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Tag Archives: Hisanori Takahashi
I wrote on Friday that there was no reason the Mets shouldn’t win their weekend series with the Diamondbacks. Well, I forgot about one major reason why they couldn’t (and didn’t): they’re the Mets.
All signs point to this season being over. The Mets are currently tied for third place in the NL East and 6.5 behind Atlanta for first. As tough as that is, they are 7.5 games out of the Wild Card with 5 teams ahead of them and Florida tied. The last time the Mets won two games in a row was June 22-23 vs. Detorit. Now they have to embark on a six game road trip against the Braves and the Phillies in order to save the season, when the last time they won consecutive games on the road was June 11-18 against the Orioles, Indians and Yankees. In fact, that was the only time all season the Mets won two or more games in a row on the road.
A 4-2 roadtrip will do the Mets no good. Even taking two of three from Atlanta still puts them 5.5 games out of first place. Picking up one game in three days when you’re as far out as the Mets are does nothing. They need to go 6-0 or 5-1 at the least, in order to stay in this thing. And that’s a lot to ask considering Atlanta is 34-13 at home, Philly is 34-18 and the Mets are 20-33 on the road.
The good news is the Mets have had success against both teams this season. They’re 5-3 vs. the Braves, outscoring them 20-15, and 4-2 vs. the Phillies while outscoring them 30-22 (everyone remembers the shutout sweep back in May). However, the Phillies did torch the Mets 10-1 and 11-5 back in May. And the last time the Mets played the Braves on July 9-11, Atlanta took two of three in Citi Field.
The Mets also have their work cut out for them with the pitching they will face this week. The series against Atlanta is as follows:
Tonight: Johan Santana vs. Tim Hudson
Tuesday: RA Dickey vs. Derek Lowe
Wednesday: Mike Pelfrey vs. Kris Medlen
When the Mets head to Philadelphia, they will miss Roy Oswalt. They will not miss Cole Hamels and Roy Halladay, however.
Friday: Hisanori Takahashi vs. Joe Blanton
Saturday: Jon Niese vs. Hamels
Sunday: Santana vs. Halladay — if the Mets have a miracle run this week, this matchup will be HUGE.
On paper, it doesn’t look too good this week but like the cliche says: that’s why they play the games.
Let’s Go Mets!
While the buzz around baseball this weekend will be who’s going where, where others have already gone, which teams helped themselves, and which teams are now in trouble, there will also be actual games played. The Mets will be playing three of them against the lowly Diamondbacks, although do I really have the right to call them “lowly” since they swept the Mets just last week?
On paper, this looks like a dull series. But for Mets fans, this series is HUGE. A sweep, or even taking two out of three, keeps the team in the race before they head out for a 6 game road trip against Atlanta and Philly. How that will end up is another story.
That being said, the Mets not only need to win this series, they should win it. The D-Backs sport a 13-36 record on the road. They’ve lost 7 in a row. They sport a run differential of -127. Oh, and their pitching has a Major League worst 5.30 ERA…and they just traded their two best pitchers in Dan Haren and Edwin Jackson. Their bullpen is horrendous. In fact, I’ll take it a step further than horrendous — they’re 2008 Mets-like! Coincidentally (or not?), Aaron Heilman is part of the Arizona bullpen. That is, unless he gets dealt (back to the Mets?? Oh boy…). There is absolutely no reason the Mets should not win this series. Then again, you could have said the same thing last week.
The series will start off tonight with a re-match of Mike Pelfrey vs. Ian Kennedy. Last week when this matchup occurred Pelfrey lasted just an inning and a third, giving up 6 runs on 7 hits en route to a 13-2 loss. Meanwhile, Kennedy went 5 innings allowing only 1 run on 4 hits.
Hisanori Takahashi, who we were told a month ago would return to the bullpen but for some reason is still starting, will take the hill Saturday to face off against the young Barry Enright. Jon Niese finishes things off on Sunday against Rodrgio Lopez.
