Mets Merized Online » Joey Votto http://metsmerizedonline.com Tue, 21 Feb 2017 13:00:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.18 Bullpen Comes Up Big in 4th Consecutive Win for Amazins http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/09/bullpen-comes-up-big-in-4th-consecutive-win-for-amazins.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/09/bullpen-comes-up-big-in-4th-consecutive-win-for-amazins.html/#comments Wed, 07 Sep 2016 11:58:06 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=222328 terry collins

It took seven Mets pitchers to contain the Reds on Monday night, and again manager Terry Collins is making all the right moves in a come from behind 5-3 victory on the road.

The Mets got their 13th straight win over Cincinnati, keeping pace with the Cardinals who overcame the Pirates with four two out runs in the top of the ninth.

With the overcrowded Wild Card race keeping every fan glued to the out of town scoreboard, teams in contention can’t afford to fold against the ball clubs that are gimmes like the Reds.

Rookie Rafael Montero tried to keep the Mets in it to win it, but lasted just 4.1 innings, surrendering three runs on three hits, four walks, and striking out four, salvaging a no-decision on the backs of his stingy bullpen brothers after a rough night with his command.

“I think he’s probably working really hard to stay out of the middle of the plate, so he’s pitching to the edges and just missing,” said manager Terry Collins.

“That’s what got him in trouble because now all of a sudden he’s got to make some pitches because when a guy’s on base, [and] he’s got to really bare down. But I’ll tell you, I’m still very impressed with the way he’s throwing. This is not the same guy I’ve seen up here. He’s a much better pitcher.”

Relievers Josh Edgin, Gabriel Ynoa, Josh Smoker, who notched his second win, Fernando Salas, Addison Reed and Jeurys Familia (46th save) were the middle and late inning law firm of shutout ball that a manager dreams of.

Salas has not allowed a run in his 4.1 innings (four outings) since he was acquired from the Angels on August 31, striking out five batters in that span. Familia earned his major league-leading 46th save as he continues polishing up his franchise record.

curtis granderson

Curtis Granderson continues to cram for late season exams with a solo shot in the 2nd, followed by Jose Reye’s huge homer to right leading off the third.

Reds left fielder Adam Duvall took Montero deep in the bottom of the inning to tie the score at 2-2, then Joey Votto’s sac fly in the fifth gave his team a short-lived lead.

Then came the turning point of the game when Yoenis Cespedes crushed a monster two run blast to center in the 7th for a 4-3 Mets lead they would never relinquish.

“Veterans run the team, they’re the ones who set the tone here,” Collins said. “Our guys really do set a tone here. They are greatly prepared, they spend a lot of time with our young guys talking about getting prepared, and they come out ready to play. … They know it’s time to step up.”

In the top of the ninth, Collins gave Alejandro De Aza the role of pinch hitter, and he delivered, pouncing the first pitch out of the park for a two run Mets lead.

It’s too early to count the second Wild Card spot before it’s hatched, but it’s feeling pretty damn promising with New York’s fourth win in a row.

And not only is that second wild card in play for the Amazins, but that top wild card is looking pretty darn good too, and it comes with home field advantage.

believemrmet

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Steven Matz Electrifying In Historic MLB Debut http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/06/steven-matz-electrifying-in-historic-mlb-debut.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/06/steven-matz-electrifying-in-historic-mlb-debut.html/#comments Mon, 29 Jun 2015 10:00:12 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=185777 Steve Matz

Making his major league debut, Steven Matz was spectacular. He fired 7.2 solid innings while allowing just two runs on two solo home runs.

With his explosive mid 90′s fastball and devastating curve, Matz’s stuff was electrifying. He kept the Reds’ lineup off-balance all day, and he was able to remain poised and focused after giving up a lead-off home run in the first inning to Brandon Phillips.

He became the first Met to throw 7.2 innings and allow five or fewer hits in his debut since Randy Tate allowed five hits in 8.0 innings in his first career game on April 14, 1975 at Philadelphia.

Matz became the first National League pitcher to have such a debut since the Cubs’ Ryan O’Malley allowed five hits in 8.0 innings in his first career game on August 16, 2006 at Houston.

“He was challenging. He had a good fastball and a good curveball,” said Joey Votto, who entered with a .288/.394/.511 overall slash line and an .851 OPS against lefties but went 0-for-3 with a strikeout and a walk against Matz.” (Newsday, Sal Cacciatore)

“He’s got a lot of energy. I’d be hyped up too in New York,” said Todd Frazier, a New Jersey product who homered and went 1-for-3 against Matz. “You really just have to tip your cap to him.”

“The more he pitches, the more he works with his catchers, he’s going to be a really good pitcher. And if he keeps hitting the ball like that, he’ll be in the Hall of Fame. We’ll see what happens.”

Not only was Matz phenomenal on the mound, but he also had a historic day at the plate.

He is the 11th player and the first pitcher in the last century to record at least three hits and four RBI in his major league debut. His four RBI is a franchise record for any Met player’s major league debut.

“It’s not a lot of fun on this end to be talking about the great game that another player had on a different team,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “But he did have a great day. Certainly that would be the debut anybody would want.”

It’s been a long journey to the majors for Matz, who was drafted in 2009 and battled injuries early in his career that caused him to miss three years.

However, he’s certainly been worth the wait as he clearly has the talent to be a top pitcher in the league for years to come. And after a phenomenal debut, maybe Frank Viola wasn’t so off base after all, when he likened Matz to Madison Bumgarner.

Storm footer

 

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Featured Post: Omar Infante Could Be A Smart Pickup For The Mets http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/11/featured-post-omar-infante-could-be-a-smart-pickup-for-the-mets.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/11/featured-post-omar-infante-could-be-a-smart-pickup-for-the-mets.html/#comments Mon, 25 Nov 2013 17:46:39 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=133667 Jhonny Peralta has signed a four-year, $52 million contract to play shortstop for the St. Louis Cardinals.  Stephen Drew is still out there, but is surprisingly not getting much attention. (Injury history, anyone?)  Ben Zobrist could be traded for, but Tampa Bay really loves him and would more than likely ask for a king’s ransom in exchange for Zobrist.

