|Pic Courtesy of Michael Baron on Twitter https://twitter.com/michaelgbaron|
Chances are if you're a Mets fan, and have access to twitter, you've probably communicated with the one and only Michael G Baron (you can continue the running joke of asking what the middle initial stands for if you wish). Michael is a former writer for SNY.tv and MLB.com. He is also one of the most respected and well liked guys on (Mets) twitter, known as the guy always willing to respond and communicate back with all Mets fans, loyal and trolls alike who chat with him throughout each day ;)
I'm thankful to have had the time to sit down (so to speak) with Mr. Baron and ask him some questions about our favorite team, of whom we are both lifelong fans. I hope you enjoy it, and as always feel free to continue tweeting Michael and look for his LIVE tweeting during the upcoming season. GO METS !
1: When's the last time u remember being this excited about the Mets going into a season
In my adult life, probably 2006, if not 2000. It’s the first time the Mets are going into Opening Day and actually fielding a World Series caliber team since those years, if not 1988. There are so few questions short of an arm in the bullpen or perhaps their defense at one or two spots. Its a complete club, and they should have an advantage in all of the 162 games they play in 2016. It’s nice to have that as a fan.
2: Are you worried at all about the last two weeks of spring
Not really. I think Terry Collins has a good handle on his club going into Opening Day, and this is a group of players which has already proven that when the stakes are high, they’re ready to play in the big game.
The problem with the Mets right now is nobody is really playing for anything on the club. Sure, Jim Henderson, Logan Verrett and Sean Gilmartin are fighting for one bullpen job, but you’re seeing that in their own individual performances. But there are no other openings at this point – people are simply, for lack of a better phrase, just getting their work in. They’re getting their at-bats, seeing their pitches, trying to get reps on defense, the pitchers are working up their stamina and not showing their cards as well.
When the bell rings, there’s no reason to expect them to play at anything less than a championship-caliber baseball level.
3: What are your impressions of Michael Conforto as a player and person. ........
I’ve gotten to know Mike over the last couple of years. We first met in Brooklyn, I followed him up the ladder through the minors and to the big league level. He’s one of the most down-to-earth, level headed kids I’ve ever covered. We tend to talk about non-baseball things, such as life off the field, traveling, playing ball at other levels – things we actually have in common. He’s a natural leader, he’s personable and easy to talk to as well.
As for his talent, I don’t think there’s any question as to how special he can be. He’s already shown his skill set on the biggest stage and hit some big home runs against some phenomenal talent. He has surprised us all with how good he is defensively, and he’s only getting better with each passing moment. But of course we all focus on his offense, and he’s been every bit as good as advertised with advancements being made every day. He’s going to be a special and key player for the Mets over the next few years both on and off the field.
4: Same question but now about METS SS Prospect Gavin Cecchini.
Gavin has grown so much as a player. He struggled through the early part of his professional career, but there seems to be a direct relationship between his growth and maturity as an individual person as there has been on the field. He’s still growing physically – he’s much stronger today than he was when I first met him in St. Lucie a couple of years ago, and I think that’s helped improve his bat speed and his ability to square up on the ball more.
He’s a student of the game, and a very intelligent player who is aware of what his strengths and weaknesses are. He’s always striving to improve and never at all complacent. He wants to get here, and if he plays the way he did in 2015 this season in Las Vegas, that’s going to happen.
5: What makes you so darn popular with Mets fans on Twitter; )
I have no idea. I am a normal person with normal problems. I’ve got bills stacked as high as the Empire State Building, I feel fortunate the lights are on and the water is running everyday and that I can even eat lunch (on occasion) while at the office. Again, just like everyone else.
But I am so humbled and appreciative of the support I get day in and day out. I never thought anyone would ever care about my opinion about my favorite team, yet almost 18,000 people on Twitter and 35,000 people on Facebook actually do. It’s truly mind-blowing, and I only want to continue to be that shoulder for people to lean on when times are tough, and that guy everyone wants to celebrate with when the Mets win the World Series.
6: What do u think overall about the bullpen?
I think it’s a weakness, but not as weak as it’s being made out to be. I think we need to see growth from Hansel Robles, consistency from Addison Reed, a true identity to Jerry Blevins, Antonio Bastardo live up to the billing, and get it all to mesh.
The good news is, the Mets are in a position to make changes at will. What we see today as the current construct of the bullpen may not be what we see in a month or two or five or six. But that’s the nature of most bullpens. People get hurt, people both under and over perform expectations, and that changes the plan.
7: If u could sign/extend one ace for the next 5-7 years right now who would it be and why?
That’s an excellent question. I’d probably sign Noah Syndergaard right now if I could, but I reserve the right to change my answer tomorrow.
He just seems to be the most sign-able. He and Steven Matz are younger than everyone else, and I think both pitchers have more Cy Young-caliber seasons ahead of them than either Jacob deGrom or Matt Harvey do, simply because of that factor. And at this point in his tenure, those years might be purchasable at a baseball discount, whereas I see absolutely no reason for either deGrom or Harvey to sign, given their age, how close they are to the big pay day, and what 30+ pitchers like David Price and Zack Greinke just got.
8: Have u memorized every players middle name in preparation for the upcoming season and LIVE tweeting about it?
I’ve got most of them down. I keep forgetting some of those for the new players. But they’re a few RBI away from that not being a problem.
9: What are your thoughts regarding David Wright overall for the 2016 season
I think David is intelligent enough not to push the envelope too far with his back. His goal is to be on the field as much as he possibly can, knowing full well what his limitations are and when he needs to dial it back. When he plays, I firmly believe he will be the David Wright of old, especially since I believe he will be focused on taking the ball up the middle and the other way in an effort to reduce the torque on his back.
But he’s going to have bad days a lot of the time. Some of those days will be manageable, some will not. But this is not a personality which is resigned to anything. He’s going to see this through and give it everything he’s got.
10: Do u think Mets can make it all work in regards to the outfield alignment and reported in game/end game plans including Lagares and De Aza ?
Yes, I do. This is a roster designed with flexibility and versatility in mind. They will never play a matchup with a weaker than capable defensive alignment, and they can easily protect everyone’s weakness because they have so much talent in the outfield.
11: Can Wilmer succeed as a 'super utility guy'?
Again, anyone in any role can succeed as long as their weaknesses are protected. If Wilmer is platooning with two or three guys on the infield, he can and will produce at the plate and will get plenty of at-bats in such a role.
His defense will always be a question, but one thing he, and a lot of the 2015 roster for that matter showed was that less was more, i.e. Limiting their exposure produced more in the opportunities they were given. If Wilmer is used like that and used in favorable matchups, he will produce more and in turn there will be more production out of each position he plays.
12: What next top prospect are u most looking forward to seeing in a Mets uniform at Citi Field
I want to sincerely thank Michael for taking the time to speak with me about our beloved team. I've been a fan and follower of his for a few years now. And I look forward to ongoing discussions and share some rants about the Metsies for years to come.