Apr 12

Mets Crash And Burn Again

Yes, the Mets were shut out, and yes, losing David Wright for the past two games helped exposed their offense, but that’s an oversimplification. Yesterday was about Mets’ hitters striking out 15 times – none by Wright – and their pitchers walking ten.

WRIGHT: Mets hope he'll be back to throw helmet.

Terry Collins was right. The Mets should have lost by more.

You can lament losing Wright all you want, but the real problem is through six games the Mets received precious little from Ike Davis, Lucas Duda and Jason Bay. Duda had those two homers, but outside of that there’s been nothing.

Nothing, of course, sums up what the Mets have received from Davis and Bay and unless that suddenly changes, their feel-good start will be history. Hell, it probably already is with the Mets heading into Philadelphia for the weekend.

When your ace, Johan Santana, who is coming off surgery has an ERA of 0.90 and has two no-decisions, that pretty much says it all.

ON DECK: What to do with Jason Bay?

Mar 29

Alderson: Taking stock of the Mets.

We are a week away from Opening Day and Sandy Alderson’s take on his team on WFAN doesn’t exactly inspire a great deal of confidence:

ALDERSON: Why is this man smiling?

He’s worried about his defense, especially that from the right side with Daniel Murphy at second and Lucas Duda in right.  Center fielder Andres Torres has been gimpy, so there’s a question about his range. And, Josh Thole is still a work in progress at catcher.

 If you’re thinking Johan Santana is back and a given for 30 starts and 200-plus innings, think again. With the signing of Chris Young, the Mets are mulling over the idea of a six-man rotation. If Young is sound, in theory expanding the rotation would give Santana more rest between fewer starts. Another plus is fewer starts for Mike Pelfrey.

Pelfrey, incidentally, will start tonight. He takes an 11.49 ERA into the game. He has not pitched well this spring.

 In regards to Pelfrey’s performance and the Mets’ dismal spring training record of 6-16, Alderson called it “some indicator’’ of what to expect during the season. Spring training numbers aren’t always a blueprint of the season, but it is hard to turn it on and the Mets don’t have the talent to do so.

Alderson said Jason Bay is not driving the ball, but we’ve heard that before in his previous two years with the Mets.

Alderson also said he was not pleased with the depth of his team and expressed concern about the bullpen.

Let’s see, Alderson doesn’t know what he’ll get from Santana; is thinking at this late date of expanding the rotation so an injured pitcher can make it; has another starter with an ERA north of 11; is concerned about his defense, bullpen and depth; admits his overpaid left fielder isn’t hitting for power.

Yes sir, Opening Day is a week from today, and the forecast is for rain and temperatures in the 40s.

 Isn’t life grand?

Sep 23

Capuano non-trade underscores Mets’ pitching concerns

That the Mets turned away Boston’s overture for Chris Capuano can only mean he’s in their plans for next year. Sandy Alderson’s string of reasons for why the deal didn’t go through may all ring true, but the Mets looking ahead is the primary explanation.

Capuano pitched well enough this year to warrant an extension, but the Mets’ interest in retaining him suggest the team’s long-standing concerns over its starting pitching.

CAPUANO: Mets want him back.

The 11-12 Capuano is a 57-64 lifetime pitcher with an ERA north of four runs a game. He is what he is, which is a No. 5 quality starter. Capuano, a risk that paid off, is a left hander, which makes him worth the gamble again, especially considering the Mets’ questions in that area.

Johan Santana is recovering from shoulder surgery and  had setbacks. The Mets can’t write him in with ink for next year, and who is to say if he returns he’ll even be close to his former self? As far as Santana is concerned, the Mets can’t bank on anything with him.

Jonathan Niese also pitched well at times this season, but finished on the disabled list with a pulled side muscle and therefore is a concern. This is twice now Niese finished a season on the disabled list with a pulled muscle.

There are no givens with the rest of the rotation, either, with the possible exception of R.A. Dickey, he of the unpredictable pitch. After a slow start, Dickey has closed well.

Mike Pelfrey remains an enigma. He regressed greatly this season to the point where questions are being asked if he’ll ever live up to expectations. Can anybody honestly say they have confidence in Pelfrey, when time after time he has spit the bit?

Then there’s Dillon Gee, who started hot, but hit a rocky stretch. There’s no guarantee he won’t regress like Pelfrey. Other teams have scouts, too, so he’s not surprising anybody anymore.

The Mets have pitching prospects below, but Zack Wheeler and Matt Harvey are at least two years away and Jenrry Mejia is coming off Tommy John surgery.

Chris Schwinden will be invited to camp in the spring, but he doesn’t get one salivating.

You can scan the free agent lists all you like, but the Mets won’t spend for a long term deal for a CJ Wilson, Rich Harden or Mark Buehrle. There are the likes of Freddy Garcia and Jason Marquis and a handful of other retreads they’ll scan, but hardly anything you could build around.

The Mets are hardly dealing from a position of strength when it comes to their 2012 rotation, so wanting to bring back Capuano is the obvious thing to do. That is, of course, if they can sign him.

Sep 22

Moving In The Fences Not Answer, Pitching Is

 

Silly me, I thought the object was to win games, not hit home runs.

Sandy Alderson is talking about altering the dimensions at Citi Field in an effort to boost the Mets’ paltry home run total, which is odd considering his background as a fundamentalist. You know, high on-base percentage, advance the runners and cut down on strikeouts.

