Ollie was an absolute disaster from pitch one. Dan Warthen and Jerry Manuel can bitch at him all they want about being in shape and earning his keep, but the bottom line is that there is a mechanical issue preventing him from throwing strikes. Ron Darling suggested that Ollie’s front shoulder was opening too early, but that’s a symptom, not a cause. The SNY camera angles stink if you want to analyze a pitcher’s mechanics, so I can’t figure out what’s going on — I just can see something’s not right. My best guess is that Ollie’s stride is too short (similar to John Maine’s issue earlier this spring). I think he’s landing too early and not giving his arm a chance to catch up, so his release point is too early, leaving the ball up and away to RH hitters. He threw 10 of his first 12 fastballs to that exact spot, yet no one — not Brian Schneider, not Warthen — made a trip to the mound until the bases were loaded. Too late, fellas!
Some of you have disagreed with me on Figgy vs. Parnell, but today’s outing by Ollie is exactly the reason I prefer a coolheaded veteran long man such as Nelson waiting in the bullpen. It makes all the more sense when you consider that neither Perez nor John Maine are physically ready to start the season, and each may have early exits among their first few starts.
Maine looked OK in his tune-up, with sporadic command issues and velocity a little lower than we’d like to see. It may take him until May to get to 100%.
On the radio broadcast, Howie Rose compared Murphy to Edgardo Alfonzo, and Wayne Hagin compared him to Will Clark. So, let’s see … Wade Boggs, Fonzie, Clark, Don Mattingly … when is someone going to compare Murphy to Babe Ruth? How about we just let this kid be himself, whomever that is. It’s not fair to put all this pressure on a player who will most likely be a .275 -.285 hitter — which would be a disappointment if you’re expecting Will Clark numbers but is perfectly fine for his role in the Mets’ lineup in 2009.
Marlon started the game in centerfield. Hmm … why? Was it because the plan is to make Marlon the backup centerfielder and late-inning defensive replacement, and Jeremy Reed will be sent down to make room for Gary Sheffield? There is no other explanation, because as long as Reed is on the roster, Anderson would never play center. If you want to experiment with a spot for Marlon to expand his versatility, put him at 2B, where he’s played nearly 700 big-league games but only twice in the last two years. I’d much rather see Marlon spell Castillo at 2B once in a while than centerfield, where he has no range, no arm, and no experience.
Not the most inspiring tune-up, so we’ll glaze over it and keep Friday night’s contest fresh in our minds. The real games begin on Monday, in Cincinnati, against a Reds team I think will surprise some people. Buckle up, we have 162 games to go!