Mets Game 41: Loss To Nationals
Nationals 5 Mets 2
Daniel Murphy very nearly tied the game with the last swing of the ballgame, but it was just a little short. After the ball fell safely in Jayson Werth‘s glove, the Mets lost their third straight and sunk to 19-22 as the Nats improved to 22-19.
Mets Game Notes
Aside from the heart-racing excitement of the top of the ninth, the Mets didn’t really do much of anything offensively, and fell behind early due to poor pitching matched by equally poor defense.
Jonathon Niese completed only 4 frames, allowing 5 runs (3 earned) on 8 hits and 2 walks, tossing 84 pitches. He struggled mightily with his command, and his facial expressions / body language suggested that he was either frustrated or possibly in pain. Ron Darling identified the fact that he was “dragging his arm” but didn’t really understand why, despite a lengthy and detailed explanation on what was happening and how it could be fixed. Somewhat contrary to Darling’s theory, Niese doesn’t need to “cut through the zone” (I’m not sure what that means), nor will “sitting back,” “getting balance,” “keeping the front shoulder in,” or “trying not to fall toward third base” help him fix the issue. I don’t know how Darling believes he’s qualified on body movement, and have no idea how he thinks he can see issues like “dragging the arm” without the benefit of high-speed film. I don’t mean to pick on Ronnie, but rather single him out as an example of a larger problem — that every former pro pitcher thinks they know about the pitching motion; they don’t.
Niese’s problem is twofold: first, he’s been landing with his front foot in such a way that it closes and cuts off the hips; second, because of the closed-hip issue, his arm has had to take on the full brunt of creating velocity, and so there’s been no help from the legs and hips to generate shoulder rotation. As a result, he’s been tearing up his shoulder, it’s being weakened, and it can no longer rotate fast enough to keep up with his lower body. Two things need to happen to “fix” Niese: first, his shoulder need rest and rejuvenation — i.e., strengthening exercises. Second, he needs to fix his stride so that his front foot lands more in line with his back foot and on a straight line to the plate.
GKR spent considerable time focusing on the little things not executed, especially in the first few innings. It was almost as if the MetsToday community was calling the game, and a breath of fresh air. They also went into a lengthy discussion about the Mets offense, and how the team’s runs per game average does not accurately describe the reality. Well done, GKR.
Expanding upon the runs-per-game discussion … the Mets have scored 3 runs or less in 16 of their 40 games, and have scored 7 runs or more in 7 games (and 6 runs or more in 11). Take it for what it’s worth.
Via Kevin Burkhardt, per Steve McCatty: “… Look, it’s really hard to explain … take for example Harvey on the Mets, I think his mechanics are almost flawless, so then how do you explain it? … at the youth levels, at an early age, they’re infatuated with the radar gun … who knows, maybe there was a lot of fat on the guys back then … (referring to pitchers like him, who completed games in double digits every year and threw 225-250 innings).”
Ron Darling’s opinion: “… in regard to the youth leagues, pitching off any kind of elevated surface at a young age is a bad idea. Throwing any breaking balls before a certain age — everyone knows that — always, is a bad idea. … the radar gun … guys know now, if you throw 90+, you’re gonna get a contract … if you can throw hard, you’re good, it doesn’t matter if you can pitch or not. The last one … they’ve done such a great job with the shoulder — in my day, it was the shoulder that always went first — and they’ve done such a great job with band work, stretching, and exercise, to build up the capsule around the shoulder, that you seldom see shoulder problems. But you can’t build up any part around the elbow to protect that ligament, it’s always gonna be exposed because there’s not enough muscles there. You can work your forearm, you can work your bicep/tricep, but it’s never gonna be enough to take the strain of throwing the ball at 95 MPH.”
Gary Cohen responded with: “But the corollary to what you’re saying is because they’ve done such a good job of strengthening the muscles around the shoulder, that enables pitchers to throw that much harder, and because they’re throwing that much harder, it puts that much more stress on the (elbow) ligament, which is still the same strength that it was before. That’s a problem.”
So all of these quotes above via McCatty, Darling, and Cohen? Complete, absolute bunk. None of these people are qualified to speak on the topic. That’s the problem with this issue — NOT ONE PERSON who has been talking about these pitching injuries publicly is qualified to do so (including myself). Just because one has experience watching or playing baseball and has a microphone in front of his face doesn’t mean he can talk about the subject of human kinetics.
