Tag: matt cain

Price of Pitching Just Went Up

If you haven’t yet heard, the San Francisco Giants have signed pitcher Matt Cain to a 5-year, $112M extension — which averages out to over $20M per season.

This news comes about a week after the Dodgers were purchased for over two billion dollars in cash, and leads me to ask, has the world gone mad?

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Mets Game 91: Loss to Giants

Giants 8 Mets 4

The good news is that the Mets finally scored. The bad news is they have lost their first series of the second half.

Game Notes

Hisanori Takahashi started out well, retiring the first three batters he faced. Things changed in the second inning, however, when Buster Posey led off with a double to start a five-run rally. Posey hit a solo homer an inning later, and Takahashi was removed from the game after 2 2/3 innings. By the time he found a seat in the dugout, Tak had allowed 6 earned runs on 7 hits and a walk, including two homers. Ouch.

In addition to his offensive prowess, Posey impresses me with his work behind the plate. Particularly, I like the way he receives the ball, catching the side of it instead of the back (as most catchers do). It makes a difference in presenting the pitch to the umpire, and negates the need to “frame” or ease the mitt back into the strike zone. A perfect example was his catch of a called strike three against Ruben Tejada in the fifth.

The Mets were scoreless through 24 consecutive innings before Ike Davis dumped one into the drink. They also had scored in only 3 of their past 45 innings prior to Davis’ blast. The last Met to score before Carlos Beltran was Jesus Feliciano, who was sent to the minors a week ago.

Davis hit two homers, both mammoth blasts. Unfortunately, it didn’t matter.

Josh Thole rapped another pinch-hit and is hitting over .500. Any day now we can expect SNY / the Mets hype machine to start comparing Thole to Pete Rose.

Chris Carter also had another pinch-hit single. At least the subs can hit. Which makes you wonder why they’re on the bench and not in the starting lineup.

Carlos Beltran hit a triple and a single. His defense was a little off, though, as a few baseballs zipped past him in center that he normally would run down. It could be more a matter of not being in the outfield against the speed of MLB hitting as opposed to a physical limitation.

Ruben Tejada was hit by a pitch in the ninth inning — it was his sixth HBP in a little over 100 plate appearances. I’m starting to wonder if young Ruben has a problem seeing the baseball — i.e., maybe he needs an eye exam. I’m not trying to be funny, I’m serious — it seems like he is not recognizing pitch location as early as he should.

The Mets mounted a mild rally in the ninth that was extinguished by Brian Wilson, who threw four pitches to earn his 25th save of the season.

My father-in-law watched the game with me and commented, “one thing you can always count on during a Mets game — you’ll see a lot of hitting”. Um …

Next Mets Game

The final game of this four-game series begins at 4:05 PM EST on Sunday afternoon. Johan Santana faces Jonathan Sanchez in an attempt to avoid a sweep.

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Matt Cain and the Hat Tip

Normally I wouldn’t re-hash something that’s three days old, but this issue is something that needs to be cleared up — there are too many ignorant people blinded by emotion, and holding an unnecessary anger against an opposing ballplayer.

On Saturday afternoon, as you know, Matt Cain drilled David Wright in the head, knocking him out and sending him to the hospital. It was an ugly, frightening incident. It was also an accident and unintentional.

Several innings later, when Cain was removed from the game, the Flushing faithful booed him with a thunderous passion. That’s fine — it’s what happens when one dusts the hometown hero, accidentally or not.

Just prior to stepping into the Giants dugout, Cain tipped his cap — a brief moment that was captured by the FOX cameras and replayed after the commercial break to ensure that no one missed it. The genius in the broadcast booth — Mark Grace — commented that the gesture was not good idea. Since then, there has been a frenzy of fans and who have thrown vile epithets toward Cain on various talk radio shows, Mets blogs, forums and Twitter, describing it as “tasteless”, “classless”, “disgusting”, “evil”, and at least a dozen other descriptors that are not family friendly.

For fans who don’t know any better, the reaction is typical and not surprising — and understood. After all, they saw the hat tipping and connected it directly to the beanball — never mind that there were four innings of baseball in between. David Wright going down was the ONLY thing that happened that day, as far as many people were concerned. Further, many of the angered fans received their information second-hand from someone else who was riled up about the incident and didn’t see the REAL reason Cain tipped his cap.

But when “journalists” feed the frenzy with more misinformation, I have to call them out. After all, we bloggers get lambasted for being “unprofessional” every time we report something that isn’t true. I may not get paid to write this blog, but I do know that a basic tenet of journalism is to get the facts straight.

So here is the factual information about the moment before Matt Cain tipped his cap: behind the visitors’ dugout were somewhere between 300 and 500 diehard GIANTS FANS. Many people who were AT THE GAME and SITTING IN THAT SECTION have corraborated this. In fact, if you watch the replay of Cain tipping his cap — the camera is at his back — you can see very clearly there are dozens of people in San Francisco Giants jerseys directly behind the dugout, standing up and clapping.

