Mets Game 44: Loss To Dodgers

Dodgers 9 Mets 4

Four hours and eight minutes to play nine innings of baseball? Really? Brutal. Absolutely brutal. So much for getting to bed early for once. Oh, and with this loss, the Mets drop to last place and four games below .500.

Mets Game Notes

Why was this game so goddamn long? The Dodgers saw 194 Mets pitches, and threw 176. Los Angeles batters walked six times, Mets batters, twice. Mets batters struck out a dozen times to the Dodgers’ seven.

Rafael Montero did not fare so well in his second MLB start. He struggled in the first three innings, had an easy fourth, then dam broke in the fifth. The issues included: he was throwing one speed; he couldn’t spot his fastball on the corners, and often left it over the middle of the plate; his slider was ineffective as a swing-and-miss pitch; he threw flat sliders over the middle of the plate; he didn’t throw inside at all; he didn’t throw his change-up more than a handful of times, so the batters just keyed on the fastball/slider; and he walked too many batters. But otherwise, he threw well.

Seriously, there was at least one positive: he kept his composure and worked out of tough jams in the first few frames. Montero does not panic and faces adversity with aplomb — that’s an important, and unteachable asset for a Major League pitcher.

Meanwhile, the reinvented Josh Beckett kept the Mets batters at bay until the sixth, when he started throwing BP. His transformation from flamethrower to junkballer is reminiscent, to me, of Frank Tanana.

A.J. Ellis is a pretty solid all-around defender behind the plate. Juan Centeno … the jury remains out, and I’ll reserve judgment.

Speaking of Centeno, early in the game Ron Darling made a comment that I’d like stricken from the record. After a poor throw to second base, Darling said that catchers need to “throw from their ear.” No, and I don’t blame Darling, because that is the advice/direction that every single coach in the history of baseball has offered, and Darling is merely regurgitating bad information that has been passed on far too long. “Throwing from the ear” is ridiculous unless one is heaving a shot-put. Whatever time that is saved by “throwing from the ear” is negated by the diminished velocity resulting from removing shoulder rotation from the equation (I’m not convinced it’s any faster than allowing the hand to go to a more logical location away from the ear, with the forearm at a more perpendicular angle to the ground). Additionally, throwing in such a way puts most of the stress of rotation on the elbow, in turn putting the UCL at risk. There MIGHT be some benefit to throwing the ball as you would a dart in terms of accuracy, but, with proper mechanics and repetition, it’s just as easy to control the baseball from a safer and higher-performance arm slot. The one thing Darling did get right is that catchers need to throw the ball “over the top,” meaning, overhand, putting a true, four-seam backspin on the ball.

Did it seem like a different game with someone other than Juan Lagares playing center field for the Mets? Did you notice any extra-base hits that you suspect may have been outs, if Lagares wasn’t home in the Dominican Republic? Did you notice any Dodgers runners taking an extra base that they might not have otherwise taken, or been thrown out?

Yasiel Puig is some kind of freak, isn’t he? Though, the Mets may have caught a bit of a break in this series, as it seemed Puig strained something in his lower half on the basepaths in the 8th inning — he may be limping or out of action in the final two ballgames.

If Dee Gordon ever figures out how to bunt for a hit, he’ll be able to keep his average over .300 for the entire season. Otherwise, I suspect that number will regress to a mean somewhere around .270-.280.

Brian Wilson has a bad beard, bad ink, bad bald head, and bad stuff. Though, the first three are subjective and debatable. Don Mattingly must be on pins and needles every time Wilson is on the mound — it must be the same feeling Mets fans get when Jose Valverde takes the ball. Why is Wilson unable to reach the 96-98 MPH range, and barely able to touch 92-93? Mechanics, which led to injury, and haven’t been corrected even after two Tommy John surgeries. The real shame? Wilson has been offered the chance for correction, but is too stubborn to listen. He’s lost, likely in pain, and refuses to seek outside help.

Keith Hernandez spent considerable breath lamenting that the stolen base and hit-and-run are lost arts in today’s game. I agree, and feel strongly that we’re starting to see their comeback.

GKR also discussed the Dodgers’ long-time air of arrogance. I agree with that as well — growing up, and through the years, I’ve always associated the attitude of the Dodgers with the Dallas Cowboys — a little too much self-confidence mixed with a bit of Hollywood.

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Dodgers do it again on Wednesday night at 7:10 PM. Jacob deGrom makes his second MLB start against Hyun-Jin Ryu.

