Mets Spring Training Game 2 vs. Nationals
Nationals 6 Mets 4
Does this count as a two-game series?
Mets Game Notes
Collin McHugh still doesn’t impress me with his stuff. But, it was his first appearance of the spring, so I won’t base my judgment on it. At some point, though, he’ll need to get more velocity and sink on the fastball, and more rapid bite on the overhand curve.
Wilmer Flores looked pretty good at second base, turning a few DPs and, while looking a bit mechanical, fielded the balls that came his way without incident. A small sample size, but he looked better than I expected.
Nats’ leadoff man and center fielder Eury Perez has blazing speed. He reminds me a bit of a young, pre-firecracker Vince Coleman, in that he completely telegraphs the fact he’s stealing, but he’s so fast and so good at getting a jump that it doesn’t matter.
Other than starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez, not one National player expected to be in their starting lineup appeared in the game. Just sayin’.
From what I understand, Terry Collins is very high on Jamie Hoffmann, whom Collins oversaw while working in the Dodgers’ minor league system. The 6’3″, 235-lb. outfielder has hit 77 homeruns in 8 minor-league seasons — a career that includes over 300 games in the PCL. How a man that big can hit so few homers is curious; perhaps he suffers from the same disease afflicting Jeremy Hermida and Lyle Overbay. Hoffmann turns 29 in August.
Elvin Ramirez may be this year’s Manny Acosta. The young man has tantalizing stuff and good velocity, and appears to be the kind of pitcher that would make batters uncomfortable, but there seems to be a disconnect somewhere between his head and his body. Or, there is too strong a connection between his head and his body — ya know what I mean?
Nats shortstop Zach Walters has a gun. I noticed it in the first ST game and it was confirmed in this one. He likely will be playing in AAA this year, but it’s a detail to keep tucked away.
I know Ike Davis hit a prodigious bomb in this game, but his new stance is pretty wide and you have to at least question why he’s tinkering around. Ike hit 20 homers in the second half, so why fix what ain’t broke? On the other hand, he struggled mightily against lefties, and the adjustment is supposedly aimed toward minimizing that vulnerability. Personally, I don’t see his stance as the crux of his struggles. Rather, it’s his evolution as a dead pull hitter. In his rookie year, he went the other way frequently. Now, he tries to pull every pitch, regardless of location. Even the moon shot he hit in this game was hooked; it was a middle-out fastball that he hit well out in front of home plate and jerked over the fence in right-center. The result was marvelous, but the process was flawed. Is spring training about results, or process? Why would there be any concern about a 400+ foot homer? Because eventually, scouting reports catch up, and both pitching and defensive strategies will be geared toward exploiting the vulnerability that comes with a dead-pull approach. Hey, if Ike can continue to jerk ’em over the fence, it won’t matter. But he’s likely to continue to struggle against any lefty with a rinky-dink slider, and defenses will play him similarly to how they line up against hitters like Ryan Howard
Also in regard to Ike’s issues — he has so much movement in his stride, between his hitching hands and leaning over, that his head moves as a result, which in turn causes the baseball to “move” on him, and that’s why he’s always arguing with the home plate umpire and taking called strike threes. Because his head is moving, his view of the ball is moving. To understand what I mean, stand up, focus on an object, and hop up and down; you’ll see the object hopping. What Ike needs to do is keep his head still once the pitcher begins his motion and as the ball is coming in.
Nats youngster Matt Skole looks like a future beast. He takes a fine cut, a long cut, at the ball. I wonder if his nickname is “Bandit”?
John Buck looks like he could be a fishing and game warden, and/or the guy you want with you on a hunting trip.
There’s no question that Justin Turner looks like a Muppet; the question is, which one?
Matt Den Dekker did what he does best: swing and miss. It’s really upsetting, because the kid otherwise looks like a great athlete who should be able to make more contact. I noticed that he chokes up an inch, which is a good sign, but he has no ability to let the ball get deep before committing to swing. I have to ask the obvious: when was the last time he had his eyes checked? Den Dekker did mix in a single up the middle, which was nice to see.
The first look at Greg Burke was intriguing; I’ve been anticipating seeing him since the Mets signed him, as I have a “thing” for submariners. However, he looks more like a sidearmer than a submariner — more Sean Green than Chad Bradford. He mixes up his angle, though, which could be a good thing if he can keep command. It doesn’t hurt that he’s a Jersey guy. We’ll keep a close eye on him this spring.
