Mets Game 77: Win Over Athletics

Mets 10 Athletics 1

Mets beat the bejeezus out of The Best Team In Baseball. Does that mean the Mets are better than the best?

Mets Game Notes

For the second straight postgame recap, I can’t criticize anything the Mets did (OK, I did find a few nitpicky things in game 76). Could they go three straight without feeling the sting of my harsh whip of words? If so, it would be the first time to do that in three straight games since — Gary, could you look it up?

There are a few unsettling things that came to mind (you knew I couldn’t dwell on the positive, right?). First off, on the heels of whispers that he was on the verge of being released, Chris Young has his best game of the season, blasting two homers, scoring three times, walking once, and causing Gary Cohen’s heart to race with the possibility of becoming the first Met in history to hit three homers in a home game. Was it a coincidence?

Second, Travis d’Arnaud also went yard, continuing the scorching-hot streak he started the moment he left the big leagues for Las Vegas. What was it about leaving New York that turned his switch to “on”? Can he sustain it? Or again, just a coincidence?

Third, Ruben Tejada had another all-around sparkling game, and seems to step it up when he is fighting for a job. Is this also a coincidence, or is there more to it? Does he focus more, knowing his time is limited and/or his status as a big leaguer is at stake?

Finally, the Mets offense is suddenly putting up Ruthian numbers exactly one month (OK, technically, it’s four weeks) after the Mets fired hitting coach Dave Hudgens and promoted Lamar Johnson. Again, is it coincidence? Or is there something about Johnson that has allowed the Mets bats to wake up? Or is there something about Johnson not being Hudgens? Which begs the question — has Hudgens been holding this team back for the past three years? And further, would more changes in management result in similar performance increases?

Or is all this just a temporary tease, and in a week or so will the Mets will be right back to being 7-10 games below .500, fighting to stay out of the NL East cellar?

If you’re a Mets fan bleeding orange and blue, and feeling like ya gotta believe, then you have to wonder what could have been done better in the first 70 or so games, because the personnel available has not changed drastically. What if the alligator-armed executives reached into their pockets and pulled out enough money to sign legit MLB players such as Stephen Drew and/or Kendrys Morales — either before or after the June draft? What if they had added a legit MLB reliever to the bullpen to back up Bobby Parnell, instead of throwing dented paint cans like Kyle Farnsworth and Jose Valverde against the wall? What if a more effective field general, bullpen juggler, and personality motivator were in the dugout? Might the Mets have a few more wins than they do now? And further, what will the front office do going forward, if this current winning streak (and four straight wins DOES qualify as a “streak”) continues and the Mets find themselves in the thick of the postseason race as the trade deadline nears? Will they pull the trigger on a deal to improve the club, or will they continue forward with current lot? What if getting the big bat or arm means dealing away a top prospect, such as Noah Syndergaard or Kevin Plawecki? Are you in?

Next Mets Game

Mets and Athletics do it again at 7:10 PM on Wednesday night. Zack Wheeler goes for the sweep against journeyman Brad Mills.

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. crozier June 24, 2014 at 11:29 pm
    What if the Mets had simply followed the Cardinals model of using their young pitchers in the bullpen instead of digging through the scrap heap? Probably not a tremendous difference in the short run – perhaps they’d be a game or three better (not a bad thing). But long run, it could have built confidence, and been a better showcase for a mid-season trade for, dare I say, offense.

    I refuse to be terribly optimistic. But it’s a joy (relief?) to watch Granderson lay off outside pitches and smash the hell out of good ones. His towel-waving revolution is another thing, though. I don’t care for it as a long-term device (I noted with amusement that Wright seems tired of it, giving his towel a perfunctory 1.5 revolutions both times he was on camera). It would be so Metsian if someone strained a ligament on a towel wave.

  2. Kent June 24, 2014 at 11:44 pm
    Stephen Drew is hitting really, really bad right now (granted, small sample size), I can’t imagine why you would want him. Consider he came off a career year in a good hitting environment, can’t seem to stay healthy in recent years, his potential improvement over Ruben Tejada (well right now he is worse than Tejada) really doesn’t justify the cost to sign him (rumored to be 3 year 30M for the most of winter and 2 year 24M later on), he is one person I’m really glad Mets didn’t sign. Maybe you are just giving an example, Joe, but Stephen Drew is a really bad example.
    • Joe Janish June 25, 2014 at 10:49 am
      Stephen Drew is a really bad example if you are thinking only of this very moment.

