Mets Game 160: Loss To Brewers

Brewers 4 Mets 2

Lucas Duda fails in his attempt to be the next Scott Hatteberg. Justin Turner succeeds as a cleanup hitter. However, the Mets lose.

Mets Game Notes

Carlos Torres was the starting pitcher. Turner was hitting cleanup. The Mets, however, are NOT trying to lose ballgames and gain a protected pick in next June’s draft, because, truly, it’s “irrelevant.”

Torres, by the way, heaved a ball into the upper deck after the fifth inning. According to Torres, he does this “all the time.” Strange that it was never before caught on camera, and it was never before noticed by the beat writers who attend every Mets ballgame.

I don’t think the Mets are purposely trying to lose. I also don’t think that the Mets front office purposely put a less-than-MLB-caliber team on the field for the last series of the season. Oh, no — that was something decided nearly a year ago. If you can’t beat a team with a lineup containing names like Scooter Gennett, Jeff Bianchi, Martin Maldonado, and Yuniesky Betancourt, then who can you beat?

Oh, I’m not being fair. After all, Gennett has been remarkable since Rickie Weeks went on the DL, and Maldonado looks like a decent catch-and-throw guy behind the plate. But try to explain the Milwaukee players to the average Mets fan — the one who is still wearing a Santana jersey to the ballpark and doesn’t recognize anyone on the current Mets roster other than David Wright.

Carlos Torres was bad. He’s not very good as a starter, despite his strong performances in his first few starts. As many may have guessed, it was likely the element of mystery as much as anything else that allowed him to pitch as effectively as he did in those initial spot starts. It’s just as likely that the scouting reports and video have caught up to the journeyman with the 87-MPH fastball. At least the Mets found out now, rather than going into 2014 wondering if perhaps he’d be a legitimate back-of-rotation candidate. He appears to be a very nice, standup guy and competitor, but he just doesn’t have the talent to pitch in excess of 60-70 innings at the MLB level.

Small things department: in the sixth inning, with the bases loaded and one out, Juan Lagares took a borderline cutter/slider for a called strike two. Lagares immediately looked back at the home plate umpire to question the call, then shook his head in disgust. Bad. I don’t mean to pick on Lagares, because I like him, but rather, to show this as an example why I was so hard on drama queens John Buck and Ike Davis — because the notion that veteran ballplayers provide examples for the youngsters is absolutely true. However, it has to be understood that veterans can display and promote both good and bad examples, and based on what my eyes have seen, the young Mets ballplayers have followed in the footsteps of the complainers. It’s bad for veterans to show up umpires, but it’s doubly bad for rookies to do it. There absolutely nothing positive that can come from outward displeasure with an umpire’s call, even if it’s in the form of body language.

Small things, part two: just a minute or so after Lagares struck out, and with the bases still loaded, Daniel Murphy, with his hair on fire, rushes home from third on a ball in the dirt that was smothered by Brewers catcher Martin Maldonado and is tagged out by ten feet to end the inning. Shame on Tim Teufel for not having a bucket of water available to douse Murphy’s head and snuff out the flames.

Between that ridiculous attempt, his weak RBI groundout in Thursday’s game on a 3-0 count, and various other examples throughout the year, it’s clear that Murphy often tries to do too much. His motivation is honorable, and might even be acceptable if he were a 22-year-old rookie. But at age 28, with five years in MLB, it’s time for Murphy to have a strong understanding of his strengths, weaknesses, and limitations, and apply all toward winning baseball. If you really value this kind of thoughtless effort, don’t waste your money watching pro ball — you’ll see it all the time at the high school level.

For what it’s worth, Terry Collins said during the postgame that he was okay with Murphy making that attempt, to “create a spark,” because, after all, the team is “not driving in any runs lately.” Sure. Accept, welcome, and encourage dumb baseball — sign of a great manager.

Small things, part three: in the following inning, down by two, Travis d’Arnaud led off with a clean count (thanks to Murphy’s attempt to score) and popped up on the first pitch he saw from reliever Rob Wooten. Not sure I love that aggressiveness in that situation. First off, it’s a good idea to take a strike when you’re down by two that late in the game and leading off an innings. Secondly, it’s also a good idea to take the first pitch from a new pitcher to gauge speed, track movement, and get one’s timing down. On the other hand, if you are the type of hitter who can drive the ball over the fence, and you’re zoning for a specific spot, it may not be such a bad idea to be aggressive and try to jack one, because it puts your team within a run. Is d’Arnaud there? Is he that kind of hitter? Honestly, I don’t know. I can’t get too upset with the aggressiveness in that situation, because we have seen flashes of power from the young backstop. However, if the Mets were down by three, there’s no way swinging at the first offering is acceptable. Your thoughts?