But there is one veteran middle infielder out there who isn’t getting much attention, but he should be getting lots of attention from the Mets.  That infielder is Omar Infante.  And despite the fact that he’s played only 225 games at shortstop in his career (he’s played over 700 games at second base), he might be the guy to target for the vacant shortstop position at Citi Field.

It would certainly not be considered baby steps for the Mets if they chose to sign Omar  Infante.

It would surely not be considered baby steps for the Mets if they chose to sign Omar Infante.

Omar Infante has played 12 seasons in the major leagues, but is still relatively young (he’ll be 32 in December).  He became a regular in the big leagues in his third season, when he hit .264 with 27 doubles, 16 homers, 55 RBI and 13 stolen bases for the Tigers.  But his first go-round in Detroit didn’t end well, and he was traded to the Cubs, who traded him to the Braves prior to the 2008 season.

In Atlanta, Infante became an All-Star.  He also quietly became one of the best contact hitters in the game.  From 2008 to 2010, Infante hit .309 for the Braves, striking out just 134 times in over 1,000 plate appearances.  But he didn’t hit for much power or steal many bases for the Braves, so Atlanta decided to move him to the Marlins for power-hitting second baseman Dan Uggla.

Infante hit with more power and stole more bases in 2012, splitting the season between Miami and Detroit.  Although his average dipped to .274, he hit 12 home runs, drove in 53 runs and stole a career-high 17 bases for the Marlins and Tigers.  He also legged out seven triples and produced his first 30-double campaign.

In 2013, Infante overcame a mid-season injury that kept him out of the lineup for six weeks.  Had he not been hurt, he might have had his best season yet.  Infante played in 118 games for the AL Central division champion Tigers, batting .318 with 24 doubles, 10 HR and 51 RBI.  Had he not been hurt, he probably would have surpassed his 30-double, 12-HR, 53-RBI totals from 2012.  He also would’ve finished fourth in the American League batting race had he qualified for it, as his 476 plate appearances kept him 26 short of being considered among the leaders in batting average.

So why am I making such a big deal about a soon-to-be 32-year-old middle infielder being a smart pickup for the Mets to take over at short?  One reason is economical.  The other is all about the ballpark.

Omar Infante made just $4 million as a member of the Tigers in 2013.  The two-year, $8 million contract he signed with the Marlins after the 2011 campaign was the richest he had ever agreed to.  That means he’d be a cheap signing for the Mets, as they could give him two years for less money than the Cardinals are committing to Jhonny Peralta per season.  Signing Infante would also leave approximately $15-$20 million for Sandy Alderson to spend on a starting pitcher and another outfielder.  Had they signed Peralta or continued to be in the mix for Stephen Drew, that dollar amount would be far smaller, as would the talent level of the players Alderson would have to settle for.

It wouldn’t be that much of a stretch to think Omar Infante could be a fine player at Citi Field.

The main reason why Infante would be a wise choice for the Mets is because of the ballpark he would call home for 81 games a year.  Do you know which opposing player has the highest batting average at Citi Field for all players who have played at least 15 games there?  Would you believe the answer is Omar Infante?  And we’re not even talking about a small sample size, as the players with the second and third highest batting averages for visiting players at Citi Field (Matt Kemp, Reed Johnson) combined have 14 fewer at-bats at the park than Infante has by himself.

In 117 career at-bats at Citi Field, Infante is a .402 hitter, picking up 47 hits in 30 games (27 starts).  Infante has 11 extra-base hits, 13 RBI and 17 runs scored at the Mets’ home ballpark.  His batting average is nearly 100 points higher than the Met with the highest average at Citi Field (Jose Reyes hit .319 at the park before joining the Marlins in 2012).

Infante also has the second-most number of hits of any opposing player at Citi Field, four behind Jimmy Rollins, who has 47 more at-bats than Infante has at the ballpark.  And for a player who is not a slugger and isn’t among the league leaders in walks, Infante’s .995 OPS at Citi Field has been bested by just two players, Joey Votto and Matt Kemp, both of whom are considered to be among the best players in the game.  The Met with the highest OPS at Citi Field is David Wright, but his .842 mark is nowhere near Infante’s OPS.

Mets fans have been waiting for years for Sandy Alderson to make a splash in the free agent market.  But it’s not always the free agent with the highest price tag that has the biggest positive impact on the team.  Sometimes, it’s the smart move that pushes a team in the right direction (see Red Sox, Boston, circa 2013).  Omar Infante isn’t a sexy signing.  But he’d sure be a smart one.  And he may just be the right guy at short and the player who would give the Mets the most bang for their buck in 2014.

Presented By Diehards

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Reds GM Thinks Joey Votto Walks Too Much http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/11/reds-gm-thinks-joey-votto-walks-too-much.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/11/reds-gm-thinks-joey-votto-walks-too-much.html/#comments Tue, 19 Nov 2013 19:15:59 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=133245 joey votto

This is a strange post. It has nothing to do with the Mets directly or indirectly, but it does go to the heart of what we talk about a lot regarding the Mets’ hitting approach.

Let me start by sharing something Reds GM Walt Jocketty said regarding perennial MVP Joey Votto, who he believes walks too much.

Dennis Janson of WCPO Cincinnati asked Jocketty if the new Reds manager is up to the task of “disabusing” Votto of the notion that a base on balls is as beneficial as a run scoring sacrifice fly.

The Reds general manager gave him an emphatic “Yes” and also added “That is something many more of us in the organization will also try to convey.”

Wow… That’s insane…

David Schoenfeld of ESPN took issue with Jocketty’s assertion and dug up this nugget on the 2013 Walks Leader:

As for Votto being too passive at the plate, that’s utter nonsense. FanGraphs tracks a stat called Z-Swing% — the percentage of pitches in the strike zone that a batter swings at. Votto swung at 67.0 percent of such pitches in 2013, which ranked 55th out of 140 qualified hitters.

In other words, Votto ranked in the top 40 percent of aggressiveness, at least in terms of swinging at strikes. What Votto doesn’t do, of course, is swing at balls. He swung at just 20 percent of pitches outside the strike zone — the lowest percentage of those 140 hitters, just ahead of Marco Scutaro’s 20.1 percent.

What happened when Votto swung at a pitch outside the strike zone? According to date from ESPN Stats & Info, he hit .136 — 16-for-118, with no home runs and three doubles. Votto isn’t good when he swing at balls.

david wright homers

I would think that Votto isn’t exclusive in this regard. I took a look at our own David Wright and found that he actually swings a little more than Votto at pitches in the strike zone and had a Z-Swing % of 69.5 in 2013. He connected on those swings 89.7 percent of the time. One of the best marks in the league.

