Browsing Archive March, 2012

What’s Wrong with Mike Pelfrey?

Yesterday, Mike Pelfrey faced 20 batters; 12 reached base. He allowed 8 hits, 4 walks, and 8 runs, including a three-run homer to Carlos Lee. On the bright side, he struck out 4 in his 2 2/3 innings of “work.”

According to Big Pelf and his manager Terry Collins, the goal was to “throw harder” in this contest, after reaching only 87 MPH in his previous outing. Per both Collins and Pelfrey, the goal was met. Unfortunately, the “execution was lousy,” according to Pelfrey.

So, what the heck is wrong with Big Pelf this spring?

READ MORE +

Notes: Mets vs. Braves

Jonathon Niese had good results, though I didn’t love the process. He continues to use a side-to-side motion that results in pitches that have little sinking action — his fastball and cutter remain on one plane. On his curve, he pulls himself a little more upright — closer to where he should be — but in doing so he’s telegraphing the pitch. We’ve covered this many times here over the past two years, and it appears that this is a non-issue for Niese and the Mets. Too bad, because Niese’s fastball would be much tougher to hit, and he’d throw a more consistent, biting curveball if he’d stay more upright and throw on a downward plane. He’d also use more momentum and gravity to power his pitches, which means he’d throw with more velocity with less physical effort.

I know, I sound negative. In truth, the way Niese is pitching he’ll be just fine and likely just as good as he was last year. However I don’t see him improving significantly with his current motion, and for me it’s frustrating to see a young pitcher who has the potential to be better, but is holding himself back by not making minor, easy adjustments.

At least once, Niese dropped down and threw an ugly sidearm curve. It reminded me of Oliver Perez. Please, Jon, never again, OK? We really don’t want to be conjuring memories of Ollie while you’re on the mound, do we?

In contrast, the Braves’ Kris Medlen had an encouraging outing after missing part of 2010 and most of 2011 due to Tommy John surgery. He displayed three plus pitches — a sinking fastball, tough 12-6 curve, and a change-up that had good downward movement. His fastball command was a bit spotty and mostly around 90-91, but that deuce is devastating as an “out pitch”, and the change — though used sparingly — looks like it could really tie hitters in knots.

LOOGY candidate Chuck James didn’t look all that great in his 2/3 of an inning. His line wasn’t helped by the fact that Ramon Ramirez resembled a batting practice machine.

If you aren’t aware, James had major surgery in 2008 to repair his rotator cuff and a severely torn labrum. Interestingly, his arm motion resembles Johan Santana‘s, as he leads with his elbow, doesn’t get much external shoulder rotation, and releases from an abnormally high overhand position. It sort of looks like he’s throwing darts.

Ramirez was disappointing, as every pitch he threw was chest high or higher, with little movement, and below-average velocity. The radar gun was clocking him at 84-88 MPH in his first one-third of an inning, in the top of the 8th. Maybe it was just a bad day, or maybe he wasn’t properly warmed up. Or maybe he’s still getting in shape. According to FanGraphs, last year his fastball averaged 91.5 MPH. Strangely enough, his change-up averaged the same speed as his slider — 87. Generally speaking, a 4 MPH reduction in velocity is not nearly enough for a change-up to be effective.

Ronny Cedeno started a nifty-looking double-play in the top of the ninth, backhanding a grounder and flipping it from his glove to Omar Quintanilla in one smooth motion. I can watch plays like that all day long — I’m a sucker for silky middle-infield defense.

Braves outfielder Luis Durango is pretty fast on his feet, evidenced by a drag bunt against Danny Herrera in the top of the 9th. Seeing the 5’5″ Herrera and 5’7″ Durango in the same camera shot made the game — for a brief moment — appear to be the Little League World Series.

It would seem that Adam Loewen scored more points in this game than Mike Baxter in the battle for 25th man.

So, what caught your eye in this ballgame? Post your thoughts in the comments section.

