Game 8: Logan Becomes Weapon-X,Terry Collins is Still a Moron

Welcome, everybody, to another Mets recap of the game you read about on 25 other sites first. For that reason – and also because there’s no sense in going into a full blown book report on a very uninspiring game – let’s break down the highlights into list fashion and then I’ll expand upon some things that stuck out.

  • Logan Verrett started in place of Jacob deGrom (who still hasn’t been put on the DL or the Paternity list which means the Mets are, essentially, playing down a man) and was excellent throwing six innings of shutout ball. Verrett has been pretty good when thrown into that spot starter role and it’s great that we were able to get him back from the Rangers last season after losing him in the Rule V Draft.
  • Terry Collins is a bumbling fool who is trying to destroy shoulders and elbows with no regard for humanity. He is the Son of Sam-equivalent for relief pitchers.
  • The Mets again did basically nothing on offense. But they were tremendous at finding not-fun and non-exciting ways of leaving runners in scoring position when they got them there.
  • Last week, Jim Henderson looked like he may have been a shrewd under-the-radar bullpen signing. Yesterday, he looked like his arm was going to fall off.
  • Jeurys Familia pitched in his third straight game, but to make matters even better, was asked to get a five-out save. No big deal.
  • Kevin Plawecki drove in both Mets runs with a late-inning single that felt as if it was never going to happen. Runs are good.

OK, so there we have it and you’re all caught up. But let’s talk Terry Collins. Colactus, The Devourer of Teams. Anybody that knows me knows just how much I disdain Terry Collins. I firmly believe that the team achieved what they did last season in spite of him as opposed to because of him.

He’s shown no ability to manage a bullpen. He’s consistently failed at further developing young position players at the big league level (the pitchers don’t count, that’s all Dan Warthen), he’s been too reliant upon preferred veterans when there’s clearly better options and he’s so stuck to a “script” of how he thinks he should manage a game that he has no ability to adapt and make in-game adjustments to his strategy.

Need examples? How about giving a washed-up Michael Cuddyer three at-bats in game one of the World Series instead of the much more productive Juan Uribe? Or trying to push Steven Matz through a sixth inning in Game Four when he clearly was losing his command through the fifth? And then burning through his two long relievers in Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon to bail out Matz of that same sixth inning so he could go to the storyboarded Addison Reed/Tyler Clippard/Jeurys Familia frame that he had mapped out which saw Clippard unable to find the strike zone and Familia put in a horrible position with men on base in the 8th to try to hold everything together.

Terry Collins’ ideas are held together with bubblegum and hope. And just like Roddy Piper, he’s all outta bubblegum.

After using the past few post-game press conferences telling the fanbase not to worry and to hold off on loading the moving truck to Panic City, Collins himself became the mayor of said city using his bullpen in a way that was both irresponsible and shameful.

After getting six shutout innings out of spot-starter Logan Verrett, Collins elected to bring in reliever Jim Henderson. Before making the Mets out of spring training, Henderson had not pitched in the majors since early in the 2014 season because of shoulder problems. He had been great through his first couple of appearances this season, but the night before had thrown a career-high 34 pitches to get through just one-third of an inning (mostly due to a 16 pitch at-bat to Dee Gordon). Seeing as how this was a day game after a night game and considering Henderson’s injury history, this is absolutely the type of game he should have been sitting out of.

The bullpen has been taxed heavily lately due to Steven Matz’s abysmal outing on Monday, but the Mets had called up Rafael Montero to supply depth to said relief corps. Collins decided against using Montero in what was, at the time, a scoreless game. If it’s a matter of trust (fuck you, Billy Joel) then perhaps Montero shouldn’t have been the man brought in from Las Vegas and the Mets could have gone the Sean Gilmartin route instead.