Next Mets Game
Mets and Nationals do it again on Saturday afternoon at 4:05 PM. Bartolo Colon goes against Gio Gonzalez.
I’d be surprised if TC is fired this year. He is following orders. I don’t think Alderson puts much faith in managers effecting wins and losses and I don’t see Alderson hiring someone like Wally or Bobby V who will have their own opinions.
I would guess that 99.99% of the people listening to Ron Darling — or Mitch Williams, Greg Maddux, Tom Seaver, Jim Kaat, Tom House, etc., etc. (again, not my goal to pick on Darling specifically, but all former MLBers as a whole) — believe he knows what he’s talking about when it comes to the pitching motion. And further, all the kids, parents, and amateur coaches listening to Ron’s suggestions and directions are likely to consider applying what he says to their own practice.
So I strongly disagree — I think it’s a very bad thing.
Not a bad thing in terms of preserving world peace, mind you, but bad in terms of keeping pitchers of all ages safe and healthy.
One has to consider the power of the microphone, and responsibility associated with speaking to hundreds of thousands or millions of people. For example, I work in the wine business, and been in it for almost 20 years. I know more about wine than 99% of the population. I consider myself an expert on wine types, food pairings, and other subjects associated with drinking it. But if I was on TV, and asked the best method of inducing malolactic fermentation, I’d say, “I’m sorry, but that’s outside my realm of knowledge — that’s a question for a winemaker.”
I have absolutely no problem with Ron Darling — or any other MLB pitcher — talking about their personal experience pitching, such as how they attacked hitters, what they did between starts, the pitches they threw, etc. My problem is in assuming that just because they threw a baseball, they knew how to correctly and safely throw it.
The only way to reverse the epidemic of arm injuries is to change the thinking — starting with looking to true, actual experts on the pitching motion rather than always relying on former pitchers. Getting surgeons’ opinions is helpful, but still incomplete, because a surgeon’s expertise is in fixing a damaged body part — not necessarily how that body part was damaged in the first place.
to be re educated, he just needs to stop making it up as he goes along…it’s planting the seeds of disinformation. .
Also, since you bought up wine–and I drink a lot of it–you may be interested to know that here in São Paulo, the wine from Argentina and Chile that I drink is about twice the price that it is NY despite the Mercasul trade agreement.
But here’s my real question: I really don’t like white wine at all–unless it’s with gas–a cheap cava is fine. But is it *really* okay that I’m pounding red wine exclusively with fish all the damn time?
As for the wine … I was surprised to see high prices in Chile (for Chilean and Argentine wines) a few years back — I don’t get it.
If you enjoy red wine with fish, continue pounding. Two things I’ve learned in the wine business: 1) the more I learn about wine, the more I realize I know very little about wine; 2) there are no rules.
My very good friends Josh Wesson and David Rosengarten wrote a classic book many years ago titled “Red Wine with Fish.” So there you go.
Juan Lagares – 5
Dillon Gee – 5
Jon Niese – 4
Daniel Murphy – 4
Eric Young – 4
Carlos Torres – 1
Anthony Recker – 1
This is based off Lagares’ great D and decent hitting, Murphy’s hot bat outweighing his bad glove, Gee and Niese keeping runs off the board, and EY Jr. stealing second and scoring on a single every time he reaches base. Torres and Recker are also above the “worth having” line, because they’ve contributed 1 WAR in the limited playing time inherent to their roles.
That’s about it for your 2014 Mets. Duda (bat), Granderson (glove), and Chris Young (a teeny bit of both) are all on track for 1-WAR seasons, and everyone else is at or below replacement level.
If you think this team can’t help but pitch, field, and hit better, then you should be overjoyed that they’ve somehow managed to score only 9 fewer runs than their opponents, leaving them 19-22.
If you think this team has played at about its true level (Wright will heat up, Murph will cool off, it all balances), then hope the clutch/lucky play continues and the Mets win 75. If fate is less kind, it’d be more like 71.
Very often when Ron Darling (and other MLB pitchers-turned-announcers) discusses mechanics, he’s making suggestions that are flat-out wrong, and sometimes, dangerous.
