Steve Hussy has been a Mets fan since 1984. An insomniac as a kid, he watched baseball highlights at 4 AM on British TV. He credits Darryl Strawberry's long homers as the first cause of his obsession with the Mets. Now he gets to watch Mets games that finish at 3 AM and teach bleary-eyed lessons to his film students the next day. He also gets to shell out hundreds of pounds to fly over to New York and watch the Mets occasionally win. Steve Hussy's other job is as a writer and editor for Murder Slim Press, which specialises in confessional and crime literature. You can find out more about him on MurderSlim.com. Just no threats, please.
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Mets Game 123: Win Over Rockies

logan-verrett

Mets 5, Rockies 1

Beating the Rockies is easy, huh?

The Mets have just swept them 7-0 in the season’s series, but here are a coupla fun facts about the Rockies. They went 3-3 against the Nationals. They’re also 7-5 against the Giants. It’s time to update our Christmas card list to include 25 folks in Colorado.

The Rockies are SO bad against that the Mets’ 33 runs in this series would be a great return in a normal week. (Between you and me, I sabotaged their humidor… I got Ant-Man to crawl into it)

The mood of the Rockies team is summed up by Jose Reyes having a dig at them in the media, along with Carlos Gonzalez dropping his bat with disdain after he hit his deep fly. Knowing you’ve only closed the game to a 5-1 deficit has got to take the sting out of hitting a 430 foot homer.

The Rockies have lousy pitching and make daft mistakes. Charlie Blackmon’s baserunning in the 6th was flat-out comedic as he did a Murphy by getting caught going from first to third with two outs and that 5-1 deficit. Michael Conforto made the play with ease. And you could too.

The curious thing is the Rockies do have very good players. Carlos Gonzalez is in full CarGo mode after the All Star Break. Nolan Arenado has 30 homers and robbed Juan Uribe of a double down the line with a slick play that he always makes look easy. DJ LeMahieu flashed his own Gold Glove when he dived to get Johnson’s hard grounder way to his right.

And yet, and yet, and yet… you don’t become 49-73 without being terrible at a lot of things. Jose must have fumed from the dugout, but at least he’s got next year’s $20m salary to cheer him up. The Rockies are bad… yet it’s still nice that the Mets are better.

Dustin Garneau – a catcher whose name rhymes with Travis d’Arnaud but is less of a starlet – conspired to let through 4 wild pitches from David Hale. I’ll defer to Joe on this as a catcher, but Garneau seemed leaden-footed to me.

I do know a little about pitching and it was fun to watch Logan Verrett for an almost complete game. Verrett’s fastball rides about 89-91 mph and doesn’t do much. It pops occasionally but it only showed some duck and dive when he got Paulsen in the seventh. It’s standard, slightly below average in the major leagues.

Verrett’s usual change is only about 5-6mph less than his fastball and looks lazy. It’s fine and got some pop-outs and fly balls, but it’ll get smacked in future. His even worse pitch is his slider that doesn’t really slide. It’s a nothing pitch… there isn’t enough difference from his other pitches to surprise hitters.

So how the heck did Logan Verrett get through 8 innings giving up 1 run in the high altitude hitting heaven of Corrs Field? Those sharp cheekbones and muscle twitches can only carry him so far.

I’ll say this loudly. Logan Verrett NEEDS to be strapped down and told – a la THE CLOCKWORK ORANGE – that he MUST throw his 79-80mph pitch WAY more. It’s flat-out nasty and dives straight down just in front of the plate. I lost count of the grounders and the strikeouts it caused.

I spent most of this game trying to watch his hand, but I needed a better angle to figure it out. Playing cricket, I had to figure out hand positions and constantly watched the bowler’s hand in the field and at bat. Also as a bowler and with one lousy seam to work with, you HAVE to know what the ball can do. People don’t shine one side of a cricket ball for kinky pleasure, alright?

I think – and I emphasise THINK – Verrett’s slower change is a “Fosh.” It COULD be a forkball but I couldn’t see him flicking his wrist. It MAY be a circle change but it didn’t move like it and I couldn’t see the trademark circle grip. Sound back in the comments if you’ve got a view on this.

