Tag: rod barajas

Mets Fan Window Shopping: Catcher

It’s clear the Mets need a catcher. Actually, they need two catchers — a starter, and a backup. Josh Thole is a really nice guy, and he works really hard, but he’s not an everyday catcher on a championship club, and he might not even be a backup on a championship club. Most second-string backstops offer at least one plus MLB tool; generally, it’s either a strong defensive skill or a power bat. Sometimes, a second-string catcher is just average all-around. Unfortunately, Thole meets none of these characteristics. Offensively, he offers zero power and has steadily regressed in every other batting skill. Defensively, he’s hit his ceiling as below-average all-around; some would argue that his game calling, lack of leadership, and inability to handle pitchers is detrimental.

The Mets might try to trade for a catcher, but right now we’ll do some window-shopping on the free-agent market.


Dodgers Sign Rod Barajas

The Los Angeles Dodgers have signed catcher and former Met Rod Barajas to a one-year, $3.25M contract.

I’m not surprised LA brought him back, considering that he went on a tear after leaving Flushing. The dollar figure, though, seems a bit high for a 35-year-old catcher with fading defensive skills and a career .284 OBP. I guess, though, teams must pay a premium for a catcher who can hit as many as 17 homeruns. Makes one wonder why these same teams regularly move young backstops to another position the moment they show some ability to swing the bat.

The signing of Barajas also had some influence on the Dodgers’ decision to non-tender Russell Martin, who is coming off a major hip injury.


Mets Game 125: Win Over Marlins

Mets 6 Marlins 5

They’re not dead yet!

The Mets came from behind in dramatic fashion, as the beleaguered Luis Castillo stroked a game-winning blooper in the bottom of the ninth to drive home Ike Davis with the winning run.

The situation was set up the inning before, when Angel Pagan stretched a single into a double and raced home on a base hit by Carlos Beltran to tie the ballgame.

Both the Braves and the Phillies lost, so the Mets picked up a game on both in the standings!

Game Notes

I heard the Mets won — listened on the radio — but didn’t see it, so don’t have much from an analysis perspective. This game must have been fun to watch (it was thrilling to listen to), yet how many actually did? Too bad it didn’t happen in May, when people were still paying attention. With the Mets more or less out of the race, the team usually playing more lackluster than they did in this contest, and the NFL season coming soon, people are finding better things to do than pay attention to the futiles of Flushing.

If you didn’t listen on the radio, you missed a gem at the very end by Howie Rose, after Castillo’s game-winner, as his teammates rushed from the dugout to congratulate him:

“No one’s ever loved a pounding as much as the one Castillo is getting right now ….”

That right there almost made it worth listening.

Angel Pagan went 4-for-5 with 2 doubles, his 31st stolen base, and 3 runs scored. Beltran went 2-for-3 with 2 RBI and 2 walks. Perhaps he is getting hot and will put the Mets on his back and carry him to a playoff spot?

Jeff Francoeur drove in 2 runs with two sac flies.

Gaby Sanchez hit a homer and a double and drove in four of the five Fish runs.

In unrelated news, lifelong Dodger fan Rod Barajas fulfilled his childhood dream of wearing an LA uniform and went 3-for-5 with a three-run homer. He did that once for the Mets a few months ago, I believe.

Next Mets Game

Mets and Fish play again in Flushing on Wednesday night at 7:10 PM. Pat Misch goes against Alex Sanabia, whoever that is.


Jason Bay Out: Deja Vu All Over Again

According to a tweet by Kevin Burkhardt, Jason Bay is suffering from a mild concussion and may be out for this three-game series vs. the Cardinals. Apparently, he felt symptoms on the plane trip back from the Left Coast. Cross-country plane trip? Concussion? Corner outfielder? Where have I heard this story before?

Additionally, Jerry Manuel has been suspended for his “ump bump” in Los Angeles.

