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Mets Q&A Session Team Beat Reporter/Photographer Michael Baron

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1. In a perfect world, the Mets will have a rotation with Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Noah Syndergaard, Jon Niese, and Rafael Montero, all as far above-average pitchers. Do you think that this is possible?

Ideally, yes, that would be the Mets front five on paper, and that is a very exciting prospect. The problem is, the Mets don’t have much of anything behind them, short of David Wright, Bobby Parnell, and maybe Daniel Murphy. They’re going to have to trade from their strength, which are young power arms in their organization. They know that, and it sounds like they’re prepared to start doing that in the short term. Hopefully, they can retain all of the guys you listed, but it’s possible one of them might have to be parlayed into at least one position player.

2. When do you see the Mets making the playoffs again?

I firmly believed that if the front office plays their cards properly this winter and invests their available funds properly, the 2014 team could be a contender. When you consider over $50 million of their current payroll is dedicated to Jason Bay and Johan Santana – guys who aren’t here and won’t be here – it’s nice to think about what they could be doing with those funds today, let alone this winter. And, it sounds like ownership is ready to commit even more than just those monies as well.

3. What would you do regarding the Ike Davis situation?

Ike is a tough call. He is all over the place both mentally and physically, and that’s clear. He’s also hurting the team on both sides of the ball on a fairly routine basis. He knows the focus is on him, he knows everyone is talking about him being demoted – these things don’t help him. Ultimately, it’s about performance, and he isn’t performing at the level a major leaguer should be performing. I think  demotion for the sole purpose of him getting out of town to get away from the media and attention could be beneficial for his career. The questions are a) will it help? b) when will he get back? c) will he get back? d) who plays first base? e) what does all of this mean for his future and the team’s future? These are all serious questions which the team really didn’t want to have to deal with this season, but are certainly faced with right now.

4. Who do you see as the most realistic option(s) for the Mets this offseason?

There’s no way to make any predictions on who they might acquire. I think it’s obvious what they need, and so it’s a question of are they going to address those needs, and what will the cost be in both dollars and talent in trade?

5. Do you think the Mets will make a splash as buyers or sellers at the deadline? Or will they stay put?

They are not going to be buyers in the traditional sense, should they decide to make an acquisition. Any move they make will be for their future, whether it’s a deal to acquire a big leaguer or talent which is close to being big league ready. Frankly, I’d like to see them take advantage of that market and address a need now, so it’s one less thing to worry about this winter.

6. Johan Santana did something that the Mets franchise needed in a no-hitter. Yet, he’s been largely a disappointment in Flushing. What grade would you give the Santana trade today?

I don’t think he’s been a disappointment, although it’s fair to say he hasn’t lived up to the value of his contract. But, when do any of these long-term deals end well? I am not going to assign a grade, because whatever I would choose would be an unfair assignment. When he was out there, he was fantastic, but his career took a major turn in September, 2010 when he injured his shoulder. It happens, even to the high-priced talent. I think Johan was a brilliant pitcher in his day, he won some big games for this club, and he was so much fun to watch in terms of his guile, competitiveness, and athleticism. The Mets got him when he was one of the best pitchers in baseball, and I have no problem with the Mets doing whatever they can to win a World Series, which was the basic design of the move.

7. Do you think that the Mets were true players in the Bourn/Justin Upton sagas this offseason? Or were they bluffing?

I think they were definitely in the game, and were seeking to improve the club by being in these derbies.

8. John Buck has been a huge surprise so far this season! When Travis D’arnaud comes up, do you expect Buck to lose his spot in the lineup, for them to platoon, or some other scenario?

Buck was great in April, but he’s hitting about .200 in May – that is the John Buck I expected. He is invaluable to this pitching staff, is a good defender, and knows how to call a game. As far as d’Arnaud is concerned, this is a good and interesting question. Early on, I simply expected Buck to give way to d’Arnaud, and the team would either trade Buck or Buck would be backing up d’Arnaud. But, now that d’Arnaud’s arrival is going to be delayed and the Mets have a need for Buck’s bat, I could see the team finding a way to keep Buck in the lineup. But, time will only tell, and a lot will depend on when d’Arnaud gets here and what Buck is doing at the plate.

9. When do you expect Zack Wheeler to make his debut this season?

Soon. He is ready at this point. I’m not concerned with what he’s doing from a statistical standpoint anymore. He has developed the command necessary to graduate. They know that – it’s just a matter of when he slots in. I’d like to see him within the next two weeks, but it makes sense to slot him in against the Braves in Atlanta when they will play five games in four days.

10. Jordany Valdespin has lots of potential, yet he doesn’t know his place in the locker room. He’s notably had feuds with LaTroy Hawkins, Wally Backman, Terry Collins, and even David Wright. Do you think that Valdespin is a long-term player for the Mets, or will his attitude issues overshadow his potential?

Well, lets be careful how we characterize these feuds and who they were with. With that said, in terms of Valdespin’s potential and future with the club, yes he has a ton of talent in him. But, the Mets have been patiently waiting for that to blossom, for him to become more disciplined both professionally and on the field, and it just hasn’t happened yet. Ultimately, it won’t be about his behavior, it won’t be about how he dresses on and off the field, and who he pisses off in the process. It will be about his production, whether or not he can adjust, and showing results. If he can do that, he will stick around, and nobody will care about his antics. If he doesn’t his act will be shipped out of town. But, that goes for any of these players currently under watch.

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This entry was posted on October 6, 2013 by in Interviews.
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