Now, while 95% of the people at Kiddie Field were fixated on the beanball, for those Giants fans sitting behind the visitors’ dugout, the moment had passed. They were cheering for “their” player, and Cain acknowledged it with a simple tip of the cap. Nothing flashy, no measured pause and flamboyant bow — just a quick tip.

Maybe Cain should’ve known better than to tip his cap. Somehow, though, I doubt he considered that he’d be ticking off five million New Yorkers with his act. For most players, it’s a reaction — crowd cheers for you, you acknowledge it. It’s good manners. Except in New York, an hour after you’ve sent the favorite son to the hospital.

It’s up to you, the fan, to decide. But please make your decision based on the facts of the situation, rather than relying on hearsay thrown around by irresponsible journalists.

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Mets Game 116: Loss to Giants

Giants 5 Mets 4

A suprisingly eventful game for what began as a lazy Saturday afternoon.

With all the injuries happening around him, it seemed only a matter of time before David Wright was struck by physical harm — but who would’ve guessed he’d actually be STRUCK?

Wright was plunked by a Matt Cain fastball that knocked him out of the game in the fourth inning — it was a frightening episode that shook up Cain himself as well as everyone else in the stadium. Cain seemed to lose focus, feeding Gary Sheffield one fastball after another over the middle of the plate before Sheff flied out to send Luis Castillo to third; a few pitches later Dan Murphy hit another fly to score Castillo with the first run of the game.

However, Cain regrouped and proceeded to set down — rather than knock down — the Mets bats through the 8th, when he finally allowed the Mets a rally and yielded to the bullpen. However, the Mets feasted on the Giant relievers for three runs to tie up the game.

Prior to that, Johan Santana allowed 4 runs on 9 hits and a walk through 6 2/3 innings. His outing ended when he lost his cool and threw at Pablo Sandoval, allowed a monster homer to Sandoval, and then threw at Bengie Molina. Jerry Manuel removed him before the umps could toss him.

The game remained tied at 4-4 until the top of the 10th, when Bengie Molina blasted a homer into the leftfield seats off Frankie Fantastic.

Notes

The Wright HBP: Matt Cain threw three fastballs past Wright on the outside part of the plate. With the count 0-2, Bengie Molina called for an inside fastball. This is a routine strategy — bait the hitter with outside pitches until he starts looking outside, then strike him out / get a popup by jamming him inside. (BTW, this is the scouting report on Wright — feed him outside, and he becomes vulnerable in.)Unfortunately, Cain missed too in and too high, and Wright — who was looking outside and leaning a bit into the plate — was hit hard on the helmet. Cain showed immediate remorse and definitely did not intend to hit him.

Now, fast-forward to the 7th: Johan Santana, with two outs and no one on base, throws behind the back of Pablo Sandoval. There was no question that it was a “purpose pitch”. Personally, I disagreed with the act, because the Wright HBP was clearly unintentional. I am “old school” and do believe in retaliation — when it is warranted. In this case, I did not see what “message” Santana was sending. Is it that opposing pitchers aren’t allowed to make mistakes? That they’re not allowed to throw inside? In many cases in the past, I’ve been frustrated by the refusal of Mets pitchers to throw inside and make batters “move their feet”. However, this situation did not, to me, fit the rules of engagement.

Later, when Cain was removed from the game, the Citi Field crowd showered him with boos. Just before stepping into the dugout, Cain tipped his cap. Many fans likely saw this as classless. I, on the other hand, saw it as Cain telling the fans, “screw you, it wasn’t on purpose, and you’re ignorant to think so”. Or maybe he just didn’t know how to react, and tipped his cap out of nervousness.

To further exacerbate the situation, the numnut, neanderthal FOX announcers 1) agreed that it was OK for Santana to throw at a Giant hitter; and 2) made a point to highlight the tip-capping by Cain. I don’t care if Mark Grace played MLB — if he thinks “eye for an eye” fits EVERY situation, he’s an idiot. With that kind of logic, I would have the right to punch him in the nose if he accidentally tapped my bumper in a traffic jam.

I don’t care one way or another for Matt Cain, but as a Mets fan I am embarrassed at the situation. Wright getting hit was unfortunate, and scary — but it doesn’t give Santana the right to throw at someone else, and it doesn’t mean I’m going to hate Matt Cain. Interestingly, Bobby Ojeda would not fully take one side or the other on the situation. His stance was more, “I’m not on the field with them; if they think something needs to be done, then the guys on the field take care of business”. Though he did agree with retaliating if the situation warranted it, he did not make clear that this was one such situation.

Also in the postgame, Santana said “I have to protect my teammates”. That’s fine, if, again, Cain threw at Wright intentionally. But if he didn’t, the “protection” line is bs — it’s false bravado, and the wrong way to “show his teammates” that he’ll “protect” them.

What’s most mind-boggling is that Santana truly believes what he says — that retaliation is “part of the game” and is “the right way to play the game”. Yes — IF it’s warranted. Sorry, I don’t care how long Santana has been playing this game, it’s NOT the way you play it, and whomever taught him that it is, they’re wrong too.

