, fine – Terdoslavich walk? Warning Light should have been on to at least have your favorite LH, Rice – ready for Heyward (again, Collins provides little to no foresight).

    Wheeler was toast by the time he got into that deep AB w/Heyward. It’s mildly amusing for me to see him routinely pull guys like Dillon Gee when they’re cruising through a contest, and yet — he’ll “test” kids like Wheeler and Harvey to max out around 115-120 pitches when it’s obvious that they don’t have as much as he thinks they do that day.

    The other part of me asks what he’s seen from Torres, to make him think he was now going to retire Andrelton Simmons (a guy who’d smoked Torres over the wall, the last time he stepped into the box vs. him) — and is now 2 for 4 w/a double, HR, 4 RBI, and a walk [2.100 OPS] in a shorter than short sample……however,

    You do need to ask your bullpen to do their job, at some point.

    Just a shame that it was Torres, clearing the bases on a 3-1 meatball…..making it a 1-run ballgame, rather than Wheeler.

    Good to see Ike popping one out of the yard, for some breathing room….even if a late surge from him complicates things, heading into the off-season.

    For all the grief I give Murphy for his fielding, I will recognize that he was the one to retrieve Torres’ wild throw to 3B on that developing play – after Simmons’ 3-Run double. If not for him being in position to back-up that play — the game’s tied there.

    Quintanilla first, Torres 2nd — it’s like they were trying to let the Braves knot that one up. Good on Murph.

    • DaveSchneck August 21, 2013 at 11:36 am
      Nuts,
      Great point about bringing in Torres to face Simmons. I was at the game earlier when Simmons went deep on Torres, and that was a bad matchup. I know Wheeler’s pitch count was up, bring in someone else for that batter.

      Regarding Wheeler’s BBs, and in following him at Vegas, he has a clear pattern of delivering walks in his last inning, most likely as a sign of tiring. I would have had him out of there, but so long as his arm is fine, battling Heyward had its developmental benefits as well.

      Joe,
      Regarding Byrd, I agree that his PED conviction will always cast shadows on any future success, and he has no one to blame but himself. I also agree with the theory that PED use has benefits beyond the suspension dates. That said, he did do his time, and by all accounts has been a good citizen on the Mets. On the field, beyond his hitting, he carries himself like a professional, and plays a good brand of baseball, playing hard rarely making mental mistakes on defense. While gushing over him is a bit much, so long as he carries himself professionally, is a good leader, produces, and passes his “tests”, what else are we fans to do. I’m sure there are others like him that may have used, may still be using, pass tests, and are good performs and teammates. I am against cheating and I am for stronger testing, but also think that while we remain skeptical, like it or not we have to accept him and the others until the system busts them again.

      • crozier August 21, 2013 at 12:37 pm
        “Like it or not we have to accept him and the others until the system busts them again.”

        I don’t think Joe is accepting your premise. And though I wouldn’t think of speaking for Izzy, I sense an incendiary response would be forthcoming.

        It’s hard for me to take a hard line; we’re in the middle of something historical, and this stuff takes time to sort out. Medicine continually moves in the direction of rebuilding our bodies, and as science advances in this field, it’s going to be commonplace.

        Don’t get me wrong: I agree that what athletes are doing today is cheating, because it’s defined as such. But someday these practices will be “normal” outside of sports, and the notions of what is natural won’t be relevant anymore. If that makes you unhappy, well, I don’t like the DH rule myself, but I keep watching.

        • DaveSchneck August 21, 2013 at 1:16 pm
          Crozier,
          I should have written that sentence in a different manner, speaking for myself, as everyone is entitled to look upon the situation as he or she sees fit. My main point is that Byrd has only himself to blame, and going forward he may not be clean but he also may be clean. Until somehow proven otherwise, as a fan of MLB, unless I walk away, I just have to hope the game can develop a trustworthy system to root out the cheaters, and accept the guys on the field until evidence that shows they are or continue to cheat. While being a hard liner, I generally do think guys deserve one second chance.
        • Joe Janish August 21, 2013 at 3:04 pm
          I have a difficult time rationalizing the “second chance” idea with PEDs users, because in my mind, it’s rare to find a one-time PEDs user. Those who go on a steroid cycle or HGH program — complete with taking the masking drugs and drugs like tamoxifen that counteract the unnatural consequences of having more hormones than the human body is supposed to have — know exactly what they are doing, and aren’t doing it “once.” Oh, they might do “only one” cycle, but they’re taking substances repeatedly. So when Byrd was caught, to me it was a case of him FINALLY getting caught doing something that he’d been wrong to do, over and over. He had a second, third, fourth, and fiftieth chance to not do PEDs again, before he was caught with the ancillary anti-estrogen drug in his system.

