Mets Game 153: Win Over Phillies

Mets 6 Phillies 4

Mets move themselves one more win away from a protected pick in next June’s draft.

Mets Game Notes

Despite his last two stellar starts, I kept waiting for Daisuke Matsuzaka to implode — and he never did. Well, I guess you could kind of say he imploded in the fourth, but the Phillies were helped by defensive miscues, including a questionable call on a horrendously executed rundown. And though a Mets fan might say the Phillies were “lucky” that inning, by the same token, the Mets were damn lucky to have so many fisted duck snorts and Texas Leaguers drop in at just the right times to score the majority of their runs — it goes both ways.

Cole Hamels always has that almost Cliff Lee-like coolness about him, but in this game it came across as not giving a hoot — like he was just out there because he had to be, playing out the string. But, that could be more due to my personal feeling about these last two weeks of the season projected upon him.

Juan Lagares made a beautiful running catch on a liner in the bottom of the ninth to rob Darin Ruf of an extra-base hit and keep Latroy Hawkins out of trouble. As good as Matt den Dekker has looked in center, it doesn’t make much sense to put Lagares anywhere else — especially considering his questionable bat. He’ll save plenty of runs in center, but won’t save enough in one of the corners to justify what will likely be a .250 hitter with minimal power and slightly above-average speed.

Omar Quintanilla royally screwed up the rundown in the fourth — regardless of whether he actually tagged Ruf. It was poor execution. No error on that though, another remarkable quirk of official scoring. It was merely a fielder’s choice without an out being recorded — apparently, MLBers aren’t expected to execute a simple rundown. Go figure.

The one error of the ballgame was charged to Eric Young, Jr., whose short-hop throw couldn’t be handled by Daniel Murphy at second base, allowing Domonic Brown to score. I guess the error has to go to Young there because the throw wasn’t perfect, but gee whiz shouldn’t a MLB second baseman handle that, or knock it down? Maybe not.

But, I’m too hard on Murph. After all, he did have three hits and score three runs — so he made up for any defensive shortcomings. And, he stole his 20th base, meaning he can be mentioned in the same sentence with Lawrence McCutchen, Carlos Gonzalez, and some other guys for some random stat combination or another. Perhaps even more valuable to the Mets, Murphy has really turned it on since the meaningless month of September started. After spending the bulk of the year as a .270 hitter with a .300 OBP, he’s suddenly at .284 with an OBP that’s threatening to reach .320. If he can stay this hot through the last 9 games of the season, his end-of-year numbers may look respectable enough to make him legitimate trade bait over the winter.

So far, I’m liking what I’m seeing of Travis d’Arnaud behind the plate, and still believe he’ll hit enough eventually. However, the Mets better give him some media training over the winter, because he looks like a frightened deer in the headlights during the postgame interviews. No big deal right now, because he’s a kid, but next year, he may be expected to be one of the go-to guys. Or, maybe he can take the Carlos Delgado route and go hide in the trainer’s room every night. Personally, I’d like him to get more comfortable in front of the camera, because he seems to be a very likable and intelligent guy who has the potential to provide plenty of worthwhile comments.

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Phillies do it again at 7:05 PM on Saturday night in Philadelphia. Dillon Gee goes against Tyler Cloyd.

Mets Item of the Day

Another cool-weather item: a hoodie. No, a duffel. Wait, is it a hoodie or a duffel bag? It’s both! Now, if it’s one of these questionable autumn days when you’re not sure if it will be in the fifties or the seventies, you can use this as a duffel while it’s warm, and wear it as a hoodie if it gets cold. Click this link or the image below to buy from Amazon: New York Mets Hoodie Duffel

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. Old Ball Player September 21, 2013 at 1:06 am
    You mentioned Murphy as trade bait which I find insulting. Only a Mets fan can be so absurd to say something like that. Don’t know if its because you are baseball mentally challenged or exactly what.

    Unless you don’t believe in statistics he’s been the Mets MVP in 2013. Sure he’s made a few defensive errors but most of them was when he was attempting to make an impossible play. Most 2nd baseman would just hold the ball to avoid hurting their fielding percentage. No, he doesn’t have the range of Brandon Phillips but few who do. Who was it that said, “Give me errors of enthusiasm.” Might have been Branch Rickey. Why is it that Mets fans always manage to lose their best players? Perhaps they can only tolerate disrespect for so long. Murphy should remain the Mets 2nd basemen for years to come. Forget it, Robinson Canoe isn’t going to sign with Little Brother after playing all these years for New York’s best team.

    • TexasGusCC September 21, 2013 at 1:38 am
      MVP? Because he stayed healthy? When Byrd was there, Byrd was better. When Wright was there, Wright was better. When Harvey was there, Harvey was better. He played all year, and still only accumulated a 2.7 WAR. Wright sat a month and is at 5.7. Byrd was traded at 4.1.

      Daniel Murphy disappeared from the Yankees series until the all-star break, making his manager have to offer that Murphy was tired. Wish we had another second baseman on the roster then. Then, he took August off, too.

