Section 518

Where we endeavor to stay positive about the 2011 Mets…

Posts Tagged ‘Josh Thole’

Double Comeback! What Does It Mean! (Something Nice, 4/27/11)

Posted by JD on April 27, 2011

I have to apologize in advance for this post. This series was never meant to be a recap: it was meant to highlight the reasons why watching Mets baseball was enjoyable even when they didn’t walk away with a win. Games like this were not what I had in mind when I came up with this re-occurring bit.

Why am I apologizing? Because the “Something Nice” tonight was the top of the eighth and ninth innings. Is that a cop out? Yes. But it was one thing after the other: Jose Reyes getting jobbed at third, Dan Murphy tying it with a “Blue Collar Blast” (copyright Amazin’ Avenue), Jason Bay reaching on an infield single, Willie Harris benefiting beating out a bunt due to some ugly defense, Chin-lung Hu’s first RBI as a member of the Mets, Josh Thole’s fielders choice RBI, Murphy’s two-run double, and Francisco Rodriguez closing the door. I guess if I had to pick one player I’d go with Murph, but everybody deserves credit for the win (especially the Nationals).

I tried to tweet my feelings about this win immediately after the game ended. I’m not sure I said it right, so I’ll try again here. I fully understand that it’s April and this was a game between two teams that have lost more games than they’ve won. I know this game does not represent a “turning point” in the same way that I know it’s not an indication that the Mets have “figured it out” or that they displayed a willingness to “do whatever it takes to win.” This win symbolizes nothing: it’s just 0.62% of the schedule. I get all that, but it doesn’t diminish the fact that this game was freaking awesome. “Double comeback! What does it mean!”

Not all that much, but boy was it fun to watch. If you watched (or listened) to this game and didn’t get at least a little caught up in it, well, I’m sorry: I’m not sure what to say to you. But if you did? If you cheered wildly when Murph went yard, died a little when Wilson Ramos gave the Nats the lead again, perked up a bit when Hu drove in the tying run, cheered wildly when Thole got the winning “ribeye steak”, and totally lost your shit when Murph doubled in some insurance runs*? Hang on to that. Soak every second of it in. Set your DVR to record the replay and watch it as much as you want: it’s in the books.

Posted in Daniel Murphy, Francisco Rodriguez, Jason Bay, Jose Reyes, Josh Thole, Mets, Something Nice | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Something Nice, 4/26/11

Posted by JD on April 26, 2011

There are several qualified candidates for today’s “Something Nice” but I think credit should be given to the team’s weakest link this season: the much-maligned bullpen. Chris Young started the game and was ok, I guess. He was returning from the disabled list so I guess he should get more slack than the typical pitcher who only last four and two-thirds innings, but it wasn’t close to being a quality start. The score was tied at three when young departed (and those three runs came via three solo homers).

Enter the bullpen. Ryota Igarashi entered in the bottom of the fifth with men on second and third and two outs. He needed all of three pitches to strike out Jayson Werth(less…I know it’s a stupid nickname, but it cracks me up). A Josh Thole RBI double put Iggy in line for the win in the top of the sixth. Taylor Buchholz needed all of 15 pitches to shut out the Nats for two innings and earn the bullpen’s first hold of the night. He handed the ball to Jason Isringhausen, who allowed an RBI double to Wilson Ramos* but limited the damage otherwise and picked up the bullpen’s second hold. After David Wright plated an insurance run in the top of the ninth, Francisco Rodriguez shut the door and picked up his fifth save of the season. So, to recap, the bullpen pitched four and two-thirds innings and picked up the win, two holds, and the save. They’ve had some good outings this season, but the fact that the Nationals tied the game and hung around throughout made this one a little more special, especially since it was the first game of a roadtrip. Not bad at all.

*I’d have to think that when they look at tonight’s boxscore the Twins will regret, however temporarily, trading Ramos for Matt Capps. Ramos went 3-4 with a double, two home runs, two runs scored and three batted in. But hey, at least the Twins have an “established closer”. That’s gotta count for something, right?

Posted in Francisco Rodriguez, Mets, Something Nice | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A Look At The Mets Stolen Base Successes (And Failures)

Posted by JD on February 7, 2011

Last week, Sandy Alderson commented that “stolen bases are a footnote”. He’s right, though as James Kannengeiser of Amazin Avenue noted “the Mets have been an elite base stealing machine over the last few seasons.” Actually, Kannengeiser’s analysis thoroughly covers the issue (that’s not the first time I’ve said that about his work) and I pretty much agree with every word of it, especially his conclusion.

