Every series, we at Chicken Friars will ask the editor of the FanSided team the Padres are playing some questions. We call this segment Scouting The Opponent because we are asking the questions to get to know the opposition. For our first Scouting The Opponent segment, we interviewed Rising Apple Editor Matt Musico.
Former Padres CEO, Sandy Alderson, is entering his third year as the Mets’ general manager. How would you grade Alderson’s general managing performance the last two years?
I would give Sandy Alderson a B so far in his tenure with the Mets. The off-season before the 2012 season was tough to watch because there really wasn’t any movement, at least when it came to Major League-ready talent. We all finally started to see what “the plan” is going to look like moving forward this past winter, as he made the monster deal that sent R.A. Dickey north of the border, and re-signed David Wright for the rest of the decade. It’s been said plenty of times that New York has been looking toward the 2014 season before they will be consistently competitive again; it will be the first year without the big financial commitments to Jason Bay and Johan Santana, while players like Zack Wheeler, Travis d’Arnaud, and possibly Matt den Dekker will be part of the new core group of players.
2. I know it is way too early to tell, but from your early prognostics, are you satisfied with the players the Mets obtained from the Blue Jays as part of the R.A. Dickey Deal?
Absolutely. It was so tough to watch Dickey leave town; he was one of the emotional leaders on the team and was a stand-up guy. It was no secret Sandy was going to try and sell high, and that’s exactly what he did. I didn’t want Alderson to make a trade unless he got a deal he couldn’t refuse with difference makers, and he got a great haul of prospects back. These were the difference makers needed to have this deal make any sense to Mets fans. The general feeling was sadness to let go of a talent like R.A., but most understand why it was done when they see what we received in return with regard to d’Arnaud, Noah Syndergaard, and young outfield prospect Wuilmer Becerra, whom some scouts say will be the best player acquired in this deal when it’s all said and done.
Is prized catching prospect, Travis d’Araud the real deal?
We really won’t know until he makes his way to Flushing, but he’s got me real excited about watching him play every day for the next few years. He’s got a real smooth swing and the ball explodes off his bat. He’s attached himself to John Buck to get some veteran guidance and has done a great job of getting to know each of the pitchers on the Big League staff and how they like to go about their business. Him and Matt Harvey are already clicking on all cylinders, and he will likely do the same quickly with Zack Wheeler at the start of this season in Triple-A Las Vegas. So, I’ll say that the jury is still out on a final ruling on whether d’Arnaud is the real deal or not, but it’s certainly looking like this trade was well-worth it.
Going into Opening Day, what would you say is the strength and weakness of the Mets ball club?
When players are healthy (which seems to be a problem, these days), the biggest strengths are definitely the infield and starting rotation. David Wright and Ike Davis provide the pop in the middle of the lineup that’s asked of for corner infielders, and if Daniel Murphy gets moved down in the lineup, he will become a run-scoring threat at the plate. Ruben Tejada has had a tough spring, but I expect him to provide solid offense with his above average defense at shortstop.
Although the rotation is without Johan Santana for at least the first couple weeks, it’s still a strong unit of hurlers. Jonathon Niese is a year older and wiser, as he’s coming off his best professional season. Dillon Gee and Jeremy Hefner join Shaun Marcum with the reputation of being pitchers that pound the strike zone rather frequently, and Matt Harvey has a world of talent, as we saw in his 10 Big League starts last season.
The most glaring weakness of this team is the outfield. However, it’s not because I don’t think they will be able to hold their own…it’s because they’re an unknown. The combinations of Lucas Duda, Jordany Valdespin, Collin Cowgill, and Marlon Byrd will not be the most successful outfield in the league, but they certainly won’t be the worst. Terry Collins needs to find the right combination/rotation that fits best into the overall lineup.
Will Johan Santana still be a Met by season’s end?
If he’s able to show he can be a consistent contributor to a Big League rotation, I don’t think so. Alderson has shown he’s not afraid to get rid of players with significant salaries (Jason Bay, Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo) or star power (Francisco Rodriguez, Carlos Beltran). So, I’m sure teams will be calling if Johan proves himself to be healthy, and I’m sure Sandy wouldn’t mind eating the majority of his remaining salary to facilitate a trade if the players they’ll get in return makes sense for the organization. Zack Wheeler will likely be ready for the Bigs by the middle of the year, and Santana seems like the most likely candidate to end up losing his spot.
If the Mets were to have a magical season, what needs to go right for them?
Just about everything! Just kidding…but kind of serious. I do think they will be better than most people are anticipating (I would say approximately a .500 team), and the (hopefully) improved bullpen will be a big reason why. However, that being said, the projected starters and impact players need to stay on the field. We’re already seeing some issues with Wright and Murphy being available for Opening Day, and a potential scare for Marcum. If Terry Collins is able to keep his key players on the field for most of the season, they will have a good year. However, to have a magical season, they will have to find a way to beat the Nationals, Braves, and (maybe) the Phillies. So, in a deep division like the NL East, that will be a tall order.