* Rafael Montero acquitted himself quite well in his big-league debut, against an experienced lineup of professional hitters. I liked him, so smooth. He might get hit hard at times this year, but I don’t think he’s going to beat himself. Glad he’s pitching where he belongs.
* Travis d’Arnaud was experiencing concussion-like symptoms after getting hit by Alfonso Soriano’s backswing on Tuesday night’s game. I hope he’s okay. I wrote the paragraph below before learning about the head injury. Most of it remains valid, so I’m not throwing it away.
I am still in Travis d’Arnaud’s corner. A lot of catchers can’t hit, and so far all I know is that Travis hasn’t hit . . . yet. The defense has been good enough, though he gets the yips now and again. Rookie stuff, mostly. Most troubling are some of his ABs. He throws too many away. It’s easy to blame “the approach,” I worry that he’s being told to emphasize the wrong things, but he’s the guy with the bat in his hand. On Tuesday night, he came to the plate with one out, Lucas Duda on second base, and the Mets leading 12-6. Travis proceeded to take three consecutive close pitches for strikes. In fairness, the 3rd strike might have been a ball, but jeez, Travis. Swing the bat!
* Well, that was an awful start for Zack Wheeler on Tuesday. Just brutal to behold, a pitcher at war with himself. I still really like the player’s talent, but I’m not surprised by Tuesday night in Yankee Stadium, when he was given 11 runs and couldn’t notch a victory. Back on April 3rd, I gazed into my magical View Master and compared him to Mike Pelfrey. I figured there would be days like Tuesday:
I look at Zack’s numbers from 2013 and I’m disappointed in his 7.6 K/9 rate. I wanted the fastball to be more overwhelming. I expected trouble with walks, and the 4.1 BB/9 rate confirms that. Even in Spring Training this year, across the meaningless sample size of 18.2 IP, Zack Wheeler only struck out 11 batters for a 5.3 K/9 rate.
That’s when I pick up my Mike Pelfrey View Master. When I view Zack through that lens, I imagine that I see a pitcher who struggles at times with his secondary pitches. Who, for disturbing stretches, has trouble locating the plate (unlike Bartolo: rimshot!).
A power pitcher who can’t quite put hitters away.
I shudder and hurl the View Master across the room, smashing it against the wall. But I can’t unseethe images! The two-strike foul balls into the stands. The ten-pitch walks. The inefficient pitch counts across four-and-a-third innings.
Yikes, that 4.1 innings reference. Prescient and scary. I’m like some kind of Amazing Kreskin, gazing into the future . . .
* I’ve listened to David Cone and Al Leiter in the Yankees booth, and I’ll say this: I’ll take one Ron Darling over those two guys any day of the week. Much smarter, more eloquent, better prepared. I am so grateful for the talent in the Mets broadcasts, especially during these past 5 years.
* Here are the game times for the week:
- Friday: 4:39 (Phils 3, Mets 2, 11 Innings)
- Saturday: 3:16 (Phils 5, Mets 4)
- Sunday: 4:22 (Mets 5, Phils 4, 11 Innings)
- Monday: 3:34 (Mets 9, Yanks 7)
- Tuesday: 3:58 (Mets 12, Yanks 7)
That’s a five-game average of 3:57 per game. Too long, too much time away from other things. Baseball has a serious problem. It must come to grips with this issue by instituting forceful, no pussyfooting-around policies. They also don’t need to wait an entire season before tweaking some obvious abuses of the replay system. The idea of a manager stopping the game after a close call, standing around chatting with the umpire, while waiting for a thumps-up or thumbs-down signal from the bench coach — that’s preposterous. For that delay, he doesn’t get charged with a challenge? Baloney. Everyone knows it. The word “slog” is used much too frequently in game telecasts and recaps.
* Lucas Duda has good hands, he scoops up everything, and that’s the extent of his defensive prowess at first base. Some folks have been falling over themselves to praise his defensive prowess — especially after that game-ending DP on Monday — but it’s been overstated. There’s no range, no agility, no arm. He’s not terrible, he’s not Piazza, but it’s not good, either. That said, unlike Ike Davis, Lucas gives away very few bad ABs, a much more consistent performer. Sure looks like the Mets picked the right guy . . . for the time being.
* Watching Terry try to squeeze Eric Young into the lineup, I find myself wondering, “What’s the expiration date on Sandy’s promise to Chris Young?” For what it’s worth, EY has been a real asset for the Mets offense, so I respect Terry’s desire to get him in the game. I just don’t want to see it entirely at the expense of Juan Lagares and outfield defense. Because, you know, that would be stupid.
* Speaking of which, Terry Collins is putting forth an interesting narrative about Ruben Tejada’s “wake up call.” Apparently, according to Terry, “”He’s played very, very hard defensively. Again, I don’t know the reason necessarily why, except the perception would be he got a wake-up call. And sometimes that makes a big difference . . . Maybe he got focused.”
This is WRONG on so many levels I could barf. While I don’t buy into the storyline, let’s assume that Terry is right. Flores came up, Tejada stopped sleepwalking — and suddenly started trying harder. It was the wake-up call he needed! A narrative which powerfully suggests that before Flores’ arrival, Ruben was not trying very hard for an extended period. Years. And somehow it was okay. But here on planet Earth, it’s more realistic to recognize that Tejada faced some really bad pitching the last few games (he went 4-12 before Wednesday night’s game). By the way, another way of looking at his 4-12 streak would be to go back a week and realize that Ruben is actually 4 for his last 32, including Wednesday night. That’s a hot streak of .125 BA. True fact. It’s not only silly to think that he’ll suddenly play better, it’s insulting to suggest that he might now because he’s finally trying harder. A few days ago we were hearing and reading about Wilmer’s big opportunity. I guess Sandy is going to have to have another little talk with Terry. On a night when the Mets are selling fans on “the future,” TC benches Flores and Lagares. Because, oy.
* You get the feeling that the Yankees would gladly take Curtis Granderson back right now. They may have screwed up by letting him walk. I wonder if he would have accepted Beltran money (3/$45). His swing and that park make a perfect match.