Tag: diamondbacks

Mets Game 112: Loss to Diamondbacks

Diamondbacks 7 Mets 4

I keep waiting for Casey Stengel to show up in the postgame interview and explain that Marv Throneberry lost a ground ball in the sun.

The Mets were awful in nearly every aspect of the game — pitching, offense, defense, and fundamentals. This particular evening they seemed to be writing a book on how NOT to play the game. We’ll chalk it up to jet lag and the dry heat.

New dad Mike Pelfrey struggled from inning one, and left the game after six innings. He allowed 5 runs on 8 hits and 2 walks, and received little help from the defense — which appeared to be made up of Barnum, Bailey, and the Ringling Brothers. Reliever Elmer Dessens wasn’t much better, and didn’t receive stellar defensive support, either.

Offensively, the Mets did little against Arizona starter Doug Davis, save for a two-run triple by Fernando Tatis in the fourth and a meaningless rally in the top of the ninth. The only reason the Mets threatened in the final frame was because Chad Qualls — pitching in a rare non-save situation — was toying with them.


After Tatis’ triple, I timed Davis’ windup with Fernando on third base. He ranged from 4.0 – 4.6 seconds from the beginning of his motion to the time the ball reached the catcher. That’s really, really slow, and I’m sure Tatis could have stolen home easily. An MLB-average runner can easily cover 26-28 yards (90 feet minus a decent lead) in four and a half seconds.

The two men who hit well and had good at-bats in this game? Luis Castillo and Anderson Hernandez, who had two hits apiece. Hernandez was 2-for-3 with a double, walk, a run, and an RBI. He’s now 4-for-6 as a 2009 Met.

Early in the game Ron Darling commented about little leaguers and curveballs. I agree with Ron — the recent report from the “experts” at the ASMI stating that curveballs put less stress on a kid’s arm is absolute hogwash. The major flaw in the findings — and nearly everything from that organization is flawed — is that most kids throw all pitches with poor mechanics, so all pitches will put stress on the arm, but the curve doesn’t put as much stress because it’s thrown with less force and velocity. The key is mechanics. If a kid is taught the proper (and safe) way to throw any pitch, he shouldn’t have any problems. But that’s a big if — particularly when it comes to the curve. There is a safe way to throw the curveball, but no one teaches it at any level.

Also, need to help the kids again with a translation of Ron Darling’s explanation. Ron erroneously described “pronation of the elbow” as the danger in throwing a curve. In fact, it is the opposite — supination is what makes a curveball dangerous (and it’s actually the hand/wrist, not really the elbow, that supinates). I would excuse this technicality, but the truth is, PRONATION is in fact the safest way to throw a curve (or any pitch, for that matter). It’s not the traditional way to throw it (90% of MLBers supinate their hand to throw a curve), and it seems awkward, but it is fairly safe when executed properly and combined with proper weight training and other exercises to strengthen the pronator teres. The pronated curve is one of the wacky ideas of Mike Marshall, but it’s the one that makes the most sense and can actually be applied to traditional pitching mechanics.

In the eighth inning, Anderson Hernandez was charged with an error when he threw to an unoccupied first base bag. On the play — a routine grounder back to the pitcher — Dan Murphy inexplicably charged toward the ball, and was practically standing on the mound when AHern was turning the front end of a potential double play. I know one of the SNY talking points is to chat up Murphy’s “slick fielding”, but it’s as much of a ruse as it was when they talked up his left field play this time last year. You see mistakes like that in little league, maybe in a Babe Ruth or Cal Ripken league, but not beyond high school. This is the Major Leagues. People pay good money to watch the best baseball on the planet. That was embarrassing, and another case of a player hanging around a position long enough to be exposed.

Speaking of exposure, in the second inning, Angel Pagan made the terrible decision of diving for a two-out bloop hit by Doug Davis that wound up scoring two runs and putting Davis on third base. He wasn’t playing shallow enough, he misread the ball, he got a late jump, and then made an ill-advised dive. The very next inning, with two outs, Pagan got another bad jump on a long fly ball off the bat of Miguel Montero, and compunded it by missing the cutoff man on the throw into the infield, allowing Montero to advance to third base. Moments later Montero scored on a sharp single to right field, and I’d bet dollars to donuts that Montero would not have challenged Jeff Francoeur’s arm on that hard hit ball had he been on second base. So right there, Pagan was responsible for three runs. Did you see the final score? Simple fundamentals can win and lose ballgames — this was merely a more glaring example than usual.

The Mets have won 15 out of their last 18 games in Arizona. Mike Pelfrey was tagged with all three losses. The last Mets pitcher to lose a game in Arizona was Al Leiter.

