Monday, June 29, 2009

Pitch Count Madness

I don't know what's more amazing: Ian Snell's 17-strikeout performance in Class AAA-Indianapolis last night - or the fact that he was pulled after seven innings and 108 pitches. The guy had a chance to strike out 20-plus batters in a game, and the manager is "saving" his arm?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Transition, Part 1

Forget about the whole "two hands" thing for a moment. Very few major leaguers do it anyway, so fundamental lapses of that nature are unsurprising.

The problem is that it's tolerated. On the Mets, everything is tolerated. There are no repercussions for anything.

Luis Castillo drops a pop-up to cost the team an exciting, emotionally-charged game? No repercussions.

Ryan Church runs away from the flight of the ball to begin celebrating instead of backing up Castillo? No repercussions.

Jerry Manuel manages a team that commits endless baserunning blunders and consistently fails to run balls out? No repercussions.

The Mets choke away two September leads and bow out on the final day of the season two years in a row? No repercussions.

Omar Minaya builds a team that chokes away two September leads and bows out on the final day of the season two years in a row? No repercussions.

Everything is tolerated because the Wilpons don't care. As long as Mets fans are posing for pictures in front of a plastic "42" and buying burgers at Shake Shack, everything is just fine with them. Money gets made - and that's all that matters.

In Fred and Jeff's mind, they run a model franchise. The team plays in a beautiful, taxpayer-built stadium that's more of an homage to Fred's favorite team than to the actual tenants. Profits are high, so the payroll is high, which in time makes profits even higher.

The general manager is a corporate lackey who understands two things above all - buying star power is good and getting the kind of players that Fred and Jeff likes are even better. That means no red-asses, nobody too outspoken or flamboyant, no one who might mouth off publicly about the sad state of affairs inside or outside the clubhouse. No more Wally Backmans, no more Keith Hernandezes. The Mets like their players' personalities homogenized, thank you very much.

The manager is a quiet, unassuming man who won't publicly question or contradict the general manager or ownership, and he won't punish his players no matter how many fundamental lapses they have.

It's all a con, and I'm sick of it.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Baseball Like It Oughta Be (Flushing University)

The outcome was disappointing, but the Mets showed passion and fire during their three-game tumble with the Phillies last week. It produced some compelling baseball and provided an intensity that the Mets need to retain. Read more here ...

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Throw Out The Book, AJ!!

This might be the dumbest managerial decision I've ever seen:

Top 18th: Arizona
- H. Blanco at third
- J. Wilson pitching

- F. Lopez singled to center
- G. Parra sacrificed to pitcher, F. Lopez to second
- R. Roberts walked
- S. Drew popped out to catcher
- M. Reynolds homered to deep right, F. Lopez and R. Roberts scored
- M. Montero doubled to deep right
- C. Young popped out to second

The G. Parra is Geraldo Parra, a rookie outfielder for the San Diego Padres. The game took place on Sunday, where the Pads and the Arizona Diamondbacks were locked in a 6-6 game in the 18th inning. Parra is off to a decent start in his rookie campaign, with a .301/.453/.492 batting line 23 games into his career. He was 2 for 7 with a walk and a double before the 18th inning at-bat, so it's not like Parra was having an off night.

Why, then, would Diamondbacks manager AJ Hinch ask Parra to sacrifice?

This decision might have made sense in the ninth inning, when one extra run would've been enough to hold off the Padres' furious last-ditch rally in the bottom of the frame. It might have even made sense at any point from the 10th through the 17th inning, since one run would've been enough to end the marathon.

But it made absolutely no sense in the 18th inning.

You see, the Padres had run out of pitchers. A five-inning start from Josh Geer turned out to be more costly then anyone could've imagined, when seven relievers and one starter were asked to cover the next 12 innings of the game for San Diego.

The J. Wilson who trotted to the mound in the top of the 18th inning was Josh Wilson, a light-hitting middle infielder who, ironically, began the season with Arizona. He must not have paid enough attention to the scouting reports while he was there, because former teammate Mark Reynolds hit a three-run homer off Wilson later in the inning that proved to be the margin of victory for the Diamondbacks.

The game-winning home run diverted attention away from Hinch's inexplicable decision to give up an out against a "pitcher" with virtually no professional experience on the mound. Wilson, quite obviously, is not really a pitcher - he has never taken the mound in his 11-year minor league career and has pitched a grand total of two scoreless innings in two mop-up appearances over the last three seasons.

Was Hinch afraid that Parra was going to hit into a double play? Does he have so little faith in his lineup that he really believed he had to manufacture a run against a utility infielder?

Or is Hinch so wedded to conventional thinking that he simply ordered up the sacrifice without thinking about the actual situation? Yes, if you play by "the book," your offense should be willing to sacrifice and play for the one run that would give your team the lead. (Of course, Arizona had already used their closer at that point, so it was a miracle that a nondescript middle reliever was actually able to hold a three-run lead in such a "clutch" situation.)

"After a while, it was like, any way we could score a run," Hinch said after the game. "We bunted off a position player. How rare was that? Just trying to scratch and claw for a run. I felt it was the hardest run we've ever had to score."

No, AJ, bunting off a position player isn't rare - it is stupid. I don't know what's worse - the fact that Hinch even ordered up the sacrifice or the fact that, if he hadn't, someone actually might've questioned Hinch's decision-making for not doing so.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Beatings Continue Until Morale (and Health) Improves (Flushing University)

Four days in Pittsburgh led to three losses for the Mets, who were manhandled by the unlikeliest of foes this week. The Pirates don't have much going for them, but the Mets are crippled enough to be taken down by anyone right now. Read more here ...