May 06

Lucas Duda Unfairly Criticized On Plate Approach

Ever since Lucas Duda burst into our consciousness in 2010, nobody has been satisfied with his plate approach. Too many strikeouts and not enough walks, I frequently wrote. He gives away too many at-bats. He tries to pull too much and doesn’t use the entire field.

All valid in the early Duda critique.

DUDA: Has the right approach (AP).

DUDA: Has the right approach (AP).

Now, unbelievably, he’s become too selective, too patient at the plate. No matter how hard I try, I don’t get this one.

Even Keith Hernandez, who has forgotten more about hitting than most of us will ever know, has been after Duda on his patience. Hernandez believes Duda should be more aggressive with runners in scoring position. Yesterday in that position, Duda worked deep into the count. And, as the at-bat continued and the talk was for him to be more aggressive, Duda lashed a 3-and-1 pitch through the right side of the infield for a RBI single in a perfect piece of hitting.

Until that swing, the conversation was about Duda’s growing patience, as if it was a fatal, fundamental flaw  instead of a strength.

Duda has a .417 on-base percentage, in large part to 21 walks. While the season is still young, his on-base percentage and OPS are the best of his career. For much of the spring he had more walks than strikeouts, but that has reversed.

However, what people are noting most are his six homers with only 11 RBI. Surely, with that much power, he should have more RBI. It it is a plausible argument, but not an all inclusive one.

Pitchers, wary of Duda’s power, have been exceedingly cautious and try to get him to chase. However, when he might have swung earlier in his career, he’s now waiting them out. Instead of giving away at-bats, he’s learned to take the walk, but that’s not a flaw.

Do you really want to see Duda be another Ike Davis, who gives away countless at-bats by flailing a pitches he has no chance of hitting?

The best thing for Duda would be to continue being patient and taking his walks. If somebody – are you listening Davis? – provided more protection behind him, then Duda might see more pitches, fastballs to be exact, in the zone.

Trust me on this one, the last thing you want is for Duda reverting to bad habits and chasing junk. The more walks he takes, the better he’ll become at recognizing pitches. He’ll waste fewer at-bats and eventually get his pitch to drive.

The expectations for Duda to walk less and swing more have been brought on by the Mets’ overall woeful offense.  The problem isn’t in Duda is taking too many pitches, but others in the batting order are not.

Mar 13

Matt Harvey, Bobby Parnell Ripped As Mets Lose

Nearly flawless in his last start, Matt Harvey took his lumps today, but on a positive note rebounded and regained control.

HARVEY: Gives up homer to Harper.

HARVEY: Gives up homer to Harper.

Harvey gave up a three-run homer to Washington’s Bryce Harper in the first inning, but rebounded to throw three scoreless innings and strike out six in an 8-5 loss.

Harvey settled down to retire 11 of the final 12 hitters against him; a very good sign for any pitcher let alone a young one after a rough start.

“I struggled there in the first inning, obviously. I think I came out a little too excited and needed to tone that down a little bit,’’ Harvey told reporters. “I made one bad pitch and it cost me three runs.’’

Harvey said he came out pumped in trying to atone for a three-homer rocking by the Nationals last year in spring training.

Bobby Parnell had a rough outing, giving up four runs in the seventh inning, which included a run-producing error by left fielder Lucas Duda and RBI single by Harper.

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Mar 09

Keith Hernandez Knows A Lot Of Stuff, Including Baseball

There are few television analysts as knowledgeable and entertaining as Keith Hernandez, who, if you asked him the time would tell you how to build a watch.

HERNANDEZ: Don't forget to tip your waitresses.

HERNANDEZ: Don’t forget to tip your waitresses.

Not only does he know baseball, but today showed he could work on Animal Planet, The Weather Channel and do QVC, which ironically has its corporate headquarters across the street from Tradition Field.

When the Mets are in Washington, always expect a history lesson.

After the starting pitcher leaves the game during spring training, writers wander in and out of the pressroom and clubhouse, where the televisions are always on.

Today, Hernandez was in mid-season form, talking about the spinner sharks gathering off the beaches on the Atlantic post; how to survive a tornado; and hawked Icky Poo, a product designed to eliminate pet odors.

When somebody in the pressroom asked: “What is Icky Poo?”

As if on que, one writer said: `He’s coming into pitch.”

Mar 07

Zack Wheeler, Frank Francisco Injury Updates

Zack Wheeler said today is the first time he felt exceptionally good since straining his right oblique.

WHEELER: Feeling better.

WHEELER: Feeling better.

“Today was the first day I felt 100 percent,’’ Wheeler said. “ Every day leading up to today it felt a little better. It was 100 percent today.’’

Wheeler said he threw all his pitches at about 75 effort, but “I let it out a few times.’’

The plan is for him to rest for two days before throwing another bullpen. Ideally, they’d like to get him in a game sometime next week, but it is dependent on how he responds from this.

Wheeler will open the season at Triple-A Las Vegas even if Johan Santana is not ready for Opening Day.

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Feb 18

Collins To Initiate Process For Wright To Be Captain

David-Wright15It was during the summer of 2008 when I first broached the question with then-Mets manager Willie Randolph: Could David Wright someday be named captain?

I went back to my story and this is what Randolph said: “It’s not something we’re talking about now, but yes, David certainly has the qualifications needed to be a captain. He has the respect and admiration of his teammates. They listen to him.”

The Mets didn’t pull the trigger because they had veterans with more experience – such as Carlos Delgado and Carlos Beltran – and didn’t want to ruffle the feathers of the older players. Randolph wasn’t kept around long enough to name Wright captain, but it was always a foregone conclusion it would eventually happen.

Now, with Wright armed with an eight-year contract that will have him finish his career with the Mets, manager Terry Collins said today he will begin the process of naming his third baseman to the honor, joining Keith Hernandez, Gary Carter and John Franco.

The first step is to involve discussing the matter with GM Sandy Alderson and chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon.

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