Tag: koji uehara

Mets Game 63: Loss to Orioles

Orioles 6 Mets 4

The Mets were behind from the beginning, and never once took a lead.

Tim Redding allowed 4 runs on 7 hits and 4 walks in his 5 1/3 innings of work, but left the game with the score tied at four all. Bobby Parnell did a stellar job of keeping it that way and handing off the ball to Pedro Feliciano. However, Feliciano did not fare as well, giving up a single and a homerun to the first two hitters he faced (both lefties) in the seventh inning to give Baltimore a 6-4 lead.

Notes

The Orioles’ 3-4-5 hitters went a combined 8-for-11 with 3 RBI and 4 runs scored. Only slightly outdone were the Mets’ 5-6-7 hitters, who went 7-for-12 with 2 RBI and scored all four runs.

Matt Wieters hit his first Major League homerun off Redding in the second inning. Remember it, as it will be the answer to a trivia question some day. That kid is going to be a star.

During the third inning, the SNY crew questioned 3B coach Razor Shines on a variety of subjects. I found it a bit annoying that the camera shot was almost exclusively on Shines during the entire interview, rather than on the action on the field. While in this particular case we didn’t miss anything, that’s not the point. I turn on the TV to watch the game, not watch the third-base coach give an interview. Why can’t they have a split screen, or have a small shot of Shines in an inset on the screen? Same goes for the Kevin Burkhardt segments.

In the fourth inning, Ryan Church stepped on home plate as he successfully push bunted for a hit. Both Keith Hernandez and Gary Cohen were sure to let us know that a batter “is out if he steps on home plate”. While that’s technically true, it wasn’t explained correctly. The rule is that a batter has to have both feet inside the batter’s box when he makes contact with the ball. It doesn’t matter whether or not his foot touches home plate — it matters that it was out of the batter’s box when his bat made contact with the ball. Shame on Keith and Gary, particularly since they threw out the question, “Do you think most players know that rule?” Hey guys, zip it up unless YOU know the rule.

For those interested, here is the rule from the Official MLB Rules:

6.06
A batter is out for illegal action when —
(a) He hits a ball with one or both feet on the ground entirely outside the batter’s box.

As long as we’re criticizing the SNY crew today, it was pointed out that Carlos Beltran is swinging at a lot of first pitches lately, to which Keith added “and I like it”. For the record, Beltran’s batting average has dropped almost 20 points since June 4 — which could be considered “lately”.

Though, I suppose Beltran is being more aggressive because he’s hitting over .400 when he swings at the first pitch, and is also over .400 when down 0-1 — so, the numbers are on his side. Of course, it could be that he’s been very selective on those counts, and only swinging when he’s sure he can drive the ball. Also it should be noted his average is over .530 when the count is 1-0.

Danny Murphy finally busted out of his month-long slump with a soft three-hit day.

In addition, Razor Shines quickly identified Murphy as the team’s most instinctive baserunner. That’s a scary thought, considering some of the decisions Murph’s made on the bases in his short time in the bigs.

Next Mets Game

The final game of the series will be played in Baltimore on Thursday night at 7:05 PM. Livan Hernandez takes the mound against Jason Berken.

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Mets ST Game 11

Luis Castillo

Luis hit a line drive into the outfield to drive in two runs. I swear, it went beyond the infield dirt, in the air. No kidding.

Brandon Knight

Knight is one of those regular joes you have to root for, but unfortunately his stuff is pretty ordinary. He’ll be nice to have waiting in AAA for depth, but let’s hope he isn’t needed for an extended period of time.

Daniel Murphy

Murphy continues to take pitches and “hit ’em where they ain’t”, slapping the ball to the opposite field.

Ryan Church

Church took out O’s shortstop Jolbert Cabrera on a double play in the 3rd. Colbert didn’t like it, and let Church know it, but the bum was standing on second base so not sure what the fuss was about. It was great to see a Mets player purposely make physical contact with an opponent, then tell the guy to kiss off afterward. Haven’t seen much of that since the Bobby V days.

Jon Switzer

Remains unimpressive. However, he has inspired me to begin throwing with my left hand.

Josh Thole

He looks like Daniel Murphy’s prodigy with that open stance and patient approach.

