With Keith Hernandez weighing in on the Jose Urena/Ronald Acuna situation, we have rekindled the old school versus new school thinking. Certainly, there is the impression that throwing and hitting batters is an old and outdated way of thinking, but do the numbers and stats really prove that out. As a way to test that out, we could look at the all-time leaders in that category.
Can you name the pitchers who have hit the most batters in the modern era? Good luck!
Last night, Jose Urena channeled his inner Roger Clemens and instead of buzzing a player off the plate or hitting him in the butt, he threw his hardest first pitch of the season directly at Ronald Acuna. Put simply, it was as dirty and dangerous as a play as there is in baseball.
Benches clear in Marlins-Braves after José Ureña hits Ronald Acuña Jr. in 1st inning.
Acuña Jr. (5 straight games with HR, 3 straight with leadoff HR) exits in 2nd inning. pic.twitter.com/V2aSu97YEX
— MLB (@MLB) August 16, 2018
Hidden beneath what Urena did, there lies a hard-nosed old-school baseball philosophy which harkens back to intimidating pitchers like Bob Gibson and Pedro Martinez. Don’t let a batter get too comfortable in the batter’s box, especially a red hot hitter like Acuna.
With respect to Acuna, he is hitting .339/.433/.714 with three doubles, six homers, and 17 RBI against the Marlins this season. He had three straight games with a leadoff homer. In a different day and age, getting plunked or brushed off the plate might’ve been expected. That philosophy was clumsily explained by Hernandez during yesterday’s telecast:
This is what Keith Hernandez had to say about Urena hitting Acuna. 🤔🤔🤔 pic.twitter.com/xeLszYDpic
— Kris Venezia (@KVenezia1) August 16, 2018
Again, Hernandez is explaining an old school philosophy where if you are hitting bombs and leaning over the plate, the pitcher’s duty is to bust a batter in and make them uncomfortable. And as he explained, when you do hit someone, you hit them in the “fanny” as Keith likes to call it.
The ultimate issue here is people creating a divide that doesn’t need to exist between an old-school philosophy and the modern game. After all, Noah Syndergaard threw a pitch up and somewhat in to Alcides Escobar, who was having a great postseason, on the first pitch of Game 3 of the 2015 World Series.
Looking at Syndergaard, some of that old school philosophy is alive and well in younger players. It is important to note when Syndergaard has utilized that old school philosophy of throwing inside or retaliating, he has done it the right way. He has thrown it up but not near the head. He threw a fastball behind Chase Utley, but not close enough for that fastball to actually make contact with Utley.
Of course, in the case of Syndergaard, he has always had terrific control, so when he does these things, you can trust him in sending that message even if there still exists a possibility he could miss.
That said, what Syndergaard has done is not what Urena did. Urena stepped to the mound not just to make a batter uncomfortable. He went to the mound with an intent to injure. That’s what you are doing when you throw a 98 MPH fastball right at someone in a spot where he cannot possibly get out of the way.
There is no defending Urena’s actions, but there is defending the mindset where you make batters uncomfortable at the plate. That’s part of a mindset. There’s just a right way and a wrong way to do it. As Keith noted, the right way is to brush the batter back or hit him in the fanny. That’s not remotely close to what Urena did, and that’s why he’s entirely in the wrong.
The Mets Fan
How You Became a Mets Fan
My father is a Mets fan and that’s pretty much how I became one. Same way my 9 yr old son is a Mets fan.
Favorite Mets Player
I have different favorite players from different periods of my life. As a young kid it was Lee Mazzilli. During our golden years it was Keith Hernandez. In my 20’s, Mike Piazza and currently Michael Conforto. All time I’d have to say Piazza.
Favorite Moment in Mets History
Winning the World Series. Followed by taking my son to his 1st Mets game with my dad.
Message to Mets Fans
My message would be. Stay loyal. And root for the name on the front of the Jersey not the back. Also never believe the Wilpons.
In yesterday’s 5-4 loss in 10 innings to the Atlanta Braves, people had a field day criticizing manager Mickey Callaway for the perceived errors the first time manager made. Of course, all these criticisms first ignored how the Mets lost because the Braves at that much better, especially over this injury ravaged Mets team. Moreover, the perceived errors were not really errors in and of themselves:
Error No.1 – The Starting Lineup
Considering how when he had the appearance of autonomy, Callaway buried Jose Reyes on the bench, we can see he lost some of his control, especially after Reyes complained publicly through the press. Overall, Reyes is in the lineup because ownership wants him there (and fans won’t boo him like he deserves). As for Brandon Nimmo, he’s been scuffling lately, and he could probably use a day off.
