Saturday, April 23, 2011

"Good. I like Mike Nickeas."

Tonight was a good night for the Mets.  That makes two good nights in a row for the first time in a long time.  Mike Pelfrey figured it out and the Mets bats backed him up.  From the home run by Ike Davis to give the Mets the lead to Carlos Beltran's RBI single for insurance, the Mets had their second straight well-played game.

But guess what?!? The winning streak is not the only good news of the night.  You're probably going to think I'm either cold-hearted or I have no heart after the initial statement so please just keep reading.  Mike Nickeas will likely stick around for longer due to a rib-cage injury for Ronnie Paulino.  As one ESPN commenter puts it, "Good.  I like Mike Nickeas."  As you can guess, I agree with that comment.  Josh Thole is still going to get the majority of the playing time but I don't see a problem with giving the other playing time to the hardworking guy that has played his way through your minor league system.

Okay.  I have a real reason for him to stay, too.  He knows how to handle a pitching staff.  Pitchers have complimented his ability at calling a game and it definitely looks like there is good reason for that.  The Mets are 4-2 with Mike catching and considering the Mets haven't exactly had a stellar offense, the pitchers must have pitched good games.  He has now caught 1-hit games from Mike Pelfrey, Chris Capuano, and Chris Young.

What was really telling about his handling of pitchers was tonight's game.  Mike Pelfrey had struggled. Pelfrey's last start was caught by Nickeas and he did show improvement, throwing 5 innings and giving up 3 runs.  Maybe something was there.  Tonight Pelfrey pitched a gem.  Pelfrey has a history of needing a catcher that can lead the game.  From Rod Barajas to Henry Blanco he has been more comfortable throwing to the veteran catcher.  While Nickeas is not a Major League veteran, he is most definitely a Minor League veteran who knows how to call a game.  Pelfrey is supposed to be the ace right now and maybe he needs Nickeas to help him through his struggles.

Recently Mike Nickeas has found his offensive stroke again and even though that stroke isn't particularly strong his defense is so helpful that keeping him around won't hurt.  Perhaps this is a blessing in disguise.  It's just a longer chance for the dedicated MiLB veteran.

Let's Go Mets!


Saul said...

Mike Pelfrey + Mike Nickeas = Mike Pelfeas

Anonymous said...

Great post. I like Nickeas too, mostly for the "career minor-leaguer gets his shot" angle than anything. So, prompted by your post, I wanted to see if Nickeas' bat was as weak as some folks I follow on Twitter insist. Turns out not, not by a long shot.

Small sample size alert: I looked at every player who played 80% of his games as a catcher and sorted by OPS+. Turns out Nickeas is 17th (out of 54). He currently has an OPS+ of 124, ahead of Brian McCann and Buster Posey, among others. It's not going to last, not by a long shot, but it shows that there is some offensive talent there. Enough to be a good backup catcher, at least.

Ellie said...

He is definitely good enough to be a backup catcher. Backup catchers are usually strong either defensively or offensively but not both (if they were good at both they probably wouldn't be backups) and Mike has the defense down. His bat isn't going to kill the lineup so it's nice to see him play.