Weekend Mess…

What a series with that Nationals.  They say that you can’t tell anything in the first month or so of the season.  And that you spend the first couple months figuring out who your team is and what you’ve got to work with.  Unless, either, the results are similar to the previous year or spring training.  I believe both to be the case for the Mets.  Examining how the Mets have played in their first few games reminds me exactly of what I watched all of last year.  The pitching has been average at best.  The offense is odd.  There are some proven hitters, but no one has been consistent.  And no one wants to hit in the clutch.  In the 2 wins, the Mets have scored 15 runs.  In their 4 losses, they have scored 12 runs.  Now, you would expect that to a certain degree b/c runs are how you win games.  But this is what the team did all of last year.  They would get red hot and win a game or 2, and then go ice cold and lose 3-4.  The Mets start the season with a relatively easy schedule (at least a home-favored one) and these are wins that need to be had.  Losing series at home to Florida and Washington are just unacceptable.  Granted (again), its still very early, but the way this club has been playing…I don’t see a lot of reasons why the culture of this club should change.  Getting Reyes into mid-season form and getting Beltran back with both help, but there is something deeper with this team that needs to be addressed.  And until that happens, one or two players will not make a difference.


The Good:

  • Mike Pelfrey: pitched a good game on Friday and picked up the win.  He went 6, allowing 4 hits, 2 runs, 4 BBs, and 4 Ks.  He also only threw 94 pitches, so he would have been in good shape to pitch the 7th if needed…
  • Jeff Francoeur: off to a tremendous start, hitting .476.  He leads the team in BA, hits, RBI, doubles, tied for 1st in HRs and has only stuck out twice…
  • Jose Reyes has returned…I think that’s good.  We’ll soon see…

The Bad:

  • Starting Pitching: no starters’ ERA is under 3.00.  Also, no one has gone more than 6 innings in a start.  Ok, maybe the starting pitching isn’t bad, but…it could definitely be a lot better.
  • Mike Jacobs: Cut him.  Now.  With a Knife.  Or else I will.  He has 2 hits in 15 ABs…and has 4 K’s.  Thankfully, he did not start the last 2 games.  Again, is it kind of early to be wanting to cut someone?  Maybe…but the 4th or 5th place hitter cannot only have 2 hits and 4 Ks in 15 ABs…not on this team, anyway…

The Ugly:

  • Hitting with RISP:  here is why the Mets don’t score runs.  If you don’t hit HRs, then you need to get hits with people on base.  The Mets are the worst team in the NL, hitting .188 with runners in scoring position.  Tell me you don’t remember THAT from last year…
  • Santana’s 1st Inning on Sunday:  Yikes.  This was bad.  2 hits, 4 runs, 2 BBs.  He only gave up one more run in his next 4 innings, but if Santana is pitching like that (at all), this team doesn’t have a prayer.  Ron and Keith were talking during Sunday’s broadcast and said that the Mets are going to need to win pretty much all of Santana’s starts.  Is that unrealistic?  Yeah.  But, is it necessary?  Probably.
  • Starting From Behind:  The only game that the Mets did not give up a 1st or 2nd inning run was in the 1st game of the season.  The way this offense has performed this year, playing from behind from the beginning does not bode well.

Tuesday, 8:40pm, Coors Field, Maine vs. Smith…

  

In Other News…

I had a varied interest in the sporting world tonight.  So, I’ll see what I can do about covering it all…

First, I got a free ticket to the Frozen Four in Detroit.  After being in Fort Wayne until past midnight a week and a half ago, as my Wolverines were screwed out of a berth in Detroit, I am a little surprised I took the ticket.  I decided to go with a couple friends, but only stayed for the 1st game.  I wanted to root on my hometown RIT Tigers.  It did not help.  At all.  They lost 8-1.  At least they scored…and they brought their fans!  Props to Rochester, NY for coming out to Detroit to support your team.  This was their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament and they made the Frozen Four.  As the game ended, the arena was chanting “R-I-T!” 

