I hope Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins took notes in Game 1, because the Giants have the blueprint the Mets should be following. So, in comparing the wild-card Giants to the Mets, there’s more than just a 3,000-mile difference:
Solid starting pitching: Madison Bumgarner was lights out, pitching quickly, and with command and composure. This is what the Mets expect from Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler. The rap on Mets pitchers is an inability to put away a hitter and keep damage to a minimum. This especially applies to Jon Niese.
The game’s turning point came in the third inning when the Royals put runners on second and third with no out, but Bumgarner kept it together and got out of the inning with no damage. Bumgarner also helped himself by starting a double play to get out of the second.
I’m not saying Mets pitchers haven’t done the same, but not consistently.
Bumgarner threw 21 first-pitch strikes to the 26 hitters he faced for an incredible 81 percent efficiency. For all the new wave stats, first pitch strikes percentages are missing. In particular, this is something Wheeler – originally in the Giants’ organization – must refine his game.
Who is to say the Giants didn’t know this when they traded him to the Mets for Carlos Beltran?
Relief pitching: The bullpen has long been part of the Giants’ success, with the pitchers and how manager Bruce Bochy manages them. There’s nobody better.
Alderson has tried to build a pen since he came here, and this season is the closest he’s come. Now, it is up to Collins to slot in Bobby Parnell, Jeurys Familia and Jenrry Mejia in the right roles.
Aggressive base running/productive at-bats: The Royals’ speed drew considerable pre-Series attention, but the tone for the game was set in the first inning when the Giants executed what I consider one of the most exciting plays in baseball.
Gregor Blanco singled and tagged up and advanced on Joe Panik’s fly ball, making it a productive out. The dimensions at Citi Field are such that this is something the Mets should be more aware of doing.
So, instead of fooling around with the dimensions and moving in the fences, the Mets would be better off tailoring their offense with speed, aggressive base running and timely hitting to complement their young pitching.
In Game 1, the Giants were 5-for-12 with RISP, a situation in which the Mets are weak. Timely hitting begins with being patient and working the count. Last night, of the 43 hitters the Giants sent to the plate, 20 took a first-pitch ball or put the ball in play.
Management expertise: Bochy is the best manager in baseball. This is the fourth time he’s taken a team to the World Series, and win-or-lose, he’s worthy of the Hall of Fame.
He gives his players defined roles and they buy in. I can’t imagine Bochy fooling around by juggling Wilmer Flores and Ruben Tejada at shortstop, or with the myriad of left fielders.
It is Alderson’s responsibility to bring in the right players. The Giants bettered themselves with Jake Peavy and Hunter Pence; in recent years the Mets brought in Curtis Granderson and Frank Francisco.
Bochy once left Barry Zito off a playoff roster and put Tim Lincecum in the bullpen. There were no waves. Conversely, Matt Harvey, although it was determined he wouldn’t pitch this season, complained about where he would rehab and that he wanted to pitch this summer.
Neither Alderson nor Collins forcefully laid down the law with Harvey, and prior to that Jordany Valdespin. The Mets have had through the years a line of headaches such as Francisco Rodriguez and Ike Davis (complaining about going to the minor leagues and refusing to adjust his hitting approach).
I can’t imagine the Giants putting up with a non-productive player for as long as the Mets did with Davis.
The Mets also didn’t give Angel Pagan a legitimate chance in center field. He’s hurt now, but on a four-year contract with the Giants.
Sabean has been the Giants’ general manager since 1997. Conversely, Alderson is the fourth general manager have had in that span.
Of course, Sabean has been given ownership’s blessing to build the team as he sees fit. Alderson doesn’t have that leeway.
The Mets won 79 games this season, while San Francisco won 88. Nine more wins over six months doesn’t seem like much.
Let’s see if the Mets can close that gap.