Archive: September 26th, 2009

Mets Game 155: Loss to Marlins

Marlins 9 Mets 6

A ninth-inning rally closed the gap, but the game really wasn’t that close.

John Maine was OK through the first four frames, then the wheels came off in the fifth. By the time he exited, his line was: 4 2/3 IP, 7 ER, 7 H, 2 BB, 3 K.

We’ll just go straight to the notes.

Notes

Jorge Cantu had another big game against the Mets — he went 3-for-4 with 2 doubles, 2 runs scored, and an RBI. The double in the fifth opened up the floodgates. His average is only .270 vs. the Mets this year, but he seems to have huge games against them — to the point where his performances were so memorable, my wife thought he PLAYED for the Mets (in the past – she knows he’s not on the team now).

My wife also thinks MLB should use the mercy rule. Not the worst idea I’ve heard.

David Wright’s timing is all screwed up. And he admitted to thinking about that inside pitch. I’ve said it before here, and I’ll say it again: the biggest difference between the “modern” era and 25-30 years ago is not steroids as much as the zero-tolerance policy for inside pitches / hit batters. It doesn’t matter how strong you are — if you have one bit of fear, the pitcher has the advantage. Goose Gossage calls today’s game “home run derby” because hitters no longer are concerned about being hit by a pitch.

Sometimes Keith Hernandez says the darnedest things …. for example, in the midst of John Maine’s control issues in the bottom of the fourth, Keith quips, “I like the way John Maine is pitching” — in reference to his hitting Cody Ross with a pitch and proceeding to miss in and up on his next few pitches before hitting John Baker minutes later. Keith seemed to think that Maine was purposely throwing the ball inside, but the truth is that Maine had no clue where the ball was going, and was missing his target on nearly every pitch that inning. There’s nothing good about lack of command. Maine’s terrible mechanics make it very difficult for him to throw the ball anywhere other than up and in to RH hitters, as we’ve covered here on several occasions. (But don’t take it from me — watch his pitches, and count how many run in toward RHs / away from LHs.)

Speaking of illogical thought processes, Ron Darling mentioned that he spoke to Dan Warthen about Maine and asked if there was anything about Maine’s mechanics that would alert him as to whether he was hurting himself. Warthen told Darling that he has a “simple” method of: if he sees Maine’s ball tailing in to the RH hitter, then “he knows that there’s a problem with his arm slot”. Huh? Again, Maine’s usual mechanics cause his pitches to “naturally” ride in to the RH hitter — it has very little, if anything, to do with arm slot, and everything to do with the over-rotation of his hips. Furthermore, Maine’s physical problem is with his shoulder. A low arm slot would put more pressure on his elbow and actually take pressure OFF his shoulder. So again, I’m not getting the logic behind Warthen’s analytics.

Awesome doubletalk by Jerry Manuel during the postgame. David Lennon opened a question to him saying that Maine looked uncomfortable and asked if he was physically OK. Manuel responded that Maine’s “healthy, physically fine”, then closed the answer mentioning “a dead arm” and saying “with Maine health is a big issue”.

The Mets were sloppy, sloppy, sloppy. And they’ve been so, since Opening Day — as Bobby Ojeda also stated during the postgame. I stand behind my belief that the awful fundies would have done in the Mets regardless of the injuries. Under Jerry Manuel, the Mets play bad baseball — it matters not who is on the field.

Ojeda WENT OFF on the Mets’ lack of fundamentals all year. At one point he said, “all this talk about the return of the cavalry, blah blah blah — it doesn’t matter!”. I love you, Bobby.

Ojeda was also convinced that Maine was having a physical issue on this evening. This may have been Ojeda’s best postgame ever.

Two BIG mistakes by David Wright in the fifth inning, on the same play. With two outs and Wright on second base, Jeff Francoeur hit a liner to the outfield. Wright held up at first — apparently, he did not know there were two outs or he would’ve been sprinting at the crack of the bat. Then, he slowed down to a brisk jog about 20 feet before he reached home plate — and Francoeur was tagged out at second base moments before Wright touched the plate. Therefore, the run did not count. In that situation, the manager has to pull the player from the game — I don’t care if it’s David Wright or Babe Ruth.

And as long as we’re talking about poor fundamentals, Omir Santos allowed two balls to get “through the wickets” for wild pitches. In both cases, he was trying to “field” the ball with his glove up off the ground. Young catchers, pay attention: you always, always get the glove on the ground FIRST, and leave it there, and block the ball with your body. In addition, when your knees go down, your feet should go IN together and touch each other behind you. This way, if the ball does get under your glove / through your legs, it will be stopped by your feet and not roll to the backstop. I have seen very few MLB catchers execute this proper technique — mainly because it’s not taught at any level. (But if you live in the NY-Metro area you can learn from me!)

Next Mets Game

The final game of the series begins at 1:10 PM on Sunday afternoon. Pat Misch pitches against Josh Johnson.

READ MORE +

Mets Claim Jack Egbert

jack-egbert1In a surprise move to bolster their pitching staff, the Mets have claimed Jack Egbert off waivers from the Chicago White Sox and added him to their 40-man roster.