Further, Rod Barajas was placed on the 15-day DL with a strained oblique. Corner infield slugger Mike Hessman was promoted from AAA to take his place on the roster. Hessman has hit 9 HR in his last 78 MLB at-bats, spanning two years (2007-2008). How does one smack one homer every 8.7 ABs and not get a chance to play for a year and a half?

With Bay, Jeff Francoeur returns to RF and Angel Pagan moves to left. It would be nice to see Chris Carter get some playing time but that doesn’t appear in the plans. Francoeur has 3 hits in 11 ABs (.273) vs. Adam Wainwright, and will get the start this evening. Josh Thole catches in place of Barajas and I imagine will get the bulk of the duty back there for the next two weeks.


Mets Game 98: Loss to Dodgers

Dodgers 3 Mets 2

An even dozen — the Mets collected their 12th walkoff loss of 2010, losing in extras for the 7th time in 11 tries, and on the short end of a one-run ballgame for the 19th time out of 30 occurrences.

Does losing so many times in tight ballgames indicate anything? Bad luck? Poor management? Subpar fundamentals? Lack of intestinal fortitude? Or do they just plain stink?

Game Notes

Mike Pelfrey walked off the mound allowing “only” two runs, but he walked off after only five frames and 82 pitches. He gave up 6 hits and 2 walks, striking out 2, in his longest outing since June 26.

Jerry Manuel continues to insist that Pelfrey’s problems are due to his inability to establish the fastball and get ahead early. That’s partly true, but it’s mostly unhelpful. Manuel’s explanation is similar to telling you that your shirt is full of red blotches because you have a nosebleed. Thanks, I already know my nose is bleeding — but can you tell me WHY it’s bleeding? Can you tell me how to make it stop? And how to prevent it? As mentioned here before, the reason Pelfrey can’t establish his fastball, and can’t get ahead of hitters — with any of his pitches — is because of an intermittent balance problem during the leg lift that affects his arm angle and release point. You probably noticed that he was still doing that slight hunch over about half the time during the game. If he can go back to staying tall more consistently as he comes out of the leg lift, he’ll regain command, likely regain his confidence, and hopefully get back close to where he was in the first half.

Carlos Monasterios pitched pretty well for a Rule 5 pick, spinning five shutout innings. Too bad the Mets didn’t choose him in that December 2009 draft. Oh wait, they did.

The Mets used 7 pitchers in the 13-inning game, with Oliver Perez the last man standing. Somehow Ollie managed to work out of trouble started by Elmer Dessens in the 11th, and his luck continued when Matt Kemp flied out on a 3-0 pitch to lead off the 13th, but that luck ran out with the next batter James Loney — who hit a walkoff homer.

Just what the heck was Kemp thinking, by the way? There’s nothing wrong with swinging away on a 3-0 count when the situation warrants it, but considering Ollie’s wildness, hacking away there made little sense.

More bad baseball: Jose Reyes going from first to third on a groundout with one out in the top of the third. Had Reyes been thrown out — and he nearly was — it would have been out number three. Not worth the risk, since with two outs it would’ve taken a base hit to score him anyway.

Reyes pulled a Marv Throneberry and lost a ground ball in the sun in the first frame. A few minutes later, it appeared that Ike Davis similarly lost sight of a pickoff throw. The disappearing ball trick resulted in the Dodgers scoring the first run of the game.

Jason Bay had two more hits. Let’s hope these past two games are the beginning of a rampage by Bay.

Rod Barajas left the game with an oblique strain in the sixth inning. Henry Blanco took his place as a pinch-runner on second base with one out and Jose Reyes coming to bat with the score 2-1 Dodgers. Reyes singled to left to score Bay (who was on third) but station-to-station Blanco had to stop at third base. Luis Castillo hit into a DP to end the inning and strand Blanco on 3B. Why did the lead-footed Blanco pinch-run instead of Josh Thole? Hmm … well, Blanco did throw out an attempted base-stealer in the bottom of the sixth, so maybe Jerry Manuel saw that coming. (Blanco threw out another runner in extras, but there wouldn’t have been extras if the Mets score a third run in the 6th.) Maybe Thole — who isn’t exactly a speed demon, though more fleet of foot than Blanco — doesn’t score either, but it did seem to be a curious decision at the time and looks even worse after the fact.

