Mets Game 68: Loss To Padres

Padres 5 Mets 0

Zack Wheeler doesn’t pitch well, but it didn’t matter, since the Mets didn’t hit well. At least they didn’t waste a strong pitching effort.

Mets Game Notes

Jesse Hahn — high school teammate of Matt Harvey — was brilliant, shutting out the Mets through six and allowing one hit, an infield single. (And I’m not even sure it should’ve been scored a hit — Everth Cabrera, who seemed to be out of sorts all afternoon — tried to barehand a Ruben Tejada dribbler that should’ve been gloved). He showed a sharp-breaking, 12-6 curveball and a sinking, 90-MPH fastball with a lot of horizontal “run” into the righthanded hitter.

Zack Wheeler, on the other hand, was not so brilliant. He was habitually falling behind hitters, unable to locate both his fastball and curve.

It was pointed out by Gary Cohen that Wheeler’s stats are better when on “regular” rest (four days) rather than “extra” (5+ days’ of rest). Ron Darling said that wasn’t surprising because Wheeler’s motion “has a lot of moving parts” and therefore “the more moving parts you have, the harder it is to make sure they’re all on time when you have that extra day.” Hmmm … well, I’d say IN GENERAL it’s hard to keep a bunch of moving parts “on time,” regardless of rest. But anyway, the next question by Gary — “would he be better off throwing a couple bullpen sessions in between to keep his mechanics sharp?” elicited a revealing response from Ron: “Yeah I would throw two days in a row… so he threw Sunday, Monday was an off-day — I would throw have thrown Tuesday and Wednesday, and then taken Thursday and Friday off before the start here on Saturday. Different strokes though, for every organization, you don’t know how they want to go. It used to be the pitching coach dictated when you threw on the mound, now the pitcher dictates when he wants to throw.”

A few things to address. First off, throwing a bullpen on Tuesday is incredibly dangerous because one day of rest is not nearly enough recovery time for the 86-pitch effort of Wheeler on Sunday, June 8. Wheeler needed to stay off the mound a minimum of three days per ASMI recovery guidelines. However, nearly every single MLB pitcher goes against these guidelines and throws a bullpen too early after a start. Why? Because MLB knows better than science, of course.

Secondly, the “different strokes for every organization” quote is a telling truth and an indicator of why there is a pitching injury epidemic in pro baseball. It’s true — and mind-boggling — that each MLB organization has its own rules / routines in regard to what pitchers do between starts. Few, if any, adhere to the ASMI guidelines, which were created not arbitrarily or via guesswork, but based on scientific research. But baseball knows better. It’s remarkable that other sports use scientific research to train their athletes, and as a result, most world-class athletes follow similar if not identical regimens, but baseball … well, it’s all over the place. Teams do whatever they think might work, based on … hmmm … not sure. And we wonder why there are so many pitching injuries, when everyone is being trained differently.

Finally, I hope that more pitchers dictate their own throwing programs — after they learn about proper recovery. If teams can’t provide safe and effective methods, it’s up to the pitchers to take their health in their own hands.

/off soap box (for now)

Here’s a GREAT, and CORRECT quote by Ron, in regard to how Braves pitchers coached by Leo Mazzone famously threw two bullpens between starts, in contrast to most pitchers who do more “flat ground throwing” in between: “You hear guys all the time (saying) ‘well I did my flat-ground work today.’ Well what the hell does that mean? You make your living throwing off a slope, you should throw off a slope as much as you can.” Absolutely. Yes. All pitchers should worry less about long toss, flat ground work, etc., and make sure they get in maximum work — with proper recovery time in between, of course — off the mound.

More point for Ron: discouraging young pitchers from “wrapping” the ball behind the back. As Ron mentioned, it adds more time and complexity in getting proper timing. Additionally — as it was in Ron’s case — it’s likely to create shoulder problems, because it usually causes the arm to be behind the rest of the body, therefore putting more stress on it.