The first few times I saw Reese Havens play — in Brooklyn — he impressed me. I loved is hard-nosed approach, enthusiasm, confidence, and the professional way he carried himself. Now, though, he looks puzzled, hesitant, and lacking in confidence. It’s upsetting to see the negative body language and facial expressions from someone whose intangibles were once a major asset. I suppose it has something to do with his chronic injury history knocking him down, and the fact he knows he should be further along than he is. I hope he finds a way to get his confidence back and get back to being the guy that was so impressive five years ago.
Notable absence from the lineup was Lucas Duda, who has struck out six times in seven at-bats thus far — but Terry Collins explained that he sat because his previously injured wrist was acting up. Hmm.
Also notable was Ruben Tejada‘s absence, but his was definitely due to injury. Tejada is suffering from a strained quadricep. Uh-oh — that’s the same issue that afflicted him last year. Remember the last time the Mets had a shortstop with chronic leg injuries? It’s like deja vu all over again.
I’m not even the biggest Duda guy, but this all ties back to the “stat-geek” video game mentality far too many Met fans have these days, where you expect a certain version of a guy to just report to camp “programmed to play to his simulated numbers”.
*adjusts coke-bottle glasses*
Anyone who’s ever picked up a baseball bat knows that the wrist thing is significant, especially amidst making changes to stance and approach.
Doesn’t mean he’s going to mash when healthy, because he does have a ton of work to do to get himself right —- but you’ve got a ton of stuff at play for Duda already.
…….and knowing what we know about his overall mindframe, that might not be the best thing for him.
Gonna show a lot about his ability to stay focused this year…..already on iffy ground, from last year. Hopefully, he’s able to throw it all out the window somewhere and get back to being aggressive/making good contact at the dish.
I hate what Hudgens did with him last year, attempting to “mold him into a patient hitter” —- the Mets love their one size fits all catch-all’s. Let the friggin’ guy rip what he wants to, gain some confidence, and adjust accordingly.
If Matt den Dekker shows any sort of progression at the plate at all, I’d say he’s closer to challenging Nieuwenhuis for some burn somewhere early on in the season – than he would be riding the pine anywhere.
His defense was never oversold (dude’s legit, way before last night) – while Nieuwenhuis is showing you he’s always going to struggle mightily vs. lefties. Looked pretty bewildered by the breaking stuff he saw in the 8th inning last night.
I’m also of the belief that if Daniel Murphy can “play 2nd base”, then Wilmer Flores will likely be able to with some more reps. Hitting the baseball will get anyone on the field this year, with this particular team.
………but we’ll see what happens.
All good points.
P.S. – It has been awhile, but I picked up a tin of Skoal Crisp this week. Think they tried packaging a “sweet” flavor into a non-descript type of name….since NY can’t sell flavored tobacco anymore (bastards).
Not bad! Tastes like a mix of the Apple and Citrus. My wife would kill me if she knew I was dipping.
Regardless, Joe, no one ever said he was a butcher.
I don’t see where Joe did, either?
Joe is clearly saying that he was impressed by Wilmer fielding routine ground balls. Implying that he was lead to believe that Wilmer was a butcher. Since Wilmer gets bad reviews on his defense, Joe and many others have assumed that means Flores cannot field, a la Daniel Murphy or Lucas Duda. The problem with Flores is agility and foot speed, which is the reason why Flores cannot play the outfield.
I spent most of my life catching and know only a bit about playing the infield. What I do know is that slow feet make it very difficult to have soft hands — unless the ball is hit right at you.
Can any experienced infielders chime in here?
And remember, you know what happens when you assume…..the word butcher was never utilized.
Since people do not follow minor leaguers that closely, including Joe, assumptions are made and end up in writing. Joe developed a bias based on never actually seeing him play. There really is nothing wrong with that either, since it is not for everyone to read minor league scouting reports or watch MiLB games. I am merely trying to educate. Joe did use the phrase “small sample size,” after all.
I’m not arguing with you Mike, just laying out what goes through my head when someone tells me an infielder has slow feet.
Perhaps this is semantics.
Now, let’s also both keep sharp eyes on young Wilmer and compare notes. As of now, I have little to go on. He has a big body, with long arms, and is not quite “fluid” in his movement but he does appear to have athleticism. One possible negative is he seems to take a while to throw the ball (function of the long arm). Based on his body he doesn’t “look” like a second baseman, but neither did Jeff Kent so we won’t hold it against him.