Mets Game 145: Loss To Nationals

Nationals 7 Mets 2

So this is what it looks like when a “Major League” team throws in the towel.

Mets Game Notes

What a disgrace. The only consolation for this shameful event was that very few people wasted four hours of their life by attending. Though, it is rather upsetting that 20,484 people flushed their money down the toilet.

Hey, I get that the Mets have been mathematically eliminated and thus September has become a month-long audition for the organization’s youngsters. But when over 20,000 people have handed you their hard-earned money for a MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL game, you have the responsibility of delivering MAJOR LEAGUE caliber baseball. What is happening this September is an atrocity, and is all the more unacceptable considering it’s happening in New York City. The conspiracy theorist in me is thinking back to 1984, when the Houston Rockets won only 14 games and, thanks to a coin flip, the first pick in the NBA draft. If you’re old enough to remember that scandal, you may understand why I’m cynical; there’s too much motivation for the Mets to finish with one of the ten worst records in baseball.

Anyway, back to the “game,” which seemed more like a spring training exhibition between a big-league club and a college team.

The shame of this is that the Mets wasted a rare strong outing by Aaron Harang. At this point in his career, Harang is not unlike Dan Haren, in that he was once dominant, now is terrible, but every once in a while puts together a surprisingly effective start. This game was Harang’s one — don’t expect to see him pitch this well again in 2013. He might, but, chances are, he won’t.

So, the Nationals hit 13 homeruns in the four games, while the Mets hit none. In fact, the Mets collected a measly 21 hits in the series.

Nice to see Frank Francisco back to his old self. For a moment there, I thought he had some modicum of value. Nonetheless, some crackhead GM will give him a one-year deal for $1.5M this winter. Crazy, right, when you think about how much YOU make at your job, and how hard you work at it, and how effective you are in your position?

Francisco clearly and blatantly plunked Jayson Werth with a pitch on a 3-0 count. Nice reaction by Werth, who, if you read his lips, seemed to say, “f— you, b—tard, that’s f—ed up” — because, it was. As Ron Darling said, Frank-Frank did that “because he’s a fool.” Hey, I’m an old-schooler who has a different opinion of “purpose pitches” than most of the mamby-pambys proliferating the game today, but I’m with Ron on that one — it was foolish, and unnecessary, and put all of Francisco’s teammates in danger. The time to go inside (but not necessarily hit someone) was two games ago, when it was clear that the Nats were very comfortable in the box and swinging from their heels. At that point, and by that numnut, it was just plain stupid and unpurposeful (is that a word? I don’t care, I’m making it up). Stupid, selfish act by someone who has a long history of stupid, selfish acts throughout his littered, mediocre career. Nice, though, that several MLB teams made him a millionaire and he’ll be able to live a comfortable life. Oh, do I sound bitter? I am. Frank Francisco is a disgusting excuse of a professional ballplayer.

Did I mention the Nats hit 13 homeruns in this series? At Citi Cavern, no less? I did. Just want to make that crystal clear.

It was costume day at Citi Field, as at least 37,000 fans were admitted free for dressing up as empty seats. I suppose it was the threat of rain that scared people away from Flushing. Either that or the threat of Frank Francisco coming in from the bullpen.

Next Mets Game

The Mets host the Miami Marlins on Friday night at 7:10 PM. Jonathon Niese goes to the hill against Brad Hand. No, Brad is not the son nor grandson of Arnold, as far as I can ascertain.

Mets Item of the Day

Since the Mets are throwing in the towel on 2013, it’s fitting to recommend you purchase this lovely pair of kitchen towels for only sixteen bucks. You can’t beat that with a stick (nor a wooden spoon)! The set includes one 16″x25″ hand towel and one 11″x18″ fingertip towel, both emblazoned with the New York Mets logo.

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 September 12, 2013 at 11:47 pm
    I enjoy the ranting when it’s about actual game events, but I can’t find any here besides (1) Harang pitched better than expected, (2) Frank-Frank hit Werth. I’m not really connecting the dots from that to “shameful / non-MLB / throw in the towel”.

