Bowa is Crazy

As I said last night, what Hansel Robles did last night was bush league because he threw the ball with the batter’s head down. Travis d’Arnaud tried to slow him down. Robles went ahead. 

Technically, Robles wasn’t wrong. The batter was in the box. The home plate umpire never called time. Instead, he called time AFTER the pitch was thrown. The pitch should’ve been called a strike. The home plate umpire lost control of the AB and then the game. 

Jeff Francoeur came out of the dugout looking to defend his teammate. Larry Bowa also came out of the dugout to . . . challenge Daniel Murphy?  Yup, he had a problem with Murphy’s bat flip from the PRIOR game. Finally, the umpire threw Bowa out of the game. I’m glad because the man was unhinged. People who have followed the game since his playing days are not surprised. 

I get the unwritten rules of the game. They exist to prevent hot heads like Larry Bowa and the obnoxious Larry Anderson from having pitchers throw at players heads. However, the problem is people like Bowa and Anderson use it as an excuse to throw at people’s heads. 

There is a right way and wrong way to play the game. Part of playing the right way is to address problems from a particular game within that game. After the supposed egregious bat flip, Murphy batted one more time in the ninth inning in a 16-7 game. That’s the time to drill him. 

The Phillies didn’t do it. They issue then became moot. Next time Bowa has a problem, he should direct his players to address it during the game. When he doesn’t, or if he’s overruled by the manager, he needs to shut up about it. He needs to respect the game. 

You do that by handling in game beefs within that game. I’m pretty sure there’s something about that in the unwritten rule book. 

Thor Forgets His Hammer

Everyone can talk about the home-road splits with Noah Syndergaard. However, if you think of yourself as a future ace, you don’t have games like Thor had tonight. 

He was handed a 3-0 lead by another “Feat of Strength” by Yoenis Cespedes and Thor’s own RBI single. He gave it back and couldn’t make it past the fifth inning. This was important because the Mets have a really short bullpen. Normally, you’d ask your starter to get some extra innings with a short bullpen. The smarts couldn’t do that because of the phantom innings limit issue. 

What we have instead was another day with a Mets reliever going multiple innings.  Today, it was Hansel Robles‘ turn (more on him later).  He pitched well only allowing one of the inherited runners from Eric O’Flaherty to score. I’m assuming the Mets will not have him and Sean Gilmartin available. Plus Logan Verrett will only be available for one inning. This is not the situation you want to be in with Bartolo Colon on the mound tomorrow, reagardless of his health

Thor was bailed out in the top of the sixth when Travis d’Arnaud, who was inexplicably batting eighth, received an RBI from a bases loaded walk to tie the game. Michael Cuddyer then pinch hit for Thor and hit a two run single to put the Mets up 6-4. This is the latest example showing Cuddyer may still have something to contribute

Tyler Clippard had a rough eighth inning. He left 1st and 2nd with two outs for Jeurys Familia, who came on for the four out save. He induced a groundballs to David Wright to get out of the jam unscathed. He then pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to secure the 6-5 win. Now with Familia going four outs for a save, we now have to question his availability for tomorrow. 
Back to Robles. What he did was bush league. It was bush league not because he quick pitched. It was bush league because Cody Asche‘s head was down when he threw the ball. The Phillies dugout was rightfully upset. Normally, I’d argue that Jeff Francoeur should’ve been ejected, but he was protecting his teammate. The dugouts emptied, but neither team really crossed the lines. 

My overall issue is with the home plate umpire. You either instruct the batter to get in the box or have your hands up the whole time to let Robles know he can’t throw a pitch. The umpire needs to be aware Robles likes to quick pitch, and he needs to umpire the game accordingly. 

It should also be noted that Wright’s second game back wasn’t as successful as his first. He didn’t look as good at the plate. He swung at a lot of balls off the plate and out of the strike zone. Overall, he went 0-4 with a walk and two strikeouts. On the bright side, he was better in the field. Regardless, like last night, this was just one game, and I still have faith in him

Ironically, despite the predicament Thor left the Mets in, he notched his first career road win. The Mets have problems to deal with tomorrow with an even shorter bullpen and no Wright tomorrow. At least they took care of business tonight and still lead the divisio by 5.5 games. Let’s enjoy tonight and worry about tomorrow. 

C is for Championship

Before last night’s game, David Wright handed out cookies sparking the team’s offensive explosion. I know the Cookie Monster would’ve been proud

In all seriousness, baseball is supposed to be fun. What Wright did yesterday was fun. It loosened the team up on a big night. Did it lead to the victory?  Probably not. However, these are the fun things that keeps a fun season going. 

