Analysis

This Week in Schadenfreude: John Maine’s Arm is Coming Unattached

Welcome to This Week in Schadenfreude, where we discuss why, no matter how bad things might seem for the Phillies, someone else in the division always has it worse.

This has not been a good week for schadenfreude. The Phils have suddenly decided that scoring runs is for wusses, dropping four in a row, including two to the hated Mets. Those Mets, at 24-23, are now prairie dogging .500, making the NL East the only division in baseball with five winning teams. Good for them. As much as I wish those wins hadn’t come at Philadelphia’s expense, the ‘Mazin’ Mets deserve credit for their strong play of late.

But all is not sunshine and puppies in Queens. You never want to see a player experience career-threatening injury, so this week we have a little less eye-poking and a little more sobriety.

Back in the day, John Maine was to the 2006 Mets as J.A. Happ was to the 2009 Phillies—a young kinda-prospect without any mind-bending stuff who had the ability to get batters out reliably. At 25, he pitched well in 15 starts for the Mets team that went to Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS. The next year, he posted 8.48 K/9 and a 3.91 ERA in a 15-win campaign. In all, it looked like Maine was going to be a solid mid-rotation starter for many years, sort of an evolutionary Kevin Millwood.

Well, things are different now. Maine spent time on the DL and was not particularly effective in 2009, and this year, matters have been even worse. He left his last start after one batter, whom he walked on five pitches. Jerry Manuel scratched Maine from his next start and the righty is now on the DL with rotator cuff tendinitis.

The unpronounceable David Golebiewski wrote in depth at FanGraphs about two weeks ago about how the 29-year-old righty has drifted back toward mediocrity these past two seasons, possibly due to injury.

Maine’s performance just creams catastrophic shoulder injury. The first time I saw one of those live, I was 10 years old, watching Alex Fernandez fall apart in the 1997 NLCS. His velocity was down, his off-speed stuff wasn’t moving, and he had no control. Fernandez threw 57 pitches in 2 2/3 innings, got yanked by Jim Leyland, and didn’t pitch again until 1999.

Well, Maine is much the same this year. In walking Nyjer Morgan to start his May 20 start, Maine’s fastball topped out around 84, down 5 MPH from his season average, which, in turn, is down about 3 MPH From last year. His walk rate went from 3.53 BB/9 in 2007 to 4.20 BB/9 last year to an alarming 5.67 BB/9 this year. He’s only getting 45.5% of his pitches into the strike zone in 2010, down from 52.8% last year. With no control and no velocity, it’s pretty obvious Maine is hurt—seriously, I fear. With a starting rotation of Johan Santana and four other guys, the Mets can ill afford to lose Maine.

This might not be a reason to point and laugh. But it’s certainly a reason to be glad you’re not a Mets fan.

15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. RichieAllen

    May 27, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    Good article but we seem to have our own problems.

  2. George

    May 27, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    Interesting that you compared Maine and Happ, given that Happ is also injured. According to what I’ve read, he won’t be back for weeks, and I don’t think anyone here has confidence in Kendrick to take his place.

    I’m also worried about Blanton. He still seems to be less than 100%, and is only lasting little more than 5 innings per start.

    While both of these guys might be back soon, I’m certainly not going to hold my breath based on what I’ve seen and read. And without them, we’re little better than Santana, Pelfrey, and the Mets’ three other no-names.

  3. chitown Phillyfan

    May 27, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    I am all for ripping the Mets as much as possible, but the timing for this article bad. The Mets just shut the Phillies out in back to back games, not exactly time to trash talk.

  4. chitown Phillyfan

    May 27, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    Also isnt this philliesnation? wtf are you doing giving a John Maine synapsis for? We should stick to our own problems, maybe you can publish a story about us stealing signs, and how we havent really hit since?

  5. Jeff

    May 27, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    Enough with stealing signs. who cares. everyone does it. Bring up Brown and bench Ibanez. Get a spark from a young kid. It worked with the Mets. Jr. does alot of stupid moves. Giving Ibanez all that money. BAD, Blanton BAD, Moyer, from the organaztion Bad. Howard 125 million BAD. Just bad moves. Getting rid of LEE bad. Now he is on the way to LA. Get a clue JR.

  6. David, the Mets fan from Queens

    May 27, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    I’m with chitown Phillyfan, Michael.