Strange quips by Ron: first, that the reason Wheeler has “a lot of moving parts” is “due to his long and lanky body.” No. It’s due to Wheeler having a complicated motion — a pitcher 4 feet tall or 7 feet tall can have a complicated motion with “a lot of moving parts.” Second: Ron’s explanation that Rick Sutcliffe was able to pitch despite wrapping the ball because he was 6’7″ and therefore his body could take the abuse. No. More likely, Sutcliffe somehow found a way to adjust the rest of his body to get the ball to the right spot at foot strike. Ironically, Ron sort of explained this being the case, describing Sutcliffe’s motion as being extremely slow / deliberate. So Ron was wrong, but he was right.

A few tough plays on balls in the dirt for Taylor Teagarden in the first frame, with a runner on third. The first one got by, the second didn’t, and both illustrated the reason that I teach my catching students to ALWAYS start movement with the glove and to get the glove to the dirt immediately, and follow behind it with the body — and NEVER try to stop the ball with the glove, as an infielder would. The catcher’s glove is not built like an infielder’s glove, and it’s not suited to catching ground balls — so if you try to stop a pitch in the dirt (which is essentially the same as a grounder), there’s a good chance it will bounce off a bulky, padded part of the glove and into an unintended direction. So, you always attempt to stop the ball with your body, ideally your stomach or chest, and direct the ball back toward home plate. If you can “surround” the ball with your upper body and angle your chest protector toward home plate, the ball almost always will deflect into a controlled direction in front of you, where you can see it and pick it up fairly easily.

Crazy play in the bottom of the first that will go into the file of dual stupidity, right behind the Yasiel Puig / Wilmer Flores infield fly rule debacle from last month. On a double-play attempt, Everth Cabrera threw the ball away, and Ruben Tejada — who began the play on second base — could have easily scored, because Jesse Hahn lollygagged after the overthrow, and didn’t once look to see if Tejada was attempting to score. Tejada should have noticed that Hahn didn’t notice him. Instead, because both players weren’t paying attention, Hahn luckily got out of the inning unscathed.

It was mentioned that Jesse Hahn was drafted in 2010 by the Padres knowing he would need Tommy John surgery, and he didn’t throw a pitch in ’10 nor ’11. Further, he never threw more than 73 pitches nor as many as 6 full innings in a pro game prior to his last minor-league start (he threw 93 in 5 2/3 innings). I don’t understand that, it makes zero sense. It’s astonishing how ignorant pro teams are when it comes to keeping pitchers healthy. I would love to know what evidence-based research suggests that limiting pitches and innings will lead to healthier, stronger pitchers? I understand that there is anecdotal evidence suggesting that injured pitchers had racked up innings / pitches, but there’s nothing (that I know of) suggesting that less pitches will prevent injury. What we DO know is that injuries DO result when pitchers ignore recovery guidelines, and pitchers’ bodies/arms WILL be stronger and less prone to injury when they receive proper rest in between outings. This is fact, not guesswork.

After four frames, Hahn threw 60 pitches, Wheeler, 88.

The Mets had a golden opportunity to score runs in the fourth, when the first two batters reached base and the Mets eventually loaded the bases. However, none of the runners could be plated, as the Mets batters struck out three times.

The Mets’ inability to score runs overshadowed several little things that went awry. For example, a rundown between third base and home that took something like a half-dozen or so throws before retiring a San Diego runner, allowing batter-runner Cameron Maybin to advance all the way to third. A properly executed rundown should take exactly one throw; at most, three (and even that is stretching it).

Yet again, Gary and Ron discussed the idea that pitchers no longer have as many shoulder problems in the past because there are exercises to strengthen the shoulder, while the ability to strengthen the elbow is “limited.” WOW — at least Gary finally stopped saying that the elbow can’t be strengthened, which was even more ridiculous. OF COURSE pitchers can strengthen the muscles around the elbow, and an elbow-strengthening program should be part of every pitcher’s routine. The fact it isn’t is part of the reason for so many elbow injuries today. And for every pitcher reading this blog, go to Angel Borrelli’s website and purchase her book Engineering the Pitching Elbow, as there are a ton of exercises in there for strengthening the elbow. FYI, I don’t make a dime from any sales — I recommend the book because it is one of the most useful investments a pitcher (or parent of one) can make to stay healthy.