          It’s kind of like someone cheating on tests throughout his high school career, but doesn’t get caught until the final exam. Or someone who robs fifteen houses before getting arrested. I guess those people should be offered the “second chance” to not get caught again, but it still doesn’t sit right with me.

          I might be more on board with celebrating Byrd’s success if I didn’t think he was blatantly lying about his tamoxifen use. (Yes, I recognize the possibility that he is telling the truth, but I’m doubtful.) I would much prefer that all of these players who are caught red-handed take the Jose Canseco approach and be completely forthright with what they did and why they did it. If Byrd said, “hey, I’ve been taking PEDs with Victor Conte since the BALCO days because I realize it was the only way I could stay in MLB,” then I might warm up to the idea of him being “the big story” of the 2013 Mets season. Instead, I can’t celebrate him for fear that at some point in mid-November, we’ll find out he tested positive for something and we’ll all feel duped.

          The old, “fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me,” philosophy.

          Or, as the people in Milwaukee call it, “getting Ryan Brauned.”

        • DaveSchneck August 21, 2013 at 3:37 pm
          Joe,
          I don’t disagree with anything you said, and personally don’t celebrate Byrd’s season despite it being beneficial to the team that I root for. But, there are the Byrds that have gotten caught, the list of the “dirty 100” from several years back, and then the countless players who have cheated with PEDs and not gotten caught. Yes, Byrd deserves skepticism, and perhaps more than someone who hasn’t been suspended, but to some extent every guy in the game deserves some degree of skepticm, since the testing still is far from comprehensive, and if I take that approach, why bother with the sport any longer?
        • Joe Janish August 21, 2013 at 4:19 pm
          Dave – I ask myself that question every day: “why bother with the sport any longer?” It’s one of the reasons I’ve become so crotchety over the past few years. Not the only reason, but one of them.

          I love baseball and will have it in my life as long as there are kids who want to play it. But being a fan of MLB gets harder every day.

        • crozier August 21, 2013 at 3:44 pm
          I admit I’m guilty of separating out the “good” guys from the “bad” when I judge overall performance. True, I don’t know if Byrd’s honest or not. Everything I’ve seen of him suggests a good guy with a great work ethic. He doesn’t come off selfish or egotistic, so perhaps in spite of my better judgement I admire what he’s done this year. If I’m wrong, well, it wouldn’t be the first time.

          I draw the line at the Braun comparison, though. He’s the worst of the worst. Forget about the positive test: he took people down, Armstrong-style, and that’s what’s deplorable.

          I don’t fault your skepticism, Joe; like I said, the players have earned it. But citing Canseco is a little off-key, given his confessions have been for nothing other than personal gain.

        • Joe Janish August 21, 2013 at 4:15 pm
          Well, Andy Pettitte is a good guy and a hard worker, but he’s a cheater, too. So was Randy Velarde, Jim Leyritz, Matt Williams, Paul LoDuca, Todd Pratt, Greg Zaun, Hal Morris, Jerry Hairston, Jr., and dozens of other guys who took/take PEDs.

          As for Canseco, he may have written a book for personal gain, but how often do people do things for other reasons? The fact he published a book to make money doesn’t discount the truth that he unveiled for the world to see. Would we even have PEDs testing right now if not for Canseco’s book?

          Canseco is the godfather of steroids, and ironically, one of the main figures in cleaning up the sport. In both cases, he did what he did for money, sure, but at least he’s open and honest about it. And now, with his body destroyed, he willingly serves as an example encouraging kids to “just say no” to steroids.

  6. crozier August 21, 2013 at 9:28 am
    Wheeler’s 6-2 start seems to be surprising only to people contributing to Mets Today, where he’s considered, at best, a 3/4/5 guy. Maybe he is, but I still see more upside to his future. The Mets are 9-3 in his 12 starts; where would they be without him?

    Ike did hit a hanger, but I’d rather he do something productive with pitcher mistakes other than foul them off. I predict another good month from him – for all that’s worth. And what I hope it’s worth is trade value. Some value, any value.

    Byrd may in fact be clean, and there’s no question he’s working hard to get a decent contract next year. But he’ll have to live with people questioning his legitimacy. Or will he? A recent Sports Illustrated article championed Cabrera’s incredible two seasons, and the reporter noted, without a hint of irony, that the only modern players who have put up better numbers were tied to “the steroid era” – as if it were a thing of the past, and a bunch of players weren’t just suspended. And as if Biogenesis was the only clinic doing business in the world.

