Section 518

Where we endeavor to stay positive about the 2011 Mets…

Posts Tagged ‘Willie Harris’

Boy, That Escalated Quickly

Posted by JD on May 22, 2011

Here’s Ron Burgundy, saying exactly what I was thinking when the seventh inning finally ended. What a terrible way to lose a ballgame, especially in the Bronx. 13 Yankees came to the plate to face four Mets pitchers. There were five singles, a double, one batter reached on an error by Willie Harris, one intentional walk, one unintentional walk, one hit batsman, and one mind-boggling bunt* by Curtis Granderson, the Yankees’ best hitter right now. Everything that could go wrong for the Mets did.

*As @rebeccapbp tweeted earlier: “Just imagine if, that inning, Granderson didn’t bunt”. He has 16 homers (including one in the first inning today) and a .935 OPS (entering the game, anyway). What the heck was he thinking? I mean, I’ll take it, but giving away outs like that makes me cringe.

That’s the thing though: everything did go wrong. Those five singles I mentioned? One was a bleeder by Derek Jeter that went right through Mike Pelfrey’s legs, another barely evaded Jose Reyes, and a third was an A-Rod infield single. Read that last part again: A-Rod had an infield single. And got an RBI out of it. When was the last time you saw that happen?

I don’t think we need to draw any conclusions from what happened today. The Mets have been winning games lately: I feel comfortable predicting that they’ll get back to that in Chicago. This game, no matter how unpleasant it was to watch, is just a speed bump, something to be swept under the rug as soon as possible. Let’s all just agree not to mention it anytime soon, ok?

Posted in Mets | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

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, 4/24/11

Posted by JD on April 24, 2011

Man, these posts sure are fun to write during four-game winning streaks. Lots of positives came out of today’s win, but I’m going with Jason Pridie’s first major league home run, a three-run homer that gave the Mets added cushion (which would eventually come in handy). I’m a bit of a sap when it comes to sentimental milestones and I was leaning toward choosing Pridie from the minute the ball cleared the wall. 27 years-old, he appeared in 973 minor league games (and 11 games for the Twins as a September call-up in 2008 & 09) before being called up on Friday. He collect his first major league hit yesterday and topped it today with his first homer*. Mike Mazzeo of ESPN NY caught up with Pridie after the game and did a really nice job describing his reaction.

Pridie’s not likely to be with the club much longer (I can’t see him beating out Willie Harris and Scott Hairston when Angel Pagan returns from the disabled list), so it’s nice to see him make the most of his time here. Hopefully he shows enough to land a job with another team (if he chooses not to return to the Bisons when he’s ultimately designated for assignment) but if not, he’s at least notched some important career milestones and made a few good memories for himself.

*If the useless old stat of “Game Winning RBI” was still official, Pridie would have earned one today.

Posted in Angel Pagan, Mets, Something Nice | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Spring Training Wrap-up

Posted by JD on March 30, 2011

The final game has been played (the Mets won, if you care) and the final roster decisions have been made. Next stop: Miami. A couple of thoughts before Opening Day:

  • Jason Bay is injured. You didn’t think this wouldn’t happen, did you? Not Bay’s injury specifically, but an injury to one of the team’s better players. I may be reading too much into my Twitter feed, but I think it’s fair to say that Bay’s injury solicited a fair amount of “same old Mets” reactions. Sure, it’s not a good thing. But injuries happen, especially to soon-to-be 32 year old outfielders. I could be alone here, but I think it’s at most a minor set back and is not at all related to anything that happened in 2009 or 10. Bay will be back at some point, he’ll be healthy, and he’ll probably exceed his 2010 production levels. Until then, some combination of Lucas Duda, Scott Hairston and Opening Day starter Willie Harris will tide the team over.
  • Speaking of Willie Harris, he’s starting in left field on Opening Day. Well, that’s sub-optimal. But after they sing the anthem and watch the fighter jet-flyover, Opening Day is just one of 162 games. As long as Carlos Beltran stays healthy, the threesome listed above should be able to roughly approximate Bay’s production.
  • Speaking of Carlos Beltran, he’s apparently healthy. Or, at least as healthy as he’s likely to get this season. I’ve made no attempt to hide the fact that I’m a big Beltran fan and I’m extremely happy that he’s going to play on Friday. I’ve come to grips with the fact that he’ll never be the player he once was: those days are over. But I’m excited about his bat. Maybe I’ve read to many articles, too many beat-writer tweets from batting practice or minor league games, but it sounds to me like his bat (and, just as importantly, his batting eye) are still as good as ever. He may not be able to cover ground like he once did and I’ll probably hold my breath every time he rounds first on his way to second, but he’ll help this team. I have no doubt about that.

I’m on record over at Mets Fever saying that I think the Mets will “go 87-75 and finish 2nd. I don’t think that will be good enough for the Wild Card, but they’ll be in contention late.” Despite recent developments, I still feel that way. Sure, it’s a bit optimistic and quite a few things have to go right, but I think they’ll get some breaks*. And even if they don’t, I refuse to dampen my optimism. Our long, cold winter is finally over: Mets baseball is back and we’re about to embark on another 162-game summer. Let’s get ready to enjoy it for all it’s worth.

