Eric Simon – Amazin’ Avenue
Brandon Butler: Jose Reyes won the batting title over Ryan Braun. Reyes also made the Mets season-finale controversial after he pulled himself out of the game when he hit a bunt single. What are your thoughts on the controversy, as well as Reyes clinching the batting title?
Eric Simon: The only thing controversial about removing Reyes from the game was possibly short-changing the fans who schlepped out to Citi Field on an overcast last day of the season to see one of the most beloved Mets ever playing what might be his last game for the only organization he’s ever known. If Reyes and Terry Collins thought that leaving after a first-inning bunt single allowed the greatest possibility for a batting title then I’m fine with that.
As for the batting title itself, it’s pretty exciting. Though it has certainly lost some of its luster over the past decade or so with respect to its usefulness in evaluating hitters, leading the league in batting average is still a special accomplishment and I was glad to see a Met finally take home that particular honor.
Brandon Butler: With the season now officially over for the Amazin’s, it’s time to discuss the off-season and what the team will do. We’ve got needs at almost every position. After the Jose Reyes sweepstakes, what position do you think the Mets need to focus on (and make that a top priority)?
Eric Simon: The pitching staff needs some work, both in the rotation and in the bullpen. Johan Santana will probably be healthy when Spring Training rolls around, and whatever the Mets get from him in 2012 will be more than he gave them in 2011, but he’s been ordered to rest his arm for the remainder of the Winter and few would be surprised to learn that his arm troubles aren’t entirely in his rear-view. R.A. Dickey and Jon Niese should be fine, but if the Mets offer Mike Pelfrey arbitration this offseason they’ll be doing so without any assurances that he’ll be any good next year (and plenty of recent history to suggest he won’t be). Then you have Dillon Gee, who could be a serviceable number-five starter if the Mets didn’t have so many other question marks in the rotation.
But the rotation looks terrific compared to the bullpen, which latter was among the worst in the National League and doesn’t figure to be any better next year without a lot of free agent help. Paying starting pitcher money for relievers is a fool’s errand, but I suspect Sandy Alderson will look for some undervalued arms (high strikeout and/or low walk rates, ground ball pitchers, etc. with deceptively high ERAs) to fill out the staff.
Brandon Butler: With the Major League Baseball postseason underway, who are your picks for the LDS, LCS, and WS?
Eric Simon: I’m not much for prognostication, and the difference between a great team and a merely good team over a five- or seven-game series is practically nonexistent. As I do every year, I’ll be rooting for whomever is playing the Yankees and the Phillies. Once they’re bounced from the playoffs, everything else is gravy.
Brandon Butler: Jason Bay didn’t have a good year. He hasn’t been the player that we have expected him to be. Do you think that the Mets will consider trading him if he has another bad year in 2012?
Eric Simon: I don’t think it’s a question of whether the Mets would *consider* trading Bay, but whether any team would consider trading *for* him. I suspect that answer is “No” unless the Mets were willing to pick up most of Bay’s salary or accepted an equally expensive and underperforming player in return.
I’m a little puzzled by Bay’s precipitous decline. He’s not *that* old and he was a very good hitter before joining the Mets. Maybe his career just hit a wall, or maybe Citi Field is messing with his head. His September was encouraging: he hit .313/.392/.563, so an optimist might be compelled to think Bay has finally turned things around with the Mets. I hope that he has, because Bay is an easy guy to root for and it’s nice when good things happen to good people.
However, if he has another awful year in 2012, the Mets might just cut ties with him altogether and not take the chance that Bay collects the 500 plate appearances in 2013 which would guarantee his $17 million option for 2014.
Brandon Butler: Final question. I imagine that you’ve been asked this many times, but do you personally believe that Jose Reyes will be back next year with the Mets?
Eric Simon: I do, I think he’ll be back. Free agency is tempting, I’m sure, but Reyes means more to the Mets than he would to another team because of his history with the franchise. There’s still something to be said for having a player come up through the organization as a teenager and stick around through his prime, and I think (and hope) that means something to Reyes, too.
There’s a limit to what the Mets can and will do, though. If Reyes is intent on squeezing Carl Crawford money out of some team, it’s not going to be the Mets. Somewhat ironically, in helping Reyes secure a batting title by lifting him in the first inning on the last day of the season, the Mets probably made it less likely that he’ll return, as batting champs tend to be even more expensive than runners up.
Thanks to Eric Simon from Amazin’ Avenue for the interview. If you want to read more from Eric and the Amazin’ Avenue gang, please check them out HERE.