Apr 30

Mets Wrap: Anthony Recker, “Hefner Didn’t Deserve This.”

Just when they needed him most, Jeremy Hefner pitched a lights-out game for the Mets with eight shutout innings, but was betrayed by another ninth-inning collapse in a 2-1 loss to the Miami Marlins, which extended their losing streak to six games. Pinch-hitter Chris Coghlan led off the ninth with a single, took second on a passed ball by catcher Anthony Recker, advanced to third on umpire Tim McClelland’s blown call and scored on Donovan Solano’s single. The Marlins scored the game-winner on Brandon Lyon’s run-producing wild pitch, a ball Recker should have blocked.

HEFNER: Tough luck loser (AP)

HEFNER: Tough luck loser (AP)

ON THE MOUND: Hefner encored his strong start last Thursday (one run in seven innings against the Dodgers) by going eight scoreless innings, giving up four hits and no walks with eight strikeouts. Hefner told reporters after the game on dealing with the disappointment: “I go back to what the definition of a starting pitcher is which is go nine innings and give the team a chance to win the game. … I wish I could have finished.’’… Lyon assumed the closer role after Bobby Parnell pitched two innings the previous night.

AT THE PLATE: Daniel Murphy broke a 1-for-20 slide with a leadoff double in the fifth off Marlins starter Kevin Slowey, took third on a fly ball and scored on Recker’s sacrifice fly. … Murphy was dropped to fifth in the order. … Five Mets in the batting order are hitting .250 or below. … The Mets have scored four or fewer runs in eight of their last nine games.

WRIGHT PLAYS: Wright did not start Monday because of a stiff neck, but appeared as a pinch-hitter and struck out. Wright said he wasn’t sure if he would play tonight, but a decision was made after batting practice. Wright was hitless in four at-bats and his average dropped to .294.

BLOWN UMP CALL OF THE GAME: It seems as if every game has one, and tonight’s came at a most inopportune time for the Mets. Replays showed third base umpire McClelland missed Wright’s tag when Coghlan over slid third base on Juan Pierre’s bunt attempt. Coghlan scored on Solano’s single to right and defeat was merely pitches away.

WHEELER OUTSTANDING: Zack Wheeler produced his best start of the season for Triple-A Las Vegas, as he gave up one run on five hits in 6.2 innings. He struck out eight, but more importantly walked only one, and that was the last batter he faced. Two or three more starts like today and the Mets might be seeing Wheeler sooner than later.

METS MATTERS: Shaun Marcum, who volunteered to pitch in relief Monday, said he should be able to make Friday’s start in Atlanta. Marcum didn’t endear himself to the Mets’ hierarchy by not reporting to spring training in top shape, but should have made some points last night. … John Buck, who caught 15 innings Monday, had the night off. He finished the month with nine homers and 25 RBI.

BY THE NUMBERS: The Mets started their 22nd different lineup in 25 games.

THEY SAID IT: “I’m pissed off. I’m extremely pissed off. … You have to get out here and act like a pro and play tomorrow.’’ – Manager Terry Collins after tonight’s late-inning collapse.

ON DECK: Dillon Gee (1-4. 5.96) goes against lefty Wade LeBlanc (0-4, 6.20), tomorrow at 12:40 p.m. … The Mets are off Thursday, and start a three-game series in Atlanta, Friday. Marcum, Jon Niese and Matt Harvey are scheduled to start for the Mets.

Apr 26

Does Ike Davis Even Know The Fundamentals Of Hitting?

Ike Davis should log on to his computer, Google the book, “Ted Williams: The Science of Hitting,’’ and order a copy.

Maybe it is time both he and the Mets realize Davis isn’t just struggling, but that perhaps he doesn’t know too much about hitting. Davis homered yesterday, but for my money I would rather he slapped a single to left in the sixth with runners on second and third and two outs.