Your wife’s frustrations echo Angel Borrelli’s — Angel also blows a gasket when someone like Mitch Williams spouts off about pitching mechanics, and is equally exasperated when a surgeon talks about pitch counts or a biomechanist blames pitching injuries on youth league baseball.
I’m curious, have you listened to any of the podcasts I’ve been doing with Angel? You and I are on the same wavelength — I don’t really believe we are in disagreement on this.
BTW glad someone caught the Seaver/wine reference!
Somewhat off topic to this article – but just wanted to check in as in the offseason we had a spirited debate about Murphy, whom you wanted to jettison from the team (even just releasing him for nothing, if I recall) and indirectly referred to as “Mets garbage” that other GMs would not want.
My position was that Murph, while hardly a graceful athlete, was a key part of the offense on a team with huge offense issues.
How do you feel about our debate from today’s vantage point?
p.s. Anthony DiComo today on Twitter says “Since the start of the 2012 season, Andrew McCutchen leads the National League with 424 hits. Second is Daniel Murphy (406).”
In the past, this has almost always been followed by an extended slump where he’s an automatic first-pitch out for a while. At that point, combined with his D, he’s below replacement level. As in, any team could expect their top AAA infielder to do better.
So, is Murphy one of the best 2B in the game, or inferior to a AAA 2B? If you’re estimating value going forward, I think you need to split the difference. He’s neither great nor useless. He’s, y’know, okay.
I think many fans, and GM trade partners, require more than that in order to get excited about a player. Personally, I think Murphy is nowhere near the top of the list of Mets problems that need fixing, but I would happily trade him to address other needs if some GM out there gets excited by his hot bat.
So, I don’t see how you possibly compare him with a AAA 2B. Does he get cold? Yes. Does David Wright get just as cold? Yes. Does that mean D Wright is at those times no better than a AAA 3B? Maybe – so what’s your point??
If you re-read my post, it quotes Anthony DiComo saying that since the beginning of 2012, Murph is second in the NL in hits. SECOND in the NL. As in, elite offensive production, which the Mets have very little of elsewhere on the roster.
I’m not some Murphy worshipper, I just would be very, very scared to trot this team out every day without him, that’s for sure. So when other Mets fans start trashing him, saying we need to get rid of Murphy – well, I just don’t get it, and kind of think they need to have their heads examined. SO what, we trade him for “other needs” – like what?? This team needs offense! If you can package him for G Stanton, then fine…otherwise, you pick a position that ISN’T producing – like SS, 1B, LF, RF, C…shall I continue…
During that time, Murphy is also sixth in the NL in outs. So if we look at that one stat, we could conclude he’s among the worst hitters in the league.
I prefer to look at all the stats, which, as I said, add up to a guy who is, y’know, okay.
I’m with you on the lineup looking uglier without him, though. That’s why I said I’d trade him if some other GM gets high on him and it addresses another need.
When the Braves traded for Upton, the deal was built largely around young players, but they also had to include Prado. That sort of trade might be the Mets’ best chance to improve the lineup — Syndergaard and Murphy for CarGo and LeMahieu or something. The drop from Murphy to LeMahieu would be much less than the improvement from CY or EY to CarGo.
Agreed on Campbell; TC should find a way to get him in there while he’s swinging better than nearly all the regulars.
That’s basically what the Mets really lack at this point – a big bopper. Give them a legit cleanup hitter in the PIazza/Delgado mold, they possibly become an instant contender given the state of the pitching and the complementary hitters. The fortunes of the team went up with the acquisitions of those two hitters, in ’99 and then ’06, and went back downwards with their declines and injuries. Hard to believe, but the Mets have not had a legitimate cleanup hitter since Carlos Delgado. Amazin. Nor will they go anywhere until they acquire one – easier said than done, I understand – but they should be in on every big time hitting prospect in play to be traded. They have to find the next Wil Myers and bite the bullet to acquire him somehow, whether it’s with Syndergaard, Wheeler, Matz – whomever.
Second, the Mets are barely above last place with Murphy, and I firmly believe they’d be in the same position without him.
Some of Murphy’s stats are impressive. However I don’t believe his mistakes are properly computed in his overall measurement as a player. In the PEDs era, when it was all about offense, he’d be fine. In today’s game, which is more like the late 1970s/early 1980s, where execution and details are vital, he’s going to have to always be on fire to make up for his shortcomings.
Execution and details? What do you mean, like bunting? Hitting the cutoff man?? Please.
