Tag: reds

Mets Game 85: Loss to Reds

Reds 3 Mets 0

There was a game? Who knew? I thought the important Mets activity this Friday night was the trade of Ryan Church to Atlanta for Jeff Francoeur. And then when I saw Jeremy Reed in the #5 spot, I figured it was either a joke or the Mets were simply canceling the game.

Not that I don’t like Jeremy Reed — in fact, I very much like Jeremy Reed and am ticked off that he is unlikely to be playing much anymore. But he shouldn’t be batting fifth any more than Luis Castillo should be batting 8th … or Nick Evans second … or … anyway, I digress …

As it turned out, the Mets did play a game on Friday night, even though Francoeur will not be arriving into New York until Saturday. There are hot dogs and Shake Shack burgers and Hoegaarden beers and Blue Smoke pulled pork sandwiches to sell at the world’s largest bar with live entertainment, after all.

Bronson Arroyo — the righthanded Randy Wolf, i.e., the Mets’ kryptonite (according to Coop) — pitched a nine-inning, four-hit shutout for his ninth victory of the season.

Joey Votto hit a solo homer in the fourth to give Arroyo all the runs he needed. Brandon Phillips stole home and Laynce Nix hit another solo shot to give the Reds unneeded insurance runs.

The loss wasted a nice performance by Fernando Nieve, who allowed three earned runs on eight hits in six innings. You can’t ask much more from a fill-in fifth starter.

Notes

The Mets put six balls into the outfield. No Mets baserunner made it beyond first base.

For the seventh consecutive contest, the Mets had neither a stolen base nor a homerun. Hmm … no small ball, no big ball … what exactly IS the Mets’ offensive strategy?

It was Bronson Arroyo’s second career shutout — the other one came in 2006.

Dan Murphy had half of the Mets’ hits, and the others were collected by, of all people, Argenis Reyes and Fernando Nieve.

I find it hard to believe that the Mets’ perceived “lack of talent” was the reason they couldn’t hit Bronson Arroyo, when Reyes and Nieve both stroked hits. This has little to do with skillset, and everything to do with mental preparation, approach, and focus.

Cry all you want about the Mets’ “depleted” lineup. But I’m looking at the Reds’ lineup — with three guys sporting sub-.300 OBPs, their third baseman hitting worse than most pitchers, and some guy named Ryan Hanigan behind the plate — and not seeing anything resembling “The Big Red Machine”. This Mets team is due for a labotomy.

Next Mets Game

The Jeff Francoeur Era begins on Saturday at 7:10 PM. Johan Santana goes to the mound against Johnny Cueto. Jeff Francoeur plays right field. It’s anyone’s guess who hits cleanup, but my money’s on “Frenchy” — assuming Jerry Manuel determines that he’s had “a good BP session”.

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Mets Game 3: Loss to Reds

Reds 8 Mets 6

You can’t win ’em all …

Not a good day for Oliver Perez, who was charged with 8 runs in less than five innings of work — though he wasn’t helped by Darren O’Day, who allowed two inherited runners to score.

Ollie cruised through the first two innings, then allowed four runs in the third and fell apart in the fifth. Other than O’Day, the bullpen did its job in holding the Reds scoreless, and the offense tried to chip away, but fell short.

If nothing else, it was interesting to see that the Mets would in fact play all nine innings when behind. There was some speculation that they would concede the contest after the seventh, since JJ Putz and K-Rod were acquired with the intention of shortening the game by two innings.

Sure, you don’t like to see the Mets lose, but look at it this way — they took two out of three, and won their first series.

Mets Game Notes

Prior to Opening Day, the Reds were my sleeper pick for the Cinderella team of 2009. If these first three games are any indication, I’m WAY off. Their pitching is thinner than it appears on paper, and their young hitters may still be a year away. Mostly, though, they look sloppy in the field, reminiscent of the Marlins of the past few seasons. If they don’t find another quality starting pitcher and tighten up the defense, they’re headed for another dismal season.

Before the game, Jerry Manuel told reporters that “if you can get six good innings out of Ollie, that’ll be great”. No kidding. That’s pretty much the hope for every starting pitcher, isn’t it? For example, wouldn’t it have been “great” if Johan Santana could have given the Mets six good innings on Opening Day? I can’t believe they cut away from the game action to show us that pearl of wisdom.

