The Mets are set to begin a three-game series against the Dodgers—the best team in baseball—this weekend, and we chatted with ESPN analyst and former major league player Aaron Boone about the series. ESPN is, of course, carrying the Sunday night game at 8:00 PM EDT.
To say things are going differently for the Mets and Dodgers this year would be quite the understatement. Boone sees a very complete team in the Dodgers, from the offense to the starting pitching to the bullpen to the defense, all of which have helped them win more games than any other team in baseball this year by a pretty decent margin. And one of the reasons they’re doing so well is that former Met Justin Turner is still playing very well.
“What’s palpable is the fact that he’s got such a good game plan when he goes up there. I think he really understand his mechanics of the swing, what pitchers are trying to do to him—he’s an outstanding high-ball hitter—but I think he goes up there as good as anyone and executes a plan, looks for a particular pitch and doesn’t miss it,” says Boone. “He’s just kind of taken advantage of opportunity. When he came over to the Dodgers, it wasn’t an everyday role, but he gradually earned more and more playing time. He’s an outstanding defensive third baseman, as well.”
Of course, it’s not just the Justin Turner Show. Boone praises Yasiel Puig for his growth as a player and his production this year, all of which he sees as a big part of why the Dodgers are so good.
“At times, even I thought, ‘how much longer was he going to be with the Dodgers?’ with all that’s followed him, just little controversies here and there. He’s settled in, hitting down in the order, predominantly eight most of the time, he’s settled in and had a really solid season for them. He’s been extremely productive at the bottom of the order, he’s been one of the best defensive right fielders in the sport,” he says.
Despite the way things have gone for the Mets, though, Boone has plenty of things he’s looking forward to watching with the team over the final two months of the season. Unsurprisingly, one of them is Amed Rosario.
“He leapt off the screen to me. I felt like he was an enormous talent. The bat speed is elite. As I like to say, ‘he’s got lightning in his hands,’ and that really shows. He’s got a little swagger to him, in a good way. I think he understands he’s got a lot of ability. I liked what I saw just watching him that day [at spring training] work defensively. I’m in the camp that based on what I’ve seen and certainly how he’s performed to get to this point, that believes he is going to be a potential star player. And I think one of those exciting things for Mets fans, to watch him come up and try to establish himself and create some momentum for himself in these final two months heading into the offseason and what the Mets hope is obviously a much better season next year.
“When you look at the Mets, some of the age that they’ve had—especially in the infield—the chance to add some youth and some athleticism into the infield. And if he can go out and grab that spot and be a guy that is going to be counted on going into next year. He’s absolutely a guy we’ll be watching.”
And it’s not just Rosario who warrants watching the rest of this season. Boone wonders what Steven Matz and Matt Harvey can do on the field—and mentions that Harvey could wind up a non-tender candidate, a situation that was virtually unthinkable not too long ago. And he’s like to see Noah Syndergaard come back healthy and effective, too, just to go into the offseason with some momentum for next year.
He’s also a big fan of the Mets’ trade for AJ Ramos, which he sees as a sign that the team and front office expect the team will be able to contend next year. And overall, Boone still sees the Mets as a potentially very good team in 2018. Part of the optimism there is because of Michael Conforto.
“He’ll head into next year obviously not having to kick in that door and earn his spot. He’s more than done that, obviously. The bat’s for real, on an elite level. There’s the ability to play all three outfield positions. But the thing that really jumps out for me is the ease with which he hits the ball out the other way. That’s something that will serve him well, and when we look up in several seasons, if he’s staying healthy, I think we’ll be looking at one of the really, really good offensive players from the standpoint of getting on base and hitting for power.”
You can hear our full chat with Aaron Boone on the latest episode of Amazin’ Avenue Audio.