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.

Notes

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.

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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

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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” ?

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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.

Notes

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.

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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”.

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