In the past week I was sent many of the same questions, so I rolled them together with the following four responses.... Let's Go Mets!!
If a trade is on the table, would you trade Steven Matz for Miguel Andujar?
No. I realize the Mets have a multitude of starting pitchers, specifically Matz and Michael Wacha, both of whom believe they're worthy of the rotation instead of the bullpen.
However, as the old saying goes, you can never have enough pitching. And, this is especially true for a team that intends to rely heavily on their rotation and the hope of a significantly-better bullpen.
Think about it: the Mets are already set up to have one of the league's better lineups, according to nearly every projection system, from FanGraphs to Baseball Prospectus. Imagine, as scary as it is, that Jacob deGrom gets hurt. Meanwhile, Matz is with the Yankees and the Mets have Andujar.
Is what Andujar will add to the lineup enough to make up for what the Mets miss in losing deGrom and replacing him in the rotation with, say, David Peterson? Maybe. Maybe not. Either way, that's a risk I'm not willing to take with a team that looks really strong on paper and even stronger together right now in camp.
Should the Mets name Edwin Diaz their closer to boost his confidence?
No. I mean, why not tell Seth Lugo he's the closer and boost his confidence? If Diaz wants to be the closer, he needs to get swings and misses and get weak contact from his slider. The end. Is confidence a factor in better execution? Sure. But, you know what can create confidence? Getting swings and misses and weak contact against his slider.
In the end, all of the hyperbolic, positive platitudes are useless (and in some ways can become a negative) if Diaz isn't getting the results he wants to get.
The Mets need to help Diaz mechanically as best they can to the extent he can be helped and then they need to evaluate the results and make a gut call on what his role should be. If he's worthy of being the closer, great. If not, go get 'em, Lugo.
In what area this season do the Mets most need to improve to get into the playoffs?
They need to win more games! In all seriousness, to get those wins I think we can all agree the bullpen must be better, and it would really help to get a bit more lucky.
The fact is, even when they were pitching well in August last year, Mets relievers were still never a lock and rarely in command of any moment. If they can walk fewer hitters and give up fewer home runs, it'll be a different story in 2020. I think new pitching coach Jeremy Hefner will help in this regard. I also think Diaz will be better, despite sounding so negative in the above answer.
The other good news is that a lot of these poor results can be linked to also being among the least lucky bullpens in the NL in 2019. Mets relievers had a .312 opposing batting average on balls in play. It almost certainly will be lower in 2020. If that happens, and if Diaz can be better, those two things alone will make a huge difference in the overall staff.
Do you think mic'ing players up, like Pete Alonso, will be a distraction to them during the game?
It's a fair point, but too bad. I'm serious. Look, things change. Rules change. People and their habits and interests change. And, business either changes with it or fades away.
My contention has long been that -- to regain its position in the hearts and minds of most Americans -- baseball must spend less time worrying about pace of play, home runs and highlights and more time telling the story of its players and teams.
MLB needs people to be emotionally invested in what is happening on and off field, otherwise there is no way to keep people tuned in for seven months given the pace and levels of distraction we face every minute of every day.
Die hard baseball fans keep returning to the ups and downs and drama of a baseball season because of how it makes us feel -- it's not just about winning and losing. Winning and losing matter to the extent that it makes us feel happy or sad or angry or proud, etc., as do 'human interest stories, fighting all season to turn it around and reach the postseason against all odds, acquiring a player that is fun to root for, and so on. It's the latter that MLB must double down on, not hide.
Football has the built-in luxury of allowing people to stop what they're doing for basically one day, for a few hours, and watch their sport. Then, we go about our lives and tune back in six days later. MLB is every day, so it needs something more than box scores and stats to sustain interest.
I'm not saying baseball should turn itself in to an unscripted reality show, but I'd like to see it lean more that direction than trying to outdo the NFL or NBA.
Marketing players isn't just about 30-second commercials, photo shoots and tweets.
So, if mic'ing players or bases up will allow for that insight and storytelling to occur during the game, not just before and after, I'm all for it. In that sense, I like it and the distraction will end up serving the greater goal. If the purpose is to simply add to the already uninspiring gimmicks consuming the game then, yes, I think it will be a distraction not worth doing.
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.