Next Mets Game

The Diamondbacks host the Mets again at 9:40 PM on Tuesday night. Livan Hernandez faces Max Scherzer.


Mets Game 105: Loss to Diamondbacks

Diamondbacks 6 Mets 5

A split would’ve been so nice … but at least the hometown boys gave us a ballgame!

The game appeared over within minutes after it started, as recent callup Nelson Figueroa allowed 6 runs on 10 hits in his 1 2/3 innings. So much for taking some strain off the bullpen.

However, the bullpen kicked it up a notch and allowed just one hit and no runs after the third inning, and Dan Haren was having an off night. That combination of unusual circumstances gave the Citi Field crowd their money’s worth.

Haren struggled with his command, and actually walked a batter, and allowed five runs on eight hits and that walk in seven innings. But, Jon Rauch threw a scoreless eighth and Chad Qualls a perfect ninth to earn his 20th save.


Tough night for Nelson Figueroa — so bad that one wonders if the Mets will give him another shot. Shame, since Figgy has put up some great numbers at AAA this year. Either it was an off night or the D’backs somehow knew what was coming — maybe he was tipping his pitches? The Arizona batters looked way too comfortable.

Angel Pagan went 2-for-3 with a walk, a triple, a run, and an RBI. However, he held up at second base on a Luis Castillo RBI single in the fifth when he probably should have moved on to third. As a result, only one run scored when David Wright followed with a single and the inning ended moments later on a double play.

Pagan now has 6 triples, tied for fourth place in the NL. (D’backs Stephen Drew and Gerardo Parra are tied for second behind Michael Bourn with 7 each.)

Jeff Francoeur was the only Mets starting position player without a hit.

The Mets are now 8 games behind in the Wild Card standings and 10 behind the Phillies in the NL East.

Next Mets Game

The Mets play a quick two-game series against the Cardinals that begins on Tuesday night at 7:10 PM. Two-time Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana faces Joel Pineiro, who pitches like Cy Young against the Mets.


Mets Game 103: Win Over Diamondbacks

Mets 9 Diamondbacks 6

Mr. Beltran, take your time — we have a very capable switch-hitting centerfielder doing just fine while you’re on the mend.

Angel Pagan blasted a grand slam in the bottom of the eighth to lift the fans off their feet and the Mets over the Diamondbacks.

For the first time in a long while, the Mets engaged in a game that felt like a wound-up spring, ready to burst at any moment — and came out on the winning end.

The Snakes jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first 3 1/2 innings, but the Mets pulled off a four-run rally in the bottom of the fourth frame to go up by two. Unfortunately, the Mets had Oliver Perez on the mound, so that didn’t last long. Fortunately, Max Scherzer had nothing, and so the two teams traded scores for the next two innings, and were knotted at five-all until Pagan’s dramatic blast.

Pedro Feliciano earned his fourth victory of the season, as he was the only Met pitcher to retire more than one batter and not allow a run.


Perez took another step backward. Although he allowed “only” three runs and struck out 7 in five frames, he also walked 5 and allowed 6 hits (including one homerun). On several occasions Ollie “improvised” on the mound, playing cowboy and dropping down laredo style for reasons unknown. At least a dozen of his 112 pitches were a good six feet out of the strike zone, and had Brian Schneider scrambling. It was a minor miracle that he threw only one wild pitch and allowed only three runs (and I’m still trying to figure out how he didn’t hit at least two batters). There were several spots where a more disciplined team would have mounted a 3- or 4-run rally. For the second straight evening, we can see why the Diamondbacks are stinking up the NL West.

What a shame to see what’s happened with Max Scherzer this year. Scherzer has struggled with nagging shoulder injuries, and if I’m Arizona I might consider shutting him down at this point. This is a guy who AVERAGED 95 MPH last year, topping out at 98-99. On this particular evening, the Citi Field gun had him at around 92-93, with a couple touching 94. Now, 94 is still pretty damn fast, but a world away from 98-99. In comparison, remember how hittable Billy Wagner became when his velocity dropped from 99-100 to 93-94.

Slowly, these replaceMets are forging their way into the fan’s hearts. I’m beginning to believe that the team will be better off if Beltran, Delgado, Reyes, and the rest of the “cavalry” never return. Some of these guys are taking the bull by the horns and showing the world (and their crepe-hanging manager) that they can play this game. It’s kind of nice to see guys bust it out of the box, rather than make a decision as to whether or not they should run hard.

