Monthly Archives: April 2012

Series Preview: Mets-Astros

The Mets play the Houston Astros in Houston this week. Here’s some stuff about that.

The Astros (8-14) are managed by Brad Mills. Whether or not it’s Mills fault, this is his third season and the Astros keep getting worse. So I’m going to assume his seat will warm up soon.

The Astros are in last place in the NL Central, but they’ve outscored their opponents 100-97 on the season. So they’ve been pretty decent at scoring as many runs as their opponent, just not on a game-by-game basis.

Here’s what the Astros lineup looks like:

CF — Jordan Schafer – L
SS — Jed Lowrie – S
LF — J.D. Martinez – R
1B — Carlos Lee – R
RF — Brian Bogusevic – L
3B — Chris Johnson – R
C — Jason Castro – L
2B — Jose Altuve – R

Uhhhhhh. Carlos Lee is day-to-day with an ankle injury, and may not play this series. Houston has a young team: Lee is the only regular over 30, and Lee, Jed Lowrie, and Chris Johnson are the only three with 150 or more major league games under their belts. They’re young, they draw walks, get on base, and don’t really hit home runs. We’ve seen this show before.

Here are the pitching matchups:

  • Monday night: R.A. Dickey vs RHP Bud Norris. Norris has started slow, 5.84 ERA, but he was a popular breakout pick on fantasy teams run by Patrick Flood. Norris is a two-pitch pitcher, fastball and slider, and he’s struck out 410 batters in 420 major league innings as his walk rate improved each season.
  • Tuesday night: Jon Niese vs LHP J.A. Happ. Yup, the same J.A. Happ once on the Philles and once traded for Roy Oswalt. Happ’s career took a FIP-predicted downturn in Houston, and now he’s a replacement-level lefty. Pitch f/x says Happ throws a 90 MPH fastball, accompanied by a curveball, slider, and occasional changeup.
  • Wednesday afternoon: Chris Schwinden vs LHP Wandy Rodriguez. Rodriguez is a frontline lefty pitcher, often forgotten because he developed late and plays for the Astros. Small by pitcher standards and lacking velocity, Rodriguez is a curveball machine. Basically Ike Davis’ nightmare.

Another Phillies castoff, Brett Myers, closes games for the Astros. The rest of Houston’s bullpen is a who’s who of “who the heck is that guy?”

And there’s some stuff about the Astros.

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Lacuna

After a brief road trip across the middle of the country, I have returned. I was able to catch part of Tuesday’s game and the second half of Sunday’s game, but missed Wednesday-Saturday’s game. Brief thoughts on things that I missed:

– The big story: Robert Carson is a Ghost Met, having been on the roster without getting into a game. I think we’ll see him again, either at Citi Field or in a supernatural baseball game that takes place in an Iowa corn field.

– The other story: Mike Pelfrey is probably done for the year with a torn UCL. That’s rough news for the Big Pelf and the Mets. His performance quality (4.27 ERA over the past four seasons) is easier replaced than his performance quantity. The Mets will miss his 200 inning durability, particularly with this staff: Johan Santana last topped 200 innings in 2008, while Jon Niese and Dillon Gee never have in their careers. That leaves some combination of Chris Schwinden, Miguel Batista, Chris Young, Jeremy Hefner, Garrett Olson, Orlando Hernandez, and various relievers to eat Pelfrey’s innings and then some. We may discover that the known meh often is better than the unknown bleh.

– Okay, Orlando Hernandez will probably not take any of Pelfrey’s innings. But I can wish. And is that really a more ridiculous suggestion than Chris Young and Miguel Batista?

– Jason Bay is on the DL, too. The 2012 Mets are without a whipping boy for the moment. If Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Andres Torres are hitting when Bay returns, those three may split playing time between the LF-CF spots.

– Yes, I do know what Ruben Tejada has been up to. His season line is now .310/.366/.405, and Tejada has outplayed all his NL East shortstop counterparts through the season’s first month.

– Ditto for the other hitters atop the Mets’ order: Nieuwenhuis’ line is at .316/.381/.474, while Daniel Murphy’s is at .311/.364/.378.

– Also worth noting: The top of the Mets’ order is now Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Ruben Tejada, and Daniel Murphy. FWIW, Daniel Murphy batting third has finally stopped being funny, but probably only because we’re all used to it now.

– After Sunday’s action, the Mets have been outscored by 19 runs on the year, yet their record stands at 13-9. This is partially because they’re 6-1 in one run games; it’s also partially because they’ve been blown out a handful of times. Generally speaking, teams that win a bunch of close games while losing blowouts are playing over their heads. But that’s speaking generally, which I believe means “speaking like a general.” So re-read this note in a Robert E. Lee voice with Ken Burns piano music tinkling in the background.