And of course, while these games are going on we’ll all be wondering if any new players will be joining the Mets, or if some current players will be leaving. So far my sources tell me a deal or two might or might not be made. We just have to wait and see. What I do know, however, is that if a deal is made there will be a number of un-funny jokes stating “the Mets responded to the Phillies aquisition of Roy Oswalt by getting…”
Let’s go Mets!
Note to all Major-League baseballs teams: if you are looking for a textbook guide on how to take yourself out of a division race and a wild card race simultaneously, all in the course of 11 days, just analyze the Mets’ recent road trip to the West Coast. It’s a prime example of how to go from contenders to pretenders.
At the All-Star break, the Mets were 8 games above .500 and just 4 games behind Atlanta for the division lead. They were one game out of a three-way tie for the wild card with the Dodgers and the Rockies. But the tides have completely turned as the team went 2 and 9 on their road trip and with the win on Tuesday they are just two games above .500. They dropped from second to third place in the division and are 6.5 games behind Atlanta. Additionally, they are 5.5 games out of the wild card race but the worst part is that three teams have leap-frogged over them and now they must overcome five other teams to grab a wild card berth with the Marlins right at their heels.
Not to put salt in the wounds, but since the All-Star break they are batting .196 as a team with a .252 OBP. They have averaged just 2.1 runs a game (not included Tuesday or Wednesday’s games) and with a post break team ERA of 3.67 (which isn’t bad) it’s not going to translate into many victories.
So in case anyone is watching the calendar, July 31st is this coming Saturday, That’s baseball’s trade deadline. As this date rapidly approaches and the Mets continue to play poorly, given the circumstances, I’ve changed by position on the Mets’ being buyers. Ten days ago, I thought that the Mets needed to acquire another starting pitcher. I didn’t feel that the R.A. Dickey/Hisanori Takahashi duo was enough to hold up the remainder of the season (I still don’t), but what has really sabotaged the Mets of late is the decrepit hitting. The poor hitting over the past week and half as almost completely wiped away a first half that was cultivated on renewed energy and headier, smarter baseball.
Sure, teams go through slumps. And the Mets will obviously hit far better than they have of late. But realistically, Atlanta has been playing solid ball all season long and are in a “win-another-one-for-Bobby” mode. The Phillies are actively seeking starting pitching help (Roy Oswalt?) and have a potent offense despite the absence of Chase Utley. But even with their shortcoming of injuries and a thin bullpen, they have played far more consistent baseball than the Mets. And if you thinking that the wild card is still attainable, that’s probably not a realistic expectation either. The Mets have to battle with 5 other teams for one spot. That’s a lot to hope for that five other teams will all play poorly enough for the Mets to pass them.
Yes, this sounds like a lot of doom and gloom, but the toughest part is for management to decide whether the Mets are buyers or sellers this week. This may be a decision that goes down to the wire and is very much contingent on how the Mets play over the next few games. Truthfully, I would hate to see that Mets take a sellers position. In a “win now” city like New York, it doesn’t sit well with the fans. But I’m of the opinion that even if the Mets don’t acquire another arm or bat of great significance, if they could somehow convince some team to take Oliver Perez and/or Luis Castillo, that would be a positive through subtraction. After all, don’t the Angels owe the Mets one for taking on Gary Matthews Jr?
We’ll see how this plays out over the next few days, but my prediction is that the Mets will more than likely try to acquire an extra arm without giving up top prospects or players. It will probably be a minor addition that hopefully can infuse just the right kind of energy that that has been absent of late. It ill be a move like most of the Mets moves: one that doesn’t distinguish them either as a buyer or seller. A move that will be a half-hearted acquisition that neither commits to winning nor waves the white flag of surrender. Isn’t that the way the Mets operate?