DAVIS: Another strike out. (AP)

DAVIS: Another strike out. (AP)

Instead, he struck out. Again. For those scoring at home, it was the 24th time he has walked back to the dugout in disgust, compared to just 12 hits. Old stats, new stats, it doesn’t matter, Davis is not producing.

Davis has four homers and seven RBI. He’s hitting .174 with a .260 on-base percentage, .348 slugging percentage and .608 OPS. However, the number that kills me is he’s on pace for 194 strikeouts.

I spoke with Davis about strikeouts and using the whole field and he told me he’s a home run hitter, he likes to hit home runs, and strikeouts are part of the equation. He’s missing the boat with that reasoning, much like he’s missing the breaking ball away.

Suppose Davis cut his strikeouts in half to 97, which is still a lot. That would be 97 times he would be putting the ball in play instead of throwing his bat. Think how many more homers he’d produce in those 97 at-bats, not to mention productive at-bats when he’ll drive in a run with a hit, sacrifice fly or ground out.

“It’s about contact,’’ manager Terry Collins said. “These big home run hitters, they’re going to strike out. That’s part of the program. Ike, when he’s going good, he gets hits. He just doesn’t get home runs.

“You go back two years ago in the first half where he drove in everybody who was standing at second base. They were base hits. They weren’t always home runs. I think if he again starts using the field more – especially the opposite field – it also takes that shift away from them, which a lot of teams play on him. And I think it’ll make a difference.’’

That’s what Williams preached in his book. Teams used the shift against Williams, and this is when he didn’t use his own advice. However, Williams was so good he produced over his own stubbornness. In his wildest dreams, Davis isn’t half as good as Williams.

Williams might have been the greatest hitter ever, even considering Babe Ruth. Williams’ average year was .344 with 37 homers and 130 RBI. When you factor in he lost five prime years of his career serving in World War II and the Korean War, his lifetime numbers would have been through the roof.

When you boil it down, Williams’ fundamental advice about hitting was get a good pitch to hit. Williams was so precise he broke down the strike zone into baseball-size segments to where he had each area had its own batting average.

“As we’ve studied his at-bats, they’re just killing him away,’’ Collins told reporters after Thursday’s loss.

Williams calculated the low-and-away pitch at best would produce a .230 average. Davis isn’t even giving the Mets that much. That average would increase, Williams said, if the hitter went that way instead of trying to pull. Instead, Davis is chasing everything, which means the pitch doesn’t have to be that good.

Collins sees that: “If he starts going that way to where he’s going to use more of the field to hit, he’s got some better opportunities to drive some runs in.’’

Unfortunately, Davis does not: “Sometimes they’re helpful. Sometimes they’re not. Me slapping the ball the other way early in the count is probably not helpful.’’

Rebuttal: How would Davis know if he hasn’t tried it routinely? He did when he first came up, but rarely since.

Either Davis doesn’t know the fundamentals of hitting, or refuses to listen to his coaches and manager. And, Collins and GM Sandy Alderson are wrong for accepting this kind of performance.

Listen, I don’t know how to build a watch, but I know how to tell time, and the time has come for Davis to change. Either him, or the Mets should.

Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

 

Apr 19

Live Blogging From Citi

600x763_harvey_vs_strasburg

Live Blog From Citi Field Pressbox

Top First: It starts to rain right after the anthem and moment of silence for Boston and Texas. The weather isn’t Minnesota-Denver bad, but I thought there would be more people here for Harvey-Strasburg. Harvey strikes out his first hitter and gets out of the inning with a runner on second.

Bottom First: Jordany Valdespin leading off again. Glad to see Terry Collins running with this. Valdespin reaches on E6. Takes third on Daniel Murphy’s hit-and-run single and scores on wild pitch. Murphy takes third on fly ball and scored on John Buck’s RBI. That’s 20 RBI for him. Really is amazing. I like Murphy’s aggressiveness in advancing on fly to right.

john buck

Mets 2, Nationals 0

Top Second: A lot of attention in the press box on what’s going on in Boston. Harvey breezing. Fans Chad Tracy. A 1-2-3 second.

