Catching up with the Mets: Amazin’ Avenue

amazinavenueTo continue our tour across the bloggosphere, we stopped to chat with Eric from one of the best Mets blogs on the internet, Amazin’ Avenue. The Amazin’ Avenue has been quite busy this offseason preparing their own Amazin’ Avenue Annual, check it out.

The Nats Blog: The Mets have gone from very confident in 2006, to unlucky in 2007 and 2008, to crises mode in 2009 and 2010. What happened? With a young core of talent, can the club turn it around?

Amazin’ Avenue:
The 2009 Mets were long on injuries and short on backup plans, and even some of those backup plans wound up getting hurt along the way. They probably weren’t a playoff team even if we forgive the health problems, but they probably would have won 85 games or so and I doubt we’d be talking about how 2010 is “do or die” for the core (or whatever). For a team with one of the highest payrolls in the National League, the Mets have a lot of mediocre (or just risky) players at starting positions. First base (Daniel Murphy, for now) and second base (Luis Castillo) are iffy, and the upside in right field (Jeff Francoeur) and at catcher (Henry Blanco/Rod Barajas) is probably league average production.

In the rotation, Johan Santana missed the end of last season after having bone chips removed from his throwing elbow. Mike Pelfrey had a tough luck season last year, and while I’m bullish on his future he’s no sure thing. The final three spots are even more tenuous, with John Maine and Oliver Perez big question marks and the fifth spot up for grabs in spring training.

TNB: I haven’t been to the new stadium  yet, what do you think of it?

AA: It’s pretty fantastic. Some folks grumbled about the lack of Mets history on display, which was probably a legitimate gripe but one that is easily rectified. The ballpark itself is a gem and a truly marvelous place to see a game.

TNB: How do you see the NL East finishing in 2010?

AA: Right now it looks like the Phillies will win their fourth straight NL East title with the Mets and Braves battling for second place.

TNB: While it seems to be a mystery to everyone, where do YOU think David Wright’s power has gone?

AA: I suspect it’s a combination of Citi Field’s deeper dimensions and higher walls, some minor adjustments that might have led him to pull the ball less (perhaps in response to the ballpark), and probably a bit of bad luck. Whatever value you place on having lineup protection (or lack thereof) is probably an ingredient in that equation, too.

TNB: What do the Mets need to do to be competitive again?

AA: They need good health more than anything. Beyond that, they probably need a couple of players to exceed expectations by putting up All-Star-type seasons. Big numbers from Francoeur and Perez could do it.

TNB: Benny Agbayani or Timo Perez, who do you miss more?

AA: Agbayani without question. Whatever star points Perez earned with his NLCS performance in 2000 were wiped out when he didn’t hustle around third—and was thrown out at home as a result—in Game 1 of the World Series that year. Agbayani was a lovable character and a fine hitter for a few years there. Perez was never really any good.

TNB: All time favorite Mets memory?

AA: Mike Piazza’s eighth-inning, go-ahead two-run homerun off Steve Karsay in that first game back in September 2001. My now-wife (then-girlfriend) and I were in attendance, and the atmosphere and emotion of that whole night I’ll keep with me for the rest of my days.

TNB: Thanks Eric!