Mets Series Preview: Joe Janish

Fellow member of ESPN’s SweetSpot blog network Joe Janish was nice enough to get involved in a Q&A, previewing the upcoming series between the Phillies and Mets. His questions and my answers can be found at his blog Mets Today by clicking here.

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1. How much patience do the Mets have with Jose Reyes? He’s currently sporting a .550 OPS.

Plenty. Number one, because the guy was sitting on a couch for over a month — literally. The Mets have only themselves to blame for rushing him back; it was unrealistic to expect an athlete to return to world-class condition in one week after being completely sedentary for six weeks. Number two, there isn’t any alternative — the next-best shortstop in the organization that is anywhere close to MLB-ready is Ruben Tejada, and he isn’t as close as the front office would like you to think, and he is AT BEST another Anderson Hernandez. Reyes may struggle for a little while longer, but eventually he’ll get back into the swing of things. Though, we may not see it until the Mets are so far behind it won’t matter.

2. The Mets are near the bottom of the National League in a lot of offensive categories. Will the Mets be looking to acquire a bat at the trade deadline?

No. As bad as the Mets’ offense is, their pitching is worse — so if a deal is to be made, it HAS to be for an arm. The fact they have not given Chris Carter a shot to merely platoon with the offensively anemic Jeff Francouer suggests that they will “go with the horses they came with”. Other than right field, there isn’t really any position where there is an opportunity to make an improvement. David Wright, Jason Bay, Jose Reyes, and possibly Ike Davis are pretty much set for the season at their respective positions. As bad as Rod Barajas is, he’s doing what the Mets want — hit homeruns — and there aren’t many offensive-minded backstops available anyway. Luis Castillo is immovable, and again, the trade wire is void of second sackers with punch. Angel Pagan is filling in admirably for Carlos Beltran, and, yet again, a better-performing centerfielder would be hard to come by. That leaves Francoeur, but Mets seem intent on waiting out his slump.

3. Speaking of trades, do the Mets have the prospects to make a deal for Roy Oswalt of the Houston Astros?

Doubtful. The best they have to offer is Jennry Mejia and Fernando Martinez, but the fan base would go ape if either of those youngsters were moved. Further, I’m not sure the Astros would be interested in either of them.

4. After Johan Santana and Mike Pelfrey, the Mets rotation isn’t looking too good. Aside from a deal for a star pitcher like Roy Oswalt or Cliff Lee, how can the Mets patch up the back of the rotation?

It can’t happen from within, unless RA Dickey and Hisanori Takahashi pitch well above their heads. Even then, there’s still an empty spot in the rotation, assuming Oliver Perez doesn’t return there. The shortsighted decision to bring Mejia north as an MLB reliever rather than let him continue developing as a starter in the minors is biting the Mets in the butt very hard right now. The best the Mets have to turn to down on the farm include journeymen Pat Misch and Bobby Livingston and fringe prospects Tobi Stoner and Dillon Gee. The pickings are slim. Their best hope is that someone is willing to give up an MLB-caliber starter for Dan Murphy, because their trade chips are equally underwhelming.

5. The bullpen has been decent for the Mets so far, but do the high walk rates set off any alarms?

The bullpen did well in April, but Jerry Manuel’s pedal-to-the-metal “management” is already seeing its ill effects. Manuel has been managing for his job since Opening Day, and mixing and matching relievers as if every contest were Game Seven of the World Series (Fernando Nieve and Pedro Feliciano are first and second in the NL in appearances, and on pace to appear in 97 games by the end of the season). Add in the fact that John Maine and Ollie Perez rarely made it through (or to) the fifth frame of starts, and what you have now is a bullpen that is starting to break down now, and is poised to continue a downward spiral. Yes, the high walk rates are a major concern.

BONUS: Moyer-Dickey, Blanton-Takahashi, and Hamels-Pelfrey are the pitching match-ups. How do you see the series panning out?

Strangely enough, for all my negativity, I’m liking the Mets chances in this particular series — mainly because they’re missing Roy Halladay. Also, I think that there is an outside chance that Dickey’s knuckler could dance enough to keep the Phillies off-balance, and both he and Takahashi have the benefit of mystery right now — meaning, Phillies hitters and the scouting reports are not familiar with the two hurlers. As for Hamels-Pelfrey, I’m liking what I’m seeing of Pelfrey lately, and have yet to be convinced that Hamels can be the pitcher he was two years ago. With a little luck, the Mets could pull out two wins — and their 16-9 at home suggests they could get “lucky”. Oh, and it’s going to be more difficult for Mick Billmeyer to pick off the catcher’s signs from the sharp angle of Citi Field’s bullpen. 😉

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Tip of the cap to Joe for being unbiased about his team. Now let’s hope the Phillies can sweep the Mets!