    • Walnutz15 August 21, 2013 at 9:40 am
      I like Wheeler a lot, and am not particularly surprised by his start out of the gates…..just hope he continues to progress, as hitters get more exposure to him.

      If he can minimize the walks, then sky’s definitely the limit. However, I’ll always take the cautiously optimistic approach when it comes to any of our young players.

      Good to see so far.

      I’m not so sure that Ike’ll have any trade value this off-season, unless of course – he starts playing (and producing) against some LHP. This afternoon’s matchup vs. Alex Wood would be a good place for Collins to start.

      It’s beyond time to get Ike AB’s vs. LH’s, which is exactly why the Mets have been avoiding it since he’s returned to the Majors. He’s looked awful vs. the little he’s faced.

      • Walnutz15 August 21, 2013 at 10:25 am
        ……and just for the record, Ike’s not in the Starting Lineup this afternoon.

        Lagares – CF
        Murphy – 2B
        Byrd – RF
        Brown – LF
        Satin – 1B
        Turner – SS
        Flores – 3B
        Buck – C
        Niese – LHP

        ………guess they don’t want the good feelings associated w/last night’s HR to wash off so quickly vs. the LH starter. Predictable, considering Collins has been all about going out of his way to say how he’ll be playing more vs. LHP.

    • Joe Janish August 21, 2013 at 3:08 pm
      I hadn’t expected Wheeler to be this effective, this quickly. I thought for sure he’d struggle more with his command, and felt that MLB hitters would sit on his fastball because his secondary stuff clearly is not yet “there.”

      If/when he ever does develop at least one off-speed pitch, he’ll have enough to be a legit #2.

  7. friend August 21, 2013 at 11:24 am
    “Mets Game 123”

    Mets record: 58-66

    So what happened to the new calculator that you got since the last time this happened? Did it suffer a concussion and have to be placed on the DL?

    • Joe Janish August 21, 2013 at 12:28 pm
      Oy! Missed something somewhere. Numbers were never my strong suit. Thanks, will fix it.
  8. DanB August 21, 2013 at 2:00 pm
    I guess I am the only one who likes Wheeler being pushed deeper into games. I don’t care if he or the Mets lose those games (2013 is one long preseason). I want Wheeler to learn how to pitch into the 7th and 8th for the years to come. Even if it means him getting shut down sooner this year. By the way, I have to think Byrd will be asking for a three year contract coming off his best year and at his age. Forget the money (which the over leveraged Wilpons can’t), do you want Byrd signed to a multi year contract?
    • DaveSchneck August 21, 2013 at 3:39 pm
      Dan,
      I do agree with your logic here. I prefer letting them pitch and not abnormally interfering with any game based on suppressing innings or pitch counts to get to the end of the season. I am all for Wheeler and the others learning to extend into the 8th inning and beyond, and I think allowing him to battle in that 8th inning yesterday was very beneficial given the amount of pitches he threw in the inning and the total in the game.
    • DaveSchneck August 21, 2013 at 3:41 pm
      Oh, and I can live with a Byrd return next year at reasonable money, so long as they do not pencil him in as their power guy. And. a definite no to any multi-year deal to him, unless he agrees to a two year deal at league minimum. Despite what he did this year, they need to invest in someone more likely to do it next year.
  9. DanB August 21, 2013 at 5:43 pm
    Joe, you have to admit that even a bad pizza often tastes good. One day you will be watching someone like Trout or Harvey or even Endy Chavis and they will do something that, despite all the games you have seen, you had never seen before and you will think, “I still love this game”. I agree that MLB is becoming a harder product to enjoy, but it still is baseball.
    • Joe Janish August 21, 2013 at 11:43 pm
      Bad pizza is a good comparison — well done, Dan!

      And just like I’ll continue to walk into pizza joints, I’ll continue to flick on the TV every night in the spring and summer around 7 PM to watch.

      But just like bad pizza is not quite as enjoyable as good pizza …

      • crozier August 22, 2013 at 9:04 am
        As I’ve gotten older, that truism doesn’t ring as true so much. I think, “Why am I killing myself with bad pizza?”
        • DaveSchneck August 22, 2013 at 10:52 am
          For me it’s still enjoyable and will probably be so for as long as I live. All human endeavors are flawed to some degree, and baseball still needs some serious housekeeping, but like in other aspects of life I try to be optimistic, focus on the postives, and hope for a constant imporvement that rights the wrongs as best possible. OK, enough of the soapbox for me, good conversation though.