Vic Black Struggles As Mets Tie Twins

The Mets and Twins tied 3-3 in Grapefruit League, split-squad action. There was no shootout, penalty kick, nor coin flip — just an unromantic kiss between brother and sister.

Dillon Gee wasn’t sharp, but pitched well enough. Nothing to be concerned about, as Gee is just trying to get his pitch count up to be ready for the regular season.

However, Vic Black had trouble finding the strike zone and commanding his fastball — which has been the case for him all spring. He’s supposedly working on a two-seam fastball, so his command issue could be excused, but what concerned me even more was how he reacted to the adversity of struggling to find the strike zone and getting hit hard. Instead of buckling up, hanging tough, and trusting his stuff, his body language clearly changed, showing lack of confidence. The delivery and release point adjustments also were negative, as he seemed to be aiming the fastball and was hanging the slider — making both very hittable. I know everyone was very excited about his first 17 big-league innings, and I acknowledge that Black has an exciting arm, but I’m not convinced he’s ready to handle a late-inning role for a Major League team. In many ways, he reminds me of Bobby Parnell, circa 2009. Parnell was 24 years old in that rookie season, lacking confidence, command, and a secondary pitch. Black seems to exude more confidence — most of the time — than Parnell did, has the secondary pitch, and is age 25. So, it may take a year before Black “gets it.” I think Black needs to be at the MLB level for a full year, though, if he’s going to ever develop into the setup man / closer type that many believe he will be.

Fun to see Dilson Herrera and Dominic Smith in action. Smith dribbled an infield single in his first at-bat, but I was more impressed with the swing and miss he took — his bat really flies through the zone. Not yet 19 years old, strong body, great bat speed — I can understand why people are excited about him.

Jeurys Familia worked the 9th without incident. Mixing his hard low-90s sinker with a sharp slider used as a strike-three pitch — off the outside part of the plate, out of the strike zone — he impresses me as a viable late-inning bullpen option. In fact I have more confidence in Familia than Black at this point in time.

What did you see? Post your observations 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 16, 2014 at 12:47 am
    • Gonzalez Germen had zero control — every fastball missed by a foot or more to his arm side, and most of his pitches were up. It’s disappointing, because that change-up is still nasty when it’s down — one of the better put-away pitchers in the Mets’ pen. I’d been hoping he simply didn’t have the repertoire to stick as a starter, and that last year’s transition to relief might turn him into a real asset. But if he’s simply out of control and the Mets can’t fix his mechanics, the role isn’t going to matter.

    • Light-hitting A-ball SS Matt Reynolds flashed a nice glove in this game. Very quick, good range.

    • I’d hoped that with a strong spring Black could get scouts excited about his arm and we could trade him for Nick Franklin. It’s too bad that he’s done the opposite. It doesn’t really change my perception of him — I’m sure he’ll have his good days and bad days, like most hard-throwing relievers.

    • Dan42 March 16, 2014 at 7:20 am
      As I recall Koufax and Ryan seemed hopelessly wild in their early days, so there may hope for Mr. Black, although to a lesser extent.
  2. DaveSchneck March 16, 2014 at 9:46 am
    With 15 days to go, Alderson has left the pen short and is without an everyday MLB SS yet expecting 90 wins. While it is possible that players step up, that strikes me as insulting to the customer base.
    • TexasGusCC March 16, 2014 at 11:19 am
      If you want Alderson to spend any more money on good players, you and all your friends must first go buy tickets, season ticket preferably. Alderson has told us that is the only way he will make a change. Therefore, it will be the fans’ fault.

      Ridiculous that a New York franchise is a laughing stock, but…

  3. Scottie March 16, 2014 at 11:09 am
    90 wins that would be great. Maybe not this year, but how about next?
  4. Vilos March 16, 2014 at 1:43 pm
    Sorry to point you out, but thats an extreme, or better yet, a too literal interpretación of Aldersons words.
    A less extreme way to interpret them would be: our operations are break even and we have a team, that if everything works right, could compete. If that were to happen, revenue would increase, so we would have the resources to expand the payroll.
    He didn’t say, but I interpret it just the same, if the team doesnt win 90 games this year, they will continúe to work on getting better with in their posibilitéis.
  5. Vilos March 16, 2014 at 1:53 pm
    A final coment, he has also said, somewhere along the way, that his intention is to build a permanent contender in contrast to a team that competes one year and then disapears.
    I understand the baseball fan who might look in disgust with the process but the sports franchise business observer in me, looks on with interest.
    • DaveSchneck March 16, 2014 at 2:20 pm
      It is true that Alderson has done some good things for the team, employing a disciplined approach to building the system and acquiring the most possible in prospects for the sell off of all-start talent. Everyone agrees it is be to have a team that competes regularly, or in most years. In fact, all 30 teams aim for that outcome. However, it doesn’t always work, and in most cases it doesn’t. It took the Pirates 20 years to deliver a team over .500, with constant high drafted prospects. Likewise KC, and there are many others. Now, what happens if the Mets put up another 75 win lifeless season, which results in more erosion of the paying fan base? Most experts think this is so much more likely tan 90 wins that scouts were openly mocking Alderson. No, the time is now to put their money where their mouth is. Even if it isn’t money, they need to act consistently with their words. Deliver a MLB-quality SS and 8th inning arm in the pen and then start serving the kool aid.
    • argonbunnies March 16, 2014 at 4:58 pm
      The problem isn’t Sandy’s intent, it’s the organization’s execution. If you’re trying to build a sustainable contender, you MUST get top talent back for Jose Reyes. The Red Sox, Diamondbacks and Cardinals all could have used an upgrade at SS for the stretch drive in 2011. How much better would the Mets look now with Oscar Taveras, Joe Kelly, Trevor Rosenthal, Xander Bogaerts, Paul Goldschmidt or Chris Owings?

