Tag: john maine

Mets Game 17: Win Over Braves

Mets 5 Braves 2

Jerry Manuel is a genius.

Manuel finally followed through with his brilliant plan of batting Jose Reyes in the third spot of the lineup, Reyes had a great day at the plate, and the Mets won.

It’s all smooth sailing from here on in.

Game Notes

Jose Reyes went 2-for-4 with a run scored in his debut as the three hitter, rapping his third double and second triple of the season. He had no RBI and scored once.

Ike Davis smashed his first MLB homerun, a high, deep blast that fell just short of Shea Bridge.

Jason Bay and David Wright continued to break out of their respective slumps, both delivering RBI hits. Bay hit a triple immediately after Reyes’ — the first time this year the Mets hit back-to-back three baggers.

John Maine left the game with spasms and pain in his left elbow. Yes, that’s his non-throwing elbow. From Adam Rubin’s blog:

“I couldn’t bring my arm down,” Maine said. “It’d lock up and get kind of stuck. I was able to throw. I went out there and threw in the fourth inning — I don’t know how effective. Like I said, it’s just one thing after another.”

The left side and the right side work together to throw the ball — the left side pulls down to help drive the right side around, kind of like a wheel. I wonder if Maine’s over-rotation issue — which looked somewhat improved at times during his short stint — puts more of a strain on his left side than other pitchers, and contributed to the spasm? Thinking more along those lines, now I’m thinking that the reason he wasn’t over-rotating as much was because the pain was preventing him from doing so.

In any case, I’m not sure what others were seeing — the people who said and wrote that Maine looked pretty good before leaving the game. His velocity was sitting around 84-86 (other than one 89-MPH strike three fastball to Jason Heyward) and his command was inconsistent as usual. My guess is he started experiencing the pain and/or spasms early on.

Hisanori Takahashi did a good job in relief of Maine, allowing two hits, a walk, and one run in three innings of work and striking out 7. Others used more superfluous adjectives to describe the outing, but I’ll remain grounded and stick with “good”. You can call me negative or responsible, it’s up to you. My concern is that when a Mets pitcher actually DOES display an “outstanding” performance, I will be out of appropriate words to describe it (“these go to 11”).

As usual, K-Rod kept the game interesting in the 9th, bringing the tying run to the plate, but closed things out successfully for his second save of the season.

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Braves do it again at 1:10 PM on Saturday afternoon. Jon Niese goes to the hill against Jair Jurrjens.


Mets Game 12: Loss to Cardinals

Cardinals 5 Mets 3

It was only a matter of time.

The Mets gave John Maine an early 3-0 lead, but even the most optimistic fan was simply waiting for that advantage to disappear. And disappear it did in the fifth, when Colby Rasmus tattooed a BP fastball over the middle of the plate, sending it into the stands for a three-run, game-tying homer.

The game remained tied until the 8th, when Ryan Ludwick blasted a homer of his own, a two-run shot on the first pitch he saw from Ryota Igarashi to take the victory.

At no point in the game did the offense appear to have a chance to score — even the three runs they did in the second were more a function of luck than anything else.

Game Notes

John Maine looked somewhat better compared to his last start, but that’s not saying much. On a night when it was imperative to save the bullpen, Maine threw 115 pitches in five innings, forcing Tobi Stoner into the game. There was much hullabaloo about Maine getting more hitters to hit foul balls — both from Jerry Manuel and the ESPN broadcast team — but is that really a good sign? I remember when Maine was “pretty good”, and we felt that all the foul balls was a BAD thing and an indication that he needed to develop an out pitch.

Meanwhile, Adam Wainwright threw 8 fewer pitches (107) and 5 more strikes (75), but he finished the game. As in, he pitched a 9-inning complete game. As in, he did exactly what the Cardinals needed: their starting pitcher to go the distance, and save the bullpen. Kudos, Mr. Wainwright.

The Mets offense continues to struggle, as they were 2-for-7 with RISP and had only 6 baserunners all night. Though, with Smithtown’s own Frank Catalanotto hitting cleanup, expectations were tempered.

The Mets remain in last place in the NL East with a 4-8 record. However, it’s still early, and as my wife points out, “the Orioles are much worse at 2-11”. Somehow, that doesn’t make me feel better.