Bottom Second: Marlon Byrd doubles, but is stranded on third as Strasburg punches out Valdespin. That’s a wasted opportunity and you don’t get many off Strasburg. We’ll see if this haunts them later. Strasburg nearing 50 pitches already.

End Second: Mets 2, Nationals 0

Top Third: Strasburg doubles, but Harvey gets out of it by striking out Jayson Werth.

werth strikes out

Bottom Third: Rain gone. Doc Gooden gets a nice ovation when they show him on the video board. He tweeted Harvey is the real deal. Looks like it. … Meanwhile, Boston PD has suspect cornered. That’s where a lot of the attention is. … Ike Davis strikes out for second time. Buck fans and another runner is left in scoring position.

End Third: Mets 2, Nationals 0

Top Fourth: Harvey finished the fourth with one hit and two walks and five strikeouts. He’s thrown 62 pitches, 41 for strikes. Everything is working for him tonight.

Bottom Fourth: There’s a steady falling mist again. Strasburg walked Duda, but set the next three hitters down. He’s settled down since the first, giving up two runs on three hits and two walks and five strikeouts. He’s pitching a good game, too.

End Fourth: Mets 2, Nationals 0

Top Fifth: A 1-2-3 inning for Harvey, Strikes out Suzuki swinging. They have apprehended the second suspect. Pressbox buzzing.

matt harvey 3

Bottom Fifth: Valdespin, Murphy, Wright go down in order. Just in – Brandon: Nimmo is 3-for-3.

End Fifth: Mets 2, Nationals 0

Top Sixth: Everyone watching the breaking news of suspect capture in Boston. Terrific job by law enforcement across the board. Boston can sleep easier tonight.… Harvey throws DP grounder started by Murphy, who is looking better and better at second. … Valdespin makes diving catch to end inning.

Bottom Sixth: Davis and Duda homer. Davis hit his to left and Duda’s went to center. … Crowd chanting “Harvey’s better.’’ Actually, pretty funny. … Strasburg already over 100 pitches, so this figures to be his last inning.

John Buck, Ike Davis

End Sixth: Mets 4, Nationals 0

Screenshot_1

Top Seventh: Harvey enters the inning with a two-hit shutout on 82 pitches. But, a walk and a couple of hits later and his shutout was gone. … Perhaps even more impressive was getting out of a bases loaded jam with no outs without giving up further damage. … Harvey finished with one run given up on four hits, three walks and seven strikeouts.

Bottom Seventh: Strasburg didn’t come out. He gave up four runs on five hits and two walks with six strikeouts in six innings. “USA – USA – USA -USA!” The crowd chants as news of arrest shows on scoreboard.

End Seventh: Mets 4, Nationals 1

Top Eighth: Big cheer when news on the scoreboard announced second suspect was captured. … Another cheer when Boston Police Department was saluted. … Scott Rice pitched a scoreless inning.

Bottom Eighth: Drew Storen now pitching and gives up leadoff triple to David Wright and two-run homer to Davis. … Duda added another homer, his fifth of the season.

End Eighth: Mets 7, Nationals 1.

Top Ninth: Sweet Caroline was played as Bobby Parnell threw his warm-up pitches. The Mets did it before, but it sounded better tonight. … Sweet, diving play by Murphy to get the second out.

Final: Mets 7, Nationals 1

Apr 19

Matt Harvey Ready To Go, Mets Starting Lineup

Matt Harvey doesn’t have to be reminded about tonight’s match-up with the Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg.

Harvey has always been intense, and he gave manager Terry Collins a preview prior to batting practice.

“He was a little grouchy,’’ Collins said this afternoon. “He’s usually not quite that grouchy. When your manager walks up to you and the first thing you want to do is bite his head off, you’re a little bit on the edge.

“I tried to rein him down a little bit, because he’s sky-high at the moment. But I know he’s ready for it. I know he’s excited about it. He’s got a huge challenge on his hands.’’