    The kids in the Mets lineup are playing for their professional careers. They’re not throwing in the towel; they simply aren’t as good as the competition.

    …which is actually probably WORSE news for the future of this franchise.

    • Izzy September 13, 2013 at 4:31 am
      If you are correct argon then Mr Alderson better be fired immediately because it is his team now….or do some(not you ) still think that 3 years isn’t enough time for all the brilliant minds in the Met front office to evaluate anybody who doesn’t make top money.
    • Joe Janish September 13, 2013 at 7:58 am
      Argon, my apologies. I should have included the Mets lineup — or perhaps, posted the entire active roster — to help connect the dots.
  2. Joe Bourgeois September 13, 2013 at 3:31 am
    Is Brad Hand, perhaps, the grandson of Mr. Hand?
  3. DanB September 13, 2013 at 8:13 am
    I am actually leaning towards Argon. I don’t have a problem with the effort on the field nor do I think the Alderson is being lazy. The towel was thrown in for this season a long time ago when the Wilpons told Alderson when he was hired to lower costs, especially payroll, until (if) they get on their feet financially. If nobody is watching (and listening, obviously) then it is Wilpon’s poor planning. I said it once, I’ll say it again, a team can not have prolong success with a bad owner.
  4. DaveSchneck September 13, 2013 at 8:33 am
    I agree with Argon as well. While I am far from an Alderson supporter, it is still too early to help Izzy walk him to the gallows. As Dan B points out, the lack of ability for the Mets to compete over the last three seasons is pinned on the owner. Sure, the GM could have performed better, but with the lack of talent and the lack of money, success was highly unlikely. The Braves and Nats look well positioned for 2014, but there is no reason in the world that the Mets can’t field a team on March 31, 2014 that is playoff capable unless they don’t want to. And they can do so with a payroll under $100 mil, without having to sign a $100 mil FA, and without having to gut their system of prospects. Adding the right 5 players to this team can do it, and it can also make many of the remaining “low talent” players now on the roster look much better when they can perform supporting roles that they are more cut out to do. Go find the right SS, RF, 1B, SP4, and closer and Vegas will peg then for 88-90 wins.
    • Izzy September 13, 2013 at 10:01 am
      Nice Dave, After three years Alderson is a mere five players short of developing a decent team. Whew, and i thought he was a failure. One a year and he will be shorter sill as the other positions will be held by guys too old to compete any nger. The New York Mets, the new Pirates. Only fifteen years or so until the Mets make the playoffs. What lucky fans we be.
    • Joe Janish September 13, 2013 at 12:23 pm
      I have no problem with the effort of the players. My problem is with the effort of the franchise toward fielding a Major League quality team. What we’re seeing now, this month, is not a MLB team. It’s not even close. Thursday’s lineup had not one player who would be an everyday starter for another MLB team — in my opinion. You can argue that point with me if you wish, but it will be hard to convince me.

      You can blame Alderson, Collins, the Wilpons, Bernie Madoff, Bud Selig — blame whomever you want — the bottom line is that the Mets are not fielding a MLB team this month. The Cubs are more than 20 games under .500 yet they still have MLBers in their lineup every day. The Marlins have big leaguers in their lineup this month. Only the Astros are looking as bad as the Mets right now, but Selig screwed them from the get-go so it’s not really a fair comparison.

      Maybe we have become so used to meaningless Septembers, or so accustomed to seeing below-caliber lineups in Flushing, that this most recent drop in quality doesn’t seem so astonishing. Maybe it’s time to walk away from the situation in Flushing and look at what’s happening in other cities to get a different perspective.