Next Mets Game

The Mets begin a four-game series against the Cubs in Chicago on Monday night at 7:10 PM EST. Jon Niese goes to the hill against Randy Wells.


Maine Will Revert to Old Ways

Believe it or not, the Mets had a communications breakdown prior to last night’s ballgame.

To get the full story, listen to Rich Coutinho’s report on 1050ESPNRadio’s “Baseball Tonight” (Coutinho comes on at the tail end, during the last 10 minutes or so).

The gist of it was this: When asked if Maine would remain in the rotation (during the postgame press conference on Tuesday night), Manuel told the world he’d “have to sleep on it”. Somehow, Maine didn’t hear about this, so when Coutinho told him on Wednesday afternoon that he heard Manuel was keeping him in the rotation, Maine was stunned — he had no idea removal was being considered. Maine then spoke with Manuel behind closed doors for about 45 minutes.

In the end, it turns out that Maine is on a very short leash, and his next start could be his last. Maine doesn’t have access to the internet and couldn’t read MetsToday for tips, so instead he spent time with Dan Warthen looking at video of himself from 2007. Apparently the two of them discovered some differences in his delivery then compared to now, and John will spend the next few days trying to fix his mechanics prior to Saturday’s start. Maine had this to say (courtesy of MetsBlog):

“I wanted to tell (Manuel) was that I’m fine, my shoulders fine. I know the No. 1 priority is to get back and throw my fastball. That’s what I’m going to do in my bullpen. That’s what I’m going to do in my next start I’m going to get back to where I was… There’s a big difference (in my delivery). I don’t want to get into why that it is, but there’s a difference. I’m going to scratch everything I’ve been doing this Spring, and get back to what I was doing two years ago… I’m just going to go back to that delivery, going back to throwing the fastball. Hopefully it turns out fine. I may get hit, but, you know, at least I know I’m going out there, getting beat with my best pitch and not my second and third pitch.”

Sooo …. Maine’s going to address the “big difference” in his delivery, but he doesn’t “want to get into why that is”. But John, inquiring minds want to know!

I haven’t yet had a chance to look at any of Maine’s outings from 2007 to compare to his current delivery so I can’t yet guess on what exactly is the “big difference”. (I do vaguely remember thinking something looked “different” about Maine while seeing him live in Jupiter and Port St. Lucie during ST ’08, with his follow-through toward 1B being an indicator of an issue.) But, if I were a gambling man, I’d bet that the change he made had something to do with avoidance of pain. Perhaps he had a mild injury of some sort — not necessarily with his arm — that he learned to deal with by changing something in his mechanics. My next-best guess was he changed something about his delivery with the goal of being more effective, and the change simply didn’t work. For example, maybe he thought he could get a few more ticks of velocity by using his hips and over-rotating — thinking that the extra hip swing would result in more MPH. Again, I haven’t yet looked at the old videos so can’t say for sure.

Assuming there is in fact a mechanical issue, the biggest questions are:

1. Why did it take this long for Maine, Warthen, and the Mets to realize something was wrong with Maine’s mechanics?

2. Why wasn’t this addressed when Maine looked bad in the spring?

3. Is it possible to “fix” the mechanical problem in three days?

4. If the issue is fixable, will it result in Maine rediscovering his 94-95+ velocity?

5. Why does it make sense for Maine to make these tweaks at the Major League level, against a Cardinal lineup that includes, among others, Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday, and Ryan Ludwick?

Oh … and is anyone else concerned that Maine is going to try to throw more high fastballs — likely to be in the 88-90 MPH range — to those three sluggers? Yikes!

I’m a bit skeptical that Maine can transform himself so quickly without the aid of a telephone booth and red cape. But we can assume that if things don’t go well this weekend, Maine will find himself either in the bullpen or in the minors — a la Steve Trachsel — to work things out. Part of the problem is Maine may not have an option remaining, in which case a minor league trek would be difficult to navigate.


Mets Game 7: Loss to Rockies

Rockies 11 Mets 3

Different time, different place, same story. And not a good evening for John Maine.

The excuse tonight was? Hmm … stomach ache? Lightheaded from the thin air? Too much rest? Slick ball? Dry ball? Near-beers? Lack of preparation? Or simply poor execution and lack of mental toughness?