Error No. 2 – Going Too Long with Oswalt
Entering the seventh inning yesterday, Corey Oswalt was dealing. At that point, he had allowed just one earned on five hits with no walks and four strikeouts. He was only at 75 pitches, and he had just made fairly quick work of the Braves in the sixth inning. It was the bottom of the lineup, and he was due up second.
Considering how well he was pitching, how well he has pitched, and this being a period to evaluate players, the mistake would have been pulling Oswalt. He should have started that inning. It’s just unfortunate he gave up the two run homer to Ender Inciarte to lose the lead.
Error No. 3 – Double Switching Nimmo into the Game
Looking at the Mets bench, the player you most wanted up in the bottom of the seventh was Nimmo. If you are going to burn a bench player, you might as well move the pitcher’s spot as far away as possible to at least give yourself the chance to let Paul Sewald pitch more than just the end of the seventh.
Ultimately, do we really care if it mean Austin Jackson and not Jose Bautista came out of that game? Sure, Jackson is hitting better, but it’s Bautista who you are showcasing in the hopes he snaps out of this funk and once again becomes a trade piece.
Error No. 4 – Not Waiting for the Pinch Hitter to be Announced
Before criticizing Callaway on this one, ask yourself one key question: Who would you rather face? Ryan Flaherty, a career .218/.288/.350 hitter or Adam Duvall, a former All Star with two 30 home run seasons under his belt? If you have a brain cell remaining, it’s Flaherty every single day of the week.
Well, Callaway checked to make sure Duvall wasn’t announced, and he went with Sewald over Jerry Blevins, who was warming, to enter the game. By doing that, Callaway helped pressure Brian Snitker to put up the far worse hitter.
Seriously, how is that a bad thing?
As for the narrative spewed on SNY, it’s false. Just completely false.
This is the National League. A manager is not going to burn two hitters in a tie game in the seventh inning. You don’t have that luxury. Knowing that, Callaway was proactive and got the matchup he wanted. Really, Mets fans should be happy he had the foresight to say he wanted to face Flaherty over Duvall.
And with Callaway, we know this is a strategy he likes to utilize. After all, this is not the first time he has done it, and with this happening two times, we can expect to see this happen again. That’s a good thing.
As an aside, let’s remember the thoughts each of the people criticizing Callaway have had:
- Gary Cohen – called Daniel Murphy a net negative
- Keith Hernandez – wanted the Mets to get Eric Hosmer, a .254/.322/.389 hitter with a 94 OPS+ and a 0.3 WAR this season.
- Jim Duquette – traded Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano
Maybe we should pump the brakes on taking what this group says as gospel and look for them more for entertainment.
Also, it should be noted, doing it that way allowed Callaway let Sewald face the pinch hitter an Ronald Acuna before going to Blevins for the left-handed Ozzie Albies, Freddie Freeman, and Nick Markakis.
Error No. 5 – Double Switching McNeil out of the Game
The Jeff McNeil decision is a little tricky. On the one hand, you want him to get as many reps as he possibly can in the field and at the plate. Yes, his turn in the lineup did come up in the ninth, but it was really unlikely to happen. To that extent, double switching him out to get some length from Seth Lugo did make sense on paper.
Of course, the real anger here was Reyes stayed in the lineup. That’s understandable, but remember this is a player being not just forced on the manager, but also into the lineup. Reyes’ strangehold is such the Mets are challenging plays where he is clearly out because Reyes demands it:
#Mets challenge call that Jose Reyes is out at 3B in the 2nd; call confirmed, runner is out.
— MLB Replay (@MLBReplays) August 5, 2018
During the game, Callaway showed he was a guy who was balancing both playing the guys he is told to play while trying to develop young players and winning games. It’s unfortunate Oswalt couldn’t get an out in the seventh, and it’s a shame Tyler Bashlor gave up the game winning homer in the 10th.