  5. DanB September 13, 2013 at 11:41 am
    Izzy, what I think Dave meant is that if the Mets changed their past ways, they could improve. If, like you think and I fear, they maintain the path they are on, they will never be able to aquire enough quality players fast enough to ever compete.
    • Joe Janish September 13, 2013 at 12:34 pm
      The last two times I remember any MLB team acquiring as many as 5 of the “right” players in one offseason: Toronto Blue Jays last winter, Miami Marlins the winter previous. And BOTH of those clubs were already far ahead of where the Mets are now.

      Even with a fantastic year by Matt Harvey and an incredible career year for Marlon Byrd, it’s very possible the Mets will finish as one of the worst 10 teams in baseball and 20 games under .500. In 2014 the Mets will have to start by replacing the production of those two just to get back to being as “good” as they were in 2013. Maybe they can do that with two men; maybe it’ll take three or four. And then all the other holes have to be filled. So even if the Mets did find the 5 “right” players, I’m not sure it’s going to be enough to turn them into a .500 team, much less a playoff contender.

    • DaveSchneck September 13, 2013 at 12:38 pm
      Yes, Dan, I am not giving Alderson any credit. He needs to make 5 big moves this offseason, and go 5 for 5 in picking the right players, that’s all. No excuses about available payroll, timelines, runaway bidding, global warming, or whatever. 4 for 5 isn’t good enough, they need to swing their win total in the same manner that the Red Sox did from 2012 to 2013. If not, I’ll be joining Izzy as Alderson’s escort in walking the GM version of the green mile. He won’t need too much dragging anyway, as he will get paid a lot more to be Uncle Bud’s successor in 2015 than the Wilponzi’s will pay.
      • Joe Janish September 13, 2013 at 2:15 pm
        I wonder if Alderson really has a shot to be the next commish? If so, does he have any motivation to put a winner in Flushing in 2014? Or would his motivation be to show the owners what a great job was done in pulling one of their own out of depths of near bankruptcy and into positive cash flow? And wouldn’t he be more strongly considered if he continued to run a big-market club like a small-market club?
        • DaveSchneck September 13, 2013 at 5:07 pm
          The reasons/questions you state are part of why I expect the Alderson to make significant moves to improve the team this winter. Mets win 88 game in 2014, Alderson gets contract for $10 mil/year job for life.
        • DaveSchneck September 13, 2013 at 5:16 pm
          There are two perspectives here. From the baseball competition point of view, the small markets hate that there is such a big game in available monies between them and the big market teams, because it is a disadvantage. But, from a business point of view, they like when the big market teams spend and spend big. This is beccause there are luxury taxes spread to small market teams and there is profit sharing for small market teams. It is also because the spending of the big market teams raises the the valuation of both the big market team and the small market team. So, if someone buys the Pirates for $50 mil, they stink every year and come in last, but they manage to break even financially for 10 years due to profit sharing, national TV, etc,, and then put the team up for sale in year 11, someone buys it for $300 mil. Why, because the big market teams grew their revenues dramatically and with it their valuations as well. It is crazy, but the buying and selling prices of these teams shows that this is what happens the majority of times.
  6. DanB September 13, 2013 at 4:02 pm
    I have to think small market teams hate the Mets current game plan. They make money off of big market teams. People pay to see the Yankees and Dodgers. Networks make money on them, not small market teams. As long as the small markets have a chance to make the occassional playoff, they are happy financially.
    • Joe Janish September 13, 2013 at 4:49 pm
      But if a New York team operates with a payroll under $100M, that means ALL player salaries are artificially lowered, which means that a) small-market clubs can compete for high-priced players more easily and b) less expenses = higher profit.

      Even when the Mets were at their height in the late 1980s, were the cities they visited bringing in THAT much more money / experiencing higher attendance? I’m honestly not sure and would be curious if anyone has done that research. People will ALWAYS pay to see the Yankees. A smaller number will pay to see the Dodgers, especially if the Dodgers are doing well. What other teams are a draw throughout the US? Maybe the Cardinals?