Verrett’s slow change – and let’s say it’s a Fosh – is a plus-plus pitch. If he can keep throwing it this well he can get away with his average other repertoire. As Matt Harvey fill-ins go, I’ll sacrifice my precious Fantasy Baseball points for such an economical and fine outing from a Mets’ pitcher.

The Mets rumble onto to the Phillies next. Don’t let the Phillies’ post-All Star Break run deceive you. They’re still bad. The NL Least is a gift that keeps on giving, and it’ll be fun to see David Wright back.

Hit me back about Verrett’s pitch. That was a “Fosh” wasn’t it? It’s driving me crazy, but if he keeps throwing it he’ll be a valuable addition in October… Phew, October? I used to be able to get to bed before 4am then.

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Mets Game 118: Loss To Pirates

metsbucs

Pirates 8 Mets 1

It was all going so well… and I include the first couple of games in the series against the Pirates as part of that. Yeah, the Mets had lost but they were tight extra-innings games against a superb team.

I think the majority of Mets Today fans love pitching and defense and it’s been a treat to watch high quality games. We had Yoenis Cespedes’ laser beam to catch a runner a third. Curtis Granderson running down a long fly in right-center. Jung-ho Kang showing everyone who whined about his glove that he knows what he’s doing with a smooth double play.

Before that, there was a four-game sweep and a Rally Parakeet who’d been lured by the nesting sites in the Colorado Rockies’ bushy beards. Today, with Jonathan Niese on the bench and Matt Harvey sporting his Jason Statham stubble, the Mets were doomed.

The Mets got swept, yeah. But it doesn’t hurt that Citi Field was packed and that the Nationals are imploding at a staggering rate. The NL East standings remain fine and I think the Pirates are the second best team in the NL.

Pedro Alvarez – more Yogi Bear than Yogi Berra – put the Pirates ahead after he smacked a long home run off Matt Harvey in the second. Harvey pitched around trouble through six innings but showed plenty of class. Most innings got to two outs with someone on third and he coaxed an out.

Harvey is pitching to contact and seldom misses way wide. It looks less showy than strikeouts but he’s doing his job. He’s missing up and down, and he’s rarely grooving pitches. His curve was loopy in this game but the slider was on… helped by a generous call (on a pitch off the plate) to get Marte in the fifth. With all the talk about innings count, I think a guy as smart as him knows what he’s doing. Matt Harvey is maturing. It’s easy to think ball-players are full adults but they’re still getting there, and that’s where a manager as strong as Clint Hurdle comes in. Uncle Terry has matured too, like a 1949 Bordeaux. But he used to be a 1949 Port and he can still confound a little.

Take Travis d’Arnaud. He hit a long homer to left in the bottom of the second to even things up. Tell me why d’Arnaud is batting seventh in the order? He’d been on a 0-5 stretch, I suppose, but Juan Uribe is hot with home runs and little else. The likeable Michael Cuddyer is succumbing to rigor mortis and the humanoid Daniel Murphy has a .568 OBP against lefties. Why bat them above d’Arnaud? d’Arnaud hit a double inside third base in the fourth too, so that might get Extra Terrestrial Collins to add another improved crimp to his line-up.

Sunday felt like a usual Mets game with the game tied at 1-1 and then the storm hit. Given how poor his stick as been recently, Cuddy wisely kicked a ball off his toe for a HBP. I thought the boom of thunder was a stunned response to him getting on base. Sadly, it was bigger than that. Clearly a bunch of Mets’ fans had gone against the advice in Cappy’s last article and had called down wrath.

Playoff teams aren’t flawless, and the rare goof by the Mets (Murph) was matched by the Pirates (Ramirez) in the first couple of games. But today’s seventh inning was an abject mess.

I take notes for games I report on and here’s what I got:
– Parnell throwing 97. Overthrowing up and spiking down. Nervous. Recent issues. Spraying walks.
– Botch at second. Extra outs. Murph thought Tejada was somewhere in center field. Passed ball.
– Cespedes flings throw way left past home plate. Walker tries to score and gets caught. Messy.
– O’Flaherty can’t pitch any more. Almost same surname as an ex-girlfriend. Curse him.
– Lousy inning all around in what had been a great series.