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. wohjr May 21, 2014 at 3:04 am
    1) Yes I noticed Juan was away

    2) Normally I’d be against Harvey back this year but the team needs someone to LEAD BY EXAMPLE!!! Cripes Montero looked like Wheeler out there. Maybe Degrom can do it but honestly someone like Black Matt back on the mound being badass is what this staff needs .

    3) Joe, I would be interested in your reaction to Tim Rohan’s article in the times today about the NL needing a DH… I prefer “NL” play but is it true at this point that pitchers are so specialized and valuable now to not be worth hitting….?

    • Joe Janish May 21, 2014 at 4:25 pm
      I didn’t yet read the article but if it argues for the DH then I won’t waste my time, so thank you.

      Pitchers are specialized because they choose to be. There’s no reason pitchers can’t make some kind of contribution offensively. Maybe not every pitcher can hit .225-.250+ but as world-class athletes they can at least learn how to bunt and run the bases. In fact, I don’t see a reason why most can’t also hit at least .200, if they’d simply be taught hitting mechanics and put in the time. As I’ve mentioned previously, starting pitchers have a heckuva lot of free time on their hands in between starts — surely they can fit in an hour or two per day of hitting drills. Is that so much to ask of someone making anywhere from $500K to $20M+ for half a year’s work?

      • argonbunnies May 21, 2014 at 6:58 pm
        Joe, what I took away from Rohan’s article was that since pitchers aren’t putting in the efforts you mentioned, they might as well be DHed for. The DH is still horrible, but it may actually be less horrible than sending Bartolo Colon up there with as much skill as a softball beer leaguer. If NL managers and pitchers won’t correct this, then getting the DH crammed down their throats is no worse than they deserve.

        Personally, I suspect the big problem is that even pitchers for NL teams encounter the DH in the minors. So whereas a pitcher in the 1960s who spent 5 years in the minors would have 5 years of hitting and bunting experience, a pitcher who spends 5 years in the minors today has next to none. Starting from scratch at the major league level is rough.

        • Joe Janish May 21, 2014 at 9:59 pm
          Argon – agreed that starting from scratch at the MLB level makes things much tougher. I don’t understand why minor leagues have the DH, other than because MLB is dead-set on eventually eliminating real baseball (i.e., allowing a designated pinch-hitter hit for the pitcher). How does a DH help develop a minor league position player? Oh, right, it may give him an extra 25-40 ABs in a season for those days he’s not in the field. This kind of nonsense really eats at me, because there are plenty of pitchers who as amateurs can hit, and when they turn pro, the bat is taken out of their hands. Imagine if these world-class athletes would be allowed to continue hitting as well as pitching — would it be so terrible for an Adulterated League team to have an extra bat on the bench? Is it completely unrealistic to believe that a pitcher could be a DH on his off days, or did Babe Ruth, Rick Rhoden, Jason Jennings exist only in my imagination?
        • DaveSchneck May 22, 2014 at 8:17 am
          Joe and Argon,
          If the Met pitchers went 0 for the season, and I had to watch Bartolo bat 100 times, I still wouldn’t want the DH. That addresses the symptom and not the problem. There is no reason why these guys can’t hit .150…most of them were dominant hitters in their youth and have the physical skills to be more than an automatic out. The teams, players, and league have accepted this. With all this focus on shifts, data analysis, etc., why in the world wouldn’t an NL team focus on the pitchers being competent for a competitive edge? Both Niese and deGrom look to me like they could easily hit .150-.200. Gee looks somewhat trainable as well.

          The NL teams should not employ the DH for any of their minor league affiliates. And, if those teams want to win, then get the pitchers some basic hitting training.

        • Joe Janish May 22, 2014 at 5:27 pm
          Agreed, agreed, agreed, agreed, agreed, agreed, and agreed.

          It’s baffling that NL teams don’t have stronger hitting/bunting routines put in place for the big league pitchers, and completely idiotic that they use the DH in the minors.

  2. Walnutz15 May 21, 2014 at 9:18 am
    Way to help a rookie out, huh? – 12 more K’s to add to the total. To think, this squad actually has 2 HITTING INSTRUCTORS (using that term very loosely).

    In any event, at least kids like Montero and deGrom will (presumably) get a Major League education this summer.

    Probably the most impressive thing about last night’s game, to me?

    Big Fat Bob Abreu ripping a ball up the middle, seeing Hanley Ramirez field it cleanly – and Abreu blazing down the line to beat it, outright for an infield single.