      Escalated player salaries and long-term contracts exist because teams like the Yankees and Angels are dishing them out. When the Mets were giving three-year deals to people like Luis Castillo, that raised the price of EVERY singles-hitting middle infielder, for every team. If the Mets are paying 7 of their 8 starters under a million a year, that’s good for small market clubs.

  7. DanB September 13, 2013 at 11:24 pm
    I also would point out how teams now charge different ticket prices based on the team they play. This is a new practice and unrelevant to 1980’s. I wonder if teams still charge premium prices for Met games.
  8. DanB September 13, 2013 at 11:30 pm
    Also, just because Bud doesn’t want the Mets to spend doesn’t mean the other owners want the same thing.
    • Joe Janish September 15, 2013 at 12:49 pm
      Seriously? Do you think that most MLB owners are baseball fans who are focused on winning simply because they want to win? These are multi-millionaires and billionaires, and most of them want to win in one place: the bottom line of the financial statement. Toward that end, less spent on player salaries equals more profit in their pocket. Many realize that consistently fielding a winning team will result in more ticket sales and residual profits, but they still want to keep costs down whenever possible. George Steinbrenner is dead, and Bud won’t let Mark Cuban into the boys’ club. The only owners who seem hell-bent on winning for the sake of winning are the Dodgers’ group led by Magic Johnson and Arte Moreno. I’m sure there are one or two others I’m missing but for the most part, MLB owners want to win in profit first, on the field second.
  9. TexasGusCC September 14, 2013 at 12:50 am
    1. Joe, I was comparing the Astros lineup to the Mets, too. Eerily similar, and the fans of the Astros are asking why they aren’t spending money in the fourth largest city in America.

    2. It seems that Alderson wants to prove that all teams can become small market, but the problem is that the Pirates top ticket price is $42, and the Mets top ticket price is $455.

    3. The Mets in 2008 drew 51,000 people per game, now they are drawing 27,000. When your customer base gets cut in half, and your costs are mostly fixed costs, aren’t you losing more than your lowered payroll is saving you?

    • Joe Janish September 15, 2013 at 1:09 pm
      1. Re: Houston, that question needed to be asked prior to the new ownership. I don’t know too much about the previous owners’ details nor Astros history — all I know is that their salary reached $100M only once, in 2009, when it was barely above ($102M). What I know about today is that Selig royally screwed the owner, the team, and MLB by forcing the Astros into the AL. But putting a AA team into the AL Central created a situation similar to the post-Madoff Mets (or an expansion club) — they had to start from scratch. Let’s see how they spend going forward.

      2. Yes! I would have less complaint with the Mets’ small-market ways if they didn’t have parts of Citi Field that are completely inaccessible to the common man. You can’t charge ultra-big-league prices, field a minor-league team, and expect people to be OK with it.

      3. Gus, you’re bringing up a very complicated element of the situation. First off, in 2008, the Mets were still in Shea, so it’s difficult to garner any kind of financial comparison without serious calculations. But Citi Field is a huge part of the Mets’ financial problems — people piss and moan about Omar Minaya spending money like a Long Island housewife but the truth of the matter is that the money he was throwing around was a drop in the bucket compared to the investment in the new ballpark. Did the fans ask for a new stadium? No. Did the Mets really need a new stadium? Eh. The Cubs and Red Sox have stadiums that are about a hundred years old, so … hard to say. Why did they ultimately build a new stadium? Two reasons: because the Wilpons wanted to re-create Ebbet’s Field, and they wanted to make a helluva lot more money from luxury box / corporate box opportunities. Which of those two reasons was stronger is up for debate — not that it matters. Point is, the former reason was ego-driven, the latter, pocket-driven.

      In the end, we fans have a much more beautiful ballpark and experience — if you can afford it. Regardless, was it absolutely necessary for the Mets to spend a billion dollars to make it happen? The timing was awful, and the means of making it happen even worse (thinking they had the Madoff money tree to pluck from). It’s a situation of someone making their own bed, and now having to lie in it — or, sell the bed to someone who can afford to sleep in it. If you can only afford a cot, why go to the expense of a waterbed?


