Habitually not so good

By now you know the whole saga that unfolded last night, during and after the Mets’ 10-7 win over the Nats. Jerry Manuel pulled John Maine after five slow and ineffective pitches, even though Maine wanted to continue pitching. After the game, the Mets told reporters that Maine was heading to see a doctor in New York.

Only they forgot to tell Maine. Maine lashed out at his manager and pitching coach for doubting him, then Dan Warthen capped the evening by calling Maine a “habitual liar, in a lot of ways, as far as his own health.”

First things first: Manuel was absolutely right to pull Maine from the game. I’m never quick to defend the Mets’ beleaguered manager, but if he left Maine in and Maine got shelled (or hurt, or more hurt), we would be torching Manuel today for trotting out a fastball pitcher who couldn’t crack 85.

And it’s hard to blame Maine for wanting to stay in the game. John Maine didn’t become a Major Leaguer by rolling over at the first sign of a challenge or without desperately wanting the ball in his hand every fifth day. If Maine was throwing fastballs in the low-80s, something was likely wrong with him. But it’s not on John Maine to diagnose or police himself. Baseball players should want to play baseball.

Where everything went wrong, as it so often does with the Mets, was when it came time to communicate what had happened. Maine claimed he never got a good explanation from his manager, no one thought to tell Maine the Mets wanted him to see a doctor, and then Warthen went ahead and called Maine a liar.

So really, the only breaking news here is that the Mets, for once, actually pulled an aching player before he further injured himself. John Maine getting hurt is no surprise. The Mets improperly communicating a message internally is nothing new. And Dan Warthen throwing players under the proverbial bus isn’t, either. Remember, this is the same guy who tried to blame some of the team’s 2009 pitching woes — his primary responsibility — on catchers who couldn’t call games.

It’s vaguely notable that Warthen said even a single negative word about Maine, a pitcher whose career has taken a veritable nosedive since the Mets hired their current pitching coach. Under Rick Peterson, Maine averaged 5.9 innings per start (and didn’t miss many starts), a 3.83 ERA and a 4.28 FIP. Under Warthen, he’s averaged 5.1 innings per start (and missed a bunch of them) with a 4.86 ERA and a 4.91 FIP.

It’s the worst type of post hoc ergo propter hoc argument to say Maine’s struggles are the result of Warthen’s hiring, as there are plenty of other factors — especially injury — that could turn a pitcher’s fortune. But since there have always been concerns about Maine’s arm strength and stamina, and since Peterson is a renowned expert on biomechanics, it’s at least worth noting that Maine’s run of arm issues started a little over a month after Warthen replaced Peterson.

It should also be noted that after calling Maine a habitual liar, Warthen called him a “warrior” and “a competitor” and basically said all the right things. But if I’m Dan Warthen right now, with all sorts of internal change looming on the horizon, I’m not saying anything at all — especially if someone asked me about John Maine, the embodiment of all the struggles the Mets’ staff has had in the past two years.

6 thoughts on “Habitually not so good

  1. I’m back. Ted, straight up on the phone today trading Perez, Maine, and Manuel for Air. I mean how much of this is a Mets fan suppose to take. No offense to you, because you normally don’t fall under the media, but between the media stirring things up and then Wright, Reyes, and Francouer struggling, I mean come on. Bring up Misch and keep him there, until Niese gets healthy bring up some one else tearing up the minors right now.

    Look, I’m one of the few that thought Pagan would be able to replace Beltran, definitely not with the arm but with everything else. So I knew they would be ok there. Groom Murphy for the 2nd base job, Castillo is day to day and it’s a matter of time before cora retires to become a readay to go manager. Shuffle the lineup, if Reyes and Wright need to be treated like rookies again then so be it. It’s a sad day for Mets fans when Cora, Barajas, and Pagan are carrying this team. All have played great by the way and probably will not stop. Ike Davis, Well “The Show” as I labeled him is the real deal and I could tell my kids and grand kids one day, that I was there when this soon to be superstar played his first game. Right before that Sny would not allow me to even shake the hand of one Mr. Big Time Berg who now owns Sny.

  2. Just remember Mets fans, when ever there is nothing else going right, there is always “The Show” over at first base. Who by far leads the league in great catches over the first base dugout railin. ,Scoring a 8.9,9.8, and a perfect 10 for the last catch that he has made.

  3. Ok, I’ll bite. Thats two :”post hoc ergo propter hoc” ‘s..esses… (how do you pluralize that) in one week.

    Trying to draw out a question from the peanut gallery or shamelessly promoting latin word-a-day TP?

    • Ha, no. Random coincidence. It’s a pretty important fallacy to understand for baseball analysis, though, because people use it all the time: It just means “after this, therefore because of this.”

      In other words, if I stub my toe in the morning and then find $20 on my walk to work, I’d be foolish to assume that I found the $20 because I stubbed my toe. They’re just two sequential events, not related ones.

  4. Not to beat a dead horse, but it’s worth pointing out that Manuel also said he wanted Mejia to go three full innings last night. Never mind that he hasn’t pitched more than 2 all year, and even that was more than a month ago. Never mind that he’s in a short relief role without any secondary pitches because Manuel wanted it that way.

    Even if it really was the right move to pull Maine when he did–and I wasn’t watching, so I didn’t see how bad he apparently looked, I don’t see how it’s the right move to burn through your bullpen right before six games against the Yankees and Phillies.

    How much more of this can we take? It’s time to get rid of Jerry already, and send Mejia down to AAA (or lower, frankly), where he belongs.

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