– On the flip side, the Mets’ hitting with runners in scoring position has been somewhat stinky, and their bullpen can be described similarly. Batting with RISP tends to even itself out over the course of a 162 game season. I don’t think (read: hope) their bullpen is this terrible.

Okay, that’s all I’ve got about games I didn’t really watch. Analysis!

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New Mostly Mets Podcast

Hey all. I’m still on the road, but I called into the Mostly Mets podcast last night. Toby and Ted filled me in on all the Mets news, the bad and the Nieuwenhuis. Here’s the podcast.

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Series Preview: Mets-Marlins

The Mets play the Miami Marlins this week. Here’s a short preview.

The stupid Marlins (7-8) are managed by stupid Ozzie Guillen. He’s got a big stupid manager contract and this is his first year in stupid Miami, so barring any PR gaffes, his seat is pretty cool.

Here’s what the Marlins stupid lineup looks like:

SS – Jose Reyes – S
CF – Emilio Bonafacio – S
3B – Hanley Ramirez – R
RF – Giancarlo Stanton – R
LF – Logan Morrison – L
1B – Gaby Sanchez – R
2B – Omar Infante – R
C – John Buck – R

The Marlins’ stupid lineup has struggled early in the season. Stupid Jose Reyes — sapped of his hair and his powers — stupid Giancarlo Stanton, stupid Gaby Sanchez, and stupid John Buck have started slowly, leaving stupid Hanley Ramirez and stupid Omar Infante to carry the offense. The Marlins’ lineup should prove all right, though not special: Stanton, Ramirez, and Reyes are good hitters relative to their positions, but the rest of the lineup looks average-to-weak. The Marlins’ stupid bench lacks depth, and an injury to any of the three big hitters might make for an unhappy summer in stupid Miami. If such a thing were possible.

And I’m done. Here’s the pitching matchups:

  • Tuesday Night: Johan Santana vs RHP Josh Johnson. Johnson has surrendered 28 hits and struck out eight over his first three starts. Pitch f/x claims his fastball is still a few ticks slower than it was in 2010, but it was slow last season and he pitched well in those nine starts. Then he missed the rest of the year on the DL. Johnson is one of the best if healthy, but how many pitchers can you say that about . . .
  • Wednesday Night: R.A. Dickey vs LHP Mark Buehrle. Buehrle, a changeup artist, has walked two batters, through his first three NL starts and has a 2.66 ERA. As noted on yesterday’s SNY broadcast, Dickey works fast, Buehrle works fast, so if both are on their respective games, be prepared for a quick one.
  • Thursday Afternoon: Jon Niese vs RHP Ricky Nolasco. A battle of the FIP-underperformers! Nolasco has a 4.49 career ERA and a 3.83 FIP; Niese has 4.32 ERA and a 3.73 FIP. Be prepared for low strand rates, high batting averages against on balls in play, and mounting frustration on the part of your sabermetrically-inclined friends who drafted either pitcher for their fantasy teams.

Heath Bell closes for the Marlins. He’s 2-4 saving games thus far. Alternatively, he’s 2-4 blowing saves thus far.

There’s some stuff about the stupid Marlins.

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Mets-Giants Series Wrap-up

Once again, that didn’t go all that well. Notes on the Mets-Giants series after the jump: Continue reading

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Zack Wheeler Face


Minor point here. The picture above, originally from Baseball America, has been on MetsBlog all weekend. I really need to know: Is the face Zack Wheeler makes in the above picture the face he always makes when pitching? R.A. Dickey and he could have much to discuss.

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Newest Mostly Mets Podcast

Our guest, Mark Simon of ESPN-New York, enlightens us about defense and defensive statistics. We answer email questions, voicemail questions, wonder how many people off the street could throw 80 MPH, and a performance of small sample size theater. iTunes link is here.

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Previewing Mets-Giants

The Mets play the San Francisco Giants (6-6) at home this weekend. He’s a short preview:

The Giants are managed by Bruce Bochy. His seat is quite cool. Here’s what the Giants’ lineup looks like:

CF – Angel Pagan – S
RF – Melky Cabrera – S
3B – Pablo Sandoval – S
C – Buster Posey – R
LF – Aubrey Huff – L
1B – Brandon Belt – L
SS – Brandon Crawford – L
2B – Emmanuel Burriss – S

Despite still being the Bruce Bochy-Brian Sabean Giants, this is no longer a lineup of 2002 All Stars. Aubrey Huff is 35 and our friend Pagan is 30, but the Giants’ other regulars all fall between 24-28 in age. There are few sure bets here, as everyone in the lineup is trying to prove something. Young players showing they belong (Belt, Crawford), outfielders coming off career years (Cabrera) and meh years (Pagan), players returning from injuries (Posey). The Giants could be pretty good or funny bad at scoring runs this season.