    • NormE September 21, 2013 at 9:13 am
      Don’t be insulted, it’s only a difference of opinion. To paraphrase Branch Rickey, the Mets finished below .500 with Murph, they can finish below .500 without him.
      If the Mets are going to get better they have to trade to fill some big holes. Murph,in a package, might help get someone in a trade to fill a hole at SS or OF. Who else do they have that might create an attractive offer? Of the starting eight only Wright is truly an attractive trade chip. Davis, Duda et. al. are not going to do it. Maybe Lagares, D’Arnaud or Den Dekker might have to be considered trade bait, but they are young, inexpensive and hopefully talented enough to build upon. Murph, with his shortcomings, may have to go.
    • Joe Janish September 21, 2013 at 1:00 pm
      CLEARLY I am “baseball mentally challenged” — there’s no other explanation.

      Looking purely at the stat line, you have a valid argument for Murphy as the Mets offensive “MVP” — whatever that’s worth on a 4th-place club that was out of the postseason hunt as of July.

      I’m not going to try to change your mind because you’re obviously a big fan of Murph. However, anyone who views Murphy objectively can see he’s a below-average fielding second baseman – and unless you don’t believe in statistics, every defensive metric available supports that notion.

  2. MIC September 21, 2013 at 3:09 am
    Juan Lagares made a beautiful running catch on a liner in the bottom of the ninth to rob Darin Ruf of an extra-base hit and keep Latroy Hawkins out of trouble. As good as Matt den Dekker has looked in center, it doesn’t make much sense to put Lagares anywhere else — especially considering his questionable bat. He’ll save plenty of runs in center, but won’t save enough in one of the corners to justify what will likely be a .250 hitter with minimal power and slightly above-average speed’

    I disagree with you BIG TIME here. I see a .275 hitter with gap hitting capability….WITH A DIFFERENT MANAGER…who leaves him alone either 8th or leadoff. But the TC bounce-around his not exactly prospect friendly.

    • crozier September 21, 2013 at 1:05 pm
      I’m puzzled by your proposed options of slotting Lagares in the 8th or leadoff positions, since the two aren’t interchangeable, but rather are polar opposites. His OBP is terrible, and it will take a lot more than a different manager and a stable work environment to push it up to the .360 or so mark required to be effective in a leadoff role.
    • Joe Janish September 21, 2013 at 1:14 pm
      Ok, then we see things differently — it isn’t the first time, right Mic? 🙂

      And you’ve been right about as often as I have so we’ll see how it pans out.

      If Lagares does hit .275 with gap power and can get on base about 32% of the time and continue wielding a great glove, then he should be the Mets everyday center fielder.

      You see him as a Garry Maddox, I see Cesar Geronimo. If he winds up in between, he should have himself a nice mlb career.

  3. MIC September 21, 2013 at 3:11 am
    News flash: Flores (may) start at 2nd on Sunday. Future shock?
    – Also Wifredo Tovar is getting a look on Sunday. Just after TC made some curious comments about Tejada.
  4. david September 21, 2013 at 3:55 am
    Terry. Collins. Must. Go. Repeat 3 times and rinse.

    For what it is worth, I live in Australia and see a handful of games each year. Hence my comments are based on MLB Gameday tracking and reading game reports and blogs, of which this is my favorite. Manager’s job – put guys in a position to succeed, play to their strengths. Or stick Duda in LF, move Lagares to RF, have Germen close a game, generally mismanage bullpen but al least he is consistent in that regard, overexpose EY Jr, pull TDA the other night down 1 run in the 9th even though he had his first walk off earlier this week and Duda can’t hit with RISP, and on, and on, and on.

  5. DaveSchneck September 21, 2013 at 8:08 am
    Murphy has some qualities that people love in an athlete, like intensity, hard work, enthusiasm. However, anyone watching knows that his fielding and his baserunning are major problems. His 20 s bs are nice but don’t offset the gAffes. .285/.330/.720 isn’t bad but it is not enough to make him a premium player. If a team like the Rockies want him in a Tulo type deal the mets will deal him in a heartbeat.
  6. crozier September 21, 2013 at 12:57 pm
    Nothing, but nothing, stirs up the Mets Today forum like Dan Murphy. If he’s traded, there will be so much less to discuss!

    Murphy’s OPS+ stands at 104: he’s nobody’s MVP, but he isn’t terrible. His 87% SB quotient suggests he isn’t an idiot in the running game. If he improves his plate discipline next year, and improves his defense – I’m not saying this is too terribly likely, but it wouldn’t be miraculous, either – he would be a legitimately above average player. So yes, I can see him being attractive trade bait. But despite the lack of love in this community, he hasn’t been a disgrace, and there are much bigger issues to deal with in 2014.

