Results tagged ‘ Rod Barajas ’

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.

Takahashi changing things up

For left-handed pitchers, the scouting report on nearly every left-handed power hitter is that they are susceptible to breaking balls. High up on the “What Not To Do” list is throw a changeup.

takahashi.jpgYet Hisanori Takahashi did not heed that advice Wednesday against the Phillies, whiffing Ryan Howard in the sixth inning on a dandy of a changeup, the pitch breaking down and in toward Howard. Indeed, Takahashi challenged Philadelphia’s left-handed hitters with changeups all night, shunning conventional wisdom every step of the way.

“I’m the type of guy who likes to pitch to my pitcher’s strength, and not necessarily the hitter’s weakness,” catcher Rod Barajas said. “And his strength is a changeup.”

Barajas, a right-handed hitter, recalled facing Takahashi in an intrasquad game this spring and expecting him to throw two consecutive changeups.

“He threw them, and I swung and missed at both of them,” Barajas said. “That’s what he does. He does that well. It’s not the norm to see a lefty-lefty changeup.  But when you have a guy who’s got such a good changeup and that’s his money pitch, you’re not going to put it on the back burner and forget about it.”

—–Follow along on Twitter @anthonydicomo.

Might Rod Barajas be seeing stars?

Throughout their struggles in recent years, the Mets have done remarkably well in the one department that matters least: All-Star selections. After sending an unfathomable six (!) players to the 2006 game in Pittsburgh, the Mets had four selections in 2007, two in ’08 and four in ’09.

2010asglogo.gifThis year, they are in danger of having just one selection for the first time since Armando Benitez represented the team in 2003.

In the first National League ballot update released Tuesday, David Wright was the only Met within striking distance at his position, some 73,000 votes behind Phillies third baseman Placido Polanco. But Wright is having a down year both offensively and defensively, so if he is not voted in as a starter by the fans, he almost certainly will not make the team as a reserve.

No other Met is particularly close. Jose Reyes ranks fifth among NL shortstops and is a longshot to catch the uber-popular Hanley Ramirez or Jimmy Rollins. Jason Bay is 10th among outfielders, but is running out of time to make a serious bid for a starting nod.

If fans do not elect any Mets position players into the starting lineup, then it’s possible that Rod Barajas, who leads all NL catchers with 10 home runs, could become the team’s lone representative in Anaheim. All-Star Game rules stipulate that every organization has to have at least one representative on the 34-man roster.

In the first tally of fan votes, Barajas didn’t even rank in the top five at his position. But he may wind up the Mets’ lone representative nonetheless.

Mike Pelfrey and Francisco Rodriguez have both produced strong numbers to date this season, and either could make the NL pitching staff. But both players will face stiff competition from rotations and bullpens throughout the league, in what is shaping up to be a strong year for pitchers.

Players, coaches and managers select eight pitchers (five starters and three relievers) each season. The National League manager (this year it’s Charlie Manuel) selects the rest.

—–You can follow along on Twitter @anthonydicomo.

Meet the Mets, walk-off wonders

When Henry Blanco hit his first career walk-off home run on Saturday to lead the Mets over the Giants, he and Rod Barajas became the first catchers in Major League history to hit walk-off homers for their team on consecutive days. No franchise has had either a single catcher or multiple catchers accomplish the feat.

Some more walk-off factoids:

  • Blanco’s hit marked the first time the Mets have hit walk-off homers in back-to-back games since Robin Ventura and Mike Piazza on July 28 and 29, 2001.
  • It was the first time the Mets had consecutive walk-off wins since Sept. 20 and 21, 2005, when Mike Jacobs and Miguel Cairo each hit walk-off singles.
  • Four of the Mets’ last five games have ended on walk-offs — two wins, two losses.
  • The Mets have walked off 11 times against the Giants, their most against any team other than the Cubs (14) and Pirates (13).

Rod Barajas is a powerful man

Isolated power (ISO) is an advanced metric used to calculate how frequently a player hits for extra bases. Unlike its step-father, slugging percentage, isolated power does not take singles into account. Instead, it is calculated by subtracting a player’s batting average from his slugging percentage, thus revealing his true power.

Players such as Ichiro Suzuki, who typically hit for high slugging percentages largely on the basis of bunts, infield hits and slap singles, have low ISOs. Players such as Adam Dunn, who mash balls out of the park with regularity, have a high ISOs.

At the time of this blog post, Mets catcher Rod Barajas is 14th in the Majors with a .295 ISO among players with at least 80 plate appearances.

As you may have read in yesterday’s Mets Beat, 39 percent of Barajas’s 18 hits have gone out of the ballpark, an astonishing ratio. Barajas points to a natural uppercut in his swing, which he has had “as far as I can remember.” Mets manager Jerry Manuel had a different take:

“That’s just a guy that has power,” Manuel said. “That’s about all I can say about that. When you throw it in his area, he hits it hard.”

Harder than just about anyone in the Majors. As you can see from this snapshot of the league’s leaders in isolated power, Barajas now has some rather heady company:

12. Chase Utley, PHI: .310 ISO
13. Mark Reynolds, ARI: .303 ISO
14. Rod Barajas, NYM: .295 ISO
15. Justin Morneau, MIN: .292 ISO
16. David Wright, NYM: .286 ISO

For reference’s sake, Paul Konerko leads the Majors with a .446 ISO. Albert Pujols, generally considered the best hitter alive, ranks 20th among qualified hitters.