Mets Game 9: Win Over Braves

Mets 6 Braves 4

Are the Mets this good? Are the Braves this bad? Or is it a function of it being April?

Mets Game Notes

It was the Eric Young, Jr. Show, though Daniel Murphy might have an argument with that statement. Both Mets hitters had three-hit days, with Murphy driving in three and Young scoring four runs.

Mets starter Jenrry Mejia was not quite as dominating in this contest as he was against the Cincinnati Reds. Mejia allowed 4 earned runs on 6 hits and 4 walks in 5 innings; I winced at around 94 of his 98 pitches, because his arm was chronically behind the rest of his body and his follow-through is a mirror-image of Oliver Perez. The only thing that comforts me about his frightening mechanics is that they’re not as bad as Jeurys Familia‘s — for whatever that’s worth.

In truth, Mejia was lucky to get out of five frames allowing only four runs — he was in trouble nearly every inning, and if the Braves hitters had any idea about situational hitting, they might have scored 6 or 7 before Mejia exited.

In contrast, the Mets hitters showed exemplary situational hitting skills, cutting down their swings with two strikes, going the other way, and looking to make contact with RISP instead of “going for the downs” every single swing. If they can keep this up, they just might win 75-80 games — maybe 82.

Before you get on me for being negative for stating that, remember that the Mets haven’t won as many as 75 games since 2011, and have done it only twice since 2008 (which was the last time they won more than 80). I’m being positive and generous, whether you realize it or not.

I get that the Braves’ approach is to pitch well and hit homeruns, with little-to-no concern for any other part of the game. And I get that there will be times when too many players are slumping for that formula to result in wins. But it’s boring as heck. Further, if this is the formula that Sandy Alderson seems to be trying to re-create, and if he’s successful in doing so, I may have to give up on watching altogether. Home runs are soooooo 1999.

I’m glad Ron Darling finally asked Gary Cohen if he had remembered seeing so many swings and misses on pitches over the middle of the plate. I was beginning to wonder if I was crazy (well, I may be, regardless). The number of swings and misses in this series by Braves hitters has been astonishing to me. Again, I know their modus operandi is to swing from their butts and hope for the best, but to miss this often, against less-than-stellar pitchers, is puzzling and unexpected from what are supposed to be Major League hitters. The Braves seem to be swinging more aggressively and breezing more often than the young Marlins clubs from a few years back — and this is a reigning division champ. Should I be giving more credit to Mets pitching? Or, again, is it a function of it being so early in the season? Hard to say.

Speaking of Mets pitching, the SNY radar gun had Carlos Torres humming at 93 MPH, and clocked Kyle Farnsworth as high as 96. Was it a fast gun? If not, where is that velocity coming from, especially from Farnsworth, who was struggling to hit 90 MPH in Florida just two weeks ago? Something fishy.

Leading off the bottom of the ninth, down two runs, slugging Ramiro Pena popped out weakly on the first pitch delivered by Jose Valverde. Really? You’re not taking a strike there? Care to explain why not? Even a juiced-up Barry Bonds is taking a strike in that situation. As Ron Darling said, “I blame the manager.” Agreed. That’s atrocious. Of course, I also blame the player for being that stupid. On the one hand, the manager shouldn’t have to tell a player to take a strike, but shame on the manager for not stating the obvious. It only took three years for Fredi Gonzalez to completely obliterate everything Bobby Cox built over 20 years. Can you tell bad baseball annoys me?

The Braves batters finally beat the Mets in strikeouts, whiffing 11 times to the Mets’ 9.

Next Mets Game

The Mets head west to face NJ native Mike Trout and the California Angels for a weekend series. Game one begins at (cringe) 10:05 PM EST RCT (Right Coast Time). The pitching matchup is Dillon Gee vs. Tyler Skaggs. Thank goodness it’s not a school night so we can sleep in on Saturday morning.

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. mckeeganson April 11, 2014 at 12:18 am
    About my only explanation of Farnsworth would be that being a veteran, he was pacing himself during Spring Training and leaving a little in the tank. The counter argument is that he was trying to make the roster and should have been showing off as much as he could, but either way his velocity has been steadily improving with each outing and he is a welcome addition. The bullpen has stabilized a little, but seemingly every arm other than Torres is an injury risk. Perhaps they can make it 2 more weeks before the reserves arrive from the minors. Also I hope they are looking into signing Vin Mazzaro who is on the waiver wire and had a nice year for the Pirates in ’13.

