Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Around the NL East: Mets offense sizzles

Photo by USA Today

By Steve Roney

Sizing up the week that was in the National League East, it's hard not to note that while the Braves stumbled a bit, neither the Nationals nor the Mets were able to gain any ground on the division leaders, who enjoy the most comfortable lead (3.5 games) in all of baseball. It's still early, of course -- one great streak by either Washington or New York and that lead is gone.

Atlanta Braves: 13-5

As mentioned above, the Braves cooled a bit this week after their incredibly hot start, dropping the final three of a four-game set against Pittsburgh. They still enjoy the best record in the game, though they now share that mantle with the surprising Colorado Rockies. 

No matter what side of the infield he's on, Chris Johnson continues to rake, leading the team with a .407 average and a .435 OBP while filling in for the still-disabled Freddie Freeman at first. Once Freeman returns, manager Fredi Gonzalez will have a tough choice to make, as Juan Francisco is hovering near .300 while manning third. Obviously both will struggle to maintain those rates (and it's a near-certainty that Johnson won't continue to bat .400), but Atlanta will hope their regression coincides with the emergence of at least one of the sub-.200 hitters: Dan Uggla, B.J. Upton, and Jason Heyward. One of them has to break out soon, right?

Player of the Week: Johnson, 3B/1B: 2 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, .389 AVG

Miami Marlins: 4-15

What is there to say about this team? At least when Ozzie Guillen was the manager, you were aware of the Marlins even as they toiled in the cellar. Now, with the more even-keeled (compared to Ozzie, isn't everyone) Mike Redmond at the helm, the Fish are quietly compiling the majors' worst record. Everyone thought that the dimestore Astros would challenge the '62 Mets for most losses in history, but this Miami offense is so inept (only one regular, Placido Polanco, is currently hitting above .240) that the Marlins may ensure that nobody remembers however many losses Houston ends up accumulating. 

Lone bright spot Jose Fernandez finally suffered through a rough start, surrendering five earned runs in four innings in a loss to Cincinnati. Justin Ruggiano has supplied all of the power so far, hitting three of the team's six homers; Giancarlo Stanton, incredibly, has only two extra-base hits (both doubles) and one RBI. Yikes.

Player of the Week: Kevin Slowey, SP: 0-0, 6 IP, 4K, 1.50 ERA, 0.83 WHIP

New York Mets: 9-8

The story with the Mets, through the season's first three weeks, continues to be their offense, which leads the majors at 5.82 runs per game. Catcher John Buck, holding down the fort until Travis d'Arnaud recovers from a stress fracture and makes his way to the major leagues, continues to mash like he never has before, sporting a .290 average (though with just a .303 OBP) and leading the team with seven home runs. Leftfielder Lucas Duda has been a major cog as well, chippin in five dingers and a .273 average of his own -- as well as reaching base close to 50% of the time. Matt Harvey (4-0, 0.93 ERA, 32 Ks) remains largely unhittable, which is good news for New York, as the rest of the staff has been underwhelming.

Player of the Week: Ike Davis, 1B: Finally showing signs of life -- 2 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, .250 AVG

Philadelphia Phillies: 9-11

This team really misses their starting catcher, as Carlos Ruiz put up MVP-level production for most of last season. Adrug suspension continues to hold him out for the season's first 25 games, leaving Erik Katz (.203 average) behind the dish. Still, they split a four-game series with the Cardinals thanks largely to Chase Utley and Michael Young, who both seem to be refusing to grow old. 

Roy Halladay has rebounded to even his record at 2-2, but he's allowed a team-leading five home runs, and his ERA -- and that of 60% of the starting rotation -- remains above 6.00. Ben Revere continues to shine despite a low batting average, flashing the leather in the field and swiping five bags so far to lead the team.

Player of the Week: Halladay, SP: 1-0, 6 K, 2.57 ERA, 0.57 WHIP


Ghost Of Steve M. said...

NatsLady said...
Ghost, I wonder why they wanted Espy more aggressive. He's not Desmond, and he always could take a walk. Last year there was a lot of tinkering (I remember Davey was mad about that), and this year seems to be the same. Maybe just a consistent approach and let him work through it?

April 23, 2013 1:04 PM

I agree. Scrap that aggressive approach. It's actually worse. He is seeing less pitches and that's not a good thing.

It works with Desi. He's an unusual player. That approach rarely works.

All they have done is traded strikeouts for weak outs.

You don't ditch the compact swing. He has to be more selective.

I'm hoping Espi can figure it out. It's still possible but his FanGraphs contact numbers are near the bottom of baseball.

I think his best days are when he hits a hot streak and can ride that. I'm sure that's what Davey is hoping for.

Unfortunately the 7 hole is almost an automatic out in a high leverage spot. He did have that nice oppo line drive last night in a low leverage spot. I'm just hoping he breaks out sooner than later.

Tcostant said...

Freddie Freeman was activated from the DL

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Tcostant said...
Freddie Freeman was activated from the DL

April 23, 2013 1:39 PM

And Heyward most likely is headed to the DL.

ChiefWJ said...

Two comments on today's discussions:

1) I saw Kobernus play in spring training. One outing doesn't prove anything, but a) based on his performance in the field (not great) he didn't give any indication that he's a major league second baseman and b) he looked like he can hit. These facts may indicate why he's playing CF in Syracuse, not 2B.

