Tag: carlos zambrano

Mets Game 136: Loss to Cubs

Cubs 5 Mets 3

It was a beautiful, sunny day in Chicago, but not so beautiful a debut for Jenrry Mejia.

Game Notes

The much-anticipated first MLB start by Jenrry Mejia was something of a letdown. Mejia allowed 4 runs on 8 hits and 2 walks in 5 innings, striking out 2 and expending 96 pitches. Perhaps more concerning than the stats was the fact his fastball generally hung around the 92-93 range — a far cry from the upper 90s that he displayed in the spring. He also was regularly shaking / shrugging his shoulder in between pitches — not sure if that is simply a habit or if something is bothering him. You may know he was shut down in late June for a few weeks with a rotator cuff strain, so perhaps this habit and the drop in velocity are related to that issue.

Mejia’s other pitches weren’t particularly noteworthy, either. On occasion, he threw a nasty curve with good 12-6 rotation — so there is some potential — but he didn’t have much command of it and he hung it several times. His change-up was more or less a throwaway pitch, as he rarely put it in the strike zone.

You may think that my analysis is “too critical” since Jenrry is only 20 years old. Well, that’s your right, but I’m looking at him as a Major League Pitcher — not as a random 20-year-old. If I saw him pitch this way in A or AA, I’d say, “hey, this kid has some potential — in a couple years the Mets may have something”. But he is NOT in the minors currently — he is in “The Show”, and by all accounts the Mets are penciling him in for a rotation spot (or at least, to compete for one) next spring. So his age is not nearly as important as his stage of development — and if he is in a Major League game, he has to be evaluated as a Major Leaguer. What I’m seeing is raw talent, but talent that needs to be further developed before pitching every five days against MLB hitters.

Something noticeable to me — and glad Bobby Ojeda pointed out in the postgame — was that when Mejia threw a pitch that went past Nickeas with a man on third, Mejia did not cover the plate. Another glaring indication of a pitcher who needs more minor league seasoning.

Mike Nickeas made his MLB debut catching for Mejia, which some people may have found mysterious since Nickeas is not a prospect. However, Mejia has pitched well in the minors with Nickeas as his backstop for the Binghamton Mets and Nickeas followed Mejia up to AAA Buffalo and caught his gem there. So it made sense to keep the tandem together for Mejia’s first MLB start — there certainly is a comfort level between the two. You might compare Nickeas to Crash Davis, without the homerun power.

Carlos Zambrano limited the Mets to 4 hits in 7 innings. What happened to the guy that had no control of emotions nor his fastball, was getting into fights with nice guys like Derrek Lee, and was looking like the Cubs’ version of Oliver Perez?

Speaking of Perez, why not just start using him in games like this? The Mets have no chance at a playoff spot at this point, and you’re paying the guy, so may as well use him.

Carlos Beltran went 3-for-4 and Ike Davis had two hits, including a wind-blown homer.

Ruben Tejada is red-hot — he collected another single, and has now hit in 4 of his last 6 games. He’s 5 for his last 15, rocketing his batting average to .181. If he can keep this up a little longer, he will threaten to reach the Mendoza Line. Additionally, Tejada’s fielding resembles that of Mario Mendoza, one of the legendary “good-hit, no-field” shortstops. He made one excellent play in the hole that demonstrated his superior arm strength. If only he could play both the shortstop and second base positions simultaneously, the Mets would really have something.

Next Mets Game

The final game of the series occurs on Sunday at 2:20 PM EST. Jonathon Niese faces Ryan Dempster.


Mets Game 14: Win Over Cubs

Mets 4 Cubs 0

Things are starting to look up for the Mets.

Mike Pelfrey pitched 7 strong innings, the offense provided four runs, and the bullpen held up their end of the bargain to give the Mets their sixth win of the season.

Game Notes

Big Pelf allowed no runs on 3 hits and 3 walks, striking out 6 in his 7 innings pitched. Finally, he has an offspeed pitch to compliment the fastball — the forkball. Not to pat myself on the back, but I’ve been clamoring for Pelfrey to develop a change of pace of some sort since 2007. If you follow those links and read those posts, you won’t need to know what I’m thinking — which is, the fact that Pelfrey is changing speeds is THE point of differentiation between him being an enigma and fulfilling his sky-high potential. Great outings like this will also build his confidence, which in turn feeds off itself and will push his performance to another level. It’s early, and I may be prematurely excited, but I’m liking what I’m seeing from Mr. Pelfrey.

Jose Reyes went 4-for-5 with 2 RBI and a triple; I think it’s safe to say he’s on his way back.

Fernando Tatis hit a pinch-hit, two-run homer off LOOGY John Grabow in the bottom of the 8th to give the Mets breathing room. Why anyone would throw a low and inside pitch to Tatis is baffling — it’s pretty much the only pitch he can put over the fence.

Ryota Igarashi left the game with a hamstring strain in the 8th. He will get an MRI on Wednesday to determine the extent of the injury.

In relief of Igarashi, Fernando Nieve came up big with a called strike three against Jeff Baker to end the 8th, stranding Koyie Hill on second base and working out of a mini-jam.

Frankie Rodriguez continues to look shaky; he walked two batters with a four-run lead in a non-save situation, expending 26 pitches in the process.

Next Mets Game

The Mets have a chance to win their first series of the year in the third game of this 4-game sequence with the Cubs. Oliver Perez (or Mr. Hyde) faces Carlos Silva in a matchup of the two worst contracts given to


The Mets and Milton Bradley

Ken Rosenthal’s recent column reports that the Mets, among other teams, have been inquiring about the Cubs’ outfielder Milton Bradley.

Wow … where do we start?