Here’s what the pitching matchups look like:

  • Friday night: Jon Niese vs LHP Barry Zito. Zito has a 1.13 ERA through his first two starts, including a complete game shutout in Colorado. His fastball now sits in the low 80s, but he’s reinvented himself once more as a junkball pitcher. Pitch f/x says Zito throws a ton of cutters, sliders, changeups and curveballs, with his fastball now serving as an almost secondary pitch.
  • Saturday afternoon: Mike Pelfrey vs RHP Ryan Vogelsong. Vogelsong, another Giants player looking to prove last year’s All-Star campaign was a breakout season. Pitch f/x says fastball, cutter, curveball and changeup.
  • Sunday afternoon: Dillon Gee vs RHP Tim Lincecum. Lincecum’s fastball velocity is down a tick, and after 16 runs across three starts, his ERA is 10.54. This kind of thing happens with him every once in a while — August 2010, if I remember right — and his peripheral numbers are as good as ever. He’ll be fine.
  • Monday night: Johan Santana vs LHP Madison Bumgarner. I know I’m not the only one to say “Butt Gardener” and giggle every time I read his name. The Giants just locked up this 22-year-old lefty to a six-year contract extension, with team options for 2018 and 2019. Pitch f/x claims he’s throwing an almost even number of fastballs and sliders, with an occasional curveball mixed in.

Other stuff of note: Brian Wilson is going for Tommy John surgery, so veteran reliever Santiago Casilla gets first dibs as closer. The remainder of the Giants’ usually excellent bullpen remains intact.

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Things Terry Collins Did

This one may or may not remain a semi-regular feature, but let’s review Terry Collins’ (and the coaching staff’s) performance during the Mets-Braves series.

Things Terry Collins did that I liked:

– Playing Josh Thole on Wednesday, day game after a night game: For most managers, this decision seems near automatic, like that of bunting with the pitcher and using closers only in save situations. The backup catcher starts the day game after a night game. Period. So it was nice to see Collins play lefthanded hitting Thole over righthanded Mike Nickeas on both Tuesday and Wednesday against Atlanta’s righthanded pitchers. Catchers need plenty of rest, but with an off-day today and the Mets seeing both a pair of day games and San Francisco’s lefties Barry Zito and Madison Bumgarner over the weekend, Thole can still gets his days off, Nickeas a start or two, and the Mets play the platoon percentages to their advantage.

– Kirk Nieuwenhuis leading off: With Ruben Tejada getting a break on Wednesday and career .287 OBP Ronny Cedeno set to take his place at shortstop and potentially atop the lineup — because only middle infielders or center fielders can lead off — yesterday’s lineup was breaking towards “boxscores that will be hilarious in three years.” Collins indeed stuck with his “only middle infielders or center fielders can lead off” rule, but went with CF Nieuwenhuis instead.

Things Terry Collins did that I’m unsure about:

– Mets batting down 6-1 in the fourth inning Tuesday night, two outs, first and third, Collins pinch hit Mike Baxter for Miguel Batista. Baxter singled to drive in a run, cutting Atlanta’s lead to 6-2, so that aspect can be judged a success. On the other hand, Secret Agent Batista had thrown just 1.2 innings in relief of Santana, so Collins ended up asking Ramon Ramirez and Manny Acosta for five innings combined, knocking both out of the equation for Wednesday’s game. From a “win today’s game at all costs” perspective, the numbers say it’s almost always beneficial to hit for the pitcher. On the other hand, if your starter gets four outs and you only let your longman get five, you still need 15-18 outs from the bullpen, which can have repercussion for the next two or three days. Not sure how I felt about this one.

Things Terry Collins did that I didn’t like:

– Not Terry Collins, but worth noting Tim Teufel’s rough day coaching third base on Wednesday. The Braves threw out both David Wright and Daniel Murphy at the plate, both by at least 10-15 feet. On a scale of Razor Shines to Chip Hale, Teufel thus far falls somewhere between the two.

– Nothing else on Collins. Two of the three games were blowouts. Not much to say manager-wise.

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Mets-Braves Series Wrap-Up

Well that didn’t go all that well. Notes on Mets-Braves after the jump Continue reading

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