The 3-0 Phillies square off against the 2-1 Mets for a three game series. I caught up with fellow SweetSpotter Joe Janish of Mets Today to get some info on the Mets.
1. The Mets are off to a 2-1 start. Obviously, just about everybody is picking against the Mets this year, but was there anything in those three games that provided some optimism?
As usual, it helped that the Marlins beat themselves in the opening series. The good news is that, unusually, the Mets didn’t beat themselves and took advantage of a fundamentally poor team’s mistakes. Also, it appears that R.A. Dickey‘s carriage has not turned to a pumpkin and Jon Niese may be poised for a breakout season. Additionally, Josh Thole continues to make strides both at and behind the plate. Carlos Beltran has taken the field twice, and Jose Reyes hasn’t yet injured himself. In short, I’m basking in a positive glow but waiting for the sky to fall at any minute.
2. I caught some heat on your blog last year because I called Mike Pelfrey a fluke. Are fans’ expectations of Pelfrey lowered after his decline last year, or do you expect him to emerge as one of the better pitchers in baseball this year?
Fans’ expectations are for Pelfrey to be as good or better than he was last year — he is the de facto “ace” after all. Unfortunately I’m seeing the same mechanical inconsistencies that affected his command and likely contributed to his shoulder woes last year. Oh, did you know Pelfrey pitched with a strained rotator cuff and posterior capsule last year, and took a pain-killing shot before every start? We didn’t either, not until a few days ago. Since he hasn’t yet made the mechanical correction, I fear his command issues will only worsen, and that he may further damage his shoulder. So, no, I don’t expect him to emerge as one of baseball’s better pitchers this year (but hope that I’m wrong).
3. Ike Davis is off to a fast start. What kind of year do you think he’ll have offensively? Does he make the list of baseball’s top-ten first basemen?
Davis has made a few adjustments as the NL adjusted to him — and that is how players succeed at this level. I don’t know if he’ll be a top-ten first baseman but he should improve upon last year’s numbers. I would peg him be somewhere in the neighborhood of 20-25 HR, .270 – .280 AVG, .350 – .360 OBP, .450 – .475 SLG.
4. Francisco Rodriguez blew a save on Saturday. Is he over the hill? If he falters, who can the Mets use in the ninth inning?
K-Rod isn’t over the hill, but he’s rolling down it. His velocity has dropped markedly since putting on a Mets uniform — there were times last year that he struggled to hit 90 MPH. As a result he has relied heavily on his change-up and breaking stuff, and hitters have caught on. I believe much of his problems stem from the combination of an ankle injury that led to mechanical changes, and I don’t believe he’ll ever be a $17.5M closer. If he falters to the point where he needs to be replaced, the Mets will be overjoyed, as the previously alluded to $17.5M option is tied to games finished. I would guess that flamethrowing Bobby Parnell would get first crack at closing, though if Jason Isringhausen gets on the 25-man roster he would also be a candidate.
No and none. I’m making sure to fully appreciate every single at-bat of those two players early on, as I expect a fire sale come July.
Young has pitched well in spring training and healthy so far, but I don’t like how his high-ball style will play in CBP. Unless Pelfrey does an absolute about-face, things could get ugly. Niese is the one who I have the most confidence in right now, but he’s going against Doc. How many will the Mets win? Let’s just say I’ll be pleased if they get out of Philly with one victory.
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Thanks again to Joe for shedding some light on the new New York Mets. Hop over to his blog Mets Today for my answers to his questions, and to keep up on Mets-related stuff throughout the season.