      What if the Mets had signed Drew during the offseason, and he’d gone through a full spring training, and had played 70-75 games at SS for the Mets by now? I very much doubt he’s still be hitting .133, and I’d bet the house he’d have been more productive — offensively, defensively, and fundamentally — than the Tejada/Flores combo.

      Or, if you want to look at it another way, if the Mets signed Drew right after the draft, so that they wouldn’t lose that precious third-round pick, yeah, he might only be hitting .133, but he’s not going to stay there, and if the Mets plan to win 90 games and/or make the postseason, they’re going to need to fortify their offense and defense at some point between now and August. If the Mets are “buyers” as the trade deadline looms, they’ll be looking for someone exactly like Stephen Drew — a solid defensive shortstop with pop. But they’re going to have to give up a prospect and/or MLBer to get such a player.

      I didn’t ever buy into Sandy Alderson’s BS regarding the cost of Drew vs. Tejada, and I still don’t. That’s how companies who are broke and failing justify their choice to continue failing. When a company or a team wants to succeed, they find opportunities to make themselves better. If they have to look at the cost of getting minutely better, then they’re in the wrong business.

      But I understand — today’s baseball fan has changed. People don’t care about winning and losing, they care about efficiency and “smart business.” Enjoy watching the Mets finish third to last every year, but doing it efficiently. Not my cup of tea.

      • DaveSchneck June 25, 2014 at 12:18 pm
        I agree with you on Drew (if I understand what you are saying). The time to sign Drew was during the offseason, before camp. However, as was the case with Nelson Cruz, it takes two to tango. Cruz’s demands and Drew’s demands during the offseason overrode the fact that the Mets are cheap and penny pinching to come in with a payroll under 2013. Drew’s sample size is too small at this point, but anyone paying attention knew that he would likely provide an upgrade to Tejada but was a player with warts and would not provide a dramatic change. He needed to be used as part of the overhaul, but that is done, and while I give Alderson no excuse for not upgrading SS, signing Drew after the season began made no sense at all.

        What the Mets do with SS and Tejada/Flores going forward will have as much to do with how TDA and Lagares perform as much as anything. If both those guys blossom enough to provide decent offense in the 6/7 poisiton(s), or if Lagares can even lead off vs. LHP, the Mets can live with a live with a light hitting SS in the 8 hole (or 9 hole), find a big bat for left field, and possibly a big bat at 1B if Duda can’t produce adequately (I thin he can if he continues his trend of being more aggressive earlier in the count).

  3. Anthony June 25, 2014 at 4:04 am
    I would say yes to the fact that they would be SEVERAL games better if Terry Collins was not in the dugout. He has cost them many games this year where he has either just sat on his butt as his pitchers implode, actually waiting to long after they have let the game get out of hand before even visiting the mound…

    Also, of course they would be better if they had gotten a bat such as Nelson Cruz instead of Chris Young to start the season. For “bejezuz-sake” they could have spent close to the same amount of money on Cruz also as they did CY! But nothing we can do about that now. Now the Mets need to land someone from the Twins or from Arizona (a la Josh Willingham, or Goldschmidt in a blockbuster deal). For Goldschmidt, send them Montero/Gee and a player to be named later. Or something crazy, I don’t know what it would actually take, but I’d be willing to dump a prospect and a proven for him if that is what it would take to get him. Imagine the Mets with Paul Goldschmidt in our lineup! It would be sick:

    Lagares Cf
    Murphy 2b
    Wright 3b
    Goldschmidt 1b
    Granderson Rf
    EY/CY Lf
    d’Arnaud C
    Tejada/Flores SS

    Now THAT is a RUN-producing lineup. And if they could do it without letting go of Syndergaard/Wheeler/Harvey obviously, I am all for it. Not a huge fan of Montero, even though his upside is probably pretty solid…and I would part with Gee or Mejia as well. Maybe a Montero/Mejia/someone else deal? Would that do it?