If you thought things couldn’t get any uglier, or more bleak, after Sunday’s debacle, then this game surely sent you to the edge. Or is it the ledge?

Game Notes

John Maine allowed 8 runs (7 earned) on 7 hits and 3 walks. He did strike out 4, though, so there’s that. At no point in the contest did he look comfortable or in command (of pitches or focus). His velocity was poor, and the best pitch he threw was a change-up that occasionally resembled a dying quail off the left side of the plate. But with his horrid mechanics that’s the only spot he can safely hit with that pitch.

Rockies starter Greg Smith pitched 7 full innings, allowing 2 runs on 6 hits and 2 walks, striking out 8. It was his first MLB win since 2008. I guess he, like Livan Hernandez on Sunday, “pitched a gem”.

Bob Ojeda, in the postgame, specified Maine’s inability “to repeat his delivery” as the crux of his problems. I disagree, strongly. In fact, the fact he repeats the same BAD delivery is his problem. By over-rotating from the beginning, he will never be able to hit any spot consistently other than up and away to LH hitters / up and in to RH hitters.

David Wright blasted his second homerun of the season in the sixth to bring the Mets within a touchdown. Unfortunately, it had no impact on the game nor the Mets’ psyche. Wright also walked two more times and went 2-for-2 on the evening.

Jason Bay drove in his first RBI of the year. Yippee! He also saw more pitches (21) than any other Mets hitter.

In addition to Maine’s incompetence on the mound, the Mets defense was disappointing. Jose Reyes flubbed another one, Angel Pagan did not take charge on a ball to left-center that dropped for a double, and at first base, Fernando Tatis looked like he was wearing concrete skates on his feet and an iron glove on his hand. Maine didn’t help himself, either, throwing away a comebacker that led to an unearned run. Doesn’t seem right, does it, that a pitcher’s error can result in an unearned run?

Luis Castillo was thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double with the Mets losing 8-0. Not a joke.

Mets pitchers struck out 11, but walked 9, and allowed 10 hits.

Next Mets Game

Unfortunately, the Mets are required to play the Rockies again on Wednesday night at 8:40 PM EST. Jon Niese goes to the mound against Aaron Cook.


Mets Game 2: Loss to Marlins

Marlins 7 Mets 6

So much for the afterglow.

The Mets were removed from the top of the NL East in a game that was so poorly played by the Marlins, it resembled a high school JV contest.

For six innings, it didn’t appear as though the Mets had much of a chance to win. Ricky Nolasco handled the Mets easily and was cruising with a 6-1 lead. Then in the 7th, he ran out of gas, put the game in the incapable left hand of Renyel Pinto, who allowed the Mets to scratch out two runs to make it a three-run ballgame. Pinto completely shat the bed, and left the game with the bases loaded and David Wright at the plate; the stage was set for a momentus, dramatic at-bat by the new Mets leader.

Jose Veras came in and threw his first pitch over the head of catcher John Baker. Fernando Tatis came sprinting for home, but Baker got to the ball quickly, made a perfect throw to Veras, who tagged out Tatis to end the inning.

The Marlins did give the Mets three more runs in the eighth to tie the game, but the momentum was gone. In the 10th, Ronny Paulino singled in Wes Helms to spoil Hisanori Takahashi’s debut and give the Mets their first loss of the year.

Game Notes

Though the game went into extra innings, and the Mets “came back” from a five-run deficit, do not be fooled — the Marlins did everything in their power to give away this game, and somehow managed not to lose. The SNY post-game spin was that the Mets “hung in there” and “kept fighting” but the truth is, the Mets merely kept from falling asleep. It was an ugly game for a baseball fan to watch.

Fernando Tatis – He made a terrible mistake in attempting to score on that wild pitch. However, it wasn’t necessarily a terrible decision; rather, the execution was bad. Tatis did not get a very good “secondary lead” off 3B, and thus was only a few feet off the bag when the ball deflected off Baker’s glove. Tatis reacted immediately, but had too much ground to cover. It was a bang-bang play, but would’ve been an easy score had he been a few feet further down the line from the get-go. Though, had Tatis scored, the Fish might’ve walked Wright to face Mike “Automatic Out” Jacobs, and who knows how that might’ve turned out.