Murphy nearly allowed yet another “infield single” in the top of the 8th when Khris Davis hit a bouncer past the mound and pulled up lame with a pulled hammy a few steps from first base. But, why point that out? In the scorecard it goes down as 4-3, and it’s a point in Murphy’s favor in advanced sabermetrics for fielding — the stats that supposedly do a better job of evaluating glove work than the naked eye. The stats don’t lie!

Speaking of Mr. Davis — “Khris”? Really? What’s the point of the “h”?

Is Justin Turner still dealing with leg issues? I hope so, because that’s the only reason he should be dogging it on the infield grounder he hit to end the 8th inning. I suppose it’s comparable to how the Tigers let Miguel Cabrera jog out grounders — when you need your big RBI guy, and he’s hurt, you put up with a lack of effort to keep him relatively healthy and keep his bat in the lineup. And can you just imagine if Turner wasn’t in the lineup?

For whatever reason, every time I heard either the WFAN broadcasters or GKR mention “Bianchi,” I thought they were talking about “the Yankee” rather than Jeff Bianchi.

Again, thank you for being patient with me and carrying the load / pulling up the slack in my absence this week. It’s greatly appreciated.

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Brewers do it a third time on Saturday at 4:10 PM. Aaron Harang goes to the hill against Jimmy Nelson.

Mets Item of the Day

Nearly a week into autumn, you probably have various outdoor cleanup activities and “honeydo” list items that involve some dirty work. You know what you need? Gloves. Work gloves. How about a pair of orange New York Mets New York Mets Utility Gloves? (Oh, and there’s a pair for kids, too.) Click the previous link or the image below to buy them — they’re less than twenty bucks.

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 28, 2013 at 5:53 am
    Nice to see you’re back in form, Joe. When the bitterness arrives in the form of concrete game analysis, I’m dig it. I pretty much agree with everything you said.

    When Terry says he has no problem with Murph’s brain-damaged baserunning, I’d like to think that’s just a manager defending his player in public, and that in private he’ll tear Murph a new one. I’d like to think that, but I’m pretty sure it’s not the case. Instead, Murphy seems to have put in enough big league time and grabbed a secure enough job that he’s entered the Unimpeachable realm. Collins won’t criticize Santana or Wright or Hawkins no matter what they do, but he’s happy to give a frank take on Tejada, Duda or Gee.

    Picking on the little guy — not a good M.O. for a team who is the little guy. (I ranted about this at length in the previous game recap.)

    • Izzy September 28, 2013 at 8:05 am
      Can’t agree with you argon….. Collins has had no problem throwing certain players under the bus regularly. There is no doubt there is a double standard in the Met organizations. People don’t like to hear it for what it is but you tell me why guys who player pathetic ball like Murphy are always protected, while others, and you can figure out who they are (were) are blasted about everything they do wrong.
      • crozier September 28, 2013 at 10:51 am
        I’m no defender of Collins, Izzy (really, have Joe pull my files; my claim checks out), but he’s consistent in blasting players for lacking effort and/or maturity. I haven’t noticed him criticizing aggressive play, and he’s probably loathe to – even when completely dunderheaded, as Murphy was on that play.

        Portraying Murphy as one who “(plays) pathetic ball” doesn’t wash. Compared with NL second basemen, he’s solidly middle-of-the-pack and above in most categories. Even, I’m dismayed to say, in on-base percentage, where I find him lacking.

        I guess second base isn’t what it used to be:
        OBP: 5th
        OPS: 5th
        SLG: 4th
        BA: 3rd
        RBI: 3rd
        R: 2nd
        SB: 1st
        DB: 1st

        He is 10th, or last, in walks among qualified second basemen, and that’s a problem. And as to the fuzzy WAR stat, he finishes 8th by ESPN, 3rd by Fangraphs. Flip a coin.

        • Joe Janish September 28, 2013 at 11:02 am
          So, offensively, Murphy is middle-of-the-pack — per the stats. Fine, I’ll accept that. With that the case, and considering his defense is absolutely atrocious, and he runs out of innings about as frequently as his hair-on-fire style results in something positive I’m going to go out on a limb and say that he’s not the least of the Mets’ problems.