As for mistakes, he’s a boneheaded baserunner at times, we know that. And we know he’s an average defender at 2B, though hardly a liability like Dan Uggla.
He’s also the team’s undisputed offensive MVP so far this season (not just my opinion, but Bobby O & V’s as well on SNY recently), and one of their two best hitters for the past 3 years. End of story.
So Joe…on a team that desperately needs offense…you think the team would have the same prospects with or without him?! Seriously. The evidence is right there in front of you every night when this guy’s the only one driving the ball and getting big hits.
Yes, exactly that. Hitting the cutoff man is a detail of execution. Being in proper position as the cutoff man is a detail of execution. Catching a throw made to you, particularly a tougher throw in the dirt or too high, is a detail. Completing a double play is a detail. Taking a pitch in certain situations is a detail. Running the bases is filled with details. Most things that don’t show up in the boxscore but can mean the difference between winning and losing are details.
If you don’t value the details, then yes, I agree — we are not watching the same game.
And yes, I stand firm that the Mets could very easily be in second-to-last place, with a 20-23 record, right now, without Daniel Murphy — unless the Mets chose to leave the second base position completely empty, and sent only 8 hitters to the plate. Then, perhaps, they might not have as many as 20 wins.
I don’t dispute that Murphy gets big hits — he’s excellent in getting the bat on the ball in RBI situations, particularly with two outs and a man on third. I don’t dispute that he’s in the running for “Mets MVP.” At the same time, I don’t know how valuable it is to be an MVP on a team that loses more than it wins — it seems counter-intuitive to me. But, Alex Rodriguez once was AL MVP for a last-place team, so what do I know?
His mistakes are almost exclusively baserunning – ok, so he gets brain freeze at times, usually because he’s overzealous and hustles too much. He’s added stolen bases in the double digits every year to his game. He’s a blue collar guy who contributes — I just don’t understand the haters.
And given that the Mets and Phillies are tied for 4th, and the one game they managed to win against the Phillies in the last series was sparked by Murphy’s 9th inning HR, I think it’s pretty reasonable to conclude that they would in fact be in a tangibly worse position, last place all to themselves, if not for
But your last point is the most logic-defying of all, really – you question how valuable an MVP is on a bad/last place team – so it follows that they should be trashed by fans and discarded by the team?? Should we just release Dillon Gee, too? Jon Niese? Every potentially valuable asset the team has, because the team’s in last place and it won’t matter whether Jon Niese or a little leaguer pitches, since they’ll lose anyway? That’s absurd.
This is what’s called “agreeing to disagree,” as there is nothing you can tell me that’s going to change my opinion of Daniel Murphy, and nothing I can state to you that will change yours.
And for the final time, I stand by my belief that Murphy is not the difference between the Mets being in last place and second-to-last place. The main reason the Mets are not in last place is the Philadelphia Phillies.
I’m not sure how you’ve come to this conclusion:
“But your last point is the most logic-defying of all, really – you question how valuable an MVP is on a bad/last place team – so it follows that they should be trashed by fans and discarded by the team?”
Did I state somewhere in the last two months that Murphy should be trashed by fans and discarded by the team? All I’ve stated — to my recollection — is that Murphy makes mistakes, and he’s not a difference-maker. You can argue with the latter, but the former is evident.
And right – I would argue that he is clearly, to any astute observer, a difference maker at the plate. If he were released tomorrow, many, if not most, of the other 29 teams would line up to sign him for his hitting ability – perhaps not as their starting 2B, but they’d find a spot for him. Not even a question.
Well, I don’t think there will be a lot of other excitement around the Mets this season, so debating a flawed 2B’s value is about it these days.
Why do you suppose that most other MLB teams wouldn’t play Murphy as their starting second baseman, despite his ability to hit?
And how much worse would the Mets be today without Murphy? Is it possible to be lower than last? If Murphy was not on the club, would they drop into the Central Division?
At the same time, CarGo is much better than Jim Fregosi, a year or two younger than Fregosi was in ’72, and Noah Syndergaard most likely isn’t the next Nolan Ryan — and that’s really what the argument is about, isn’t it? Mets fans terrified that one of these precious young arms will turn out to be a HoFer for someone else? Otherwise, trading a pitcher with no success above AA for a legit All-Star and all-around athlete is a no-brainer.