When it comes to Bashlor, there’s your areas of criticism. Callaway is still feeling his way through bullpen management, and even now, he’s still leaning on veteran arms like Lugo over ones like Bashlor.
As for the other decisions? Give him credit for being willing to buck trends and try to dictate match-ups he wants. Allow him to grow on the job and learn from his mistakes, but admit this wasn’t one of them. Overall, remember the level of interference he has.
Ultimately, remember this is a guy who gets his guys to play. In this three game set, the Mets went toe-to-toe with a much better Braves team, and they nearly took the series. Give credit where it is due.
More importantly, don’t distract from the real problem with the Mets – ownership is not spending and is putting an inferior product on the field.
Game Notes: Once again, Luis Guillorme did not get into the game. Part of the reason being is the Mets have said they do not see him as more than a pinch hitter or late inning replacement. Instead, Reyes played the whole game while Todd Frazier, who originally did not start because he was just coming off the disabled list, came on late shifting Reyes to second.
Here’s how pointless this 7-3 game was – Keith Hernandez was reading passages from the Mets media guide about the Mets Hall of Famers.
The best thing from this game was Amed Rosario going 3-4 with two runs, two triples, and an RBI. What’s shocking is both triples were to left.
Tyler Bashlor allowed just one run on three hits in 2.1 innings.
P.J. Conlon pitched two scoreless while striking out three.
Dominic Smith singled in his only at-bat.
Perhaps most important, Wilmer Flores made an impressive play in the field.
It was a terrific play in a lost game in a lost season. Flores still cares. Be very careful before you trade him.
Game Notes: Mets are 0-13-2 in their last 15 series.
As the Mets opened the 2018 season, there was supposed to be a catching competition, or at least a time sharing between Kevin Plawecki and Travis d’Arnaud. This situation was created because both catchers had failed to do anything to truly claim the job as their own, but they had shown flashes which gave your confidence either or both could figure it out this year.
Then, in one week, both players would suffer injuries. With respect to d’Arnaud, it was a season ending injury requiring Tommy John surgery. For Plawecki, it was a broken hand resulting from getting hit by a Tayron Guerrero fastball.
From there, the Mets had to turn to the tandem of Tomas Nido and Jose Lobaton. Neither one of these players would Wally Pipp Plawecki as they and the Mets struggled. With their play behind the plate, and with Plawecki not healing as quick as the team hoped, it was time to do something drastic.
That drastic move came from Matt Harvey being designated for assignment. Now, Harvey was not designated for assignment as a means to get a catcher. However, when he was designated, and the Mets having a small window to get a deal done, the team did all they could do to land a catcher.
The end result was Reds backup catcher and former All Star Devin Mesoraco.
After the injuries and hitting .195/.291/.318 in 316 plate attempts between 2015 and the trade, Mesoraco and the remainder of his $13.1 million salary was more than expendable for the Reds. In many ways, getting a broken down player who could no replicate his prior success due to extensive injuries was the perfect return for Harvey.
In some ways,. Mesoraco has revitalized the Mets. He has worked well with the pitching staff, and he has hit again. In 15 games with the Mets, Mesoraco is hiting .261/.358/.630 with two doubles, five homers, and 10 RBI. During telecasts, we hear Keith Hernandez dropping Mike Piazza comparisons on him. Yes, it’s related to his back swing, but the way he has slugged in a Mets uniform, the comparisons are apt.
With Mesoraco’s emergence, things are murky again for Plawecki. While he has not hit for power so far his year, he was handling the staff quite well before his injury, and he was getting on base with a .455 OBP.
Certainly, both catchers have made a case for why they should be the primary or starting catcher with Mesoraco likely ahead. Yesterday, in both games of the doubleheader, both catchers made their claim for the spot.
In the first game, Mesoraco was 2-3 with two runs, a homer, and two RBI. His homer should have proven to be a go-ahead game winning homer in the top of the ninth.
In the second game, Plawecki was 3-4 with two runs, an RBI, and a walk. He also reached on an error meaning he reached safely in all five of his plate appearances.
There are many other factors at play including how comfortable the pitching staff is with each catcher and certainly Noah Syndergaard‘s seeming need to have a personal catcher. Through all the stats, there is one interesting consideration. In games Mesoraco starts, the Mets are 6-6 as opposed to being 7-1 in games Plawecki starts.