John Maine – was John Maine: zero command, up in the zone all night, inefficient. He did get 3 Ks in 5 IP, but also allowed 2 gopher balls and threw 92 pitches in those five frames. From the beginning, he was behind 2-0 on nearly every batter, and you can’t be successful at any level of baseball with that kind of pattern. Additionally, his lack of velocity was mildly concerning.

Umpires – The Mets scored the tying run on a questionable balk call. That’s what it took for the Mets to tie the game — a questionable balk.

Jennry Mejia – I’m going to give the kid the benefit of the doubt and chalk up his awful appearance to nerves. Let’s hope he’s relaxed next time out and shows us what he really can do.

Sean Green – I’m not sold on that in-between arm angle; it looks like he’s skipping stones across a pond, and the ball looks flat.

Mets Offense – happy to finally see some patience at the plate. The Fish bullpen resembled the Mets’ 2009 pitching staff with their wildness, but previous personnel would not have taken advantage.

Marlins Offense – collected 17 hits to the Mets’ 6, yet squeaked out a one-run win.

Fredi Gonzalez – How is this man still the Marlins manager? For four years now, he has led teams lacking in focus and fundamentals. Payroll is no excuse for lack of execution nor attention to detail. It’s remarkable he spent time under Bobby Cox, and more remarkable the Fish felt he was a better option than Joe Girardi. Every year the Marlins are loaded with young, raw talent, yet perennially beat themselves.

Next Mets Game

The third and final game of the opening series begins at 7:10 PM in Flushing on Thursday night. Jon Niese takes the mound against Nate Robertson in a lefty-lefty matchup.


Does Figgy Deserve a Spot?

Spring training “competitions” are usually nonsense, no matter what message is spewed by the team’s management (this is in regard to all clubs, not just the Mets). Management has predetermined thoughts about the lineup and most of the spots on the 25-man roster, and so spring training is used to support their “prevaluations” made long before pitchers and catchers report.

For example, is first base really an open competition? Both Ike Davis and Chris Carter are hitting the snot out of the ball, but we all know that — barring injury — Dan Murphy is the Opening Day first baseman. Why? Because Murphy proved satisfactory to the upper levels of Mets management based on his 2009 performance — if he wasn’t, we would be watching Adam LaRoche in a Mets uniform right now. (Note I stated “satisfactory” according to Mets management, rather than my or the popular opinion.)

Similarly, Angel Pagan would have to seriously falter — and Gary Matthews, Jr. put on a Roy Hobbs demonstration — to lose his grip on centerfield. Yes, Pagan’s mental issues were frustrating, but after what he did in the batter’s box from July through September, you can’t not put him in centerfield come April.

But another individual who seemed to “earn” a spot on the roster based 2009 was Nelson Figueroa.


The Mets 2010 Starting Rotation

NY Sports Day reported this from the “21 Days of Clemente”, where Omar Minaya was a special guest:

The GM was asked his opinion of the 2010 Mets starting rotation. He quickly answered, “[Johan] Santana, [Mike] Pelfrey, [John] Maine, [Oliver] Perez , [Jonathon] Niese and possibly a free agent.”

Though it wasn’t an official press event, and there is still time for the Mets to upgrade their rotation, seeing that in print is something of a splash of cold water in the face.

Think about it: the Mets’ starting rotation currently consists of four pitchers coming off injuries and/or surgery. One of their backup plans — Fernando Nieve — is also recovering from a major injury and surgery.

This may not seem like a big deal until you look back to the past few years, and remember the pitchers coming off injury that the Mets counted on. For example: Duaner Sanchez, John Maine, Orlando Hernandez, Scott Schoeneweis, Dave Williams, and Pedro Martinez. In fact, the only pitcher that comes to mind who had “minor surgery” and pitched effectively the next season was Aaron Heilman (elbow scoped after the 2006 season). Not a good history, and history is supposed to shed light on the future.

Keeping a rotation intact through an MLB season is enough of a crapshoot when you begin with relatively healthy arms, but in the Mets case, they’re counting on 4 or 5 men to a) come back from surgery on schedule; b) come back at 100%; c) return to their form prior to the injury; d) avoid any setbacks; and e) keep their stamina through a 162-game schedule.

Anyone else have doubts?