#ThePlusInMetsPlus with MLB.com’s Michael Baron
For today’s installment of “The Plus In Mets Plus”, we have a writer that has truly become a fan favorite. Michael Baron, formally of JustMets.net and MetsBlog.com, has been on the Mets scene for a while now, and today he was kind enough to join us to answer some of our pressing questions.
- First off, can you give us a brief synopsis of who you are in case someone doesn’t know?
Until 2016, I covered and wrote about the Mets for both SNY.TV and MLB.com. I have written an endless number of features, conducted countless interviews and Q&As with players, coaches and front office personnel, and provided analysis for news and events surrounding the team during that time. In addition to written content, I have produced digital content both photographically and in video, live blogging in both content sets at times over the years.
- While the Mets aren’t in great shape right now, this isn’t the first time people have been worried about the state of the team, and they are only 1.5 games back of a postseason spot. How worried are you about the current state of the Mets?
I don’t get worried anymore. It is what it is with the team to me. To me, whether they succedd or fail, the emotion is more black and white to me. I am happy when they do well, disappointed when they fail.
In their current state, it’s a little confusing. It feels like they should be further back because their hitting has struggled so badly, but closer to the Nationals because Washington has kept teams around in the divisional race once again. But here they are, 1 ½ games out of a Wild Card and somehow hanging in with next to no offense. From that perspective, it’s somewhat of a relief, but I just don’t know that they have the capability of emerging as a front runner in a race. That’s based on a simple observation of their dysfunctional offense, their consistent willingness to play short on their roster everyday, and the dependency on their key relievers every single day. Eventually, this just isn’t sustainable, even though the Mets have been mostly a .500 ball club since the beginning of May.
Does one bat change that? Does a reliever change that? It can only help. But in the case of the offense, I am just not sure one player will make Curtis Granderson, Neil Walker, Asdrubal Cabrera, etc better situational hitters. I see philosophical problems and problems with their approach. All you have to do is look at the swings they take with runners in scoring position – it’s not really anything that’s really hidden.
- There is a lot of finger pointing going around on various social media sites, but little to no solutions are being offered. What do you think the Mets could do this season to turn the season around?
Play better. The talent is here to win a championship. But they just haven’t played well for the better part of three months. As I said before, it’s not one player, and it’s not one player who is going to come in here and change the direction of the offense. It is going to have to come from within. Until that happens, expect more of the same.
- Obviously, a lot of injuries have occurred this season, with Curtis Granderson and Asdrubal Cabrera being the only two players that haven’t missed substantial time. Which injured player do you believe the Mets miss the most?
I think the Mets are really missing the leadership of David Wright. He always brings order to chaos, leading by example on and off the field, regardless of performance. He’s a presence, a role model, and a mentor to so many on the club. That he can’t play and hasn’t been around a lot has cost the team in that area.
But they’re also missing Lucas Duda’s presence in the lineup. He is a very underrated part of this lineup, presumably because he’s so streaky. But adding his 30 home run bat would create more protection for the other players in the lineup, and probably relax them a bit to keep them from pressing in key spots.
- The Trade Deadline is a few days away, and like last year, the Mets could use a few acquisitions. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t think the Mets will be able to make a huge move like they did last year. Do you agree with that notion, or do you think that the Mets could make a trade?
It depends on how a huge acquisition is defined. When you think about it, a relief pitcher isn’t the sexiest of acquisitions, but look at what Addison Reed has meant to the club over the last 11 months. He has single-handedly reshaped the bullpen, and has therefore been a “huge move” for this front office in that time.
Now, that doesn’t mean they don’t need offense. They do, and moreso than a reliever. But getting the right kind of player could prove to be a huge move for this team. That guy may not be a 30 home run guy, but he may be a .350 on-base guy, a guy who can be better situationally than the one he replaces. But that’s on the front office to identify and acquire.
- The Washington Nationals have had a fairly impressive season, but one could say that the Mets have a considerably better rotation and bullpen, and while the Nationals have a better offense, it’s not the best offense in the league (eighth in the National League in team batting average.) Do you think the NL East is becoming out of reach, or do you think the Mets have a good chance to do what they did last year and have another August rally?
The Nationals don’t really have a considerably better offense when you take everything into account. They’re Daniel Murphy and a bunch of struggling hitters. The Mets are Yoenis Cespedes and a bunch of struggling hitters.
The difference to me, as I keep harping on, is situational hitting, and an ability to get the big hit when they need it. They’re hitting almost 50 points higher with runners in scoring position – they’ve scored 90 more runs with RISP than the Mets and have 46 more hits and 53 more walks. Just imagine if the Mets were league average or even slightly below in that department – they would be running away with this division, potentially.
I don’t think the Mets should be scoreboard watching at all, whether its for the division or the wild card. They need to be focused on being better than a .500 club, which they have mostly been (actually, slightly under) since May 1. When they gain some momentum and start playing well consistently, then they can see where they are in both races.
- I’ll ask you the typical which pitcher is best question: If the Mets make it to the one-game wild card, which Mets ace would you start and why?
Today, the Mets would need to have Jacob deGrom out there. He has shown an ability to grind games out even when he’s not at his best, and right now, he is the best pitcher on the staff.
- Are you worried about David Wright’s injury going forward?
Yes. He is suffering with two significant problems with his spine. I think his neck injury is less concerning than it is being made out to be as long as he has no spinal bruising, but in the end he continues to miss significant time year-after-year with problems with his legs, and his back. It’s unfortunate because he is a true ambassador to the Mets and the sport, has gone through thick and thin with this franchise, and he deserves better than the hand he has been dealt. I hope he can come back, stay on the field, and be a positive contributor after this injury.
- Finally, I have a different question. Considering this weekend is Mike Piazza weekend, do you have a favorite Mike Piazza moment?
The home run he hit on September 21, 2001 is a signature moment in his career, but I feel like that’s kind of cliché. One of the greatest moments I can remember aside from that is his home run against Terry Mulholland to complete the 10-run inning comeback against the Braves in June, 2001. I also remember him hitting a monumental home run to the mezzanine against Randy Johnson, although I cant remember if that was in 1999 or 2000.
Also, the day he showed up in May, 1998 was a defining moment for both Mike and the franchise.
10. How can someone connect to you via social media or see your content?
We highly suggest following Mr.Baron on these accounts, and we would like to thank him for responding to the questions presented.