Right now, with the Mets trying to figure out the infield, bench, and back end of the starting rotation, the catching situation presents a welcome “problem” for Mickey Callaway and his staff. Fortunately, the Mets have two good options back there – two options who have raised their game with the prospect of competition.
Let the best catcher win.
If we learned anything from the doubleheader yesterday, it was baseball makes no sense whatsoever. How could it? Somehow, someway, the New York Mets are 5-6 in Jacob deGrom starts and 2-0 in P.J. Conlon. starts. Just to put how bizarre that is in perspective Conlon has pitched fewer innings in his brief MLB career than deGrom did yesterday.
And it was another virtuoso performance from deGrom yesterday. The only mark against him was a Tyler Flowers seventh inning shot. That had made the game 2-1 with the Mets scoring on a Devin Mesoraco bases loaded walk. While Luis Guillorme would end that rally, he made up for it by hitting a double over the head over Preston Tucker, who had not played the field in about a month and looked like it. On the double, Mesoraco would score from first.
— New York Mets (@Mets) May 28, 2018
After the Flowers homer, the Braves apparently smelled blood in the water because they went on the attack. Tucker walked, and Johan Camargo singled on a ball any other second baseman not named Asdrubal Cabrera fields. With runners at the corners, the Braves seemed poised to tie the game. It never happened.
First, deGrom struck out Dansby Swanson. He then got Kurt Suzuki to pop out to swallow left with Amed Rosario getting to it and running it back to the infield to prevent any shenanigans. Finally, deGrom got Ender Inciarte to ground out to end the inning.
After that, deGrom gave the Mets the seven innings they needed on a day where they were going to have a bullpen game in the second half of the doubleheader. It was a 115 pitch virtuoso performance. In total, he allowed the one run on five hits and three walks while striking out eight. He furthered this case to win the Cy Young.
Admittedly, going to Familia for six outs may not have seemed like the obvious move, but when you’re looking to use your whole bullpen for the second game, why not use Lugo’s for 2-3 innings instead of either setting up or trying to get the six out save himself. For whatever reason, Callaway tabbed Lugo to go out there and get his first career save against the first place team in the division.
It didn’t happen. In the eighth, Ozzie Albies started the inning off with a bunt single, and he was on third after a Freddie Freeman single. To his credit, Lugo did limit the Braves to just a Nick Markakis sacrifice fly to tie the game at 2-2.
The Mets would take the lead in the ninth when Mesoraco, who was 2-3 with two runs, a homer, and two RBI on the day the catching competition really started, hit a go-ahead homer.
Even with Familia warming, Callaway went to Lugo to pick up the win. Seemingly just as Gary Cohen’s words left his mouth about the last time he homered, Charlie Culberson hit a walk-off two run homer to give the Braves a 4-3 win.
It was a brutal fourth loss in a row featuring a third bullpen meltdown and questionable Callaway decision making. It was a bad omen for the night portion of the doubleheader. Fortunately, it didn’t pan out that way. Maybe, because in the five plus hour rain delay between games, the Mets finally figured something out.
Like most games recently, the game started off quite well with Adrian Gonzalez opening the scoring with an RBI single. The rally would continue with Kevin Plawecki, fresh off the disabled list, reaching on an awful throw to second by Brandon McCarthy. Instead, of an inning ending double play, it was 2-0 Mets. That lead would grow to 3-1 Mets with a Brandon Nimmo homer to lead off the third.
That lead was not for long as the Braves went to work against Conlon in the third. After a Freeman two RBI single, Markakis would double setting up runners at second and third with no outs and the game already tied 3-3. Conlon was done for the day, and Callaway would tab Hansel Robles to come on to stifle the rally.
While it may not have been pretty, in an inning which included Camargo getting hit by a pitch, Robles got through the inning allowing just a Suzuki sacrifice fly to give the Braves a 4-3. In total, Robles would actually give the Mets three scoreless innings, which not only kept them in the game, but it would allow the Mets to take the lead.
The big hit of the game would come from Rosario. After Plawecki, Jose Reyes, and Guillorme hit consecutive one out singles to load the bases, Rosario hit a go-ahead two RBI single giving the Mets a 5-4 lead.