READ MORE +

Blog Roundup: Faith and Fear

Smack dab in the middle of Spring Training, Mets fans teem with both faith and fear.  There’s reason for hope, like in any Spring Training camp in the league, but there’s also cause for concern.  David Wright revealed his malady: A small muscle tear in his abdomen where most of us have no muscles.  He went on to say he’ll be ready for opening day.  That’s kind of like eating more and assuring everyone you’re going to lose weight.  But it is only Spring, and in the baseball world, reality begins the first week of April.

Onto the Blogs, starting with our title track:

  • Faith and Fear in Flushing sings a familiar refrain: THIS TEAM.
  • NJ.com reports that the burden of proof is on the Wilpons to show they weren’t willfully blind to Bernie Madoff’s scheme.  PLEASE FIND THEM GUILTY AND MAKE THEM SELL THE TEAM.  Ahem.  I apologize for that outburst.
  • Shannon of MetsPolice is ready for St. Patrick’s Day.  #HesWith28
  • MMO says Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas are working hard to meet their manager’s demands.
  • Adam Rubin reports that bullpen catcher Eric Langill has been punished by the Mets for his DUI, and making the team look like asses.
  • Amazin’ Avenue explains how the Mets let a golden opportunity for their second tie of Spring Training slip away.

Don’t let your chance to keep up with the Mets slip away…stay tuned to Mets Today.

READ MORE +

The Mets Might be OK IF…

Murphy's injury was the final nail in 2011.

For all the strikes the Mets have against them this year, their biggest single issue continues to be team health.

Yes, Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, and Francisco Rodriguez all wear different uniforms now.  Yes, they are buried in a mountain of debt following the Bernie Madoff debacle, and overall mismanagement by Saul Katz and the Wilpons.  But if you look at this team, position-by-position, they can be competitive…

IF

…they can stay healthy.  They have some good players (David Wright, Ike Davis, Lucas Duda) and pitchers (Johan Santana, R.A. Dickey, Ramon Ramirez), but they have to be on the field to be effective.  As much as the Mets will miss Reyes and Beltran, even they couldn’t stay on the field for the last 3 years.

Compare the following players to the ones that occupied each position for most of last season.  Most positions will get an upgrade or stay the same:

C: Josh Thole (same)

1B: Ike Davis (upgrade – he only played in a handful of games before getting hurt)

2B: Daniel Murphy (offensive upgrade)

SS: Ruben Tejada (downgrade)

3B: David Wright (same)

LF: Jason Bay (same)

CF: Andres Torres (same/slight defensive upgrade)

RF: Lucas Duda (defensive downgrade/same offense, potentially)

Starting rotation: replacing Capuano with Santana (upgrade)

Bullpen: 3 veteran additions (upgrade)

On paper, this looks like a pretty nice roster…

IF

…they can stay healthy.

Just like 2009, 2010, and 2011.  And since they are so lacking in depth, health is paramount in 2012.  So far in Spring Training, however, it’s been more of the same.  More injuries, more initial misdiagnoses, more frustration.  Even manager Terry Collins couldn’t hide his aggravation when he found out yet another Met, Tejada, couldn’t play.

Does anyone know what the cause is for these injury woes?  Is it the medical staff, the ownership, the managment?  Does anyone know what the solution is?  Find a new medical staff?  Practice over-caution with every nagging injury?  Or is it just bad luck or law of averages?  Maybe they just happen to have a roster full of injury-prone players.  Does anyone know for sure?

One thing is for sure – it’s hard to win ballgames when half your starting lineup is in the trainer’s room.

READ MORE +

Mets Walking Wounded – Normal?

Here we are, 14 days into March, and the following Mets have suffered some type of injury:

David Wright, Tim Byrdak, Lucas Duda, Ronny Cedeno, Reese Havens, Ruben Tejada, D.J. Carrasco, Zach Lutz, Andres Torres, Scott Hairston, Pedro Beato, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Robert Carson, and Daniel Herrera.

(Thanks to MetsBlog for the list.)

And I didn’t even include Ike Davis, who caught that crazy Valley Fever.

Terry Collins is at his wit’s end with all these injuries, and I can’t blame him.

What’s your thought? Bad luck? Par for the course?

READ MORE +