Jerry Crasnick is a baseball writer for ESPN.com and Baseball America, but perhaps more impressive is his Twitter photo that features he and Morgan Freeman.
In addition to his website and newspaper work, Crasnick is the author of the book “License to Deal: A season on the run With a Maverick Baseball Agent.”The book’s main focus is on the story of Matt Sosnick who left his job as a CEO to become a baseball agent.
Crasnick was nice enough to give us a few minutes to talk Mets in today’s edition of #9innings.
For previous editions of #9innings, click here.
Here are Crasnick’s thoughts:
What do you make of this Mets’ team as currently constituted? Are they ready to contend?
I’m not sure if I would say “ready to contend” as in “ready to win the division,” but they’ve made some encouraging strides. It wouldn’ surprise me to see them improve by several games and be a team that’s hanging around the NL wild card race into September.
If they’re missing something, what is that piece? Who would be the guy you’d go out and get and why?
I think everyone agrees they could upgrade over Wilmer Flores at shortstop. But he doesn’t fare badly according to the advanced defensive metrics, and I’m not sure how much better-served they would have been signing a Jed Lowrie, Asdrubal Cabrera or Stephen Drew to play short. Ian Desmond would look great in a Mets uniform, but it was probably unrealistic to think they could have traded for him. And Troy Tulowitzki stayed put in Colorado, so it’s not as if he was a serious trade possibility, either.
How do the Mets compete with the Nationals with that superstar rotation? Is the NL East title a distant pipe dream?
Yeah, I’d be shocked if Washington doesn’t win the division. The Mets finished 17 games out last season, and the addition of Max Scherzer makes the Nats even more formidable (although I do have some concerns about the back end of their bullpen once October rolls around).
David Wright had a career-worst year in 2014. Do you think we should expect a marginalized player moving forward or do you have hope in a resurgence?
The Mets people I’ve talked to are quietly optimistic about Wright. They say his shoulder feels very good, and they think new hitting coach Kevin Long will be a positive influence on him. Does that mean he’ll be an MVP candidate? I’m not ready to go that far. But Wright had a .904 OPS in 2013, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. The guy has a lot of pride, and if he can post an OPS in the .850 range, he’ll still be an important part of that lineup.
Who’s the guy who needs to step up to put the Mets offense over the top?
I’ll go with Curtis Granderson. He’s more settled in now, and he and Kevin Long clearly have a great working relationship. Even if Granderson improves from .227 with 20 homers to .240 with 25-30 homers, he’ll have a significant impact. If they can get 125-130 games of good production out of Michael Cuddyer and a comeback year from Wright, that will make for an upgraded lineup.
What are your thoughts on the Yankees? Do you hate them?
No. I don’t “hate” the Yankees at all, although I do get a little tired here and there over some of the drama emanating from the Bronx. (Does the name “A-Rod” ring a bell?). I can certainly understand why some Mets fans don’t like the Bronx Bombers, but that’s a healthy thing, isn’t it? Do White Sox fans like the Cubs? When one team in a city gets the overwhelming share of the attention, it’s only natural that fans of the other team will feel some resentment.
If you could have one team as currently constituted, farm system and all, would you rather have the Mets or the Yankees? Why?
I don’t want to sound as if I’m pandering to Mets fans, but I think their team is in a better place right now. Keith Law and Baseball America both ranked the Mets’ farm system as the fourth best in the game, and ranked the Yankees at No. 20 and No. 18, respectively. The Mets are also awash in the one commodity — starting pitching — that so many teams are dying to have. The Yankees are burdened by several big, unproductive contracts for aging players, and that’s never a good thing. But at least Yankees fans know their ownership is willing and able to spend money. That’s one area in which the Mets will be lacking as long as the Wilpons own the team.
What’s the best thing to eat or drink at Citi Field?
It has to be Shake Shack, right? (although I’m really trying to be more discerning in my choice of ballpark fare these days).
Finish this sentence. By the end of the season, the Mets will be…
Somewhere in the 83-85 win range and a few games out of a wild card berth. If everything goes right, they could bump up that win total and finish second in the division.