Ryan Church is starting out similarly to last April, mashing line drives to all fields.

I seem to remember the Mets having a hard time winning the final game of a series when it was a weekday, day game. I can’t find the numbers anywhere to support that assumption, but it sure felt that way.

Keith Hernandez likes the new SNY graphics. I don’t, since they remove about one-fifth of my TV screen real estate. Andrew Vazzano of TheRopolitans agrees.

Keith and I do agree on one thing though — Joey Votto is the real deal. I’m sticking by my outrageous MVP prediction.

A number of missed hit-and-runs from both sides in this series, yet nearly all of them resulted in a stolen base.

Gary Sheffield made his Mets debut in this game, appearing as a pinch-hitter to lead off the ninth (he struck out looking). Strange move, since high-OBP man Luis Castillo was available on the bench. Maybe Jerry Manuel promised Castillo a full day off — I’m sure he was absolutely exhausted after playing two full games over the previous three days.

Ramon Castro remains a sloppy catcher, who drives me crazy with his annoying habit of jerking (I’m sure he calls it “framing”) every pitch. I spotted at least five occasions where Castro lost a legit strike because he jerked his glove toward the middle of the plate instead of catching the ball when it was a strike (a.k.a., “beating the ball to the spot”). One of those pitches came in the fifth and would’ve been strike three to Votto, and on the next pitch Votto hit an RBI single. Think about that. Votto’s single would’ve been an out, which means there would not have been a man on third so Brandon Phillips’ fly ball would not have been a sac fly driving in a run, and Ryan Hanigan’s fly ball would’ve been out number three, and Paul Janish would not have come to bat and singled in two. Do the math, and you tell me whether I’m nitpicking.

No, Paul Janish is not related to me. People in my family can hit, and have much larger feet. And my name is not pronounced “Yahn-ish” — it’s “Jan-ish”.

Next Mets Game

The Mets travel to Miami to play the first-place Marlins in a three-game set, beginning with a Friday night game at 7:10 PM. John Maine is scheduled to face Anibal Sanchez.

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Mets Game 2: Win Over Reds

Mets 9 Reds 7

This one was reminiscent of a 2008 ballgame: Mets jump ahead, Mike Pelfrey has control issues, loses the lead, gets it back, and barely gets through five, and the bullpen keeps us on the edge of our seat through the final out. If this were 2008, we’d expect the offense to go to sleep after the fifth. But this is 2009, and the offense did something that was rarely seen last year: they tacked on runs in the later innings.

Carlos Delgado gave the Mets a two-run lead with a prodigious blast in the top of the first, but Joey Votto did one better with a not-so-prodigious but more productive fly ball.

It took Pelfrey 43 pitches to get through the initial inning, an early signal that the bullpen would play a key role in the contest.

However the Mets came back with three runs in the fifth, when Delgado grounded out with the bases loaded and Carlos Beltran followed with a two-run single. Delgado added another run in the seventh, singling in David Wright. The two Carloses combined for 6 of the Mets’ 9 runs on the night.

Brian Schneider broke the game open in the seventh with a three-run double to make it easy on the bullpen, which was less than perfect.

Notes

Luis Castillo made several key defensive plays throughout the game, including a throw to home to cut down Joey Votto attempting to steal home on a pickoff attempt.

Big Pelf was falling behind with his sinker, which was running too hard and far in on the righties / away from the lefties. My guess is he was having trouble getting a good grip on the ball in the cold weather, and/or his thumb was a little too high and to the side of the ball at the release. When the thumb slides up, the ball will go flying in the opposite direction. Cold, slightly humid weather can make the ball feel slick and cause that to happen.

Bobby Parnell started off the sixth with two quick outs, then walked the next two batters. He was saved by Darnell McDonald, who showed why he spent 11 years in the minors by swinging at the first pitch (out of the strike zone) following a four-pitch walk. McDonald fell behind 0-2 and grounded out weakly to end the almost-rally. Parnell was hitting 94-95 MPH on the radar gun with his fastball, but was unable to spot the slider in the strike zone.

Pedro Feliciano and J.J. Putz gave up a run each in the 7th and 8th, which was OK since the Mets had a significant lead. However, Francisco “Don’t Call Me K-Rod” Rodriguez made things interesting in the ninth, giving up another run(wow it sure felt like he did) loading the bases with one out before retiring the side on a strikeout and a long fly ball to the warning track. Get used to this, Mets fans — Frankie was famous for these thrillers in Hollywood.

