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Steve Phillips Chat on ESPN.com

For Insider members, ESPN.com held a chat with former Mets GM Steve Phillips. There was a lot of Mets talk:

George (Miami): Steve, I loved you when you were with the Mets. Speaking of them, do you think they have a shot at the division, or should they be shooting for the Wild Card?

Steve Phillips: Unfortunately for the Mets, they are playing in a division that really improved in the offseason. Everyone got better. They have a quality starting rotation which means they will be in most games. But I don't expect them to outslug anybody. With Piazza in the 4 spot, you know his production has gone down and there will be 40 or so games he won't even play. With Floyd in the 5 spot, he too has had a lot of injuries and has not produced in a significant way the last several years. Even with Beltran, Piazza and Floyd in the lineup, they won't score a lot of runs. Many times they won't have Piazza and/or Floyd. They will play a lot of close games, meaning their bullpen will be huge. The bullpen is their greatest weakness right now. Looper is a second-tier closer and they are holding auditions for middle relief in Spring Training. They have a lot more holes and questions than the Braves, Marlins and Phillies. I pick the Mets fourth in the NL East.

Steve Phillips: I would love to have picked them higher for my friend Omar Minaya's sake.

ryan (mechanicsburg, pa): which division, top to bottom, will be the most competitive this year (have the most teams in contention late in the season)

Steve Phillips: The NL East by far. They have the best depth and talent of all the divisions. Atlanta adds Tim Hudon and Danny Kolb to their division championship team. The Marlins got Delgado which was the single biggest differnce making move of the offseason. The Mets added the best free agent pitcher in Pedro and the best position guy in Carlos Beltran. The Nations got Jose Guillen who despite his behavior, has a very productive bat. They also stabilized the INF. It will be a dog fight in the NL East.

Scott (Poughkeepsie NY) : Steve, with all the stadium/olympic talks in NY, Are the Mets ever going to get a new stadium?

Steve Phillips: Someday they will. But it is not a priority for the city or state at this point. I think the Jets/Olympic stadium is the priority now. If the Mets get a new stadium, the ownership will have to fund a significant amount. I'm not sure Wilpon has do that at this time.

dilso (new york): do you miss bobby valentine?

Steve Phillips: (Laughing) Well . . . there has been a lot made about my relationship with Bobby. But I will say he is a very intelligent baseball man. We had a lot of success together. But we didn't always have the best relationship. I do respect his baseball acumen and I'm sure he's doing well in Japan right now.

Gary(NJ): To respond to your answer about the Mets it is not like like Piazza, Floyd and Beltran are going to be the only ones who HAVE to produce. The Mets have Jose and David Wright who are both having great springs. Wouldn't you agree that they are going help tremendously?

Steve Phillips: I do think they will help. I expect Reyes, if he stays healthy, to show people why there was so much hoopla around him. He is a tremendous talent and exciting player. Mets fans will finally see him produce. David Wright, like Reyes, has tremendous character to go with his amazing talent. But when you match the Mets lineup against some of the better offenses in the game, they just don't stack up. More because of the middle of the lineup than the front or back of the lineup.