Second, I skipped the second game to come home and watch some of the Mets game, but also see the Masters on my DVR.  It was great to watch Tiger, again.  You would have never known he hadn’t played in 140+ days by watching him.  He shot -4 and it easily could have been -6 or -7.  It was his lowest round on the opening day of the Masters (68) and he scored 2 eagles for the 1st time in a Masters round in his career.  Also, his 2nd shot on the 9th hole was absolutely magnificent…

Oh, yes.  And the Mets.  Well, we’re not to Santana, yet.  So, another interesting day in Queens.  I only saw the last 4 innings.  But, from what I looked at, Niese looked all right.  He went 6 innings, 8 hits (probably a few too many), 3 runs, 2 BBs, and 3 Ks.  That’s fine.  I will take that from him, at this point.  The bullpen did a great job, finishing the last 3 innings.  Of course, after I write about my lack of faith in our 2 Japanese relievers, both come through with nice innings, giving up nothing. 

More so, I’m just disappointed with the offense.  Granted, we got 5 runs to rally to tie last night, but we did so without a hit for an RBI.  Again, today, only 7 hits and 1 run.  Pagan and Francoeur each got a couple more hits.  But, we couldn’t string any together and the Marlins didn’t walk anyone.  That will lead to a lack of base runners and, ultimately, runs.  We’ve had 13 hits in the last 18 innings.  Still only 1 HR, this year…

Game Points:

  • Ruben Tejada made his Mets MLB debut, tonight, at SS…he went 0 for 3 at the plate, but looked fine in the field…
  • Burke Badenhop pitched great in relief for the Marlins, tonight, going 3 innings, 1 hit, 0 runs, 0 BBs, and 2 K’s.
  • The Mets opted to go with an entire right-hand hitting lineup against the lefty Nate Robertson…
  • There’s a rumor that Jose Reyes may be back on Saturday night.  We could sure use him.  Not necessarily in the field (although, I’m not turning that down), but in the lineup.  There’s just a spark that he provides that has been obviously missing since last May…
  • Also, as a Suns fan, on a night that I actually have to root for the Lakers, Kobe wants a night off…

Friday, 7:10, Citi Field, Mock vs. Pelfrey…

Not Quite…

To start off, I want to say that I watched the first 6 innings and then had to leave to play in a broomball game, so some of my analysis will come from recaps and box scores…

First of all, we began the non-Santana version of our rotation tonight.  John Maine got the nod and did not look very good at all.  He barely went 5 innings, gave up 8 hits, 4 runs, walked 1, and struck out 3.  Surprisingly, he did not throw many fastballs, which has been his calling card since he came into the league.  He has been developing other pitches in Spring Training (and with his arm surgery dropping his mph, he will need them), but hung a few off-speed pitches and got burned.  The first HR to Cantu was one of those.  He was also plagued with a lack of control.  His strike/ball ratio was 53/39 and had 1 quick inning.  We’re going to need more out of Maine, in the future…

The bullpen pitched…eh.  6 relievers combined to pitch 5 innings, but still gave up 3 runs and 9 hits.  Hisanori Takahashi gave up the run in the 10th inning and took the loss.  I really have very little confidence in the bullpen, at all.  K-Rod is fine.  I like Feliciano for the most part and I want to trust Nieve (who actually came in to clean up Takahashi’s mess)…he is very close to gaining my trust.  Other than that…its completely hit or miss. 

I do like that the team fought back to tie it from down 6-1.  That shows some fight and tenacity that seemed to disappear in 2009.  But…we only got 6 hits…in the entire 10 innings.  During the rally, they scored 2 runs on bases loaded walks, 1 on an error, 1 on a sac fly, and 1 on a balk.  While, I will take runs any way we can get them, I would like to see some hits, especially with RISP (0 for 6, tonight). 