Wright was able to get ahead in the count at a high rate as well which led to some remarkable numbers.

When Wright was ahead in the count he batted .321 with a .510 OBP and a – hold your hats – .617 slugging percentage. When Wright fell behind, those same numbers sank to an appalling .238/.256/.392 slash.

Wright has always maintained a solid walk rate with the Mets and this season he was on pace for his best season ever before he got hurt, surpassing even his tremendous 2007 and 2008 seasons.

Richard Fitch of Red Leg Nation sums this up quite nicely adding:

The argument that any player should be willing to expand the strike zone is a frightening one that plays straight into the hands of today’s overpowering pitchers, more and more of whom can throw a pitch that has “ball outside” written all over it as it heads to the plate, only to move the last few feet and find the corner — the backdoor cutter — a pitch increasingly used in the game today. After seeing a couple of those, all but the best hitters with a rock solid plate approach will soon be swinging at pitches half a foot off the plate.

He also shared a two-year old conversation between Votto and the Tigers’ Prince Fielder:

Coming off his MVP season, Votto was frustrated with the lack of home runs he was hitting in 2011 and expressed that frustration to Prince Fielder. Fielder’s reply?

“Don’t worry about it. Homers aren’t hit. Homers are thrown to you.”

Said Votto, “That changed the way I thought about hitting.”

I don’t see why anyone should even attempt to change, fix or alter the hitting approach of an elite-level player like Joey Votto. The mere suggestion of it is preposterous and I hope someone talks some sense into Jocketty before he messes around with one of the best players in the game.

If there was ever a supreme example of If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, this one is it.

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Featured Post: Are We Giving Up Too Quickly On Ike Davis? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/11/featured-post-are-we-giving-up-too-quickly-on-ike-davis.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/11/featured-post-are-we-giving-up-too-quickly-on-ike-davis.html/#comments Mon, 11 Nov 2013 16:44:28 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=132604 babe ruth

Everybody loves a home run slugger. There’s nothing quite like the excitement of watching batters with pop in their bats blast the ball out of the park whenever they step to the plate. Yet, in the post steroid baseball era, consistent home run sluggers, guys that can be counted on to hit thirty or more home runs year after year, is diminishing.

Soaring individual home run totals were a rarity in 2013. Only two major league sluggers, Chris Davis and Miguel Cabrera went yard 40 or more times with Davis leading the major leagues with 53 four-baggers and Cabrera finishing second with a healthy 44.

Only 12 other big leaguers hit 30 or more homers in 2013, and just three from the National League. In fact, since 2010, National League sluggers pounding 40 or more HR’s have become nearly extinct. Ryan Braun did it in 2012, but no other NL batter has reached that magic total over the last four years.

Take a look at baseball’s four year home run totals.

chart

The 2013 season was an especially disastrous one for longball hitters in the National League. Only three NL batters went yard 30 or more times this summer. That’s stunning.

Let’s hope it’s not a trend. With so many Met fans clamoring to add a HR slugging bat to our roster during this off-season, it does make you wonder just where that bat would be coming from.

In yesteryear, many sluggers showed uncanny consistency stringing together seasons with 30 or more home runs. Mickey Mantle did it 8 straight times. Willie Mays had a run of 11 of 13 years missing each of his off-years by a single home run. Met great Mike Piazza had a run of 11 of 12 seasons, Mike Schmidt 14 of 15, and Willie Stargell 15 of 17.

Unlike the old days, consistency of this sort in recent years is hard to find. Since 2010, Miguel Cabrera is the only player to total 30 + home runs every year. Five players; Prince Fielder, Adam Dunn, Albert Pujols, Adrian Beltre and Jay Bruce have reached that mark in three of the last four years.

Examining the home run totals unearthed some real surprises. David Ortiz never hit more than 20 home runs until he was 27 years old. Rafael Palmeiro never climbed to 30+ HR’s until he was 28. Justin Upton has only reached 30 dingers once in seven big league seasons. Adrian Beltre, consistent since 2010, had his first 30+ home run season in his 13th big league year. Matt Kemp has only had one 30+ home run total in eight seasons, Joey Votto one in seven campaigns, and Robinson Cano has reached 30 or more HR’s once in his nine years in the big leagues.

And, even the great home run sluggers many times had a disastrous campaign, at least on their standards, somewhere along the line. For example at 26 years old, Willie McCovey hit .220 with 18 HR’s and only 54 RBI’s. When he was 27 years old, Mark McGwire hit 21 HR’s with 75 RBI’s, batted .201 with a .383 slugging percentage. It happens.

All these home runs numbers leave me wondering about Ike Davis. It’s not like Ike Davis doesn’t have the power potential to hit the ball out of the park. Just one season removed, Davis put himself on the 30+ leader board slamming the ball out of the yard 32 times, with all but 5 of those home runs coming in his final 100 games.

The beginning of the 2013 season was a train wreck for Davis. After he was demoted to Las Vegas, he returned to Flushing and was showing improved offensive output when an oblique injury put him on the shelf for the remainder of the season.

Every indication leads Met fans to believe the front office has run out of patience with Davis. The fear of the demoralizing effect a third straight ice cold spring would have on the team has trumped the longball potential Davis brings to the team.

With so few baseball sluggers slamming the ball consistently our of the park (only 3 – 30+ HR hitters in the NL in 2013) and with no other internal promising options at first base at the moment, I can’t help but wonder if this direction is unwise or premature.

Every time I think I have run out of patience with Davis, I consider the alternative, Lucas Duda, and I find a little extra patience in my tank. There is very little difference in their stat line, although, Duda’s defensive WAR totals, whether as an outfielder or a first baseman are scary.

              AB     R   2B  HR  RBI   BA    OBP   SLG   OWar  DWar
Lucas  Duda   1,104  134  58  44  153  .246  .342  .424   3.6   -6.3
Ike  Davis    1,488  196  81  67  219  .242  .334  .434   4.2   -1.5

On paper, the differences seem pretty insignificant. In my gut, there’s a much wider gap that tips in favor of Davis. When I consider both Davis and Duda in terms of positive potential at someday regularly posting 30+ HR numbers, I come down on the side of Davis again. And, when I consider which guy I want patrolling the bag at first base, especially with an infield of questionable defensive acumen, it’s Davis by a long shot.

