Despite what has been considered by virtually all Phillies fans a successful April, the Phils come into the last day of the first full month of the season at 15-12, percentage points behind the 14-11 Mets in the NL East. Andrew Vazzano from The ‘Ropolitans answered a few questions about the state of the Mets.
Think of it as really advanced scouting on a team the Phils don’t play again till July.
1) What do you see as the most significant developments for the Mets since the start of the season?
Well, most of the fans thought we were indestructible after we landed Johan Santana, so now that we’ve played a few games, we’ve seen that we’re just as good as everyone else and this is going to be a dogfight all season. I’m also very surprised by the back end of our bullpen (sans: Aaron Heilman). With Joe Smith, Duaner Sanchez and Billy Wagner closing out games, I’m very confident if the team has a lead late, they’ll hold it. (Obviously, since I said this, they’ll blow a few of the next bunch of games!)
2) There seems to be a loud, large contingent of fans that are unhappy with the direction of the team or at least some of the Mets’ players. Is this just frustration with the early results or does it go deeper than that? How do you expect the situation to play out?
It all stems from last season. As far in the past as it is, most fans are yet to get over the collapse. When guys like Carlos Delgado and Aaron Heilman got off to extremely rocky starts, fans regressed to last September, and the boo birds came out in full force. Obviously, we’re not even through a quarter of the season, so I think it’s still way too early to start driving a guy out of town. The players need to pick up the pace, but I think it will all even out in the long run. Only if the player continues to struggle do I see anything coming of this. Again, it’s all from last season, it haunts us.
3) How do you expect the situations in left field and at first base will be resolved? Right now it looks like Pagan may be seeing a lot of time in left — do you think he can make it through a whole season there? What are the other options for the Mets at first base if Delgado doesn’t come around?
Well, Moises Alou just had his ankle checked out, and he should rejoin he team in Arizona. Obviously, there is no way he’s going to make it through a whole season without getting injured again, so time will be split between Angel Pagan and Endy Chavez. There’s no way Pagan can last a whole season, as we’ve already seen him hit a cold snap. Chavez and Pagan are decent in left, a big upgrade defensively over Alou, but Alou can absolutely rake at the plate. On Delgado at first, I think the team needs to wait it out until he *really* starts to tank. The two home run day against the Braves was huge, and with or without a curtain call, it should be a big boost to his confidence. A lot of people have been calling for AA player Mike Carp to get called up. Through 4/29, Carp is batting .376 with 6 home runs, 20 RBI, and 16 runs scored. People seem to think he’s the first baseman of the future, and with Delgado taking a downturn at first, Carp might be called up sooner rather than later. I’d rather see Marlon Anderson or Damion Easley fill in at first, with the majority of the time still going to Delgado. Carp may be called up in September, but I don’t think it will happen before that.
4) What is your expectation about how the rotation is going to shape up behind Santana/Maine/Perez the rest of the way? Do you think it’s likely that most of the other starts will come from Pedro, El Duque, Pelfrey and Figueroa? Do you feel comfortable with that group at the bottom of the rotation? Is there anybody else in the mix?
Stick a fork in El Duque, he’s done. I don’t expect him to come back, ever. I see the rest of the season being split between Nelson Figueroa and Mike Pelfrey, with Pedro Martinez getting the bulk if/when he gets back and if he stays healthy. With Jorge Sosa struggling so far, when Figueroa or Pelfrey gets bumped by Martinez returning to the rotation, one of those two might find themselves as the long man out of the bullpen. Figueroa would probably be the best guy out of the pen, so I think that’s what might happen.
5) Is Willie Randolph the right person to manage the Mets? How safe is his job?
No. He’s good, but not for this team. These players need a leader and with David Wright being so young, and probably the most outspoken player on he team, he doesn’t really fit the bill. I think the Mets need someone like Jim Leyland who isn’t afraid to yell after a lazy loss or poor play. If the Mets don’t make the postseason this year, I doubt Willie returns.
Thanks a lot to Andrew. Remember to check out his blog, The ‘Ropolitans.