    As a Mets fan, I read Philliesnation.com to remain in-touch with what is going on with the Philadelphia Phillies as my divisional rival. After having read this article, I was left with a sour taste in my mouth–not so much because you spoke negatively about my favorite ball club, but because it seemed inappropriate for you to speak of the Mets’ woes with regard to the Phill

  7. David, the Mets fan from Queens

    May 27, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    …the Phillies’ current slump. It seemed as if you’re trying to abate your current dismay by comparing an ephemeral slump to the deterioration of one of the Mets’ starters. Why not speak about the Braves, and how Kawakami hasn’t recorded a Major League win thus far? Why not talk about the Marlins and and the Ramirez altercation?

    I usually enjoy your work, Michael–not today, my friend.

  8. Karl, the Mets fan from Manhattan

    May 27, 2010 at 6:38 pm

    “With a starting rotation of Johan Santana and four other guys, the Mets can ill afford to lose Maine.”

    And yet the Phillies couldn’t scratch one run off of two of those “other guys”

  9. George

    May 27, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    David, the Mets fan from Queens:

    Did you not read the first sentence of Michael’s post? When your own team is down, that is precisely the time to point out why other fans have it worse, and Michael I think points that out clearly.

    I do, however, wish that he didn’t use injuries as his item to pity, though. Injuries can happen to anyone at any time, including the Phils, who currently have Rollins, Happ, Lidge, and Madson on the DL, Blanton still showing signs of rust, and Ruiz nursing aches and pains. I myself would never pity another team’s fans for their own DL losses when my own team has so many. The fact that the Phils still occupy first isn’t all skill, but some luck, too; if ANY of these players have further problems, first could easily turn to second or third.

    It occurs to me, too, that sometimes injuries are just the motivation for a front office to go out and get someone better as a replacement.

    I find harping on injuries to be a cheap shot. This whole “Schadenfreude” thing could jump up and bite Michael and his buddies in the place they like to sit on.

  10. BurrGundy

    May 27, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    It’s a shame to see a young pitcher’s career potentially cut short by injury whether it be a Met, or a Brave, or a National or a Marlin. John Maine looked like a real up-and-commer a couple years ago. I hope he gets better. Hopefully the Phils staff can get healty as well.

  11. miked63

    May 27, 2010 at 7:34 pm

    agree with my fellow fans above , we have our own problems. All teams go thru hitting slumps a couple times a year. However this current 1 run in 38 innings in unbelieveable. What bothers me is the lack of emotion. I know these guys are professional and have a proven track record , but i wouldn’t mind seeing a bat slammed or helmet thrown, something .
    Fans see this lack of fire and it appears like they don’t care. I think one positive of this is , if any phils players were a little full of themselves from the teams accomplishments the last couple years this sure should bring them down to earth. They can’t just throw theyre gloves on the field and think the opposition is going to be scared of the big bad phillies.

  12. miked63

    May 27, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    @ david from queens : I hope mets are in it till the end. I still think once healthy the phils will win 93 to 95 games this year. As bad as the last week has been , phils will still go into june with a better record this year than the previous three. This group of phillies always plays its best ball from june on. That said , i think the mets best shot is wildcard. I’m curious about your opinion though. Do you think this mets team can win 90 or better games ? Its a long season you never know. I know one thing , nothing would be more entertaining than if the mets make wildcard and we play each other in the playoffs. Assuming the phillies dont go complete backwards and miss it themselves.

  13. DH

    May 28, 2010 at 12:05 am

    Throwing a helmet or smashing a bat rack doesn’t show anything but weakness. The way for a player to galvanize this team is to have a great AB or come up with a clutch hit. Giving into frustration isn’t the way to go. I wouldn’t want to see it out of my team.

    The Mets will savor this victory in their typically arrogant style. The Phils will quietly put the work in and come out of it on the other side a better team.

  14. George

    May 28, 2010 at 12:21 am

    I agree with DH. Throwing things only shows weakness; an inability to control one’s anger. It also leads to unnecessary injuries, like Madson’s broken toe.

    I doubt, however that the Mets will savor their victories in “their typically arrogant style.” It’s their fans that tend toward arrogance, not the team itself. Reyes is a hot dog, perhaps, but Victorino can be, too, and as far as Santana’s “best pitcher” comment, I can’t help but think it was a somewhat tongue-in-cheek response to a really stupid question. Real arrogance by a TEAM would lead to far more on-the-field brawls.

    And with articles like these “Schadenfreude” things, I think Phils fans can tend toward arrogance, too, when they’re on top.

  15. Willie

    May 28, 2010 at 3:20 am

    This is really funny. The mets lost two starting pitchers to injuries and still have better starting pitching than the phillies. I guess u shouldnt be so glad ur not a mets fan. Oh and by the way, i think the tables are turning and its the phillies turn to collapse. Guess the mets arent the only choke artists.

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