Former Mets pitcher and current SNY studio analyst Nelson Figueroa, was kind enough to answer a few questions for me on Monday. Brooklyn born and raised like myself, Figgy has an intimate and very passionate view of the game. Mets fans have come to love his crisp analysis after each Mets game and his strong opinions and sharp criticisms. You can follow him on Twitter at @FigSNY.
Today, we post Figgy’s thoughts on some of the questions about the upcoming Mets season. Please enjoy.
Joe D: How will this Jay Bruce situation play out in your opinion? Was it a bad idea to pick up that $13 million dollar option? Could you see any scenario in which he’s still with the Mets on Opening Day?
Figgy: The Jay Bruce situation will probably go down to the wire in spring training. I think ultimately they’re going to look to get the pieces that they need. As things usually shake out in spring training, someone somewhere is bound to get hurt and then you have yourself a very hot trade commodity.
You have to remember that Bruce is a 30 Home Run, 100 RBI candidate so the $13 million dollar option was a good fallback if Yoenis Cespedes didn’t end up returning to the Mets. I can see Bruce still being there on Opening Day because they are in a true salary dump situation with him at the moment.
Joe D: How would you categorize the state of the Mets catching right now? Can Travis d’Arnaud still cash in on all the potential the Mets saw when they acquired him? Did you see any positive signs from Kevin Plawecki?
Figgy: I think where the Mets suffered with their catching last year was they didn’t have a true catching coach like Bob Geren during the previous year. Now that Glenn Sherlock is the new catching coach I think you’ll see the attention to details return. Travis is someone I expect to have a bounce-back year this season. I think the talent and timing will finally meet. Rene Rivera was a very nice find last year and then locking up his contract so soon shows their confidence level in him. It seems Plawecki’s stock has fallen quite a bit since the previous year.
Joe D: Which two players need to step up the most in 2017 for the Mets?
Figgy: Without a doubt Lucas Duda and Matt Harvey are the two guys that need to step up. Both of their careers are at a crossroads and getting productive full seasons from both will help the Mets go a long way in 2017.
Figgy: I was very impressed from what I saw from both Lugo and Gsellman. Their ability to compete at this level and also display the confidence in their stuff in tough situations really stood out.
For me, I think Lugo is better suited as a starter and Gsellman, being a two pitch pitcher using his much improved slider as a strikeout pitch, is a stronger candidate for the bullpen. Especially with Jeurys Familia likely out for a while.
Joe D: The Mets are relying on four pitchers coming off surgery to join Noah Syndergaard in the starting rotation this season. I don’t know about you but I’m not too confident that all four of them will make it through spring training without a setback. And Bartolo Colon and his 15 wins and 200 innings are now in Atlanta. How do you view the situation?
Figgy: This once promising can’t-miss rotation is now filled with a lot of question marks. Even Syndergaard with his bone spur is coming off a career high in innings pitched and POWER slider usage.
Will Harvey be ready for Opening Day and the mental aspect of not pitching like the “Dark Knight” in 2015?
Was Jacob deGgrom’s surgery just a tune up? Can Steven Matz go a full season without breaking down?
Who is Zack Wheeler? It’s been two years since he stepped on a big league mound in a Met uniform.
Modern medicine is being tested with this young Mets rotation, but the talent is still undeniable. Met fans know all too well the toll injuries can play on the brightest of starting rotations, remember Pulse, Izzy and Wilson?
Joe D: Tell me a little about Chai Lifeline and what motivated you to get behind them?
Figgy: Chai Lifeline was introduced to me by my friend Peri Finkelstein. She is an amazing young lady I met in 2009 at Citi Field. We reconnected last year where I learned of her involvement and the amazing accomplishment of walking 1,400 steps in the Miami Marathon. Peri has muscular dystrophy and uses a wheelchair to get around. She has helped to raise over 120k for Team Peri which goes to send kids to Camp Simcha. This year she is training to walk a full mile and I will be walking a half marathon in support of Team Peri.
Joe D: How can Mets fans help support your charity?
Figgy: Before we leave NY I am having a benefit bowling event to help raise money and to have a fun evening of laughs and love to send Peri off to Florida. I am inviting family, friends and fans to join me. Check out my twitter page or Facebook @figsny for the links to click on and read more and for a small donation you van come bowl with us.
Also there is a huge 110 item auction on Charitybuzz.com/Chai_lifeline where we are offering unique experience packages and chances to meet and dine with celebrities from all walks of life who have donated their time to help us raise money.
Joe D: Thank you so much for taking some time to answer a few questions that are on the minds of Mets fans and we all look forward to watching your excellent analysis on SNY or WPIX after each Mets game in 2017.