While things seem to be falling apart in Metsland, the team rolls into the City of Angels to face a team that might actually be in an even worse predicament. Like the Mets, the Dodgers are only 1-6 since the All-Star Break. They’re ownership is going through a bitter divorce settlement that handcuffs them financially and they now have to deal with suspensions to Clayton Kershaw, Joe Torre, and the oh-so-important bnch coach Bob Schaefer.
Meanwhile, the Mets offense seems to still be on vacation. Since the second half, the Mets have been outscored by their opponents 34-15 in seven games. They were outscored by the putrid Diamondbacks alone 20-7. They sport a Herculean team batting average of .192 and an even more impressive .249 OBP and .318 slugging percentage. I just threw up in my mouth a bit.
Still, starting today the team is only 3.5 games out of the Wild Card lead and only 1 game behind the Dodgers.
The pitching matchups for the four-game series are as follows:
Hisanori Takahshi vs. Hiroki Kuroda (tonight)
Johan Santana vs. Vincente Padilla (Friday) — If they lose this game then I give up
Mike Pelfrey vs. James McDonald (Saturday)
RA Dickey vs. Clayton Kershaw (Sunday) — Kershaw was just handed a 5 game suspension, but will appeal and is allowed to play until that’s all settled. Sucks, I know.
As bad as the Mets offense has been, the starting pitching still hasn’t been all that stellar. Yes, Santana and Niese have been solid and RA has been formidable, but then you look at these facts:
- Takahshi hasn’t gone 6 innings since June 18th at Yankee Stadium
- Pelfrey hasn’t gone 5 innings since June 25th vs. Minnesota
- RA hasn’t won since June 23rd vs. Detroit — though, again, that’s not all his fault
Add in the fact that their closer can’t close games, Fernando Nieve is still in the bullpen and Oliver Perez is back — ugh, I just threw up in my mouth again.
Whatever. Go Mets!
These are busy days for general managers as they scramble looking to make the best trades that will solidify their teams for a post reason run before the July 31st trade deadline. Phone calls are being made, emails and being sent and general managers and owners have a firm grip on their Blackberry’s.
No doubt, Omar Minaya is faithfully scanning the trade market looking for a way to sure up the Mets. The area of focus that needs improving, from most people’s opinion, is starting pitching and I would have to agree with that sentiment. The urgency to find another arm has been somewhat pacified by R.A. Dickey’s surprising resurgence to relevancy. But in truth, I remain skeptical that Dickey will continue to rival Johan Santana’s ERA this season and that he will end up being closer to his career ERA of 5.04. It’s tough to take much stock in what he is doing. How many pitchers redefine their careers at the age of 35? Not to say that I want Dickey to fail. Nothing could be further from the truth. But the team needs the extra arms, if not for Dickey at least for Hisanori Takahashi.
But there are several variables involved with the Mets landing a quality arm at the deadline:
- The pitcher they seek needs to be improvement over what they currently have and that is not always easy to find in the current trade market.
- The price has to be right. Apparently the commercial real estate business isn’t booming and the Mets are claiming that their ability to take on salary is limited.
- Then there are the players that the Mets must give up in order to land a pitcher. Are they willing to part with a player on the parent club? A minor leaguer? And for a team that needs to replenish their farm system with strong talent, it’s is a slippery slope as they don’t want to give away too much for what could be a “rent-a-pitcher” situation for the remainder of the year.
From this list, only Haren and Myers are making less than $10 million this year, but even for Haren, the Mets would still have to be responsible for about $4 million and the number of prospects that Arizona would demand in return makes Haren a long shot.
Oswalt is too expensive and would cost too much in return for players. Besides, the Yankees will probably land him.
Westbrook wouldn’t cost the Mets a lot of players, but his $5 million salary is a lot to take on for a mediocre pitcher with a history of injury problems and a lifetime 4.34 ERA.