  10. argonbunnies September 14, 2013 at 1:35 am
    Okay, sure, the Mets organization threw in the towel on 2013, but that was in the offseason. The towel is not any more “thrown in” now; Wright and Harvey are just injured.

    Trading an old player having a fluky career year (Byrd) for prospects makes sense to me, so if that’s “throwing in the towel” then I’m all for it.

    I’m not claiming these Mets are watchable, I’m just saying that this is the real state of the organization overall, and not some issue of punting September. When your awful roster is buoyed by a rookie flamethrower and a 30-year-old gamer, and you let these guys push their forearm and hamstring injuries until they wind up on the DL, then this is your team.

    Hoping that our young guys would make progress was pretty much the best option remaining as we entered September. Alas, it hasn’t happened. Our hitters simply don’t seem adept at putting the barrel on the ball.

    I guess we’ll see in a few months whether the team’s going to throw in the towel on 2014 too.

    Positive notes: Wheeler has improved, Niese looks healthy, and Gee has made strides toward solidifying his status as a reliable MLB starter.

    • Joe Janish September 15, 2013 at 1:25 pm
      Well, I’m looking at this from the perspective of a baseball fan — as opposed to a Mets fan. And from February, it disgusted me that the Mets refused to stock their 40-man roster with enough legitimate MLBers to get through a 162-game season. I moaned about it then, through the spring, and now I’m moaning again, because it’s not like this September situation happened all of a sudden — it was obvious from April Fools’ Day. The Mets never had any designs on competing for a playoff spot, and never had the goal of fielding a MLB team through the end of September. They blatantly used 2013 as a AAA year for the organization — perhaps that’s why they didn’t give a rat’s tookas about Buffalo or the move to Las Vegas?

      It’s not about trading away Byrd. It’s about Byrd being the only MLB outfielder brought in over the winter. It’s about pretending that Johan Santana was going to be part of the rotation. It’s about the laughable prospect of bringing in Shawn Marcum as the depth behind Santana. It’s about John Buck as the starting catcher. It’s about not bringing in arms ahead of time when they knew Harvey, Wheeler, etc. were going to be shut down in September. It’s about going into the season without a legitimate back-up plan to Ruben Tejada. It’s about continuing the fantasy that Daniel Murphy is a second baseman. It’s all of these things, a culmination of all the bull thrown down by the condescending filter between us and ownership. And for me, as a baseball fan, it’s offensive. I understand that the team needs to rebuild, but as I’ve been stating for nearly eight years on this blog: you don’t have to lose to rebuild. Winning at the MLB level — or at least, trying to — and developing can happen concurrently.

      • argonbunnies September 16, 2013 at 1:20 am
        Well said. Sounds like we’re on the same page.

        I guess I was just quibbling with your phrasing.

      • DaveSchneck September 16, 2013 at 8:36 am
        Well said…I can’t disagree.
  11. Dan42 September 14, 2013 at 4:46 am
    I find it hard to believe that anything will change as long as the shoe string budget rules. Does anyone really thing that another GM or Manager will make a difference without more money?
  12. DanB September 14, 2013 at 7:06 am
    Great comments, argon and Dan42. But I would add to Dan42’s comment that you need more then money, you also need ownership that knows how and where to spend it. When I think the Met’s future relies on Jeff Wilpon’s decession making, I get queezy.
    • NormE September 14, 2013 at 7:23 am
      I love the give and take in this discussion. DanB hits the gist of the problem with his ownership comment.
  13. Vilos September 15, 2013 at 1:01 pm
    Unfortunately you are right, therefore us fans ought to act accordingly and change with the times. No more jobs or teams for life! We should research and choose, and just like owners look exclusively at winning as their only objective we should do likewise. For example, what teams have players we know, what teams have a Sound model and what teams have good media and blog coverage.
    This should be our motto at least until the Wilpons sell.