Tag: bobby parnell

Mets Game 20: Loss to Marlins

Marlins 7 Mets

For the second straight time, the Mets beat up on Ricky Nolasco, lighting him up for four runs on six hits and three walks in five innings of work. Gary Sheffield ripped a two-run triple in the initial inning, then Alex Cora and David Wright chased home runners with RBI singles in subsequent innings.

The Fish fought back with a couple runs in the fourth, thanks to a two-run homer by Jorge Cantu against Mets starter Livan Hernandez, then cut the deficit to one when Jeremy Hermida grounded into a fielder’s choice off Bobby Parnell (run charged to Hernandez).

Though the game was close, it seemed as though the Mets would wrap up this one easily, as they needed only to get through the seventh without a hitch, then unleash the dogs known as J.J. Putz and Frankie Rodriguez to bring the win home.

But it was not to be.

Instead of bridging the gap, middle man Sean Green shat the bed, allowing four runs in the seventh, highlighted by another dinger by Cantu, this one of the three-run variety. Since the Mets’ lineup more or less went to sleep after the fifth frame, there was no chance for a comeback win.

Game Notes

Livan Hernandez went 5 1/3 innings, allowing three runs on three hits and two walks, striking out five. Not an outstanding outing, but fairly acceptable from a fifth starter.

Alex Cora was 2-for-2 with a walk, with both of his hits being what ballplayers describe as “squibs” — basically, bloop hits fought off somewhere between the fists and the trademark of the bat, that fall barely out of the reach of infielders. But hey, they are line drives in the book.

Speaking of, there seemed to be a lot of cheap bloop hits and seeing-eye grounders from the Mets’ side in this game. Not too many line drives — not even for outs.

Cora was the only Met with more than one hit, and he drew one of NY’s three walks. So much for my theory that it makes no sense to bat him near the top of the order.

Although he allowed an inherited runner to score, Bobby Parnell came up big in the sixth, getting a popup from Dan Uggla and striking out Cody Ross to end a tense threat by the Fish.

Sean Green, not so big.

Leo Nunez has letters on the fingers of his glove reading “EL CD”. I don’t *think* that is a model number, but also not sure what it might signify. Electrolytic conductivity?

Next Game

The rubber match pits Johan Santana vs. Josh Johnson in pitchers’ duel part deux. Game time is 1:10 PM. If by chance you can call in sick to work, or are out of work, email me as I’m going to the game and have an extra ticket (the ticket’s free, but you’ll be obliged to buy me a beverage and a pulled-pork sandwich). As such, do not expect to see a game recap until later in the evening.

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Mets Game 4: Loss to Marlins

Marlins 5 Mets 4

Though the Mets lost this one, they did show a lot of fight in the later innings, which is something we didn’t see enough of in 2008.

John Maine pitched well enough for his first outing since shoulder surgery, allowing two runs on two hits and one walk in five innings, striking out five. Both runs came on solo homers, on the same high fastballs that Keith Hernandez “likes to see”. Yes, those high fastballs can be strikeouts, but they can also be gopher balls, unfortunately. At one point, Maine retired seven Fish in a row, and he began the game with two consecutive strikeouts. His velocity was up to around 93 MPH, but his command was nonexistent. It appears he’s healthy, and on the way back, but will take some time.

Spoiling Maine’s encouraging performance was the Mets bullpen, which allowed three runs over the final four innings. If this were 1978, we might have seen J.J. Putz enter in the sixth and K-Rod record a two-inning save, but this is 2008 and pitchers don’t do that anymore. So instead, we watched Sean Green, Bobby Parnell, Pedro Feliciano, and Darren O’Day show us that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

On a positive note, Carlos Beltran belted his first homer of the year, with three hits on the day. Ryan Church also had three hits, as did Danny Murphy, though two of Murphy’s “hits” easily could have been scored errors. We’ll take them, though.

On a negative note, the Mets stranded 14 runners on base. Fourteen. Ouch. Well, at least they’re getting guys on base, right?

Back to the positive: Jeremy Reed came through HUGE with his hit as a New York Met, blistering an RBI single in the ninth inning off Matt Lindstrom to tie the game at four. He was the Mets’ best hitter in spring training, and it’s a wonder it took this long for him to get an at-bat in a regular-season game.

However, Feliciano and O’Day couldn’t hold the tie, and the blur known as Emilio Bonifacio won the game with his legs, reaching base on an infield single and racing home on a hit by Jorge Cantu. It was the second time in three innings that Bonifacio changed the game with his speed — he’d earlier reached base on a two-out bunt off Parnell, eventually scoring the Fish’s fourth run.