      The Mets have also sucked at acquiring young players from Asia, Cuba, Mexico, and other sources where other teams have had success. Tanaka, Wei-Yin Chen, Cespedes, Puig and Jose Abreu all make sense for a “sustainable success” plan.

      If Sandy’s plan for long-term success included maintaining revenue and fan interest through 2011-2013, then (a) he utterly failed with most of his moves (Frank Frank, Andres Torres, etc.) and (b) he hamstrung the talent pipeline by refusing to punt seasons by moving assets (Parnell, Hairston, etc.).

      If the real plan was to blame luck, injuries, Minaya contracts and timing, just to trick David Wright into re-upping, well then I guess that part did work.

      • Alex S March 18, 2014 at 4:53 am
        I’ve heard that commentary regarding Reyes – it’s revisionist, and it fails a bigger picture. Jose was injured at the time, and there wasn’t anyone rushing to the market to give up the likes of Goldschmidt, Owings or Bogaerts.

        But more importantly, Mets fans surely realize that having a valuation process means sticking to it even when other teams and your fan base disagrees. In fact, that’s the most important time. It eventually nets you the likes of Syndergaard, or Wheeler; or it prevents you from signing negative contracts – one of which might have saddled us with NOT getting Dominic Smith AND being restrained by Bourn.

        • Joe Janish March 18, 2014 at 9:08 pm
          Re: Reyes, yes, revisionist history, but what you are assuming that the Mets’ only option was to trade Reyes at the trade deadline. My argument is that they had decided long, long before that they were not intending on re-signing Reyes, so there was plenty of time to deal him.

          Re: “But more importantly, Mets fans surely realize that having a valuation process means sticking to it even when other teams and your fan base disagrees. ”

          No, they don’t — at least, not the average Mets fan. The Mets fans that regularly read Mets blogs to engage in in-depth discussion about the team? Sure, but that accounts for what? 5% of the actual fan base? Less? The average Mets fan — he/she who couldn’t identify Matt Harvey if he were standing in front of him/her — is excited that Curtis Granderson was signed, and will lose interest by July when they see the team stinks yet again.

          Regardless, I’m still trying to figure out why people defend the lack of spending and the Wilpons’ horrendous job of financially managing the franchise, using “the plan” as an excuse. There is absolutely no reason that a New York team has to sacrifice the present to build for the future.

    • Joe Janish March 17, 2014 at 10:19 am
      “…his intention is to build a permanent contender in contrast to a team that competes one year and then disappears.”

      I can think of only one team in the past 30 years that competed one year and then disappeared — the Marlins. And the only reason they “disappeared” is because they intentionally dismantled the club.

      Winning begets winning, and, especially in NY, begets money that can be used to support winning in the future. Building an organization’s minor league system does not have to have a negative impact on the MLB club, especially if the team has financial resources. The Mets are in a ballpark and market with potentially vast resources. They are not limited by a broken-down ballpark (such as the Cubs) or small population (such as KC). The Mets are like an old, beat-up, 1967 Corvette Sting-Ray with an engine that won’t run — if someone makes the proper investment in getting it fixed up, it will reward its investor with a dramatic profit. It’s not like pouring money into a Dodge Dart.

  6. Dan B March 17, 2014 at 9:58 am
    I think an average GM can build up a farm system. Trade away your MLB assets and don’t trade away your prospects. Sprinkle in not signing free agents that cost draft picks and drafting high because your team finishes in the bottom of the league every year. A good GM, however, improves their farm system AND finds a way to build a winning team. There aren’t many of those and so far Alderson hasn’t shown he can do both. Is he handicapped by the Wilpons? Most definately. But if his goal is to build a team that wins consistently, it would help if his team could win 83 games at least once.