2) IMO, Espinosa's upside is Dan Uggla with a gold glove. He may always be low-average, but he has power and patience. But he needs to hit .240, not .170. As frustrating as he was last year, he was a plus player because of his glove and power. The question in my mind is at what point does his inability to make regular contact outweigh his positives?

A DC Wonk said...

Ghost wrote:

I've heard ole Dayton speak. The Royals drafted Alex Gordon in the 2005 Draft. He was a can't miss and better than Ryan Z.

The Royals mis-handled him just like most of their top prospects.

For those who don't know (like me) -- how was he mis-handled? What did the Royals do wrong?

NatsLady said...

I was just looking at last year's stats. Morse played at exactly replacement level (according to WAR), because of his fielding and baserunning. His offense was wRC+ (weighted runs created) of 113, where 100 is league average, so he created 13% more runs than league average. The big producers were Desmond, Werth, Laroche and Tyler Moore.

Nats w/ 120 PAs or more in 2012


Tcostant said...

What's wrong with the Nationals:


Ghost Of Steve M. said...

A DC Wonk said...
Ghost wrote:

I've heard ole Dayton speak. The Royals drafted Alex Gordon in the 2005 Draft. He was a can't miss and better than Ryan Z.

The Royals mis-handled him just like most of their top prospects.

For those who don't know (like me) -- how was he mis-handled? What did the Royals do wrong?

Wonk, rumor is they don't spend the money on good coaches and player development people and these players take much too long to develop.

Alex Gordon was picked 2nd overall in the best draft class possibly ever. Justin Upton picked first. Nats pick Zim 4th. Brewers get Braun 5th.

That was 3 3rd baseman in the top 5 picks. Unheard of and all 3 were great hitters and Gordon was scouted as the best.

Amazing eye and hands. Could bat 1st to 5th in the order and be an impact bat and they screwed him up for years.

Let's see what they do with Bubba Starling.

If you have a chance, look at that 2005 Draft class. Tulowitzki, McCutcheon, Romero, Jay Bruce, Ellsbury, Garza, Bucholz and that was just the 1st round!

baseballswami said...

I saw on twitter that a bunch of the guys went to Bethesda today. I sincerely hope that they have been inspired and that it helps them get out of their own heads a little. Somebody got nailed big time on this blog when a commentator compared the Nats to the Caps this season, but I really see the similarity. The Caps began the season with a hugely talented team that was playing badly and just not in sync. Once they found their rhythm they went on a run. Hoping that happens to the Nats. It just seems that talent will eventually rise above circumstances, luck will change, the babip gods will be appeased and the pendulum will swing back. Perhaps tonight with Det on the mound? Interesting info on the Nats Blog showing that we have actually scored more runs at this point of the season than we did last year - doesn't feel like it, does it? BUT -- the runs scored against are off the charts bad. Poor pitching performances and defense. Go Nats!!

SonnyG10 said...

I had an interesting night at the ball park last night. As I walk into the stadium, I was stopped by a Fox Sports person and his camera man. He asked me a few questions about game 5 last year and wanted to know if I hated the Cardinals. I said no and explained what I thought had gone wrong for the Nats.

Then during the game, two Cincinetti Reds scouts sat right behind me and it was interesting to hear their comments. They really liked Stammen, said he threw a really heavy ball. Then later when Mattheus was pitching, one asked the other which of the two would you rather face and the other said he would rather face Mattheus. They also remarked "nice play" when Desi went into the hole and fired a laser to LaRoache who had to scoop it out of the dirt. They also said it when Espi got the ground ball up the middle and whirled around and fired it to first for the out. In the situation where we had men on second and third and Desi was at bat, after Desi nearly came out of his shoes swinging at strike two, one of the scouts said, "all he needs to do is hit a single and he scores two runs and wins the game". I thought "right on". Too many guys tring to hit home runs instead of doing what it takes to score runs.

On another note, it was too damn cold to play baseball. My fingers were numb and I don't know how the players managed to throw the ball.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

SonnyG10, we say that here all the time, stay within yourself. Stop trying to hit it 400 when 150 is what's needed.

Power is great when it comes naturally on a good swing that just catches it on the upper part of the barrel.

Always fun hanging with scouts to bounce your observations off of.

NatsLady said...

I was listening a while back to a famous (retired) closer talk about how if he got in a bad count he didn't mind walking a guy because he could play on the next guy's aggressiveness. It was quite illuminating.

A DC Wonk said...

after Desi nearly came out of his shoes swinging at strike two, one of the scouts said, "all he needs to do is hit a single and he scores two runs and wins the game"

That's what I yelled out at the TV too. (Actually, what I said was: "what the f&^%?! all we need is a d@mn single!")

So -- what was Desi thinking?

Sure -- the night before, Werth wanted to win the game with one swing -- but at that point in the game it would take a HR. For Desi to win the game with one swing all he needed was a single.

So -- what the @#$@?! Just "youthful exuberance?" pressing too much? what?

A DC Wonk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
A DC Wonk said...

(and, fwiw, I thought that was the worst play of the entire game -- that single swing-from-the-heels and miss. LaRoche's swing wasn't great either, but at least he got the runners over)

EmDash said...

New lefty reliever claimed and optioned to the minors. Does that put him on the 40 man roster?

DaveB said...

If I understand correctly, claiming him would have put him on the 40 man, but optioning him takes him back off. It also exposes him to being claimed by someone else, but the Nats are at/near the bottom of the list based on their record from last year, so looks like nobody else wanted to claim him so he should clear.

DaveB said...

although I guess it does say "optioned" not DFA'd, so perhaps he is still on the 40 man.

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