To read the first part of this interview, in which Matt talks about the history of his blog and his evolution as a blogger click here.
Josh: Assuming good health, how many and which of the five starters (Harvey, Syndergaard, deGrom, Matz, Wheeler) would you attempt to negotiate an extension with if given the choice?
Matt: Probably deGrom. Syndergaard’s elbow terrifies me, even though if anyone can defy the odds of Tommy John Surgery it would be him, but the fact is all the obvious indicators suggest something will go wrong, so I think I would be a little reluctant. Harvey, I feel is futile attempt. He is going to test free agency. It is as clear as day and I’m not overpaying pitchers so go for it. Matz hasn’t shown the ability to stay healthy yet, neither has Wheeler. deGrom, on the other hand, had Tommy John years ago, is a little bit older, is more mature, has shown the ability to adapt when he was struggling and still would manage to grind through. He’s a smart guy and I just feel like he is in the perfect situation, sort of the venn diagram of the perfect overlap of something that you want to capitalize on. I think he would be down for it to given a pitcher at that age. I mean he could press for a couple more years, but it could be in his best interest to buy out some of his free agency years and increase his rate. He’s the guy I would go for, but I think there is an argument if Matz has a healthy season to do a longer-term, low annual salary kind of a thing, but I would probably just go for deGrom.
Josh: That’s very fair. Do you think, though, that for Wheeler, since he has not been healthy the past couple of years, do you think that you could get him at a cheaper rate because of that and that it would make sense potentially?
Matt: I think you absolutely could, but what has he done in the last two years to show that he is worth above the bare minimum, I mean there’s risks on both sides. Talk to me after the season I need to see him stay on the mound. I think he’s got the talent, we know what he was, but it’s been a while and I need to see that first.
Justin: What do you think the Mets will do with Addison Reed after this season? Do you think it is possible they keep him and trade Familia to save money since they probably will not keep both if they are each making around $10 million? Keep them both possibly? Let Reed walk?
Matt: I can’t see them trading Familia. Reed will likely come down to how many innings he pitches more than anything else. These guys are very black and white, they’re not very romantic. So if the evidence and data suggests that he’s at a point innings wise where it makes no sense to commit to him for two or three years or whatever he is looking for which is probably more than that, depending on the season he has they will do (or not do) it. I don’t know that I can disagree with that just given the track record with signing long-term deals with relievers. My guess it will have more to do with this year depending on the innings. I certainly can’t see them trading Familia. I know he’s had some rough times the last couple years, but I think and the team contends that it has a lot to do with overuse, being tired, and his arm dropping a little bit.
Josh: The other day you wrote an article related to the awkward situation that could occur this season with David Wright. Do you believe that this might be David Wright’s last season?
Matt: It’s possible. How probable is it? Probably very low, but I will say it’s possible just given the fact of the condition he’s got going on. I mean the back thing is difficult enough to get over, then you throw in the neck surgery. He’s had hamstring injuries in the past that people have forgotten about. That was the issue initially. Then, the shoulder situation that is tied to the neck surgery. The point is, and this is what I wrote in the article, was sure maybe he’ll be able to play, but will he be able to play for a long enough stretch that he can get any sort of consistency,confidence, and success to match our expectations for what he is being paid before he injures himself again, needs a few days off, or loses his swing again. How many years can this back and forth keep going on? To the point to where, mentally, in terms of his pride and ego, is not sustainable from his perspective or in terms of the front office’s in terms of resources, roster spots, etc. This situation will come to a head. There is every reason to believe that this situation will come to a head long before his contract runs out. It’s a shitty situation and I know him personally and I like him and I think he’s a great guy and he’s got a ton of talent, but his body just won’t let him do what he wants to do and it’s a tough spot.
Justin: Is there someone that nobody is talking about right now, that you believe could end up being an important piece on this team at some point during the season?
Matt: I think the top candidates would be Robles in the bullpen, Lagares if he can take over that center field spot and excel with the bat he certainly becomes a lot more important, and probably one of Lugo or Gsellman. Lugo can be in the bullpen. He can be like a Keith Foulke, if you remember him, that type of reliever that can get a double play ground ball, and your out of the inning because he has the type of smarts and command. Gsellman showed that he could probably be a number three, at least a four, on another team, but on this roster he probably starts off in Vegas. So those kind of guys that aren’t that obvious are, I think, these are the three/four candidates that can really step up their game in positions that we have a need for. I think that’s the key.
Josh: What is one move you would have made in the off-season if it was up to you?
Matt: In hindsight, I don’t think this might have been as possible as I hoped it would be, but I would have loved to have seen them get one of those center fielders, whether it was sign Dexter Fowler or trade for Andrew McCutchen, just something to solidify that spot. That, of course, would have meant trading Bruce, maybe even Granderson as well. I think they realize that that is a lot easier said then done because Bruce is still on the team. That would have been, probably, what I would have liked to have seen just because of the need for better up-the-middle defense and for the pitching staff given how much the team is built on pitching. It makes sense to have a solid group up the middle, but that not being the case I would have continued to go heavy on the bullpen. I understand the reluctance to give long-term deals on relievers, but I think we saw towards the end of the off-season that they were able to get Blevins on the deal they got him. I think with the rotation, not just that they are based off of it, but the fact that none of them really go deep into games, I really need to have strong guys back there. Whether it is trade for David Robertson or pay the salary or get some other heavyweight back there to help bridge that gap. I don’t feel like there in that situation now. You know we are talking about hoping Robles steps up or that Blevins can continue his success or that Reed doesn’t get hurt because he pitched so many innings last year. Hoping things work out in the bullpen, considering the rotation, I would rather have somebody in there, somehow to hold that down a little bit more.
Josh: I tend to agree, I feel like at the deadline that they definitely have to do something to address the bullpen.
Matt: That’s the thing. I know they were pursuing guys like this guy, who was on the Brewers last year, that I can’t really put a name to right now. They were looking for that kind of player, but a trade just never came to fruition and he’ll be there in June and July. They have a good farm system and they a lot of players that are in AA almost AAA that can be used for trades, especially for teams that are rebuilding and I think those trades will be there to get a reliever, at the very least. I think Sandy Alderson and the front office has shown that mentality of, “If you can go for it, go for it,” and so I got to figure they will do something.
Justin: I mean it would be nice to trade for one, I mean the past couple of years we have relied on pick-ups out of the rough with guys like Addison Reed and Fernando Salas. It would be nice to be able to trade for a big name reliever at the deadline this year.
Matt: They are not going to trade for a pending free agent, I can tell you that. But, somebody who has like two more years of control, is maybe a little bit older, and has experience as a closer, I can see them doing that and maybe giving up the extra player to get it done because this is just one less guy they have to sign in the off-season. It would such a nice, little injection into the bullpen if they can pull that off.