Results tagged ‘ Jason Bay ’

Grading the first half for the Mets

Time to grade some key Mets on their first-half performances. Without further ado:

Johan Santana: B
What a strange season for Santana, who alternated dominating stretches with periods of pure mediocrity. The overall results have been fine, though hardly ace-like. Safe to say the Mets are expecting more from Santana in the second half, with last winter’s surgery now squarely in his rear-view mirror.

reportcard.jpgMike Pelfrey: A-
Ignore the past few rocky starts for a minute. If I told you before the season that Pelfrey would go 10-4 with a 3.58 ERA in the first half, I think you would have taken that. Truth is, without Pelfrey, the Mets might not be close to postseason contention.

Jon Niese: A-
Injury aside, Niese has been brilliant at times, and as consistent as any of the five Mets starters. Like Pelfrey, he has given the Mets more than they ever could have expected in Spring Training.

R.A. Dickey: A+
When the Mets signed Dickey, he was nothing more than aging organizational depth. Now he is a legitimate starting pitcher, a cog in the rotation and a key reason why the team is still in this thing. Dickey deserves as much credit as anyone.

Hisanori Takahashi: B+
Like every other starter not named Santana, Takahashi has given the Mets more than they ever dreamed. His few bad starts have handcuffed them, yes, but between his early-season bullpen appearances and his role in the rotation, Takahashi has been stellar.

Jose Reyes: B
Yes, the fact that Reyes made the All-Star team was remarkable considering all he had gone through in the preceding year and a half. But Reyes was useless to the Mets for the first month of the season, and he has done nothing to shed his injury-prone image. Got to dock him some points for that.

Angel Pagan: A
Leading the army of overachievers was Pagan, a player who has finally begun to fulfill his potential. The Mets hardly missed Carlos Beltran this season in large part because of Pagan, who played stellar offense and defense in his absence.

David Wright: A-
Just like that, he’s back to being an All-Star. The Mets have to be pleased with that, considering the miserable season Wright endured last year.

Ike Davis: B
He’s gotten more credit than perhaps he’s deserved, considering his pedestrian offensive numbers. But Davis has played a solid first base while giving the Mets a measure of offensive pop from the position. That’s something worthwhile.

Jason Bay: C
The Mets’ one big free agent acquisition has been something of a bust. Bay is not hitting for power, and that’s the one thing he’s supposed to do well. Now down to sixth in the lineup, Bay must bust out for the Mets to succeed.

Rod Barajas: B
After a hot start, Barajas has cooled off plenty. But he did carry the Met offense for much of the early season, and he deserves some credit for the success of the pitching staff.

Jeff Francoeur: C
Other than his rocket right arm, Francoeur has contributed little to the Mets this season. Now, with Beltran back, he’s going to lose significant playing time because of it.

Luis Castillo: D
After justifying a portion of his contract with a strong year last season, Castillo has reverted back to an old, broken-down second baseman. He’s on the DL now, and there’s no telling how much he’ll be able to help when he returns.

Bench: C-
Gary Matthews, Jr., Frank Catalanotto and Fernando Tatis were all massively ineffective during their time with the team. Chris Carter helped for a while but has since faded. The Mets have yet to find a pinch-hitter who can give them consistently good at-bats. The one player here who deserves mention is Henry Blanco, who has worked well with the pitching staff while providing better-than-expected offense when he plays.

Bullpen: C
Francisco Rodriguez has walked a tight rope all season but ultimately has gotten the job done — and quite well, if you consider his numbers. Pedro Feliciano was overexposed against right-handed hitters, but has been just as effective as ever against lefties. Other than those two, the Mets have found no consistent answers in the back end of their bullpen. It’s the most conspicuous weakness for the team heading into the second half.

—–Follow along on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

The art of stealing a steal

With the Mets up one run and two outs in the eighth, Jason Bay crept off first base. No one cared. So he bolted.

Ultimately, the stolen base proved inconsequential — Jeff Francoeur flew out to end the inning, stranding Bay at second. But the fact that Bay, an average runner, was able to swipe his third bag in seven games was telling. Every stolen base attempt for Bay is a calculated risk, with an emphasis on the calculation.

“It’s a part of my game,” said Bay, who stole 21 bases with the Pirates in 2005. “A few years ago, it was a big part of my game and I’ve gotten away from it a little bit. Jerry’s been really good about saying, ‘Hey, it’s up to you.'”

It’s another weapon for a player who right now, despite an 11-game hitting streak, is not hitting with nearly the type of power that everyone expects. For Bay, every small contribution has become significant.

“We have a team with Jose and Luis and David,” he said, “and all these guys that we can make things happen when things haven’t been going well.”