Henderson’s first pitch was a fastball that clocked in at 89 MPH, far short of the 95 MPH he had been averaging. After a hit and two walks, he was mercifully removed and Hansel Robles and Jerry Blevins got the team out of a bases loaded, no out jam without sacrificing a run.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Collins, intent on setting fire to every reliever in his path called upon Jeurys Familia to record a five-out save in his third consecutive day of pitching. Familia had been a godsend for the Mets last year after inheriting the closer role once Jenrry Mejia failed the first of his 46 drug tests and was dominant. Gary Cohen and Ron Darling in the broadcast booth kept hammering home the point that Familia only gets stronger as he gets more work which pretty much goes against everything we’ve been told about arms, shoulders and elbows over the last few years.

The Mets can simply not afford to lose their closer because an inept manager panicked and felt the need to show fans they “mean business here.”

Thankfully, the team has today off for travel as they head to Cleveland for a weekend interleague match-up with the Indians. To be honest, I’m over the whole novelty of interleague play (which I’ll probably address in a future post), but the one thing I do enjoy is that it gives me a chance to visit a new stadium to see my team instead of watching two teams I otherwise don’t care about.

As long as I’m able to get on my flight tonight, I’ll be there tomorrow for my first visit to Progressive Field which will become my 15th ballpark. Pics and stories to come.

Thanks for reading. Bye, love you, mean it.

Contact: @MaximusSexPower or elshoeshatemail@msn.com

 

Game 7: Thor Can’t Defend Midgard Alone

Noah Syndergaard is really good at baseball. We can agree on that, right? The rest of the Mets right now, however, are not on the same level of performance.

The team dropped their fourth straight last night – this one by the score of 2-1 to the Miami Marlins – and wasted an absolutely scintillating performance from the 23 year-old fireballer in the process. Thor went 7 innings, allowing just one run and striking out 12 Marlin hitters in the process.

Syndergaard was on fire right out of the gate, sporting his trademark high 90s fastball and his array of low to mid 90s breaking and offspeed stuff. Two starts into the season and you can already see the dramatic improvements he’s made since last season. He hasn’t sacrificed velocity, but has refined his complimentary pitches which include a 95 MPH slider that is just absolutely unreal. It’s even more impressive when you realize that Thor didn’t really have a slider at all last season.

He was dominant, but got into trouble in the 4th inning thanks to our old friend, BABIP. If you’re reading this, odds are that you’re my mom and don’t have a clue as to what BABIP is. It stands for Batting Average on Balls In Play and is exactly what it says it is. Obviously, you have a better chance of getting a hit if you actually make contact and the Marlins did exactly that. They hit nothing solid off Syndergaard, but a couple of soft grounders JUST out of the reach of infielders and a lobbed dinker into right field led to a run that would be the only one Noah would surrender.

Unfortunately – and stop me if you’ve heard this before – the Mets weren’t able to do anything with the bats despite having Miami starter, Jose Fernandez, in plenty of trouble early in the game.

They got on the board early with a run-scoring single from Lucas Duda, but ran themselves out of a potentially big inning when Duda was thrown out at second trying to stretch said single after a bobble in right field by Giancarlo Stanton. They followed up the first inning by loading the bases in the second, but David Wright hit a routine fly ball to Stanton ending the threat.

Fernandez then settled in and retired ten in a row before being removed after 5 innings and 90 pitches by manager, Don Mattingly, as he is still in the early stages of recovery from Tommy John surgery and isn’t being overextended especially on a particularly chilly evening in Queens.

Bottom line, the Mets haven’t been good. You can say it’s early and you can say the schedule was odd, but at some point, you can’t just keep making excuses. The Royals (the same Royals that beat us in the World Series last November) had the same schedule to start their season and they’re 5-2. Every day that goes by means we’re one more day removed from it being early. Seven games turns into 15 in the blink of an eye. And before you know it, 15 turns into 50 games. They need to get their shit together and quickly.

