We caught up with William DeBoer over at Mets site Rising Apple and asked a few questions leading up the Giants/Mets series beginning this evening. Here’s his answers to some of the questions we tossed his way. They also have the interview they did with me over on their site that you can read through as well. The Giants and the Mets kick off a 3-game series tonight at 7:15pm Pacific Time at AT&T Park.
1. The Mets haven’t made the playoffs since 2006, is there any hope of that happening this year, and what needs to happen this year (or next) for them to be a playoff team?
We are celebrating the 40th anniversary of a team that was in worse shape at this time than the Mets are now, and they ended up winning the NL pennant, so I would say anything is possible. I give a playoff appearance a very slim chance of fruition, but if starters Jeremy Hefner and Dillon Gee stay hot, if Josh Satin and Juan Lagares keep hitting like nobody’s business, if Ike Davis returns to his second-half 2012 form, and if the bullpen can be staffed with capable relievers, the Mets just might contend for the second Wild Card slot.
2. Zack Wheeler: How do Mets fans feel about this kid and his future with the Mets organization? Thoughts on the Wheeler/Beltran trade at the time, and thoughts on the trade now. I can tell you Giants fans regret it big time.
Mets fans expect Zack Wheeler to be another Matt Harvey and for the two to become the next incarnation of Seaver/Koosman or Gooden/Darling. We were all spoiled by Harvey’s immediate success so it’s harder to watch Wheeler struggle in his first four starts, but we’re confident that he can blossom into the starting pitcher both our organizations value him to be.
I actually have a somewhat personal connection to this trade: the Mets were in Cincinnati that week and my father and I were driving down to catch the last couple games. Carlos Beltran was traded about an hour before we got to the Queen City. Quite literally, as we were on the road to Cincy, Beltran was on the road out; we might even have passed him on the Interstate. We were sad to see him go, but I realized it was for the best: Carlos wasn’t going to be resigned, as the team was in rebuilding mode, so Sandy Alderson had to get what he could for him. And oh boy, did he get someone. I was excited about Wheeler right from the get-go, and I’m even more excited now that he’s finally in the majors. Alderson has a knack for squeezing every last drop out of a trade (see the R.A. Dickey deal last Christmas), and the Wheeler/Beltran deal was the first sign of that. I would expect Giants fans to regret it, but as a fan of the team that traded Nolan Ryan for Jim Fregosi, I have little sympathy. Plenty of empathy, though.
3. If you had the chance to made a case to Bruce Bochy for Matt Harvey to the be starting pitcher in the ASG, what would you say (or do you even think Harvey deserves that honor)?
If Matt Harvey had the kind of offense Max Scherzer has in Detroit, you’d see two 13-0 starters going up against each other. Simply put, Harvey’s been the best starter in the National League this season. He leads in strikeouts, is near the top (bottom?) in ERA, and even has a WHIP under 1.00. There are other viable candidates for the role, I acknowledge that, but Harvey has been better than all of them up to this point. The fact that the game is in his home park is the cherry on top that finishes the sundae, but Harvey would have deserved the start even in AT&T Park.
4. Favorite current Mets player, and why?
It’s cliched to say Harvey or David Wright, so I’ll go with someone you’ve probably never heard of: Justin Turner, utility infielder (who happens to be on the DL at this point). Le Grand Orange, Jr. burst on the scene as NL Rookie of the Month in May 2011, and while he’ll never be a perennial All-Star, I like him because he plays with the joy he’s getting paid to play a children’s game. He’s always got a smile on his face and helps make the game fun to watch. Plus, he’s the guy who provides the pies to the face after walk-offs. Who doesn’t love that?
5. Angel Pagan is a former Met that we got for Andres Torres and Ramon Ramirez (who both oddly found their way back, even if Ramirez was only for a short Spring Training). Pagan was pretty much injury ridden in his time there. How to Mets fan feel about Pagan?
I suppose the Pagan deal turned out to be your way of getting even for Zack Wheeler. As much as we could have used his speed last year (he and Jose Reyes both left at the same time), it’s hard to miss Angel Pagan, even with his current success in San Francisco. While he showed flashes of greatness, he could never consistently kick it into second gear. Our biggest frustration was that after hitting well down the order he would almost completely shut down when we transferred him to leadoff. I think in the end both parties decided they would benefit from a change of scenery. It didn’t work out for the Mets (we thought we were getting a steal – a quality reliever and speed guy for Pagan?!? Sandy, you’ve done it again!), but it certainly worked out for Angel and the Giants.
BONUS: Will Atlanta run away with the NL East title, or do you think another team, even the Mets, will step up to the challenge and put the Braves in their place?
If anyone can do it, it would have to be the Washington Nationals. The Mets aren’t there yet, the Phillies will be sellers at the deadline, and the Marlins are…well, the Marlins. It’s been surprising to see the Nats struggling so much after being tapped a top contender in April. They still have the most potential to get hot, though: if Stephen Strasburg and that great rotation can start pitching lights-out, like they’re perfectly capable of doing, it would just take an average offense to score enough runs to win consistently. Giants fans know as well as anyone that pitching wins championships. For all of Washington’s struggles, they’re still only four games back of the Braves. That race is going to be a lot closer than anyone realizes.