Browsing Archive September, 2009

Mets Game 159: Loss to Nationals

Nationals 7 Mets 4

The season cannot end soon enough.

The Mets had a two-zip lead early, the Nats fought back with a run, the Met answered with an insurance run, the Nats got another run, and the Mets answered yet again with an insurance run. So in the bottom of the ninth, Francisco Rodriguez stepped on the mound to protect a 4-2 lead.

Fifteen minutes and 37 pitches later, Justin Maxwell was mobbed by his teammates at home plate, in celebration of his two-out, full-count, game-winning, walk-off grand slam and the Nationals’ 7-4 victory.

The most horrifying part of it all? I was not one bit surprised. In fact, I almost expected Maxwell to bang one over the wall.


Tim Redding pitched well yet again, tossing 6 innings of one-run, four-hit ball. He’s gone 6+ innings in six of his last seven starts, allowing 16 earned runs. But how do you measure this late-season streak against a contract for next year, when he looked so inadequate in the ten starts previous? Tough call.

In contrast, K-Rod has been performing poorly as the season wears on. He’s now 1-4 with 19 earned runs allowed in 25 innings since the All-Star Break. Ouch.

Jeff Francoeur, Fernando Tatis, and Omir Santos accounted for six of the Mets’ seven hits.

In the top of the ninth, the Mets had three hits and the Nats made an error but only one run scored.

The Nationals’ Josh Bard had only one official plate appearance yet saw 27 pitches (he walked 3 times).

Next Mets Game

Thankfully for us fans, there will not be another game until Friday night at 7:10 PM in Flushing. John Maine heads to the mound against Wandy Rodriguez.


Evaluating the Mets Pitching Staff

In David Lennon’s article on the “housecleaning” of the Mets, the poor performance of the pitching staff — and Dan Warthen’s responsiblity for it — was explained away by the injuries (funny, seems that EVERYTHING that’s gone wrong for the Mets this year is being blamed on the injuries). Manager Jerry Manuel

“I just think it’s difficult to evaluate based on what went wrong,” Manuel said.

Um … OK? See, this is why EVALUATE — because SOMETHING WENT WRONG!!! Rarely do organizations get together to evaluate what went right!

Further, it’s hard to buy into the “injuries” thing as a reason why the Mets pitching staff was a disaster. In fact, many people would suggest that


Mets Soft? Look Again to the Jets

At Newsday today, David Lennon reported that more heads will be rolling in the Mets organization, and noted that

“Mets decision-makers have been meeting regularly for the past six weeks in an effort to sort out what went wrong this season.”

To which Matt Cerrone of MetsBlog responded,

“here, let me take a crack at it: everyone on your team got hurt, your GM struggles with foresight, you have one reliable starting pitcher, and your players are soft”

Well, injuries are difficult to control, and Omar Minaya is coming back next year. We can only hope that the Wilpons have enough money to buy a decent starting pitcher from the free agent market (John Lackey?). As for the softness, that can be addressed with a mixture of new blood and the right leadership — similar to what the New York Jets did when they reassembled their roster and hired Rex Ryan. During Jets training camp, Ryan talked tough about how the Jets would be playing, though it may have fallen on deaf ears at the time:

I’ve brought up Ryan again because he is living proof that the right leadership can completely change the culture and attitude of a professional team — and parlay that into success on the field.

This year, at least part of the Mets’ problems could be blamed on the injuries to their stars, but that’s not the entire story. One need only look at the failures of 2006, 2007, and 2008 to know that in addition to talent, the Mets can also benefit by a change in their demeanor and the way they approach the game. Some players may be inherently “soft” but that doesn’t mean a “hardness” can’t be coaxed out of them with the right leadership.

Which leads us into part three of “Bring Wally Back, Man!” — Watch and listen to Wally talk about how his team will play aggressive “old school” baseball (courtesy of Playing For Peanuts):

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and I don’t know that Wally Backman can singlehandedly change the face of the franchise. But adding Wally and other hard-nosed coaches / former players like him (Ray Knight? John Stearns?) to the minor league system, where they can teach youngsters the right way to play the game, would be a good start in changing the culture and reputation of the organization. There is the “Dodgers’ Way”, the “Braves’ Way”, and used to be the “Orioles’ Way” … why not start building the “Mets’ Way” ?


Mets Game 158: Loss to Nationals

Nationals 4 Mets 3

With their 91st loss, the Mets may have sunk to a position lower than their opponent.

The Nationals may be twelve games worse overall, but right now, the teams are all too similar — and the Nats may be slightly better.

Mike Pelfrey pitched a strong seven innings, allowing only three runs on eight hits and a walk. As usual, he pitched well while cruising, and lost his composure when runners reached base. He was able to limit his yips enough to accomplish a “quality start”, but it was not quite good enough to earn a “win”.

That’s because DC starter J.D. Martin matched Mike pitch for pitch, allowing the same three runs over a nearly similar six innings. In the end the difference was decided between the bullpens, and the Mets came up short.

Pedro Feliciano did his job of retiring lefthanded-hitting Adam Dunn, but as we all know he can’t do anything else and was relieved by Sean Green — who you may remember was tabbed as the replacement for Aaron Heilman. Green walked the first batter he faced, then was the victim of a throwing error by Anderson Hernandez that put runners on first and second. Green induced a potential double play ball from the next batter, but Luis Castillo threw away the relay to first and the go-ahead (and eventual winning) run scored.


The Mets had a prime chance to take the lead in the top of the eighth when they loaded the bases with no outs, but Brian Schneider fouled out to Ryan Zimmerman and pinch-hitter Jeremy Reed hit a liner to Pete Orr that resulted in a double play to end the inning.