Next Mets Game

The rubber match in Flushing begins at 1:10 PM. Daisuke Matsuzaka takes the mound against Ian Kennedy, whose 5-7 record belies the fact he’s having a pretty good season (1.12 WHIP, 3.63 ERA, .238 BAA).

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. meticated June 15, 2014 at 12:06 am
    Joe, you’re a mountain of wisdom…wines gain is baseball’s loss…the Mets would be well served in hiring you as a consultant at least, a manager at best…but I gotta comment on the play between the chalk lines…this is pitiful…we can’t situational hit..our fundamentals are atrocious…I read other blogs and their commentary and its 90% negative…the blogosphere if its any barometer reveals that soon nobody will care anymore, forced into apathy and seeking any diversion besides blue and orange…in challenging economic times we need encouragement not depression…i would rather surf the net for good news and meritorious human effort in sports, technology and good relations…this just seems endlessly futile and like a hamster wheel of frustration and angst…
    • Joe Janish June 15, 2014 at 2:05 pm
      Thanks very much for the kind words. I agree, the widespread negativity, particularly amongst the team’s most fervent fans (writing and commenting on blogs), should be of concern to the Mets.

      Then again, maybe it’s all part of a devious plan — look out for the conspiracy theory I’ll be posting shortly.

  2. DaveSchneck June 15, 2014 at 8:14 am
    On 50 cent day the Mets gave a two cent effort. And before the game the esteemed GM told the season ticket holders to “focus on what we have”. He misrepresented the payroll as the same as last year when it is millions less. He would not commit to increasing the payroll next year. He touted the oitching as a strength, when is somewhat disingenuous. It is a strength relatve to the hitting, which is bottom of the league, but it is middle of the road compared to other teams. How people can pay thousands for a product that is bad and listen to that I don’t know, but to each his own. This team has nothing of interest about it. If it wasn’t for they excellent breakdowns and dialogues on Metstoday I would pay no attention at all. Again cluelessness by the GM who should thank his kucky stars that there are Met blogs to give this team a shred of relevance
  3. Dan B June 15, 2014 at 8:56 am
    To have a payroll under $80 million, in the bottom five in the league, and not be able to commit to an increase is sad. Wright’s pay increase alone would raise the payroll. Only Chris Young has an expiring contract of any size. This means the Mets will have to dump contracts to maintain a $80 million payroll. To become irrelevant in a city that has two teams is very dangerous. The level of apathy grows every day.
  4. Bat June 15, 2014 at 9:52 am
    Dan B, you raise a good point that I hadn’t previously thought of: Murphy and other arbitration-eligible players will get raises next year, so even once Chris Young is jettisoned if the payroll can’t increase then Young’s salary is only sufficient to pay the existing players’ their raises (or other players to replace existing players, but those other players can’t be any more expensive than the existing players).

    I said it the other day and I’ll say it again: it is really, really embarrassing the way that a franchise in New York with a (relatively) new stadium is run like a team in Pittsburgh.

    Pirates fans had to endure 20 consecutive losing seasons before they got where they are now and one really has to wonder how many more losing seasons the Mets fans are going to get stuck with before we get a pennant contender.

    When I first read the news about Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, it never occurred the way that this would affect my favorite baseball team – who knew!

    And who knew how bad it would be once the Wilpons acquired sole control from Nelson Doubleday. The Mets have had four winning seasons since Doubleday divested his 50% interest in 2002. Coincidence? Maybe not.

    • Joe Janish June 15, 2014 at 2:17 pm
      No coincidence. It’s the Wilpon Curse.
  5. Bat June 15, 2014 at 10:52 am
    I suppose if Colon continues to pitch well until the trade deadline, the Mets might be able to find a taker for him and then replace the $10 million they have budgeted for him next year with a bat?

    The rotation should be okay with some combination of Niese, Gee, Harvey, Wheeler, Montero, deGrom, and Synderbloock so if there is a market for Colon, it might be good to clear Colon’s 2015 salary off the books and acquire another bat for next year.

    So, so sad that on June 15 we are talking about the Mets payroll NEXT YEAR and who they should deal at the deadline.

