Archive: September 23rd, 2009

Mets Game 153: Loss to Braves

Braves 5 Mets 2

Hope springs eternal. Except in Flushing, in September, 2009. Unless you’re a Braves fan.

The Mets helped keep the Braves impossible Wild Card hopes alive by rolling over early.

I have to admit hope drained from my spirit immediately after Atlanta scored their fourth run, in the third frame. Yet I continued to stare at the TV screen, for the same reasons I’ve watched bad movies in the wee hours, despite knowing full well how it would end and that the story wasn’t going to get better.

Technically, Mike Pelfrey threw a “quality start” — allowing 3 earned runs in 6 innings pitched. In reality, he was ordinary.

Tim Hudson also threw a quality start, expending 18 less pitches in the same number of innings. However, Hudson’s was of slightly higher quality, and in the end he earned his second win of the year.

More happened, but, eh … the notes are more interesting.

Notes

The Mets put their leadoff hitter on base in six consecutive innings, but only scored two runs in that span. They were 2-for-17 with RISP, and left 10 on base.

Nice to see Mike Pelfrey using his curveball a little more than usual in this outing. I would have also liked to have seen more (any?) changeups, but hey, you can’t have it all.

Pelf’s sinker wasn’t sinking consistently — it was often just “running”, meaning, it was moving horizontally and not vertically. Ron Darling noted this often occurred with runners on base and suggested that it could be due to Mike holding the ball a little tighter — a function of stress. That’s plausible. Also possible is a different grip on the ball. I would check the location of his thumb, as it could be a little too far “up” or on the side of the ball, rather than more underneath it. The higher the thumb is on the side, the more it will run and the less it will sink. Also, there could be an issue with the way he’s finishing the pitch (which could be related to the grip). If he is holding the ball more tightly, he may not be allowing his fingers and wrist to pronate through the release. Full pronation with the fingers on top of the ball and the thumb finishing pointed toward 5 o’clock is ideal for good sink.

Strange to see Tim Hudson unsharp — which is expected considering this was only his fifth start of the year. Even without his legendary command, he was able to get out of a number of tough situations thanks to double plays.

That was the key difference between Pelfrey and Hudson in this game. Both pitchers struggled at times, and both had their defense fail behind them to put runners on base and/or extend rallies. But Hudson stayed cool, got tough, and wiggled out of those spots, while Big Pelf tightened up, talked to himself, and let runners cross the plate.

If you didn’t have a scorecard and relied on Keith Hernandez, you might have thought Matt Diaz was playing both right and left field for the Braves. Yeah, I’m nitpicking, but c’mon, Keith.

The trivia answer was Bert Blyleven (the only HOF-eligible pitcher with 3000 Ks not in the HOF), and Gary Cohen noted that Blyleven completed 242 games in his 22-year career. How incredible is that? Consider that the Mets AS A TEAM have amassed only 214 complete games over the last 22 years. Yowza, things have changed. But hey, let’s keep going with those inane pitch counts, OK?

Once again we were treated to the one-two combo of Ken Takahashi and Elmer Dessens out of the ‘pen. We’re really get a good long look at both pitchers this September. Why?

Perpetual Pedro Feliciano also made an appearance — his 83rd of the season — with the Mets down by three in the eighth. Again, why? Is Jerry Manuel trying to rip Pedro’s elbow to pieces?

Mike Gonzalez kind of reminds me of Oliver Perez, the way he’s all off balance, can’t repeat his mechanics, can miss his target by several feet, but throws 93+ MPH with a nasty slider that is unhittable for LH batters.

I noticed that David Wright was keeping his bat on his back shoulder until the pitcher started his motion. This is new, right? It’s a technique that Don Mattingly advocates, to put your hands and the bat into the ideal launching position. I guess he’s using it partly for timing and partly to, um, get his hands in a good position. Perhaps HoJo believes Wright’s hands were a bit too high, creating a long, loopy swing.

Bobby Cox announced that 2010 would be his final season as a manager. He’ll stay on with the Braves in a consulting role after that.

Next Mets Game

The Mets get a day off (funny, seemed like they took the last three days off) on Thursday, and will travel to Miami to face the Marlins for a three-game weekend series. Game one begins at 7:10 PM on Friday night and pits Tim Redding against Ricky Nolasco.

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Where Is Adam Bostick?

adam-bostickBack in August — long after the Mets exited the Wild Card race — the one thing we had to look forward to were the September call-ups. Sure, the games played would be meaningless, but we’d get a chance to see the best the Mets’ minors had to offer, a month-long audition. It would be kind of like spring training, only colder, and the games would count.

One of the pitchers we were eager to see in September was Adam Bostick.

