With the rest of spring training suspended and the start of the regular season pushed back, there's plenty of time to answer some Mets questions ...
Martin C. from Norwalk >> With all of the talk about the outfield and who will play if Michael Conforto is out for a while, I haven't seen much about Jake Marisnick. Is he still in the Mets' plan for this season?
Marisnick was not acquired in a trade this past winter to be an everyday player. I think -- all along -- he was slated to be a fill-in, defense replacement, fourth outfielder. Unlike last season, when we saw in this role a repeated rotation from Juan Lagares to Keon Broxton to Carlos Gomez and others, it seems Brodie Van Wagenen was hoping to add a player experienced in this role whom the team could ink in and consistently turn to every time he was needed.
So, yes, he's in the plan and has a role. But if he gets more than 450 at-bats and is starting more than he's coming off the bench, then it means the season is a total mess at that point.
Anthony J. from Ramsey >> Is this the best 1-4 the Mets have had in their starting rotation since 1986's Dwight Gooden, Ron Darling, Sid Fernandez and Bobby Ojeda?
It's possible, but -- in addition to Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard staying healthy and consistent with what they've done the past few years -- it would probably also require a career year from Marcus Stroman, and Rick Porcello having his best season since winning the Cy Young Award in 2016.
Otherwise, the guys from the mid-to-late 1980s take the prize...
In 2016, Bartolo Colon, Synderngaard, deGrom and Steven Matz were really good as they combined for 45 wins with a 3.11 ERA, while throwing 655.2 innings and making 109 starts.
The thing is, not only was the 1986 foursome better in terms of top line stats, combining for 66 wins and a 2.94 ERA, they started 80 percent of the team's games that season and pitched 253 more innings than the crew from 2016.
The 1988 staff may have been better, swapping Fernandez for Ojeda if trying to isolate four arms, though it's worth noting Fernandez had a 3.03 ERA and made 31 starts, pitched 187 innings and struck out 189 batters.
The same group returned in 1989 and again were terrific, though not as dominant as the prior season.
It's worth noting I mostly used top-line stats and the eyeball test for this answer. In other words, there may be a more technically accurate conclusion, though my hunch is it will come out the same either way. Those guys were awesome.
Giuseppe via text message >> How will delaying the start of the season impact service and free agency?
First of all, I really, really hope this is Giuseppe Franco. I doubt it, but I can dream...
The rule states that a player must be on the 26-man roster (or on the injured list) for 172 days. However, by delaying the start of the season until the middle of May, that number will be obliterated.
"The expectation is that none of the players will get close to full credit -- through no fault of their own -- and therein lies the problem," David Lennon explained in a recent article for Newsday.
The way it stands, a player earns the league minimum during his first three years of service, after which he is eligible for salary arbitration the next three years. Following those six years, he can become a free agent. However, if MLB returns during the middle of the season, how will it impact the above service time totals if they're only dishing out partial credit?
In other words, because MLB doesn't have an answer to your question, I don't know the answer to your question and I wouldn't dare speculate on what will happen...
In either case, it will all be worked out in negotiation by making a one-time amendment to the current CBA. That said, there will be a point, I'm sure, when the two groups begin to feel any further delay will make the situation overly complicated and unfair to both sides, which is probably when they'll begin legit discussions about cancelling the entire season.
To read more details and scenarios, I strongly recommend reading the article by Lennon.
Tommy (@TGMets15) from Twitter >> Do you think the impact of the coronavirus will be the nail in baseball's coffin?
This situation does further deepen the problems the league has recently had with keeping people's attention -- especially casual fans.
Be it ticket prices, the cost of food and drinks, parking and the commute, the cost and effort of simply going to one game -- let alone multiple games -- had already become a major hurdle for low-to-middle income fans. In terms of watching on TV or live streaming, etc., while a terrific experience and far more affordable, it is more difficult to grab attention on these platforms because there are so many other forms of information and entertainment pulling us in other directions.
Add to that questions about cheating, length of games, performance-enhancing drugs, start times, down time between action and a disconnect between the marketing of players and fans, not to mention a new fear of sitting leg to leg in the middle of a row of seats surrounded by tens of thousands of other people.
The fact is the professional game had already been in self-analysis working to understand their customers and business model when trying to figure out how to keep people tuned in, focused, and spending money. But they will need to consider even more major changes and solutions when returning to the field.
It's a lot, but baseball is not alone.
In addition to how we conduct ourselves and spend our time, I believe there will be massive, fundamental changes to the way business and institutions operate in our society. It's certainly possible that we all quickly revert back to life before this pandemic, but I think it's just as possible we see significant changes in what we value, as well as how way we work, relate to one another, and how we spend our time.
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is a senior writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. His book, The New York Mets Fans' Bucket List, details 44 things every Mets fan should experience during their lifetime.