Nine walks by Mets pitchers in this game. That’s too many, for those who aren’t sure.

K-Rod threw 30 pitches; is he available to close on Thursday afternoon?

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Reds do it again in an early afternoon game tomorrow at 12:30 PM EST. Oliver Perez goes against Bronson Arroyo. Arroyo had been suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome, but reportedly is OK after a cortisone shot. Too much guitar playing?

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Mets Game 1: Win Over Reds

Mets 2 Reds 1

Everything went EXACTLY according to plan, as the Mets edged the Reds 2-1 in the 2009 opener.

Johan Santana pitched 5 innings of shutout ball before allowing a run in the sixth and handing the ball to new middleman Sean Green. Green retired all four batters he faced to bridge the gap to J.J. Putz, who held the Reds scoreless in setting up the save for Francisco Rodriguez.

Danny Murphy blasted a solo homer in the fifth off a tiring Aaron Harang, who had mystified the Mets until running out of gas around pitch #95. He looks to be in pretty good shape compared to last year, and if he can improve his stamina will be a tough man to topple later in the year. Glad he’s in the NL Central.

Murphy drove in the Mets’ second run as well with a bases-loaded groundout in the sixth.

Game Notes

Mets put a number of runners on base early in the game, but couldn’t move them around. I’ll chalk it up to a combination of the weather and Harang hanging tough.

The first at-bats of Luis Castillo and Danny Murphy exemplified why these two are misplaced in this particular lineup. In the first inning, after Jose Reyes singled and stole second, Murphy’s job was to pull the ball and get Reyes to third base. Instead, he fisted a ball to shortstop. Luckily, Reyes still made it to third but the point is that Murphy — despite the homerun he hit in the fifth — is not a pull hitter. In the second frame, Luis Castillo came to bat in an RBI situation with one out and struck out, looking.

We’ve heard a hundred times that Jerry Manuel has had conversations with Castillo, telling him he needs to be more aggressive at the plate — particularly now that he’s down at the bottom of the lineup and will have more RBI opportunities. But does it really make sense to ask a guy to change the hitting approach he’s taken for the last 15 or so years? Castillo is a rare breed: a throwback #2 hitter who takes pitches, bunts well, and punches the ball. In the #8 spot, with the pitcher behind him, he’ll almost never bunt, and will never use his #2 skills with Brian Schneider ahead of him. But hey, if Jerry Manuel wants to keep pounding that square peg into a round hole, be my guest.

The Reds played a sloppy outfield, dropping several balls and letting several catchable balls drop. Perhaps it had something to do with the wet conditions, and compounded by the high number of fly balls hit by the Mets.

Though Santana only allowed one hit in his first five innings, he did walk four in his 5 2/3, which is too many. He also had some trouble putting away hitters once he got to two strikes. I think he threw too many sliders, and wonder if his pitch selection had anything to do with the cold and wet conditions — perhaps he couldn’t get a good changeup grip on the ball?

Putz threw a lot of pitches in the eighth — 22 to be exact. Good thing tomorrow is a day off.

Ryan Church is currently the team’s leading hitter, and tied for the team lead in stolen bases. MVP!

Next Game

The Mets and Reds take the day off tomorrow and come back to play again in Cincinnati on Wednesday. Mike Pelfrey takes the mound against Edinson Volquez. Let’s hope it’s warmer and drier.

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Andruw Jones Available

As expected, the Los Angeles Dodgers released Andruw Jones, arranging to pay his salary over the course of several years.

All along, it was expected that Jones would return to the Braves, as he always felt very comfortable in Atlanta and enjoyed playing for Bobby Cox. In fact, over the past few days Jones has been seen practicing with Chipper Jones and wearing a Braves cap at basketball games.

However, the Braves are not exactly welcoming him back with open arms — and may not offer him a contract at all.