    Offensively it was nice to see a little production, especially out of Young. That said, the bottom of the order is just a cake walk for opposing pitchers right now, Flores may not be gone long.

  2. Andy April 11, 2014 at 3:35 am
    I believe we’re in EDT now, not EST.
    • Joe Janish April 11, 2014 at 10:23 am
      Yikes! Thanks for the correction. It’s been fixed, using the more general term.
  3. argonbunnies April 11, 2014 at 6:07 am
    Hey Joe, since it sounds like you’re paying attention to Mejia’s mechanics, do you know if they were this bad last year?

    I couldn’t really tell anything other than that this year he’s looked more “jerky” and violent and last year he looked more smooth.

    The results this year look extremely familiar — great stuff with zero command or control — exactly how Jenrry pitched from 2010-2012. It may turn out that the key to Mejia’s success is bone spurs. Maybe that pain in his elbow made him slow down a bit last year.

    • Joe Janish April 11, 2014 at 10:24 am
      Mejia has always had scary mechanics — they were exactly the reason for his injuries.

      Key to success being bone spurs? What do you mean by that? That he’s more effective now that they’ve been removed?

      • argonbunnies April 12, 2014 at 4:03 am
        The opposite. I’m saying that perhaps his success in 2013 was due to the bone spurs preventing him from chucking it as violently as usual.

        If, for example, it hurt more when he over-threw, the pain might have acted as constructive reinforcement! Or perhaps it was mental — knowing his elbow wouldn’t let him throw 95, he just concentrated on throwing strikes and mixing his pitches.

        Way too many fastballs this year…

  4. argonbunnies April 11, 2014 at 6:17 am
    On the topic of over-swinging:
    Lagares is doing a great job getting those 2-0 or 3-1 fastballs down the middle and trying to damage with them… but he’s trying too hard and somehow missing them. If he learns how to actually connect on his homerun cuts, we may really have something here… or maybe I shouldn’t hold my breath for a guy who hasn’t learned that skill by age 25.

    Re: being fans of good baseball:
    I’d like to give props to home plate ump Gary Cederstrom. He correctly called a bunch of strikes that missed the catcher’s glove by a foot, a pitch most umps automatically call a ball regardless of whether it crosses the plate. Way to ump the zone and not the catcher, Gary!

    • Joe Janish April 11, 2014 at 10:32 am
      Great observation on the umpire calls – thank you for pointing them out.

      Another thing I didn’t mention in the post: Jordan Schaefer’s (among others) inability to sacrifice bunt. Again, I blame the manager as much as the player — both for putting the player into a situation in which he was likely to fail, as well as for having players who can’t bunt.

      I’m not suggesting that bunting a MLB pitch is easy — most average human beings couldn’t do it. But for a world-class professional athlete? Sorry, there’s zero excuse. It’s something that can be learned with proper technique and practice. If a player doesn’t bunt well, it’s because he’s not learned and/or not put in the time. With all the coaching available, I doubt it’s the former. With players arriving at the park 6 hours before game time, I doubt it’s the latter. So someone — the player, or the manager, or management, or all three — is not placing emphasis on the skill. Blows my mind, just like it blows my mind when I see players who can’t properly slide or execute a rundown.

  5. Walnutz15 April 11, 2014 at 8:45 am
    As someone who’s taken to simply watching the Mets on a game-by-game basis – enjoying whatever “streak” of success they’re able to put together?

    ……excellent win last night, especially after I almost turned the game off – after seeing Jenrry Mejia do his best “Bases Loaded” (Nintendo) impression – by firing his glove off, to the ground….post-Justin Upton’s 2nd bomb.

    I understand the frustration associated with watching Granderson lose the ball that flew over his head, but if he’s that flustered – then ol’ sage “Teflon Dan” (Warthen) really needs to get up off his behind to go talk to the kid.

    Base open, strike-out machine Uggla on-deck……you’re really not in the business of serving up another multi-run jack to the guy who just launched one off you last AB.

    Poor job by Warthen.

    (On the flip sideL: good job by Lagares, as they came in from the field to the dugout – saying whatever he did to Mr. Jenrry.)

    Mejia didn’t look sharp, by any stretch (6 hits, 4 walks in 5 IP) – but it was good enough vs. the Braves, who looked almost Met-like during this series – as you’ve outlined in this write-up……killing their chances with a crazy amount of swings and misses (7 K’s) + markedly bad situational hitting.

    While we’ve had plenty of our own problems with FA signings through the years – I’m pretty glad we weren’t in the business of giving $75MM to B.J. Upton. He’s lookin’ legitimately frightening again to start 2014.

