I took some time to shoot some questions to the good folks at Take the Seven Train and these were there responses. They did the same regarding the Cubs and you can read my replies on their site. (View Site)
Q. – Many Cub fans hate the Mets because of what happened in 1969. Is the hatred for the Cubs mutual for Mets fans?
A. – I don’t think it is, especially among the younger fans (under the age of 30) – the Mets had strong rivalries with the Cubs and Cardinals back in the ’80s, but realignment and the unbalanced schedule have wiped those rivalries out. It’s been 15 years since the Mets and Cubs were in the same division, and the two teams currently play just six games a year against one another. A team that only comes to Shea once a year isn’t going to inspire the sort of hatred that the Braves (and now the Phillies) do.
Q. – Omar Minaya took a lot of heat when he signed Pedro without a physical. Can Pedro be a meaningful piece in the Mets puzzle and do they need him to be to have success?
A. – I think Pedro can be a meaningful part of the puzzle – he pitched very well in his return from shoulder surgery at the end of last year, and he’s the kind of pitcher who can get hitters out without the blazing fastball he once had. He injured his hamstring in his first start this year but should be back some time next month. The extent to which they need him will be determined by Mike Pelfrey’s development – the Mets need at least one of a healthy Pedro or a consistent Pelfrey in order for the rotation to be as strong as it can be.
Q. – The Mets have been hot of late, winning their five of their last six. What has been the key to the hot streak and will it continue against the Cubs?
A. – The key to the five-game winning streak was the starting pitchers going deep into games – during the streak, the Mets had only one starter go less than 6 2/3 innings. Going that deep into games against a Cubs lineup that has been hitting so well lately will be a challenge – John Maine is a fairly extreme fly-ball pitcher and could have some trouble if the wind is blowing out tonight.
Q. How has the addition of Brian Schneider affected the pitching staff?
A. – Schneider’s playing time in spring training was limited due to hamstring issues, so he’s still getting to know some of the pitchers (combined with an ill-fated attempt at trying a new mitt, this led to some issues with pitches in the dirt early on). One pitcher in particular who seems to have benefited from working with him is Mike Pelfrey, who gave Schneider a lot of credit after his good starts and struggled last night while Schneider (who had been hit in the arm with a foul tip the day before) was on the bench.
Q. Angel Pagan, a Cub castoff, has been a big part of the offense to date. Is LF his for the foreseeable future or is he still on shaky ground if he begins to struggle?
A. – Moises Alou is currently playing minor-league games as part of his rehab from hernia surgery and there’s a good chance he’ll be back with the Mets by this time next week. Pagan is headed to the bench once Alou returns, but his early-season hot streak in Alou’s absence has been very important to the Mets’ success thus far. I imagine that he’ll get the occasional spot start in the outfield corners – Endy Chavez is the bench outfielder who will get the spot starts in center and serve as a late-inning defensive replacement for Alou.
Carlos Zambrano – Zambrano matched a career high with three hits, including an RBI single, and picked up the win in his last start against the Reds. He gave up two runs on eight hits over seven innings. The switch-hitter helped himself by hitting singles from each side of the plate, and a double in the seventh. Zambrano is finally doing what the athletic trainers tell him to do as far as staying hydrated to avoid cramps. He’s now fueled by bananas, drinks plenty of water, and avoids coffee.
John Maine – Though dissatisfied with his work, Maine pitched effectively enough against the Nationals on Wednesday night to gain his first victory — five hits, four walks, four strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings. He senses the spring chill had affected his command and wouldn’t be upset if summer paid an early, one-day visit to Wrigley Field on Monday. In three starts, he has yet to approach the level of effectiveness his final Spring Training appearances suggested.
- His ability to change speeds and pitch with good command is the key to his success. Also adds a decent slider, curve and change. Is a very smart pitcher.
- Surrenders a few too many home-run balls. Needs to keep his good stuff going beyond the sixth inning. Walks a few too many batters.
- A strong mid-rotation starter.
View the stat preview from Baseball Reference here
All Scouting Information taken from MLB.com and TSN.ca
Tracked Player Results
(AAA) – Iowa Cubs – Lost vs. Oklahoma (4-7)
(AA) – Tennessee Smokies – Lost vs. Carolina (1-4)
(High A) – Daytona Cubs – Won vs. Juniper (3-0)
(A) – Peoria Chiefs – Lost vs. Great Lakes (0-2)
(SS) – Boise Hawks open their season June 17th
(RK) – Arizona Cubs open their season June 22nd
View the full organizational report courtesy of First Inning here.