The Dodgers and Mets are both riding positive momentum into their clash at Chavez Revine. While the boys in blue are beginning to get healthy, Terry Collins ball club will be playing without star David Wright and closer Bobby Parnell. Amazin Avenue's Steven Shreiber stopped by to give us the latest news on the Mets.
BEN: As the season approaches the 110 game marker, who would be the New York Mets Cy-Young and MVP?
STEVEN: The choices for Mets' Cy Young and MVP are pretty easy. Matt Harvey and David Wright, respectively, are easily the two best players on the Mets' roster this season and if Wright wasn't on the disabled list at the moment, both would be well within the realm of contention for the National League's Cy Young and MVP awards. Both Wright and Harvey have been fantastic all season and they look to be great cornerstones for the Mets to build around over the next couple of seasons.
BEN: At 54-61 overall not much has gone right for the Mets. However, Matt Harvey, as you said above, seems to be the real deal. Where does he rank amongst baseball's best pitchers and why?
STEVEN: Statistically, at least, Harvey ranks first among pitchers if you go by a metric like FIP, which has him over three tenths of a run better than second best pitcher Adam Wainwright. Of course going by ERA, he's second behind your excellent lefty Clayton Kershaw. The sample is still kind of small with Harvey since he made his major league debut barely over a year ago but at this point, I'm not sure how much more he has to show. He's a legitimate #1 starter in the majors and seems to be comfortably among the majors' top 10 pitchers and that may well be a conservative ranking.
BEN: Most people expected the Mets to move Marlon Byrd at the trade deadline, do you think that will still happen?
STEVEN: I doubt it. The Mets set a high price for Byrd, likely too high for a 35-year old in the midst of a season that's well outside the realm of his career norms, and unsurprisingly, no team bit on that price. I was on the bandwagon that they should trade him for whatever they could get but the Mets didn't want to "give up" on this season, which I guess has some (likely marginal) value. Now that we're in the waiver period, it seems even more unlikely the Mets will be able to get the top prospect they desired in return. Byrd's $700,000 contract will definitely get claimed on waivers and dealing with just one team probably only hurts his trade value.
BEN: In 2012, Ike Davis hit 32 home runs and 90 RBI's. Flash forward to this season, and Davis only sports six long balls and 25 runs driven in. What are the reasons for the worse production?
STEVEN: Ike Davis has always been a really streaky hitter but the last two years, he's gotten off to some dreadful starts and that finally resulted in him heading to Las Vegas in June. He's had issues with his mechanics where he's really out in front at the plate and he has a big hitch in his swing that certainly doesn't help his timing. He's been a bit better since coming back from Vegas (he's hit .327/.493/.538 since the All-Star break, for example) but overall, his rope is running thin. With his salary escalating in arbitration and the Mets hoping to compete very soon, they have a big decision to make this offseason.
BEN: Catcher John Buck got off to arguably the best start of any player in the MLB, but has dropped off rapidly since. What's the biggest difference for him now compared to April? Also, does where does Buck fit into their long term plans?
STEVEN: I wouldn't say there's much of a difference with Buck. He ran into a few fastballs early in the year that he put good swings on. Since then, he's basically just morphed back into the John Buck of old. Outside of April, he's mostly been atrocious at the plate (behind it, too) and with the Mets' top catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud set to be promoted soon, Buck's future with the Mets likely lasts through October when his contract expires. He probably would already be backing up d'Arnaud had he not broken his foot in April.
BEN: If any particular aspect of the Mets deserves kudos it's the bullpen, lead by the injured closer Bobby Parnell. How surprising has the bullpen's success been and who replaces Parnell to finish out games?
STEVEN: I think the success of the bullpen as a whole has been more surprising than the success of Parnell, who's quietly been a solid reliever for the Mets over the last few seasons (despite a certain sect of Mets fans who irrationally hate him). The bullpen wasn't always this good, as they had one of the worst ERAs in the majors in April, but they've overturned some guys and found a mix that works. Under the radar pickups like Carlos Torres and David Aardsma have added stability and they've gotten great seasons from minor league signings LaTroy Hawkins, who is now closing with Parnell out, and Scott Rice, who has been excellent against lefties. Young righty Gonzalez Germen has shown some promise as well.
BEN: The steady and reliable David Wright is the face of the Mets franchise, is he good enough to be the best player on a world-series caliber team?
STEVEN: Absolutely, no doubt about it. David Wright is one of the best players in the major leagues and a perfect cornerstone for the Mets (or any team, really) to build a team around. The problem in recent years has been that the Mets haven't had good enough players to pair with him. And like any great player, Wright will need other good players around him. He can't knock himself in all the time. Hopefully Travis d'Arnaud can be one of those players but the Mets will definitely need to acquire a few more this offseason.
BEN: Another intriguing player on the Mets roster is youngster Zach Wheeler. The former 2009 first round pick of the San Francisco Giants had a lot of hype in the minor leagues. Has Wheeler lived up to the expectations?
STEVEN: I think it depends on what your expectations for Zack Wheeler were. If your expectations were that he should come up and replicate what Matt Harvey has done, then yes, he's failed spectacularly at that. But if your expectations were that he'd show flashes of his upside and not fall on his face in his first trial, then he's met those. Has he been great? Not particularly. Has he shown flashes of being great? Yes, absolutely. He still has a lot of work to do, as his 5.32 FIP through 9 starts demonstrates - his command comes and goes at times and he's had some issues with weird velocity drops, among other things. But all in all, a 3.73 ERA despite those issues is acceptable for his first 50 innings and his stuff is pretty tantalizing when it's on.
BEN: Speaking of the future, do the Mets have more bright stars in the minor league ranks that may be ready for a September call up?
STEVEN: Travis d'Arnaud is the biggest prospect who'll get called up, likely in the next few days when John Buck goes on paternity leave (or maybe he's already on paternity leave by the time you read this!). The Mets also brought up 22-year old infielder Wilmer Flores on Monday. Beyond them, some lesser prospects like pitcher Jacob deGrom and center fielder Matt den Dekker who are both Rule 5 eligible after the season, to go along with guys already on the 40-man roster (Ruben Tejada, Lucas Duda, Greg Burke, etc) are likely the other call-ups.
BEN: Series prediction?
STEVEN: I'll guess the Dodgers probably take two of three. Mejia, Harvey, and Gee have all been excellent of late but you can't rely on the Mets' offense to do much, especially without David Wright.