        • crozier September 28, 2013 at 11:15 am
          Oh you. You’re going to miss him terribly. We’ve had such good times on Murph Today.
        • Joe Janish September 28, 2013 at 11:38 am
          I may miss him in terms of daily commentary here. But I won’t miss having to watch his mind-numbing play and then hear it spun positively by the puppets.

          And actually, if Murph moves on, there’s a decent chance his new team will put him into the semi-regular role he’s best suited, and he’ll flourish, and Mets fans will go ape and be complaining here in the comments about how the Mets “let him get away.”

          Watch: he’ll go to the A’s or Indians or some other team in the Adulterated League, be limited to about 100 games / 350 plate appearances, play 5 different positions (including DH), hit about .320, help his team to the postseason, and be the focus of pregame playoff features for his energy, versatility, and spirited play. Flushing fans will lose their minds.

        • DaveSchneck September 28, 2013 at 1:44 pm
          Was at the game last night, good seats by 3B dugout. Murph’s mad dash home was the stuff of a little leaguer. That is his problem. The debate can go on and on, and we know his stats, but at the end of the day, a top quality team cannot field a player that is a train wreck waiting to happen at any moment. As you know as a ball player, that kind of stuff just kills a team. Collins can babble whatever he wants, and I know he can’t kill his regulars publicly, but he is just making himself look dumb defending that play. It is pure amateur, even in a meaningless game, and even if it is helping them secure a protected pick.
        • Seth September 28, 2013 at 5:43 pm
          I totally agree that Murphy has been a bit overrated by the Mets organization, but he is in fact an average player–which isn’t too shabby. Considering they had been running Dud out there to the outfield early in the season, and playing decided losers like Cowgirl and Rick Ankiel, Murphy really isn’t the problem.

          I think if they sign Jose Dariel Abreu out of Cuba to play first, and Shin Soo Choo to play left field, and piece shortstop together with some combo of Tovar, Tejada, and Quintanilla, they will be an instant contender if Harvey can pitch and still in very good shape if Syndergaard comes up and performs.

          The only thing left to be seen is if those signings will cost them the 2014 1st round pick…

        • crozier September 28, 2013 at 9:07 pm
          Obviously I agree with Seth, since I’ve said pretty much the same thing here before. I honestly think the response on the part of this community is emotional. Murphy’s baserunning blunders, if they were added up, wouldn’t amount to more than a few runs at the very most, and Fangraphs has calculated his base advancement stats as a positive. No one here would accept that he’s been more productive on the bases as, say Chase Utley (who, I hasten to add, is a much better asset in aggregate to his team). What it comes down to is Mets Today underrates Murphy hates on Murphy the way the rest of the Mets community loves on him in excess.

          argon yearns for a new second basemen with a different set of flaws (smarter on the bases and better at defense, but a worse hitter? I’m, not sure I can sign up for that). Part of me wants to see how this pans out; the other part of me would leave what I consider well enough alone. And that’s how it is when you’re squarely on the fence, as I obviously am.

  2. argonbunnies September 28, 2013 at 6:10 am
    Any thoughts on Alderson’s talk?

    It’s become pretty clear to me that while he does have a general plan and hierarchy of priorities, he has absolutely no idea what specific steps to take to achieve his goals. In summary, the interview went:

    Alderson: “We may have prioritized development and clearing payroll over immediate winning. In 2014, that changes!”

    Cohen: “Great! So, what do you see as the biggest weaknesses you need to fix?”

    Alderson: “We see reasons for optimism in most of our current guys.”

    Cohen: “So how are you looking to make the team better?”

    Alderson: “We’ll do what we’ve done every year: wait to see what the market provides.”

    I don’t think he’s being coy and keeping things close to the vest. I think he’s being honest. Especially when he says, “practically speaking, is this player I like actually good for us? that’s a hard question to ask.” He’s not an objective talent evaluator, he’s just a fan like any other who sees enough hot stretches and occasional good plays out of Murphy that he buys into the idea that Murph’s a great player and surely next year he’ll help us win a championship! Alderson’s simply educated enough to not sound like a moron when he says it.

    At first I liked Alderson’s polished style of talking, but now it just sounds corporate to me. When Minaya slipped and revealed he had no clue how to help the team, it was embarrassing, but at least it wasn’t alienating/insulting the way Sandy’s spin-doctoring is.

