Last night I took part in an online chat at The Happy Recap along with Jason from Faith and Fear in Flushing, Joe from Metsmerized Online, and the inimitable Steve Keane from The Eddie Kranepool Society. Here are the questions that were asked along with my responses:
Q: Who are you, what is your blog and address, how long have you been blogging, and how did you become a Met fan?
A: I am who they thought I was.* I write at AmazinAvenue.com and administer MetsGeek.com. I started blogging at a site called SaberMets about four or five years ago, and I owe my fandom to my father, who was a Giants' fan and a Yankee-hater, so when the Mets came into being they were a natural fit for him.
* Hopefully somebody got this Dennis Green reference.
Q: How big was Pedro's start and how well he pitched in his first start of the spring?
A: It was big in the sense that he had reasonable command of all of his pitches and he didn't hurt himself, which is saying something at this point of the spring. I was particularly encouraged that he was hitting 89 on the gun with some consistency, so it's not unreasonable to think that, given another couple of weeks of preparation before the season starts, he will be around there, or even in the low-nineties, when the real games roll around. 91-92 with his assortment of off-speed pitches will be tremendous, accepting the normal caveats of good health.
Q: Who gets the nod as the Mets 5th starter this season? Pelfrey or El Duque?
A: Kyle Lohse?* If Orlando Hernandez were ready to roll I don't think there's any doubt he would be the guy, and even though he isn't ready right now, the Mets probably won't need a fifth starter until the middle of April, so it's entirely possible that he will be ready by then. I still think Pelfrey can be a very good pitcher if he is given some time to work through his issues (e.g. control), and I think there's still a chance he makes the team out of spring training as the long man, though if Jorge Sosa is around that may not be an option. So... El Duque if he's healthy, Pelfrey otherwise.
* At this point in the chat, somebody's sarcasm detector failed miserably, as I was unnecessarily informed that Lohse had signed with the Cardinals. I know Kyle Lohse signed with the Cardinals, and for a pittance, so I was joking when I suggested that he should be the Mets' fifth starter. My sense of humor is obviously wasted on everybody.
Q: What are your thoughts short term and long term on Johan and the trade that got him here?
A: I think it was a good deal for both sides, especially considering how much the Mets had to pay to keep him here. Assuming his health over the next four or five years, it will probably be one of the most important trades in the history of the franchise. He is one of the few best pitchers in baseball and he is just entering his prime as we speak. Gomez, Guerra, et al could turn out to be very good big league players, but an opportunity to acquire a Johan Santana comes along once a decade, if even that often.
Q: Being bloggers, what is your response to what Bob Costas said about what you guys do, calling bloggers "pathetic get-a-life loser"?
A: It's unfortunate that he threw a blanket over non-mainstream Internet media in the way that he did, although to a large extent what he said wasn't terribly inaccurate. The signal-to-noise ratio on the web is tough to navigate, even for those who grew up using it (i.e. not Bob Costas). That said, blogs et cetera make mainstream journalism less relevant every day, and even a big star like Costas has to feel the crunch every now and again. Besides, my mother's basement is in New Jersey, not Albuquerque.
Q: How important is Fernando Martinez to the Mets future? Is he really the teenage hitting machine...the next Big thing to come out of NY or is he all hype?
A: It's tough to say that the franchise's future depends on one player. The Mets have the wherewithal (read: cash flow) to stay competitive for a long time via free agency and player development both domestically and internationally. Martinez is a very nice prospect, but he probably isn't even one of the ten best prospects in all of baseball, so I would hope the Mets aren't putting too many eggs in that basket.
Q: Do you think Willie will have a better handle of the bullpen this year, or will he revert to his mishandling ways of the bullpen?
A: A manager's handling of the bullpen is directly proportional with* the quality of same. Two years ago, when the Mets had Wagner, Sanchez, Heilman and Feliciano all healthy and dominant, Willie Randolph had a tough time messing things up. Last year, Schoeneweis and Jorge Sosa were mostly lousy coming out of the pen, and that reflected poorly on Randolph because, given lemons, he threw up his hands and said, "Me confused" and sent Show out to face three tough righties. Willie doesn't handle a poor bullpen very well, but he is certainly not unique among managers in that regard.
* This should have been "proportional to" not "proportional with", but whatever. I'm my own worst critic.
Q: What are your thoughts of some recent talk* of Beltran in a couple of years moving to a corner OF spot?
A: I think at 32 he will still be a very competent defender and, given the dearth of decent bats at centerfield throughout baseball, Beltran would have to be completely hobbled by injuries to warrant a move at that point. He has suffered nagging injuries over the first three years in New York, but they haven't stopped him from playing a phenomenal defensive centerfield. That, and his bat is much more valuable in center than in one of the corners, where offense is available in far greater abundance.
* Has there really been recent talk about moving Beltran to a corner? I realize the guy is banged up, but have you seen the dreck that can be found patrolling centerfield around the big leagues these days? Good luck finding someone to replace Beltran's production with the bat or the glove out there.
Q: Last Question. Prediction time. How many wins for the Mets this year, and how far they go in the post season?
A: I'm going to fake a connection problem and tune back in after everyone else has gone. I'll go with 93 wins and a loss to Boston in the World Series.*
* God I hate predictions. The various computer projections peg the Mets at 90-95 wins, so I split the difference and went with 93. I'm also not terribly confident that they will make it to the World Series, but it's not like there are a ton of great teams in the National League. Despite their injuries, the Mets will be a very good team this year. If some guys can stay healthy and some other guys can rebound a bit (I'm looking at you, Delgado), the Mets can be a great team.
You can check out the rest of the chat, including the responses of the other participants, at The Happy Recap.