Speaking of hard-nosed players, my new favorite non-Met is Mark Reynolds. He may set world records for strikeouts and errors, but you have to love a guy on a last-place team diving over the tarp and nearly into the stands to catch a foul ball.

Oh, and how about Clay Zavada channeling his inner Rollie Fingers with that waxed handlebar mustache? When he came into the game I thought I fell into a time warp. And his middle name is “Pflibson”. I smell a fan club sprouting soon. Baseball needs more guys like this in the game. I’d pay to see a battery of him and Sal Fasano.

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Diamondbacks play the third game of the series at 1:10 PM on Sunday afternoon. Mike Pelfrey goes to the mound against Jon Garland.


Mets Game 102: Loss to Diamondbacks

Rockies 3 Mets 2

At the start it was a skirmish between soft-tossers, but in the end, a battle of the bullpens.

Livan Hernandez and Doug Davis matched each other slow curve for slow curve through six innings and each exited the game with the score tied and no chance for a decision. The soft-tossers hurled nearly identical outings, with both going 6 innings and allowing 4 hits and 2 runs — with all runs scoring on solo homers.

But in the end, it was the Arizona bullpen that prevailed, as they held the Mets hitless over the final three frames while Sean Green imploded, allowing a runner inherited from Pedro Feliciano to score the winning run.


Ironically, the loss was tagged on Feliciano, even though it was Green who shat the bed. Sometimes there is no justice in baseball scoring. Note: Feliciano was charged with the loss on the MLB official boxscore posted 10 minutes after the game; it has since been amended.

The 8th inning was a prime example of why the Diamondbacks are in second-to-last place and going nowhere this year. After Sean Green hit Justin Upton, walked Mark Reynolds on four pitches to load the bases, and was clearly struggling to keep the ball within six feet of home plate (seriously, not an exaggeration), genius Miguel Montero swung at a 1-0 pitch to bounce into a tailor-made DP started by Dan Murphy. Minutes later Green bounced a ball to the backstop to allow a run anyway, but it could’ve been much worse. If I’m manager A.J. Hinch (meh), I have the take sign on until Green shows he can throw two balls near the plate. If it were Miguel Cabrera at the plate instead of Miguel Montero, I might think differently … though it would be tough. After Green bounced in the run, Ryan Roberts swung at the very next pitch and eventually grounded out to end the inning. Again, you see a pitcher struggling mightily, don’t help him! Green was darn lucky to get out of there with only one run — any decent-hitting team would have scored 3-4 runs at minimum.

And while we’re on the subject of fundamentals, Ron Darling mentioned during the ninth that a hitter in a sacrifice situation should start the bat at the top of the strike zone — this way, if the pitch is above the bat, you know to let it go. I personally do not like this approach, because when the bat is up high, it means you have to move it down for strikes — and when you move a bat down to the ball, the ball tends to go up. Obviously, bunts should go down, toward the ground, which is why I’ve always preferred to start the bat low, at the bottom of the strike zone, and move it UP to the ball — which tends to impart an overspin on the ball, and sends the ball downward. Simple physics.

Frankie Rodriguez has not been in a save situation since the All-Star break. Wow.

The first two runs of the game came on homeruns hit on hanging curveballs. Mark Reynolds blasted a Livan curve a good 430 feet over the centerfield fence, while Dan Murphy jumped on a Davis deuce and bounced it off the rightfield foul pole, exactly 330 feet from home plate.

The two teams COMBINED for nine hits in the game. Miraculously, the Mets walked seven times — and not one of those baserunners scored. Davis issued six of those walks, and nearly all of them were of the “unintentional intentional” variety — he clearly picks and chooses who he wants to pitch to.

Angel Berroa pinch-hit for Livan Hernandez with two out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth. Have to say, if Berroa is the best you can do in that situation, I prefer to take my chances with Livan.

For the record, Jerry Manuel — the guy who admittedly “doesn’t put much into stats” — explained the decision by stating “Berroa’s had some success in the past against Arizona”. Um … hmmm … not sure how that’s a factor — does Berroa respond to the uniform rather than an individual’s stuff? In his career, Berroa has a .218 average vs. Arizona. Yes, last year Berroa hit .308 vs. the D’Backs, and against Doug Davis he was hitting .500 — but it was 1-for-2. Again, I may take my chances with Livan right there.

Angel Pagan and Luis Castillo are a combined 1-for-15 in the last two games heading the top of the lineup.

So with the Giants leading in the Wild Card standings, we have to root for the Phillies this weekend. Awesome.