Remember, we’re not just competing against the Nationals here. In a short, postseason series or even a one-game Wild Card play-in, the Mets have a great chance because of the pitching staff they’ve assembled, but first, they have to get there. They currently have the second-worst record in the National League and, though I obviously expect that to change, we’re looking at an expected seven teams (Mets, Nats, Cubs, Cardinals, Pirates, Dodgers and Giants) competing for five playoff spots. That doesn’t even include any kind of Cinderella team or a better than expected season from a team like the DBacks that could throw even more chaos into a race.

The point of this? While it may not yet be time to jump off a bridge, this is not something you want to see for very much longer. After the getaway game with Miami this afternoon, the team heads out on a 9 game road trip. They cannot still be playing this brand of baseball by the time they return home.

It’s not like it’s one player’s fault either. The offensive ineptitude is a complete team effort as there hasn’t been anybody in the lineup that has established anything resembling and consistency through the first 10 days.

If you’ve read my stuff back into last season, you know my feelings on Terry Collins. I don’t like him. Players have to play, but it’s his job to put those players in the best situation to succeed. I don’t believe for one second that he does that and can point to numerous examples (in just the World Series alone [and no, I actually give him the benefit of the doubt on the Harvey call in game 5; he was screwed no matter what he decided]) where he’s made very questionable tactical decision that have cost runs, innings or games.

While I’m not going to kill Terry quite yet, I do question the lineup he’s rolling out everyday right now. It comes off awkward and inefficient to me. Right now, this is what TC seems to be attached to:

  1. Granderson (L)
  2. Wright (R)
  3. Cespedes (R)
  4. Duda (L)
  5. Walker (S)
  6. Conforto (L)
  7. Cabrera (S)
  8. d’Arnaud (R)

I’m not a fan of that construction. Neil Walker is not a prototypical run-producer and seems out of place in the five-hole. By the same token, Travis d’Arnaud has shown an ability for power and potential and we all came into this season expecting him to take the next step in his growth by becoming the impact bat he’s been projected to become for years.Burying him in the 8th spot in front of the pitcher isn’t doing anybody any favors right now especially when there’s nobody on base in front of him. If I had my way, I’d roll out the following:

  1. Granderson (L)
  2. Wright (R)
  3. Conforto (L)
  4. Cespedes (R)
  5. Duda (L)
  6. d’Arnaud (R)
  7. Walker (S)
  8. Cabrera (S)

You’ll notice that the first thing I did was go lefty-righty-lefty-righty the whole way through. I don’t swear by that manipulation, but I do think it’s appropriate for the talent we have available.

I assume that most people would question my usage of Michael Conforto in the three-hole most. He’s young and while he LOOKS like a future star, he doesn’t have the track record to back it up yet. It’s a fair point, but Conforto has a good understanding of the strike zone, handles the bat well and does have pop. Plus, hitting in front of Cespedes should give him an opportunity to see more fastballs with men on base. I don’t think of Conforto as a 30 homer guy, but a consistent 15-20 is a very real possibility and with his gap-power could become a 100 RBI guy in the mold of – wait for it – Keith Hernandez. Keith was an MVP and a case can be made that he should be a Hall of Famer and I’m not saying Conforto is a future that, but their swings and ability to split gaps with some pop seem comparable.

I also like Walker and Cabrera near the bottom. Both are consistent, professional hitters. At this point, you’re not projecting anything with either of them. You’re getting what’s on the back of their baseball cards. They’re steady. Walker’s talents are put to better use in the 7 where he’s not expected to be an RBI man. Asdrubal Cabrera can be useful in a few spots (I wouldn’t hesitate him to use him at 2 depending on other players’ days off and such), but in the 8, he rounds out what looks to be a balanced lineup that takes advantage of the talent at hand.

We have a few hours to go before the getaway game with Miami. Hopefully, we’ll pick one up before hitting the road.

Also, the NHL Playoffs start tonight: LET’S GO PENS!

Contact: @MaximusSexPower or elshoeshatemail@msn.com

 

Wrestle-Matz-ia (Game) 6: The Not-Quite-Ultimate Challenge

Almost every Monday, my buddy Pete Cool and I go to a local bar over here in Tampa for Pop Culture trivia night. We have a few adult beverages, a gaggle of laughs and sometimes even win a gift card to be used for more adult beverages at the host bar.

