Mets Game 86: Win Over Rangers

Mets 6 Rangers 5

Mets finally win a one-run game.
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Mets 2014 Games

Mets Game 85: Loss To Braves

Braves 3 Mets 1

Mets swept by Braves and are oh-for-July. At least it wasn’t another one-run loss(?).
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Mets 2014 Games

Are Mets Buyers or Sellers?

Quick question for you: are the Mets buyers, or sellers, with the trade deadline looming? Why or why not?
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Opinion and Analysis

Mets Not Worst In June

Good news, Mets fans: after being the worst team in MLB in May, the Mets were NOT the worst team in June. In fact, they weren’t even the worst team in the National League.

That’s right — the Mets’ 11-17 record in June was a far cry from Colorado’s 8-20. But, the bottom four teams beyond the Rockies were neck and neck; see the “race to worst” standings for the month of June below:

Race To Worst: June

Team
W
L
PCT
RS
RA
DIFF
Rockies820.286139187-48
Padres1017.3706095-35
Giants1016.38593116-23
Mets1117.393105103+2
Marlins1116.407101125-24
Phillies1217.414104113-9
Diamondbacks1214.462110114-4

Wow, not much separating numbers two through six, eh?

Again, what jumps out at me is the run differential — the Mets are the only team in the race-to-worst standings with a positive integer. What does that mean? So strange.

It’s too early to start posting race-to-worst standings for July, but the Mets are already a leg up (or under?) by dropping the first game of the month. Luckily, the Mets move on from Atlanta to play the similarly struggling Texas Rangers, have a three-game set against the Marlins, and also meet the patsy Padres and the phading Phillies before the end of this month, so they have a decent shot at not being the worst team in July. But who knows what might happen, especially considering the trade deadline. What do you think? Will the Mets be better in July than they were in May and June? Why or why not? Answer in the comments.

Shea What?

Mets Game 84: Loss To Braves

Braves 5 Mets 4

The final score reflects a one-run game, but for some reason, it didn’t feel that close.

Oh by the way, the Mets are now 10 games under .500.

Mets Game Notes

Against the best pitching in the league, the Mets scored runs. Then, Daisuke Matsuzaka would render the scoring useless by letting the Braves score.

Not sure why Chris Young was throwing home on a two-out Christian Bethancourt single that easily scored B.J. Upton in the bottom of the fourth. As a result of the throw going home, Bethancourt was able to get to second base, and while he didn’t score, it’s the process with which I take issue — the ends do not justify the means. Keith Hernandez was asking “where is the cutoff man?” but where Young picked up the ball, to me, was too shallow to warrant a cutoff man — Young needed to make the decision to throw the ball to second base in that situation.

Daniel Murphy genuinely made me laugh when he tried to deke B.J. Upton on an overthrow by Travis d’Arnaud in the fifth, prompting Keith Hernandez to call Murphy “a bad magician.” I’m not saying that to be mean at all, I swear — he really did make me laugh and I thought it was great. Murphy constantly tries to deke runners ALL THE TIME, to the point where it could be considered “bush league,” but, what the heck? He has nothing to lose other than respect, right? Who knows, one of these times he might fool someone and get an out, and it’s little things that can mean the difference between winning and losing.

Hey, you know I get on Murphy constantly for his baserunning gaffes and brain freezes — the little things that regularly prevent the Mets from winning — and many of you think that I’m a “hater” as a result. I’m not, and for the umpteenth time, my criticism for Murphy is the curmudgeon in me striking out against ALL young, fundamentally challenged ballplayers we see today — Murphy is my poster child for a lost generation of wonderfully gifted, offensively polished, but otherwise awful ballplayers. At the same time, I can and do recognize Murphy works his butt off, wants to do well, and occasionally practices winning habits. Unfortunately, that’s the problem with today’s ballplayers — the “occasionally” part. To quote Vince Lombardi, “you don’t do things right some of the time, you do them right ALL of the time.”

Another thing that made me laugh was Gary Cohen gleefully bringing up the fact that Stephen Drew is currently hitting “a buck forty” while Ruben Tejada “has turned his season around,” and asked if people advocating for Drew all winter should be apologizing. Oh, boy, Gary, don’t go there just yet. Tejada’s been decent at the plate for what? Ten games? During which he’s made nearly as many mistakes in the field as excellent plays? And Drew — who didn’t have the benefit of spring training — has played 19 games and made less than 70 plate appearances? Tread carefully with that talking point, it may bite you in the butt before long. Particularly of note is the fact that Drew has historically been a slow starter, and in years where he’s been healthy enough to play a second half, has almost always put up better numbers after the All Star Exhibition.

Nice catch by Juan Lagares on a Justin Upton deep drive to the left-center gap in the bottom of the seventh to save a run. Or as Gary Cohen said, “Lagares’ glove — where extra-base hits go to die.” Nice one.