Tidbits:

  • The ratio of hits to K’s for Mike Jacobs is 1 to 4…in 9 total ABs…
  • I am not a fan of Japanese relievers. Perhaps there are a few good ones, although I cannot think of 1 (Sasaki for a year?  Maybe Okajima?).  The Mets always seem to start the year with at least one…and they never seem to work out. 
  • Jenrry Mejia made his MLB debut for the Mets, tonight.  Pitched 1 inning, 3 hits, 1 run with a K.  He can throw 4 pitches, all for strikes.  Depending on the progression of the rotation, I would not be at all surprised to see him get a start, this year.  At 20 years old, he is the youngest Mets pitcher to make his debut since…Dwight Gooden.
  • The Marlins pitchers combined for 9 walks…
  • Nolasco has had trouble with the Mets throughout his career; yet, he was in position to win, tonight…ironic, due to Johnson’s consistent dominance of the Mets and they beat him, yesterday…

Thursday, 7:10, Citi Field, Robertson vs. Niese…

The Way It Needs to Be…

If the Mets are to succeed this year, this game will be a prototype.  First of all, Santana is going to need to pitch amazing.  And…they are going to have to win his starts.  In addition, they will need to play solid defense and have timely hitting.  Well, all of those aspects came together on Monday.  Johan pitched very well, going 6 innings, allowing 2 hits, a run, walking 2, and striking out 5.  He got into a little trouble in the 6th which raised his pitch count.  Otherwise, it looked like he would go 7 strong.  The bullpen did a great job finishing off the game, allowing only 2 hits in the final 3 innings.  However, before Santana officially left the game, the Met offense had all but finished the game off.  And did it in great team style.  Four different players contributed RBI in the late innings.  The newcomers -Bay, Matthews, and Barajas) (minus Jacobs) went 6 for 11 with 3 RBI and 4 runs scored.  Nobody had an amazing day, but enough players had solid days, which is something that will need to be the case this year.  The Marlins defense also helped the Mets with 3 key errors. 

So, pitching?  Check.  Defense?  Check.  Timely hitting?  Check.  So far, so good…

Opening Day Figures:

  • After a year of struggling for power, David Wright homered in his 1st AB.  He now has 10% of his total from last year…
  • Fernando Nieve looked great in his 2 innings of relief.  With only K-Rod and Feliciano returning as dependable arms in the bullpen, Nieve is going to be very under-valued this year…
  • One thing that was nice to see was the potential speed of Jason Bay.  Leading off the 6th inning, he turned an easy double into a hustling triple.  He was also thrown out on an infield ground out, but he turned what looked like an easy out into a close play…
  • Josh Johnson had previously never lost to the Mets, including a stellar defeat of Santana last April in an epic 2-1 game…
  • My favorite part of Opening Day is the pitching match-ups.  It is always something to relish because there is never another day throughout the regular season that teams always have their aces on the mound.  Hopefully, throughout the year, we will see these pitchers face off, again…     

Wednesday, 7:10, Citi Field, Nolasco vs. Maine…

2010: A Fresh New Start

Last year, I decided to have some fun and write a blog for my favorite baseball team.  I thought it would be a fun way to follow/look at a team.  In June, I had to step away from my daily entries because of some other pressing issues in my life that I needed to resolve.  With a majority of those obligations taken care of, I am going to take a fresh, new run at covering my New York Mets.  With my first softball practice of the season, yesterday, and sitting in my living room watching Sunday Night Baseball, tonight, I am getting caught up -again- into America’s pastime! 

