This is the first Q&A Mike has conducted, in which people from Twitter and Instagram submitted questions regarding the Mets, Jets, and Islanders. Here are the questions, followed by Mike’s answer to the best of his ability.
@drewbykov39: If you were the Mets, what would you trade for and what position would enhance the team? Same question for the Isles.
Mike: While the Mets season is very young and there is still a lot of baseball to be played, to me it’s clear this Met team is missing a player who hits for average, and also has speed. I think the hope for Jose Reyes would fill this role, as he played very well in 2016, but has struggled thus far in 2017. The team has a bunch of big time home run hitters including Yoenis Cespedes, Jay Bruce, and Lucas Duda. They need some guys who can get on base, to set up these home run hitters. Two guys I like are Dee Gordon at 2nd base and Joey Votto at 1st base. While both are unlikely to ever be traded to the Mets whether it’s an expensive contract from Votto or playing on an inner division team in Gordon, these two players could make an immediate impact in their own ways, and most importantly, they both get on base. But, it’s hard to tell through just a few weeks who are buyers and who sellers in the MLB. As for the Islanders, I don’t expect any blockbuster trades, but the Islanders in my opinion could still use a goalie, maybe Ben Bishop, who is an unrestricted free agent, or a veteran forward who can score goals alongside John Tavares in Buffalo Sabres left winger Evander Kane.
@GingerCMP: Is it definite that the Isles are moving from Barclays after next season?
Mike: There’s been so many different reports about where the Islanders will end up playing whether it’s near Citi Field, by Belmont, in Hartford, or a return to the New Coliseum, but I think it still seems logical to return to the Coliseum. The Islanders fan base is generally located in Long Island, and they just renovated the venue. Reports say seating is a problem, but it seems the Islanders are the ones that don’t want to return, not the county. So, I do expect the Islanders to be out of Barclays after next season, but it’s very hard to tell. I also think it makes the most sense for them to return to the Coliseum, but it sounds like a new stadium in Belmont is not an exaggeration. For now, all we can do is watch… and for me, commute to Brooklyn to watch a hockey game instead of a 20 minute drive.
@mmconner333: Do you think the Mets will win the World Series?
Mike: To be honest, I do think the Mets have a legitimate shot at winning the World Series this year, and that is because I think they’re built for the postseason. With a dominant, young pitching staff that looks as good as they ever have, the sky is the limit for this team. But, they need to manufacture runs in other ways than just home runs. Maybe that means acquiring another contact bat, but I’m not going to write off the offense yet. The season is young, and let’s see where we are in May and June. A positive with the Mets’ home run hitting is that they are never out of any game because they can march right back in a game quick. But, when the home runs go cold, the offense is in trouble, and we’re seeing that during their current four game losing streak. While people are down on the Mets right now, yes I do think they are going to win the World Series. In a playoff series with their starting pitching depth, they can beat anyone.
@bhenriksen17: Is Johnny T (John Tavares) wasting his career as an Islander or is next year the year they finally decide to put some pieces around him?
Mike: You make a valid point with this question, as John Tavares has been with the Islanders for quite sometime now, and they have not shown any consistency and have only made it to the playoffs 3 times in his 8 seasons with the team. I think this team needs to show John Tavares they are committed to winning, and quickly because he’s obviously a free agent at the end of the season. But, put yourself in John Tavares’ shoes. Why stay with this franchise and maybe make it to the playoffs once every three years? Especially when the team located near his hometown is surprising the NHL universe and giving the top seeded Washington Capitals a series in the Toronto Maple Leafs. If I’m Tavares, that’s a very appealing landing spot with their young talent, and the possibility of more playoff success than the Islanders when it’s time for his decision. But, loyalty may be something I could see Tavares considering. This team drafted him, and it’s where he made his name. So, they need to get a veteran goal scorer to play alongside Tavares this year, and make a DEEP playoff run during the 2017-18 season, or Tavares may walk out. It’s on the Islanders, but I also don’t know what Tavares is thinking. So, yes, this should be the year the Islanders make a push to get some skilled players alongside Tavares, if not, everyone should be fired. The Islanders need to show Tavares they want to win. I think it’s in the best interest of the Islanders to get a deal done before he even hits free agency, but Tavares may want to test his options. It’s on the Islanders to make it happen.
@angelooneill: Would love to know what your first moves would be for the Islanders now that the season’s over and they missed the playoffs.