But it got me thinking about which Mets players were the most efficient base stealers. So, I went over to Baseball-Reference.com’s Play Index tool to take a deeper dive. Here’s a few highlights of what I found:

  • 60 Mets have a perfect base stealing percentage. 55 of them stole 4 bases or less, including Tom Seaver (4-4), Kelly Stinnett (4-4), Josh Thole (2-2), Sid Fernandez (1-1) and Ron Darling (1-1).
  • The five players who were 5-5 or better: Paul LoDuca (5-5), Shane Spencer (6-6), Dan Norman (8-8), Jason Bay (10-10) and Manny Alexander (11-11).
  • The player with the best “non-perfect” stolen base success rate: Chico Walker, who went 21-22 in 222 games over the 1992-93 seasons. I liked Chico, because his name often reminded me of the immortal Chico Escuela.
  • Shawn Green is the only other Met to exceed a 90% success rate, going 11-12 in 164 games over the 2006-07 seasons. He also owns a very, very expensive house.

Now, let’s look at some arbitrary thresholds (current Mets in bold text):

  • Highest success rates, minimum 25 attempts: Bob Bailor, 40-46 (.870), Carlos Beltran, 97-113 (.858), Roberto Alomar, 22-26 (.846), Kaz Matsui, 22-26 (.846), Cliff Floyd, 32-38 (.842).
  • Lowest success rates, minimum 25 attempts: Elliot Maddox, 6-28 (.214), Ed Kranepool, 15-42 (.357), Jerry Grote, 14-34 (.412), Jeff Kent, 12-28 (.429), Felix Millan, 11-25 (.440).
  • Highest success rates, minimum 50 attempts: Carlos Beltran, 97-113 (.858), Lenny Dykstra, 116-141 (.823), Gregg Jeffries, 63-77 (.818), Luis Castillo, 55-68 (.809), Kevin McReynolds, 67-83 (.807).
  • Lowest success rates, minimum 50 attempts: Joel Youngblood, 39-75 (.520), Wayne Garrett, 33-59 (.559), Rey Ordonez, 28-50 (.560), Bernard Gilkey, 29-50 (.580), Lenny Randle, 47-79 (.595).
  • Highest success rates, minimum 100 attempts: Carlos Beltran, 97-113 (.858), Lenny Dykstra, 116-141 (.823), Jose Reyes, 331-416 (.796), Roger Cedeno, 103-135 (.778), David Wright, 138-180 (.767).
  • Lowest success rates, minimum 100 attempts: John Stearns, 91-142 (.641), Cleon Jones, 91-139 (.655), Tommy Agee, 92-139 (.662), Lee Mazzilli, 152-223 (.682), Frank Taveras, 90-131 (.687).
  • Success rates, minimum 200 stolen bases: Jose Reyes, 331-416 (.796), Howard Johnson, 202-265 (.762), Mookie Wilson, 281-371 (.757), Darryl Strawberry, 191-266 (.718),┬áLee Mazzilli, 152-223 (.682).

Three observations came to me:

  1. The late 60′s-early 70′s Mets ran a little, but without much success.
  2. The 80′s Mets ran a lot, with a fair amount of success.
  3. The current team has the three most successful runners in franchise history, plus Castillo (.809) and Angel Pagan (55-71, .775).

That final point brings me back to Kannengeiser’s post. I share his confidence in Alderson & Co., but I worry just a bit that this edge will be blunted. Time will tell, but it will most definitely be an interesting sub-plot to follow this season.

Posted in Angel Pagan, Carlos Beltran, David Wright, Jason Bay, Jose Reyes, Luis Castillo, Mets, Sandy Alderson | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Barajas Goes Home (And, Is Jason Kendall A Good Comp For Josh Thole)

Posted by JD on August 23, 2010

As you’ve undoubtedly heard by now, Ontario, CA native Rod Barajas is headed home, claimed on waivers by the Los Angeles Dodgers. I wish him nothing but the best (his walk-off home run against the Giants on May 7 is one of my favorite moments of this season), but it was past time for him to move on: his OBP was below his already-meager career average and though his slugging percentage was slightly better than his career number, it has steadily declined since May. And given that his one definitive strength is hitting home runs, it was a little troubling that he hasn’t homered since May 31st. No, it was time for him to move on.

Was it disappointing that the Mets received only cash considerations for his services? Not really, as his departure clears the way for Josh Thole to assume the role of starting catcher. That makes it worth it, in my book. It’s actually one of the more exciting things left to look forward to in this lost season, in my opinion. I enjoy watching Thole hit: he looks like he has a goal in every at-bat and he’s produced a .289/.361/.351 line so far this season. He’s earned the additional playing time and I hope he makes the most of it.

I’ve been thinking about Thole and what he may become quite a bit lately. One of the comparisons that I’ve heard fairly often is Jason Kendall (a good example is found here), and it was kind of bugging me. Kendall has been around so long (he’s in his 15th season) and he’s been so bad for the past six seasons, that I forgot how good he was for the Pirates. His OPS+ in Pittsburgh: 101, 114, 131, 136, 124, 78, 86, 112, and 107, the last five of those coming after his horrific ankle injury.

Well, that’s intriguing. But I’m not a scout, and I’m not qualified to judge Thole’s potential strictly from watching him play. I like what I see, I appreciate his approach at the plate, and I can tell that he’s gotten better at handling pitchers (enjoying particular success with R.A. Dickey), but I have no idea whether that translates into “Jason Kendall, Jr.” or not.

