Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Mets Q&A with Amazin’ Avenue

After taking a week off for spring break we are back with baseball previews and interviews. The NL East preview has been posted at My Opinion on Baseball and we have the New York Mets tabbed to win the division.

With that, we’ve invited Eric Simon from the excellent Mets blog Amazin’ Avenue to chat with us about the Mets. Thanks for your time Eric and welcome to the My Opinion on Sports Empire.

If the Mets are going to win the pennant this year will it be because of hitting or pitching?

Eric: It depends on how you look at it. The Mets’ pitching staff is getting very little respect in baseball circles right now, but everyone knows what the offense is capable of. The hitting isn’t likely to disappoint, but if the Mets are going to take the National League crown this year I think their pitching will need to step it up. There is plenty of talent in the starting rotation, but plenty of question marks, too. There are inexperience and durability issues galore, but if the old guys can avoid the trainer’s room and the young guys can mature just a bit, I think they have a good chance to impress some folks.

With the ages of Glavine and Hernandez along with the health issues Martinez has experienced how much confidence do you have in the pitching staff?

Eric: Pedro Martinez is out until the All-Star break, so the Mets have to proceed as if he won’t be around for a while, if at all. I’m actually a bigger supported of El Duque than most, though even I’ll acknowledge concern over his age and probability of physical breakdown. If he can stay on the field I think he will be fine. Glavine never gets injured, and I think he has enough left in the tank to win fifteen games with a sub-4.00 ERA. Ultimately, it may be the development of the kids – John Maine, Oliver Perez and Mike Pelfrey – that make or break this rotation. There is a lot of upside there, but to count on all three of them panning out this year may be wishful thinking.

We’ve got the Mets tabbed to win the division but if not New York then who?

Eric: The Phillies, who some actually consider the favorites right now. Their lineup isn’t as deep as the Mets’, but their rotation is much deeper and far more reliable. The Mets have a better bullpen, but the question may be, “Whose pitching staff will keep them in games long enough for their bats to knock in some runs”. It’s a toss-up right now.
Do Alou, Beltran and Green make up the most dangerous outfield in the National League?

Eric: Could be, though the Rockies (Holliday, Hawpe), Reds (Dunn, Griffey) and a couple of other teams are getting good production from their outfields as well. Shawn Green doesn’t bring a whole lot to the table right now, but if he can provide even average offense I think the Mets would be thrilled.

Give us the name of a Mets player who is really going to turn heads this season in a good or bad way.

Eric: Look for Joe Smith, a side winding reliever the Mets took in the third round last year, to turn some heads in a good way. He dominates righties and has developed a change-up that has been effective against lefties as well. He can get his fastball up around 90 and his off-speed stuff sits in the high-70s. GM Omar Minaya says he is farther along than Washington closer Chad Cordero – who Minaya drafted while in Montreal – was at this same point in his development.

Which player would hurt the team worst if put on the DL - Delgado, Alou, Beltran, or Green?

Eric: Beltran, and it isn’t even close. He’s the best player on the team and probably the best all-around player in baseball.