  4. mic June 25, 2014 at 6:40 am
    I caught a comment on another site which was in response to Plaewecki’s promotion. Would you care to comment on Plawecki vs TDA?
    • Joe Janish June 25, 2014 at 10:26 am
      No, I have no comment on Plawecki at this time. All I’ve seen of him is a handful of at-bats late in spring training games.
  5. Kent June 25, 2014 at 8:00 am
    @Anthony (for some reason I’m stuck on mobile mode so I can’t replied to you in your own post)

    Nelson Cruz’s last three seasons in Texas that’s roughly hitting .260/.310~.320/.500 (and this is generous, I ignored he only slugged .460 in 2012) in a very hitter-friendly enviroment, playing really bad defense (UZR around -6ish). He was asking 5 years 70M+ earlier in the offseason, that’s way too much and probably killed any Mets interest in getting him. I understand the Orioles is looking pretty good with the signing. However, Camden Yards is also a better hitting environment than the Citi Field, and Cruz played mainly DH in Baltimore, a position that does not exists in the National League. Although we can’t turn back the clock nor see the future but I believe it’s highly likely that 1) Cruz would not come to Mets for 8M and 2) he’ll probably hit about as well as Curtis Granderson earlier in the season while playing defensively at a level slightly above Lucas Duda, that would not be a good signing for the Mets.

    Gee+Montero or Montero+Mejia would not net you Goldschmidt. Actually, Syndergaard + Montero probably won’t net you Goldschmidt. We are talking about a player who right now is one of the best player in the game, only 26, locked into a very team-friendly deal through 2018 with a 2019 option. There’s almost no way D-Backs would trade him, he is the kind of player you build your franchise around, not a trade piece.

  6. Dave June 25, 2014 at 9:29 am
    Stephen Drew: .133/.170/.178/
    Kendrys Morales: .222/.271/.333

    SAVIORS! When you’re looking at the list of the BEST free agent signings of this past offseason, you have to include Curtis Granderson.

    • Joe Janish June 25, 2014 at 10:30 am
      Funny you mention Granderson, who was hitting about .130 through his first 25-30 games of the year.

      Where are Drew and Morales right now, in comparison? Hmm … Drew’s played in 13 games, and Morales, 14.

      Let’s check back on this in say, a month or two, mmmkay?

      Unless you think the Mets won’t need a bat by then, because they’ll be out of the race.

      • Walnutz15 June 25, 2014 at 10:59 am
        Aside from the fact that Drew’s been nursing the usual ST-standard “oblique” injury. It’s his own fault for having held out like he did (and being severely behind the curve in reporting 2 months in).
  7. Kent June 25, 2014 at 1:36 pm
    @Joe yes I understand had Drew signed earlier and conditioned/trained/played earlier he might(I’ll even agree it’s probable) he’ll played a lot better, but I won’t throw too much money at some guy who 1) has trouble staying healthy in the past few seasons (although not last one) and 2) just didn’t hit that well in the past few seasons (again, not last one) and 3) his last season is partially helped by being in one of the better hitting environment

    Joe, I understand your chagrin toward what you saw as using “efficient” as a excuse been cheap. But considering nobody in the offseason are willing to match what Drew asked for in the offseason despite several team really needed a SS (Mets is one of them, but so are Tigers, for example), you should considering that Drew is just not as valuable as what his asking price were. Besides, from some reports, Mets are not exactly out of their financial troubles yet.

    (and btw, he did at one point turned down a 2/20M offer from the Mets, he could accepted it then and start conditioning/training/playing earlier, he chose not to)

    • Joe Janish June 25, 2014 at 5:26 pm
      Drew seems to have value to the Boston Red Sox, who have won several more championships than the Mets in the past 20 years.

      There’s always an excuse not to spend money on a player — ALWAYS. Those that find reasons not to spend are, again, probably not suited to be running a major league sports franchise in the most lucrative media market in the world. If Mets ownership is in such financial straits that they can’t properly compete, it’s time to sell. I’m astonished that MLBPA hasn’t pushed the issue on this yet.

      Either you’re committed to winning or you’re committed to doing whatever it takes to remain a sports mogul and rub elbows with all the fancy folks in high society. Ownership has, time and again, chosen the latter — even before the Madoff issues.

    • Dan42 June 25, 2014 at 6:40 pm
      Drew’s major health problem was a ankle broken when he was with the Dbacks that seems to be fully healed. Are there other specific health concerns?
      • Kent June 25, 2014 at 7:42 pm
        Right now he has some oblique problems, but it could just be the result of not properly trained/conditioned while he is waiting to sign.
  8. Kent June 25, 2014 at 1:54 pm
    By the way, on the point of Kendrys Morales…
    Lucas Duda is having a pretty good season, yes he’s only hitting .250, but he gets on base(.346), have some power (.459 SLG), good for 129OPS+, 128wRC+ while playing passable defense (UZR around -.6ish, granted it’s small sample). You really think Morales is going to do much better than that?