    • Joe Janish September 28, 2013 at 11:09 am
      I listened to his three innings of blather several times, and got nothing out of it. He just talks in circles. As a PR pro, I have great, great respect for Alderson as a figurehead — he is truly a study in speaking with the media and positioning agenda.

      What you did there — typing out some of his replies to questions — is exactly what makes him a remarkable public speaker, on the level of a successful politician. When you’re in the moment, listening to him, everything sounds logical and worthwhile. But when you go back to the transcript, you realize few if any questions were actually answered, and he’s really said nothing of consequence.

  3. NormE September 28, 2013 at 8:18 am
    Argon, I think you’ve got Alderson down to a “tee.” He is the personification of “corporate speak.” That gives you an explanation of why Bud Selig hired him as Mets GM—-what,
    you really don’t think the Wilpons did it on their own?
  4. DanB September 28, 2013 at 8:56 am
    I get the feeling Alder son doesn’t know how to fix the team because A) he has yet, at least during his Met tenure, shown he can be creative. Trading your best players for draft picks is not a long term strategy. Anand B) he probably still has no idea what his payroll will be since there has been no announcements yet concerning refinancing of the Met’s debts.
    • crozier September 28, 2013 at 10:58 am
      Actually, Beltran for Wheeler and Dickey for d’Arnaud/Syndergaard is very much a long-term strategy, and it could turn out awesome. Or not – that’s how long-term works. Obviously, it’s a shame in hindsight he didn’t do likewise with Reyes.

      How Alderson would get creative with the limited talent at his disposal is lost on me. Until he’s free to spend some money – not hundreds of millions, just a decent amount – I’m withholding judgement on his ability to fix the team. But I think most everyone agrees this off-season is probably his last chance to prove something.

  5. DanB September 28, 2013 at 11:55 am
    Crozer, I think you misunderstood me. i agreed with the Beltran and Dickey trades. I meant you can’t continue to improve the team by trading your best players for prospects because you run out of “best players” and you end up with all prospects and no MLB players. As far as being creative, that is why Alderson is paid the big bucks — to think up moves that you, me, and other GMs haven’t thought of.
    • crozier September 28, 2013 at 11:59 am
      I did misunderstanding you, Dan, apologies. The Mets are definitely out of prime trade bait at the Major League level. Now we’ll see if Alderson’s willing to mortgage the future for 2014 impact. I’d be surprised, but you never know.
  6. Joe Janish September 29, 2013 at 1:31 pm
    I don’t care if Fangraphs rates Murphy’s baserunning as a positive, because it was also Fangraphs that rated Murphy’s first-base playing as a positive. Some (many?) stats are flawed, because most weigh everything equally, regardless of timing and impact on other players. But whatever, we’re beating a dead horse here. Until something drastic changes, I see Murphy as a terrible, often unwatchable baseball player. Others who see Murphy as something better than that won’t change their mind, either. Stalemate.
    • Seth September 30, 2013 at 2:05 am
      Yeah agree with the conclusion. But I personally hate watching him on the bases, am more or less indifferent to his fielding (which is a BIG improvement from a few years back), and rather like watching his at-bats, although sans power and high walks, his offense is really not that special. I do like that he sees a lot of pitches, looks like a pro hitter up there and helps the Mets get to the Opp’s bullpen, which is WAY more than I can say for the rest of the lineup outside of Wright. Anyway the team needs more offense not less, and he only cost them $3M this year. The real rub uis that he is arb eligible next season, so that will determine whether I like him going forward. If arb decides he’s a $5-6M player, that’s too much.

      Enter Dilson Herrera, but he’s several yrs down the road; hopefully he’ll develop to readiness when Murphy is eligible for free agency in 2016–I definitely think they should not be re-signing him at that time.

      As for now I’m just happy I got out with my money intact on the over-74 bet in Vegas after a couple of misfield bunts by the brew crew. I actually didn’t like the bet preseason thinking the number was right but I took a piece of my friend’s action just for fun…

      They HAVE to sign at least one impact free agent for next yr if they want to get better attendance. Although I advocated for Choo and his career .390 OBP, Idunno now that I looked closer–he is 30 and a Scott Boras client. Ugh–this means he’ll be looking for too many years, which I wouldn’t want to give a 30 yr old outfielder who is already putting up more than -1 defensive WAR and is likely on the offensive downside. There really is no substitute for good drafting…