When he took over his goal was to rebuild the Mets with pitching, speed and defense. Let’s not get teary eyed about Shea Stadium, either. Afterall, how many World Series have the Mets won in their history? Two, and both those teams were built on pitching.

David Wright is on-board with this because, well, afterall, he hasn’t hit for power in two years, but that’s more a product of the beaning by Matt Cain and a poor approach at the plate, not to mention being injured and missing two months this year.

Overall, the Mets have hit 103 homers and given up 141. They’ve been outhomered 87-58 on the road and 54-45 at Citi Field. Those numbers are about right for a team below .500.

Before Alderson tinkers with the dimensions, he should consider what the Mets’ home run production might have been had Wright not missed two months, Ike Davis not been out for most of the season, Carlos Beltran not been traded and Jason Bay hit up to his contract. Take those four factors and the Mets would have closed the homer gap considerably.

But, are home runs really the issue?

The Mets are fifth in the National League with 686 runs scored, which is good enough to contend, but are 13th in runs given up with 712 (4.21 ERA).

Clearly, pitching is the problem, not a lack of power.

Home runs give a team an psychological jolt in that they know they can come back from a deficit, but the boost is even greater from the knowledge its pitching won’t put it in a hole.

It was funny to hear pitching coach Dan Warthen say moving in the fences would help his staff because it would force them to concentrate more. What a joke. If the Mets’ pitchers give up a lot of runs now, wait until the fences come in. Warthen is simply towing the party line. Have his pitchers walk fewer hitters and have him build a bullpen then he can talk. Until then, concentrate on Mike Pelfrey.

And, it’s not as if moving them in will enable the Mets to close the homer gap. The disparity would be roughly the same because the real disparity is in talent.

If the Mets want to do something, it ought to be to get better players, specifically pitchers. Moving in the fences is a gimmick, and teams don’t win with gimmicks. They win with talent.

Ways to Train:  Baseball Tips

If you’re looking to improve your batting average, slice that ERA in half, or simply enhance your ability to interact with your fellow teammates on the field, you’ll want to make sure you’re practicing the right things so that you don’t waste your time on nonsensical efforts.  Fielding, batting, and pitching all require very specific types of training, and while there is certainly overlap (and most players have to know how perform at least two of those 3 functions at any one time), there are also individual items to focus on for each as well.  Below, we’ll cover each of the three aforementioned areas, and what type of training approach you should take for each.

Batting

Swinging at a baseball flying toward your face at nearly 100 miles per hour seems like a fairly easy feat when you’re watching a Mets game or another team performing at the major league level.  That easiness only appears that way because you’re watching masters of batting at the plate, the peak of players available for the game.  For the typical baseball player, connecting the bat to the ball can be quite difficult to master, at least in a way that produces actual hits consistently over time.  The best way to practice batting is through repetition, so head over to the batting cages if you want to face pitch after pitch until your swinging improves.  Pitching machines come in a variety of speed settings, so you can surely find one that’ll pitch to you at the speed you need.

Pitching

Unfortunately, they haven’t developed a baseball batting machine that works quite as well as the pitching version yet, but catching a pitcher’s ball is easier for the average person that throwing a 95 mph fastball.  In order to practice your pitches, find someone who is competent at using a glove, and throw to that person over and over again.  Remember to also switch up your pitches so that you don’t become dominant using only one type of pitch.

Fielding

This article doesn’t have the space to cover the many different fielding positions individually, but on the whole, there are some simple things to keep in mind when standing in the outfield or around the bases.  Make sure you’re using a glove that’s been broken in, first off, so that you’re comfortable using the glove and don’t feel limited in movement.  Since baseball fields don’t have roof cover and many day games are played, you’ll also want to practice fielding balls in direct sunlight, as often times you’ll have to face straight up in order to catch the ball.  So long as you can run and judge a ball accurately as you are moving towards it, you’ll be in good shape on the field.

Sep 20

No answers from here on out.

With the Mets out of contention awhile ago, it was hoped September would be the month where some 2012 answers could be found. It has not turned out that way.

GEE: Rocky finish to a good year.

Only .500 remains, but the Mets must run the table for that to occur, and that would mean nine straight against Cardinals, Phillies and Reds. They couldn’t win nine straight against their own minor league system.

The one slot where it was hoped could be definitive was the closer role, but Bobby Parnell has spit the bit. He’ll get another chance in spring training, that is, unless the Mets sign a qualified, veteran closer, but that would require some spending. That’s not going to happen, either.

Ruben Tejada has played well, but not well enough to see if he will be able to assume Jose Reyes’ role. We might never know that answer.

The only comfort I see has been Lucas Duda in right. So far, he’s fielded the position cleanly, but we need a full year at the plate and in the field to see for sure. And, there are usually hills and valleys in the first year as a starter.

I like how R. A. Dickey is finishing, and Chris Capuano and Dillon Gee pitched well enough this year to warrant a chance in next year’s rotation. Gee, however, is struggling, with his ERA jumping nearly a run a game over his last ten starts.

There’s too many unanswered questions Sandy Alderson must spend the winter trying to answer. There are holes in the rotation that can’t be masked by a thin bullpen. There’s a lack of power from David Wright and Jason Bay. Angel Pagan has regressed. There’s nothing that suggests Johan Santana will make it back.

There’s also no indication the Mets will be a heavy player to retain Reyes.