If the Mets don’t go outside the organization to fill their first base needs, I think they need to think long and hard about who they tab as next year’s starting first baseman. The cost of now is sometimes a loss for the future. Patience never guarantees longterm success, but it dramatically increases the odds.

not typical metsmerized

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Road Warriors: Mets Take Down The Reds In 1-0 Thriller At Great American http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/road-warriors-mets-take-down-the-reds-in-1-0-thriller-at-great-american.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/road-warriors-mets-take-down-the-reds-in-1-0-thriller-at-great-american.html/#comments Wed, 25 Sep 2013 20:12:45 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=130014 matsuzaka centeno

Daisuke Matsuzaka hurled 7.2 shutout innings as the New York Mets beat the Cincinnati Reds 1-0 this afternoon at Great American Ball Park.

Dice-K was superb, holding the Reds to just four hits and two walks in what was undoubtedly his best performance of the season. Dice-K was an intimidating presence on the mound and displayed improved command while owning the inside part of the plate. He struck out six.

Before I get into the offense (what offense?), I gotta give props to Juan Centeno who called one of the most amazing games I’ve seen all year. Dice-K shook him off just once the whole game and it led to a a hard-hit single by Jay Bruce in the second inning. After that, Dice-K let the rookie call the shots the rest of the way. Centeno also showed off that arm I’ve raved about for two years on MMO when he became the first catcher to throw out speedster Billy Hamilton in the fifth inning. Hamilton may just be the fastest baserunner the game has seen since… wait for it… Rickey Henderson. It was a huge out. Outstanding job by Centeno who should be the backup to Travis d’Arnaud next season.

eric young jr

Eric Young Jr. drove in the only run in the game when he singled to right field to drive home Wilfredo Tovar after reaching on a hit-by-pitch. That was it for the Amazins offensively as Matt Latos and the Reds bullpen held the Mets do just four hits.

Another nice job by the Mets bullpen although Pedro Feliciano made things interesting in the eighth inning, but with runners on 2nd and 3rd he retired the always dangerous Joey VottoLaTroy Hawkins finished things off and pitched a 1-2-3 9th to earn his 13th save of the season. Wow, what a season for the Hawk…

The Mets wrap up their final game on the road with a series win and a 41-40 road record on the season.

Tomorrow they head back to Citi Field where they begin their final series of the season against the Milwaukee Brewers. Dillon Gee (12-10, 3.54) will oppose Johnny Hellweg (1-4, 7.43) in a 7:10 PM start.

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AL Defeats NL 3-0 In Mid-Summer Classic Amid Some Memorable Moments http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/07/al-defeats-nl-3-0-in-mid-summer-classic-amid-some-memorable-moments.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/07/al-defeats-nl-3-0-in-mid-summer-classic-amid-some-memorable-moments.html/#comments Wed, 17 Jul 2013 04:29:11 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=124959

Well the 2013 All-Star Game has come to a close as the American League defeated the National League by the score of 3-0. It was the lowest-scoring All-Star Game since 1990, when the AL earned a 2-0 victory.

I loved the Opening Ceremonies and it was great to see Carlos Beltran and Mariano Rivera get some nice ovations, but not nearly as loud and boisterous as the ovations for the Mets All-Stars David Wright and Matt Harvey.

USP-MLB_-All-Star-Game matt harvey

Matt Harvey was greeted by a first pitch double by leadoff hitter Mike Trout, but then went on to pitch two scoreless innings and facing eight batters while striking out three.

Things got a little scary when he hit the Yankees’ Robinson Cano just above the knee and he was removed from the game. Harvey apologized to Cano afterward and it looks like the All Star second baseman will be fine.

“The last thing I wanted to do was go out there and possibly injure somebody,” Harvey said.

david wright

David Wright, who has now made more All-Star Game appearances than any other Met in franchise history (7), went 1-for-3 with a single. This will end a whirlwind three days for Wright who was running around all over the city as the face of the Mets and the face of this All-Star Game, acting as the unofficial ambassador and saying all the right things.

“I’m glad that I could help promote this game,” said Wright. “I’m glad that I could help represent the New York Mets. I look at is as trying to be a good host. I think I’m trying to be a good ambassador for the game and then obviously trying to be an ambassador for the New York Mets. That’s kind of the responsibility that I feel.”

Some of the in-game entertainment included was Candice Glover singing the National Anthem, Marc Anthony singing God Bless America, and Neil Diamond singing Sweet Caroline. When I first heard Diamond would be appearing I thought it was silly, but then I learned it was to honor the bombings in Boston. Both Diamond and Anthony absolutely energized the crowd.

mariano rivera

Then Mariano Rivera came out to pitch the eighth inning and it was the highlight of the evening for me. That’s what I will remember most about this All-Star Game. Citi Field blasted Metallica’s Enter Sandman while players and coaches in both dugouts came out and applauded him while the crowd gave him a 4-minute standing ovation. It was quite a moment and everyone was on their feet.

Rivera was named the All-Star Game MVP for his 1-2-3 inning. Afterward, he was to emotional to speak, but eventually got out a few choice humble comments. Classy as always.

All in all it was a great Mid-Summer Classic and the largest crowd in Citi Field history nearing close to 42,000 fans including standing room only.

harvey wright

Original Post 3:30 PM

The starting lineups for tonight are…

American League

  1. CF: Mike Trout, Angels
  2. 2B: Robinson Cano, Yankees
  3. 3B: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
  4. 1B: Chris Davis, Orioles
  5. LF: Jose Bautista, Blue Jays
  6. DH: David Ortiz, Red Sox
  7. RF: Adam Jones, Orioles
  8. C: Joe Mauer, Twins
  9. SS: J.J. Hardy, Orioles

Starting pitcher: Max Scherzer, Tigers

National League:

  1. 2B Brandon Phillips, Reds
  2. RF: Carlos Beltran, Cardinals
  3. 1B: Joey Votto, Reds
  4. 3B: David Wright, Mets
  5. LF: Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies
  6. C Yadier Molina, Cardinals
  7. SS: Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies
  8. DH: Michael Cuddyer, Rockies
  9. CF: Bryce Harper, Nationals

Starting pitcher: Matt Harvey, Mets

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Some Observations During The Mets’ Four-Game Winning Streak http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/05/some-obersavations-during-the-mets-four-game-winning-streak.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/05/some-obersavations-during-the-mets-four-game-winning-streak.html/#comments Thu, 30 May 2013 16:11:37 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=120337 wright davis

After a brief hiatus taking finals, I’m back to subject myself to more repetitive anxiety by watching Mets games.