Ted Lilly is my personal choice but there are some issues even with him. First, from reports, the Mets are souring on Lilly as they have been concerned with his loss of velocity this year coming back from injury. Also the players the Mets would have to give up would be higher than Westbrook, but not as high as Haren or Oswalt. And there’s the matter of money, Lilly is probably more expensive than what the Mets are willing to spend. But the nice thing about Lilly, despite the loss of velocity, is that for the past 4 seasons Lilly has a cumulative WHIP of 1.14. He’s an attractive control pitcher but allows a lot of fly balls which gets him into trouble, especially at Wrigley Field. Home runs have been his downfall this year. But CitiField would be suppress some of those home runs and might offer him more success.
Lilly is also in his walk year and will become a free agent at the end of 2010, so he has a great deal of personal motivation to do well and New York would provide a nice stage to audition from. He’s also positioned himself as a type A free agent, so at the end of the year if the Mets offered him arbitration and he declined, the Mets could secure a couple of high draft picks from the team that eventually signs him. Something to think about for Omar.
However, the most attractive pitcher out there that really fits all of the Mets criteria is Brett Myers. He’s cheap, wouldn’t cost the team a lot of players and he’s done well enough this year to provide enough improvement of a pitcher like Takahashi who the Mets would prefer to send back to the bullpen. He’s not a bad option considering the Mets limitations and he has shown health this year which he has been the issue in the past. Even if something were to happen to him injury-wise, the $1.5 million the Mets would have to pay would be a low enough risk to take a gamble on Myers.
So those are some of the nuts and bolts of what the Mets are dealing with as the trade deadline approaches. The most likely scenario is that the Mets will go after Myers but not so much as to compromise their farm system. If the Mets don’t land Myers, there may be other options like Westbrook, with Cleveland eating a good portion of the salary. But at the end, the Mets might just stand pat which would be a shame as they are in the mix of things. But don’t be too disappointed if that happens, the Mets are so very good at raising the hopes of their fans and falling short. We should be used to it by now. The trade deadline may come and go with no significant changes. But of course, we’ll hold our breath and hope for something different, as Met fans do every year.
Though the Mets were only able to take 1 game from the Giants, the starters were not the ones to blame. Hisanori Takahashi was beat up as he made a spot start for Mike Pelfrey, but the hitting was missing in action as they only scored 7 runs in 4 games. Look for the Mets bats to rebound against the Diamondbacks as the starting pitching continues to impress.
|as of 7/15||6.65||2.63||0.55||0.314||76.8||55.0||6.9||2.77||3.31||3.73|
R.A. Dickey was strong on Thursday, lasting 7 innings while giving up 1 run on only 5 hits and 1 walk. He struck out 3 and induced 9 groundouts to 6 flyouts. He’s seeing the most success of his career thanks to his nice mix of walk prevention and a 55% groundball rate. He’s been a bit lucky on home runs, but nothing too troublesome for a starter who is pitching well and getting a fair share of his starts at Citi Field. Add in a respectable 6.38 k/9 and a faster knuckleball and you have what should be a mainstay in this rotation for the rest of the season. Dickey has been worth 1.6 WAR so far in 11 starts.
|as of 7/16||7.33||2.81||0.90||0.321||76.3||49.5||10.2||3.61||3.95||3.98|
Jonathon Niese is due for a lot more recognition as the season progresses. He put together another great outing on Friday, going 7 innings giving up 1 run on 6 hits. He did walk 3 and only struck out 4, but continues to be a groundball out machine. Niese doesn’t have a large enough sample to make too many conclusions, but he looks like a pitcher who is going to get outs from balls in play and limit walks enough to be successful. A k/9 above 7 is also promising and as his secondary pitches develop there’s no reason to think he can’t rack up the strikeouts. Niese was left off a lot of prospect lists and in his first full season he’s doing his best to change (at least some) of the perception of recent Met prospects. Every team covets a 23 year old lefty who can strike guys out, limit walks, and induce ground balls 50% of the time.