Next Mets Game

The final game of this four-game set begins at 4:10 PM EST. R.A. Dickey goes to the hill against Clayton Kershaw. The contest will be broadcast on channel 11 / WPIX.


What Happened to the Chemistry?

It wasn’t that long ago that nearly every New York baseball journalist and blogger was talking about the great “chemistry” of the 2010 Mets — and how the players loved playing for Jerry Manuel. Such comments about the positive vibe in the Mets’ clubhouse continued even through the team’s tough times in mid-May.

But there seems to have been an accident in the lab, because that chemistry has vanished. In the past week, Alex Cora demanded an end to laughter in the clubhouse, Jeff Francoeur said he wouldn’t mind being traded, Jerry Manuel had to call a closed-door team meeting, and now Rod Barajas is clearly unhappy with being unseated by Josh Thole.

From Mike Sielski’s article in The Wall Street Journal:

“To give up on somebody after what they’ve done to help the team, for me, it’s not a good thing,” Mr. Barajas said. “It’s not the way a team wants to see their teammates treated.”

and …

“I don’t want to say it in a bad way, but if you look at the scenario, how we got here and how we got in this situation, whatever we were doing before worked,” he said.

We’ve gotten to where we are because of a certain system we’ve had in place. For me, once you start making drastic changes and changing the landscape of the team, it could go either way.”

Sounds like trouble in Metsville.

On the one hand, there is every reason for Josh Thole to be getting more chances to play, because of his hot bat. On the other hand, the offseason winter mantra from the Mets front office, manager Jerry Manuel, and pitching coach Dan Warthen was that defense and leadership behind the plate was valued as much or more than offensive skills.

In other words, there has been a sudden change in philosophy — a reactionary decision rooted in desperation. That’s fine if the change works. Or is it? Because yes if it leads to success then it’s the right decision but it also proves that the original plan was flawed. The fact that Thole is playing ahead of Barajas can be construed as a lack of confidence in that plan as well.

When leadership lacks confidence in the plan that they put together, the people below can sense it and in turn question the plan and the leaders that put it together.

And suddenly that chemistry breaks down.

While it’s true that “good chemistry” is generally identified when a team is winning, and “bad chemistry” is blamed when a team is losing, you have to think that chemistry — good or bad — may be insignificant and/or ineffectual on its own, but can be a symptom or clue to something much larger that does have an impact on a team’s on-field performance.


Mets Game 39: Win Over Braves

Mets 3, Braves 2

It wasn’t pretty…

It wasn’t ugly…

It just kind of WAS… ya know?

The Mets topped the Braves 3-2, behind Mike Pelfrey, Rod Barajas, Chris Carter and a huge stolen base by Jose Reyes.The Braves were listless for the most part, but this is the kind of game the Mets have to win. And they did. Pretty cool, huh?

Pelfrey was every bit the workhorse the Mets need him to be, tossing 7 2/3 innings, scattering 7 hits and allowing 2 runs. Barajas had a 2-RBI double in the 2nd inning. Carter scored on the Barajas double and he also knocked in Jose Reyes on a groundout in the 6th inning. If Reyes hadn’t stolen third base, the Mets may never have scored their third run and the game may have continued in perpetuity – theoretically – or at least until Barajas batted again.

