Eric Simon at Amazin' Avenue was nice enough to answer some questions regarding his team:
Which injury has hit the Mets the hardest?
To this point, there's little question that Carlos Delgado's injury has been the most deleterious to the Mets' success. Jose Reyes is an immense talent, but he wasn't playing too well before his injury and Alex Cora has done an admirable if unspectacular job in his stead.
With Delgado out, the Mets have tried Fernando Tatis, Daniel Murphy and now Nick Evans at first, the first two with little success and the latter for too short a time to draw any meaningful conclusions. All have contributed credible defensive work, but Tatis and Murphy have been woeful at the bat, posting .299 and .311 wOBAs, respectively. Delgado was no Albert Pujols or Mark Teixeira, but he's a league-average or better offensive player which is far more than they've gotten in his absence.
I reserve the right to change my answer should Carlos Beltran miss more than a couple of weeks.
Give me your honest opinion of Jerry Manuel.
He seems like a nice guy. Very affable, particularly with the New York media. He wears emo glasses, which are something of a trend these days.
On the field, he's a so-so manager at best. He bunts far too often with his position players, he regularly makes baffling bullpen decisions, has an interesting approach to lineup construction, and occasionally gets himself into trouble by needlessly micromanaging in-game situations. Most frustrating, though, is that he's stubborn and closed-minded to a fault, completely eschewing "statistical numbers" as he calls them, preferring to manage "from the gut". I'm not one to advocate managing entirely by the numbers, but to be so embarrassingly obstinate as to ignore valuable reams of relevant information because they don't factor in edge, heart or grission is horrifyingly pernicious to the ultimate goal of winning baseball games.
Rate CitiField on a 1-10 scale. Why? Better than Shea? Do you miss Shea?
I've only been once, but I'd put it somewhere between an 8 and a 9. It's great in all of the ways that Shea wasn't: closer seats, better views, more personality, more fan-friendly, better concessions, concourses are clean and open-air, not a total dump that should've danced with a wrecking ball years ago, and on and on. All I can remember fondly of Shea were the games played there, both good and bad, and the stadium's absence from Flushing Meadows in no way diminishes the great baseball memories I have of the place. Everything else about Shea was entirely forgettable.
How the hell is Livan Hernandez having such a decent season?
He hasn't been all that great; his tRA is 5.22. But, he has been a pleasant surprise and has given the Mets a better-than-even chance of winning more often than not. Pitch-wise, he's been throwing his changeup more often than in recent years and he's also throwing harder than he has since 2005. He is a perfectly reasonable number-five starter and has exceeded all expectations of a pitcher in that spot. Unfortunately for the Mets, Hernandez has been moved up to number-three with the injuries to John Maine and Oliver Perez, which is not exactly what any of us had in mind when the season began. To summarize: #5 - Yay!; #3 - Bleah!
What's been the biggest strength and weakness of the 2009 Mets?
Their biggest strength has been the relative ineptness of the Phillies, Braves, etc. The Mets are only competitive within the division because their rivals are equally mediocre. If you're looking for something a bit less abstract, the Mets have done an outstanding job working the count and finding ways to get on base. Their offense has been utterly devoid of power -- thanks in no small part to the cavernous expanses of Citi Field -- but the Mets do draw a lot of walks and are second in the National League in on-base percentage. Too, despite the lack of gaudy power numbers, Carlos Beltran and David Wright have been superstars.
The team's biggest weakness was the overall roster construction, which begins with the signing of Oliver Perez and ends with having zero decent options to replace Delgado at first base. The fill-ins have performed adequately, but there just hasn't been enough depth to overcome the flood of injuries.
Thanks, Eric. I did the same for him at Amazin' Avenue.
The game thread will be up at 7 p.m.