Bostick, after all, was the last shred of evidence that the Mets once owned minor league pitchers who touched triple digits. To refresh your memory, Bostick came to the organization along with lefty starter Jason Vargas in a trade that sent Matt Lindstrom and Henry Owens to the Florida Marlins. At the time, it was a move to give the Mets roster flexibility and more youth, since Lindstrom and Owens were ready to be on an MLB roster but the Mets didn’t believe they were ready to contribute at a championship level. Also at the time, the Mets had several hard-throwing righties over the age of 25 in their organization, and felt it would be a good idea to deal from strength to get two young lefthanders — in essence, it bought the team some time.

That time has since come and gone, and Bostick remains a minor leaguer. Once a starter, he’s been converted to the bullpen, and put up fairly decent numbers. Splitting the season between AA Binghamton and AAA Buffalo, Bostick struck out 63 in 56 innings and posted a 3.05 ERA and 1.26 WHIP. Not eye-popping numbers, but interesting enough for a team that could use another LOOGY in the ‘pen and has no other pitching prospects close to big league-ready. Really now, would you rather see what Bostick can do, or would you prefer to continue seeing the aging Elmer Dessens and Ken Takahashi take the hill?

Why wasn’t Bostick promoted? Many conspiracy theories abound. As far as we know, he’s not injured. He’s not on the 40-man roster so there is speculation that the Mets didn’t want to add him to it — because then they’d have to keep him there or possibly lose him. But that doesn’t hold water, because as an 8-year veteran of the minors, he’s a free agent after this season no matter what. Though the 40-man is currently full, room could have been made — in addition to the two old men mentioned previously, the Mets are also carrying Robinson Cancel, Arturo Lopez, and Andy Green on the roster for reasons unknown to mere mortals (not to mention the fact that Johan Santana and Oliver Perez are on the 15-day DL, rather than the 60-day). We can only guess that Bostick ticked someone off — perhaps this is a situation similar to Wily Mo Pena’s earlier in the year.

We do know he’ll be playing winter ball in Venezuela, but don’t know much else.

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Next Year’s Left Fielder

jermaine-dyeAccording to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times (thanks to a link via MLBTradeRumors), Jermaine Dye does not have a future with the White Sox.

Dye and the ChiSox have a mutual $12M option for 2010, and there is no way the Sox pick that up — not with the 35-year-old having the worst half-season of his career — he’s hitting .168 since the All-Star Break.

There were rumors of a White Sox – Mets trade last winter, with Dye the coveted piece from Omar Minaya’s perspective. Even with his bad second half, this smells a lot like a typical Minaya roll of the band-aid dice. Can you say “Moises Alou” ?

Before you go complaining that “the Mets need to get younger and more athletic”, remember that they have absolutely NO outfielders in their minor league system who are ready to step in and play left field on an everyday basis for a championship team. We saw that Fernando Martinez is at least two years away from being a contributor, much less a star. We’ve seen that Dan Murphy can’t play the position well enough as an everyday player. We are seeing that Angel Pagan has a tremendous physical package but a disconnect between his body and his head. We have been told that Chris Carter is just as bad as Murphy in the outfield. We are not seeing Nick Evans for reasons unknown — but if he’s not playing now, he certainly isn’t being seriously considered as an everyday player in 2010.

So left field will most likely be filled by someone currently outside the organization. It will have to be someone who can be signed cheaply and on a short-term contract, as the Mets will want to keep the position available for when F-Mart is ready. Forget about Matt Holliday / Jason Bay — it ain’t happening. Enter Jermaine Dye, whose stock has fallen drastically in the last two months and therefore could be signed to a favorable, one-year, incentive-laden deal.

“I’ve never struggled like this before, never had a whole half that has been nothing. Over the course of a career, I think that’s pretty good. The five years I’ve been here I’ve had five pretty good years, and it just so happened that I struggled here at the end, we were fighting to get into the playoffs, and it’s just the way it is.”

The struggling Dye was out of the starting lineup on Tuesday, unable to change the .168 second half he’s had with just five homers and 19 RBI. A second half he has no explanation for.

“I have no clue,” Dye said. “I put in the work and sometimes it doesn’t work out. There’s nothing wrong with the mechanics. When you struggle, the pitches you should hit you foul off. The pitches you take normally when you feel good they’re balls, they’re strikes now. When you struggle everything goes wrong. This second half it just didn’t happen.”

Signing Dye goes against the plan of rebuilding the club with youth. But the truth is, the Mets don’t have a plan. They like to talk about plans and then change them on the fly as the circumstances around them change. Omar Minaya and the Wilpons will likely spout about youth, athleticism, etc., but we’ve heard it all before, on several occasions, for the past 15 years. In the end it’s about “the brand”, and signing Dye gives the Mets a known entity who can step right in to the season-ticket sales campaign lineup and provide hope. Another patch to keep the dream alive.

We have plenty of time to discuss whether or not signing Dye would be a good move for the Mets. But you know Minaya is already thinking about it.

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