To the surprise of no one, the lead didn’t last. Robert Gsellman came into the sixth, and he was greeted with a Ryan Flaherty single and an Inciarte double to set up runners at second and third with no outs. Rather than tempt fate by bringing in Jerry Blevins again (who was not warming), after Albies struck out, the Mets intentionally walked Freeman to load the bases before Gsellman allowed an infield single to Markakis to tie the score.
Naturally, Reyes could not make the play.
After a mound visit, Gsellman got a groundball from Suzuki. Gonzalez made the heads up play of getting the out a home to preserve the tie. Culberson would not have a second act of heroics today as he flied out to center to end the inning.
In what should be a lot of credit to this Mets team, they responded in the seventh. The rally started with a Michael Conforto leadoff single. He’d be erased on a Jay Bruce fielder’s choice, but the Mets would load the bases with ensuing singles from Gonzalez and Plawecki. Reyes, once again, failed by striking out.
Guillorme would give the Mets the lead with a clutch two out two RBI single, and Rosario followed with an RBI single of his own giving the Mets a 3-0 lead.
There would be no bullpen meltdown as Jacob Rhame pitched a perfect seventh before Callaway finally allowed Familia go out there and get his six out save. With that, in a very odd way, the Mets earned a split of the doubleheader, and they ended a frustrating losing streak. It will be very interesting to see how this team responds later today if they actually play the game.
Game 1 Notes: In the fifth, Braves starter Max Fried picked-off both Conforto and Jose Bautista off first base. Bruce played first base. Technically, Bautsita’s goes down as a caught stealing as he broke for second. There was a long rain delay when there was no rain on the field.
Game 2 Notes: During the broadcast, Keith Hernandez noted his belief Reyes is struggling at third because he is not comfortable there. It should be noted Reyes has played more than 90 games at the position and was signed to be a utility player, a utility player who refuses to play the outfield.
Watching the game tonight, it is really difficult to assess how well Zack Wheeler performed. On the one hand, he was executing his pitches as well as he ever has, and yet he earned the loss against a bad Marlins team.
Actually, there is a debate how much he “earned” that loss. Really, there was just one hiccup for him, and that was in the second inning when the Marlins scored all three of their runs.
The first run was on Wheeler, who allowed three straight hard hit balls by Brian Anderson (double), Derek Dietrich, and Miguel Rojas. After that, it’s hard to pin anything else on him. Caleb Smith popped up a sacrifice bunt attempt, which Jose Reyes fielded on hop, looked at every single base, and then threw the ball in the dirt thereby loading the bases.
That three run lead was brutal because as Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling kept opining, Smith was dealing for the Marlins. That is a plausible explanation considering Smith entered the game striking out 12 batters per nine. However, it needs to be noted the Mets bats are really awful against left-handed batters. Tonight, was no exception as Smith allowed one run on three hits over 6.2 innings.
The one run he allowed was in the bottom of the second, and it started with a Jose Bautista double. Speaking of Bautista, he was signed just before the game, and he was put in the starting lineup ahead of Jay Bruce, and he played left field. After the predictable Reyes out, Bautista moved to third, and he scored on a Tomas Nido sacrifice fly.
The Mets really wouldn’t get another rally started until the eighth. Adrian Gonzalez led off the inning with a double, and later than inning Brandon Nimmo earned a one out walk. The rally would falter there as Cabrera would hit into an inning ending 4-6-3 double play.
While disappointing, that rally was too little too late anyway. In the top of the inning, Derek Dietrich hit a two run homer off AJ Ramos to expand the Marlins lead to 5-1. That would be the final score on a deeply disappointing day.
Game Notes: Reyes made two errors in the game, and he now has three hits and two errors on the month. Devin Mesoraco did not start after getting hit on the elbow with an errant swing last night. He did pinch hit in the seventh and flew out.
The New York Mets organization has been quite reticent to retire their best player’s jersey numbers. From a player perspective, hat is an honor which has been bestowed upon just Tom Seaver and Mike Piazza, two players who just so happen to be Hall of Famers who have worn a Mets cap on their Hall of Fame plaque.
With respect to Piazza, once he departed via free agency, the team did not reissue his No. 31. Instead, like what we now see with Gary Carter‘s No. 8 and Keith Hernandez‘s No. 17, the number was taken out of circulation. Unlike Carter and Hernandez, the Mets retired Piazza’s number.