It’s been interesting to step away for a week and come back with a fresh perspective. Things have changed a bit. The Mets have a four-game winning streak for one.

There are some things that haven’t changed—or they’ve gotten worse. Here are a few observations I’ve made over the last week:

Lucas Duda is improving

I like what Duda has been doing at the plate lately. In the last seven days he’s batted .320 with eight hits, one home run and five RBIs. His OBP is also .346 in that stretch. His numbers aren’t sexy, but they’re solid. He’s not taking the first pitch every time anymore. If it’s a first pitch fastball, you’ll usually see a healthy cut from Duda. That’s a promising sight for an RBI guy like him. If he can improve on his already successful plate discipline, he could be poised for a productive year. He should be a lock in the three or four spot. I almost like him better batting third because it gives David Wright, a better hitter, more chances to hit with more runners on base similar to the Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips tandem in Cincinnati.

Ike Davis is appalling

I know. We’ve all heard it so much, but it bears repeating as long as he stays in the lineup. You know a guy’s going badly when the nicknames for him on Twitter start getting creative.

  • Strike Davis
  • Ikkke
  • Ike Vegas

The list goes on. Don’t be deceived by his recent 2-for-4 performance Mets fans. His approach at the plate still needs a lot of work. His hands are so low when the pitch comes in it’s amazing he can even make contact. He’s doing a lot of flailing during at-bats even when he winds up with a hit. His multi-hit game might even make things worse for the team. He could get enough slack to start another horrendous slump.

Matt Harvey is putrid

Okay, maybe putrid isn’t a good word. I just like classifying his pitches in words like “filthy” or “disgusting.” That’s what Harvey’s been even on off days. He now holds a tidy 1.83 ERA with 84 strike outs and 17 walks in 78 innings pitched, but is only 5-0. I’ve expressed my fears about this situation. Onus isn’t put on the win-loss record so much, but you can see Harvey getting visibly frustrated during these games. When Brett Gardner scored the Yankees only run in Tuesday’s win, Harvey’s rage was too much to contain. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but mark my words; he’s going to wear himself out mentally and physically if he doesn’t get more run support.

Daniel Murphy is the model of consistency

Remember when Murphy was in a 9-for-61 slump? Me either. Double Dan is back to his old ways with four doubles in the last seven games and batting over .300 again. So far, this is the third season in a row where Murphy has been putting up these kinds of numbers and it looks like he’ll end up around .300 for the third-straight year.

What are your thoughts during the current streak?

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Can Ike Davis Still Save His Career? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/05/can-ike-davis-still-save-his-career.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/05/can-ike-davis-still-save-his-career.html/#comments Wed, 15 May 2013 15:52:34 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=118935 ike-davis

One of the more frustrating things so far about the 2013 season for the Mets, has to be the ongoing struggles of first baseman Ike Davis. Many of us including myself, were simply salivating of the thought of a breakout season for Davis this year, especially after the way he ended the 2013 season leading the National League in home runs and RBIs.

With the exodus of Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols to the American League, some even envisioned a possible All Star berth along side Joey Votto at Citi Field for the Mid-Summer Classic.

All those glossy expectations are now out the window and instead of celebrating a great season for our first baseman of the future, we are left wondering if Ike Davis will be a part of the solution or the future at all. Trade rumors and speculation are already abounding.

Manager Terry Collins can’t make up his mind what to do with his struggling power hitter and after vowing to leave him in the cleanup spot for as long as it takes, he was dropped to the seven spot of the order two days later.

Andrew Kahn, who has written for the Wall Street Journal, Newsday and ESPN, sheds some light on the matter in a comprehensive article today which you can read here.

Using Baseball-Reference’s “Similarity Scores,” he gathers a list of players who compared with David through their age 25 seasons. Among them you will find Carlos Delgado, Mo Vaughn, Eric Karros and David Ortiz to name a few.

However, the key difference between Davis and the other players in the chart, he writes, is that they had a breakout season. “A year in which they performed close to how they’d perform over the rest of their career at age 25 or 26.”

He tackles the question I posed in the title, and does a good job of concluding that if Ike Davis is ever going to be the player we all thought he would be and thus save his career, then this is the year to prove it. Read Andrew’s full article here.

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Duda Is Second In The Major Leagues With A .491 On-Base and 1.234 OPS http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/04/duda-is-second-in-the-major-leagues-with-a-491-on-base-and-1-234-ops.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/04/duda-is-second-in-the-major-leagues-with-a-491-on-base-and-1-234-ops.html/#comments Sat, 20 Apr 2013 16:25:54 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=115002 lucas duda

Updated by Joe D. on 4/20

What a game it was for Lucas Duda last night in the Mets 7-1 win against the Nationals. Duda had his best game ever as a Met going 2-for-3 with hit two home runs and a walk . The hulking Mets left fielder is now batting .308 for the season with five home runs and eight RBI in 14 games. Duda’s patience has paid off as Adam Rossi said it would in the post below three days ago.

Duda in now second in the Major Leagues with 12 walks, a .491 On-Base Percentage and a staggering 1.234 OPS. That’s absolutely incredible.

According to FanGraphs, Duda is swinging at only 12.7 percent of pitches outside the strike zone so far this season, which again points out much of what Adam discussed in his analysis below. It’s definitely worth a second read…

Original Post April 17, 2012

Heading into the 2013, no Met has more pressure on him than Lucas Duda. For the past four years, Duda has shown flashes of power that could make him a good middle-of-the-order hitter. He has also provided a lot of head-scratching moments, somewhat unintentionally comical, both at the plate and in the field.

We know one thing is certain with Duda: he is not going to win ballgames with his defense. Nevertheless, if he can put up the power numbers that he’s been teasing everybody with this season, he should become a valuable player. All that teasing has caused Sandy Alderson and rest of this Mets front office to be very patient with Duda, and now he may finally be rewarding them for that patience because of…well…his patience.