Random Notes: Gary Matthews Jr. is starting to remind me of Chick Gandil in Eight Men Out… You could hear Gary Cohen deflate when Matthews hit into a double play with runners on first and second in the top of the 7th… Speaking of Cohen, he REALLY wants Jeff Francoeur to hit a home run in Atlanta – so much so that he nearly fell off his seat when Francouer flied out to left field. Cohen then went on to describe Francoeur’s swing as a “lusty cut” (yikes)… Francisco Rodriguez’s windup and follow-through is circus-like and kinda scary. I’m not sure it’s a good thing when a pitcher consistently falls off the mound like he’s getting tossed off a merry-go-round at 50 mph. It certainly didn’t help his control any.

Next Mets Game

The Mets take on the Braves again tomorrow night at 7:10pm EDT. Johan Santana (3-2, 3.88) goes up against Kris Medlen (1-1, 2.35).

So that’s it. My first “guest post” in about a year. How’d I do? Leave your comments and pontifications below, tip your waiters and enjoy some smooth jazz, Ozzy Osbourne-style:


Mets Game 4: Win Over Nationals

Mets 8 Nationals 2

One more win this weekend and the Mets will lose last place.

Mike Pelfrey pitched well, mixing in the new split as a change of pace to the sinker, and the offense exploded for eight runs as the Mets cruised to an 8-2 victory.

Game Notes

Mike Pelfrey allowed only 2 runs on 4 hits and 4 walks in 6 innings. The walk total is mildly concerning, but he was working hard to change speeds and use the split, which looks to have some potential. I liked that he was finishing his pitches for the most part — meaning, he had a good follow-through, ending his delivery with his “nose to toes” and letting his throwing hand breeze past his left ankle. Ron Darling continues to harp on the fact he doesn’t get his back leg up high enough after release, but I don’t believe it is a major issue. Yes, he’d get a little more “giddyup” on the fastball, but the fact he’s getting his head so far down and forward is a sign that he’s using leverage and gravity to his advantage. I agree that eventually his back or “push” leg should kick up high but let’s take baby steps — remember, Pelfrey did not have the advantage of ample development time in the minors. Overall, an encouraging start.

Jeff Francoeur and Rod Barajas both went yard twice, the first time two Mets had double dinger days since the Carloses Delgado and Beltran did the same a few years ago. I’ve stated before that I don’t care about the stats re: Francoeur, because I enjoy watching him play. Tonight was a prime example — he was smiling ear to ear after his bombs and seeing that made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Alex Cora made two brilliant plays at second base to prevent runs from scoring and drove in an insurance run with a single in the eighth. If he has another 60-70 games like this one he’ll earn his $2M.

David Wright – SHAME ON YOU!!! Wright hit a bomb in the 7th that looked like it would reach the seats, and David watched it from the batter’s box and broke into a homerun trot. The wind knocked the ball down and it bounced off the left field wall, so Wright made it only to second base instead of third — which he would’ve made easily had he been running from the get-go. He eventually scored on a pinch-hit single by Fernando Tatis, but the ends do not justify the means. This is Wright’s year to establish himself as the team leader, and he needs to set a better example.

Wright also is looking shaky at third base thus far this season. He should’ve been charged with an error on a grounder by Josh Willingham that turned out to be a double, and his throws are both weak and offline. On the bright side, he was 2-for-4 with a walk.

Congrats to Ruben Tejada, who started his first MLB game and collected his first MLB hit.

Fernando “Nightly” Nieve pitched again, the fourth time in four games (a Mets record). He is quickly becoming this years’ Aaron Heilman.

Jennry Mejia pitched a perfect ninth, which was nice, but wouldn’t we rather see him chucking 6-7 innings as a starter in the minors than cleaning up garbage innings at the end of a six-run game? I know, I know — he’s being gently broken in as an MLB reliever, but I have a hunch the Mets will be more desperate for a starting pitcher in both the near and long-term future.

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Nats do it again at 1:10 PM on Saturday afternoon. Oliver Perez pitches (?) against John Lannan. Tell me again why Johan Santana is not starting on regular rest?

Oh, and Jose Reyes starts at shortstop.