Talking Mets with Author Howard Megdal
Tuesday August 2, 2011
MLB reports: Back on June 5th, we had the pleasure of interviewing author Howard Megdal. The author of The Baseball Talmud, we discussed with Howard his 2nd literary work, “Taking the Field: A Fan’s Quest to Run the Team He Loves.” You can read our interview with Howard, as well as our review of Taking the Field.
Well, we enjoyed speaking with Howard so much that we asked him back to talk Mets baseball. Guess what…he accepted! We questioned Howard on all Mets topics, including team ownership, drafting and trades. For the best in Mets discussion, we bring you published author, Howard Megdal:
MLB reports: Thank you for joining us back on the Reports Howard. You are our first return interviewee! I enjoyed reading and reviewing “Taking the Field” very much and have received great feedback on it. How have things gone so far with the book for you and what has been the response from the baseball community, particularly Mets fans?
Howard Megdal: Response has been terrific throughout- I’ve really enjoyed the chance to hear what Mets fans think. Contrary to popular opinion, it is entirely possible to get them to sign onto a clear positive vision of how to run the team. Not universally, of course, but that’s what Mets fans want at the end of the day.
MLB reports: Since the ending of your book, new chapters have been written in Mets history so to speak. The names Wilpon, Madoff and Einhorn have been in the news for quite some time. What are your thoughts on the Mets ownership situation?
Howard Megdal: I think it is extremely unfortunate, since in Sandy Alderson, the Mets have the GM they’ve needed for 20 years-and now, the team’s medium-term financial future is in great doubt. Mets fans should be hoping for a speedy resolution here, and that probably means David Einhorn: Majority Owner.
Howard Megdal: I believe Carlos Beltran will be playing outfield for a team willing to give him 3-4 years on a contract. Me, and I’m the biggest Beltran fan there is, I wouldn’t bet a multi-year deal on his knee. As for Jose Reyes, my gut feeling is that ends up a bidding war between the Yankees and Red Sox. I don’t think the Mets have the financial wherewithal to bring him back to Queens.
MLB reports: Many Mets fans have been banging their heads on the wall since Jason Bay joined the team. I had a bad feeling on this signing, specifically that the ballpark and team would not be a fit. How did you view the Bay signing originally and has your opinion changed since?
Howard Megdal: My view of it originally is that it was exactly the wrong thing to do- he wasn’t likely to age well, he brought one skill- power- and that it would probably be an albatross contract by year 3. Never did I imagine he would be so terrible from day one.
MLB report: I suggested awhile back that Jerry Seinfeld should invest in the team. I see him as a strong icon for the Mets that could turn around its popularity and fortunes. Has this been discussed in Mets circles?
Howard Megdal: It has, but it doesn’t sound like Jerry is looking to take on that kind of active role.
MLB reports: Johan Santana. While some say he “might” come back this year, I don’t see it happening. Will the Santana of old ever emerge for the Mets?
Howard Megdal: Who knows? He’s had a complicated shoulder surgery, and the number of pitchers who have returned have varied widely in their subsequent performances. The early signs are good, and I’d be reluctant to bet against a competitor like Santana. What I think he has going for him is that he already knows how to pitch- he isn’t going to need to transition from being a pure stuff pitcher. But could that shoulder give out at any moment? Unfortunately, yes. My guess is he pitches 4-5 starts for the Mets in 2011, and pitches well.
MLB reports: Mets fans must be thrilled with the team’s play of late. Mirage or real?
Howard Megdal: Well, as I told my friends and family who were freaking out over their 5-13 start: “Don’t worry- the Mets are distinctly not terrible.” I stand by that. Had them at 84 wins at the start of the year, and still see them finishing around 80, even without Ike Davis or Beltran for the last two months.
MLB reports: Sandy Alderson and his loyal foot soldiers. Have they been everything that you hoped they would be? Please give Alderson his Mets report card to date and don’t hold back!
Howard Megdal: I am loving the way Alderson runs this team. There are small things I’d do differently here and there- Daniel Murphy playing 2B being the only one I can think of at the moment- but I absolutely adore the LOGIC, TRANSPARENCY and PASSION of his regime. Just wrote a piece on a minor arc that some may miss- but it stands as a companion piece to, well, everything Steve Phillips did. There’s a glorious attention to detail.
Piece is here:
MLB reports: I have thrown around the idea of realignment. In my world, the Mets, Yankees, Red Sox, Orioles and Nationals would all occupy the AL East. Regardless of the exact arrangement, I think a move to the AL to sit in the Yankees division would work well. You?
Howard Megdal: I have long said that if it locks in an end to the Designated Hitter, I’d be willing to consider realignment, though I am attached to the NL/AL breakdown. Will you agree to that? If so, sure.
MLB reports: You will not find a bigger fan of banishing the DH, so agreed!Turning to Francisco Rodriguez, what is his future and does he still have “it”?
Howard Megdal: I think K-Rod is one of the best closers the Mets ever had. That said, Thank goodness they got rid of that ridiculous 2012 option. Even if the team weren’t in dire financial straits, it is a ridiculous waste of resources to pay your non-Mariano Rivera closer $17.5 million.
MLB reports: From what you proposed in “Taking the Field” to where the Mets stand today, have the Mets been following your plan and direction? If you change anything about the current squad, what would it be?
Howard Megdal: See above, the use of Murphy. I don’t get it. With his bat, he’s a top-five MLB 2B, and he’s handled the position well. He is not even average at 1B offensively, and he flat-out cannot play the outfield. But again, outside of that? No, they’ve been fantastic. And because of their decision-making in other areas, I don’t conclude that they are just being ignorant about Murphy- I assume there’s more to know. Certainly the first question I have for Alderson the next time I interview him.
MLB reports: What do you think of Brandon Nimmo, the Mets 1st round pick this year? Was he drafted based on talent or cost? How has his selection been received in New York thus far?
Howard Megdal: TBD, but as I said in the last answer, their overall performance gives me confidence in their individual choices. I think projecting draft picks is a fool’s errand, however.
Howard Megdal: Best-case, he’s Alex Escobar. The guy just can’t stay healthy. I saw him in spring training- he ran like an elderly person. It is such a shame; the guy has tremendous talent, and he works hard. His body just keeps betraying him. Incidentally, I haven’t given up on Milledge, yet. He’s only in his age-26 season. .832 OPS at Triple-A with 18 SB in 24 attempts. It isn’t too late.
MLB reports: Thank you for joining us today on the Reports. You certainly did not hold back in your answers and gave us a great education on Mets baseball. We wish you the best of luck on your latest book and look forward to your next book project.
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Posted on August 2, 2011, in MLB Teams: Articles and Analysis and tagged alderson, baseball, bay, beltran, einhorn, madoff, megdal, mets, mlb, nimmo, reyes, rivera, rodriguez, santana, seinfeld, wilpon. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.