Now playing left field: Jon Niese

With zero position players remaining on the Mets bench, David Wright was ejected in the ninth inning Sunday for arguing balls and strikes.

Asked what his plans were had the Mets forced a 10th inning, manager Jerry Manuel said simply: “I don’t know.”

But he did know. After Wright’s ejection, Manuel told Jonathon Niese — who last played the outfield in high school — to grab a glove and prepare to play left field.

“So I was getting ready,” Niese said.

More of a mystery was which outfielder was going to play third base. Though Manuel did not instruct any of his outfielders to prepare, the rumblings on the bench were that Jason Bay — a former college third baseman — would have shifted over to the position.

“You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do,” Bay said. “I might have needed to borrow a glove. And a cup.”

But he might have had competition for the position. Angel Pagan, who regularly played shortstop as a teenager, said he was considering offering up his services at third base.

“I can still do it a little bit,” Pagan said. “If they put me in there, I would have tried to do the best I could. I’d knock the balls down with my chest or something.”

Hot dog wrappers in the Windy Citi

By the time Henry Blanco ended things Saturday with a walk-off homer, Citi Field was covered with garbage. Hot dog wrappers, soda cups, french fry boats — you name it. Winds gusting up to 45 miles per hour blew every sort of concession onto the field.

At one point, David Wright had to call timeout to pick up a souvenir cup and toss it off the field.

“I don’t know what was going on,” center fielder Angel Pagan said. “I didn’t know if the fans were throwing garbage or what.”

They weren’t. (At least most of them weren’t.) And the wind itself was not too much of a problem for the outfielders.

But the garbage was downright distracting.

“It looked bad — and it was, don’t get me wrong — but I don’t know if it was Candlestick-esque,” left fielder Jason Bay said. “It was windy, but the ball wasn’t doing crazy things. It was more of the dirt kicking up in your face, hot dog wrappers, boxes, cups, everything.”

Jason Bay equals Sadaharu Oh?

Going over my pregame notes, I’m still not entirely sure how Jerry Manuel drifted from the topic of Jason Bay to Ichiro Suzuki to Japanese legend Sadaharu Oh, who hit a world-record 868 home runs over a 22-year career with the Yomiuri Giants of Japan’s Central League. But he did. So I am here to share it with you.

In discussing Bay’s recent struggles at the plate, Manuel mentioned the fact that when Bay swings, he glides forward in the box a bit — similar to the way Suzuki sometimes begins running down the first base line while he is still swinging. For Ichiro, the mechanics work because he manages to stay balanced and generate torque with his swing despite the unorthodox movement. For Bay, the mechanics work — or used to work, at least — because they are far more subtle.

Manuel also mentioned that it’s tough to correct a player like Bay, who has had success in the past with what many might perceive to be a mechanical flaw. The best thing the Mets can do is simply let Bay try to hit his way out of this funk.

“He slides a little bit,” Manuel said of Bay. “You see Ichiro, not to that extreme, but how he kind of drifts and slides to the baseball. There are some guys that can hit that way and get streaky that way, but there are some fundamental things and some absolutes that have to happen while you’re doing that. It’s difficult to recognize if that’s what he’s been doing his career, and being able to hit in that manner. And when you don’t hit in that manner, anybody that has seen the hitter hit says you can’t slide and hit. But he has done that to some degree. That’s what’s kind of troubling sometimes, because you don’t want to take away what he has done and had success at the expense of what you think is a fundamental or mechanical flaw that a lot of people have been able to hit with.”

Manuel went on to discuss the matter of balance, and how it dictates the mechanics of Japanese hitters and pitchers in a way that is not common here. Oh, Manuel said, hit by raising up one leg, remaining balanced, and swinging from that unorthodox position.

Scroll ahead to the 0:25 mark of this YouTube clip, and you can see what Manuel is referring to. What does it have to do with Bay? Well, not a whole lot. But what other opportunity am I ever going to have to tag “Sadaharu Oh” in this blog?

Bay not quite in the fast lane

There was a time when pitchers would cringe at the thought of feeding Jason Bay fastball after fastball. But with Bay completely out of whack at the plate, that is precisely what they are doing.

In Wednesday’s loss to the Reds, pitchers Johnny Cueto and Arthur Rhodes threw Bay a total of 13 fastballs and four sliders. Normally, that would be a recipe for disaster against one of the game’s foremost fastball hitters. But not now.

“The funny part is I’ve been seeing more fastballs because I can’t hit them,” Bay said.

Now hitless in his last 15 at-bats, Bay has to hit for the Mets to win. But manager Jerry Manuel said he has no plans to drop Bay lower in the lineup.

“We’re going to try to ride it out as long as possible,” Manuel said. “He has a history of being somewhat streaky. Hopefully he can get on one of those good streaks when he goes home.”

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