Mets ST Game 2: Marlins

Game two of the Mets’ preseason resulted in a 9-1 loss to the Miami Marlins. But these games don’t count, so who cares? Instead, let’s discuss what we saw in regard to individual ballplayers.

My random notes, which follow no rhyme or reason …

I’ve always been a Taylor Teagarden fan, and not sure why he never quite fulfilled the promise that he showed as a youngster. I mean, I know — he didn’t hit, and he had injury issues — but his swing looks pretty good, his arm is strong, and his catching mechanics are solid. Maybe it’s a mental thing.

Along the same lines, I still like Miami’s Rob Brantly behind the plate, though — barring injury — he won’t be seeing much time with the arrival of Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Brantly receives well — good target, quiet, smooth lateral mobility, catches the “side” of the ball — and he blocks balls in the dirt better than most. He may not have enough stick to be an everyday backstop, but he should enjoy a long career as a backup.

I’ve also always liked Kevin Slowey, probably because I like pitchers who work quickly and throw strikes. His pitches were attracted to the plate like a magnet, and had good downward and parallel movement. He’s a fine #5 starter if he can stay healthy, which has always been a problem in his career.

Speaking of pitchers who throw strikes but have had unfortunate injury history, John Lannan was impressive in his two innings of work. He’s always been a bulldog, a tough S-O-B who makes the most of his limited talent and is ultra-competitive. He pounded all four corners of the strike zone, changing speed and location on nearly every pitch. His change-up, in particular, was well-placed with good sinking action. Apropos of nothing, on TV he doesn’t appear to be 6’4″ — maybe because he hunches over in his motion.

Kyle Farnsworth clearly is not the fireballer he was a few years ago (though he still has poor command); most of his pitches were between 83 and 88 MPH. The homerun hit by Austin Barnes was an 81-MPH pitch. Maybe he was working on things, and/or maybe he’s not yet in shape — but if it’s the latter, I’m surprised, as he does not have any guarantee to make the club, and one would think he’d come into camp ready to go and compete for a roster spot. Then again, it’s only his first appearance.

Lucas Duda demolished a chest-high, 90-MPH fastball over the middle of the plate by Arquimedes Caminero. Like Ike Davis on Friday, Duda can use all the confidence-boosting he can get. He’s swung the bat well and made contact in both ballgames this spring.

Josh Edgin had a rough outing. His pitches were up in the zone, and his fastball had neither movement nor great velocity (87-89 MPH). A few miscues in the field and lack of range by his defense didn’t help, either. Still, he couldn’t hit spots, was frequently out of the strike zone, and when he did throw strikes, they were too hittable. However, it was his first outing of the spring — plenty of time to improve.

Miami’s Matt Angle — a 28-year-old career minor-leaguer — has a batting stance and mannerisms that look almost exactly like those of Chase Utley. Angle, though, hasn’t hit quite as well as Utley in his pro career. But, he does have a .373 OBP and .744 OPS with 204 stolen bases through seven minor league seasons.

Cory Vaughn, Kevin Plawecki, and Brandon Nimmo — among others — made it into the ballgame in the later innings. It’s difficult to make any kind of analysis from a few plays and at-bats, but it’s interesting to see these kids “in the flesh” and participating in a ballgame.

Cory Mazzoni was also fun to see on the mound, after knowing him mostly only from scouting reports and stat sheets. He was throwing fairly hard — 93-94 MPH — but struggled with command. As with everyone else, it was his first spring appearance, so it’s not fair to make any kind of analysis. At the same time, if Mazzoni can top out at 94 in his first outing, why can’t Farnsworth break 90?

Vic Black also displayed good velocity, in the 92-95 range. His command, though, was not spectacular. Plenty of time to correct that.

There was discussion about the new MLB “experimental” rule regarding plays at home plate. I’ve been waiting all winter for the language of the rule, and, finally, it’s been posted — see it here at MLB Rule 7.13, Home Plate Collisions. At first glance, I don’t understand nor like the rule. The rule book already stated that a fielder — regardless of the base at which he’s situated — cannot block the runner’s progression without the ball (see rule 7.06). Likewise, if a runner flagrantly assaults a fielder (with or without the ball), he can be called out and/or tossed from the ballgame. There has been much buzz about MLB clubs teaching their catchers how to field throws considering the “new” rule, but there’s nothing new — at least, not that I see. Catchers were never allowed to block the plate without possession of the ball, but they did it anyway and umpires never called obstruction. The only difference now is that it appears runners won’t be allowed to steamroll a catcher who is blocking the plate — though, how that will be judged seems subjective. Maybe we’ll get into this in further detail down the road, but, in my mind, there isn’t much to discuss — it’s a reinterpretation of an existing rule, but with extra language that may cause more confusion than anything else.

OK, what did YOU see in the Mets’ second game of spring training? Post your notes 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. argonbunnies March 2, 2014 at 3:44 am
    The media seems to be assuming that Valverde and Farnsworth will have jobs unless they totally implode, while DePodesta mentioned that the bullpen is a great option when you don’t have room for all your great young arms in the rotation. I’m torn. It’d be more fun to watch Montero and DeGrom in the 7th inning than Farnsworth (who I don’t want at all), but I don’t think the Mets can be trusted to handle role conversions smoothly — see Jenrry Mejia. Montero would probably sit for weeks, and then pitch 5 days per week once he had some success. Cue the inevitable arm injury.

    Aside from watching marginal pitchers today (including Slowey, who I’d actually love to acquire and convert to relief if he doesn’t make the Marlins’ rotation), I thought it was interesting to check out hitters’ plate coverage. Plawecki is on top of the plate, claiming (according to GKR) that he can handle the pitch inside and pull the outside pitch — not what I’d expect for a guy who’s largely been a singles hitter. It does explain his high HBP totals, though.

    Duda, on the other hand, was doing that thing he’s been doing since 2012, where he moves toward the plate (during or after his stride?) and thus can’t reach the inside pitch, but the way he keeps his arms in and pulls the ball means he can’t really cover the outside pitch either. I don’t quite understand what separates him from other power hitters with good, short swings in this regard. Maybe he’s late getting his foot down or picking up location or something. I don’t see why he shouldn’t be able to reach the pitches that Bonds reached — maybe Lucas should just set up closer to the plate and stop moving toward it during his swing?

    The two guys whose ridiculous plate coverage I understand are Miguel Cabrera and Matt Kemp, both tall guys who hold the bat high and can uppercut anything down and in with ease, despite being close to the plate. (Miggy can also handle the ball up and in, but that seems unique and freakish.) I recall McGwire saying that he used the same swing to hit pitches in all locations, while other hitters clearly do some bending or leaning or crouching or reaching depending on location.

    Can anyone who knows about hitting pitches in different locations speak to this?