Once again, Adam Rubin of the Daily News, took some time to answer a few questions for Mets Merized Online. Adam is the Mets’ beat writer, and is also the author of the book "Pedro, Carlos and Omar."
1. It seems like the Mets’ chances of securing the NL East title, have gotten a lot better with the addition of Luis Castillo, and the healthy returns of Moses Alou and Carlos Beltran. What is the feeling in the clubhouse with most of the players?
I don’t think the confidence ever waned much, even before Castillo’s arrival and when Alou was on the disabled list. Certainly the players have welcomed the addition of Castillo, which gives them a bona fide No. 2 hitter and a quality second baseman. No one could quibble with what the Mets gave up to acquire him or Jeff Conine.
2. Lately, pitchers John Maine and Oliver Perez have seemed less effective and both have showed some loss in velocity and control. The Mets say they are not concerned, but I don’t expect them to advertise their feelings on the matter. What is your sense of the situation regarding their struggles?
Even though Perez logged that many innings once before, both are at the high ends of their workloads for a season, and are probably hitting a wall to a certain extent. Hopefully for the Mets’ sake they’ll get a second wind. In Perez’s case, it was encouraging to see his velocity up a few mph in his most recent start, against the Dodgers.
3. The Mets’ bullpen woes have become a cause for concern. It seems the fans have chosen Guillermo Mota as the one person who personifies the bullpen’s shortcomings. What’s your take on the situation, and do you believe the shortcomings in the pen will be addressed by Omar Minaya before August 31st?
Mota’s big contract and positive steroid test make him fair game. The bullpen clearly isn’t as dependable as last year, but that doesn’t mean it’s not the same issue other teams deal with, too. It’s hard to imagine a capable reliever passing through waivers so the Mets can trade for him, so the major additions probably will come from the minors — Joe Smith and even Mike Pelfrey, if he proves he can handle it. Ambiorix Burgos is apparently having elbow problems again. The Mets also owe Dave Williams a recall on or about Sept. 1.
4. It seems that Willie Randolph is ready to give Lastings Milledge the bulk of the playing time in right field over Shawn Green. When you see Milledge play, the obvious flashes of his enormous talent is pretty evident, but so is his raw level of play. He makes some nice plays in the field, but from what I’ve observed, his inability to get good jumps in the field makes every fly ball or line drive an adventure. Can the Mets survive shaky defenders at both outfield corners?
Milledge is an upgrade over Green in right field, even if his routes to balls aren’t ideal sometimes, prompting diving catches on balls that should be more routine for his speed. Perhaps once Endy Chavez is activated, you’ll see him as a replacement for Moises Alou late in games the Mets are leading, too.
5. Assuming the Mets are in the playoffs, and that a healthy and effective Pedro Martinez, joins the rotation. Which four pitchers would most likely start in the post season, and who will go to the bullpen?
It’s way too early. Glavine would definitely be in the rotation. And I don’t think Perez would be the ideal choice for a reliever. We all remember how El Duque performed with the White Sox at Fenway Park in the postseason, so he’d be the logical candidate. But right now he’s their best starter.
6. During Tuesday’s game telecast, Gary referred to David Wright as an MVP candidate this season. It made me wonder if any of the Mets would be able to win any of the major awards after the season. Many Cy Young’s and MVP Awards have been won on the strength of spectacular run in the last month of the season. Look into your crystal ball and tell me which Mets might have a shot at winning some major hardware after the season?
I don’t foresee the Mets having the MVP, because there are too many talented players on the team. You can subtract one and it would hurt, but not as much as subtracting a comparable player on another team. I hadn’t given it thought yet, but my gut feeling is that national voters will most often list Jose Reyes as the highest Met on their ballots. Forget Cy Young, Rookie of the Year or Manager of the Year.
Thanks for your time, and we look forward to reading more from you every day in the Daily News and on your blog, Surfing The Mets.