Mike: The Islanders top priority should be assuring they will have John Tavares for longer than the 2017-18 season. It’s on upper management to bring in a goal scorer, as I said earlier, maybe trade for someone like Evander Kane. I also think it would be worth it to bring in goalie Ben Bishop, and then trade either Thomas Greiss or Jaroslav Halak. Making these moves should give this team a chance to win games. I think they’re close to being capable of making a deep run in the playoffs, as some guys stepped up at the end of the 2016-17 season. We can’t be too negative, as the team missed the playoffs by just 1 point. The Islanders need to show John Tavares they want to win. The Islanders would win the offseason if Tavares has a contract extension before the regular season even starts. If that happens, I’m sure many Islander fans would be happy and feel they won the offseason.
@anthonypiparo: Do you think Mikhail Grabovski’s career is over?
Mike: Grabovski is still under contract with the Islanders next season, but he has still had issues with his concussions, as he did not appear in any games during the 2016-17 season. At age 33, he needs to consider the dangers of returning as concussions are very serious as we all know. I think it’d be nice to have him back, but it seems like there’s not much news about him. Did any Islanders reporters or the broadcasts even mention him? Maybe he needed a year off, but I can’t really determine whether his career is over. It might be the smartest decision, but that’s up to Grabovski, who could really help the Islanders with his speed and his ability to work well with former Toronto Maple Leafs teammate Nikolay Kulemin.
@coviefitness_88: Who was the best Mets killer on the Phillies?
Mike: Boy, there’s so many Mets killers, particularly one’s from the Phillies. From what I’ve seen, Pat Burrell always had the Mets’ number, as well as Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, and Chase Utley. It always seemed like those guys would come up in the big spots late in games, and deliver. All that mattered was that they were playing the Mets. If you want, check out a piece I wrote last year titled The All Time Mets Killers Team. There’s 4 Phillies on that lineup.
Why is Todd Bowles still (the Jets) head coach?
Mike: Todd Bowles is still the Jets head coach for various reasons, but 1 major reason is that it’s only his 2nd year. Yes, the team took huge steps backward during the 2016 season after a 10 win season in 2015, but he deserves at least another year. It’s not like he had a team full of superstars. His team was full a veterans whose best years were behind them, and didn’t seem to care once the team fell to 1-5. One thing to look at and question is if Todd Bowles has lost the locker room. We had guys showing up late to meetings, missed tackles, and missed blocks last year, which made many question if it was time for Bowles to go. While it wouldn’t have been outrageous to fire him or shocking, I still think he deserves more time. For the Todd Bowles haters, he has a team now that quite frankly does not look like they’re going to be very good, so if he wins 5 games this year, it could very well be a success. Given their roster, how can you fairly fire him after the upcoming season? I predict they will let him play out the final 2 years of his contract, but if this team plays lazy and careless during the season, he could very well be fired. I think the Jets have more roster issues than coaching issues. They see Todd Bowles won 10 games with Ryan Fitzpatrick as quarterback, so my guess is that’s why he’s still here. But, it’s clear he might be on the hot seat.
What do you think the Isles have to do to convince (John) Tavares to sign long term?
Mike: The Islanders need to show John Tavares they want to win now, and have Stanley Cup aspirations led by him. That being said, he needs help, and the team needs some forwards that can score goals, as well as more consistent goaltending. They also need an arena to play in, because right now we don’t know where they’re playing in the near future. Why would Tavares want to play for a team that’s going to be on the move, and have possibly a third home arena during his tenure with the team. So, if this team somehow finds their way back at the Coliseum, and picks ups some pieces that leads to a deep playoff run, then it would seem logical for John Tavares to resign with the team. But, given the situation right now, can you blame him if he leaves?
If you had to pick one, replay option or computer generated strike zone and calls, which would you prefer?
Mike: The idea of a computer deciding a baseball game scares me. I don’t mind replay in baseball, but the system needs some improvements, especially enforcing time limits on how long the manager has to decide to challenge. I like the idea of getting calls right, but it needs to be sped up. If the call is too hard to determine, the call on the field should stand. This process shouldn’t take more than a minute or 2. As for computer generated strike zones, it takes away work for many umpires, and I’d worry of a malfunction in the strike zone. How long would it take for a team to rig the strike zone? Yes, technology is great, but I think we should stick to human umpires, while improving video replay. Plus, with no umpires, who would players and fans blame when they lose?
Who is your favorite Mets player?
Mike: I’ve always liked Steven Matz of course because he’s from Long Island, but unfortunately he hasn’t been able to stay healthy. My favorite position player is Michael Conforto, as I love the way he hits, especially when he takes the ball to opposite field. I’m also a big Jacob deGrom fan, as I still stand by my opinion that he currently is the best pitcher on the Mets’ staff. So, these 3 guys are definitely my favorite Mets.