Things for Mets Fans to Ponder:

  •  Rotation Spots 2-4: This has been talked about over the last couple years.  But…it continues to be true.  For this club to reach its potential -Maine, Pelfrey, and Perez- all have to have career-type years.  I would hope at least 12-15 wins a piece…unless somebody is going to win 20
  • Health: Uh-oh…this has not even started close to where we’re hoping it would be.  After what can only be described as one of the worst injury-plagued years in the history of professional sports, the Mets enter 2010 already in a hole.  From Beltran’s controversial surgery to Reyes’ thyroid (thyroid!) to Murphy’s injured leg, one-third of the starters will not be playing on Opening Day, tomorrow.
  • Power: Will anyone –anyone- hit HRs this year?  Or…for that matter, will anyone hit for extra bases?  Daniel Murphy lead the team in HRs last with 12.  Only Murphy and Wright had more than 22 doubles last year (38 and 39, respectively).
  • Bullpen: After a great first half, last year, K-Rod was not given very many chances for saves as the year dragged (literally) on.  Other than Feliciano, there are very few recognizable (or popular) faces out there.  It will certainly be interesting to see how the roles are defined and how comfortable everyone feels.

Monday Afternoon, 1:10 PM, Citi Field, Santana vs. Johnson…

Classic, Part 2…

If last night was amazing, tonight was ridiculous.  Don’t get me wrong, when Werth caught the ball in the bottom of the 10th, I sensed something bad would happen.  Parnell coming in to face Utley, Howard, and Ibanez?  In Extras?  *cringe*  Yeah, I had a feeling one of them would go deep…and Utley did.  He has 15 HRs this year and 4 have come against the Mets.  BUT…this game was still great and it would have been worth the price of admission…

Normally, games like this are awesome and sometimes you lose them…but, we should and could have had this one.  Mike Pelfrey pitched well.  I know people have not been throwing him a bone at all this year, but he is selling me every start he makes.  He pitched very well into the 7th inning.  I agree with Keith Hernandez and absolutely love how he stared down Chase Utley twice.  When Utley kept stepping out on him, Pelf stared him down and Utley stared back.  A few pitches later, Utley grounded out and both players passed each other, again staring each other down.  This is what the Mets need.  They need to get emotionally involved and add some fire.  It happened on Tuesday and Pelf replicated it again Wednesday night.  He did give up a couple hits in the 7th and Beltran dropped a ball he would catch 99 out of 100 times.  But all in all, Pelf held his own in a huge game and deserved a better fate.  He went 6+ innings, 6 hits, 4 runs (only 2 earned), 1 BB, and 2 Ks. 

Sean Green came in and could not keep any inherited runner from scoring.  That is something that cannot happen when you consistently enter games in the middle of innings.  Feliciano might be the unsung hero of this team.  He entered in the 8th and got the assignment Parnell would later get and it wasn’t close.  3 up, 3 down against Utley, Howard, and Ibanez.  K-Rod pitched 2 innings and was great, with the help of Tatis’s sick double play in the 10th.

Offensively, the Mets tore the cover off the ball, collecting 16 hits in all.  Pelfrey started the charge, going 2 for 3 with a double, RBI and a run scored.  The Mets shelled Hamels, who barely made it through the 5th, allowing 11 hits, 4 runs, 2 BBs, and a K.  David Wright also a nice night going 3 for 5 with a walk and a run scored.  He has continued to rake.  He hit a sinking liner in the bottom of the 10th, with F-Mart on 1st, that Jayson Werth made a diving grab on.  If Werth misplays that ball at all, it gets by and Martinez walks home to end the game.  That is how the entire game went.  Santos contributed 3 hits, while Castillo and Beltran each had 2.  Santos’s big flub came in the bottome of the 8th when he popped up (on the 1st pitch, no less) with the bases loaded and only one out.  That is what killed the most.  I saw a stat during the game that the Mets lead the NL is batting average with RISP (something like .282).  I suppose it could be true…just sometimes hard to believe, watching this team. 

Could Have Beens:

  • 15 of the Mets 16 hits…were singles.  That’s a 4 hits:1 run ratio.  That’s terrible.  Only Pelfrey got more than a base.
  • The Mets loaded the bases twice and had 2 runners on twice and didn’t score in any of those 4 innings…
  • During the 7th inning, when the Phils got 3 runs, Beltran dropped a catchable ball (but it was a hit) and Wright misplayed a grounded that would have been an easy out at home…defense always does come back to bite them
  • The Mets were 6 for 19 with RISP (not terrible) but had 16 LOB…that’s bad. 
  • If these were the first 2 games, I cannot wait to see Thursday night’s rubber match.  Unfortunately, I do have 2 playoff softball games, so I will be watching the game, after the fact…
  • Also, I watched the Series Premiere of Royal Pains tonight…USA Network is coming out with some awesome shows.  Their summer slate (Burn Notice, Royal Pains, and Psych) might rival CBS during year…

 

Thursday night, 7:10, Citi Field, Moyer vs. Redding…   

Show Me The Apple!