    For the reference Duda is having a better season in the limited action last year than Morales, yes he only hit.233, but he still got on base a lot(.352, compare to .320-ish for Morales), and he still got power (he hit 15HRs in 384PAs, Morales hit 23 in 657, yes Duda actually hit HR at a higher rate), not to mention Morales is mainly a DH too, so I would not expect him to play better defense than Duda. So one can certainly argue Lucas Duda right now is as good, if not a better player than Morales, think of it this is an even worse example than Stephen Drew, Joe.

    • Joe Janish June 25, 2014 at 5:28 pm
      Again, let’s re-visit this, say, in August and look at the standings and the individual player stats.
  9. Kent June 25, 2014 at 6:08 pm
    @Joe well yeah, Red Sox saw value in Drew…after 2 months into the season, obviously back in offseason they don’t see as much value as right now…and Drew signed for 10M a year now, much less for what he asked earlier from every team (included the Mets)

    And Joe, I think you are evading my question here. Maybe I didn’t word it clearly, I’ll try to word it better: Why after 2 seasons (I gave you last season’s stat, but Morales’s 2012 is pretty similiar to 2013 as well) in which Morales played roughly same, if not worse level than Lucas Duda’s last season, you would think he’ll hit much better than Duda is hitting right now? (And I’m asking this because in my opinion it only make sense for the Mets to sign Morales if he can perform on a noticeable higher level than Duda)

    • Joe Janish June 26, 2014 at 12:08 am
      OK I won’t evade the question. In my opinion, Lucas Duda is a dud, and will always be an underachiever as a corner man who profiles as a DH, and he has yet to prove he’s anything other than someone who can occasionally go on a decent offensive tear. He hasn’t even played a full season yet, and at 28 years old, he is what he is. Sure, you can pick out one specific stat or another that makes Duda look better but he’s not been able to sustain anything through a season of 550-600 plate appearances. In contrast, Kendrys Morales is a proven commodity who has been productive when healthy and has a career OPS of over .800. To me it’s not even a conversation, and I don’t care about the cost because regardless of how much either is paid, the ticket prices and the cost of a hot dog is going to be the same. If I’m paying Major League prices to watch, I want a Major League club — not a bunch of guys who are AAAA players.
      • Kent June 26, 2014 at 6:32 am
        Unfortunately I don’t buy this as the reasoning, Joe. You are a coach, so I was more looking forward to a response of whether there’s some hole in Duda’s swing or there are some flaw in Duda’s approach, and these flaws are not present with Morales in the past two years. It’s not pick and choose stats either, Morales has been hitting Duda-like, if not worse, number other than Batting Averages and RBIs, and he has been pretty healthy for the last two seasons. Sure, Duda hasn’t really played a full season yet, but it’s not his fault that Mets chose to be very patient with Ike Davis and tried to pretend that Duda is able to be an outfielder. If there are two players performed quite the same, one cost 7M and another cost, well, a lot less than 7M, I’m going to take the latter player and as of right now, I believe Morales is playing on the same level with Duda. (Obviously he is a lot better before) Of course, Morales could totally proves you right and ended up hitting much better than Duda. Well he is an FA again after this season, Mets could sign him then.

        Regarding your post about Loria below. I actually have read the book you mentioned before, but I find its findings more applicable to former Marlins owner Wayne Huizenga. Anyway, Mets “re-booted” just as Marlins did, the only one remain is Wright, the difference being Mets have a pretty bad farm system to come in with. But Wilpons has been big spender before, now they don’t have as much money to spend but evidently has some and seems to be on their way to get out of the financial trouble they are in right now, I can’t see MLB/MLBPA will have a case to force them to sell, there are no laws against owners being dumb people.