They had another shot to score in their final at-bat, when, with a runner on first and two out, David Wright blasted a line drive to the right field wall. However, Elijah Dukes made an impressive and athletic, running, jumping snare of the ball — and held onto it after eating the chain link fence in front of the scoreboard — to end the ballgame.

Mike MacDougal throws a nasty, evil, sinking fastball. I am amazed at the velocity and force of his lithe right arm whipping from launch point through the release. His arm is like a tungsten-carbide spaghetti whip slashing through mile-high thin air — and helped by the gravity and extension of his 6’4″ height. His issue has always been control, but when he finds the plate, he’s nearly unhittable.

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Nats complete their series on Wednesday afternoon at 4:35 PM. Perhaps the schedule-maker had the foresight to know that no one would want to see this game way back when. Rochester, NY native Tim Redding faces Long Beach, NY native John Lannan.


Setting Up the Excuse File

manuel-ghandi-smThe 2009 season hasn’t yet ended, but already Mets manager Jerry Manuel is setting up excuses for the 2010 season. In our latest installment of “Manuel Being Manuel”, we have this gem from The Star-Ledger, in response to whether he was feeling the pressure of possibly being fired:

“I know how this particular situation works,” Manuel said Monday. “It’ll be important for us to hit the ground running playing good baseball and giving a feeling that there is a chance of a championship. That has to be established early. I understand that. I’ll be fighting that battle, but at the same time I know I have to have a team in position to get off and play well.”

Translation: if the Mets don’t get off to a hot start in April and May of 2010, it’ll be Omar Minaya’s fault for not assembling enough talent. Nice.

Of course, this isn’t the first time Manuel has invoked the blame game to protect himself.

Now if YOU were the boss of a department at a company, and one of your employees publicly stated the above, how would YOU react? My guess is you wouldn’t be naming that person “employee of the month”.


Mets Can Learn from the Jets

During the NFL offseason, the Jets made the somewhat surprising move of hiring Rex Ryan as their head coach. The hiring was met with mixed opinions from the pundits, and there were much eye rolling going on when Ryan addressed the media on several occasions with big talk about the Jets — and that he EXPECTED to win immediately:

Similarly, Wally Backman said in this interview that he believes a team’s goal should ALWAYS be to win, and has a major issue with managers who talk about “reaching .500”. He says the only number that should matter “is winning the fourth game of the World Series” :

I may be in the minority here, but I fully believe that there are some leaders — in every sport — who can have a significant, positive impact on a team’s success as a direct result of their attitude and the development of a “winning culture”. Bill Parcells is one of those guys, so is Bill Belichick, and so was Tom Landry and Vince Lombardi. In baseball, you can point to Bobby Cox, Tom Lasorda, Casey Stengel, Billy Martin, Earl Weaver, Whitey Herzog, Tony LaRussa. Yes, those managers often had talent, and they didn’t win a championship every single year, but they also fostered a winning culture and taught winning habits that can’t be measured on a stat sheet (though it can be seen through championship trophies and career won-lost records). There aren’t many “impact” leaders in MLB these days — but Wally might be one of those rare figures.

It can’t hurt to send him to Binghamton to find out, can it?


Mets Continue to Clean House

Somehow this news got buried at the bottom of Adam Rubin’s postgame report on Sunday night, as if it were inconsequential: Binghamton B-Mets manager Mako Oliveras and Gulf Coast League manager Julio Franco have been fired.

Oliveras and Franco join Minor League Special Assistant Ramon Pena and “Field Coordinator” Luis Aguayo on the unemployment line — both were fired last week.

As Matt Cerrone of MetsBlog notes, “…Omar Minaya is planning to replace all of Tony Bernazard’s guys with ‘his own guys’…”.

So to review, the following positions are now open:

– Vice President of Player Development
– Minor League Special Assistant
– Field Coordinator (whatever that is)
– AA manager for the Binghamton Mets
– Rookie League manager for the GCL Mets

The first three positions, I’m guessing, were created for the people who held them. Still, I’m sure at least two of those spots will be filled with a new person, filling some type of scouting and development roles. And of course the Mets will need to hire managers for the two minor league clubs.

You know who MetsToday is supporting …

(Wally Backman on developing MLB players courtesy of Playing for Peanuts)


David Wright was NOT Disciplined

Despite at least one newspaper article to the contrary, David Wright was NOT BENCHED for disciplinary reasons on Sunday afternoon.

I’ll state it again, so that it is perfectly clear: the fact that David Wright stopped running about 15-20 feet before reaching home plate on Jeff Francoeur’s two-out single on Saturday had absolutely nothing to do with Wright being out of the lineup on Sunday.

In fact, it was a scheduled day off for Wright, planned at least 24 hours in advance of Sunday’s contest. That was confirmed by Howie Rose on WFAN during last night’s radio broadcast, and has also been confirmed by Manuel himself.

Furthermore, Manuel absolved Wright of some of the blame, and pointed the finger at Razor Shines. From that same article linked to above:

Manuel put some of the blame on third-base coach Razor Shines for telling Wright he could slow down going into home, but Manuel refused to totally excuse Wright’s lapse.

Scary, isn’t it, that the 3B coach would tell a runner to slow down in such a situation? With less than two outs and no play at the plate, I can understand it — you want to make sure the player doesn’t pull a hammy or something. But with two outs? Mysterious guidance from one of the men paid to lead the team.

So Wright wasn’t benched for slowing down, and some of the blame was passed over to the coach.

Now, whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing that Wright was NOT disciplined is up for you to decide. There’s another manager named Manuel who once benched his All-Star for disciplinary reasons, but there’s no proof that the move helped HIS team understand the importance of such things, nor did it help establish his status as the man in charge — right?