NEWS & VIEWS: Imploding Bullpens, The Collins-Warthen Era, Frank-Frank Fever, Deep Counts, & Matt Harvey Making It Safe to Watch Baseball Again . . . One Game at a Time

Mike:

The bullpen is imploding again.

Jimmy:

Is it safe to come out? I’ve been hiding under my desk, doing the duck-and-cover.

nuclear-explosion

Mike:

One thing I have found hard to understand is how we think we do not need a long man. If Wheeler is off limits, get McHugh up here. Hefner is needed for long relief. Or use McHugh in that role. Now Collins has to step up and use the guys correctly. If you are down in the fourth and you go to your long man, you have to leave him in. It’s a 162 game season and you have to manage that way.

Jimmy:

When it comes to the pen, we’re 350 games into the Collins-Warthen Era and scientists have conclusively proven these guys do not have the Golden Touch. Nothing seems to work; no one ever gets assigned a role that fits — ever, ever. I know, how much can we blame them? That’s Terry’s Free Pass. The roster is so bad, nothing is ever his fault. Still, you have to wonder.

The strange thing is, when we entered this season I felt like the offense would be terrible, yet they started out like bang-busters, though that’s begun to slip (3rd in NL in runs, and fading fast).

Maybe we’re just a cold-weather team, like the Green Bay Packers?

460x-2

Mike:

The bullpen has been bad, but the back-end of the rotation has been a factor in this too. Plenty of blame to go around right now with the pitching.

Jimmy:

John Buck is playing too much, he’ll wear down, that’s what catchers do. Plus he’ll return to being, well, John Buck. Coupled with Travis d’Arnaud, we might have had something. In a close game the other day, Collins pinch-hit Justin Turner for Anthony Recker — with no one on base. I believe that’s called a vote of no-confidence.

Mike:

D’Arnaud is supposed to be back, so this can still be a source of strength. They just need to promote him when he is healthy.

Jimmy:

In an article lamenting the Mets downward trend, Jerry Elsing said without conscious irony, “Sandy Alderson is going to need to become semi-active and creative to get the offense going.” That’s funny, right? The best we can hope for from the Mets GM is to become semi-active, like an old bear still groggy from its winter slumber, maybe he’ll muster the energy to forage for berries. Um, I doubt it.

Mike:

When I was watching the game Saturday, Tom Verducci mentioned how nine of the top thirteen teams in “pitches seen per plate appearance” did not make the playoffs last year.

Jimmy:

As you know, I’m not a fan of the take-take-take approach as an organizational edict. Maybe it works in the tundra, but as pitchers heat up, we’re going to see a lot of 0-1 counts. I read that Lucas Duda took the first pitch in 37 consecutive at-bats. No lie. Sandy must love that. In a balanced interview with Dave Hudgens, Gary Cohen talked about strikeouts and the number of two-strike counts that hitters are facing. He asked [sic]: “What about hitters that aren’t comfortable in that situation?” Hudgens hemmed and sputtered and deflected, then eventually repeated that, again, they like guys who are comfortable with two strikes. Deep Counts or Die!

Dave Hudgens, Mets hitting instructor.

Dave Hudgens, Mets hitting instructor.

Mike:

That’s what bugs me about it. I’m not against a hitter ever working the count. But I’m against what appears to be a “one size fits all” philosophy under Alderson. Sometimes I feel like it’s more important to Alderson how we win then whether we win. I don’t get that.

Jimmy:

I don’t see where winning is on his agenda, frankly. I hear rumors about 2014, maybe 2015.

Mike:

Word is Frank Francisco threw 25 pitches a few days ago and didn’t feel great. I understand completely. Last year I felt violently ill when Francisco threw 25 pitches. Maybe it’s contagious. Frank Francisco Fever – - catch it!

Jimmy:

I said it before, this seems like botched surgery to me. Bone chips? He should be fine by now. A team is in a scary place when the fans are praying for the return of Frank Francisco.

Mike:

I polled a few fans and I’m not so sure the praying is for his return.

