By: Michael Ganci

ESPN’s Mark Simon: Get Ready for Mets Emotional Roller Coaster Ride

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Mark Simon is one of the most hard-working professionals who cover the Mets on a daily basis.

Not only does he write about both the Mets and the Yankees for both ESPNNY.com and ESPN.com, but he also helps maintain the ESPNStats Twitter Account. He gave us a few minutes of his time today to talk about the Mets and the season ahead.

Have you ever seen anything like this pitching staff? Can the Mets sustain last year’s pace?

Yes: This pitching staff hasn’t proven yet that it’s up to the level of the 1990s Braves of Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz and (fill in the blank), or the Athletics and Orioles teams of the early 1970s. The potential is there, but let’s remember that Steven Matz has barely pitched in the majors, Bartolo Colon has plenty of imperfections, and Zack Wheeler was very much a work-in-progress when he went for Tommy John.

With all of their off season moves, do you consider the Mets to be the NL East favorite? Does Daniel Murphy put the Nationals over the top?

I think it’s a toss-up with maybe a slight advantage to the Mets. I know Joe Sheehan wrote this the other day … I agree with it. If you tell me that the big 3 pitchers are going to make 30 starts each, I’d feel pretty good about the Mets chances. With the Nationals, one thing that I think is a great wild card … Strasburg in a walk year. I am curious to see how good he will be.

Eventually the Mets will need to give these pitchers the paydays they deserve. Who’s the most likely to be a lifetime Met? Who’s the most likely to be traded one day?

I think Jacob DeGrom is the most likely to be a lifetime Met, because I think he’s going to be the one who can win games without a 96 MPH fastball. The heat will dry up for Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard someday and they’ll have to reinvent themselves. That will be a challenge. And Harvey will be a Yankee in a few years anyway.

David Wright has chronic issues, but the Mets need to find ways to keep him fresh. Does that make Wilmer Flores extra valuable? Do you think David can last a full season?

I’m definitely concerned about Wright. I talked to someone in baseball who major back issues and they said he’s going to need regular rest, and you might not know day to day when he’ll be able to go (which means potentially playing with a short bench, a lot). Could I see him hitting .270 with 15 home runs in 120 games? Yes, but I don’t know if the best case is that much better than that. Wilmer will be very valuable. For the sake of Mets fans, I hope he develops the footwork to play first base adequately.

Defense was a big issue for the Mets in the World Series, and they arguably haven’t improved a ton, other than Neil Walker replacing Daniel Murphy. What do you make of their defense?

Well, they are better at second and short, even if they’re still average and “eh” there. Cespedes in center concerns me, but if he’s committed to getting it right and shows a commitment to hustling, maybe he’ll be alright.

What is this team missing? Do you see more moves on the horizon or will we have to wait until in-season?

I almost wish they would have signed Juan Uribe and tell him to just hang out in Florida until they needed him. He’d be a nice bench bat. I actually like the depth of the bench though. My thing would be to add another bullpen arm: Although they may be thinking that between Rafael Montero and Paul Sewald and a few other guys in the minors, that they’re okay for depth there. But you can never have too much pitching.

Mike Piazza was finally elected to the Hall of Fame? Do you agree with his inclusion? What took so long?

I do agree with his inclusion. What took so long? PED-usage suspicions. But as I’ve thought all along, there’s going to come a point at which voters relent. You’ve seen it with Piazza. You’ll see it with Bagwell. You won’t see it on the definitive users, but on the “maybes,” I think voters will tire of not including them.

When I use the term “Met Killer,” who’s the first guy you think of? Why?

Chipper Jones and Derek Jeter among retired players. Freddie Freeman among current ones. I think Bryce Harper is going to join the list eventually.

Finish this sentence. At the end of 2016, the Mets will be…

An 87-win team that will either be in the postseason or will drag its fans through the emotional roller-coasters that were 1973, 1998, 1999, 2007 and 2008 (some of those ended happily, some didn’t).

About Michael Ganci

Michael Ganci is the Co-Founder of the Daily Stache, along with Matthew Falkenbury. Since 2008, Ganci has eat, drank and dreamt all things Mets, and he'd have it no other way. Feel free to follow him on Twitter at @DailyStache.

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