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Rockies do it again at 7:10 PM at Citi Field. Oliver Perez faces Max Scherzer in an intriguing contest of talented enigmas. Both pitchers have the stuff to throw a no-hitter on the right night, and either could also disappear from the game before the fourth inning. No matter what, the crowd surely will be refreshed by cool breezes from the swings and misses siphoned from both lineups by these fireballers.


Window Shopping with Empty Pockets

Finally, a team has been identified as a seller — the Arizona Diamondbacks sold off middle reliever Tony Pena to the White Sox for AAA first baseman Brandon Allen. Presumably, the D’Backs will look to move several other contracts in the next few weeks, such as Felipe Lopez, Jon Garland, Tony Clark, Chad Tracy, Jon Rauch, Scott Schoeneweis, and others (Doug Davis? Chad Qualls?). Had Tom Gordon and Eric Byrnes not hit the DL, they also would be on the trade block. Any of those names incite interest from the Mets?

Garland was a hurler we discussed at length here in the offseason for his ability to eat innings. He has been a very expensive version of Livan Hernandez so far — usually gives 6-7 innings, but has had a handful of absolutely terrible starts. With the return of Ollie Perez — however unimpressive — the chance of the Mets trading for a starter is next to nil. Lopez would be a nice fill-in at shortstop while Jose Reyes is on the mend, but at what cost? If a middle reliever having a down year is worth a prospect at the level of Nick Evans or Dan Murphy (or maybe better), what will a starting shortstop fetch? Likely more than the Mets are willing to part with.

Which brings us back to the same tired story we drudge through every year at this time — the Mets do not have the chips to offer in a trade that would sufficiently fill their needs. What makes this year more difficult than years past is that the Mets do not have the advantage of money. For example, in 2006 the Mets did not have the chips, but had the ability to take on a bad contract — i.e., Shawn Green and Guillermo Mota. Thanks in part to Bernie Madoff, the Mets are unlikely to pick up an overpaid veteran in return for a nondescript minor leaguer at the deadline this year.

But, we’ll do some window shopping anyway. Just because we can’t afford to buy a new 50″ LCD TV, doesn’t mean we can’t check them out at the store.

In addition to the Diamondbacks, we can safely assume that the Blue Jays, Orioles, Nationals, and Padres are also sellers. It’s hard to identify the Athletics as a seller, since they just acquired veteran outfielder Scott Hairston, but you never know what’s going on in the mind of Billy Beane. Similarly, though the Indians are a dozen games out of first, they’re still clinging to the idea of finishing strong and having a bounceback year in 2010, so I’m not sure they can be called “sellers” just yet.

Over the next few days, we’ll go over the identified “sellers”, in no particular order. First up, Toronto.

Toronto Blue Jays

The Jays just released B.J. Ryan and have made Roy Halladay available for a bounty similar to “what the Rangers obtained for Mark Teixeira”. Would the Mets be so bold as to make such a deal? A package would almost certainly have to start with Mike Pelfrey, and/or Jose Reyes. This is the best pitcher in MLB — hands down — and under contract through 2010. A deal might also include Alex Rios, who is a nice young talent but could turn out to be overpaid.

From the Mets’ perspective, it’s a deal that could make sense, even if it involves Pelfrey and/or Reyes, but they’d have to get Rios and they’d have to believe he is about to blossom (I’m not sure that’s the case). It would be hard to lose with Johan Santana and Halladay heading a rotation, and some scouts believe Rios is the next Carlos Beltran — who is not getting any younger and whose contract is up after 2011. In contrast, Rios is locked up through 2015, at a relatively inexpensive $12-13M per season. I say “relatively inexpensive” because you have to buy into the idea that the 28-year-old Rios is on the verge of stardom.

Interestingly, Rios’ career path thus far is somewhat similar to Beltran’s early years — look at their basic offensive numbers at the same ages. Both players had seasons in their mid-20s where they hit .300+, struck out 100+ times, and hit 40+ doubles. The biggest contrast is in the homeruns and RBI — Beltran was clubbing 20-25 HRs and driving in 100 a year from age 22, whereas Rios has had only one 20+ homer season thus far and not yet collected 100 RBI. But, it could be argued that Rios’ doubles power and speed is a better fit for spacious Citi Field, and at $6M less per year, could be a similar value — a “poor man’s Beltran”, so to speak.

Likely, the Mets aren’t making that deal anyway. Even more likely, they won’t make a play for veteran 1B / OF Kevin Millar, no matter how cheap he’ll be to acauire and no matter how fitting his righthanded bat and positive clubhouse personality. Tony Bernazard calls the shots in the Mets’ front office, and he still holds a grudge against Millar from Bernazard’s days with the MLBPA (Millar was a scab who crossed the picket line in 1994). Yes, Millar’s best days are behind him, and you don’t want Nick Evans losing at-bats to him, but his value is in his clubhouse presence. It wouldn’t hurt to have a few more strong personalities — with winning backgrounds — mingling with Wrights, Evanses Murphys, F-Marts, and other young players.