There was a time when pitchers threw inside more often, and hit people on purpose more often — but those days were a good 25 years ago. Back then, retaliation was a form of checks and balances, of the players policing themselves. Ever since Bud Selig eliminated the inside pitch with the asinine “umpire warnings”, however, the concept of retaliation no longer applies — you intentionally throw at a hitter, you get thrown out of the game. These players today who think that you retaliate after an unintentional HBP are delusional, and grasping to an edict that has been obsolete since the 1980s.

Again, I am an “old school” guy. I have been on a mound and intentionally hit people. I have also been on the receiving end of pitches (including 90+MPH fastballs to my head), both intentional and unintentional. So I understand “the code”. This retaliation, to me, was a weak and inexcusable way for Johan Santana to show his teammates that he’ll protect them, or that he’s some kind of tough guy. His actions and words on this evening tell me he’s more ignorant and confused than protective.

Notes

The Mets play the Giants at 1:10 PM. Mike Pelfrey pitches against Jonathan Sanchez.

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Mets Game 37: Loss to Giants

Giants 2 Mets 0

You can’t win ’em all.

It looked as though the Mets would sweep the Giants in San Francisco, and after their many come-from-behind wins over the past week, I have to admit I had a smidgen of hope when the ninth inning began — particularly with Brian Wilson on the mound. However, it was not to be.

Matt Cain shut out the Mets in his six innings of work, and stroked an RBI single to help himself, to earn his fourth victory of the season. Cain didn’t look particularly dominating, and in fact had trouble with his command at several points — but the Mets were unable to take advantage. Twice the Mets hit into inning-ending double plays with the bases loaded.

Meantime Mike Pelfrey pitched very well through his six frames, allowing only two runs on six hits and two walks. Good, but not good enough on this day. Tough one for Big Pelf, who deserved better.

Notes

Alex Cora left the game in the third inning with a jammed thumb, suffered when he inexplicably slid head-first into second on a double when there was no play on him. (The right play is to go feet-first, ideally a “popup slide”, so that you can quickly get on your feet in the event the ball is overthrown. The only reasons you would slide head-first is to get to the base more quickly, or to avoid a tag.) Fernando Tatis took Cora’s place at short and filled in admirably.

Also doing a nice job as a fill-in was Jeremy Reed, who once again started at first base and played it like Doug Mientkiewicz. Reed and Cora accounted for two of the Mets’ five hits.

With two outs and two strikes on Gary Sheffield in the third inning, Carlos Beltran attempted to steal third. This is the umpteenth time I’ve seen Beltran display such stupidity; it’s as if he made it to the Major League level without someone explaining to him that it’s a low percentage, unhelpful play. Not to mention the fact that he likely was distracting Sheff.

Mike Pelfrey had a bad case of the balks in this game — he balked three times in the first six innings, and it nearly became a mental block. The balks appeared to be due to problems with the signals from catcher Omir Santos. I’m guessing he wasn’t seeing Omir’s fingers, maybe due to the shadows. Or, Santos may have been flashing them too quickly, or in sequences that didn’t make sense to Pelfrey, for whatever reason.

Though I was happy to see Angel Pagan return and get an at-bat (he took the disabled Carlos Delgado’s spot on the roster), I was a little surprised to see him pinch-hit for Danny Murphy with the bases loaded in the top of the eighth against lefthander Jeremy Affeldt (he hit into an inning-ending DP). Yes, from a “by the book” standpoint, you put in a RH hitter against a LH pitcher. HOWEVER, lefthanded hitters are mashing Affeldt to the tune of .391 this year, and Murphy is hitting .357 vs. lefties. Manuel’s postgame excuse was that Murphy is not hitting well “lately”. Well, Murph has had only six at-bats in the last five days and he does have “only” one hit over that span — a pinch-hit RBI single off Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum. Generally speaking, people who come off the bench cold and rip a single off Lincecum are swinging the bat “OK”, at the least. Another case of Jerry Manuel over-managing, so that he can’t be fried in the press for making a bad move … or, as we like to call it, “Manuel being Manuel”.

Did anyone else notice that Ramon Castro JOGGED to first base on his groundout to end the game? Yeah, I’m a nitpicker, but that kind of stuff wouldn’t fly on my team. Castro’s so slow that sometimes it’s hard to tell when he’s running hard and when he’s not, but he was clearly taking it easy down the first base line. I know he’s never been Charlie Hustle, but I wonder if being in Jerry Manuel’s doghouse is a factor.

Honestly, you can’t get too upset about this loss. If, on Thursday, someone told you the Mets would split the series, you’d probably be happy. If you were told they’d win three, you’d be ecstatic. A sweep would’ve been wonderful, sure, but we can’t get too greedy.

Next Game

Mets travel down to Los Angeles to face the Dodgers for a three-game series. Tim Redding makes his first start of the year against Randy Wolf. Game time is 10:10 PM EST.

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