Last night, I looked for any excuse not to go to Trivia Night because I just wanted to stay on the couch and watch the Mets. I get like that during baseball season. Anything that comes in the way of me watching the Mets gets severely questioned. Do I wanna go? Do I REALLY wanna go? I don’t wanna go. Maybe someone else will feel like not going and give me an excuse to not go.

Well, Pete was ready to comply as he was looking to get to bed early, but due to constant prodding from other friends who rely on our knowledge of “How Do You Talk To An Angel” by The Heights, we both ended up going out even if I was rather preoccupied watching the game on the MLB.tv app on my iPhone.

It became clear almost immediately that being in a place that served alcohol was the best thing that could have happened to me as Steven Matz got absolutely lit the fuck up in a seven-run second inning against the Marlins that made watching the last 7 and a half innings a chore of the worst kind.

The Mets did scratch across a few runs later, but the game was clearly decided as an offensive that has seen severe struggles early on showed no real capability to get back into the game. This allowed me to pay more attention to trivia and my did mounted a final round upset to win the aforementioned gift card by being able to put four albums from 2000 in order from highest to lowest by opening week sales.

Because I’m sure you’ll ask, here’s the order:

  1. “No Strings Attached” – *NSYNC
  2. “The Marshall Mathers LP” – Eminem
  3. “Black And Blue” – Backstreet Boys
  4. “Chocolate Starfish And The Hot Dog Flavored Water” – Limp Bizkit

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This is the legendary Pete Cool posing with the trophy that turns us into a group of incredibly obnoxious assholes. So we won. That was good.

Quick Mets notes that have nothing to do with trivia:

  • The team has gotten absolutely zero from both Curtis Granderson and Travis d’Arnaud. The hope was for Grandy to sustain what he was able to do last season, but this was supposed to be the season for TdA to really come into his own and turn into an elite offensive catcher. Travis is far removed from being a prospect and, at 27, is in his athletic prime. If he’s healthy, the tools are there.
  • Nice job by Addison Reed, Jeurys Familia and Jerry Blevins chipping in 3.2 innings of scoreless relief in what was already a whitewash.Was listening to Howie and Josh on the way back from trivia and Howie mentioned that the infield hit by Dee Gordon off Blevins was the first time a hitter has reached based safely since Blevins became a Met. He had retired his previous 21 hitters. Cool, little factoid.
  • What was up with the cage on Giancarlo Stanton’s batting helmet. It was on for his first at-bat, off for the second in which he homered off Matz and then back on again. I couldn’t hear the audio so don’t know if GKR made any mention of this, but that was just odd.

So, what did we learn from last night? Nothing, really. These kinds of blowouts happen both for and against every time at some point during the season and actually worries me less than the games against the Phillies. Combine that with the fact that Matz hadn’t pitched in what feels like two weeks because of the silly scheduling and I’m not overly concerned.

The boys are back at it tonight with Noah Syndergaard taking the mound against Jose Fernandez in one of those pitching match-ups that looks awesome on paper. Fernandez is working his way back from Tommy John surgery last year, but it should still be fun.

Two more games against the Marlins before the Mets hit the road for a nine-game road trip. I’d like to see them (or just anybody in the lineup) get the bats going a bit so they have a little positive momentum going into that trip, but maybe getting on the road may be what this team needs.

After all the pomp and circumstance of the opening series rematch in Kansas City and then returning home to good crowd and NL Championship rings, maybe getting on the road for a stretch away from all this will be good to get them back in the routine of just having to play baseball.

I’ll actually be in Cleveland on Friday to see Progressive Field for the first time so if anybody else is making the trip and wants to grab a beer, let me know. Until then, Happy Thorsday!

Contact: On Twitter, @MaximusSexPower or e-mail: elshoeshatemail@msn.com