 

CitiApple.jpgThis was just an amazing game.  There was quality pitching, quality hitting, punches and counter-punches, comebacks, lead changes, great plays, and lots of gut-wrenching drama…

First, in the top of the 8th, my MLB.TV DVR stopped and I was help in purgatory-limbo for another hour+…but, I did manage to stay away from all scoreboards and see the end of great Stanley Cup and NBA Finals games…

This might have been the best game Johan Santana has played in as a Met.  Yes, he did give up 4 HRs (3 of the were solo…and to lefties), but he contributed in other ways.  His pitching line was 7+ innings, 8 hits, 5 runs, 1 BB, and 2 Ks.  Yeah, not that great of a pitching night, but for the run support given to him, I’ll take it.  Just seeing his emotion and the way he got out of innings showed his leadership.  You could tell by his expressions that he knew how much this game meant and that his team needed him out there.  After giving up a 3-run lead in the top of the 6th, Santana came through with his bat.  With Santos and Church on 1st and 2nd and one out, Santana could not get the sac bunt down in 2 attempts.  On an 0-2 pitch, Johan lines a ball into the corner to tie the game with his first RBI of the season.  In the top of the 7th, with a runner on 1st and 1 out,  Shane Victorino lined a shot back up the middle that Santana snagged and tossed over to 1st to complete the double play.  When Manuel finally went out to get him after his 4th HR, Santana was not so pleased and tried to stay in.  This was his game and he wanted to finish.  That is what the Mets need to show more of.  Yes, he has been giving up more runs in his last few starts and he did give up 4 HRs on Tuesday, but he used the run support he was given and he hung in the game long enough to get his team to the back end of the bullpen.  The Mets had to have this game and Santana got them to the end.  There are more aspects to leading a team than pitching your best game, statistically and Santana did that.

Major props to Pedro Feliciano and K-Rod for their solid performances in the 8th and 9th.  Pedro threw 4 pitches and got Howard to hit into a double play and Ibanez to ground out, ending the 8th.  K-Rod made his way through the 9th, including 2 Ks of Feliz and Dobbs.

As for the offense, they hit HRs!  That’s plural…and more than 2!!  Woohoo!!!  David Wright hit his 1st HR in 100 ABs in the bottom of the 2nd inning.  Carlos Beltran added a 2 run shot after a Cora double.  To add to the power surge, Ryan Church hit a deep ball in the 7th inning.  To top it off, Church hit the ball INTO the Apple well!  It turned out to just be enough, as the Mets held on, 6-5. 

 

Relief Points:

  • Not to complain, but in the bottom of the 6th, after Tatis doubled and reached 3rd via a bad throw on a pickoff by Ruiz, Church grounded to 1st and Tatis was thrown out at home.  Except that he wasn’t…the replay clearly showed that Tatis was under the tag. 
  • There is still no timetable on Reyes…its better that he not rush back.  We are going to need a healthy Reyes for the last couple months…
  • Every Phillies starter (except Ruiz and Happ) got at least 1 hit and Rollins continued his dominance over the Mets by going 3 for 4 with 2 RBI and a run scored…
  • The Mets, again, showed great team hitting.  Wright and Cora each had a couple hits, but everyone in the starting lineup got a hit (except Castillo)…
  • The Nationals picked Stephen Strasburg with the #1 overall pick in the MLB Draft…it would be tough to turn him down.

 

Wednesday, 7:10, Citi Field, Hamels vs. Pelfrey…