What I also know that anytime there’s a chance for baseball to intersect with Sesame Street, it’s a good thing. I think we need to have the Cookie Monster at Citi Field with cookies to fuel a championship run. If we can get the Baha Men to perform “Who Let the Dogs Out?” we can get Cookie Monster to Citi Field. In fact, it’s a better option. It’ll be more fun. 

We all know “C is for Cookie.”  Maybe with fun things like Wright handing out cookies, C can also be for Championship. 

Everyday Granderson?

Sometimes it’s hard to get a read on what Terry Collins is doing with the lineup. Even with all the moves, Collins has stuck by Curtis Granderson. He’s been the leadoff hitter for a majority of the season. Only recently, he has moved him down in the lineup against lefties. In those scenarios, he’s gone with his preference of leading off Juan Lagares and batting Granderson second. 

There’s a lot of merit to moving Granderson lower in the lineup. For his career, he has a triple slash of .223/.293/.397. That’s terrible especially when compared to his triple slash line against righties of .270/.356/.505. These splits are even more pronounced this season with .159/.202/.253 against lefties and .286/.388/.524 against righties. In sum, he’s great against righties and terrible against lefties. 

Now, Michael Cuddyer has had a rough first year with the Mets similar to Granderson, Carlos Beltran, and seemingly every free agent signing the Mets have ever made. Regardless of the rough year, he’s has  a triple slash of .240/.293/.623 against lefties. Surprisingly, these numbers are worse than his numbers against righties. For his career, Cuddyer hits lefties to the tune of .288/.376/.494. 

The only other option would be Michael Conforto, but the Mets don’t seem inclined to permit him to play against lefties. 

Now here’s where Sabermetrics come into conflict with the need for a player to have the faith of his manager and the clubhouse. For the season, Granderson is hitting .257/.348/.459. It’s much higher than what he’s hitting against lefties, but it’s also considerably lower than what he’s hitting off of righties. What we don’t know is what his numbers would be if he only batted against righties. 

We don’t know if playing everyday keeps him sharp. We don’t know if having the faith of his manager and team helps propel his terrific numbers against righties. Fact is, there’s a lot we don’t know about managing and running a team. It’s easy for me to say Granderson must sit against lefties, but I don’t know the full impact of that decision. 

What I do know is that Granderson is having a good year, and the Mets shouldn’t do anything to mess this up. If Granderson needs to play everyday, let him play everyday. 

Mets Fans Are Obnoxious?!?!?

When I think of Philly fans, I think of the “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” episode where the Phillies won the World Series. 

In this episode, the gang plans on starting fights in the stands, running out onto the field, and wanting to be present for the riots. Hyperbole?  Not so much. If you go to the SportsPickle, you get some highlights of Philly fans behavior:

  1. The need to put a jail and judge in the Vet to deal with unruly fans;
  2. Fans boo and pelt Santa Claus with snowballs;
  3. Phillies fans throw batteries at J.D. Drew because he didn’t sign with the Phillies;
  4. Phillies fans throw batteries at their only black player, Dick Allen; and 
  5. Philly fans booed Michael Irvin as he laid motionless on the ground. 

By the way, the SportsPickle is a humor site. D.J. Gallo didn’t even need to come up with anything. Instead, he just presented the facts and let the readers laugh at the absurdity of Philly fans behavior. 

The aforementioned events reminded me of my 30th birthday. The Mets were playing the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. I had never been there before and Johan Santana was pitching. From prior visits to the Vet, I knew about Philly fans, so I dressed neutrally. 

Well on that day, Santana was flirting with a no-hitter. I was getting excited, but I remained polite and quiet. This wasn’t my ballpark, and the Philly fans have their well earned reputation.  The moment finally was starting to become too big for me. I broke down and clapped after a nice play. I swear that all I did was clap. This grandfather, with his grandkids there, turned around and unleashed a series of expletives generally calling me “disrespectful” for cheering for the Mets. 

He then high-fived other people in the section for putting a Mets fan in his place. Needless to say, this is what I thought of when Larry Anderson called Mets fans “obnoxious.”  You would think with their history, Philly fans would sit there and not pass judgment. 

Overall, Larry Anderson’s comment was just noise. The specific noise?  That would be the noise it makes when the glass house shatters. 

Wilmer Flores

Now batting for the New York Mets, the second baseman, Wilmer Flores!