Collins has an inkling how Harvey might respond tonight, and like everybody else in Citi Field tonight said he’s anxious because of the marquee match-up. Tonight is Harvey’s 14th major league start, so it is premature to be dusting off any shelves in Cooperstown.

However, there is an aura about him that prompts Collins to call him special.

“This is when the real good players step up,’’ Collins said. “He’s still a young, young player yet. And we have to understand what he’s accomplished thus far is certainly outstanding, but he’s still a young guy.’’

What Harvey has accomplished and what he wants to accomplish are two different things. Harvey doesn’t just want to be good, he wants to be the best.

“He wants to be the best that there is in the game,” Collins said. “The last time I ever heard someone say that was [Barry] Bonds. So it was a pretty big statement, I thought. All he’s done thus far is backed it up.’’

METS MUSINGS: Collins said Triple-A catcher Travis d’Arnaud won’t need surgery on his fractured left foot, but will be in a boot. Collins said d’Arnaud could be out for up to eight weeks.

Here’s tonight’s lineup against Strasburg:

Jordany Valdespin, CF: Making his sixth start as the leadoff hitter. Is batting .409 in that position.

Daniel Murphy, 2B: Is tied for the NL lead with seven doubles and is tenth in average at .352.

David Wright, 3B: Is third in the league with 14 RBI, including ten in his last five games.

Ike Davis, 1B: Takes a .146 average and three RBI into the game.

John Buck, C: Hitting .300 with six homers and 19 RBI, but has only two hits in his last 13 at-bats.

Marlon Byrd, RF: Has hit in four straight games, going 5-for-17 with six RBI.

Ruben Tejada, SS: Has hit in seven of his last nine games to raise average to .250. Leads the majors with six errors.

Matt Harvey, RHP: Was named NL Player of the Week for April 8-14.

Mar 31

Doing The Shuffle With Teufel

tim teufel

ESPN New York’s Mark Simon got a chance to talk to Mets third base coach Tim Teufel, and the two of them discussed the team’s infield defense. I highlighted what Teufel had to say about some of the Mets infielders, but you should check out the entire article here.

UZR & Defensive Metrics

“I embrace them. Any time we can use measurements to help us in our coaching, I’m willing to look at it. I felt like (last year’s stats were) very accurate. It had some credibility with me.

Ike Davis

“Ike’s going to be a lot better this year. He’s moving around great. He’s going to his glove side really well. Last year that was a weakness. I think (the ankle) affected his range and his quickness. It limited his ability to push off (and get to that ball). He has good hands, a soft glove. We’ve shortened his stroke on throwing to convert the 3-6-3 a little better. I think that will work.”

Daniel Murphy

“From June on, he was an average to above average second baseman. We want him to increase his range to his glove side. He’s very good on his backhand. And he played in the shift really well. I don’t think he’ll go through the growing pains he went through last year. He looks a lot more comfortable.”

Ruben Tejada

“Ruben is still working his way into game shape (for a shortstop). It’s a demanding position. Positioning is key with him because he’s not as gifted range wise as some other shortstops. We’re working on getting him to understand hitters, the mental part of the game, things like what guys do in RBI situations and with two strikes.”

David Wright

“I actually felt like his backhand was one of the best in the league last season. I think the numbers may be because we overplay some hitters, so we shade him off the line a little bit. We’ve worked with him in the past on his throwing technique, but I think he’s got that wired right now.” ”

David is a step ahead of the other guys, but remember he’s got eight years at third base and all our other (infielders) have two years. He makes pretty good adjustments.”

Teufel got a jolt of good news earlier this week when he learned that the Mets signed his son Sean to a minor league contract.

Unlike his father, Shawn Teufel does his job on a mound. The 26-year-old left-hander pitched at Class-A Lakeland (Detroit Tigers) last season, where he posted a 5-7 record and 6.64 ERA in 22 appearances both as a starter and reliever.

tuff stuff ryne sandberg