Game Notes

John Maine’s stats belied his performance. He gave up only two runs and walked one, but many of his strikeouts had more to do with undisciplined Marlins hitters chasing balls out of the strike zone than Maine throwing great pitches. Further, Maine was consistently missing spots, even when he was throwing strikes. This may not make sense, or it may sound like nitpicking, but the truth is, Brian Schneider was doing a lot of reaching to catch Maine’s pitches, because Maine was missing the intended target by a foot or more — that’s too much for an MLB pitcher.

Luis Castillo came to bat with runners in scoring position about fifteen times in this game, and failed in each one. We’ll still try to hammer that square peg into the round eighth hole of the lineup.

Speaking of, did anyone notice Castillo’s strike-three looking in the top of the seventh? It was a darn close pitch on the inside black of home plate. Maybe you also noticed Marlins catcher John Baker “stick” that pitch — he held it exactly where it crossed the plate, and was awarded with strike three. Maybe I’m harping too much on the art of catching lately, but the concept of “framing” is one of those universally taught, yet completely illogical, baseball skills that needs to called out and buried. (That “thump” was the sound of me hopping off the soap box.)

Ryan Church remains red-hot, against righties and lefties. He must like the month of April, because he started out similarly last season.

A little strange to see Gary Sheffield, instead of Ramon Castro, come in to pinch-hit for Brian Schneider. Seems like a waste to burn two players in one shot like that, especially in a close game where you might be going into extra innings.

Sean Green appeared in yet another ballgame. For those unaware, Green pitched very well for Seattle for the first half of 2008, then had a poor second half, and most people felt it was because of overuse. His arm action and mechanics certainly do not make him look durable. Green, Parnell, Feliciano, and Putz are on pace to appear in 121 games each this season.

The young Marlins look like they are finally starting to “get it”. If they can find one more solid bullpen guy — or a legit closer — they will be a serious playoff contender.

People love to bash Jorge Cantu for his poor fielding, but the guy made some really nice snares on hot smashes in the late innings. That man has no fear of the ball, that’s for certain.

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Marlins do it again, serving as the opening act to Flo Rida. You won’t see the first hour of the game, but can listen to it on WFAN or XM Radio. SNY coverage begins at 7:00 PM. Livan Hernandez makes his Mets debut against Ricky Nolasco, though there’s no guarantee that either pitcher will still be in the game by the time it is broadcast on your TV set.

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Mets Game 2: Win Over Reds

Mets 9 Reds 7

This one was reminiscent of a 2008 ballgame: Mets jump ahead, Mike Pelfrey has control issues, loses the lead, gets it back, and barely gets through five, and the bullpen keeps us on the edge of our seat through the final out. If this were 2008, we’d expect the offense to go to sleep after the fifth. But this is 2009, and the offense did something that was rarely seen last year: they tacked on runs in the later innings.

Carlos Delgado gave the Mets a two-run lead with a prodigious blast in the top of the first, but Joey Votto did one better with a not-so-prodigious but more productive fly ball.

It took Pelfrey 43 pitches to get through the initial inning, an early signal that the bullpen would play a key role in the contest.

However the Mets came back with three runs in the fifth, when Delgado grounded out with the bases loaded and Carlos Beltran followed with a two-run single. Delgado added another run in the seventh, singling in David Wright. The two Carloses combined for 6 of the Mets’ 9 runs on the night.

Brian Schneider broke the game open in the seventh with a three-run double to make it easy on the bullpen, which was less than perfect.

Notes

Luis Castillo made several key defensive plays throughout the game, including a throw to home to cut down Joey Votto attempting to steal home on a pickoff attempt.

Big Pelf was falling behind with his sinker, which was running too hard and far in on the righties / away from the lefties. My guess is he was having trouble getting a good grip on the ball in the cold weather, and/or his thumb was a little too high and to the side of the ball at the release. When the thumb slides up, the ball will go flying in the opposite direction. Cold, slightly humid weather can make the ball feel slick and cause that to happen.

Bobby Parnell started off the sixth with two quick outs, then walked the next two batters. He was saved by Darnell McDonald, who showed why he spent 11 years in the minors by swinging at the first pitch (out of the strike zone) following a four-pitch walk. McDonald fell behind 0-2 and grounded out weakly to end the almost-rally. Parnell was hitting 94-95 MPH on the radar gun with his fastball, but was unable to spot the slider in the strike zone.

Pedro Feliciano and J.J. Putz gave up a run each in the 7th and 8th, which was OK since the Mets had a significant lead. However, Francisco “Don’t Call Me K-Rod” Rodriguez made things interesting in the ninth, giving up another run(wow it sure felt like he did) loading the bases with one out before retiring the side on a strikeout and a long fly ball to the warning track. Get used to this, Mets fans — Frankie was famous for these thrillers in Hollywood.

Nine walks by Mets pitchers in this game. That’s too many, for those who aren’t sure.

