Interview with Metsmerized Writer Joe Decaro

Joe Decaro writes about the Mets on his website http://metsmerizedonline.com/. I have always enjoyed reading what he writes on the website and think you should read his work. I appreciate the time he took to answer questions about his experiences writing about the Mets, team expectations, and the N.L. East.

Why do you think that many of the analysts are not ranking the Mets very highly in terms of power rankings list right now? Do you think it just has to do with injuries or that it has to do with something else?

I suspect that many of them view the team as the same one that won 87 games last season and they may be putting too much emphasis on the loss of Bartolo Colon and even Kelly Johnson in one ranking I saw. Of course, they are also betting that not all of the players, and especially the pitchers, will come away unscathed this season. Look, the onus is on the Mets to prove they can stay healthy and prove the doubters wrong

What do you believe the biggest hole on this team is?

Catcher. It’s been another spring training of hearing how great Travis d’Arnaud looks and how he changed something in his approach or his swing. Every year it’s something else, but it’s time for him to deliver for the Mets in the regular season and not just in Grapefruit League games. It’s time for d’Arnaud to spend more time on the field and not off of it. It’s time to stand and deliver.

Do you think we will see Amed Rosario or Dominic Smith at some point? And if so for either of them do you believe it would take an injury to make it happen or will it be because they earned the promotion?

If by some point you mean before September 1, the answer is no. The Mets have invested too much time, resources and money into these two very special talents and they are not going to screw this up by promoting them before they are 100 percent ready like they did with Dilson Herrera and even Michael Conforto to an extent. Both Smith and Rosario will be expected to get a full complement of at-bats in Law Vegas, and if they continue to impress they’ll both get a September call up.

The past two off-seasons, you have appeared to know about Cespedes resigning before other beat reporters were able to report it. Is it difficult to report on a situation that you have the inside track on while other reporters continue to refute what is being said?

It certainly makes the situation more difficult because there’s still a wall between official beat writers and bloggers who seriously cover the team at a high level. That said, sometimes you get lucky and for whatever reason, an agent chooses to share information in a low-key way with a respected sports site. I always tell my writers we are not in the business of breaking news only writing about it. Every now and then we get a little lucky and a good source will reach out to us. In recent years some beat writers have seen the value in what we do and even cite us when we break something. Hopefully, it’s a sign that that wall is crumbling.

Do you see the Mets extending Neil Walker before the end of Spring Training or has that ship sailed? It was publicly known they were talking, but those talks broke down. What do you think led to those talks falling apart? Do you believe we might still see Walker here long-term even if a deal can’t be reached before the season?

Not at all. In fact, don’t see any extension coming even during the season. The previously reported extension talks were based on replacing that $17.2 million qualifying offer from the Mets point of view. However, Neil Walker and his agent were having none of that from what I heard. If Walker stays healthy and delivers another career high type season, the two sides can revisit extension talks, but Amed Rosario being ready in 2018 could complicate that.

Which of the pitchers do you worry most about, health-wise, throughout the course of the season?

Definitely Zack Wheeler more so than Matt Harvey. Harvey has proven that he can come back from a significant arm or shoulder injury, while Wheeler has yet to do that. The velocity looks encouraging for Wheeler but he has to sustain it and has a lot to prove whenever he begins a minor league assignment.

Do you believe the Mets are good enough to challenge the Nationals in the NL East this year or did they need to do more to “close the gap?”

I believe the Mets are better than the Nationals both on the pitching and offensive fronts. The Nats will pay for not acquiring an accomplished closer, especially in this modern era that emphasizes having a top backend of the bullpen. The only thing standing in the Mets way is staying healthy, and comeback seasons from Lucas Duda and Matt Harvey would be huge. 2017 could be a very special season for the New York Mets.

Out of the Marlins, Braves, and Phillies, is there a team or teams in that group that you could see challenging the Mets and Nationals at the top of the division or is really a two-team race?

I think all three fall short of being contenders, but if I had to pick one team that could surprise, I’d say the Atlanta Braves because they could have the starting pitching to cause some problems for the Mets and Nats.

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