The issue is simple — the Braves have a full 40-man roster stocked with an abundance of young talent. If they sign Jones to a MLB contract, they’d have to drop someone off — and that someone would likely be a strong prospect, who would be picked up by another team. Further, the Braves do not currently have a need for Jones, as they have an abundance of outfielders led by Jeff Francoeur and youngsters Josh Anderson and Brandon Jones. To make room, the Braves would likely have to either waive or trade someone like Gregor Blanco, Martin Prado, or Omar Infante. None of those players are stars, but all three showed offensive promise in 2008, are fairly young, versatile, and can do a lot of things a team needs from role players. Bobby Cox’s formula for success has always included the flexibility of such players — guys who may not be sluggers, but can execute all the “little things” and help the team in many other ways. Andruw Jones would have to have a great spring training to push one of those guys off the roster.

Because of the Braves’ lukewarm interest, Andruw Jones has to look for other options, and according to MLB.com:

Jones has told friends that he believes the Reds and Mets could make a push to acquire him. Both of these teams reportedly talked to the Dodgers about acquiring him via trade earlier this offseason.

Personally, I hope that’s true. Say what you want about Jones being finished, being a lazy fat pig, being finished, etc. etc. etc. Bottom line is this: the Mets are in DIRE need of a power hitting, righthanded-hitting corner outfielder. The current free agent market offers exactly one person to fit that description — Manny Ramirez — and all indications are that the Mets refuse to go that route. After Manny, the market drops considerably for a RH-hitting outfielder: Kevin Millar, Jacque Jones, Jay Payton, Emil Brown, and Jonny Gomes. That’s it, folks! Now you tell me — would you prefer to bring in one of those underwhelming possibilities, or take a $400,000 gamble on Andruw Jones?

Earlier this winter, I make the argument that the Mets should try to swap Castillo for Jones — such a deal would have had the Mets paying $15M for Jones (but also shedding $18M of Castillo’s contract). It would have been nice for the Mets to be $3M ahead and have Jones, but the same arguments apply for bringing him in on the MLB minimum salary — it’s a low-risk gamble that has the chance of paying off big.

Here’s my feeling: either Andruw Jones is going to hit again, or he’s not, and everything is based on him being healthy and regaining his confidence. If he has a promising, injury-free spring training, there’s a very good chance he’ll come back and hit 20-25 HR, with game-changing ability. He’s that kind of player, and there aren’t many around. If he looks awful in spring training, no biggie — you release him outright, and eat $400K. Jones is exactly the right fit for the penny-pinching Mets: he’ll come dirt cheap, he’ll be a one-year rental to keep LF warm for F-Mart, he has a RH bat, and he has extensive postseason success.

Last year, the Mets waited three months for their $16M investment in Carlos Delgado to pay off. Eventually, their patience was rewarded — handsomely. Without Delgado, the Mets might have finished in third place in 2008. Similarly, the Mets once gambled millions on Mo Vaughn, though that didn’t turn out quite so well. But it’s worth it for a team to take such risks when the upside is so great — Delgado, Vaughn, and Jones all had the skillset to be a monster for stretches at a time, to put a team on its back and carry them. The difference with Jones is, at 31, younger than either of them were (Vaughn was 34, Delgado 36), and won’t cost anywhere near the millions gambled on a comeback.

Unless the Mets reconsider their feelings about Manny Ramirez, or have some blockbuster trade in the works, picking up Andruw Jones is a no-brainer.

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No Truth to Dye – Bailey YET

Despite a report from Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News reporting that the White Sox traded outfielder Jermaine Dye to the Cincinnati Reds for young hurler Homer Bailey, there is yet confirmation that the deal is done — or even true.

This according to the grunts on the floor in Las Vegas, who are reporting via Twitter (go to Twitter search and type in #bwm to get the frenzied reports on a minute-by-minute basis), as well as from Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune.

I don’t see the Reds making a deal, since their pitching is a little iffy and would appear to be in something of a rebuilding mode. This time last year, Bailey’s stock was higher than that of Mike Pelfrey. Though he seemed to take a step backward in 2008, Bailey is still only 22 years old and has a world of talent. Those of us (myself included) were impatient with Pelfrey, but he certainly turned it around — Bailey has the same capability.

By the way the same story by Gonzales claims that the Mets-White Sox talks for Bobby Jenks never went anywhere, because the Mets didn’t want to part with Bobby Parnell. C’mon now, are you kidding me? That’s sillier than the Heilman / Feliciano / Huston Street rumor. If Parnell was the holdup in the deal then I fully expect the Mets to stop looking for a closer and give the job to Parnell. There had to be more to that story.

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