Mets Game 43: Loss To Nationals

Nationals 6 Mets 3

Yet again, Wilson Ramos is a one-man wrecking crew as he powers the Nats past the Mets.

Mets Game Notes

Wilson Ramos LOVES to hit against the Mets; in this game he drove in 4 runs; I think his average against the Mets is about .370. He’s like Gaby Sanchez 2.0. Fascinating, isn’t it?

Not a great day for Zack Wheeler, as he allowed 5 runs — 3 earned — in 6 innings. He wasn’t helped by spotty defense behind him, but at the same time, he was saved by brilliant defense on at least two or three occasions. Wheeler was not fooling anyone, and even when the Nationals were hitting foul balls and outs, they were hitting the ball hard. Part of Wheeler’s problem was throwing his fastball over the middle of the plate; another part was being unable to throw his curveball for a strike until the sixth inning. Few MLB starting pitchers can enjoy consistent success without some kind of off-speed / secondary pitch. Bartolo Colon is the only one I can think of, off the top of my head, but even he can get secondary pitches over the plate every once in a while to keep the batters honest.

The Mets ran themselves out of a rally in the first inning. Actually, it wasn’t the entire team, but Daniel Murphy, who was caught returning to third base by Ian Desmond on the tail end of a double play grounder. It was a very close call, and I think what happened was third baseman Anthony Rendon pushed Murphy’s hand off the bag (which is a clean and legal play). Maybe Murphy was safe, but the point is, what the heck was he doing so far off the bag in the first place? Oh, you know how I hate to single out Murphy for a poor baseball decision, but it seems like he disappoints us at least once a game. On the bright side, Murphy wouldn’t be making baserunning mistakes if he wasn’t on the bases, right? He kept his hot streak going with a 1-for-4 day.

I agree with Keith Hernandez: Murphy has become as good a second baseman as he possibly can. I also agree with Gary Cohen, in that it’s very hard to measure Murphy’s overall effectiveness — i.e., his offensive production vs. everything he does outside the batter’s box.

A few innings later, Juan Centeno ended a rally with poor baserunning, when he attempted to take second base when an outfield throw went to third base after he hit a single. Centeno had two hits and two RBI, but that baserunning blunder and an overthrow negated his offensive contribution.

Tough game for rookie umpire Jon Byrne, the first Australian umpire in MLB history. Fascinating to me that he made his MLB debut behind the plate — you’d think they would have broken him in on the bases. He made some questionable calls for/against both sides, and it probably all evened out in the end. One glaring miss in particular was in the 7th inning: Jeurys Familia had two strikes on pinch-hitter Zach Walters, and quick-pitched a fastball over the middle of the plate for what should’ve been strike three. Byrne called it a ball, and I’m not sure if he called it a ball because he thought it was, or if it was because he was surprised and not prepared to call it due to the quick-pitch, or if Byrne was sending a message not to be quick-pitching.

During the SNY broadcast, there was discussion of the possibility that a MLB team might someday move to Montreal, prompting Keith Hernandez to suggest that some “jiggering” would be needed to balance the divisions. The conversation led to a beautiful discourse by Gary Cohen that went as follows:

“… You’d have to move Houston back to the National League, where they belong. I mean, fifteen teams in each league is silly in the first place. This whole having to have interleague play every day of the entire season … somebody’s fool notion.”

You go Gary! If Gary Cohen weren’t so classy, and on air, I bet stronger words would have been used. And oh by the way, Gary, that “fool” of which you refer is named Bud Selig.