  7. Izzy September 21, 2013 at 5:27 pm
    All these comments. Must have been a very meaningful September game unlike meaningless games between the Pirates and Reds! One correction to Joe Janish. The Mets were not out it as of July. May is more accurate.
    • DaveSchneck September 21, 2013 at 5:51 pm
      I don’t want to stir you up any further, but the Mets were out of it the day they broke camp this season. The ownership, and the GM as an extension of that ownership, made sure of it. If that is the case next opening day, despite my addiction saying otherwise, I will tune out.
      • Izzy September 22, 2013 at 8:42 am
        I stand corrected Dave!!
  8. argonbunnies September 21, 2013 at 6:52 pm
    Props to Murphy for staying healthy enough to keep replacement-level guys from having to log innings! On the other hand, if he’d gotten hurt when he wasn’t hot, a replacement-level guy would have hit better than him. That’s the weird thing about Murph’s 2013 — when he hasn’t been hot, he’s been terrible. He’s never been an automatic K, like a slumping Davis or Duda, but he has been an automatic first-pitch grounder to 2B.

    Whatever good things a hitter accomplishes — 36 doubles, 89 runs, etc. — he also does a bad thing when he makes an out. Murphy’s .317 OBP is bad for a baseball player, and downright terrible for the middle-of-the-order hitter the Mets see him as, and it means he’s made a lot of outs. So if you’re going to be impressed by the 36 and 89, you also have to be disgusted by the 466. That’s 466 outs made, 2nd most in the NL.

    Here’s a break down of Murph’s hot, cold, and middling stretches in 2013:
    18 G – .357 / .395 / .571
    15 G – .138 / .180 / .155
    12 G – .458 / .471 / .729
    42 G – .224 / .259 / .301
    9 G – .297 / .316 / .405
    4 G – .647 / .684 / 1.176
    17 G – .203 / .225 / .246
    13 G – .259 / .286 / .315
    7 G – .484 / .485 / .742
    15 G – .281 / .339 / .404

    If you chop his season into larger chunks, it’s not hard to make it resemble that of a fairly typical .284 / .317 / .407 hitter. The reverse is not true, though — good luck finding another .284 / .317 / .407 guy who hits .138 for 15 games, then .457 for the next 12.

    • crozier September 22, 2013 at 11:04 am
      I guess a replacement-level ballplayer might have outperformed Murph – if all things were equal, which is how this particular metric works. But since his replacements would have been Turner or Flores, I doubt it. Neither projects to be anything other than average at best, much as I’d like for that to be otherwise.

      Murph is an average player who played a lot of games this year, and he lacks plate discipline. That he is a leader in outs is therefore inevitable. But as with other historical outs leaders, he has the potential to play much better, and perhaps he will. It would come as no surprise to me if he does.

      • Joe Janish September 22, 2013 at 11:45 am
        Argon, interesting numbers.

        Also to consider is that this is the third September in his career that he’s turned it on. Coincidence? Or is he feasting on bad pitching?

        Some of Murphy’s splits are remarkably inconsistent. For example, he hit .322 at home last year with a .360 OBP. This year? .259 / .295. Last year vs. LHP, .283 — and .291 vs. lefthanded starters. This year, .271 / .262. I have no idea what it all means, other than perhaps the sample sizes are too small.

        Personally, I’d prefer to see Turner at 2B in at least a platoon role with Murphy, if not the everyday second baseman. I don’t think Turner would be an All-Star, nor a Gold Glover, but he’s a stronger and smarter option defensively, less prone to mistakes in the field, at bat, and on the bases, and he’s not as challenged offensively as people think. He put up very good OBP numbers as a minor leaguer and was fine enough for me in his one shot at semi-regular playing time in 2011 – he was similar to Murphy with his streakiness, but he was far less boneheaded and much more sure in the field.

        • crozier September 22, 2013 at 12:08 pm
          Joe, I’m requesting a sub-blog: MurphToday. I guarantee equal traffic to the main one. Maybe more.
        • Joe Janish September 22, 2013 at 1:51 pm
          Heh heh. You may be right.

          Of course, the minute I launch it, Murphy will be traded to the Colorado Rockies.

  9. Vilos September 21, 2013 at 9:49 pm
    Since Murph isn’t an Allstar, and since the Mets have other options for 2B, it seems obvious that they should be open to trade him. The issue is how does he project going forward. Will he get any better or he is who he is?
  10. Who be September 21, 2013 at 10:01 pm
    Lawrence McCutchen? 🙂
  11. Vilos September 22, 2013 at 8:26 am
    Let me rephrase my last Post.

    Its pretty obvious that the Mets should entertain offers for Murph. The question is will other mlb teams be interested and how interested. This will depend on two factors. How they see him going forward (will he progress) and on what their specific needs might be.

    In other words, can he be a part of a deal maker for a real bat or can he a part of an exchange for a Murphy type outfielder.

    • argonbunnies September 22, 2013 at 8:42 pm
      Murphy’s posted respectable batting averages and hits and doubles totals in 2 straight years, while playing second base and providing durability, enthusiasm, and a good work ethic. Not every team will consider that valuable — most teams probably won’t — but I hope that at least one out there would.

      Perhaps we could trade Murph for a prospect the Cubs like, then include that prospect with Montero and Plawecki for SS prospect Javier Baez.

      Turner and Tejada could then share time at 2B, with Turner getting more ABs and Tejada getting more innings in the field (where his defense is more impressive than at SS).