  10. Kent June 25, 2014 at 7:40 pm
    Actually I forgot to address a point made by Joe earlier regarding the ownership.
    This I agree with Joe, I do think it would be a good thing for the Mets if Wilpons sold the team, but I’m afraid that has to come from their own will and not from MLB/MLBPA. They secured some substantial loan earlier so they are in better financial shape than before so you can’t quite say they are a failing business. They did make effort to try to compete (see signing of Colon and Granderson), so I’m not sure how MLBPA will have a case here. The Madoff fiasco is damaging but unless there are some illegal funding involves Wilpons are just one of many, many people tricked by Madoff in his scams. And if MLB can’t (or doesn’t want to) force an owner that already failed a franchise once, and in his new franchise sell almost all of his stars after a subpar season In a new stadium (which might only happened because of these stars), and some of these money under investigation for possible fraud (I’m talking about Loria here if you haven’t guessed) to sell, it’s highly unlikely they’ll be able to (or want to) force Wilpons to sell
    • Kent June 25, 2014 at 7:44 pm
      Oh of course I’m not a legal expert, if someone with legal background saw mistakes in my reasonings/assumptions on this matter, feel free to point out.
    • Joe Janish June 26, 2014 at 12:13 am
      Regarding Loria, there is a fantastic marketing book called “Do It Wrong Quickly.” I don’t think there was anything wrong with what Loria did in cleaning house and starting over, especially in a city (state, actually) that has proven to perform financially like a small market. Of course, Loria made his own bed when he cried about being stuck in Montreal. But the bottom line is, I think the decision to quickly re-boot was a heckuva lot more responsible and effective than this four-year “plan” happening in Flushing, which is really a masquerade to hide the fact that ownership was never qualified to operate a major league franchise in New York.
    • Joe Janish June 26, 2014 at 12:16 am
      BTW, Kent, thank you for joining the conversation. This blog exists for the back-and-forth banter, and while I often disagree with just about everyone’s comments, I thoroughly enjoy and appreciate the time people take to post their thoughts.
  11. DanB June 25, 2014 at 7:48 pm
    I remember when batting average was overly rated. I was glad when OBP was given more value. But now I think the pendulum has swung too far. Duda’s OBP is way over rated. A walk is not as good as a hit no matter what people say. Sure, getting on when bases are empty is good, but you need to be a hitter with runners on base. Duda’s walks move runners one base at the most, leaving the team’s weakest hitters to drive in runs. Plus he clogs the bases. Watch the game, don’t just read the box score. This is why the Mets are so bad with RISP.
    • Kent June 25, 2014 at 8:00 pm
      Duda hit for power too, in fact in a higher rate than say, Kendrys Morales (I pointed out Duda has a higher PA/HR, though not sure if it’s statistically significant, he also has higher ISO last season than Morales) And while Duda might “clogged” the bases, Morales will do the same, I’m sure his not any faster than Duda.

      I watched the game too, it’s lazy to accuse people don’t watch games just because they like to talk about stats.

  12. DanB June 25, 2014 at 9:43 pm
    Kent, I apologize. After I posted, I realize that it sounded like I was talking to you when I meant it for people who obsess on Duda’s OBP. I acknowledge your posts were more of a coherent debate that even if I disagree with, I respect.
  13. DaveSchneck June 26, 2014 at 8:35 am
    Regarding Duda, I see above that Joe see’s him as a DH/bust. I will reserve judgment, but I still thinnk he can be a legit power bat at 1B. We all know he has been too passive taking the “Met doctine” to the passive extreme, which gives the pitcher a huge advantage. As has been pointed out elsewhere in Met blog world, when the Dude swings at the 0-0 or 1-0 pitch, his stats are awesome. I have noticed him attacking earlier in the count much more frequently. Last night, I believe hit PH and hit the 1st pitch (off a lefty) out of the park. I think he has a shot a being a legit 30 HR guy at 1B, which would be fine, so long as he can balance the early attack with his patient approach, and force pitchers to deliver the cookie, as opposed to waiting for a cookie that never comes. Let’s see how he finishes out the season before we write him off as a passive DH that gags in the clutch.
    • Kent June 26, 2014 at 6:59 pm
      On this I want to point out Lucas Duda hit .288/.434/.644 this season RISP, so Duda is not “unclutch”‘at all this season so far, this is where memory can be really deceiving since we tends to remember the time he failed, especially since Mets lost so many one run games.

      (And statistics has shown there are little correlation of “clutch ness” on a yearly basis, in other words there’s really no one who is very clutch year after year)

      • DaveSchneck June 26, 2014 at 8:06 pm
        Good point and agreed. My comment on Duda’s “clutchness” is more based on his lack of RBI totals in the past, but the RISP, at least lately, in more accurate.