Series Preview: Talkin' Mets with Amazin' Avenue

Shaun Marcum and his new teammates visit Milwaukee tonight. Let's talk about it!

MILWAUKEE BREWERS
34-50 (5th place, NL Central)
NEW YORK METS
35-47 (4th place, NL East)

GAME 1: July 5, 2013 @ 7:10 p.m. CDT
(TV: FS-Wisconsin; Radio: 620 WTMJ)

GAME 2
: July 6, 2013 @ 6:15 p.m. CDT
(TV: FOX; Radio: 620 WTMJ)

GAME 3: July 7, 2013 @ 1:10 p.m. CDT
(TV: FS-Wisconsin; Radio: 620 WTMJ)

Miller Park | Milwaukee, Wisconsin

A View from the Other Dugout: Amazin Avenue

Game 1 Johnny Hellweg (0-1, 20.25) vs. Zack Wheeler (1-1, 5.06)
vs. Mets (0-0, ---) vs. Brewers (0-0, ---)
Game 2 Yovani Gallardo (6-8, 4.78) vs. Shaun Marcum (1-9, 5.03)
vs. Mets (0-0, ---) vs. Brewers (0-0, ---)
Game 3 Wily Peralta (5-9, 5.27)
vs. Jeremy Hefner (3-6, 3.54)
vs. Mets (0-0, ---)
vs. Brewers (0-0, ---)


As the Brewers get ready to open a three-game set with the New York Metropolitans, we traded questions with Steven Schreiber of Amazin' Avenue about our respective teams and this series. You can see his answers to my questions below, and my answers to his questions over at AA later today.

BCB: The Mets enter play this weekend in fourth place in the NL East and double-digit games under .500. How does this compare to your expectations for the season?

AA: I think their play so far pretty has been pretty close to meeting the expectations I had entering the season. Maybe I would've placed them a couple of games closer to the .500 mark at this point but considering how bad the offense and bullpen has been, it's not really all that shocking that they're 11 games under now. The disappointing seasons that Ike Davis and Ruben Tejada have put together have really sunk the offense, which wasn't all that great to begin with thanks to the grab bag of 4th and 5th outfielders the team entered the season with. As weird as it may sound for a team so far under .500, they've basically been propped up by the excellence of David Wright and Matt Harvey.

BCB: On Friday the Brewers will see former #6 overall pick and top pitching prospect Zack Wheeler for the first time. What can you tell us about him?

AA: As I'm sure you know, Wheeler has great stuff, featuring a mid to upper 90's fastball and two quality breaking pitches, and he was very highly rated all throughout his time in the minors. He's only made three starts in the majors so far, one good and two not so good. The biggest issue he's had is with tipping his breaking pitches, an issue that really showed up in his second start against the White Sox. He worked to correct that issue but then the Nationals knocked him around last Sunday, so he's still a work in progress in that regard. His command is also a bit rough, as he's walked 10 batters in 16 innings, though 5 of those came in his debut. What you'll likely see from him is a young pitcher who flashes excellent raw stuff but is still working out the bugs, so to speak. He's still very much in the learning process and he'll likely have his rough innings but you can see the flashes of a great pitcher in there.

BCB: David Wright is a Met through 2020 and is quietly having a great year (.308/.393/.530 into play Thursday), but he's the only offensive standout on a Mets team that's among the bottom four in the NL in hits, runs, batting average, OBP and slugging. Was opening the checkbook to lock him up still the right decision?

AA: Some fans argued against it prior to this season (heathens is what I'd call them) but I was not one of them. Yes, re-signing David Wright was the correct decision in my mind based on this: if you trade him, what are the chances that you'll acquire a player that's on the same planet as he is? I trust Sandy Alderson to get value back in trades, just as he's done in the case of Carlos Beltran and R.A. Dickey, but David Wright is one of the best players in the major leagues who happens to be right in the prime of his career. There's undoubtedly some risk at the back end of the contract but if the Mets have plans to contend at all in the near future, they'll need to have some star players on the roster and David Wright is still that kind of stud at age 30.

It's also important to point out that Wright is the face of this team and re-signing him helps improve the morale of a downtrodden fanbase. With the struggles the team has faced over the last 7 seasons and with what happened to Jose Reyes the year before, it's nice to know that David Wright is likely to be manning third base for the Mets for the rest of his career. Plus, he's an incredibly likeable guy and I love watching him play baseball. It would be really tough to watch him do awesome David Wright things on the baseball field in an opposing uniform.

BCB: Obviously the Mets are having a tough year and looking up at the Braves, Nationals and Phillies in the East right now. When does their window to contend open next?

AA: It's still tough to say at the moment when the window opens but I think things are slowly becoming clearer. Wright is here and still awesome, and the quick maturation of Matt Harvey gives the team a young ace to build around. That's a pretty solid foundation to start with (assuming health, of course). The question is how do they go about adding other stars to the equation. The hope is that Wheeler and injured catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud can develop into quality pieces as soon as next year. Even with Wheeler's early struggles, the starting rotation this season has been pretty strong and the organization's biggest strength lies in hard-throwing right handed pitchers. Staring pitching prospects Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard could be in the majors as soon as next year and the minor league rosters throughout the system are littered with pitchers who have potential big league stuff. It's the run scoring side where the Mets will have to plug holes, particularly in the outfield, and to do that they'll probably have to trade away some of those pitchers and spend some money (luckily, there's a lot of money coming off the books after this year). First base is also a big question mark and what Ike Davis does in the second half of the year will go a long way towards telling us what they'll need to do at that position.

I think realistically, the hope is that the team can improve enough to win around 85 games or so and be around the wild card fringe in 2014, and then by 2015 develop into a true division contender but it's still going to take some crafty moves, further development from a number of players, and a bit of luck to get there. I think a lot of Mets fans don't see it developing yet but with the right additions, I feel like things may turn around quicker than some are expecting.

BCB: What does the trade deadline look like for this team? Are any Mets likely to be moving on?

AA: The Mets do have some players that could have value to other teams at the trade deadline but the question seems to be whether they'll actually move them. This front office hasn't been active at the trade deadline, outside of the Carlos Beltran for Wheeler trade in 2011. I think this year, as odd as it seems, they may have a few more pieces to move. Marlon Byrd has been a revelation but at 35, he's not a part of the future. Shaun Marcum has been so-so and he's a little nicked up at the moment but he's got the pedigree to attract some trade attention. John Buck, LaTroy Hawkins, and David Aardsma could probably be spare parts to fill out a contender's roster.

I think their two biggest trade chips, if they decide to go this route, are Bobby Parnell, who's quietly been fantastic as the team's closer this year, and Daniel Murphy who'd fit in at 2nd or 3rd base on a contender. Both players are in their prime and have a couple of years of team control left, so they're still valuable to the Mets (for what it's worth, it's already been said that Parnell isn't going to be actively shopped) but for the right players, perhaps a talented, near major league ready outfielder or shortstop, I can't say I'd be terribly shocked if the Mets pulled the trigger prior to the deadline on July 31.

Thanks again to Steven for taking the time, and don't forget to check out Amazin' Avenue for more on the Mets!

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