Duda Doesn’t Chase

One could look at Lucas Duda’s stats through 13 games, see his .469 OBP, and easily realize Duda has been taking a lot of walks so far (11 walks in 49 plate appearances, to be exact). But that does not tell us much about whether or not he can sustain anything throughout the season. The following stat, however, is encouraging: 14.1% O-Swing % — in other words, Duda has only swung at 14.1% of pitches outside the strike zone. What’s even more encouraging is the fact that his O-Swing % has been steadily improving. In 2011, his O-Swing % was 29.8%, followed by 25.3% in 2012. I don’t expect his percentage to remain this low throughout the whole season, but if he can keep it under 25%, that would be significant. To understand how significant, let’s look at Joey Votto, who is arguably the most patient hitter in baseball. His career O-Swing % is 25.3%. Lucas Duda is not going to be Joey Votto, but he can at least provide part of what makes Votto such a valuable player.

With Patience Comes Power 

Obviously taking pitches helps a player with more than just his walk rate. The more pitches a batter sees, the more knowledge he gains about what the pitcher is throwing. More importantly, the more bad pitches a batter takes, the more he forces a pitcher to throw him strikes, which means the more opportunities he will get to hit a mistake and hit it hard. This has also benefited Duda early on in the season. Pitchers have thrown Duda a first pitch strike only 44.9% of the time this season, which means he has been starting off his at-bats in a 1-0 count 55% of the time. On top of that, pitchers have thrown him pitches in the strike zone 44.1% of the time, compared to 37.6% last year. What that tells me is that pitchers are starting to realize Duda won’t chase balls out of the zone, so they are being forced to throw him more strikes. As a result, Duda has improved his chances of getting a ball in the zone by 7% so far. And when you start throwing a lot of strikes to a player with Duda’s power, it’s going to result in a lot of hard hit balls.

Making Contact 

Of course, the only way Duda can make use of all the strikes he’s seeing is by making contact with the ball. This has been a problem with Duda throughout his young career, but there are once again early signs that show improvement. While he still has a pretty high strikeout rate this season (22.4%), it has been better than last year (26.1%). Also, his swing-and-miss percentage has improved by nearly 2% (7% this season, compared to 9.1% in 2012). Some of that may have to do with the fact that he isn’t swinging as much as he has in the past. Along with not swinging at pitches out of the zone, Duda also has not been swinging at as many pitches in the zone. After swinging at 64.2% of strikes in 2011 and 62.5% last year, Duda has only swung at 50% of strikes that have been thrown to him this year. That may not be a terrible thing though, since many times pitchers make good pitches that a hitter can’t do much with, even if it is a strike, and they are better off letting it go. On top of that, by not swinging as much, Duda has improved his chances of making contact when he does swing. And improving your chances can only help bring success.

It is still way too early to claim somebody a breakout player or a bust, but it is not too early to look at early season trends and try to figure out what could happen. If the Mets are going to have any success this season, there’s a good chance Lucas Duda will be a part of that. Perhaps it’s not a coincidence  then, that both he and the Mets are off to a good start.

(Note: All stats mentioned in this post are courtesy of Fangraphs)

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Zack Wheeler Walked Six And Was Pulled After 4.1 Innings http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/04/zack-wheeler-walks-six-and-was-pulled-after-4-1-innings.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/04/zack-wheeler-walks-six-and-was-pulled-after-4-1-innings.html/#comments Sat, 20 Apr 2013 05:58:33 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=115473 For those of you hoping to see Zack Wheeler build upon his last start, tonight’s results will come as a disappointment to you. Unfortunately for Wheeler, he never seemed to find his comfort zone, and he walked a season high six batters tonight and failed to complete the fifth inning before Wally Backman had seen enough and pulled him from the game.

His overall line left a lot to be desired, as he allowed four earned runs off three hits and the aforementioned six walks, while striking out four in 4.1 innings.

zack wheeler

Wheeler is under a lot of pressure as the Mets’ top prospect right now and he seems to be running into the same issues he’s always had – walking too many batters. If you break down his start a little further, you can see that he threw 108 pitches. His strike to ball ratio was 61:47, which was rough, and nowhere near the level of efficiency we need to see from him.

He blew a 4-1 lead in the fifth inning, where he was eventually lifted in favor of Greg Peavey. To be fair, Wheeler left with the bases loaded and Peavey allowed all three inherited runners to score, but he was still wild overall and they were his runners.

This was Zack’s second start since the blister problem that was causing him discomfort in his first two starts. This was also one of Wheeler’s worst starts since joining the New York Mets organization after being acquired for Carlos Beltran.

As Mr. North Jersey mentioned in the comments, we can only hope there is no injury issue at play here, and that this is all a part of his growing pains. The potential still remains for Wheeler to become a dominant ace-like pitcher in the near future, so remember that this is all part of the process.

Thoughts from Joe D.

As I said after Wheeler’s last start, was his no-walk performance a sign of things to come, or just a fluke and a blip on the radar given the control problems that have plagued him throughout his pro career?

This is now fourth straight start in which he failed to deliver six innings. It was another start where his pitch count was remarkably bad. 108 pitches and only 61 strikes in 4.1 innings is not going to get anyone promoted to the majors no matter how high you rank on Baseball America’s Top Prospect. You still have to execute.

So far this season, Wheeler has pitched a total of 18.1 innings, averaging only 4.5 innings per start. That’s not going to cut it. He’s walked 12 and allowed 17 hits and his ERA now stands at an unsightly 4.91 his WHIP is now north of 2.00. The thing of it is that you can’t blame all those walks on the PCL or park factors. This has been a chronic problem for Wheeler throughout his career.

Collin McHugh, who I bring up all the time and am very high on, has walked just four batters in 18 innings and has 0.49 ERA to lead the team if you’re looking for a comparison.

And yet despite all of this data, day in and day out Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins are constantly bombarded with questions asking when Wheeler will be promoted.

Wheeler simply has not shown any signs that he is ready to take on the likes of Joey Votto, Bryce Harper and a host of other National League sluggers. He is not ready to mow down a major league lineup.