There are worries with the Mets. They limped out with six of the last eight batters striking out. The Mets continue to struggle against anything slow and away, so it’s lucky Greg Maddux has retired.

As Terry Collins stormed to the clubhouse after the final out, there must have been new holes being ripped. But, and I really will make this my last criticism about DM, will he rip into his adopted son?

Question: Was Daniel Murphy’s throw to third on Saturday and throw to second on Sunday:
a. Over-enthusiastic?
b. Misplayed by someone else?
c. Stupid?

Answer:
a. General thoughts on SNY’s commentary
b. Terry Collins
c. The truth

It’s no embarrassment to lose to the Pirates. The Orioles are solid but that series should be a 1-1 split and then the Mets will be back on Easy Street against the Rockies and the soon-to-be-Utley-less Phillies.

Getting over the hump of the games in July was key for the Mets. They made it but the Nationals aren’t. Put that in your tobacco and chew it, Bryce (sorry again, Cappy, I won’t do that again).

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Mets Game 111: Loss To Rays

grinning-murph

Rays 4 Mets 3

For me, the Rays are like the Nationals. I look at their records and then double-take. How did they end up this way? Just take Logan Forsythe. He looked very much an All-Star at second as he made a nice play up the middle on Daniel Murphy in the fourth. Kudos to the Rays scouts for picking this guy out after four nothing seasons. Kudos for pulling together a whole team on their budget.

The Rays and Nationals look very good to me but their records suggest otherwise. When you follow one team, you miss the details that help you figure out the rest. Who knew Forsythe has a 4+ WAR? For all our grousing about the Mets’ offense, other teams are facing injuries, screw-ups, hopes and dreams fading away. I thought the Pirates would turn it around. They did. But time is running out for these guys. The Rays are basically gone. And the Nats should repeatedly hit their heads against a wall if they lose this division. And yet they could… might… will… lose it? You throw away a 10 K outing from Max Scherzer and you sorta deserve it.

The Rays sent out their best pitcher for this game. Chris Archer looks about 12 but throws – mostly fastballs up and in – with teenage anger. He struck out 10 but also walked 4. If the Mets laid off the high fastballs, you could have flipped that number and the Mets would have won 10-4. Archer pulled a tantrum in the second when the umpire called yet another walk on him. Archer is a “Renaissance Man,” according to Ron and Keith. He reads a book about religion and then one about atheism. You have to be a contrarian to be a Mets fan so I like this guy straight away… but Murph took out some anger of his own by clunking this guy for a couple of RBIs in the second.

Daniel Murphy’s hot streak – he has three of these every year – hasn’t improved his temperament. Please watch his at-bat in the second. After the usual debate with the umpire on a first pitch strike, we then had the usual bunch of foul balls and Murph shouting at himself. Or was it the umpire? Or was it God? I have no clue. He clunked the next pitch between first and second for the RBIs. On first base, he then kept shouting at someone. Who? Someone in the crowd? The dugout? Maybe it’s some expression of joy? Or a warning sign that he needs therapy? Still dunno.

Archer’s own histrionics are even harder for me to judge. It’s the first time I’ve seen a full game from the kid. Ron and Keith said he’s usually quick to deliver his pitches, but he was slow and wild in this game. A bad day, I guess. He sprayed a wild fastball way above Duda’s head in the first. He kept spiking his breaking stuff and he flounced around. Look, if I had hair as good as his, I’d want to take my hat off and shake it around. But it felt like he was doing his best Daniel Murphy impersonation, griping about things to fire himself up. I thought the home plate umpire called a good game… his pitches WERE inside.

Archer ploughed through six LONG innings and ended up not losing the game. Bartolo Colon lasted longer but ended up with the loss. I guess life conspires against us older guys. I’ll spin Bartolo’s platelets myself if it means they’ll continue to be a pitcher in MLB who’s older than me.

The game lolloped along, with the funky stance of John Jaso getting attention and three RBIs. Another kid – he looked about 14 – ended up hitting a go-ahead home run off Colon in the seventh.

