Earlier this week I had the pleasure of speaking with Daily News writer Andy Martino. For those of you that do not know, Andy is a BBWAA member who does an exceptional job for Daily News as their Mets beat writer. He wrote for the Philadelphia Inquirer as the Phillies beat writer during the 2009 season before returning to the Daily News. Here are the highlights of our E-mail conversation:
-Andy, after returning to the Mets after writing for the Phillies, which team have you enjoyed reporting on the most in your career?
Both provided unique and rewarding experiences, but I have to say–covering losing and dysfunction last year in New York, and the transition that it led to, provided richer material than covering a World Series run in 2009. Plus, after being a transplanted New Yorker living in Philly for a year, it was nice to get home to family and friends in New York.
-What was it like to return to the Daily News after beginning your career there as an intern?
It felt more like a continuation than a new beginning. Because I knew nearly all my colleagues well, it was an easy transition. The only difficult part was staying in a buddy’s extra bedroom in Brooklyn while my wife and I looked for somewhere to live on short notice (the offer from the Daily News came rather suddenly, and left us scrambling).
-As a BBWAA writer, who do you believe is a Hall of Famer that is on the 2012 ballot?
I am a BBWAA member, but I don’t support the idea of journalists voting for the Hall of Fame. I think it’s a conflict of interest, and I also think the questions of “who is a Hall of Famer” is impossible to answer, because there is no set standard. I am not eligible to vote yet (you have to be a BBWAA member for 10 years), but will not vote once I’m able to. To be honest, I don’t think about the HOF much, and don’t really know who is on the 2012 ballot.
-Would you ever vote a baseball player into the Hall who has been proven to take steroids? Someone like Clemens or Ortiz who were accused, but deny the accusations?
This is one of the issues that I have with the Hall of Fame. How are they going to deal with this? There is no good answer. It would probably be better if it were just a museum, rather than something that involves elections. Then we could focus not on issues like “do steroid cheats belong in the Hall of Fame,” but on questions more relevant to society like, “should the MLB All-Stars who spoke out last year about Arizona’s immigration law, have boycotted the game?”
Wherever one stands on that issue, we should be talking about stuff like that more often, when we talk about sports.
-What was your take on the K-Rod trade? Was it just a salary dump? Who is the winner in this deal?
It was a good deal for both teams. A total salary dump for the Mets, who had to get out from under that $17.5 million vesting option for next year. So they found a taker for much of the contract, and the Brewers–who were a championship caliber team except for their middle relief–get bullpen depth during a year that they’re going for it.
The Mets were worried that the market for K-Rod would drop later in July, as more closers became available, so this really was the right time for both teams to make the move.
-Does the moving of K-Rod increase the chances of re-signing Reyes? If so, by how much have their chances increased?
It certainly doesn’t hurt, but that is still going to be a tall order for the Mets. Reyes will be seeking close to top dollar, and the Mets have budget constraints. But moving K-Rod does clear payroll space, and probably slightly increases their chances of resigning Reyes.
-Was the K-Rod trade a waiving of the white flag on Alderson’s part for the 2011 season?
He claims it wasn’t. If you ask me, Beltran represents the white flag. But I would hope that, in a division with Atlanta and Philly playing so well, the Mets front office understands that this is not s playoff year, and that they plan accordingly.
-After the July 31st deadline, where do you believe Carlos Beltran will go or stay? Mets? Giants? Red Sox?
I think the Mets will shop him aggressively, but hold out for a favorable deal. Let’s say it’s 65-35 he is dealt. Giants, Red Sox, Phillies, Tigers, Indians–there are a lot of places he would fit.
-The Phillies have interest in acquiring a right fielder with a power bat and the Mets have just that on the market in Carlos Beltran. Do you think that Alderson, a GM who traded Jose Canseco to the Rangers during a pennant race back in his Oakland days, would deal Beltran to the rival, first-place Phillies?
If Alderson judged that a deal with the Phils was right for the Mets from a baseball standpoint, I do not believe that the “rivalry” would in any way hold him back.
-Have you heard anything about Mets rental players on the market other than Beltran that could be dealt before July 31st such as Capuano or Byrdak? Any rumblings about Pelfrey as a possible trade candidate?
Byrdak and Isringhausen could go. Capuano makes sense, although there haven’t been a whole lot of rumblings there yet. As for Pelfrey, the Mets would be selling low now, after a spotty first half, but maybe this winter.
-Out of Keith Hernandez, Gary Carter and Mike Piazza, do you believe any of them should have their numbers retired by the Mets?
Those are three of the most important players in franchise history, so if anyone deserves it, they do.
-Who is more likely to return from injury in 2011, Ike Davis or Johan Santana?
Tough one. We’ll know more about Davis soon. If he has surgery, he’s done, so I’ll go with Santana.
-Based on the age of current players, financial situations and farm systems, who do you think has the brightest future 5-10 years down the road, Mets or Phillies?
Wow. The Mets’ financial situation makes them a wild card, but assuming the franchise finds a way to stabilize, I’ll choose them. There is a cyclical nature to contending in baseball, and the Phillies are on the backside of their run.
-You have been accused of being too critical of the Mets in comparison to other writers and overly praising the Phillies by some readers, what is your response to that?
Many readers in Philly accused me of being a Mets fan. Many readers in New York accuse me of being a Phillies fan. Both are, of course, ridiculous. I’m a reporter.
-Finally, Do you think Brian Wilson’s spandex tuxedo at the ESPY’s out-did Lady Gaga’s egg arrival at the Grammy awards?
Ha. I’d have to say so. You expect it from Lady Gaga, but from an athlete? Good for Wilson, for always being an interesting character.
I would just like to thank Andy once again for taking the time to answer my questions. He was truly a pleasure to speak with. To read Andy Martino’s excellent work, you can read his blog here. You can follow Andy on twitter at @SurfingTheMets. Also if you would like to read my full interview with Andy Martino, click Here.