As one scout told Kevin Kernan yesterday, there’s dozens of pitchers who can throw 98 mph. Until Wheeler can consistently string together at least a half dozen quality starts (6.0 IP, 3 ER) calling him up shouldn’t be an option. How does promoting him now help him from a development standpoint, or more importantly how does he help the backend of our rotation?

When your pitch count is consistently around 90 pitches after four innings, how can you possibly provide any relief to an already very taxed Mets bullpen?

You can disagree with me all you want, but this is not a slight mechanical kink he needs to work out. The problem is much deeper than that. Zack Wheeler is simply not ready for major league duty and needs to show he can handle a full season in Triple-A. Currently, there are 30 qualified starting pitchers in the PCL who have a better ERA and WHIP than Zack Wheeler.

Terry Collins said back in March that if Wheeler wanted to make it to the Mets he needed to go to Las Vegas and lead the league in pitching. Wheeler isn’t even close.

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MMO Fan Shot: Defending Minaya’s Minor Leagues http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/03/mmo-fan-shot-defending-minayas-minor-leagues.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/03/mmo-fan-shot-defending-minayas-minor-leagues.html/#comments Fri, 23 Mar 2012 03:43:20 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=75098

One of the misconceptions about Omar Minaya’s tenure as GM is that he ignored the minor leagues, and did a bad job of developing players. But the Mets do have a solid group of young players from Minaya. We have quality players in both the majors, and minors from him.

 Lucas Duda who was drafted in the 7th round in the 2007 MLB draft, last year did a great job filling in for Carlos Beltran, hitting .304 with 9HR’s and 36 RBI in 181 AB’s. He led all NL Rookies in OBP and SLUG%, and was 3rd in batting average.  Duda has tremendous power and could easily hit 30HR’s in a full season. And current Mets GM, Sandy Alderson has compared Duda to Joey Votto and Jason Giambi.

Ike Davis was the Mets 1st round pick in 2008. Davis was having a breakout season last year until he collided with David Wright trying to catch a pop up. Davis was hitting .302 with 7 HR’s and 25 RBI. If you translate that into a full season, that’s 32HR’s and 113 RBI. Davis like Duda, has tremendous power. He’s hit some really long distance HR’s, and I think there’s no doubt he can hit 30+ HR’s in a full season. And not only is he a great power hitter, but he plays gold glove caliber defense at 1st base.

Daniel Murphy was the Mets 13th round pick in 2006. The problem with Murphy has always been his defense, but he’s a great hitter.  He’s a career .292 hitter, and last year his average was .320. Before his injury last year, Murphy was top five in the league in hitting and in doubles. Murphy was on fire when the Mets started playing him full time, hitting .338 to the end of the year.  Now with the walls being moved in, I can see Murphy hitting 15-20HR’s.

Jon Niese was the Mets 7th round pick in the 2005 MLB draft. Niese is a big lefthander with a nasty curveball.  I think Niese has the potential to be a number 2 or 3 starter. Last year, Niese showed flashes where he looked really good; his curveball looked almost unhittable some games.  His biggest problem has been his stamina.  His career ERA for the month of September is 7.09. He had offseason nose surgery to help with his breathing, so hopefully that will help his stamina. At age 25 I think 2012 will be a breakout year for Niese.

Ruben Tejada was signed by the Mets as an amateur free agent in 2006. Tejada is a solid middle infielder. He plays good defense, he has a good average, and OBP. What’s not to like about this guy?  The best part about him is that he’s still only 22 years old, so we likely haven’t seen him at his best yet.  Tejada  has also added  a lot muscle in the offseason, and is much stronger than he was last year, so he should hit for more power than last year.

The Mets selected Dillon Gee in the 21st round of the 2007 draft.  Gee started off the season great, going 8-1 with a 3.32 ERA. There was even some talk of him possibly making the all-star team. But the final three months of the year were awful for Gee.  His ERA was for the last three months was 5.42. According to Gee, his problems in the 2nd half of last season were because of fatigue. So, if Gee can work on his stamina, the Mets have a solid back of the rotation starter in Dillon Gee.

The Mets also have some good prospects in minors from Minaya like Matt Harvey. Harvey was picked 7th overall in the 2010 draft. He was 13-5 with a 3.32 ERA and 154 K’s in 135 IP in A and AA last year. He was rated 54th best prospect by Baseball America. Harvey’s fastball  is usually around 94-96 MPH. We might see Harvey in the majors by the end of the season, and he has the potential to be a number 1 starter.

Other players we have in the minors from Minaya are Jeurys Familia and Jenrry Mejia. Both are hard throwers, and have the potential to be successful big league starters. Familia had a 2.90 ERA with 132 K’s in 124 IP last season in A and AA.  Mejia missed most of last year because of TJ surgery, but he’s expected to rebound from the injury, and start pitching in games again in May.

There’s also Kirik Nieuwenhuis, who was hitting .300 in AAA last season, and would have been called up to the majors  if he didn’t get injured. One of the Mets outfield prospects,  Juan Lagares, hit .350 in A and AA last season. And Darin Gorski, dominated A ball last year going 11-3 with an 2.08 ERA. The Mets also have some high upside pitchers in the low minors with  Morris, Tapia, and Urbina.

So, even though many people don’t give Minaya credit for the minor leagues, and developing players, he did leave the Mets with a solid group of young players that have a bright future.

This Fan Shot was submitted by MMO reader, Vinny B. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over ten-thousand Mets fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to GetMetsmerized@aol.com. Or ask about being a regular contributor, and share your opinions with an engaging community that loves to debate.

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MMO Reader’s Observation On Duda vs. Votto http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/02/mmo-readers-observation-on-duda-vs-votto.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/02/mmo-readers-observation-on-duda-vs-votto.html/#comments Thu, 01 Mar 2012 00:19:41 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=73509   

Earlier today, in a post that debated the merits of Sandy Alderson’s comparison of Lucas Duda to Joey Votto, we ended up with over 250+ comments. As sometimes happens here, the conversation veered into something completely off topic, in this case a discussion between batting average versus on-base percentage.

However there was one reader who stayed on topic and posted something worth considering that I didn’t want to see get lost in the shuffle:

I wonder if Sandy Alderson knew how statistically similar Duda and Votto’s first full seasons were when he made his comments yesterday?

I’ve been singing the praises of Duda for a while now, but hearing about Joey Votto as a comparable player is one thing, seeing it like this really puts an exclamation point on it.