I say “surprise” because it’s rare to see a roster move this late in the season.

To make room for Egbert, the Mets moved Fernando Martinez to the 60-day disabled list, as he had his visa stolen and cannot return to the US continues to recover from surgery on his right knee.

Normally, a 26-year-old pitcher with a 5.05 ERA in AAA wouldn’t excite me, but Egbert is a Rutgers grad, Rutherford, NJ resident, and was born in Staten Island. And you know what? I generally like rooting for the local guys. Who knows, I might run into Egbert at the Colonial Diner one morning, and that would be kool (and the gang).

Egbert dominated A and AA ball but has had trouble with AAA. His stuff is ordinary — a sinking fastball that sits around 88-90 MPH and a plus change-up are his main pitches, and he also throws a decent curveball for strikes. His main attributes are durability, control, and ground balls. At best he’s a #5 starter in MLB, but his poor 2009 showing sent his stock in a downward spiral. In short, he’s another Lance Broadway.

I’m fond of this pickup — partially because he’s a local kid and mainly because the Mets are finally adding AAA-level pitchers with a possible future to their AAA squad. Egbert may never make it to MLB with the Mets but at least he has some youth. For years we’ve seen too many has-beens and never-wases stocked in Buffalo and New Orleans — guys who were on the wrong side of 30 and just hanging around (i.e., Adam Pettyjohn, Kyle Snyder, Jose Santiago, Nate Field, Brandon Knight, Brian Lawrence, etc.). This year, Buffalo had nothing more than filler material packing their roster, and it bit the Major League club in the butt when all the injuries occurred. Egbert may have been a disappointment this year but he’s still young enough to make a rebound. In contrast, the Jose Santiagos and Brandon Knights of the world have established themselves as career minor leaguers after, well, spending their career in the minors.

I’d rather not know what I have in hopes that it might be better than I think, than know what I have and be sure it’s not up to MLB snuff.

READ MORE +

Game 154: Win Over Marlins

Mets 6 Marlins 5

If this were 1960, the season would be over — and the Mets would have finished on a high note.

Instead, we have eight more games to muddle through, and can only hope our favorite team can keep the excitement quotient at this level.

Through the first four frames, it looked like the Mets might cruise to a victory. Tim Redding was throwing shutout ball and a three-run homer by Jeff Francoeur in the second gave the Mets a comfy three-run lead.

Then came the fifth, when Redding surrendered a three-run dinger himself — to the NL’s leading hitter Hanley Ramirez.

Redding remained on the mound as the bottom of the seventh began, but didn’t last long thereafter. He walked the leadoff man and was immediately replaced by Perpetual Pedro Feliciano, who got a quick popup but then threw a wild pitch to send the runner to second base. He struck out Nick Johnson, but then intentionally walked Ramirez and yielded to setup man / ROOGY / this year’s Heilman Sean Green. Green promptly allowed a double to Jorge Cantu that put the Fish up by two.

However, the Mets answered with a run in the eighth — scored on a strike three wild pitch to David Wright. Bobby Parnell held the fort in the bottom of the frame, and the Mets went ahead in the top of the ninth, thanks to a pinch-hit, two-run single by Cory Sullivan.

Frankie Fantastik pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his 34th save.

Notes

I know Hanley Ramirez is the top hitter in the NL, and had already hit a homerun, but I’ll never, ever, ever understand the “strategy” of intentionally placing a runner on base in a tie ballgame. (In fact, I find very few situations that warrant an intentional walk.) For every time Ramirez hits safely, he’s going to fail at least twice. Further, he was 5 for his last 20 coming into the game. The argument that “you don’t let the big bat beat you” has never and will never make sense to me. How is it better to let the “lesser” bat beat you, after you’ve handed over a free base? The mamby-pamby approach of walking hitters intentionally and creating “favorable matchups” is one of the reasons pitching gets worse every year — pitchers are taught that they can’t get certain hitters out and are not given the chance to learn how to do so. Managers whine and moan that they can’t find any “crossover” pitchers who can get lefties AND righties out, yet they perpetuate their problem every game. A never-ending, vicious cycle that’s about as effective as a dog chasing its own tail.

Here’s a thought: intentional walks are like compound interest — they mysteriously pay immense dividends over the long haul.

But hey, the Mets won this one, so let’s accentuate the positive. Jeff Francoeur, Daniel Murphy, and Angel Pagan all had 2-for-4 days. Bobby Parnell earned his first win out of the bullpen since the summer solstice (actually, a month before then). Tim Redding had another decent outing to raise the bidding for his services in the offseason. Both Jeremy Reed and Cory Sullivan came through as pinch-hitters in the ninth — proving that a) they are NOT the same person and b) they’ll help someone off the bench in 2010.

David Wright has 4 hits in his last 22 at-bats and has seen his batting average plummet 20 points in 22 days.

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Marlins do it again at 7:10 PM on Saturday night. John Maine goes to the mound against Sean West.

READ MORE +