    Hopefully, someone’s able to pick something up with regard to Mejia’s mechanics – to get him back on track vs. better all-around hitters. He got helped out more than a few times, which I’ll gladly take!

    That aside, it was nice to see the top of the order producing, as Eric Young, Jr. (3 SB’s, 4 runs scored) and “Sir Lance-A lot” Murphy (3 RBI) both had 3 hits apiece.

    Whatever’s going on w/Kyle Farnsworth – where he’s gearing it up to “96 mph” on the gun? – good. Maybe he was able to stick himself with a quick cycle over the past month………wink.

    Hope he continues to be the complete opposite of what caused the Mets to start him at Triple-A only a couple of weeks ago. This bullpen will need contribution from him, for however long it can last.

    Good to take the series. Thank God for DVR, though – as I’ve got little to no chance of making it through West Coast Mets.

    • Joe Janish April 11, 2014 at 10:47 am
      Good call on the Mejia glove-throwing. It seemed so far in the past by the time the game ended, I forgot to mention it.

      It did feel like a really long game, didn’t it?

      “Sir Lance-a-Lot” — I like that!

      • Walnutz15 April 11, 2014 at 2:14 pm
        It’s just a natural fit, no? – considering we’ve watched half a decade’s-worth of 1-handed fencing swings…..

        Regardless, I hope he has a monster year at the plate. Not only so it potentially off-sets the damage he does in the field, but so that they’re able to grab a return better than “middle reliever” when it comes time to deal him. There’s no way the Mets pay him $8-9MM next year, nor should they, IMHO.

        (But that’s for another day.)

        The glove-throwing thing irked me a little. Again, yes – the inning probably could have been side-stepped if Granderson didn’t lose track of the ball…….but really…….

        I seem to recall certain talking heads in the media outlets flipping “ish” over Reyes doing something similar when he booted a ball at SS.

        The difference being: when you’re a pitcher, at least an attempt to diffuse the situation can be made, in the form of a visit to the mound.

        Whether or not that prevents the next HR from going out, you can at least have a quick discussion about how you’re going to attack/pitch around the next guy.

        Though, I have no idea if Warthen’s even got a good rapport w/Mejia – in terms of actually communicating. Never seemed to be the case with any of his past starters……just being honest.

        • Joe Janish April 11, 2014 at 5:23 pm
          You bring up a good point — I haven’t seen/heard much buzz about the glove-throwing. Though that could merely be because I pay very little attention to the buzz these days.
  6. DanB April 11, 2014 at 10:00 am
    Chris Young can come off the disabled list this week. Does TC bench the $7 million man coming off the injury list? Or does TC’s favorite, EY, sit despite getting hot? Or have we seen the beginning of the end for Lagares? I can’t see Alderson being happy with his big FA benched in April. I don’t see TC benching EY. Personally, I feel Lagares is the only one capable of being on this team in 2015 when the games really matter so why not play him?
    • Walnutz15 April 11, 2014 at 10:27 am
      A lot can happen over the course of the next week, which is when Chris Young’s been targeted to rejoin the team – “late this week”, was what I last read……however:

      I’d expect Eric Young, Jr. to cool off – keeping with his traditional norm, rather than sky-rocket to “leadoff man the Mets have always wanted/Terry Collins is rooting for” status.

      If that does happen, then I’d seriously hope EYJ returns to the bench, while at least attempting something “different” – with the chance to stick.

      While not even a huge fan of him, I’d go with something strange like Murphy leading off (at least against RHP) – alternating that with Chris Young (vs. LHP), provided he displays a level of competency at the plate upon his return.

      Vs. RHP:

      1. Murphy (just see how it goes, no matter what he tells you about “not liking it” — I’ve never been a Murphy-leadoff guy….but at least see, if you’re not signing Drew.)
      2. Lagares (get him some consistent fastballs)
      3. Wright
      4. Granderson
      5. Young
      6. Davis
      7. d’Arnaud
      8. Tejada

      ………then vs. lefties, you can lead Chris Young off – and mix/match – swapping out bench substitutions, etc.

      Granted, that would have us all smelling the wood burning inside Terry Collins’ head – from miles and miles away…….but……..at least it mixes things up a bit.

      This team needs to find a way to balance the lineup out, over the long haul. If they even can, of course.