Mike Pelfrey was scratched from his start on Saturday due to a stiff neck and was replaced by Hisanori Takahashi who got tagged for 6 runs on 7 hits including 2 home runs in 2.2 innings of work. Takahashi has been hurt recently by a both homeruns and being too hittable. His leash is probably short, especially with Oliver Perez coming back to the lineup despite Perez being pegged as a $12 million dollar LOOGY.
|as of 7/18||5.88||2.91||0.57||0.272||77.6||34.3||4.5||2.98||3.62||4.69|
Johan Santana looked great despite the Met relievers blowing the win for him again. Santana went 8 innings, yielding 1 run on 8 hits while only walking 1. He struck out 5 and induced 10 groundouts and 9 flyouts. He’s been able to maintain success with a k/9 below 6.0 and has limited homeruns significantly this year. Santana’s xFIP isn’t a great metric to evaluate him, considering he’s limited home runs below the league average the past few years and with the help of Citi Field he should be able to maintain a lower hr/fb% than the rest of the league and a lower rate than his career 9.0 hr/fb%. Santana’s continued success will be pivotal to the Mets chance at a playoff birth.
The Mets offense seemingly exploded in June as David Wright mashed to the tune of .404/.447/.683; .475 wOBA. Jose Reyes finally found his stride, hitting .314/.360/.533; .397 wOBA. Overall, the hitters are still putting balls into play more frequently than most teams (8.1 bb%; 20.2k%). Their .301 BABIP is right in line with the league mean, and their team triple slash on the season rests at .261/.325/.403. Fans have yet to see a good month from Jason Bay, but he’s been excellent in his last 15 games or so. Should Carlos Beltran come back, Jerry would be wise to maximize RF production by playing Francoeur against lefties and Pagan against righties when Beltran is in the lineup.
The Mets pitching has been strong of late, but has benefited from a combination of luck, defense, and ballpark factor for most of the season. They are 24th overall (12th in nl) in WHIP with a 1.43 mark, but 6th overall (5th in nl) in ERA with a 3.83 mark. Essentially, they are putting runners on base, often via walks, but they are stranding those runners 76.3% of the time, good for 2nd in the NL behind the Padres. The Mets are middle of the pack in most batted ball against stats and have a .311 BABIP against with a 1.16 GB/FB%. They’ve thrown the 3rd most pitches in the NL. Dickey, Pelfrey, and Niese all throw 50% ground balls, in part why they’ve been able to limit homeruns against this year.
The Mets went into this past weekend playing the best ball of their season. They won their first game behind an strong outing by Hisanori Takahashi but couldn’t get a win in the next two games, though the pitching wasn’t the entire culprit. Mike Pelfrey and Johan Santana seemingly took some minor steps back as some key metrics are beginning to normalize for them.
Hisanori Takahashi pitched 6 strong innings on Friday, allowing only 4 hits. He struck out 3 and walked 2, while throwing 61 of 103 pitches for strikes. He yielded 9 groundouts to 6 flyouts as the Yankees again weren’t able to get a good read on him. Takahashi’s k/9 should continue to drop if he sticks in the rotation. He’s been able to avoid the home run ball and his 4.12 xFIP is excellent for a spot starter. Still, he seems to be the most likely candidate to be sent back to the bullpen when, and if, John Maine returns.
Mike Pelfrey’s k/9 has been regressing towards his career average the past few games while both his bb/9 and hr/9 are still both better than his career averages. He’s still pitching well, but you have to wonder when his .275 babip and 80.7% strand rate will revert towards his career average. He’s generating the same amount of ground balls and his hr/fb% is usually much lower than the league average. He did manage 7 innings on Saturday, but was hurt by the long ball and 3 walks. He only struck out 2 and allowed 7 hits. Look for a rebound performance from Pelfrey as he solidifies himself as this team’s number two. With the low strikeout totals and lucky babip and lob% marks, be careful not to label Pelfrey an “ace”, a guilty pleasure I occasional dabble in myself.