Jimmy:

But seriously, I believe the pen will get better. Look, I never believed in Josh Edgin or Robert Carson. But Rice’s soft stuff has been effective. Again, he needs to be used correctly. I thought they gave up on Burke pretty fast, though I thought he’d need careful handling in fear of over-exposure. Lyon and Atchison are good. Hawkins, I don’t know. But not one of those pitchers can be over-exposed and there are innings to fill. This gets back to the lack of a long man. Familia, at only 4 innings, needs more work. Leathersich should get a call. They need to keep working this until something clicks. Hefner back in the pen would be huge.

Mike:

I’m big on having a long man and knowing how to use him.

Jimmy:

Said the virgin to the basketball player. (Rimshot.)

One gripe: Did you see they brought in Bobby Parnell against the Dodgers in the 9th inning after Rice blew the lead? I repeat: AFTER. If you are willing to use him — our best reliever, he’s only thrown 9.1 innings so far this month — then use him! Put our best pitcher in when the score is tied and try to win the damn game. Instead we watch Scott Rice go after the heart of the Dodgers batting order in a 1-1 game: Punto, Gonzalez, Kemp, Ethier. Then, and only then, does the call go out to Parnell? Clueless.

Mike:

Carmelo Anthony, Jason Kidd, Raymond Felton, Iman ShumpertYou know me, Jimmy, I’m a superficial guy. I thought about going to the game Sunday and then passed to watch the Knicks on TV. They are in something called the playoffs. It’s fun stuff, these playoffs, sellout crowds going crazy. I like it.

Jimmy:

It’s only April and the current mood is already depressed. Most fans can’t even muster that, since it takes a level of passion to achieve depression. The feeling around town is listless, uninvolved. When a team takes a knee, so do the fans. Adam Rubin had a great opening line to his column yesterday, in anticipation of last night’s Matt Harvey start: “It is safe to watch tonight, New York Mets fans.” He’s the only known antidote.

Mike:

Well, Harvey battled tonight but wasn’t as sharp as some of his earlier starts. Matt had to leave with one out in the sixth and the tying run on second, the Mets clinging to a one-run lead. The bullpen pitched well tonight, and if Collin Cowgill was a major league centerfielder Harvey wins his fifth game.

But of course, Cowgill isn’t, and so Harvey didn’t.

It’s going to be a long season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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8 comments

  1. IB says:

    Alderson is a man with a philosophy and a process. A very patient man – the Henry Higgins of baseball, shielded in his comfortable world. No sense of urgency, no real connection to a morose, dejected fan base, but with a clear, concise view of the future finances of the club. If it was working it would be one thing, but this is as bad and dull as it gets.

    Davis is lost and should be benched — Hudgens has turned Duda’s baseball brain into a spaghetti sandwich –I have NEVER seen a ballplayer take more fastball strikes.

    Collins is a nice guy but he’s not getting anything out of this club. I DO think a manager and his staff has impact. Problem is, Alderson’s got his Oakland guy, Gerren, on the bench waiting his turn instead of, say, Backman, who, at least, the fans can cheer for.

    I’m venting. Sorry. I’m in a dark Met place.

  2. FL Met Fan Rich says:

    Garbage in – Garbage out!….what else were you expecting? This is wear we should be….4th or last.

    It’s going to get worse! April was an easy part of the schedule with more home games than road one.

    Get used to it!

    The ump lost track of balls and strikes on Valdispin at bat in the 4th inning. He was thrown four balls and should have walked. Nobody caught this but the producer in the truck for the marlins broadcast. I played it back and he was right.

    25 players and coaches in the dugout and no one notices?

  3. Tom M says:

    It’s like extended spring training. You watch when Harvey pitches, maybe Niese. You can check out when they get into the bullpen, because like spring training the result doesn’t matter. Because as Rich said does it matter if we finish in 4th or 5th.

  4. In a round about sort of way, this is the best thing that could have happened. If the Mets had another 2011 or 2012ish start in them I fear Collins would have been granted an extension.

    And look, has he been given much to work with, no, but ask yourselves, which players have gotten better under Collins watch?

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