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Doug’s Dugout: Seeing Red, Mets Slayers, Yard Sales http://metsmerizedonline.com/2010/07/dougs-dugout-seeing-red-mets-slayers-yard-sales.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2010/07/dougs-dugout-seeing-red-mets-slayers-yard-sales.html/#comments Tue, 06 Jul 2010 15:21:27 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=30770

In Doug’s Dugout today we discuss: The Reds, The Sellers, Met Killers, and Carlos Beltran.

While the current version of the Cincinnati Reds are not the re-incarnation of “The Big Red Machine,” they can mash with the best of today’s MLB contingent.

Currently on a pace to smack 200 homeruns (have 104 after Monday night’s win over the Mets) and factoring in their friendly Great American Ballpark dimensions (and the steamy Ohio summer) and the Reds just might bludgeon the rest of the National League into submission.

Led by all-star snub du jour, Joey Votto, two home runs last night, and 21 in half a season, and a healthy Scott Rolen (17), along with an entire outfield of double-figure contributors (Drew Stubbs had three alone last Sunday).

Make no mistake, the Redlegs are for real. Walt Jockety (ex-Cards GM) has done it again. They could be in a market for a pitcher and their bullpen is decent led by an all-star set-up man, and seemingly social security eligible, 40-year old Arthur Rhodes. He still brings the heat.

They had their way with Mike Pelfrey last night, but so has everyone armed with lumber his last five starts. His all-star snub aside, the break could not come at a better time for him. Let him exhale and gather himself and regain his ten-win form in the second half.

Because last night we saw the old Pelf re-emerge, coming unraveled over a horrendous umpire overturn (you just don’t see a second base ump overruling what has always been the home plate’s call) and a missed strike three.

As always, the Mets fought back. Hopefully Jose Reyes returns tonight.

That can’t be said for Carlos Beltran. Word is he will join the ranks after the mid-summer hiatus. Hopefully he (finally) is ready to go fulltime for the remainder of the sked. Mets fans have been patient and a handful of games, if Beltran and the medical staff concur, should not matter. Providing he is healthy for the entire second half

Needless to say, I was disappointed to hear he won’t be back for the rest of the Cincy series and the weekend clash with the first-place rival (hated) Bravos. Okay, Carlos, you have had your rehab time, now be the impact player you are paid to be. All hands on deck for the second half.

Speaking of beefing up the troops the Mets cannot compete with the Twins for Cliff Lee if the reports they offered the catching stud Wilson Ramos for the talented lefty. The Mariners have made it clear that they want a catching prospect and Ramos easily trumps Josh Thole.

Moreover, if the Twins are making a pre-eminent strike, they could be willing to pay more to bolster their staff. Lee gives them a chance against the Yankees in post-season play. Without him they are first-round fodder (again) for the Bombers. The Twinkies are also always stacked with prospects-it’s how they’ve competed as a small market club all these years.

Besides Seattle, the AL sellers could be Baltimore, Kansas City, and Cleveland. In the NL maybe Florida, Milwaukee, Houston, Pittsburgh (sadly, always), and Arizona. That means the Mets hope to add another starter lies in the second tier of talent, such as, the Tribe’s Jake Westbrook.

The Diamondback’s Dan Haren would be a fine addition. He devours innings and keeps his team in most games. Omar has to make a bid on him if he hits the market.

The Marlins, Orioles, and Pirates are perpetually in austerity mode come July. However, Florida won’t trade with the Mets, and the Birds roster is dreck, excluding Adam Jones and Nick Markakas.

Finally, what constitutes a Met killer? Back in the day it was Tommy Hutton when he faced Tom Seaver. Or the Expos’ Ron Fairly verses any Mets hurler. Today it seems like the entire Marlins roster and most of the Nationals. Each team plays the Mets like their life is on the line.

For some reason the Mets go into a shell against both teams and can’t administer the knock-out blow. Could be Cody Ross or Josh Willingham one night, Dan Uggla and Willie (Bleeping) Harris the next.

It’s not fair to include the ultra-talented Hanley Ramirez and Ryan Zimmerman into the lump, because they have proven to be MLB killers, not just NY. But they always seem to be in the mix along with Adam Dunn and a cast of 50.

You can add Joey Votto to that list (of Mets and baseball killers). They can’t get him out for beans, and he should be the fans’ choice for the 34th and final all-star roster spot.

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Was Johan’s Gem A Glimpse Into The Future? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2010/07/was-johans-gem-a-glimpse-into-the-future.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2010/07/was-johans-gem-a-glimpse-into-the-future.html/#comments Tue, 06 Jul 2010 04:25:05 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=30824 In watching Johan Santana toy with Cincinnati it was almost as if he were telling Mike Pelfrey, “Mike, this is how you do it.’’

While Santana isn’t as consistently dominant as he used to be, for one night he was as good as ever, throwing a three-hit shutout of the Reds, 3-0, with the game-winning run coming on his first career home run.

And in the ninth inning, after Jason Bay’s dropped pop-up in left, Santana told Jerry Manuel, “I‘ll finish it.’’

I’m willing to be those weren’t the exact words, something along the lines of “this is my game,’’ or to quote Dallas Braden’s T-Shirt, “get off my mound.’’

And, it was, from start to finish, when he struck out Joey Votto with one out and a runner on third in the first, to the ninth, when he needed only two of his 113 pitches after Jason Bay’s error to nail down the victory.

Santana was concerned about tipping his changeup during a four-start slump in which he gave up at least four runs in each. Santana would wiggle his glove when he reached in for the right grip. Santana lowered his hands and modified how he gripped the ball.

Also, as he continues his recovery from elbow surgery last September he’s building up his arm strength and consequently pumped up his fastball into the low 90s.

The result has been movement on the fastball, making it bite at the finish, which fooled Votto in the first. Jeff Francoeur said opponents have been taking swings the way he used to take swings at Santana.

Twelve strikeouts in his last two starts, both gems, offers proof and hope for the second half. Santana has always been a good second half pitcher, going 61-19 lifetime with a 2.73 ERA.

There’s nothing special about Santana’s current record, but his seven no-decisions speak volumes. With a little luck and run support, he could have a dozen wins by now.

Maybe he’ll get that dozen in the second half, which could make for a wonderful ride.

Get more Mets analysis at the New York Mets Report.

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