Shea Stadium will be shaking tonight beneath the weight of 60,000 delirious fans. The Mets make their first LCS appearance since 2000, and to get a feel for what we can expect I enlisted the help of Adam Rubin, beat writer extraordinaire for the NY Daily News. You can read Adam's work every day at NY Daily News and look for plenty of Mets-related goodness in his blog. Adam's a really busy man and one of the best at what he does, so I truly appreciate him taking some time away from the insanity in Queens to answer a few questions via e-mail.
Eric Simon: There's a lot of mixed information about Cliff Floyd's foot injury. I guess we'll have a better idea on Wednesday when the LCS rosters are announced, but what sense do you get of the severity of the injury and how much can we reasonably expect out of the guy?
Adam Rubin: Floyd says he needs surgery after the season, so I wouldn't underestimate the injury. Still, even his teammates have traditionally kidded him about being overly dramatic. I haven't seen the Game 1 lineup yet, but I imagine Endy Chavez is a good possibility to start in left field. The bottom line is that Floyd as a pinch-hitter is more valuable than Lastings Milledge anyway (with Milledge's only benefit that he's a righty hitter).
Eric: The Mets used their bullpen depth to great effect in the LDS, as Willie Randolph often stuck with his starter only as long as he had to before turning the game over to one of the best relief corps in the league. Do you expect more of the same in this series, particularly with the Mets having to go at least one slot deeper in their rotation (Oliver Perez) this time around?
Adam: Randolph said he may manage things differently this time, but I'm not so sure. There's an off-day between Games 2 and 3, so certainly using your relievers aggressively early in the series won't be to the Mets' detriment later in the series. Oliver Perez has the potential to be electric, but I would suspect he'd be on a very short leash. If he's wild early, I suspect we'll quickly see Darren Oliver.
Eric: What kind of presence do Pedro Martinez and El Duque -- two guys who likely won't pitch again until 2007 -- provide in that excitable clubhouse? Are they still very much a part of the group, or do they appear more outsider-ish since they can't contribute on the field?
Adam: That's not easy to say, since we don't have the same access to the clubhouse in the postseason that we do during the regular season. I don't believe Pedro has been much of a presence at all. Same with El Duque. This clubhouse has so many veterans and mature younger players, I'm not sure they'd need that anyway.
Eric: Most fans know just what is reported to them by you and your fellow beat writers. What is something about this team, or about a particular player on this team, that would surprise fans who have never seen the inside of the clubhouse?
Adam:I don't think it would surprise people, but the togetherness of this team definitely strikes anyone in the clubhouse. There's so much playful banter going on. When Cliff Floyd walked by David Wright in the dugout during the workout yesterday, Wright blurted, "Kirk Gibson!" ... Shawn Green does have a miniature dancing rabbi in his locker, like those Santas you see in department stores. I believe Richard Lewis gave it to him.
Eric: Do you have a favorite baseball team? Many professional sports writers have told me that the grind of working in baseball has made it impossible to maintain the rooting interest in the team they cheered for growing up. Do you find that to be the case?
Adam: I was born in the Bronx and grew up on Long Island (Bellmore), so I drifted from the Yankees to the Mets over the years. But as a beat writer you stay impartial. You end up rooting -- privately -- for people who have treated you well over the years. I enjoy seeing prospects who I know get a chance and do well elsewhere, including Scott Kazmir, Mike Jacobs, Bobby Keppel, etc. There were so many other classy guys, too. Jay Bell, Marlon Anderson, Mike DeJean, Braden Looper, Joe McEwing ... I could keep going.
Eric: Thanks again, Adam. Now back to work!