Johan Santana is quickly falling from ace status. Though one grand slam in one inning was the only real damage done against Santana, he only struck out 3 through 6 innings and had to throw 114 pitches. He did manage more groundouts than flyouts, and only walked 1, but the sub 6 k/9 is extremely alarming. He’s a good enough pitcher to make adjustments, and he always gets better as the year goes on, but as his hr/fb% normalizes coupled with the declining strikeout to walk ratio, there will be more rough games going forward. Hopefully he can find a way turn some of those would be strikeouts into batted ball outs. A 4.71 xFIP tells some of the story of his lucky 2010 campaign to date.
There’s been no June swoon for the Mets this month as they are undoubtedly playing their best baseball of the season. Their record stands at 11-2 this month and they are winning games that they need to be winning as the road gets a little tougher with the Yankees and the Twins looming in the not too distant horizon.
Many have noted a shift in the club’s attitude. They actually look like they are enjoying winning. Imagine that? And as Met fans, it’d be safe to say that we are enjoying it too—for a change. This is a far cry from the lackadaisical and complacent Met teams that have been running out on the field the past couple of seasons, going through the motions, taking their at-bats with as much enthusiasm as watching grass grow.
No doubt, the addition (and subtraction) of different clubhouse personalities have infused the team with an approach that is refreshing to see. Rookies, like Ike Davis, Jenrry Mejia and Hisanori Takahashi know nothing of past seasons. They only know the here and now and they are helping players that have been around for multiple seasons turn the page on some ugly, ugly memories.
But more than the infusion of rookie blood, there is much more to the successful June than that. I believe the biggest moves that the Mets have made the past couple of weeks have not been what’s happening on the field but rather some of the dead weight the Mets have lifted from their roster. Don’t they just seem leaner, meaner…less heavy? They certainly have done some necessary trimming of excess “fat” and it’s all for the better.
I believe it’s no coincidence that since the Mets designated Gary Matthews Jr. (and have since released him), put Luis Castillo on the DL and done whatever you want to call what they have done with Oliver Perez, that this team has thrived. And as much I root for a successful return of John Maine, he was doing the team no favors by rolling himself out there every fifth day with only 50% velocity and not enough command to get through 5 innings much less 5 pitches.
The problem with some of the transactions they have made though is that they are not permanent. Matthews’ departure thankfully is a sure thing, but Castillo will eventually come off the DL as well as Perez. Omar Minaya has done is best to move Castillo, but with a year and a half and roughly $9.0 million left on his contact, who wants a singles hitter with bad legs for that price?
And then there’s Ollie. Ollie who is technically on the 15-day DL with knee tendonitis. Conspiracy theorist can debate the legitimacy of the move but the most important part is that he is not with the team. But eventually, the Mets will give him another shot. They need to get some return value on the $36.0 million they have wasted on him. But for now, it’s a good thing that he stays away as his innings pitched were infecting the team like a disease and the Mets seem much “healthier” and better off without him. And don’t we all sleep a little better at night too?
The Mets will continue to maneuver through June with the tougher schedule ahead. They have been playing solid baseball, but who could blame the dedicated Met fan for watching the games with eyes covered, peeking through the slits of their fingers and breathing a heavy sigh of relief after every recorded out? Isn’t it normal to flinch when kicked to the ground so many times? The good news is that management seems to be recognizing some of the issues (players?) that were holding them back and they are finally acting on these issues.
Going forward, Met fans may hold back on their enthusiasm for this team with rightful skepticism. Can we really keep giving all of our heart and soul into rooting for a team that may potentially crush our hopes yet again? Like Lucy and Charlie Brown with the football, can the Mets really tease us once more and move the football as it’s about to be kicked and we go falling to the ground? It takes a lot to be a Met fan. It takes vulnerability, dedication and yes, perhaps a little bit of masochistic pleasure.
But for now let’s take a moment and enjoy the solid baseball we have seen over the past couple of weeks. This Mets team has been a much better team to watch and a much more fun team to root for. And perhaps most importantly…they are a likable team again.