Subway Series Preview with Mets Writers

NEW YORK - JUNE 20: Johan Santana #57 of the New York Mets looks on after surrendering a third inning grand slam to Mark Teixeira #25 of the New York Yankees on June 20, 2010 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.

With the Subway Series coming up, I received an email from Steve Schreiber of Amazin' Avenue asking if I'd answer a few questions about the Yankees. I gladly did, while he returned the favor and answered some questions about the Mets.

Here you go, hope you enjoy!

BC: I'm sure you don't want to hear this question, but what exactly has been going on with Ike Davis? Do you think the short porch could help Davis get going? Should he be in AAA right now?

SS: It's been a slog for Ike all season and honestly, he probably should be in AAA right now. The Mets have decided to keep him around and let him work out his problems in the majors, partially because the team is so banged up right now but there is also the thought that AAA pitching may not serve to help him. I think it's mostly been a mechanical issue with him. Keith Hernandez has been harping on it during the broadcasts for weeks now, that Ike is starting his swing early and is out in front of everything. He has days where he looks better but suddenly, you'll look up and he'll be 1 for his last 20 again or something like that.

BC: Johan Santana threw a no hitter his last time out. Since returning from injury has he been better, the same, or worse than before the injury?

SS: It's pretty incredible but I think he's actually been better this season than at any point in his Mets career (and he was pretty good from 2008-10). He's striking out batters at a level not seen since 2007 and he's shown surprising durability, along with solid command. He seems to have an inning or two a game where his command disappears but the guy's such a competitor that he's routinely able to work through those issues. The way he's pitched through these first eleven starts is nothing short of miraculous, considering our low expectations for him and the no-hitter last Friday was just a gigantic cherry on top.

Follow me after the jump for the rest!
BC: The Mets have surprised many with their solid start to the season. Are you surprised? Why have they been so good?

SS: In spring training, I thought that most in the media underrated the team a bit (the calls for 100 losses or that they'd only win 55 games were always pretty laughable) but I am pleasantly surprised that they find themselves six games over .500 at the moment. My initial thoughts were that this was a .500ish team and that maybe they'd end up a few games over or a few games under depending on how the pendulum would swing. They're a pretty young team with a lot of variables that could push them either way but the biggest reasons as to why they've been so good are Santana and the renaissance of David Wright.

David is in the midst of his best season since 2008 and should be firmly in the conversation for the fictional first half NL MVP right now with the way he's played. Beyond those two, R.A. Dickey has taken his game up to another level entirely, while the offense has been pretty solid at scoring runs. Even with Davis' struggles and with Ruben Tejada injured for over a month, they've gotten plenty of help from guys like Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Scott Hairston, both of whom have been big contributors.

BC: Sandy Alderson set out this off-season to fix the bullpen, but Jon Rausch and Frank Fransisco haven't gone as planned. Thoughts on the bullpen?

SS: I really thought they did a nice job fixing the bullpen over the offseason, bringing in some interesting pitchers with contracts that weren't too prohibitive. Unfortunately, they've been mostly awful this season and the pen seems to be this team's biggest weakness yet again. The best two relievers out there have been Bobby Parnell and Tim Byrdak. Francisco had some struggles in late April/early May but has been better of late. Rauch and Ramon Ramirez have both been spotty and each is now injured. I really liked the acquisition of Ramirez but he's been a big disappointment--his command just hasn't been there. And Manny Acosta was historically bad through the first two months, allowing more runs in that time span than he allowed in his previous two seasons combined with the Mets.

There's been some turnover now, with prospect Elvin Ramirez and righty Pedro Beato being called back but they're still pretty shaky. There's also some help down the line in the minors, with lefty Josh Edgin and prospect Jenrry Mejia, who may see some bullpen time as a way to limit his innings in his return from last year's Tommy John surgery.

BC: Prediction for the series?

SS: With Johan Santana and Jon Niese throwing in this series for the Mets, I'll hope that they come out of this with two wins, though I could certainly see the Yankees taking two out of three as well. I'm not all that confident in homer-prone Dillon Gee pitching in the friendly confines of Yankee Stadium. If anything, this will be a nice test for the Mets to see how they can stack up with a strong, veteran team like the Yankees.


Travis, BTW, also interviewed Michael Branda of MetsMerizedOnline.

TG: How does it feel to get the no-hitter gorilla off your collective back? Does the "hit that should've been" take away from it at all?

MB: I'm 30 years old, and Friday night probably goes down as my most memorable Mets moment in my life. A non-Mets fan probably can't understand that. But I'm never going to forget where I was and how it felt.

As for Beltran's foul ball: Honestly, for me, when my friends who are Yankees fans ask me that, I have replied with the same answer, "Does Jeffrey Maier's catch in Game 1 [of the] LCS take anything away from your 1996 season? Of course not."

I found it funny that Cardinals fans got so heated over it. These are the same fans who benefited from a blown call in Game 3 of the World Series against Texas which lead to the rally that blew the game open.

As a Mets fan, I've seen my share of bad luck and if for one moment the pendulum swings the other way, I'm not going to shy away from it.

TG: Are you worried that the 134 pitches Santana threw will hurt him this season? Would you take the no-hitter if it meant Santana would miss the rest of the season?

MB: No, I'm not worried because he had an extra day of rest, and frankly, if this team is going to have any chance at a playoff run, he's going to have to pitch on short rest at times.

If he gets hurt (knock on wood it doesn't happen), then I'm confident it would have happened anyway regardless of throwing an extra 20 pitches.

I would take the no hitter over the 2000 NL pennant right now. I hope they build on the moment, but I don't expect any Mets fan to regret it if we lose Santana because of it.

TG: Who's been the biggest surprise so far? Biggest disappointment?

MB: Well, biggest disappointment is clearly Ike Davis. As time goes on though, I am starting to think Ike Davis is a .250 hitter that everybody put too much pressure on. He can't even get to .190 though! It's funny, I am sure you've heard how Jason Bay has been a train wreck since he joined the Mets, right? If you take Bay's Mets stats and compare them to Ike's career numbers, you have very similar pictures.

Biggest surprise is impossible to answer. There isn't one player who can possibly take all the credit. This team is six games over .500 right now, and I believe nine of our current 13 offensive players would have a tough time getting a job on any other competitive team. So I'd say the biggest surprise is the way this team can overcome adversity. The 2009 and 2010 Mets used injuries as an excuse; the 2012 Mets seem to use them as fuel.

TG: If you could put one current Yankee on the Mets, who would it be?

MB: It's really a tough call to be honest. It'd be a toss up between Granderson and Sabathia, most likely. Cano would be my third choice, I've just never really been a big Cano fan. I think Granderson would do more for the 2012 Mets than Sabathia would, so I guess I will stick with the Grandy Man.

TG: What kind of effects are the renovations to Citi Field having (making it more offense-friendly)?

MB: Right now hits, home runs and doubles are down compared to last year's park factors. Obviously, there is a lot more data to collect. Part of the problem is the Mets lineup this year just isn't very powerful. When you lose Beltran and Reyes, and sprinkle in a .160 hitter like Ike and a bunch of minor leaguers, you won't see a lot of power.

I think it has absolutely made most of the hitters more comfortable. That's the most important part.

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