    Again, how is this possible in the New York market???

    Fred / Jeff – stop saying that the fans need to come out and then you will increase payroll! Build it (a real team) and they (the fans) will come!

  6. DanB June 15, 2014 at 12:53 pm
    Bat, this might be the beginning of the end for Wright. He is being paid $20 million per year through 2018. We have already started to hear arguments for trading him. (He is, however, 10/5). i can imagine the Mets thinking “why do we need Wright making 25% of the payroll when Harvey could be the new face of the franchise?” Of course there is no promise of Harvey’s future sucess nor that Harvey is an appropriate “face of the franchise”.
    By the way, I think the contracts the Wilpons negotiated for SNY and to build Citi Field have more affect on 2014 payroll then Madoff. Either way, no MLB team will ever have prolonged sucess with a bad owner. And the Wilpons are bad owners.
    • Joe Janish June 15, 2014 at 2:13 pm
      I think the Wilpons negotiated those loan deals with the idea they’d continue to be making 20% interest on their Madoff investments — just as they counted on those beans when giving Bonilla a 25-year deferment agreement, giving Santana his extension, giving Castillo and Perez dumb contracts, etc.
  7. Bat June 15, 2014 at 2:35 pm
    Totally agree Joe – I think they were counting on that future revenue stream.

    On a different yet related note, this webpage seems to indicate that they need to make two payments of nearly $43 million each in 2016 and 2017:

    I am having a lousy Father’s Day because my dad died this past year, but I was a little cheered that the PTBNL in the Ike Davis trade was just announced as Blake Taylor, who seems far, far away from the majors but is a better “get” than I thought.

    However, not to be negative but the irony of the Mets acting as a feeder team to the Pirates major league club (Byrd, Buck, and Ike) is almost unbelievable. None of these players were that great but the irony is kind of striking that a New York team supplies a Pittsburgh team its missing major league parts for prospects.

    • Joe Janish June 15, 2014 at 3:05 pm
      Thanks for sharing the financial tidbit. Interesting addition to the thickening plot.

      I’m sorry for your loss.

      As for the Mets being a feeder system for the Bucs, it’s kind of like when the Kansas City A’s were feeding the Yankees back in the day.

  8. Bat June 15, 2014 at 8:21 pm
    Thanks for the kind words Joe.

    I hear ya about the A’s-Yankees, but the only difference was that the feeder team during the 70s was resident in Kansas City and the feeding team was resident in New York.

    What is frustrating is that the Mets are being run like a small market franchise.

  9. argonbunnies June 16, 2014 at 4:47 pm
    This was one of the most stupidly-pitched games I have ever seen. I won’t say “worst” because I’ve seen guys go out there with no stuff and/or no command, and that wasn’t Wheeler’s problem. His fastball was humming at 94, his breaking balls were breaking, the two change-ups he threw effectively fooled batters, he wasn’t missing the catcher’s glove by a ton, and when he absolutely had to throw a strike, he did.

    But here’s how he started virtually every AB to a lefty:
    Pitch 1: fastball just off the plate away
    Pitch 2: fastball just off the plate away
    Pitch 3: fastball outer half

    The Padres can’t hit at all. The only way they had a chance to score 4 runs in 5 innings was if they got a 2-0 fastball every time up — and that’s exactly what Wheeler gave them. Some hitters poked it for a single, others took it and worked the inevitable walk when Wheeler returned to nibbling.

    After the first inning, I expected that Teagarden or Warthen or Collins or Wright or anyone would grab Zack and say, “Throw the first pitch of the AB down the middle or you’re out of here.” But no. Wheeler was out there inning after inning doing the exact same thing, with never a mound visit from the catcher or a dressing-down from a coach.

    Telling Oliver Perez to throw strikes was pointless — on his bad days, he literally could not control the ball. And Wheeler has days like that too. But this was not one of them. This was a fireballer facing a historically weak offense, and nibbling. I won’t say “pitching scared” because I can’t read Zack’s mind, but he was at the very least trying to make perfect pitches on the corners.

    This strikes me as a serious problem.