Tag: john baker

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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2009 Fantasy Projections – Catcher

Gary Carter: He won't get injured and his BA won't hurt your team

Hi. My name is John. I enjoy eating pizza and yelling at parked cars.

Joe asked me to step in here and write something, so here goes… I’m going to rank the top 5 players at each position in the NL and the top 5 in the NL East. These offensive rankings are both for the season and for fantasy baseball – because that’s just how I roll.

Today’s position is catcher. Here goes:

National League Catchers

Catchers… Always a crapshoot and usually a big disappointment if you draft them too high. My strategy is to draft Gary Carter and live in a nostalgic fantasy world while everyone else’s catchers are on the DL or batting .220 due to sprained fingers and bad knees. When in doubt, think about ’86. Bring on the rankings:

  1. Brian McCann (.295-22-95) – If he stays healthy, the numbers could be even better.
  2. Russell Martin (.290-15-75) – Solid hitter without much power. If Torre doesn’t run him, his overall value could drop significantly in mixed leagues, but he has been durable and should drop no lower than the #2 catcher in the NL.
  3. Ryan Doumit (.310-18-75) – This guy can flat out hit but he’s an injury risk.
  4. Chris Iannetta (.260-20-85) – A decent prospect who finally came through last season. He should continue to improve and you can’t really go wrong with a catcher who calls Coors Field home.
  5. Ivan Rodriguez (.275-14-60) – I don’t believe in Geovany Soto (yet) and I’m willing to bet Pudge has enough in the gas tank for one more decent season. It looks like he may be hitting second, which could improve SB totals (he had 10 last year). Steroids or not, the guy knows how to play the game and he could be one of a few bright spots in Houston this season, until he is traded.

Sleeper: Keep an eye on Pablo Sandoval. He has an undisciplined approach at the plate, but he should get ABs and he should have or attain 1B/3B/C eligibility in most fantasy leagues.

National League East Catchers

After Brian McCann, things fall off sharply. If you take any other NL East catchers in your fantasy draft, you should probably just forget about your team, because you’re in serious trouble. There’s always fantasy NASCAR…

  1. Brian McCann (.295-22-95) – If he stays healthy, the numbers could be even better.
  2. John Baker (.250-12-65) – I like Baker’s approach at the plate and he may benefit from hitting in a decent lineup (if Florida’s lineup doesn’t regress). Get him cheap and hope for the best.
  3. Jesus Flores (.240-12-65) – Flores may be overrated because his name isn’t Paul LoDuca. I like him if he comes cheap.
  4. Ramon Castro (.250-7-35) – I can’t put Brian Schneider on this list. I just can’t. At least Castro has some upside – I could see him posting line of a .260-10-60 if he gets the chance to play everyday for extended time. If you’re in a deep NL-only league, Castro for $1 might pay dividends. Or not. Hey, it’s only a buck.
  5. Carlos Ruiz (.240-6-40) – Eh. I think Ruiz loses his job by mid-season, if Ronny Paulino shows up to play. If not, the Phillies could trade for a competent catcher (Ivan Rodriguez?).

Sleeper: Keep an eye on Ronny Paulino. He could be out of baseball and working in a car wash by mid-August, but he could also be hitting .270-8-55 by then too.

UPDATE: 3/26/09 – I have updated Ramon Castro’s projection. Thanks to Isuzudude for pointing out my projection was incorrect based on probable playing time.

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