Colon’s problem is he’s leaving his pitches too high. Early in the season he was throwing 95% fastballs but could spot them low. In this game, he threw a few more sliders than usual and mixed up his fastball even more. He got an out from Evan Longoria on an 85mph fastball. Is Colon injured? You tell me. His matador routine means he could be missing an arm and still come across as strong. When Steven Matz returns, it seems the Mets will revert to a six man rotation. To save innings for the young guys and all that. But doesn’t the old man deserve a little rest in the bullpen?

After Curtis Granderson grounded into the second base shift in the ninth, the Mets lost. But then so did the Nats. Hmm… NL Least? I’d take it. I don’t care. You win against what it put against you. Put Bryce Harper in a playpen and tell him Murph is joining him. Watch the tears. You never win against crazy.

Over the next few days, I fancy the Mets against the Rockies more than the Nats against the Dodgers. Just make Carlos Gonzalez think that it’s still April or May. Why doesn’t Citi Field have temperature control? Never mind… chuck some spring blossom on the field and the Mets will win.

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Mets Game 105: Win Over Nationals

3-nwa

Mets 5, Nationals 2

Lemme ask you some questions before I scoot through the recap of the Mets (kinda) drawing level with the Nats. Answer back in the comments below. These enjoyable last few days need more discussion than I can cover in under 1000 words.

This is the first full post after the Yoenis Cespedes trade. So how do you feel about it?

I know Joe’s posted a few comments in response to the trades and I fully agree with Joe that the Mets haven’t given up too much. Not even close. I would have taken the Gomez deal too… well, before the (alleged) knowledge that his leg will (allegedly) fall off next year. I don’t do hindsight and I haven’t seen medical records. If he was ok, a healthy Gomez would have been great… and he was signed up for 2016 at a fair cost. But have the Mets fallen into something better? Inadvertently, this could be the one of the rare good things Mets’ doctors have achieved in a decade.

It boils down to what price you put on prospects. Is Michael Fulmer a ham sandwich? For his sake I hope he turns out to be a Michelin-Star BLT, but his chances are the same as any injury prone prospect. After some tears and a turn of fate, the Mets kept another injury prone potential star in Zack Wheeler, who has proved he can pitch in the majors when his arm isn’t falling off.

Yes, Cespedes is a rental. But his OPS will be .800 or so. In post-PED baseball, that’s a lot. He hasn’t done much so far, but I like how they’re already scared of his arm… did you see them freeze on a long fly from Zimmerman in the sixth? Tyler Clippard is another rental… but didn’t he look good in the ninth? That was some superb hitting by Werth just to scratch out a single.

Then there’s Juan Uribe. I’m making JU pom-poms for his defense. And Kelly Johnson, intent on playing for all 30 MLB teams. Does that matter? For me, this is a cheap way to push for a pennant in a weak NL. I liked it all pre-hindsight too. I hoped the Mets would be the 2014 Royals. Can they be?

86 wins should get the Mets into the Wild Card game. Some geniuses said that around Spring Training. But what do you think about the concept of the second wild card?

I know it’s a blatantly commercial idea. More teams in contention equals more bums on seats. Citi Field was rocking on both Saturday and Sunday. David Wright made a ceremonial appearance in the dugout and we were treated to professional wrestling chants of “this is awesome.” In the fourth, Kevin Plawecki even responded with a long single.

It was silly fun. Watching any sport is silly. Cespedes came out to stereotypical mariachi music he’d probably hate. And I could be saving hedgehogs instead of watching people chase balls. But this is genuinely fun. And when it comes to getting into the playoffs, baseball is still not as goofy as the NBA and the NFL.

The Mets have morphed into the Newish York Mets due to dumbass financial decisions. They are not a big team, as ridiculous as that sounds. But I don’t care if they take the Royals or Giants route from last year. Scramble in and let your pitching do the talking. Does it all cheapen the playoffs? Again, I don’t care. Do you?

Onto the game…

The Mets’ win revolved around the third. Curtis Granderson (I had my CG pom-poms ready) hit a lousy Jordan Zimmermann curve for a two run homer. Lucas Duda slammed a two run homer off a much nastier pitch up and in. I like this pod version of Duda (who Citi Field call “DOOOOOOOD”) and may his Wonderbat continue to homer. This latest HR creeped inside the right field pole as the wrestling crowd quietened. Were they all breathing in to help get it over the fence? It worked.

