Bart Hubbuch of the NY Post was gracious enough to honor our request to answer a few reader submitted questions for us. He does an excellent job of covering the Mets all year long and is a valuable source of information both in the regular season and the hot stove season as well. I hope you enjoy what I believe is a great read on another slow Mets news day. Enjoy…
Last off season, Omar Minaya proclaimed Mike Pelfrey the team’s number two starter and we all saw him regress instead of stepping up. Are the Mets willing to stick with him, or could he be included in a trade to upgrade the rotation or shore up another weakness?
It’s safe to say Pelfrey’s sub-par season in 2009 set off alarm bells for the Mets. His lack of mental toughness has become a big concern. I’m not sure the Mets are still convinced he has the psychological makeup to be a No. 2 starter, much less an ace. That’s why you see them suddenly saying the top of the rotation is an area of need this winter. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to see Pelfrey included in trade proposals this year. His extremely cheap salary ($500,000) next season would make him an attractive trade candidate for teams looking to cut payroll, too.
There are so many conflicting reports out there regarding the Mets and free agent Matt Holliday. Who do you think he will ultimately sign with, and what if any are the Mets backup plans?
I just don’t see Holliday coming here. Maybe the Mets have been saving up to go after him, but I don’t think that’s the case. And all of their other actions (i.e., draft spending, lack of moves at the trade deadline) since the Madoff scheme came to light indicate this team just doesn’t have a lot of cash at its disposal at the moment. Not only that, but I’m also not sure Holliday truly wants to come to the Mets considering how Citi Field is basically Death Valley for right-handed power hitters. They might go hard after Jason Bay instead, but I think he wants to stay in the AL. I know Mets fans probably won’t like it, but somebody like Xavier Nady, Rick Ankiel or Marlon Byrd might be the fallback.
It looks like Dan Warthen will keep his job as pitching coach despite an across the board decline in performance by mostly every pitcher including Perez, Pelfrey, Putz, Santana and K-Rod. I know Warthen can’t pitch for these guys, but he presided over a team that issued the second most bases on balls and led the league in bases loaded walks and wild pitches. Was he ever in any danger of being fired and is he on the hot seat in 2010?
It’s not just Warthen. All of the coaching staff will be on the hot seat with Jerry Manuel in the final year of his contract. I don’t know if Warthen being brought back was the Mets blaming injuries instead of the pitching coach for all the 2009 woes as much as it was them not wanting to spend the money to go after Dave Duncan or someone of his caliber. It would not surprise me, though, if Warthen gets the ax before Manuel if the Mets get off to another poor start and the pitchers are walking people all over the place again.
Do you think the Mets are actively shopping Luis Castillo or are there no truth to some of the recent rumors that had him going to the Chicago Cubs as part of a 3 team deal?
Absolutely, they’re shopping Castillo. Omar Minaya would dearly love for somebody to take the $12 million left on Castillo’s contract off the Mets’ hands. People are leery, though, despite Castillo’s terrific year at the plate last season. As well as him being extremely overpaid, other clubs don’t trust Castillo to stay healthy and are wary of his age and defensive limitations.
With last season now behind them, are the Mets concerned with the drop in David Wright’s homerun total and do they have any plans to address the situation by altering his swing or the dimensions of Citi Field?
I don’t see any changes to the dimensions happening before next season. But if Wright (who, let’s not kid ourselves, is the face of the franchise) has another really poor season power-wise, I bet those fences come in by 2011.
Is there any chance that the Mets will attempt to acquire San Diego first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and do you think they have the pieces to get something done?
I could see them making an attempt, but I don’t know how serious they will be. First, the Mets are extremely high on Ike Davis and don’t want to block his arrival at first base in 2011. That’s why you see them talking about Carlos Delgado as a one-year stopgap. Second, it would probably require gutting their farm system to get the Padres’ interest. Lastly, Gonzalez is extremely underpaid for his production (about $3 million a year, from what I understand) and will be looking for an enormous raise — think: Mark Teixeira money — in the next year or two. I just don’t see the Mets gutting their system and paying out huge bucks for a first baseman when they think they have a potential All-Star waiting in the wings.
All of us at MMO would like to thank Bart for taking some time to answer some questions and give us some of his opinions on what might lie ahead for the Mets this Hot Stove season. I encourage all of you to add Bart Hubbuch to your Twitter accounts, and also follow his Mets Blog at the NY Post. He is a valuable source of Mets information and never misses a beat.
I also want to thank all the many readers who submitted questions. I’m sorry we couldn’t use all of them, but I will try to answer some of the ones we didn’t use in our MMO Mailbag feature later this week. By the way, you can also follow Mets Merized Online on Twitter too.