I agree with Keith: how the heck did Jordan Walden learn to “pitch” like that, leaping two feet off the rubber before foot strike? Gary wondered aloud why/how he gets away with it, and it’s probably because many (most?) pitchers’ back foot is disengaged from the rubber prior to release — it’s not as unusual as you might think, because it’s not as obvious without the help of slow-motion video. If umpires started calling balls or “no pitch” (?) on Walden for releasing the ball when his back foot was off the rubber, they’d have to do the same to dozens of other MLBers — only, it would be more difficult to detect in real time. Regardless, Walden’s style is bizarre, and not something that youngsters should emulate.

Remember how people used to gush over Ike Davis‘ defense, and particularly, his ability to scoop balls in the dirt? (Personally, I never thought he was special in that regard compared to average everyday MLB first basemen.) Well, have you yet seen Lucas Duda muff a bad throw in the dirt that he should’ve handled? Hasn’t he been doing a pretty solid job of digging out short throws from his fellow infielders? I think so. Though, I suppose Duda needs to dive into the stands a few times to catch foul balls before people will start anointing him a Gold Glove. In all seriousness, Duda has been nondescript on defense — meaning, unnoticeable, which is a good thing, as he’s made all the plays he’s supposed to make, and what more can you ask of a first baseman?

Does Craig Kimbrel normally hum his fastball at 98-99 MPH? I remember him being more 95-96 with a 97 mixed in, but according to the gun displayed on the SNY telecast, he was flirting with triple digits on every fastball. Whoa. Then he mixes in that slider? Not fair. Reminds me of Goose Gossage back in the day.

The Mets have had 30 games decided by one run this year — by far, the most in MLB (next-closest is 25 by the Royals) — and have Ylost 20 of them. Gee whiz, how does that happen? #smallthings #badmanaging

Not for nuttin’, but we’ve been discussing the little things here at this blog for how long? Eight years? Yeah. Shall I quote Vince Lombardi again, or are we going to whine about the Mets’ lack of “one more bat”?

Speaking of bats, during the postgame, Bobby Ojeda touched on the fact that Terry Collins tends to “play the hot hand” when it comes to making out the lineup. Earl Weaver was a master at this, as was Gil Hodges. Collins? Not so much, at least from what we’ve seen — though maybe there are advanced metrics that may prove that theory wrong?

I’m starting to feel bad for Collins during the postgame press conferences. If nothing else, he’s been handling three and a half years of failure with aplomb, and keeping his cool. Maybe that’s why the Mets front office picked him in the first place — because they knew tough times were ahead, and they’d need someone adept at handling the daily grind of answering the same depressing questions about why the team was losing more games than they win. A truly fierce competitor — someone hell-bent on winning — would not have done well in this job over the past three and half years. Look at how Willie Randolph — someone who expected to win — evolved as things became more dire. Jerry Manuel was a fairly adept loser for a while, until he just couldn’t bear it any more. Collins is doing a yeoman’s job of handling the inevitable — kudos to him for keeping it together this long.

Next Mets Game

Mets and Braves do it one more time on Wednesday at 7:10 PM. Jacob deGrom goes to the hill against Julio Teheran.

Mets 2014 Games

RIP Frank Cashen

No glasses, no bow tie? Yeah, that's Frank Cashen.

No glasses, no bow tie? Yeah, that’s Frank Cashen.

Rest in peace, Frank Cashen, who passed away at the age of 88.

Cashen was the architect — and I really do believe that’s the correct term — of the Baltimore Orioles winning ORGANIZATION. Not team, organization. He created “The Oriole Way” that is now used as a marketing tagline by the Ripken brothers.

Cashen was also the brains behind the building of the Mets organization in the 1980s, put in charge of everything (including the hiring of broadcasters, it turns out) by the greatest owner in Mets history, Nelson Doubleday, Jr.

Frank Cashen

Now, that’s more like it.

News Notes Rumors

Mets Game 83: Loss To Braves

Braves 5 Mets 3

Three errors in one inning lead to four runs — and that’s the ballgame, folks.
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Mets 2014 Games

Mets Game 82: Loss To Pirates

Pirates 5 Mets 2

Mets drop three of four against a .500 club, falling to 8 games below .500 themselves.
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Mets 2014 Games

Mets Game 81: Win Over Pirates

Mets 5 Pirates 3

Mets spank Gerrit Cole early and hold it up through nine.
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Mets 2014 Games

Mets Game 80: Loss To Pirates

Pirates 3 Mets 2

Mets drop their third straight, holding on to NL East cellar and remaining the third-worst NL team in June.
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Mets 2014 Games

Mets Game 79: Loss to Pirates

Pirates 5 Mets 2

Mets drop their second in a row and fall seven games below .500 as they’re pilfered by Pirates at PNC Park in Pittsburgh.
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Mets 2014 Games

Mets Game 78: Loss To Athletics

Athletics 8 Mets 5

Mets miss golden opportunity to sweep The Best Team In Baseball.
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Mets 2014 Games

Mets Game 77: Win Over Athletics

Mets 10 Athletics 1

Mets beat the bejeezus out of The Best Team In Baseball. Does that mean the Mets are better than the best?
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Mets 2014 Games