*That’s as far as I’m willing to “show my work”. As much as I admire (and struggle to employ) statistical analysis and forecasting, I was unwilling to peek too far behind the curtains for my pre-season prediction. I’m aware of the flaws this team has and I know that banking on a few breaks to go the Mets way is lazy, but I’m going all in on optimism. Will I be disappointed if they don’t win 87 games? Not unless they lose more than 83: this team is better than last year’s. Anything in-between is acceptable to me, and I chose to bet on the high side. So there you go. And Let’s Go Mets!

Posted in Carlos Beltran, Jason Bay, Mets, Spring Training | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Nick Evans, And The Battle for Bench Spots

Posted by JD on February 27, 2011

Jack DiLaurio had a decent debut season with the 1969 Mets, a less-successful second season with the Astros, and was out of the majors (never to return) before his third season started. Reading his SABR Bio Project entry I was struck by his approach to his situation. I don’t know if “fatalistic” is accurate, but DiLaurio knew that his path to the majors was blocked in the Detroit organization by better pitchers. He realized that, at age 26, he was running out of time to realize his dream of making the majors and consigned himself to retiring if he didn’t make the team in 1969. Fate intervened (in the form of then farm director Whitey Herzog pushing to first trade for, then promote, him) and DiLaurio made some useful contributions to the Miracle Mets, but his struggle to make the majors really stuck with me.

In terms of the current roster, I can’t help wondering if Nick Evans feels that same desperation (again, not sure if that’s exactly the right word, but it feels close) DiLaurio felt. The Mets’ treatment of Evans has been puzzling at best. Originally an injury replacement for the concussed Ryan Church, Evans made the jump from AA on May 28, 2008 and it was impressive: 3 for 4 with 3 doubles, 2 RBI and a run scored. He was sent down on June 4th after hitting just .174/.208/.304 in nine games, but came back on July 10th and steadily improved. His final line: .257/.303/.404 in 119 plate appearances. Not great, but not bad either (he was only 22 at the time).

Evans didn’t make the club out of spring training (Gary Sheffield took his spot at the last second) and split the season between AA Binghamton, AAA Buffalo, and the Mets. 2010 wasn’t much different: he opened the season in Binghamton, was promoted to Buffalo, and spent September with the Mets. What’s more, he spent most of his time in the minors even though it was apparent that Ike Davis was solidifying his claim as the first baseman of the future.

To this fan, it appeared as if the organization was neglecting his development. Yet, there was reason for him to be optimistic about his chances: not only did a new management team take over with a mandate to limit off-season spending, but Fernando Tatis was allowed to depart as a free agent. Tatis filled the role most suited for Evans: right handed hitter off the bench who had some power and could fill in adequately as a corner infielder and outfielder. With Terry Collins elevated from farm coordinator to major league manager, it seemed as if Evans had a clear path to the majors.

And then the Mets signed Scott Hairston. A second baseman who can play all three outfield positions capably, Hairston is a right-handed hitter who has good power, especially to pull. He doesn’t play first or third, but when you consider that both Brad Emaus and Daniel Murphy play third and Murphy was an above-average first baseman for the Mets in 2009, Hairston’s versatility in the outfield suddenly loomed as a major road block for Evans.

I see the bench competition unfolding like this: Ronny Paulino (Mike Nickeas until Paulino’s PED suspension runs out) as back-up catcher, Chin-lung Hu as back-up middle infielder, the loser of the Emaus/Murphy second base competition, Willie Harris as back-up outfielder/lefty pinch hitter/pinch runner, and Evans or Hairston.

In my eyes, Harris’ presence negates the advantage that Evans has over Hairston, and vice versa. Evans advantage? Corner infield. Willie Harris has played 28 games at third. Hairston’s advantage? Center field. Harris has played 230 games in center. Evans is out of options, but Hairston was signed to a major league deal.

It will come down to who performs better in Spring Training, which is how it should be. The competition should bring the best out of both players and will strengthen the Mets’ bench. I just can’t help but wonder what Evans’ frame of mind is. He’s 25, which is young in real-life terms but dangerously middle aged for a baseball player who hasn’t established himself as a major leaguer. Does he doubt himself at all? Is he hoping to be traded or released or claimed on waivers, to get a fresh start somewhere else? Is he feeling emotions similar to what DiLaurio felt? It’s not the biggest story in camp this year, not by a long shot. But it’s intriguing enough to merit watching.

I don’t know (can’t know, really) who will help the Mets more this season. Hairston has a longer track record and is more athletic, so it seems to me that he has to be the favorite. But I feel for Nick Evans, and hope he has an excellent spring training. And, I hope that he’ll be given a fair shot to win a job on the bench. If he gets a shot and fails, so be it. But given his performance and how well he’s handled being bounced around over the past two years, he’s earned a fair chance to win a spot.

Posted in Daniel Murphy, Ike Davis, Mets, Offseason Moves, Spring Training, Terry Collins | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

 
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