Mets Kiss Sister in ST Game 7

The Mets tied the Cardinals 5 to 5 in their seventh spring training ballgame. And as the saying goes, a tie is like kissing your sister.

Daisuke Matsuzaka wasn’t particularly impressive. His fastball was straight, about waist high, not overpowering, and hittable. His curve was decent, as was his slider, and it seems he’ll have to live on those two pitches to retire MLB hitters, which is a dicey strategy (pardon the pun) for long-term success. I can see him baffling young, aggressive linueps for several innings, but he’s going to struggle against most others.

John Lannan — Dice-K’s main competition for a rotation spot — wasn’t much better. Lannan struggled to locate his pitches and wasn’t fooling anyone. His mechanics have always been poor and dangerous and they haven’t improved; he looks like he’s shot-putting the ball, a motion that puts stress on his elbow and prevents him from fully rotating his shoulder — thus, putting stress on the shoulder as well. If he’s not currently pitching with pain, he will be eventually.

Daniel Murphy booted the first ground ball hit to him, but it was his first game of the spring so he’s rusty. During the same inning of the error, the second-base umpire was struck by a ball, and it was noted by the SNY crew that he was situated on the infield grass, not far from the pitcher, and it seemed to be an unusual position. I have to wonder if the umpire set himself there because Murphy plays so deep? Though I’m not sure that makes any sense, either. Hey, it’s spring training for everyone — maybe the ump was trying something new.

Ruben Tejada also displayed rustiness by booting one ball and letting another go through the wickets. No worries — there’s plenty of time to tune up.

The Mets defense, overall, in fact, was rather sloppy. Misplayed balls, missed balls, balls lost in the sun, lost between the legs, etc. But that’s going to happen when it’s early in the spring and you have random players who are out of position, learning new positions, and/or rusty.

I enjoyed listening to the between-innings interview with Wilmer Flores, who spoke with more confidence (in terms of presenting himself and speaking) and with very good diction. For someone who knew almost no English five years ago, that’s nice to hear — he spoke better than my grandmother, who moved to the USA at the age of 9 and lived here for close to 80 years, yet sounded like she “just got off the boat.” Flores is an impressive, maturing young man, the kind of player you like to root for.

At the same time, I don’t know about comparing Flores to Cal Ripken, Jr. and Jhonny Peralta, as Gary Cohen suggested while describing shortstops who weren’t known for quick feet. Let’s get a few more looks at Flores moving around the infield dirt before putting him in the same sentence as men who were everyday shortstops at the big league level.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis looks frustrated and lacking confidence at the plate — almost lost, but not quite. I wonder if he sees the writing on the wall — that there isn’t much chance for him to win a job on the big club — and has resigned himself to that.

The Mets came back in the late innings, aided in part by a jet stream blowing out to right field that carried fly balls over the fence in the seventh. In the ninth, a gaggle of bloops and bleeders allowed the Mets to tie the ballgame.

The first replay review of the spring in a Mets game was requested by Cardinals manager Mike Matheny on a steal attempt by St. Louis runner Mike O’Neill. After about a minute and a half of review, the call (out) was upheld. Ironically, I think the umpires missed something in reviewing the call — the fact that Wilmer Flores was blocking the base without the ball. I say “ironically” because there’s been so much buzz this spring about catchers having to provide a lane for the runner / not being allowed to block home plate without possession of the baseball (which, by the way, they were never allowed to do). Flores had the base blocked with his foot as the throw from Anthony Recker was coming to him, and O’Neill couldn’t get to the bag as a result — O’Neill slid into Flores’ ankle, and was tagged as the contact moved him to the right and away from the base. I believe that Flores could have been called for obstruction, making O’Neill safe. It’s spring training, the call means little, but I found it interesting considering the talk about catchers blocking the plate during this offseason.

Speaking of O’Neill, he’s not much of a hitter nor a particularly speedy runner, but he has proven himself to be an on-base machine in the minors. In 2012 he led all of pro ball with a .458 OBP, and has a career .435 OBP in 4 professional seasons.

Jeurys Familia pitched one perfect inning, showing a good hard sinker and a sharp slider. If he can throw like that most of the time, he’ll be a nice late-inning guy.

Vic Black struck out two in his one inning of work, but struggled again with his command. He walked the first batter he faced on four pitches, but that was the aforementioned O’Neill, who was erased on the stolen base attempt. Black threw enough strikes to get the two other outs, getting missed swings almost exclusively from his breaking ball. His fastball was all over the place, getting it into the strike zone only twice — once when he dialed it down to 89 MPH. In total, 8 of his 14 pitches in the inning were balls.

So, that’s what I saw — what did you see? Post your thoughts in the comments.

Next Mets Spring Training Game

Noah Syndergaard makes his second appearance of the spring on Saturday against the Tigers in Lakeland, FL. Of course, the game will neither be broadcast on TV nor via an internet stream, so we won’t get to see viking boy. I really hope there are TV cameras on him at least once this spring, as I’m anxious to see Syndergaard’s mechanics. Maybe next week. We’ll also miss seeing Bartolo Colon‘s first spring appearance. The game will be broadcast on Tigers local radio and can be heard on MLB.com (though not XM / Sirius, strangely enough). The next Mets TV broadcast will be Sunday at 1:10 PM on WPIX.

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. Murder Slim March 8, 2014 at 2:17 pm
    I like to play a comedy “clang” noise every time the ball is hit to Ol’ Iron Gloves at second base. Cheers me up. I also am seeing more players to root for this season due to their genuine likability… as you say with Flores, and of course with Granderson. I also think Granderson’s charisma will ease some of the media pressure on Wright. As for this game, I thought the Mets stunk, but then the Braves are stinking up Spring Training and they’ll be great during the season.
  2. Dan Capwell March 8, 2014 at 2:56 pm
    I caught part of the replay this AM on MLBN. Matz looked good, only concern that each guy he K’d wore numbers 83, 67 and 88. Still a work in progress but a definite prospect.
    • Izzy March 9, 2014 at 9:22 am
      That’s why Marchis a horrible time to try to evaluate. You have to put a guy on the bus to have him play against big leaguers because almost no big leaguer goes on the road in Spring Training. And if you play him at home to appease your fans who are taking Spring Training vacations you see what he did last year against minor leaguers. The Red Sox sent nobody to a Marlins game,got fined, big deal. The Marlins asked the Sox to apologize and the Sox appropriately responded by telling the Marlins to apologize for their regular season lineup.
  3. chris March 10, 2014 at 9:49 pm
    Thanks for the updates on these games. It’s quite the time commitment for you I am sure.

    While my hopes are low for the season I am looking forward to it nonetheless. Hoping to catch Syndegaard before ST is over also, but luckily I like an hour from PSL, so as long as it lines up on a weekend, I don’t have to rely on tv.