    • crozier April 11, 2014 at 10:34 am
      I really don’t see why Collins can’t make it work with four good outfielders. If he does his job right – assumption – he can get fair playing time and productivity from all of them. It’s hardly a new model. Even Granderson can use 20 games off over the course of the season. The rest of them can be happy to take what they get and make the most of it, since they all have something to prove.
    • Joe Janish April 11, 2014 at 10:52 am
      He has to play Chris Young — it is in Young’s contract or part of a handshake agreement with Alderson or something.

      As Walnutz mentioned, Eric Young, Jr., will cool off (he’s only been hot for what? 36 hours?). Lagares will also cool off (why he hasn’t been placed higher in the order while hot is anyone’s guess). When both those players cool, TC will alternate them with the same wisdom as he’s currently applying to Davis/Duda/Satin.

      While I do understand that Granderson will need days off, I don’t see how the Mets can ever afford not to have him in the lineup. It’s a similar situation to when Carlos Beltran was a Met — they simply couldn’t afford to give him the rest he needed to play at top performance, because the falloff in skill of alternatives was too great.

      • Walnutz15 April 11, 2014 at 10:58 am
        There’s definitely a TC love affair with the idea that Eric Young, Jr. has some kind of untapped potential, that he’s never realized as a Major League player – within the confines of the friendliest offensive park in Major League history (Coors).

        I root for him to do well as a Met – for as long as he can possibly put “consistent” together, but let’s get real.

        I’m actually very curious to see what the lineup looks like tonight, not only from a “Who’s on 1st?” standpoint – but in the case of who Terry Collins decides to DH.

        Skaggs is LH, so it’ll be interesting to see if Collins stacks the lineup w/righties (like Josh Satin [blech] at 1B, and Andrew Brown DH-ing) – or if he continues on, in attempting to sort out the Ike-Duda shenanigans…..which has been beyond absurd.

        Face-value: I’d say I’d expect Brown to at least be DH-ing, but as always – we know, stranger things have happened in terms of decision making.

        Did anyone happen to catch any post-game quotes from TC, as to who he might DH tonight?

      • crozier April 11, 2014 at 5:02 pm
        I’m glad you think so highly of Granderson (I do as well). Yet 20 games off might amount to, at most, 1 less in his WAR column, and if Chris Young shows power this year, an outfield of Young, Young Jr. and Lagares is hardly a disaster. It could actually be quite effective. And more rest might not be a bad thing for CG’s productivity.
        • Joe Janish April 11, 2014 at 5:39 pm
          It’s too early for me to back down from my preseason thoughts on the offensive potential of the two Youngs and Lagares.

          Beyond Wright and Granderson, I don’t see any legitimate threats in the lineup. I’m sure Murphy will hit his “Sir Lance-a-Lot” .270 and dump enough bloops and bleeders to drive in 60-70 runs, but it’s not like he strikes fear into opposing pitchers. Who else in the lineup does a pitcher need to worry about? I realize hitting is down across the league, but, on paper, I see the Mets lineup as in the bottom third in the league. Depending on how things shake out, it could turn out that the Marlins have a better set of regular hitters than the Mets.

  7. crozier April 11, 2014 at 10:33 am
    Young & Murphy 6, Braves 4. A cynic (not that there are any here) would say the Mets got a random hot game from the top two and rode it to an unlikely win. Shoot, I might even say that. But I’ll take it.

    Joe, I accept your projection as positive. A five or six game improvement would be … something. I’d maintain that if the Mets are truly following a new playbook of taking more pitches, they’re going to improve over last year’s 3.8 runs a game. 6 walks last night, terrific; keep it up, guys.

    And if Alderson follows the St. Louis model of using a young starter or two in the bullpen this year, it could be a bright side instead of a blight. And then who knows? 84 wins?

    • Joe Janish April 11, 2014 at 10:54 am
      Thanks Crozier.

      Is it a “new” playbook, though? Didn’t they take a ton of pitches last year, too?

      • crozier April 11, 2014 at 11:56 am
        They certainly missed a lot of pitches last year. This year too, so far. But if the walks tick up this year, I’ll believe it’s a change — or at the very least an improvement — in approach. Obviously way too early to judge.
  8. Colin April 11, 2014 at 10:52 am
    Eric Young looked like Ricky Henderson in this series. I will say that my old man who has a bum knee could have probably stolen a base or two on Doumit. Youngs game on both sides has looked really good these past two series.
    And I also have to say that I really, really like Valverde. I know he’s a loose cannon who almost always ‘makes things interesting’, but there is something about that guy that moves the needle a little more towards that 86 bunch of bad boys. He brings a little ‘nasty’ to the club.