Cohen also brought up former MLB pitcher Mike Marshall, which became another interesting discussion suggesting that he might have some ideas on how to keep pitchers healthy. Marshall has some very extreme theories on how a baseball should be pitched. However, he’s been trying to prove his theory for about 30 years now, and has yet to produce a pitcher using his theories who can throw effectively enough to succeed consistently at any pro level. I suppose because Marshall once won a Cy Young in a year in which he pitched in 106 games / 208 innings, and he’s an anti-establishment kind of guy, the general public wants to rally behind his theories. Well, here’s the thing: MLB pitchers CAN be much healthier, if they’d just make MINOR adjustments to their mechanics, and follow proper recovery guidelines — they don’t necessarily need to completely overhaul their motion and use Marshall’s methods to stay safe. All they have to do is follow established, researched principles regarding conventional over-arm throwing.

Terry Collins was overly defensive about criticism thrown his way regarding the absence of Juan Lagares from the lineup for a few days. Well, Terry, as mentioned here before, it’s not like the guys you’re juggling in the outfield are named Puig, Kemp, Ethier, and Crawford. Heck, it’s not even Cleon Jones, Tommie Agee, Art Shamsky, and Ron Swoboda (with Amos Otis waiting in the wings). As long as Lagares is playing a Gold-Glove centerfield and hitting .300+ with a .800+ OPS, he is in the lineup, especially on a club that desperately needs to prevent runs and plays in an enormous ballpark. How do you take playing time away from Lagares and give it to Eric Young, Jr., Chris Young, or Curtis Granderson? I get giving Lagares a day off here and there, but two days in a row is one day too many. Now, if Lagares falls back to Earth and hits in the .250 range, I understand. But as long as he’s swinging the bat well, and flashing that glove, why would you ever remove him from the lineup?

The Mets are still ahead of the last-place Phillies in the standings, but they’ve lost one more game than Philly. You can always win more games, but you can’t lose less.

Next Mets Game

The Mets take Monday off as they return home to Flushing to play a three-game set against the Dodgers. Game one begins at 7:10 PM on Tuesday night, as Rafael Montero faces Josh Beckett.

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. david May 19, 2014 at 2:59 am
    Joe, nice call on Jon Byrne making his debut. I live in Melbourne and not a word was said about it in this sports mad town. Probably because Australian Rules Football dominates the sports pages in Autumn (yes, and the water does go down the drain in a different direction too). I wonder if Zach is beginning to wonder, as I am, whether he will make it on the Mets as a starter? I’d love to see that fastball out of the pen, IF we have 5 guys better suited to starting. That is a definite IF. The other serious question is who gets dealt for this mythical big bat? Sandy already told the World he has the young arms to make a deal – someone’s gotta go, right? Personally I think Wheeler is a keeper but he needs to show some improvement soon or I am afraid his poor performance could snowball.
    • meticated May 19, 2014 at 4:22 am
      david…I’m in Sydney…
      • Joe Janish May 19, 2014 at 11:31 pm
        Have either of you Aussies heard of Chateau Tanunda in Barossa Valley? It’s one of the wineries that my company imports. Just curious.
    • argonbunnies May 19, 2014 at 8:25 am
      Byrne was here for the whole series; Sunday was just his behind-the-plate debut. I believe GKR even pointed out his debut on Friday, mentioning a nice call he made at first base or something.

      Did no one else hear “John Byrne” and think X-Men or Superman?

      • Joe Janish May 19, 2014 at 11:33 pm
        Bunnies, thanks for the correction. As you can tell, my attention span for GKR is not always 100%.
  2. Eric May 19, 2014 at 7:12 am
    Here is the the thing about Terry and Juan. Terry apparently believes that his job as manager is to use his special baseball judgement to decide, on a day to day basis, which players to insert in the lineup. This is nonsense, no one can do it. It’s like managing your investments by saying, “Stock X has been doing well lately, I’ll stick with that for a while.” The task, with ballplayers or stocks, is to come to a reasoned long-term strategy and stick to it, ignoring the short-term ups and downs. This is what the Mets seem incapable of lately.
    • argonbunnies May 19, 2014 at 8:19 am
      Well said. Same deal with moving Mejia after a mere 7 starts.
  3. Steve S. May 19, 2014 at 8:18 am
    Didn’t Collins sit Lagares 4 out of 5 games, which led to the #freelagares campaign?
    • argonbunnies May 19, 2014 at 8:22 am
      Yes. Terry would only admit to 2 games, though, so he could justify his claim that reporters were making a fuss over nothing. Perhaps he’s contracted management’s disconnect with reality. (That said, overall I still think he’s doing a decent job with what he’s been given.)
  4. argonbunnies May 19, 2014 at 8:19 am
    Lousy team, but GKR continues to be the best at their position!