This Feels Wright

In my family, there are a number of huge Mets fans. One of them is my Uncle Pat. The two things I always remembered him saying about the Mets were:

  1. How beautiful the Tom Seaver Number Retirement Ceremony was; and
  2. How classy it was that the Mets brought back Lee Mazzilli in 1986. 

I’m too young to remember the Lee Mazzilli heyday. However, I’m not too young that I don’t remember Ron Darling‘s playing days. The reason why I bring this up is because Mazzilli was traded to obtain Darling, who was a key part of the 1986 Mets. 

From what I hear, fans took trading Mazzilli hard. Not only was he a homegrown Met, but he was also a local kid. It’s part of the reason Mets fans have extra love for players like Ed Kranepool. It’s why we were even more excited when Steven Matz got called-up. 

Now, David Wright isn’t a local kid, but he did grow up a Mets fan. He is a homegrown Met. At times, he’s played like a superstar. In 2006. 2007, and 2008, we all thought he would bring us a World Series. It didn’t happen. The Mets then didn’t resign Jose Reyes and stopped spending money. Then the lean years came. 

This year was the first year in a while there was legitimate hope. The Mets had a healthy Matt HarveyJacob deGrom was coming off of a Rookie of the Year season. Offensively, as usual, it all seemed to hinge on Wright and his return from a shoulder injury. It lasted all of eight games before he went down. By necessity, Wright went into the rear view mirror. 

The Mets made their trades and the team took off. Wright wasn’t a part of the Mets Renaissance. We began to hear some nonsense about how Wright might upset the team chemistry. On Monday, Wright showed that notion was just noise. He’s still the leader. He’s still their best player. He’s still the fan favorite. 

That’s the thing. For a whole generation of Mets fans, he’s their Tom Seaver. He’s the guy with the Hall of Fame talent you hope can lead you to the World Series. He’s also their Lee Mazzilli. He’s the lifetime Mets fan who was the best player on a bad team. It wasn’t until he was gone that the team became a contender. 

However, unlike Mazzilli, Wright is back with something in the tank. Wright may not be able to play everyday right now, but he’s still their best option at 3B. I really hope the Mets make a long October run, and I hope Wright gets to be a large part of that like he was on Monday night. 

As we know when David was gone, it was fun because the team was winning, but it didn’t feel 100% “Wright” because he wasn’t there. He’s back, and it feels “Wright” again. Lets Go Mets!

The Wright Stuff

It’s easy to get wrapped up in all of the story lines from this game, and there were many. However, win, lose, or draw, this game was always going to be about David Wright‘s return. He started his return with a bang . . . or should I say a blast:

What a way to start!  He would finish the game going 2-5 with that homerun, a walk, three runs, and an RBI. He also made two errors in the field. Hey, he isn’t perfect. I’m willing to let him get up to game speed. We all know he’s going to work to get better and be better. Surrounding Wright’s return was quite an interesting game. 

While Wright was rising to the occasion, Jacob deGrom wasn’t ready for today. He had his worst outing in terms of innings pitched and runs allowed. His ugly line was 2.2 innings, 8 hits, 3 walks, and 7 runs (6 earned). He left the game down 7-2. Sean Gilmartin would come in and save not only deGrom, but also a depleted bullpen. He would go 3.1 innings striking out four and holding the Phillies to seven runs. That was important because the Mets offense was about to go off again in a bandbox. 

The team tied team records with eight homeruns and 15 extra base hits. Here’s the collection of homeruns:

  1. David Wright (solo, 2nd inning)
  2. Juan Lagares (solo, 3rd inning)
  3. Wilmer Flores [standing ovation] (2 run, 4th inning)
  4. Travis d’Arnaud (464′, solo, 4th inning)
  5. Wilmer Flores (3 run, 5th inning)
  6. Michael Cuddyer (solo, 5th inning)
  7. Daniel Murphy (2 run, 6th inning)
  8. Yoenis Cespedes (2 run, 9th inning)

It wasn’t until d’Arnaud’s two run double in the sixth that the Mets scored a run without hitting a homerun. It was the Murphy 9th inning double that broke the record, but it was the Cespedes’ “Feats of Strength” that put the cap on the evening. Overall, the Mets treated Citizens Bank Park so much like Coors Field that they scored 14+ runs for the third time in four games. They would win 16-7. 

In fact, things went so well from the Mets from the fourth inning on that Hansel Robles pitched a 1-2-3 seventh. Even Eric O’Flaherty had a 1-2-3 inning getting one righty and two lefties out. Carlos Torres‘ ninth inning was even fairly uneventful. 