K-Rod threw 30 pitches; is he available to close on Thursday afternoon?

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Reds do it again in an early afternoon game tomorrow at 12:30 PM EST. Oliver Perez goes against Bronson Arroyo. Arroyo had been suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome, but reportedly is OK after a cortisone shot. Too much guitar playing?

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5 Early Warning Signs from Port St. Lucie

1. Johan’s Elbow

Make no mistake — Johan Santana has a problem with his elbow and it is going to be an issue for the entire season. Santana is a throwback, a tough guy who takes the ball, sacrifices himself for the team, and pitches through pain.

I’m a former player myself, and I can tell you firsthand that badasses such as Johan and myself go to the trainer to complain about an injury only when it’s become unbearable, and only as a last resort. The fact that Johan not only went to the Mets’ training staff to bring up an issue, but that it became public knowledge, throws up a dozen red flags.

I have two conspiracy theories. One, that Johan continues to pitch with pain, but feels he needs to earn his obnoxious contract and grin and bear it. Two, that the Mets won’t send Johan for an MRI because they’re afraid it might show damage, and they’ll have to shut him down. No Johan means no chance in hell that the Mets make the postseason, which in turn means season ticket sales grind to a screeching halt in an already depressed economy, and Citi Field doesn’t enjoy a record-breaking debut.

2. John Maine’s Shoulder … and Mechanics

Maine developed scar tissue and eventually, a cyst, on his shoulder due to a minor mechanical flaw in his deliverya flaw that can be corrected. However, neither the Mets nor Maine did anything to correct the flaw, which by the way also adversely affects his command. Unless someone wakes up and tells Maine to break his hands in the middle of his body instead of behind his right hip, we’ll watch another inconsistent season of 5-inning outings and 12-pitch at-bats.

3. JJ Putz’s Fastball

When the Mets acquired Putz, the scouting report was that this was one of the top closers in all of MLB, with a “filthy” breaking ball and 95-96 MPH heat. In his first appearance as a Met in Port St. Lucie, Putz was barely able to break 89 MPH, and reached that only a few times. He had a similarly underwhelming debut for Team USA. Now, we know it can take a while for a flamethrower to build up his strength, but the fact he’s struggling to reach 90 MPH is a major concern.

4. The Back End of the Rotation

Normally we wouldn’t worry too much about the #5 spot in the rotation. However, we’re looking at the possibility of chronic elbow issues from the ace, and inconsistency from #4 man John Maine — which means the back end needs to pick up the slack. So far, Freddy Garcia has looked awful, Livan Hernandez even worse, and Tim Redding has yet to take the mound due to a shoulder injury. The next men on the totem pole — Jon Niese and Bobby Parnell — are at best average prospects and have less than 20 big league innings of experience between them.

5. Jerry Manuel’s Mouth

The honeymoon is nearly over. Manuel has reigned as a media darling ever since taking over the Mets last June. However, comments and cajoling that previously were presented as “zen-like”, charming, and “a breath of fresh air” are starting — though ever so quietly — to be questioned. Manuel has always been known as engaging with the media — much to the chagrin of his players. His loose lips helped sink the ship in Chicago, as his constant calling out of players eventually created a tense and resentful clubhouse.

A similar pattern began in the initial days at Port St. Lucie, when Manuel told reporters that Daniel Murphy was a “better hitter” than Ryan Church. Even if that statement were true, it’s not the type of thing you go around boasting about. Only a week later, NY Post writer Bart Hubbuch compiled a long list of Manuel’s missteps with the media (interestingly, the post was generally ignored by the rest of the media and most Mets blogs). It’s not even mid-March yet, and Manuel’s already marred his managerial tenure with his mouth.

Go ahead, paint me the negative Nelly. But the above five issues could be pebbles in one shoe of the Mets, leaving them hobbling around on one foot through the 2009 season.

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Mets Consider Ben Sheets, Andy Pettitte

According to David Lennon of Newsday, the Mets are considering Ben Sheets and Andy Pettitte to fill out their starting rotation.

Per Lennon:

For his part, Minaya has played it cool, suggesting that he has other options if Perez falls through. Two of the most intriguing names still available are Ben Sheets and Andy Pettitte, with the Mets only recently showing interest in the former Brewers ace. A person familiar with the situation said yesterday that Sheets is now being discussed, but it’s unclear what the parameters of such a deal would be.

In other words, Sheets and Pettite are fallback options in the event Oliver Perez can’t be signed. Why? Why not sign Sheets or Pettitte IN ADDITION TO continuing negotiations with Perez? Why do the Mets seem focused on having “just enough” when every other playoff-bound team is stockpiling starting pitchers? (The Cubs, for example, just added LHP Garrett Olson to their stable of arms.)

