The Games Begin: Mets Spring Training Debut

Here at MetsToday we focus on the process as much as the result during the regular season. In spring training, it’s ALL about the process. Let’s take a quick look at what was seen in the Mets’ first televised spring training game.

My apologies for the delay in posting these notes; I was in the air all day Friday flying back from a week-long business trip in the grand state of Texas.

First, notes from loyal MetsToday commenter “Argonbunnies,” lifted from the comments section of a previous post:

Montero’s control was excellent. Many pitches on the corner at the knees. He didn’t show any swing-and-miss stuff, and his secondary pitches lacked bite, but he’s only been in pro ball for 3 years so perhaps there’s still time for that to come. He should at least be a Brad Radke type.

DeGrom threw a lot of fastballs by people despite living at 91-93. Either he’s got some late hop or hitters just aren’t geared up for 93 in February.

Duda looks the same. Quick bat, good swing, but didn’t seem to be tracking the ball that well.

Josh Satin also looks the same. Patient, good eye, hit some line drives.

Ike reminded me of 2nd Half 2012 Ike — ready to punish mistakes.

Chris Young‘s bat looked slow. Hit an offspeed pitch hard, then swung late on a 91 MPH fastball down the middle.

Flores: at bat, he looked like he did last year before the injury — he made contact with some pitchers’ pitches, but for outs. In the field, he looked a little lighter on his feet when moving around, but he clanked his first chance.

Cesar Puello is a strong guy. His stance and swing remind me of Mark McGwire, though he’s not as big as Mac and doesn’t have that distinctive follow-through. The rocket double he grounded down the third base line was probably the loudest hit all day.

Nieuwenhuis looked overmatched at the plate, and didn’t do a great job fielding some balls off the wall.

None of the relievers pitched well. Germen’s change and Socolovich’s curve were the only secondary pitches that seemed even adequate. Walters kept his sinker down but apparently couldn’t throw anything else, so hitters teed off on it.

Good notes from Argon – thanks, buddy! My observations were similar, and I’ll add a few more:

For whatever reason, I noticed several hitters on both clubs over-using their upper half. It could be that I’m more sensitive than usual as I’m in the midst of teaching hitting in weekend winter camps at Akadema‘s ProPlayer Academy. Or, it could be that hitters’ timing is off, and/or they were over-swinging due to the excitement and anxiousness that comes with early spring games.

Plenty of praise for Montero’s “smooth mechanics.” To the naked eye, yes, his mechanics “look smooth.” But that doesn’t necessarily mean anything — it’s completely subjective. For the record, I agree — Montero’s motion does “look smooth,” but that doesn’t really tell me anything other than it is aesthetically pleasing. Upon closer inspection via my Casio High Speed Exilim EX-ZR-100 Digital Camera (at 240 frames per second) set up in front of the TV, a few mechanical flaws are seen that I plan to describe in the near future. In this first outing, Montero did perform as advertised in terms of throwing strikes.

As Argon mentioned, Ike Davis looks like he’ll still be able to hit mistakes — even if by mistake. One part of his game that still hasn’t changed, and may never change, is his perception of the strike zone. Good to see him put one over the fence right away — he needs all the confidence he can muster.

Wilmer Flores looks skinny compared to last year. I don’t know if less weight means quicker feet and better hands in the field, but we’ll find out over the next few weeks.

There was a brief discussion by the SNY team regarding the new replay rules, whereby the managers can challenge plays up until the seventh inning. To me it sounds complicated, but more importantly, it sounds like the challenges could result in more pauses and longer ball games. If indeed that’s the case, I fear that fan interest in MLB could wane, since the main complaint among today’s attention-lacking population is that games move too slowly.

That’s it for me. What did you see? Post in the comments.

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. NormE March 1, 2014 at 4:08 pm
    Joe,
    I’m glad that you and Argonbunnies are doing the “dirty” work
    and watching these games. I sometimes have trouble saying awake for the regular season games, so I know that spring training will increase my nap time.
    However, the two of you will whet my appetite for when I decide to tune in. Thanks.
  2. Dan B March 2, 2014 at 11:20 am
    Will the replay rules mean the managers role is bigger? I bet LaRussa would have loved to twist and mangle replays.
    • Joe Janish March 2, 2014 at 12:02 pm
      I would think so, but then again, managers aren’t supposed to make any difference in the game, so I imagine that J.P. Ricciardi and Peter Brand will be monitoring all calls and sending message down to Terry Collins to let him know when to challenge — perhaps by text, beeper, or some other modern technology.

      Yes, LaRussa would certainly have had fun with this. I can imagine him dreaming up all kinds of ways to delay the game so he can review plays. He’d probably pull Mike Hargrove and Steve Trachsel out of retirement for the sole purpose of slowing down the game.