The Blue Jays will probably dangle 1B Lyle Overbay in front of teams, and though the Mets might be interested in a first baseman, the 32-year-old, underachieving Overbay — an older, lighter-hitting version of Nick Johnson — shouldn’t be on their radar. Similarly, David Dellucci should be available, but is he an upgrade over, say, Angel Pagan?

Either Marco Scutaro or John McDonald would be ideal plug-ins to help out Alex Cora up the middle, but again there’s the question — what would it take to pry one of them away, and would it be worth the cost? If it’s only Argenis Reyes, go for it, but if it’s going to take a legitimate prospect, it’s probably a “no” — it would smell too much like the Melvin Mora for Mike Bordick debacle of yesteryear.

Other than Halladay, the Jays don’t have any presumably available pitchers that jump out at you. Brian Tallet? Scott Downs? I don’t think so. And looking again at Halladay, there is something that “jumps out” — his age, which is 32. He’s showing no signs of slowing down, but if you acquire him, you are essentially saying that your team is going for broke in 2009 and 2010 and then letting him walk, because at age 34 he won’t be worth the multi-year, $20M+ per year contract he’ll command on the open market.

Bottom line? Assuming the Mets have to send the type of talent I think they have to, a Halladay deal isn’t worth it, because he alone won’t deliver a postseason appearance. Though, I’m intrigued by Rios, and would consider sending a top prospect away for him (yes, I mean F-Mart / Niese / Flores). I like F-Mart, but believe he’s at least 3-4 years away from where Rios is right now, and Rios *should* be at this level for at least another 3-4 years. It’s kind of like the A.J. Burnett for Al Leiter deal — would you do it again, knowing it would take Burnett several years to evolve into an Al Leiter-level pitcher? But don’t worry — the Mets would never, ever trade the very cheap and very young F-Mart for the very expensive Rios.

Picking up Scutaro for nothing would be nice, but unlikely. And if JP Ricciaridi is interested in an “out of the box” deal, I’d float the idea of trading Tony Bernazard for Kevin Millar.


Diamondbacks Sign Jon Garland

According to several reports, the Arizona Diamondbacks have signed Jon Garland to a one-year contract that includes a club option for 2010.

There had been rumors that the Mets were mildly interested in the sturdy, steady, yet unspectacular righthander, who won 14 games last season.

Garland would have been a nice addition to the back of the Mets’ rotation, as they need an innings-eater and he has hurled at least 190 innings and won in double digits for each of the last seven years. He would not have been the type of guy to put the Mets over the top, but considering all the question marks in the rotation currently, it would have been nice to have a “sure thing” in place. One cannot overestimate the value of having a starter take the ball every fifth day and giving the team 6 innings.

In any case, Garland’s signing means that the Dodgers may turn their attention to LHP Randy Wolf, who also has been connected to the Mets this winter.

Certainly the Mets need to sign at least one more starter, preferably two or three. The question is whether they’ll lock up Oliver Perez, which is looking more and more like a necessity, or if they’ll roll the dice on Ben Sheets.


Mets Trade Schoeneweis

The New York Mets have traded Scott Schoeneweis to the Arizona Diamondbacks for righthander Connor Robertson.

Good dump here. Scho never fulfilled the promise suggested by Omar Minaya when the Mets signed the NJ native to an ill-advised, three-year contract. More and more I’m liking the flexibility of the Mets’ 2009 bullpen — fluidity, and the ability to move people up and down, is a much better plan than the outdated “roles for the season” strategy that hasn’t worked in Flushing the last two years.

With Scho out, will Omar now go after LOOGY Joe Beimel? Seems to me a possibility. Though, I’d be just as happy signing Ricardo Rincon to a cheap, one-year deal. The Mets need to assign a lefty to a pure LOOGY role — meaning, “Lefthanded One Out GuY”. Enough of the nonsense of trying to extend a LOOGY into a setup man — it doesn’t work.

Robertson, by the way, isn’t chop liver. He’s fairly young (27) and matches a good fastball with a decent cutter and slider. His one big positive is 377 strikeouts in 300 career IP in the minors. There are about a thousand righties in the minors with his repertoire, but not enough of them in the Mets’ system. Add him to the fastball-slider stable where Rocky Cherry resides.