Also, even with the questionable lineup, Terry Collins had a good game. He got deGrom out in time. He rode Gilmartin as long as he could, especially with the short bullpen. I’m not going to disagree with him leaving Wright in fir the full game. You could make a reasonable argument to pull him in a laugher. I liked keeping him in there for a full game. It’s his first major league game since April. Let him get fully up to game speed. Although with the Mets not having two relievers who can give multiple innings, I do question using Torres in the ninth. 

One another note, as I said before, these bandboxes produce some ugly and weird baseball. In the bottom of the eighth, Ryan Howard hit a hard line drive into the shift. Flores made a diving stop, but he couldn’t hold onto the line drive. As Howard was walking off the field, Flores got to a knee and threw it to first base. Howard then ran back to first, and because of the off the odd angle, he was heading towards second base when he ran through the bag. As Gary and Ron mused, it would’ve been interesting to see what happened if the throw didn’t beat Howard. 

Overall, it’s tough to figure out if Gilmartin or Flores gets the game ball. We do know the Mets expanded their lead to a season high 5.5 games. I’m going to celebrate with a cookie

Bullpen Giving Me a Headache

We all knew the Mets needed to make a roster move to make room for David Wright. We all believed it was going to be Logan Verrett, who was terrific yesterday

Nope. We were all wrong. Apparently, the Mets enjoy shortchanging the bullpen. Verrett is going to stay and Dario Alvarez is going down. The Mets got away with it last week. With the Phillies and Red Sox coming up, you can tell the Mets think they can get away with it again. The problem is they’re tempting fate in more ways than one now. 

Not only are they shorting the bullpen for two days, but they may also have a rotation problem. We don’t know the severity of Bartolo Colon‘s wrist. He’s due to pitch Wednesday against the Phillies, which is also Verrett’s throw day. As we saw in Baltimore, that means Verrett will only be good for an inning. That means Colon better be alright to pitch. 

If he’s not the Mets could have Matt Harvey start on Wednesday instead of Friday. I don’t think they’ll do that because it would defeat the purpose of them skipping Harvey’s start. There’s also no one on the 40 man roster who’s ready to get called up to make a spot start. 

That means Colon has to start and all hands need to be on deck . . . like they needed to be on Friday. Hopefully, Verrett’s inability to go more than one inning won’t be a major problem. Hopefully, multiple innings of Sean Gilmartin and Carlos Torres won’t harm the Mets chances of winning a game in bandbox like Citizens Bank Ballpark. 

No matter what’s going on, I’m starting to get a headache just trying to figure out what the Mets are doing in the bullpen. 

Selecting the Wright Lineup

Today is the day David Wright comes off the DL. We know he will play 3B. We don’t know much more than that. 

Actually that’s not entirely true. We know Curtis Granderson will hit leadoff except when there’s a lefty in the mound. Then Juan Lagares will hit leadoff. We also know Terry Collins wants Wright batting second. We know there’s a platoon system. I also assume we know the pitcher is batting ninth. I also assume Collins will try to alternate lefties and righties in the lineup. We’ll see later today, but I presume the lineup against righties would look like this:

  1. Granderson RF
  2. Wright 3B
  3. Murphy 1B
  4. Cespedes CF
  5. Johnson 2B
  6. d’Arnaud C
  7. Conforto LF
  8. Tejada SS
  9. Pitcher 

Against lefties, the lineup may look like this:

  1. Lagares CF
  2. Wright 3B
  3. Murphy 2B
  4. Cespedes LF
  5. Granderdon RF
  6. Cuddyer 1B
  7. d’Arnaud C
  8. Tejada SS 
  9. Pitcher

Of course, Collins likes to tweak it here and there to get Wilmer Flores [standing ovation] some ABs. I can also see him batting Granderson second against lefties with Wright third and Murphy fifth. I also assume Anthony Recker bats eighth when he plays. 
Anyway, with the rough time Collins has been having, it’s hard to completely judge how he’ll map up the lineup. This is especially evident with him batting Juan Uribe cleanup. With Wright only playing four games in a row, there will be plenty of chances to do that. Overall, the challenge is not just setting the lineup, but it’s also keeping everyone engaged. Furthermore, it’s about keeping Wright healthy. 

When Lucas Duda comes BACK, there will be some real challenges getting ABs for Uribe and Johnson. If argue the real challenge them would be making sure Collins doesn’t give them regular ABs and let the best players play.