By: Michael Ganci

Nine Innings with Mike Vaccaro

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Mike Vaccaro is a sports writer for the New York Post, author, Bonnies fan, owner of manic Airedale terrier named Rigby and bossy Westy terrier named Fiona.

Today, he plays the roll of Mets critic as he looks at the Amazins’ and their season ahead and gives us his take on today’s edition of #9innings.

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 they’re better than last year, so you start there. That’s a positive. What’s concerning to me is that they have posited that this is their big-move year and I just don’t think they have the firepower to get to, say, 90 wins.  I see a lot of frustration games, well pitched, the starters leaving in a 1-1 or 2-2 game. Are they positioned to win say 60 percent of those games? I’m dubious.

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

It’s too late for this but Kemp is the guy I would’ve targeted.  He has the chance to not only put up enormous numbers but also to elevate the whole lineup when healthy.  Obviously, like everyone, I’m not entirely sold on Flores at short, but I actually think they were right to be cautious on Tulo.  Frankly, they’re still paying for being too timid last year with Peralta.

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

I think the rotation has the capability of going toe-to-toe (though it means multiple young pitchers replicating the very best of who they’ve been, hardly a certainty) but the Nats still have a power/packed lineup to bolster those arms, which the Mets simply don’t.  I can’t see the Mets staying eye-to-eye with the Nats across six months.

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 the Mets will have some low-production years from that contract but I do believe Wright has 3-4 good years left in him.  He has to be healthy of course and more to the point he has to trust that his teammates can live without him so he doesn’t push a two-week injury into a two-month injury or, as bad, a long stretch where he’s compromised.  I really do think that’s the thing that hurt him last year.  Plus, I think he’ll be rejuvenated by not being a one-man savior show for the first time since 2008. I think this is the kind of team he’s coveted for seven very long years and could well respond in kind.

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

Granderson.  Not even close. If they simply get modest numbers — say .260/.375/.475, 25 HRs and 90 RBIs — I think you’re talking about a guy who really can be the difference in a lineup that slogs for weeks at a time and one that can show more than a little pop.  He’s never going to replicate his Yankee Stadium power numbers at Citi but that’s ok.  And if there’s ever been a player who needs to had a hot April, it’s Granderson.  That will set the tone for the rest of the year when it comes to his relationship with the fans.

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

Here’s the thing: I grew up in a house where we rooted for New York in all sports.  I know that may sound odd but it’s true: it wasn’t till I got to high school that I was told you had to declare one or the other.  So while I leaned to the Mets as a result I never hated the Yankees. And so it’s harder for me to understand the peculiar thing I see from both fan bases so often: so many seem to get just as much satisfaction — if not more — from the other team’s failures as they do their own team’s successes.

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

That’s a complicated question because right now, today, this moment I think you clearly pick the Mets because of the pitching, the kids on the way, and an easier (to me anyway) pathway to the playoffs.   But the thing with the Yankees is that next month, tomorrow, five minutes from now they could decide to flex financial muscle the Mets simply aren’t willing to flex right now and that would alter the balAnce substantially.

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

I love the Pat LaFrieda’s stand but I can almost hear my cardiologist quake whenever I wander into that queue.  Mama’s is where I go more often than not, and not just because both my parents were born and raised in Corona.

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

… playing meaningful September games. I don’t think they have enough to play any October games, at least not yet, but it would be nice for me to have to pick between writing about a night at Citi this fall or a Jets practice.

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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