What is interesting is Carlos Beltran is seen by most as a sure fire Hall of Famer, and it is eminently possible he enters the Hall wearing a Mets cap. Given precedent, you would think the number would be reserved for future retirement. Instead, it has been reissued to Val Pascucci, Fred Lewis, Travis d’Arnaud, Bob Geren, Matt Reynolds, and finally Luis Guillorme.
In this latest edition of the Mets Blogger Roundtable, we ask the question about whether the Mets should have treated Beltran’s number like the Mets greats before him, or whether there is no issue with 15 being given to other players:
No uniform number discussion is important to me until 8 goes on the wall.
I could go either way about retiring Beltran’s number but have to agree with Metstradamus’ excellent point. Let’s wait for 8.
Michael Baron (MLB)
I’m wishy washy on this subject regarding Beltran. He is the best center fielder they ever had, and easily among the top 10 players they’ve ever had. But he doesn’t identify with the base that way – people connect Beltran with that Adam Wainwright curveball in 2006. So if the Mets were to unofficially retire Beltran’s number by no longer issuing it, that could generate a negative discussion which, to be honest is avoidable and unnecessary. The team knows that and is obviously very sensitive to negative press and discussions, so it might actually be best to remain at a status quo on this. But ask me tomorrow and I might feel a bit different.
As much as I loved watching Beltran with the Mets and the countless times I’ve defended him for looking at strike one, two, and three in Game 7 (three of the nastiest pitches I’ve ever seen to this day), I personally do not retire his 15 or even take it out of circulation. When he gets into Cooperstown, which he will, if they stick a Mets hat on his head, I think at that point they have to retire it. Until then, if it were up to me, I say no.. He was successful everywhere else he went. That’s hallowed ground for this organization. Until David Wright‘s #5 gets a spot up there, no one else from that era should.
Dilip Srindhar (MMO & MMN)
Yes. Carlos Beltran is very deserving of this honor. Beltran from 2005-2011 hit .282/.369/.508 with a 130 OPS+. To put this into perspective, Mike Piazza hit .289/.367/.534 with a 133 OPS+ from 1999-2005. Also add on that Beltran was an elite defensive CF during most of his Mets career. Beltran seems quite likely to enter the Hall-of-Fame as a Met. Beltran is an all-time Met and deserves the respect that the others before him have received. The Mets retire very few numbers and there is no reason Carlos Beltran shouldn’t be next along with David Wright. There has been some tension with the Mets and their fans against Carlos Beltran the few years. But fans have started to realize how great and impactful of a player he was and hopefully the Mets do too.
The biggest issue with the Mets not taking out of circulation is like many things with the Wilpon family, it has the stench of being personal. It’s why we saw the team have a patch for Rusty Staub but not former owner Nelson Doubleday, a man who owned the team during the franchise’s greatest run.
The decision reeks of pettiness related to Beltran striking out in the 2006 NLCS and for his going against team advice to have career saving knee surgery.
Honestly, I’m not sure the team ever considered taking his number out of circulation, and if the topic was raised, it was quickly dismissed.
When Beltran does get inducted ino the Hall of Fame, I seriously doubt we see the Mets replicate the Yankees efforts to heal old wounds like we saw when Dave Winfield was inducted, and in the event Beltran does opt to wear a Mets cap on his Hall of Fame plaque, part of me doubts the Mets take the next step in deciding to retire his number.
One thing I don’t doubt is the terrific writing from the people who participate in this Roundtable. I encourage you to take the time to read what they’ve written about Beltran, Carter, and a host of all other Mets topics.
With the Mets playing on the West Coast, and on a Friday night to boot, it is understandable if you missed the game last night. If you did, you missed the special message Keith Hernandez had for Mets fans:
Actually, Keith was just showing us how he cut his finger shaving. For those interested, Keith uses a single blade when he shaves.
Right now, that moment goes down in the annuls of famous Mets moments in San Diego including the David Wright barehanded catch, the Carlos Beltran/Mike Cameron headfirst collision, and the Bartolo Colon home run.
Overall, it’s silly moments like this, or when a Keith, who thought he was off camera, gave his assessment of Tanner Roark‘s performance, that makes this booth the best in baseball. They’re honest, and you never know when they’re going to do something so innocently bizarre that you will never forget the moment.