Archive: October 19th, 2009

2009 Analysis: John Maine

john-maine-scratchWhen May rolls around next year, John Maine will be 29 years old. That said, you can no longer look at him as a young pitcher on the rise.

In fact, the opposite is true; in many ways, Maine has gone backward since 2006. His ERA has increased from 3.60 to 3.91 to 4.18 to 4.43. His walks per nine innings have risen from 3.3 in 2006 to 4.2 this past season. Hits per nine innings went from 6.9 to 7.4 (7.8 in 2008). Strikeouts per nine innings have dropped from 7.1 in ’06 and 8.5 in ’07 to 6.1. He has suffered a shoulder injury that required surgery, and has yet to prove he has recovered 100% — with a related drop in velocity from 95-96 MPH to 91-92.

Even before the injury, Maine was regressing — though, that could have been due to

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2009 Analysis: Ken Takahashi

ken-takahashi-pitchKen Takahashi is the lefthanded version of Elmer Dessens: a well-traveled, international man of intrigue, with ordinary stuff, who won’t embarrass himself — but won’t have much of an impact on a championship club, either.

The Mets were in dire need of another lefthander for the Jerry Manuel Matchup Strategy of late innings management, but it turned out that the 40-year-old Japanese southpaw pitched better against righties (.156 batting average against) than vs. lefties (.302). That put a major wrench into Manuel’s plans, and made it difficult for the push-button manager to figure out how to use Takahashi.

In some ways, Takahashi resembles Darren Oliver — another lefthanded starter turned reliever who pitched better against righthanded hitters. In 2009, Takahashi’s role was stopgap — pitching for the big league club mainly by default — no other options were available. Will he be with the Mets come spring training in 2010? Not likely, but you never know with this organization.

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New Neighbors for Mets?

Matthew Artus of Always Amazin’ reports that the Mets could have new neighbors – replacing the “iron triangle” surrounding Citi Field.

LIFE has published never-before-seen photos of the 1969 World Series. Hat tip to Joe Budd of Amazin’ Avenue.

Ronan Tynan has been banned from singing at Yankee Stadium for making an anti-semitic comment overheard by a neighbor in an apartment building. I imagine he won’t be getting any gigs at Citi Field, either.

Adam Rubin suggests that Manny Acta (aka “Connie Mackta”) could be a candidate for the third base coaching job. Maybe Willie Randolph will come back, too, to work with the infielders.

Kerel Cooper at OnTheBlack ponders whether the Mets should sign Xavier Nady this winter.

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2009 Analysis: Brian Stokes

brian-stokes-pitchMany Mets fans may be surprised to learn that Brian Stokes appeared in 69 games this past season — but the final record says he did.

Stokes was roleless throughout the season, or perhaps the better descriptor was “everyman”. He was used as a long man, a short man, a mopup guy, a setup man, in middle relief, and as a situational / matchup guy. Strangely, the only thing he didn’t do in 2009 was start.

There were times that Jerry Manuel used Stokes in back-to-back games, and three games in a row, and just as many times when Stokes went a week or more without appearing in a game. Manuel and Dan Warthen seemed unable to figure out where Stokes fit into the plans.

But, previous managers and coaches have been equally confused about Stokes. The 30-year-old righthander has been an eternal enigma from the day he signed a pro contract, shifting from the bullpen to starting and back to the bullpen, all the while impressing onlookers with a 96-97 MPH fastball and a full arsenal of secondary pitches. Yet, with those tools, he’s been able to strike out only 121 batters in 190 MLB innings.

Stokes has two major problems. First, his fastball is usually straight as an arrow. Second, his curve, slider, split, and change are all equally inconsistent, but show promise. If he had just a little sink or lateral movement on his fastball, and/or could transform one of his other offerings into a plus pitch, he’d be an ideal setup man. He has the assortment of a starting pitcher, the velocity of a reliever, but expertise in neither.

I like Stokes’ raw talent and his demeanor. He doesn’t appear to lose his focus in the face of adversity, and he’s fairly aggressive and confident in pounding the strike zone. If I were Dan Warthen, I’d work on his fastball grip, insist that he choose one secondary pitch to focus on, and pencil him in as a 7th-inning reliever. And then, I’d ask Jerry Manuel to give the guy regular work, and see what happens.

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