Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Tale of Two Pelfreys and Gee Eats his Beard; Mets and Cards tie 6-6

The least concerning news of yesterday's game to Met fans is that Dillon Gee was caught on camera biting down on his massive goatee. I have not seen it reported yet so I caught the scoop. HA! Take that, Adam Rubin!

Much more important to the future of this franchise is Mike Pelfrey continuing his inconsistencies that have come to define his six-year career. This game (a 6-6 tie with the Cardinals) more than any other in March basically sums up what Pelfrey has become: he is consistantly inconsistent, and in trying to find his identity over the course of 5 full big-league seasons, his identity has become a pitcher who looks lost and bewildered, unable to grasp exactly who he is on the mound.

Pelfrey started out sharply, consistently getting the ball down, having the sink on that sinker that formerly lead to so many ground balls. He even struck out Yadir Molina on a sharp one. I thought to myself for a second that Pelfrey might have turned a corner. Then a runner got on.

The second the opposition starts getting on base, Pelfrey loses all intimidation and composure, as if he completely forgets everything he is working on. This occurred in the 3rd inning, when the Cardinals got their first hit on the day and proceeded to score 4 runs off the Soft Giant. Even in one at-bat, he can look as if he has the best bite in the world on his fastball and the sloppiest, most easily hard hit pitch the game has ever seen. In Bobby Ojeda's words, "At some point he needs a game plan and he needs to stick to it." After the game, Pelfrey talked about his velocity and the strides he's made with his sinker, and how he was pleased with the way he threw, outside of a few moments of letting his guard down. I'm tired, however, of everyone just settling for this mediocrity we get from the man, including Pelfrey himself. It just won't cut it anymore.

There were many positives from this game, however, and none were more positive than the power display shown by the middle of the order. After the Cardinals botched an inning-ending double-play, Ike Davis knocked an opposite-field home run to give the Mets an early 3-0 lead. With no ill effects from the ankle, so far, Ike is beginning to settle in after a slow start to his hitting. His defense continues to be one of the best in the business as he showed us on a great snare of a hard liner down the line in the 6th inning.

I can go on and on about Lucas Duda. Besides absolutely destroying the baseball in the 4th inning for a home run just to the right of center field, he's got a great eye and does what he needs to do to get his barrel on the ball. I love his swing and The Duda has quickly turned into one of my favorite players on this team. I look forward to his continuing progress.

The Duda.

Other takeaways from this game:
  • While it was a sloppy one, it was a fun game to watch, with lots of opportunities to practice situations. Neither team, however, could take full advantage of the sloppiness for the win.
  • Gary Cohen made the point that Matt Den Dekker has great speed but does not yet have a great first step on the base paths. Another reason (on top of the points I made yesterday) why Den Dekker should start the year in the minor leagues, regardless of his defense and the center field injury situation.
  • All the emphasis on pitchers getting the bunt down seems to be working. Pelf executed a perfect one in the 3rd inning. Soooooo....he's got that going for him...
  • I used to dread The Bobby Parnell Show, but even though it's spring, I actually have been looking forward to watching him pitch when I see him warming up. He has much better poise than we're familiar with, mixing in his other pitches and not overthrowing his fastball. He looks more mature in his demeanor, making the kind of strides we wish Pelf would make. Maybe Parnell did some soul searching this winter.
  • Jon Rauch's fastball isn't quite there yet, but his slider is. He did a good job practicing getting out of trouble.
  • Frank Francisco's fastball isn't quite there yet as well, and he didn't get any help from the defense in his first opportunity to practice the save (and practice how NOT to blow a save.) His splitter is there, however, and it looks great. If the fastball comes around, we should be alright. If not, maybe Parnell is indeed the closer of the future. (Maybe? I know this is only spring training, but wishful thinking never hurt anyone.)
  • Nickeas is a hard worker, and has fantastic ability for self-analysis. He was interviewed in the latter part of the game, and he said the following in regards to his swing: "I'm trying to shorten everything up...focus on a downward plane towards the ball. I was getting a little loopy towards the end of last year...I'd lose my barrel throughout my swing. Now I feel my direction is in front, the barrel is coming through the zone a little tighter." You can tell why the front office and coaching staff like this guy so much. Hopefully the self-analysis leads to great execution.
  • Josh Edgin continues to impress. He keeps the ball down and has great confidence in who he is at this stage of his career. I look forward to his growth, regardless of him making the team or not.
  • The crowd was practicing fandom in the 9th and 10th innings, with extreme passion and loudness for a spring training game. Met fans and Cardinal fans kept exchanging "Let's go" chants, getting real feisty. Nice job.
The future of the National League East will be on full display today when Matt Harvey and the Mets take on Stephen Strausberg and the Nats. Don't you wish this game was on TV?

11 more days, folks.

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