By: Michael Ganci

Nine Innings with Michael Baron


Michael Baron writes about the New York Mets for at  ().

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 ready to be interesting and relevant again, but it’s difficult to say this roster is up for a playoff push right now. I don’t want to sound pessimistic, because I genuinely think they’re better today than they were on September 28, especially with Harvey coming back and the hope they can get a normal season from David Wright. But, obvious holes remain, and their defense in general is a legitimate concern.

Overall, this roster should have 83-85 wins in them, which is enough to keep them in a contention discussion into September. Hopefully, they can overachieve a bit and augment the roster in July to make a serious run.

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

Well, as I said there are obvious holes. Their defense in general must be better than it projects, they lack flexibility from a proven left-handed reliever against tough lefties and they have next to no speed. The game has evolved in a way where these tools have become vital for success, and not having these consistently could make it difficult for the Mets over 162 games.

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

Well, anything can happen, and I am hesitant to print playoff tickets in March. The Nationals have the deepest roster in baseball, and the Scherzer deal positions them for a deep run into October. I have a lot of respect for what Mike Rizzo and Ted Lerner have been able to build there.

As for the Mets, they went 4-15 against Washington last year. Washington hit 26 home runs (17% of their entire output for the year) against New York, 18 of which came at Citi Field . They scored 95 runs (14% of their entire output for the year) against New York, 58 of which came at Citi Field . With all due respect to the Mets, they need to prove they can play on the same field as Washington before they can think about overtaking them in the division. Again, the Mets are improved, and a lot of these inflated numbers could be an aberration, but I’m sure Terry would agree with me from a competition perspective.

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?

This is a big year for David in a lot of ways. He has a lot to prove to himself as well as the industry. He knows that. But, I expect David to be more like the David of old. Perhaps the output from 2006-2008 is unrealistic to expect, but this is one of the best third basemen in the last 50 years – I refuse to believe he has reached his steep decline phase. He is as hard a worker and dedicated player as their is in the game, has had a hell of a lot on his shoulders during the rebuild phase and all of the drama that’s come with it, and I think he’s owed the benefit of the doubt as a result.

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

That’s a good question, because the Mets need rebound seasons from David as well as Curtis, but also need Travis and Lucas to continue to improve as well. But, I think the Mets are going to ask a lot from Juan Lagares and his ability to be more disciplined, since they’re searching for a presence for the top of the order. If he can do that, he instantly transforms the roster and gives the Mets weapons on the base paths. He’d also transform himself into a bonafide star in the league.

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

Put it this way: I root for the Yankees to lose in Spring Training, and on Yankee Classics. It’s not even a hate thing for me anymore. I just can’t deal with them at this point. I respect Yankee history, but my issues with them are seriously deep as a fan. So, yes, I get why many Met fans hate the Yankees.

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

I am biased, but even if I weren’t, Id still choose the Mets at this point in time. They have turned into a talent-rich organization, creating a potential pipeline to the major leagues which is fluid and consistent, especially with the wealth of pitching prospects which seems to be getting better and better with each day that passes. Clearly, the industry loves the Mets farm system, and for good reason. They’re now lined up to be very interesting for the foreseeable future on both sides of the ball.

Meanwhile, the Yankees have Gary Sanchez, Luis Severino, Aaron Judge, and not much else which classifies as significant prospects, and it’s partly why they’re in the position they’re in now. The good news for the Yankees is, I think they recognize this predicament and are focused on cutting their ridiculous payroll and regenerating their farm system in the near-term.

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

I am really not a food guy. I’m good with an old fashioned hot dog, soda and a salty pretzel. Having said that, I love Blue Smoke. It’s terrible for you, but damn, does it taste good!

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

Relevant and much improved from the beginning of the season. This isn’t a team that’s going to be static for the entire year. We are going to see players grow and evolve on a daily basis, and that’s part of the fun when the vision of the front office starts to come together.

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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