By: Michael Ganci

Nine Innings with Mark Simon

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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.

For previous editions of #9innings, click here.

Here are his thoughts:

What do you make of this Mets’ team as currently constituted? Are they ready to contend?

I think I would say that I modestly like the team and I think they could contend. But I think I would like their chances if they had one more bat and one more bullpen arm.

If they’re missing something, what is that piece? Who would be the guy you’d go out and get and why?

I would have liked to have seen them get Ben Zobrist. He’s a very “Mets” type of hitter and would have been an ideal fit at the top of the lineup. I can give you a name that Is probably currently unrealistic, but maybe down the road, it could work – Brandon Crawford. He’s in the prime of his career, has the potential to be an above-average offensive player and already is an above-average offensive player. I imagine he would require giving up a significant prospect or two along with Wilmer Flores, but I think it would be worth it.

How do the Mets compete with the Nationals with that superstar rotation? Is the NL East title a distant pipe dream?

I think the Nationals are at least 10 games better than the Mets on a bad day. I think a wild card spot is a much more realistic goal this season. Divisional contention is more likely in 2016.

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?

I think David has good seasons left in him and may even have a couple of very good seasons in him.. That said, players with notable injuries tend to have more notable injuries down the road. David has had a few. I think he will be hard-pressed to have consecutive really good seasons because of that injury history.

Who’s the guy who needs to step up to put the Mets offense over the top?

I’ll give you two – Travis d’Arnaud and Curtis Granderson- and I’ll talk from an all-around perspective. D’Arnaud’s WAR last season was 0.3. Granderson’s was 1.3. For the Mets to excel, those two players need to flip the digits. They need to be 3-WAR players.

What are your thoughts on the Yankees? Do you hate them? 

I think I would term my current perspective on the Yankees is that of “healthy respect.” As someone who writes about both teams, there are a lot of likable, interesting things about the last couple of Yankees teams and the current squad. I’m thinking along the lines of (now former Yankee) David Robertson, who is not only a good pitcher, but a good person as well (read up on his charity work if you’re unfamiliar with it).

If you could have one team as currently constituted, farm system and all, would you rather have the Mets or the Yankees? Why?

I’d rather have the Mets, at least for the short term, for two reasons. One would be the depth of the Mets young prospects, which is considerably better than that of the Yankees (just check the prospect rankings that came out this spring). The other is that the AL East is significantly tougher than the NL East. The Mets are in position to take advantage of the weakness of the division, at least for a couple of years.

What’s the best thing to eat or drink at Citi Field?

I’m going to skip this question as to not endorse a product.

Finish this sentence. By the end of the season, the Mets will be…

Either lamenting that they didn’t have enough offense at the start of the season or feeling fortunate to be playing postseason baseball. I think the former is more likely than the latter, but the latter is not to be counted out.

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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