Tag: luis castillo

2011 Evaluation: Justin Turner

The biggest competition in Port St. Lucie last March was at second base, where Luis Castillo, Dan Murphy, and Brad Emaus auditioned for the starting position. Oh, there was mention of Justin Turner, but the scrappy utilityman was written off fairly early; even the names Luis Hernandez and Chin-lung Hu were ahead of Turner on the depth chart. Mainly because he still held an option, it was a foregone conclusion that Turner would start the season in AAA and be summoned only if some kind of catastrophe occurred at the keystone.

In fact, the Mets were so certain of how things would turn out in the middle of the infield, Emaus was listed as their second baseman on the MLB All-Star ballot.

Funny how the best laid plans of mice and Mets often fall astray …

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The Nolan Ryan Express Still Doesn’t Stop In Flushing

Over the last couple of weeks, ESPN has been running the film “Catching Hell” from their exquisite 30 for 30 series. Directed by Oscar winner, Alex Gibney, the made-for-television documentary details the story of one Steve Bartman. Bartman as many may recall has been labeled the most recent scapegoat for the Chicago Cubs championship drought after he ran interference for Cubs left fielder, Moises Alou; reaching out over the stands for a foul ball that Alou was destined to make a play on. The umpires quickly ruled it fan interference, gave Luis Castillo of the Marlins the base, thereby opening the floodgates for what became an eight run inning late in game six of the 2003 NLCS. The move as believed by many cost the Cubs their long warranted shot at the title.

In truth, curses are no stranger to baseball.  One need look no further than the 1986 World Series where the then perennial losers, the Boston Red Sox, had the New York Mets down to their last strikes, but thanks to Bill Buckner and a comedy of errors that followed, the Sox lost and had to wait nearly two more decades for their first World Series since 1918.  Inasmuch as hexes are familiar to baseball they are common in all walks of sports. The Detroit Lions have the Curse of Bobby Layne, whom after being traded in the 50s put a jinx on the team for 50 years (though based on their season thus far, perhaps it’s finally over).  There’s the Madden Curse. where If you end up on the cover of the Madden football video game, you’re all but guaranteed to go down in injury or failure (just ask Eddie George, Daunte Culpepper or Michael Vick).  The Buffalo Bills can’t seem catch a break once losing three Super Bowls in a row, and in the NHL . . .  no Canadian hockey team has won the Stanley Cup since the early 90s! Talk about futility.

. . . . and then there are the New York Mets. Yes, let’s move back to the matter at hand. This is a baseball blog after all. In December of 1971, the Metropolitans traded a promising young pitcher named Nolan Ryan to the California Angels as part of a four-player package for veteran infielder, Jim Fregosi. At the time, future Hall-of-Famer, Ryan was lacking control and simply didn’t fit in with the Mets long terms plans. This trade, as we know, is a decision that haunts them still some 40 years later.

Currently, the Mets and the San Diego Padres are the only teams in major league baseball not to throw a no-hitter. The Padres retain the luxury of having been around seven years less than the Amazin’s, but that’s not saying much for them either. So, what is it that’s our beloved Mets back? Have they even come close? The answer is: yes, they have; on too many occasions one might even say. Here’s a quick rundown on a few of the Mets “one-hitters” throughout their history of which there are 35!

June 22, 1962 – Al Jackson versus Houston Colt ‘45s

July 9, 1969 – Tom Seaver versus Chicago Cubs (again in ’70, ’71, ’72 and ’77)

April 18, 1970 – Nolan Ryan versus Philadelphia Philllies

October 1, 1982 – Terry Leach versus Philadelphia Phillies

September 7, 1984 – Dwight Gooden versus Chicago Cubs

October 8, 2000 – Bobby Jones versus San Francisco Giants (NLDS)

June 15 and August 18, 2003 – Steve Trachsel versus Anaheim Angels/Colorado Rockies

August 13, 2010 – R.A. Dickey versus Philadelphia Phillies

Every couple of years, the Mets get close to removing themselves from such an inauspicious club, but it never quite happens. Looking at the current Mets starting rotation, there is promise for them to land that elusive but well lauded pitching achievement. Both Jon Niese and R.A. Dickey have had recent one-hitters. Johan Santana, when healthy, is almost unstoppable. However, it’s hard to look at Mike Pelfrey , who may or may not be back, and Dillon Gee and go — these are our guys.

We also have to remember that a lot goes into a no-hitter. Of course, your pitcher having the night of his life is of great help. Fast pitches, strong control, and an even temper, but for every quality start by a pitcher he is still far reliant on his fielders to back him up and deliver not just the spectacular, over-the-fence grabs, but also that routine play up the middle. If Angel Pagan loses one in the sun, it’s no one’s fault but his, but that box score will record that hit and so will “one-hitter” history.

There’s no way to predict when, how, who, or where the Mets will get their very first no-no. Fifty years is a mighty long time to be without anything. Twenty-five years without a championship isn’t so fun either. On the bright side once a Mets pitcher leaves his Flushing confines he is wiped clean of the curse.; just ask Dwight Gooden, Mike Scott, Hideo Nomo, Tom Seaver and David Cone, all of whom pitched no-hitters AFTER leaving the Mets.

As for Jim Fregosi, remember him? He went on to his a solid .233 average for the two years he was with the Mets. it kind of balances things out when you consider Nolan Ryans’ 324 wins, 222 CG, 61 SHO, 5714 K and yes, 7 no-hitters.