First off, I’m not putting any stock into the Andy Pettitte talk. Sure, I’d love to see him in a Mets uniform, but it smells to me to be a negotiation ploy on Pettitte’s part — not unlike Jorge Posada’s insincere overtures of a year ago. With talk of the Yankees dropping their $10M offer, Pettitte is desperate for leverage, and the possibility of becoming a Met is too much for the Bronx faithful to bear. Fleeing for a faraway location such as Houston or LA is not as devastating as seeing Pettitte in a Mets cap on the back page of the tabloids every fifth day — the Yankees would overpay for no reason other than to appease their fan base.

That the Mets are considering Sheets is great news, as he has big-game skills (whether he can execute in big games, unfortunately, is another story). But, Sheets is certainly not the type of pitcher that the Mets can rely on to make 30+ starts and provide 190-200 innings. He’s an ideal gamble to fill out the back end — much the way the Red Sox are counting on Brad Penny. If they sign Sheets, the Mets are still short one pitcher for the front end. There are too many existing question marks — the health of Johan Santana and John Maine, the readiness of Jon Niese or Bobby Parnell — to bring in another question mark to fill a hole.

Again, I love the idea of Sheets — so long as the Mets don’t stop there. Bring in Sheets, AND Perez, AND Freddy Garcia or Pedro Martinez too. To make the postseason, a team needs both quantity and quality comprising the starting rotation pool.

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No Truth to Dye – Bailey YET

Despite a report from Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News reporting that the White Sox traded outfielder Jermaine Dye to the Cincinnati Reds for young hurler Homer Bailey, there is yet confirmation that the deal is done — or even true.

This according to the grunts on the floor in Las Vegas, who are reporting via Twitter (go to Twitter search and type in #bwm to get the frenzied reports on a minute-by-minute basis), as well as from Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune.

I don’t see the Reds making a deal, since their pitching is a little iffy and would appear to be in something of a rebuilding mode. This time last year, Bailey’s stock was higher than that of Mike Pelfrey. Though he seemed to take a step backward in 2008, Bailey is still only 22 years old and has a world of talent. Those of us (myself included) were impatient with Pelfrey, but he certainly turned it around — Bailey has the same capability.

By the way the same story by Gonzales claims that the Mets-White Sox talks for Bobby Jenks never went anywhere, because the Mets didn’t want to part with Bobby Parnell. C’mon now, are you kidding me? That’s sillier than the Heilman / Feliciano / Huston Street rumor. If Parnell was the holdup in the deal then I fully expect the Mets to stop looking for a closer and give the job to Parnell. There had to be more to that story.

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Jermaine Dye to the Mets?

These Mets – White Sox rumors are only getting hotter. Now it’s reported that the White Sox are looking to trade outfielder Jermaine Dye, and have been specifically scouting Mets prospects Bobby Parnell and Eddie Kunz in the Arizona Fall League.

From Mark Gonzalez of the Chicago Tribune:

Tuesday night, several Sox officials watched Mets pitching prospects Bobby Parnell and Eddie Kunz pitch for the Peoria Saguaros in the AFL. Two scouts believed Parnell, 24, was too valuable for the Mets to deal and believed Kunz, a projected closer, needed more seasoning in the minors.

Parnell and Kunz, 22, have sinking fastballs that Williams seeks to neutralize hitter-friendly U.S. Cellular Field.

Strangely enough, the idea of the Mets dealing for Javy Vazquez was squashed:

Regarding Javier Vazquez, one scout doubted any talks involving him and the New York Mets would crystallize until the Mets resolve their closer issues.

Not sure why a scout would say such a thing. Yes the Mets are desperate for a closer, but they’re more desperate to fill two huge holes in their starting rotation. The ninth inning means very little if you don’t have anyone to get through the first five or six frames.

I like Dye, he’s coming off an excellent season, and he’d fit nicely between Beltran and Delgado or Delgado and Church in the lineup, but he’s going to be 35 in January. Aren’t the Mets trying to get younger? If the cost is both Kunz and Parnell, then it’s a fair deal for both sides, but the possibility of trading for a strong closer becomes more difficult. I wouldn’t think twice about trading two unproven minor leaguers for a bonafide all-star, except that Ken Williams has been remarkably successful in acquiring and trading young arms in recent years. Has he been lucky, or is his scouting staff that good at assessing and projecting pitching talent?

In any case, I wonder if Omar Minaya and Kenny Williams will indeed pull off a blockbuster as suggested yesterday, or if this could be reminiscent of the 2005-2006 offseason, when the Mets made two separate deals with the Marlins to acquire Carlos Delgado and Paul LoDuca. One way or another, it appears as if these two GMs are talking, and could be trade partners before the winter solstice.

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