The Mets may not lead the league in many baseball categories, but they do excel in one area. The voices of the Mets SNY broadcast team; Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez, and Ron Darling, are the cream of the crop. All three were on top of their game in Steve Serby’s Q&A in the Sunday New York Post. Darling was also talking Met baseball this morning on WFAN.
Darling was asked to comment about Sandy Alderson’s 90-win dictate. The Met announcer indicated he didn’t believe Alderson’s quip was meant for public consumption and deftly sidestepped the question this way, “More importantly, if you’re playing .500 baseball by September 1, you’re going to play meaningful baseball in September. I mean really that’s all you have to do under the two-wild card system.”
Darling went on to point out the Mets played .500 ball over the final 100 games in 2013. What the Mets need to do, according to Darling, is to somehow turn that equation around and play .500 ball this season over the first 100 games of the season.
In another part of the interview, Darling was asked about the battle for the 5th spot in the Mets starting rotation, and the Mets decision to send Daisuke Matsuzaka to Triple-A Las Vegas. According to Matsuzaka that decision was purely a business decision. Darling went on to say that if the Mets brought their best pitching options north out of spring training, both Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero would be on the pitching staff.
For me, somehow Darling’s two points mesh about as well as a teenager with a dictionary. If it’s imperative for the Mets to play .500 baseball during the first 100 games of the season, it follows that it might be imperative to have your best roster available from the first day of the season.
I’ve said it before wins and losses in April have equal value with wins in losses in September. A team seriously hoping to play .500 baseball has their eye on the ball from day one. I fully understand the business ramifications that come with keeping the young kids on the roster and starting their service clocks before you have too. That’s exactly why so many organizations are moving to sign their talented young players to extensions while they are still under team control.
Darling didn’t pull punches when asked about Terry Collins’s churning outfield dilemma. “I think their outfield defense is so superior to last year. If you think your strength is gonna be your starting pitching, the defense is so important, and I just feel that Juan Lagares every single day he plays, does something to help your team. I just cannot envision him not in the lineup. Every day he makes a catch that saves two runs.”
Hernandez, too, raved about Lagares. “Juan Lagares is just off the charts. I haven’t seen anybody cover ground like him, and have a strong arm that’s accurate. He’s got the cannon for an arm, and he doesn’t miss cutoff men, he’s accurate. He can play the hell out of centerfield.”
Darling voiced support for Ike Davis as the Met first baseman. Darling recounted visiting Texas and reading a local newspaper about a first baseman that simply never lived up to his potential, a guy who was somewhat difficult to coach and willful. The Rangers decided to give up on that guy shipping him to Baltimore. That guy, Chris Davis, has hit 109 home runs for the Orioles in the last two seasons. Even so, Cohen and Darling both agree Ike will have a short leash if he can’t get cooking during the opening month of the season.
None of the Mets broadcast team seemed to think the Matt Harvey controversy was much of an issue. “Who cares where he rehabs? It’s a total non-story, who cares?” Cohen said in response to the question.
Darling was somewhat tongue in cheek saying that “baseball players, athletes in general, are usually told something and they just do it. And Harvey decided he wasn’t going to do it.” (chuckle)
Hernandez believes that the Mets team coming north this for tomorrow’s opener is a better edition than the one that arrived at Citi Field a year ago. The former Mets first base great believes the Mets are an above .500 team and will be disappointed if they can’t reach that level.
Let’s Go Mets!