I’m also not comfortable drawing conclusions from 167 plate appearances (Thole’s current career total). However, their minor league careers are strikingly similar:

Kendall: four seasons, 1,520 plate appearances, .301/.377/.398 slash line
Thole: six seasons, 1,733 plate appearances, .289/.376/.381 slash line

Twins, separated at birth? No, Kendall was a slightly faster mover: although they both reached the majors at 22, Kendall played 130 games in his first season, Thole just 17. But it is enough evidence to lend credence to the Kendall comparison. All the more reason why releasing Rod Barajas was the right move.

Posted in Josh Thole, Mets | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Bay Done For Season

Posted by JD on August 20, 2010

The beat writers provided the news today via Twitter (here’s a representative sample from Newsday’s David Lennon): Jerry Manuel expects Jason Bay to miss the rest of the year as he recovers from a concussion suffered back in July.

Great. As if the team’s play of late hasn’t been depressing enough, now one of the more expensive pieces of the lineup has been placed on the sidelines indefinitely. His production hasn’t matched his paycheck yet, but he gave an honest effort throughout the season (and was far more productive than his counterpart in right field). It’s a shame to see his season end this way.

Looking for a silver lining, it’s may actually be a good sign if Bay doesn’t return (I’m not bashing Bay here…stick with me for a minute). If he’s struggling with concussion-related symptoms, sitting him indicates that management is implementing their Prevention and Recovery policy. Medical science is still struggling to understand the full impact of head injuries, but one thing that we’ve learned is that they are no joke. Unlike broken bones, concussions have no timetable for recovery. Benching Bay for the rest of the season ensures that he’ll be given every chance to return to health. Even if we can’t reliably predict that he’ll return to his previous levels of performance, this will at least give him the best chance to do so. Short-term sacrifice is in his (and the team’s) best interests, and I’m glad Mets management isn’t rushing him back* needlessly.

*However, I’m not ruling out his return this season yet: after all, they did let Beltran play last September. I hope he takes all the time he needs. Pardon me for waiting to see it before I believe it.

What makes this situation entirely unappealing is Manuel’s (and, to a slightly lesser extent, Omar Minaya’s) roster management of late. I have no doubt that if the medical staff gave Bay a green light, Omar would throw him out there (and bat him clean-up, to boot). It was just a few weeks ago when we were told Fernando Martinez and Ruben Tejada would be receiving increased playing time. That turned out to be a pipe dream: not only has Tejada been replaced by Luis Castillo at second, but Mike Hessman has seen an increase in playing time at the expense of Ike Davis and Rod Barajas has returned, sending Josh Thole to the bench and Martinez back to Buffalo.

Why? Because Manuel is desperately trying to save his job and, in doing so, he’s advanced the near-ludicrous notion that the Mets are still in contention for a post-season berth. 11 games behind the Braves, 8.5 games behind the Giants, only 41 games left to play, and our lame-duck manager is harboring dreams of reaching the playoffs. And management (and ownership) is allowing it or, even worse, encouraging it. Absolutely ridiculous, yet that’s what we’re left to deal with for the short-term future.

Losing Jason Bay for the rest of the season is disappointing. What’s absolutely crushing is watching near-useless veterans receive the bulk of the playing time in a vain attempt finish in the playoffs. While I applaud this implementation of the Prevention and Recovery mantra, it makes me wonder: how did the Mets get this one instance right while in the midst of making so many other fundamentally bad decisions?

Cliches are worthless, but I keep circling back to an old standard: “It is what it is”. The Mets will continue to spin their wheels, I’ll continue to watch (as will you), and the organizational inertia will continue to mire the Mets in mediocrity. I hope Jason Bay gets well and has a monster season next year, yet I seriously doubt it will change much.

———-

Update: I really should edit my posts better before publishing them. Upon re-reading this post, I realized I failed to make one key point: Jason Bay has done nothing wrong here. His effort on the field lead directly to his concussion: he ran face first into a fence to make a catch. Sure, I think we would all like to see more production than “6 home runs, 47 RBI”. Heck, Jason Bay probably wouldn’t argue that point. But he gave a consistent, honest effort in each game he played and you can’t ask for anything more than that. Maybe the numbers weren’t there, but it wasn’t from lack of effort.

My issue is with how the Mets have approached the past 20 or so games since he’s been injured, and how they appear to be approaching the rest of the season. The announcement that Bay is likely done for the season triggered my frustration with the Mets’ (read: Jerry Manuel’s) insistence that they are still fighting for a playoff-berth. At this point that’s utter nonsense, and it set me off. Allow me to summarize:

1. Bay’s injury is unfortunate
2. The Mets appear to be handling it correctly, however;
3. They are handling just about every other roster/lineup decision incorrectly.

Apologies for any confusion, and let’s all hope Bay returns to full health as soon as possible.

Posted in Ike Davis, Jason Bay, Jerry Manuel, Luis Castillo, Mets, Omar Minaya | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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