And, I didn’t say most other teams wouldn’t play Murph as their starting 2B. I said “perhaps not,” because obviously some teams have an incumbent like Robinson Cano or Chase Utley who you’d hardly consider moving off 2B for Murphy.
Again, the fact that the Mets are horrible these days does not mitigate the notion that they would be even worse without Murphy, nor does it mean he has no value and isn’t worth a $5M salary in arbitration, as you expressly stated in the offseason.
But, as long as we’re here — I will stand by my original thought in the middle of winter that the Mets would be better off without Murphy and with the $5M. Why? Because, again, they’re in last place with him, they can be in last place without him. Murphy hits day in and day out when he’s hot, but he also makes mistakes day in and day out, and in my opinion, he doesn’t hit enough in those hot streaks to make up for the failed execution over the course of a season. Again, we’re out of the PEDs era, which means winning habits have value again. The Mets are not going to be able to assemble a team that can outslug their mistakes — there aren’t enough hitters to go around. Do the Mets desperately need offense? Sure, but so do most MLB teams, because it isn’t 1998 any more. So a team can take Sandy Alderson’s outdated strategy of focusing on offense above defense and fundamentals and fail miserably, or recognize that the cycle of change has moved baseball back to pitching, defense, fundamentals, and athleticism.
The Mets are horrible because they value players like Murphy, and think they can continue to force square pegs into round holes to move forward and find success. The bulk of the team is one- or two-tool players, and many of those players are struggling to prove they have as many as one tool at the MLB level.
But again, what is the point of continuing to argue this? We may as well be arguing politics, because neither side is going to move from his stance. You think Murphy’s offense is vital to a last-place team, and I don’t.
I will say – no, we disagreed at the time, I didn’t wait until now. I simply felt his performance conclusively settled the issue with myself in the right – yes this is a childish impulse but after all, this is a game – but you won’t concede, which is also childish, but then we’re equal.
But, I also actually think the Mets are horrible, and have been horrible for years, because of their lack of a bona fide slugger. I think if the Mets acquired a modern-day Piazza or Carlos Delgado in his prime, they could contend this season. The last two times they contended, ’00 and ’06/’07, they had bona fide sluggers. Delgado got hurt, never was the same, and neither were the Mets. The difference between the Mets and their division rivals is their lack of a Freddie Freeman, G Stanton, Ryan Howard (whose team is matching the arc of his decline), etc. I personally think the Nats are overrated and will continue to fail for the same reason, they lack a classic slugger.
But – back to work. Thanks for the debate.
Funny you mention sluggers and Delgado — any chance you were reading this blog 5-7 years ago?
As for the Mets’ current lack of a bonafide slugger, isn’t that why they gave Curtis Granderson a 4-year deal? Isn’t he supposed to be the current Delgado? And isn’t David Wright supposed to be the Mets’ version of Freddie Freeman?
Even if Granderson stays hot and suddenly returns to 40+ homer form, I don’t think there’s enough around him for the Mets to contend. They still will need at least one more impact bat to make up for the defensive and fundamental deficiencies and the not-so-amazin’ pitching staff.
I don’t think Granderson or Wright are remotely cut out for that role, and Wright has historically struggled with unrealistic expectations of sluggerdom. Which is also the sad recent history of this franchise in general. I almost feel a shred of sympathy for poor Jason Bay, who looked like a spooked soul for 3 years while collecting his millions and swinging about 2 hours late on fastballs down the middle of the plate.
Wright and Granderson would excel as complimentary players to a slugger like Freeman. If you lack one, you’ll need to stack the lineup with Wrights and Grandersons, like the Nats have. Guys who have 20-25 HR potential every year, and hope they synergize.
The Mets have been hoping Duda would develop into that, because you look at him and he’s built that way. Unfortunately, he just doesn’t have the killer instinct at this point to be a big producer. So, the Mets have 3 obvious holes to try and fill with a real hitter between now and next year – LF, 1B and SS. I *hope* we don’t have to include C in that equation.
It’s not coming from inside the organization, and it seems unlikely Troy Tulowitzki is headed to Queens. So…we will just have to wait and see.
Yeah, I’m with you on the holes at 1B, LF, and SS — and am similarly concerned about C.
If only the Mets had hung on to that 5-tool shortstop they had a few years back, they might be only two holes away. Oh well.