In between, Daniel Murphy hit a crazily long home run to right center. He had a terrible first at-bat, where he wafted at a 3-2 pitch so far in the dirt it could have rolled there. I wonder whether Murph hates ball four even more than strike three. But Murph caught the HR wave and he also got nicely behind Werth’s quick grounder when Syndergaard ran into some trouble in the sixth. I hope Uribe is giving Murph fielding lessons and also schooling Wilmer for the future. Godspeed Murph in 2016 and beyond. Enjoy your $5m a year on a slightly saner contract.

New-oah Syndergaard continues to be great, kinda defeating my argument that prospects are overrated. At least he was a number one prospect for the Blue Jays with the sometimes right KL stamp of approval. And like DOOOOOOOD he’s a fun guy to watch. It’s a buzz as he chucks a 99mph fastball to get a swinging K over the wunderkind Bryce Harper. But also watch those baby blue boss eyes as he sits in the dugout. He has that faraway stare. Who is he seeing and what are they saying to him? It certainly seems to be a vision of the 22-year-old Walter Johnson rather than Joe Shlabotnik.

Post-game, Terry Collins did his improving impersonation of a very happy E.T. His hollowed eyes have never lit up with such dewy glee. Don’t worry, T.C.: you phoned home and this time the accountants didn’t pick up. Let’s enjoy that too.

There it is: 1, 2, 3. In the spirit of Citi Field’s wrestling atmosphere let’s finish with a sign from the crowd: YOU GOT THE BROOMS… WE GOT THE HAMMER. Urgh. The Thor puns will persist through Noah’s career. If only Hammering Hank had taken out a copyright. Damn!

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Mets Game 99: Win Over Dodgers

juan-uribe-mets

Mets 3, Dodgers 2

They call it the “Commentator’s Curse.” It’s when a commentator raves about a player and unwittingly sets them up for disaster. As soon as Gary said “The Dodgers have failed to get a hit EVER against Familia,” I knew there would be trouble. The Dodgers had gone 0-19 against Jeurys Familia up until that moment. Sadly, with a Kirk Nieuwenhuis-like bid for a respectable batting average, Adrian Gonzalez promptly smacked a long double. Gonzalez then scored on Justin Turner’s double to left center. Then Turner scored on Yasmani Grandal’s single just inside the third base bag. Well, the Dodgers were now 3 for 22 vs. Familia and the game was tied at 2. Urgh.

I’m not blaming Gary, of course. It was a strange outing for Familia. He couldn’t spot any pitches inside and when he reared back for 98-100mph heaters he was spiking them way down. When he fell behind in counts, he threw safer cutters they sat unhappily in the middle of the zone. Against the middle of the Dodgers order, that’s bad news. It could have been even worse, too, had Juan Uribe not flashed his underrated glove to make a sweet barehanded play on Kendrick to get the first out.

But, heck, these are the Newish New York Mets and not the old Mets who lost 4-3 to the Nats on Wednesday. In the bottom of the tenth, Curtis Granderson scampered a double, and following some farting around from Juan Nicasio (who makes Mike Pelfrey look fast to the plate) the Mets had one out and runners at first and second. Hello Kenley Jansen and hello my favourite of the new players, Juan Uribe. Juan dutifully crushed an 0-2 pitch off the left-center field wall, just falling short of matching Robin Ventura’s longest RBI single ever.

Leading up to that, it was hard not to sigh throughout a lazy bottom of the ninth and a typical Jenrry Mejia outing in the tenth. One of the kinda-newish players, hopefully on caffeine rather than anything stronger, Mejia is still a sucker for living on the edge. He walked Rollins, who stole second, then was bunted to third. Cue some extended misery watching Joc Pederson foul off pitches, including one nasty slider that just grazed his bat on 2-2. Next pitch? A 95mph fastball that Pederson swung under to strike out for the 119th time. A lazy fly ball later and Meija was out of it.