Are the Mets cursed? On paper they are. Maybe they should just sacrifice a goat or something. Until then, follow Mets Today on Facebook for all the latest Mets updates, scoops and insight.

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Luis Castillo Released

In case you are just crawling out from under your rock, Luis Castillo was released by the Mets on Friday afternoon. Soon after, Mets fans were dancing in the streets.

What I don’t get is why Castillo hung around this long. Further, why he was asked to report to Port St. Lucie in the first place, taking reps and at-bats from Brad Emaus, Dan Murphy, and Justin Turner. Further,why was Castillo the one dismissed from auditions first?

Here’s my point: if Castillo was

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Mets ST Game 1 vs. Braves: Quick Notes

Many of you may have seen the Mets first televised spring training game of 2011, played against the Braves on Saturday afternoon. These games don’t count for much, so I won’t go into detail about what happened, but there are things we can take away from them; here are notes regarding selected players.

Jenrry Mejia

Velocity looked good, and he mixed in some good downward-breaking curves, though his ability to command it was inconsistent. In fact his command overall was inconsistent on all pitches. His mechanics look fairly similar to what we saw last year — all over the place, inefficient, and dangerous, particularly when he overthrows. He’s out of control and without balance at the the knee lift, causing him to have to adjust his upper body balance which in turn causes him to open up his front side too early and fall over toward 1B. Strangely enough, it seems his mechanics go more out of whack from the stretch; usually it is the other way around because there are less moving parts compared to the windup. I wonder if it’s because he is rushing his motion with men on base?

Josh Thole
Thole struggled a bit behind the plate in the first inning with Mejia on the mound, with balls popping out of his glove and getting by. There are a few reasons to explain the issues. First, it was the first game of the spring, so there is going to be some nervousness and rust to shake off. Second, he might have been using a new glove — maybe not brand-new, but possibly new in terms of game use (i.e., the one he was breaking in last year for game use in ’11). Third, Mejia’s command was off, and it’s difficult to adjust to a pitcher who throws 92-95 MPH and isn’t hitting spots. Fourth, at least one time it appeared as though Mejia crossed him up; Thole looked like he was waiting for a pitch to break inside to a LH hitter — i.e., a cutter — but it stayed up and away and by the time Thole adjusted, the ball was moving too quickly and deflected off his glove. Finally, I still don’t like the way Thole sets up behind the plate, with his upper body leaning forward — it makes him vulnerable to being handcuffed by pitches that break late. More than half of MLB catchers use a similarly inefficient stance, but can make up for it with supreme athleticism and anticipating the flight of pitches. Thole might be athletic enough to get away with it too, but time will tell. I talk about this a bit more on a video chat with Kerel Cooper coming soon at OnTheBlack.

On the one wild pitch by Mejia that allowed a runner to score from third, Thole made the mistake of trying to catch the ball with his glove — as an infield might catch a ground ball — rather than keep his glove down to the ground and block the ball with his body. So when the ball took a wicked hop, it skipped off of his glove instead of getting absorbed by the chest protector. I’m not going to blame Thole, though — that was a very tough pitch to stop and it might have skipped past him even if he did execute proper blocking mechanics. But spring training is about the process, not necessarily the results.

Freddie Freeman
This kid was a one-man wrecking crew for the Braves. I know it’s only one game, and it’s spring training, but
wow, this young man can swing the bat. And he’s only 21 years old.

Pedro Beato
His mechanics look pretty good in that he stays on a straight line toward home plate and gets momentum going forward. Though, he doesn’t get his head and upper body low enough at and after the release, which is strange because he used to get his “nose to toes” in the past. As a result his release is a bit on the high side and he cuts off his arm deceleration. I wonder if he was just jacked up and over throwing? Otherwise his velocity looks good and he gets heavy sink, which led to a bunch of ground balls. His one mistake was hit over the fence — a high, flat fastball that got too much of the plate.

Luis Castillo
Luis looked smooth turning the DP, but has not regained any of the range he’s lost over the years. At the plate he was his usual underwhelming self.

Taylor Buchholz
Buchholz showed he has a sharp 12-6 curve, and his mechanics are fairly efficient in that he has good balance through most of his motion. From a distance, and with a very quick look at him from the chest up, he sort of resembles Aaron Heilman (facial features, not mechanics).

Mike Nickeas
I like Mike’s footwork behind the plate and his quick release on throws to second. I don’t love the way he drops to a knee upon receipt of nearly every pitch; that is partly related to the Thole’s aforementioned issue with leaning forward in the stance, but also is attributed to not being familiar with the movement of a pitcher’s pitches. Otherwise, he looks relaxed, comfortable, and confident back there. At the plate, though, he looked a bit overmatched.

Zach Lutz

This young man does not get cheated on his swings; he kind of reminds me of Mike Hessman in that way. However, there was a situation where the Mets had a man on third and less than two out, and all Zach needed to do was get the bat on the ball. He had a 3-0 count and was given a meatball but he took it for strike one. Since it was ST and the Mets needed a run, I’d be surprised if he didn’t have the green light there. Eventually, Lutz struck out taking two huge hacks at tougher pitches. Not great situational hitting; I’d have preferred to see him cut down his swing a bit and either lift or stroke that 3-0 pitch into the outfield to get the run home.

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