Never mind Bradley’s troubled past. We’ve already learned that nice guys finish second-to-last, so stirring up the pot with a perennial malcontent won’t necessarily make things any worse. Let’s pretend Bradley is a model citizen and analyze him only according to the numbers.

Doing that, what you have is a 10-year veteran of MLB who managed 400 at-bats or more in a season only twice. Despite the fact that he supposedly has (or had) a world of talent with a rare combination of speed and power, he’s hit as many as 20 HRs in a season only once — as a Texas Ranger — and has never stolen more than 17 bases (in fact he hasn’t stolen more than 5 since 2006). His career batting average is a ho-hum .277. The statheads like his career OBP (.371) and his OPS (.821) and I have to agree he does have an ability to get on base. His fielding was at one time a strength, but as he’s aged that facet of his game has regressed (due in part to injuries collected over the years).

Now add in the fact that he is owed $21M over the next two years of a back-loaded contract. Is that money worth a guy who likely will play as often as Moises Alou, be a liability in the field, and hit like Dan Murphy (but with more walks) ? Wouldn’t the Mets be better off picking up someone like Eric Hinske or Austin Kearns on a one-year, $600,000 deal instead?

If you’re on the fence, then it’s time to consider the intangible issues. The old-school crowd likes his passion and enthusiasm, but shakes its head at his well-publicized temper tantrums, arguments with umpires, occasional lapses in focus, and similar bouts of self-destruction. You may be OK with taking on all that baggage if you believed that Bradley was the type of guy who was a game-changer, or could carry a team on his back. There might have been a time in his career when that was true, but if so those days are long gone. And again, even if you’re OK with the baggage because you think you need what he can provide offensively, why wouldn’t you just rescue Carl Everett from independent ball? He’d probably play for the league minimum, and give you a similar package. Or bring back Gary Sheffield, who actually WAS a model citizen in 2009 (and has appeared in more games over the past three years).

The only thing that could justify the Mets talking to the Cubs about Milton Bradley is a more elaborate, diabolical plan to drastically change the current roster. For example, perhaps Bradley is necessary part of a salary dumping deal that would also send Carlos Zambrano and Derrek Lee to Flushing, in return for a package that includes one of the Mets’ underperforming but comparatively inexpensive starting pitchers and Luis Castillo — which in turn would clear the way for Orlando Hudson to sign on as a free agent. If nothing else, it would be a splash, and proof the Mets were committed to making significant changes to their ballclub.

But if the buzz between the teams is a simpler matter of Bradley heading to New York by himself, I’m not sure what sense it makes.


Mets Game 135: Win Over Cubs

Mets 6 Cubs 2

Break up the Mets!

The Mets won their second consecutive time, and for the second time in two days. In other words, they’re on a two-game win streak!

Bobby Parnell was fabulous, shutting out the Cubs on only five hits through seven stellar innings. He worked out of two tough bases loaded situations — one in the second, and one in the seventh — in what was arguably his best performance as a Major League starter.

Unfortunately, the bullpen was unable to hold the Mets’ slim one-run lead, and Parnell’s gem resulted in a no-decision. However, the Mets did win the game, thanks to the dam busting in the Chicago bullpen.

The Mets surged for six runs on six hits against three Cub pitchers in the eighth inning, breaking the game wide open and allowing plenty of cushion for the ninth. As it was, the extra insurance was helpful, as Brian Stokes allowed a run and left the game to Frankie Rodriguez with the bases loaded. Frankie Fantastic proceeded to induce a popup from Aramis Ramirez and struck out Jake “Grand Slam” Fox en route to his 29th save of the season.

Ironically, the Mets pitcher who was least effective — Stokes — was awarded the win.


Bobby Parnell looked loose and comfortable for most of the contest — when he was pitching from the windup. However, when he threw from the stretch, his body language changed just a bit — enough to look tense — and he seemed to be trying too hard to hit spots. Not quite aiming, but “spotting”, if that makes any sense.

There were a few other issues with Parnell’s otherwise outstanding performance that did not sit right with me. First, I didn’t like that he was using the slider as his main secondary pitch, mainly because it’s a pitch that should not be thrown in the strike zone and also because it’s a shortcut strategy that tends to be inconsistent — see: Mike Pelfrey. I’d much prefer to see Parnell experimenting more with his changeup and failing (and eventually finding success in the future), than getting lucky with flat sliders that float over the middle of the plate. The slider should be a “put away pitch” when he is ahead on the count.

Second, Parnell threw very few fastballs in the bottom of the strike zone. Nearly all of his strikes were above the belt, and most of his low fastballs were in the dirt or just above the shoetops. Though, it was good to see him get a number of swings and misses on pitches up in the zone and out of the zone. Bottom line is that I’m not sure Parnell’s success was of his own doing, or more the result of poor hitting.

Sorry to rain on the Parnell parade, but that’s what I saw. At the same time, I’m thrilled he was able to get this kind of a performance under his belt, for the purpose of building his confidence. He needs to know that he can get big-league hitters out, and this game was proof that he can do it. I also liked the way he responded to the bases loaded, no-out situation in the seventh — that was HUGE, and impressive, especially considering he was near the end of his rope in regard to pitch count. But he still needs a lot of polish. Blame Mike Pelfrey for causing me to be so cynical about Parnell — because to me, Parnell is right now where Pelf was in 2006.

The Cory Sullivan Theatre was performing on this particular evening, as Cory hit a solo homer and made a magnificent diving catch to prevent an extra base hit. A strong September finish by Sullivan could spell the end of Jeremy Reed’s career as a Met — though, Reed has been exceptional in his role as a pinch-hitter. The Reed – Sullivan competition is likely the most legitimate audition occurring this month.

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Cubs do it again at 1:10 PM in Flushing. Nelson Figueroa faces Rich Harden. Rumor has it that Josh Thole will catch Figgy.