Duaner Sanchez

Duaner’s fastball is still floating in the 83-85-MPH range. If he’s still around there come April, I can see him getting released, then re-signed, as no one else is likely to take a chance on him. His desperation has led to throwing a rinky-dink slider. Sad times for Sanchez. Though, I wonder if his velocity can be regained with a mechanical tweak … it looks to me like his hips are opening before his arm whips around — in other words, his arm is a little “slow” to catch up to his hip explosion. Either he needs to increase his arm speed, or he needs to find a way to retard the opening of his hips, possibly by lengthening his stride.

John Franco

Nice to see Johnny teaching the changeup and sans his guido mustache. He still sounds like a guido, but what can you expect from a kid from Brooklyn?

Koji Uehara

The Japanese import has pretty good stuff. He won’t dominate in the AL East, but he shouldn’t embarrass himself. And for the record, his name is not pronounced “ooey-hara”, as the Mets announcers referred to him; it’s “ooh-way-ha-rah”.

Bobby Kielty

Continues to smoke the ball. He mashed a line-drive double in a pinch-hitting role against George Sherrill in the fourth.

Casey Fossum

Fossum continues to throw at all kinds of speeds from 64 MPH to 91 MPH, yet gets hit like the batters know what’s coming. Hmmm ….. maybe that’s the problem?

Nick Evans

Nick FINALLY turned on one and jerked it way over the left field fence. Yes, it’s nice he can go to the opposite field, but it’ll be even nicer if he can mash the ball over the wall like that more often. This had to be the display of power we’d heard about but hadn’t seen at the big league level.

Rene Rivera

Yes, Rivera also hit a bomb. I’d still rather have Pudge Rodriguez.

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Mets Pitching Answers from Japan?

The Mets need to add this winter, at minimum, one starting pitcher and one relief pitcher. They would like to do that without trading away any of their few near-MLB-ready prospects, and without having to commit to an overvalued, long-term contract.

Enter Japanse hurlers Koji Uehara and Kenshin Kawakami.

Uehara is a veteran starter-turned-closer who will be 34 years old next year, and is intent on playing in the US in 2009. He’s a free-agent who will not be subject to the ridiculous posting process, which is nice. Although he has been an outstanding pitcher in Japan, and saved 30 games last season, I doubt he’ll come in and be a star in MLB. But from the reports, it sounds like he could be a decent middle reliever or back-of-the-rotation guy. Because of the difficulty in projecting his success, he should command a cheaper deal than similarly talented American free agents.

Kawakami is reportedly on the same level as Uehara, or possibly a notch below, and will likely cost in the neighborhood of $30M for three years. Like Uehara, he projects as a middle reliever / swing man.

Of course, there is enough projection to make signing either of these pitchers risky. But both of them are among the best pitchers in Japan, and the majority of recent imports — i.e., Daisuke Matsuzaka, Hiroki Kuroda, Hideki Okajima, Takashi Saito — have proven to be solid MLBers. Unlike position players coming from Japan, the pitchers seem to be more likely to make a smooth transition after crossing the Paciifc. Yes, you can point out Kei Igawa as a failure, but he seems to be the exception rather than the rule (I feel that Igawa was neither mentally nor emotionally prepared to make the move to MLB, and NYC in particular).

There are two things I like about taking a chance on either Uehara or Kawakami. First, all they cost is money — no one needs to be traded, and no draft picks will be lost. Compare that to who might have to be traded for, say, Kevin Gregg, or the #1 pick that would be surrendered for a middle man such as Doug Brocail. Second, the Japanese pitchers have the advantage of mystery — batters never having seen them before — which seems to be an advantage on its own for at least a year. After that “mystery period”, both should be well prepared to adjust to MLB hitters after the hitters adjust to them, since they are longtime veterans (unlike Igawa, but like Saito).

The most obvious problem, of course, is the Mets’ recent history with Asian imports. Kaz Matsui was a bust, and Mr. Koo was underwhelming. But that shouldn’t keep them from trying again. After all, Tsuyoshi Shinjo can be judged as a success.

For more on ALL the Japanese free agents, check out NPBTracker, which provides fantastic coverage of baseball in Japan. Also, hat tip to MLBTradeRumors.

ADDENDUM: apparently all the Mets bloggers are thinking alike today. Check out Andrew Beaton’s post on Japanese imports at the HotFootBlog and a video of Uehara posted at MetsBlog.

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