Saturday, July 4, 2015

Mets Nip Dodgers by a Run

Thanks to a bloop double to left by Duda, an infield single by Flores,  a sacrifice fly to deep center by Plawecki, all at the top of the ninth, plus superb pitching by Syndergaard, Robles, and Familia, the Mets eked out a 2-1 win in Los Angeles. Other than that, another scrambled lineup, this one with Mayberry batting cleanup despite hitting only .193 with an ISO of .182.

In the seventh, Cuddyer returned to the lineup, pinch-hitting, but struck out, his 68th strikeout this season against 18 walks, a 3.8 to 1 ratio, far above his career K/BB ratio of 2.1 to 1.

In an article posted today on mets.com, GM Sandy Alderson is quoted as saying this about the team's performance:
"I've talked with hitting coaches. I know what they're doing," he said. "They see progress, I see progress in terms of peripherals. That's not to say we're going to stick with the players we have. There are reasons hidden among the angst for some optimism. But we're also looking at ways to change things up a little bit."
What the heck is "progress in terms of peripherals"? He's speaking too much like a politician.

Friday, July 3, 2015

A Close-Up Look at a Mets' Losing Lineup

The boxscore below is for the Mets July 2, 2015 home game against the Cubs, the third game in a row they lost to the Cubs, the Mets shut out in the first two. Only three batters in the lineup are hitting above .250 while four are hitting below .200. It is not a lineup that will cause concern for an opposing pitcher. Complicating matters is the slump that the #4 hitter, Lucas Duda, is experiencing.


Image Credit: CBSSports.com
During June, Duda hit only .179 while striking out in 31% of his 96 At Bats. In an interview published in yesterday's Star-Ledger in the article, "Which player says sad Mets offense is his fault?," Duda said this about his June performance:
"Essentially, it's centered around me," Duda said after the Mets 2-0 loss to the Cubs. "I'm not getting job done. I'm not moving guys over. I'm not getting guys in. I've had a pretty tough month, actually. But I'm going to continue to work hard and prepare like I do. I have a good feeling it's going to change."
I'd rather know what he's doing wrong, what he needs to correct? What are the Mets two hitting coaches, Kevin Long and Pat Roessler, telling him?

In another Star-Ledger article, "Terry Collins' message to the struggling Mets: Just relax," Terry Collins is quoted as telling the team this after their latest loss:
"I just told them, 'No disrespect to anybody in this room, we've got to lighten it up around here,'" Collins said. "I mean, they are so tense and so tight. They are so worried about making a big out instead of walking up there like they're going to get a hit."
That's fine too. But it seems that the team needs to do more than relax. The big question: "What's that more"? Before a recent Cubs-Mets game, Cubs manager Joe Maddon had a magician perform for his team; the Cubs won the game. Maybe the Mets need some of that magic.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

One Reason for Mets Weak Offense

Yesterday, in a game against a Cubs pitcher, Kyle Hendricks, who had given up 11 runs and 15 hits in his previous two starts (five innings each) and who entered the game with a 4.46 ERA, the Mets could only manage two singles and a double, scoring zero runs.

One of the Mets problems is the middle of the order, their 3-4-5 hitters. In the three-slot should be the team's best hitter. In that slot yesterday was Lucas Duda, who is batting only .260 with an ISO of .186, one fangraphs.com rates as slightly above average. But he is also striking out 22.7% (72) of his plate appearances or almost one in four. In the fourth-slot should be the team's best power hitter. Manning that slot yesterday was Daniel Murphy, hitting .282, but with an ISO of only .134, one fangraphs.com rates as below average, plus also below the National League average ISO for 2015 of .138. And in the fifth-slot was Michael Cuddyer, a player for whom the Mets sacrificed their 2015 first-round pick. He's hitting just .243 with an ISO of .122, which is also one fangraphs.com rates as below average. Worse, he has struck out in 23.7% (67) of his plate appearances and driven in just 28 runs in 72 games. In contrast, last season with the Rockies in just 49 games he drove in 31 runs and hit .332. Further, between Duda and Cuddyer, yesterday's #3 and #5 hitters, they have struck out 139 times.

In summary, one reason for the Mets weak offense has been the players batting in the third, fourth, and fifth slots.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

On the Farm: Corey Taylor

With the Brooklyn Cyclones, Corey Taylor's first pro stop, he is continuing the stinginess he exhibited in his senior year at Texas Tech where in 57.1 innings he yielded only two earned runs, that college performance earning him All-Big 12 First Team honors and a spot as an NCBWA All-American (third team).
Photo Credit: Brooklyn Cyclones

With a fastball reaching 92-93 mph, Taylor's ERA was the lowest in Division 1 baseball this past college season, his WHIP of 0.85 was the fifth lowest, and his hits allowed per nine innings was the tenth lowest.

In his senior season, in 19 appearances (18 in relief), he did not lose a game. He gave up only 36 hits and 13 walks while striking out 32, opponents hitting only .186 against him. Further, he pitched 24-2/3 innings without giving up an earned run.

The Mets drafted the right-hander in the seventh round.

In his three Cyclones appearances, here is what Taylor has done: 1 hit, 0 walks, three strikeouts, no earned runs, WHIP = 0.33.

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Odds Are Against Mets Making Playoffs

In his book, Beyond Batting Average, Lee Panas mentions a study he did of the relationship between how many runs a team scored and how many it allowed for the 1988-2008 seasons and whether the team made the playoffs.

Offensively, teams that ranked in the top third for runs scored received a "Good" rating; teams that ranked in the middle third, an "OK rating; and teams that ranked in the bottom third, a "Poor" rating. Similarly, defensively, teams that ranked in the top third for runs allowed (with the top team the one that allowed the least number of runs) received a "Good" rating; teams that ranked in the middle third, an "OK rating; and teams that ranked in the bottom third, a "Poor" rating.

Applying Panas' concept to the current Mets team through June 28, the Mets are next-to-last (14 of 15) in runs scored (Poor)—only the Phillies were worse—and #4 in runs allowed (Good). Thus, the Mets are in the bottom third offensively and the top third defensively.

Using a table in Panas' book on page 20, in the 1988-2008 seasons, only six percent of those Poor/Good teams made the playoffs. That percent does not bode well for the 2015 Mets.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Dominic Smith on a Surge

Its not often that a hitter gets four hits in a game. In yesterday's St. Lucie Mets game, three hitters did that, Jeff McNeil (4-5), Daniel Murphy (4-5), and Dominic Smith (4-5) with Smith having the best night, doubling twice and driving in three runs. After a slow start this season, Smith has upped his average to .305, hitting .400 in his last 10 games. He now has the fifth-highest batting average in the Florida State League and is leading the league in doubles with 24.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Three Things the Mets Should Do

In their latest road trip, the Mets scored 11 runs in eight games, losing seven of them, going from six games above .500 to being at .500. Except for one game in which they scored four runs, they did not score more than two in any of the other games. In contrast, their three opponents scored 31 runs or almost four times as many. Yet aside from bringing players up from their minor league teams and sending them down to them, the team's been stagnant. But more change is needed. For one, remove Dilson Herrera from the starting lineup: He's hitting .197 and, in today's game, is batting ninth, one of Terry Collins' curious twists. In Herrera's place, turn the minor league turnstile again, and bring up Matt Reynolds from Las Vegas. For another, make Darrell Ceciliani a starting player as the baseball careers of both Cuddyer (age 36) and Granderson (age 34) are on the decline. And third, give serious consideration to also promoting Wally Backman.