Tommy John Setbacks Explained, and Attack from Olecranon

Over the weekend, I interviewed sport kinesiologist and pitching mechanics expert Angel Borrelli. We discussed the following topics:

- Chad Billingsley‘s recent major setback from Tommy John surgery

- Flexor tendon: what it is, its role in the pitching motion, how it relates to the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL), and what it had to do with Chad Billingsley’s return from TJ surgery

- How Chad Billingley could have avoided this setback

- Planet Olecranon, and if we need to be worried about aliens from there attacking Earth

- Just kidding. What exactly is the olecranon, and how/why it can be fractured by a pitcher

- How to avoid an olecranon fracture

- How an olecranon fracture is related to Tommy John surgery

- Why Noah Syndergaard‘s forearm tightness should NOT be described as “minor”

- Should stride length be a specific percentage of a pitcher’s height?

- Is velocity directly related to stride length?

- What is the ideal stride?

Listen below:

More Baseball Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with On Baseball on BlogTalkRadio

If the above player doesn’t work in your browser, try going to BlogTalkRadio to listen.

I realize that many of you aren’t “into” podcasts, and that there isn’t much directly related to the Mets in this interview. However, the Mets have three pitchers coming back from Tommy John surgery right now — Jeremy Hefner, Bobby Parnell, and Matt Harvey — so the information is relevant in regard to them. Beyond Mets pitchers, if you happen to be a pitcher, the parent of a pitcher, or a coach of pitchers, you should absolutely listen to this podcast, as you will learn how to keep pitchers safe and effective. For those who prefer to read, I get it, and I apologize — I’m not much into listening to podcasts myself. At some point I hope to have the time to create blog posts detailing the information in these interviews, but until then, here’s my question: would you rather listen to Mike Francesa or me?

Hmm … maybe I’d rather you didn’t answer that.

If you have a question for Angel, either related to this podcast or any question you have regarding pitching mechanics, post it in the comments and we’ll address it in the next podcast.

Pitching Mechanics

Mets: Worst in MLB in May

Yeah, I know we’re a week away from the end of June, but it just came to my attention that the Mets were the worst team in MLB in the month of May, with a record of 11-18.

I know, I know — “worst” means different things to different people. And few people who are focused on baseball stats count wins and winning as important, because as everyone knows, a win is simply a result, and not something you can necessarily measure. But me, I’m old-school, so I put more value on the team that has the most runs at the end of a ballgame.

Interestingly, despite having the most losses and the worst winning percentage (can you call it a “winning” percentage when you mostly lose?), the Mets were neither the lowest-scoring club nor did they allow the most runs. Their 112 runs scored in May was about middle of the pack in the National League, and their 122 runs allowed was the fourth-highest total. Wait — I thought the Mets’ problem was that they couldn’t hit / couldn’t score? Hasn’t that been the mantra for the past several weeks — that the Mets were “one hit away” from winning the ballgame? That they weren’t getting the “big hit”? That they didn’t have enough offense, and it was too bad because their pitching is such a strength?

As has been mentioned by many readers in the comments, there is the illusion that the pitching is a strength because the hitting is so bad. But now I’m really wondering — how can pitching be a strength if the team allowed the fourth-most runs in the league? Maybe our perception is more about living on Planet Mets and not seeing the rest of the baseball universe, where everyone is pitching well.

So far this month, things are evening out a bit, and the Mets’ recent three-game winning streak has pushed them further away from “the race to worst” in June, as well as closed the gap on their run differential.

Here are the worst 8 teams in the NL in June. Why 8 and not 10 or 5? Because there are 15 teams in the unbalanced NL, and I wanted to represent the bottom half, but half of 15 is 7.5, which rounded up to the next even number is 8. OK?

Race To Worst

Team
W
L
PCT
RS
RA
DIFF
Rockies614.300100137-37
Padres614.3004283-41
Braves812.40078101-23
Mets912.4297673+3
Diamondbacks912.4299496-2
Marlins911.4507391-18
Giants910.4748183-2
Phillies1011.4768277+5

Anything jump out at you in the above? For me it’s that “+3″ in the run differential column for the Mets. The only other team with a positive integer is the Phillies, who are only one game below .500 for the month. I suppose you could look at yesterday’s drowning of the Fish as being a contributing factor, but there is still a pattern forming here, based on the current +3 and last month’s -10. If you believe the numbers, the Mets can score enough runs, and prevent enough runs, to be a better team than their record indicates. Could that be true? Might the Mets be better than 6 games under .500? Could they be, say, three games better, which would make them 38-38, and fighting for the top of the NL East right now instead of trying to crawl out of the bottom? And if they are, what’s holding them back? Or, what has been holding them back?

Before you spout out something like “as soon as Juan Lagares returns …” or, “once Noah Syndergaard joins the rotation …”, please understand that’s not what this is about. We’re looking at PAST PERFORMANCE, and trying to understand why the Mets are in the mess they’re in. Based on the personnel available over the past 76 games, it would appear that their record should or could be better. Is it bad luck? Running into the wrong teams at the wrong times? Something else?

Post your theory in the comments.

Shea What?