It’s hard to paint a player as talented as Pederson as the goat, but this wasn’t his best game. Aside from his 0 for 5, he botched fielding Plawecki’s spinning bloop in the third, which moved Kirk to third. Luckily, next up the Mets had the one position that leads its area in RBIs… pitcher. Jakob deGrom delivered again with a dribbler to first and Nieuwenhuis beat the throw home. Poor Zack Greinke lost his lengthy scoreless streak, and deGrom flashed his surfer boy smile.

Greinke and deGrom are first and second in ERA for good reason, but their stuff is nasty in different ways. Greinke throws a heavy ball, with late sink, pounding lefties and righties inside. Until the seventh, when the new dad started to tire, he repeatedly got lazy grounders with the batters shaking their hands from getting jammed. My favourite AB, though, was when he threw a bizarre pitch in the first to get the wildly flailing Daniel Murphy. It looked like a circle change, but it was at 90mph and moved like a hard slider. Forget the gyroball, I christen this the unhittoball.

Meanwhile, Jacob deGrom was plying his own trade of brilliant pitching. DeGrom doesn’t have the same sink on his slider, although he threw a great one moving outside to strike out Yasiel Puig in the seventh. DeGrom was predominantly just spotting his fastball. Inside, outside, and slightly above the strike zone. Constantly. Resulting in a huge amount of swing and misses. No wonder Kevin Plawecki forgot there was one out in the third and was doubled off on Ruben’s fly-out. His hand must have been hurting like crazy from catching all those laser guided 96-99mph strikes.

Watching these two pitchers go head to head was a hell of a lot of fun. I loved it. And for the Mets to salvage a split in the series is something for the Newish New York Mets to build from. Trade Murphy (I know they won’t…), move Uribe to third, keep platooning Flores/Johnson at second and Nieu-ish-huis/Lagares at center and then the Mets could average, oooh… 3.8 runs a game? That 0.3 extra still counts, and would make the Mets’s offense less eye-wateringly lousy.

The 4-6 run against the three top placed NL teams may not look like much. But it was better than many of us feared. And at least there’s the carrot of contending leading into the trade deadline. Are the Mets three guys away from the wild-card game? d’Arnaud (in a week or so?), Matz (in a month or so?) and a decent right-handed outfielder (Friday?). Or is it four? Five? You tell me. I definitely think the Mets need to sign that great Angels fan with the handmade Trout Net to encourage more homers. Prepare for the Grandy Grabber.

There will bumps in the road, of course, and it’s worrying that Michael Confonto seems hellbent on catching the Mets’ injury bug. In the past two games he’s clattered into both Ruben Tejada and Kirk Nieuwenhuis at high speed. Michael, there are thousands of innocuous ways you can injured as a Met. Don’t bring it on yourself, son.

Comment below on the Newish New York Mets, (sane) suggestions for trades and whatever else you fancy. The soon-to-be fire-selling Padres are next up for the Mets’ 100th game of 2015. There are 63 games left. 36-27 should leave them as the fifth best team in the league and faced with the Pirates. Well… maybe. Share your thoughts and we’ll let the final Mets-o-Meter judge us.

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Man Up And Get Predicting

mets-o-meter
Way back when the Mets were 16-10 on May 6th, I wrote an article about the legendary Izzy and asked Mets Today readers (and pundits) to predict the amount of games the Mets would win. The bold ones amongst you did just that. And, so far, you’re doing pretty darn well.

You can chart your progress on the Mets-O-Meter as the season rolls on after the All Star Break.

If you haven’t already told me how many wins you thought the Mets would get at the start of the season… comment and I’ll add you to the chart. I’ve got my £10 riding on the Mets winning 86-88 games. And you’ve got a piece of lovely Mets merchandise to win if you get the correct number.

No hindsight, though… it’s strictly forbidden. Lemme explain why.

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Mets Game 89: Win Over Diamondbacks

captain-kirk

Mets 5, Diamondbacks 3

Doing its best impersonation of The Little Engine That Could, the understrength Mets have almost chuffed their way to the top of the hill. Of the back of their (unlikely) 7 wins out of 9, the Mets have hit a bunch of (unlikely) home runs and are within two games of catching up with the Nats in the NL East (won’t happen) and one game back from the Cubs for the second wild card (hmm… check out the Cubbie’s schedule).

What has happened?

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