Continuing with the theme from the last Know Your Foe, we exchanged some Q&A with a fellow SB Nation blog this week. This time, we spoke with Steve Schreiber from Amazin' Avenue about the New York Mets, who are currently sitting in third place in the NL East with a 57-64 record. After you read this piece, be sure to check out our answers to Steve's questions over at AA.
1. The Mets were very much in the thick of things until around the All-Star break. What do you think led to their downward trend after that?
In the first half, the Mets were propped up by some out of this world performances from David Wright, R.A. Dickey and Johan Santana and so far, they just have not been able to replicate those over the last month. On the pitching side, the bullpen has been awful all year but the starting pitching was their biggest strength through the all-star break and it hasn't continued in the second half. Dickey has merely been human, Santana seems to have hit some sort of a wall in his recovery (he's allowed 33 runs in his last 5 starts), Chris Young has traded decent and awful starts and Dillon Gee went down for the season with a blood clot in his shoulder over the all star break. Their best two starters have been Matt Harvey, who has had some command issues but has shown exciting promise, and Jon Niese, who looks to have taken the step forward that everybody was hoping for.
On the hitting side, the offense has dried up and that starts with David Wright, who's been mostly cold in the second half. Ike Davis and Daniel Murphy have been streaky, Lucas Duda and Kirk Nieuwenhuis hit their way down to AAA Buffalo and the Mets' outfield situation is a gigantic mess, with them not really having a single starting quality outfielder without a major platoon split.
Oh and did I mention the awful bullpen? Yeah, it's been a rough month.
2. David Wright is back to performing at a star level. In your mind, what is the reason for his resurgence?
#5 / Third Base / New York Mets
Dec 20, 1982
|2012 - David Wright||.320||.411||.521|
He seems to have gone back to basics, in that he retooled his swing to get some of the extra movement out. Over the last couple of years, it seems like he'd always be tinkering with his batting stance and that would often result in his hands moving higher over his head and him adding more movement in his pre-swing load. In the offseason, he watched old video of himself and worked with an old hitting coach of his down in Virginia and he decided to bring his hands down, which would eliminate some of the added movement, making him quicker to the baseball. During the first half, anyway, his swing was much more level and featured less of an upper cut, though that seems to have slipped back into his swing of late during his cold streak.
More after the jump, along with the usual stuff.3. With guys like Ike Davis, Ruben Tejada, Lucas Duda, Jon Niese, and others, there are some pretty good young players on this team. What do you think the future holds? And, who else is on the horizon?
There's been a lot of pessimism from fans of late and I understand that it's hard not to be pessimistic when your team is 11-24 in the second half. But overall, I'm pretty optimistic about the direction of the team. Unfortunately, they've still likely got another year of "treading water" ahead of them, since the awful Jason Bay and Johan Santana contracts (nearly $50 million in total) don't come off the books until after 2013 and ownership doesn't seem like it's going to raise the payroll this offseason.
But there certainly are some young players to be excited about -- Tejada has been fantastic at shortstop and at 22, you have to think he can only grow. Davis has been streaky and got off to a dreadful start but since June 1, he's hit a much more acceptable .252/.322/.534. As I mentioned before, Niese has taken a nice step forward and before the blood clot knocked him out, Dillon Gee had thrown to a 3.70 FIP and looked poised for a big second half. On top of that, Matt Harvey has shown top of the rotation stuff in his first five big league starts and lefty reliever Josh Edgin has shown some promise in the pen. They also have some interesting role player types in Nieuwenhuis, Jordany Valdespin and Mike Baxter, who look like somewhat competent, cheap backup outfielders.
The big disappointments really have been Duda, who was around league average with the bat but dreadful in the outfield, and Josh Thole, who's had a rough year and seems to be playing himself out of the full-time catching job. But beyond that, there are players here that can contribute to a winner. The big issue is that they really don't seem to have any offensive prospects on the way in the near term who fit their needs. The pitching outlook is a bit better, as AAA Buffalo features four good pitching prospects in Zack Wheeler, Jeurys Familia, Jenrry Mejia and Collin McHugh. But in order to take the next step, they'll have to add at least one more plus hitter (preferably in the outfield) to pair with David Wright and then find a bullpen. Sandy Alderson is going to have another tough offseason ahead of him with the payroll constraints but I'm hoping they'll at least be more active in the trade market.
4. So, Jason Bay. Yuck. What are the chances of the Mets just cutting ties with him after the season?
The ballad of Jason Bay as a Met has been an ugly tune and this year has been even worse, with Bay hitting a mind-bogglingly low .151/.234/.283 and looking even more like a shell of his old self. I just don't see a way that he can justifiably be carried on the roster in 2013 (his salary shouldn't be a reason at this point), so I'd be shocked if he wasn't cut but that will likely most likely happen in spring training next March, at this point. His bat speed seems to be shot and it's not like they can keep him for his defense -- he's only an adequate left fielder at best when he's hitting like he did in Pittsburgh and Boston. I think the Mets will look to swap him for whatever they can this offseason, find that nobody has any interest whatsoever, bring him to spring training to see what he's got and ultimately, he'll be dropped once they see that they can't squeeze any value out of him. It's a shame, too -- he's a good guy.
5. Look at Scott Hairston's career numbers against the Rockies, and predict how many homers he'll hit in this series.
Well, typically that question seems to depend on how many left-handers he'll face off against in this series and by my count, I see one in Jeff Francis. But Scott's been swinging the bat pretty well over the last week, so maybe he can sneak one against a righty. He actually hasn't hit a home run since July 30th, when he hit two in a game against the Giants, but I'll predict that he gets off the schneid and ends up hitting two in these four games.
Monday, Aug. 20 at 5:10 p.m. MT (Root Sports)
Alex White (2-6, 5.74 ERA) vs. R.A. Dickey (15-4, 2.89 ERA)
Tuesday, Aug. 21 at 5:10 p.m. MT (Root Sports)
Jhoulys Chacin (0-3, 7.30) vs. Chris Young (3-6, 4.50)
Wednesday, Aug. 22 at 5:10 p.m. MT (Root Sports)
Jeff Francis (4-4, 6.07) vs. Matt Harvey (2-3, 3.00)
Thursday, Aug. 23 at 11:10 a.m. ET (no TV)
Tyler Chatwood (3-3, 5.46) vs. Johan Santana (6-9, 4.85)