    Sad, considering the game was, as you documented, over 4 (!!!!!) hours long. Beyond glad I don’t dedicate the full time to the game, and mainly watch them via DVR now.

    Just think, they’ll only have to go 70-48 (.593 ball) the rest of the way to reach their elusive “90 Wins” internal goal…….haha.

    What a boring squad.

    • Joe Janish May 21, 2014 at 4:27 pm
      Thanks for mentioning Blazing Bob Abreu — I meant to put that in the post and somewhere in the four hours of my life lost, I forgot.
  3. DaveSchneck May 21, 2014 at 10:07 am
    Thanks for the recap. You are a better man than me. Frankly, the Met offense is just unwatchable. I tuned out after the first bases loaded one out failure in the bottom of the 5th. Geez this offense is brutal, and DW is a big part of the problem. They can have 20 batting coaches but they won’t hit as a team until the talent level is upgraded. Montero has good poise but needs more work on his secondary pitches. Agree 100% on Lagares’ presence in CF…hopefully Collins will correct this mistake. Let the Youngs split time in LF and lead off Lagares vs. LHP. Also agree on the hit and run. To end the post on a positive note, congratulations to Grandy for getting that average over the Mendoza line. Hopefully he can avoid dipping below again this season.
  4. Ken F. May 21, 2014 at 10:55 am
    Joe, quick question regarding Wilson and him being too stubborn to listen to advice. What advice are you referring to?
    • Joe Janish May 21, 2014 at 4:28 pm
      I’m not at liberty to go on record with “inside sources,” but can tell you that “people familiar with the situation” have told me that Wilson was offered opportunities to correct his mechanics and he basically told them to kiss off, because he knows his mechanics better than anyone.
  5. DanB May 21, 2014 at 2:37 pm
    i havent watched many games this year (nor listen now that they are 710) but has Wright seen a pitch to hit in RBI situations? Why would a pitcher show him a strike when there is no fear of walking him.
    • Joe Janish May 21, 2014 at 4:30 pm
      If Grandy can stay hot for a while, D-Wright may start getting pitches to hit.
  6. The King May 21, 2014 at 2:47 pm
    This team is not competitive. Sandy can slather the pig with all the lipstick he wants, but the fact is that most of the position players and just about everyone in the bullpen should be somewhere else (AAA, driving a frontloader, coaching high school, whatever). What good is a potentially decent rotation backed by 20 guys who can’t hit, field, pitch, or even run the bases like a big leaguer? It’s a sick joke that the Wilpons expect us to buy or even watch this garbage. Wait ’til next decade.
  7. Bat May 21, 2014 at 8:11 pm
    I quite often disagree with Joe’s comments and more the tone of the comments, but I can’t recall agreeing with someone – anyone – more on a baseball recently than this:

    Pitchers are specialized because they choose to be. There’s no reason pitchers can’t make some kind of contribution offensively. Maybe not every pitcher can hit .225-.250+ but as world-class athletes they can at least learn how to bunt and run the bases. In fact, I don’t see a reason why most can’t also hit at least .200, if they’d simply be taught hitting mechanics and put in the time. As I’ve mentioned previously, starting pitchers have a heckuva lot of free time on their hands in between starts — surely they can fit in an hour or two per day of hitting drills. Is that so much to ask of someone making anywhere from $500K to $20M+ for half a year’s work?

    How can the pitchers – with all the time they have – be so terrible at hitting when they are such amazing athletes? I think the answer must be that they don’t think they will get paid any more if they can hit and – probably even more likely – there is an expectation that they will be terrible hitters so very few try and break out of that box.

    It is really unfortunate. I much prefer NL baseball but the teams should make the pitchers work on hitting and the pitchers should exert more effort – in terms of time and energy – to hit.

    • Joe Janish May 21, 2014 at 10:00 pm
      Thanks, Bat! Glad I’m not the only one who feels this way.
  8. DanB May 22, 2014 at 2:39 pm
    if you think hitting doesn’t effect pitcher’s salary, look at RA Dickey. He was a solid hitter (and fielder). If his offensive input helped him win just one game in his 20 win season, how much more money do you think he made because he had 20 wins ane not 19 wins? And how much more do pitchers earn if they were playoff winners? A better hitting pitching staff can be the difference between making the playoffs and falling one game out. If hitting practice cut into pitching prep, I could understand not doing it. By the way, does anyone remember how Gooden almost led all pitchers in the hitting Triple Crown the year he led pitchersin the pitching Triple crown?