    Wheeler’s fastball was very straight today; I hadn’t seen that before. Velocity was as usual. His curve was the nastiest I’ve seen it — basically unhittable if he wasn’t completely telegraphing it — but Centeno was setting up on the edges and Zack was breaking it off them. Shoulda aimed for the middle and let the movement do the rest.

    I still can’t believe how “new to pitching” Wheeler appears. The things he needs to work on are usually requisites for making an MLB rotation. Either the Mets promoted him with no regard for his development, or he’s gone backwards somehow. Keith Law, who watched Wheeler in the minors, said after a recent start that Zack “looks hurt”. I’m not sure I buy that, but I’d bet he’s doing something differently from when he was wowing the scouting world in early 2013.

    So, hey, when was the last time Lucas Duda got hot? He’s had several stretches of competence, he’s avoided those ruts where he goes game after game without making decent contact, but he hasn’t gone on any tears to buoy those season stats. They’re starting to look pretty poor.

    Bad David Wright is still with us, but he keeps getting lucky, which might be masking just how urgently he needs to re-tool and return to staying back on the ball. If the Mets are gonna lose anyway, I’d kinda rather David struck out five times to wake him up.

    • Joe Janish May 19, 2014 at 11:40 pm
      Wheeler completely telegraphs the curve, which is probably part of his issue.

      He’s been given horrendous, incorrect advice regarding his pitching motion since the day he was signed by the Giants, it continued with the Mets, and now he looks to me like someone who is completely lost. He needs someone who isn’t guessing about his motion to provide guidance and adjustments — good luck finding that from a MLB organization.

  5. DaveSchneck May 19, 2014 at 9:11 am
    Joe and others,
    Missed the game..excellent recap and comment points.

    The 15 teams in each league is as dumb as Adulterated baseball.

    I have ben easy on Collins and put most of the blame for poor roster construction in the GM (and owners) but his handling of Lagares and to a lesser degree Flores has really dented any credibility that he has left. We don’t know what goes on behind the scenes, but the fans are the customers and pay the bills. Sitting your best player, and burying a 22 year old “prospect” on the bench is just plain senseless. Collins is not long for this job if the record doesn’t improve.

    • Steve S. May 19, 2014 at 11:52 am
      Agree totally. Also, Campbell should be playing more, particularly at 1B against all LHP.
  6. Frank May 19, 2014 at 1:09 pm
    Wheeler needs to be sent down when Gee comes off the DL. Perhaps to the All Star break. Work on some things & get his head together.
  7. Garett May 19, 2014 at 4:50 pm
    Mets looked flat in Washington in their first game. Maybe it was the 1-0 loss the night before but man it just looked like a baseball team with very little belief in themselves. I guess they go as the Captain does and he’s slumping…
    Fully agree with the comment above.. best players need to play long stretches so they can get rhythm and start hitting for average… this in & out platoon doesn’t work and does not build confidence in your players.
  8. DanB May 20, 2014 at 10:20 am
    Hey Joe, lets combine your two favorite topics. Have you tried Seaver’s wine yet? Is it the real deal or just a gimmick? I hope it is better then the Brian Schneider wine I once tried in a fit of team pride blindness (I wish I was making that up but I am not).
  9. DanB May 21, 2014 at 7:52 am
    i did a little research. So farSeaver is producing about 500 cases a year. They are only available via their mailing list which is closed. Their is a waiting list.