I contacted Michael over at Marlin Maniac to do a quick Q&A regarding the Mets and the Marlins both in general, and about the series kicking off tonight at Citi Field with Tim Redding matching up against Rick VandenHurk.
MM : Carlos Beltran could be ready for tonight’s game versus the Marlins. How important is it to have Beltran in the lineup for the remainder of the season? Would it be better if he sat out the year to avoid more injury risk?
DMF : The Mets were able to stay competitive despite all their injuries before Beltran went down. They’ve been in a downward spiral ever since. I said a while back that he should be shut down, along with all the guys fighting to make it back because the team has not been competitive for some time.
That being said, Beltran’s hard work and desire to come back may put to rest some of the criticism against him regarding his drive and “guts”. I’ll be happy to see anyone on the field that was there on opening day.
MM : Bobby Parnell is scheduled to start Game 3 of the series. He was taken out of the bullpen and has started six games so far this year, with average peripherals but bad results. How has his stuff looked so far and can he stick as a starter?
DMF : Bobby Parnell’s starting pitching adventure has been an interesting one. He’s made a few above average starts, but also made some where he’s looked terrible. I’d like to see how he finishes, getting a few more starts under his belt, but I don’t see him in the long term plans at starting pitcher.
This team needs to go out and sign a No. 2 starter since they’ve got an ace and a bunch of No .4 guys. Adding another starter leaves Parnell in the bullpen.
He was excelling there so I’m not sure it’s a bad thing. JJ Putz will likely be gone next year and it’s my guess that Parnell will be pitching eighth innings for years to come.
MM : What player would you most like to see back from injury and in a Mets uniform before season’s end?
DMF : I would have loved to see Jose Reyes come back from what started as tendinitis in his calf. Setback after setback has made that impossible. I feel like he’s going to be the only injured star that won’t play in 2009 that’s a part of the plans for 2010 so it’s most important that he shows he can still be the player he was before his injury (or at least show other teams that might be interested in him).
MM : How do you think the series will go? Do the Mets match up well against the Marlins’ trio of starters for the series?
DMF : It’s growing impossible to guess how a Mets series will go. They’ll likely take the third game of the series, as that’s what’s been happening recently regardless of match ups. Some nights they can’t scratch a hit across, some nights they get 17. The starting pitching has had a few good starts in a row, so I’m expecting the worst this week.
Do teams even take the Mets seriously anymore?
Here are my questions for Michael:
DMF : The Marlins are currently sitting in 2nd place six games out in the division and 5.5 out for the Wild Card with less than a month remaining. What’s the general feeling among Marlins’ fans about this team making the postseason this year?
MM : The general feeling that I’m getting from fans is that this team is simply too inconsistent to make the playoffs. The Marlins stand way too far back to be able to make it by “just” winning two of three in every series, and letting leads slip away via the bullpen like the one that left us on Sunday versus the Nationals is exactly the thing we can’t afford as the race continues. Marlins fans are sort of happy a lot of times just to be in the race in September, but with the way the team is going now fans are frustrated that the team is letting opportunities slip away.
DMF : What exactly is going on between Dan Uggla and Hanley Ramirez?
MM : Dan Uggla and Hanley Ramirez are probably fine. They had a spat about effort and hustle, but for the most part both of them were to blame for the incident. Ramirez should not have complained to the media, but Uggla should not have questioned Ramirez’s drive and willingness to play through injury when Ramirez is the team’s most valuable asset. Both have said they’ve put the issue behind them, and hopefully so. And to be honest, it probably got blown a bit out of proportion because the media caught it; such things may be happening in every clubhouse without us even knowing it. In addition, baseball isn’t like basketball, when you HAVE to work together as part of the nature of the game; baseball is mostly an individual sport, and they’ll have a decent but small amount of interaction whether they like each other or not.
DMF : Any Mets fan will tell you that Josh Johnson is a legitimate ace. Where does the rest of your pitching staff rank in your opinion? I know they’re all young, but do they have what it takes to win a division or more?
MM : The rest of the rotation right now is questionable. Ricky Nolasco was mostly unlucky before in terms of results, but he’s “back on track” now and pitching as well as he has all year, evident by his 3.55 FIP. Though it’s hard to believe by just looking at his ERA, he’s pitched much better this year, striking out a batter per inning and while still keeping a low walk rate. He’s just been unlucky with balls in play and his strand rate; if he continues to pitch like he’s been pitching all year and gets some luck back behind him, he’ll be ace material as well.
With regards to the rest of the rotation it’s a crapshoot. Chris Volstad regressed this year, Andrew Miller may never be good, and the other starters the team has tried have had mixed results, usually on the bad end. If the Marlins want to compete, one or two of these guys have to stabilize and become solid starters at the back end of the rotation, which could easily still happen. I like the team’s rotation and its chances of carrying us to a division, just not this year.
DMF : With the NL East seeming to have at least three competitive teams for the near future, what do you think the Marlins need to do to make the jump to the top of the mix?
MM : The big thing the Marlins need to do is improve their defense, particularly in the outfield. The team’s back end starters give up a decent number of fly balls, so it goes without saying that the Marlins should use some better players on defense in the outfield. Right now, they generally are starting two far below-average performers out there in Jeremy Hermida and Chris Coghlan. It appears Hermida is on his way out and stud prospect Cameron Maybin will get to man center field. Moving Coghlan back into the infield, where he played all of his pro career before reaching the majors, should help. If Uggla is moved, either to third or out of town, it would improve the infield defense much more as well, though the offensive hit will be evident.