Michael Baron: How much did fan sentiment play into the decision to cut Luis Castillo and/or Oliver Perez?
Short answer for Castillo: Yes, for Perez, probably not. We brought both players back to see the players, get to know the players, and make a decision not jus ton history, but current events. Other opportunity we had was to become aware about the sentiment in NY for these two players. Regarding Castillo, fan sentiment came into play. Its difficult to overcome that, so you evaluate player performance against presumption in the minds of the fans. Perez’ performance just wasn’t there – never got to the point of considering fan sentiment.
Joe Decaro: Hands were tied, no wiggle room this winter. I see the team contending for the Wild Card. Will you be able to add big bat or big pitcher at the trade deadline?
If we are in the hunt, the money will be there to add a player. You are picking up a 1/3 to 1/2 of a players salary. Internal discussions say we will have the money to do that.
Mike Silva: After review, the farm system hasn’t been viewed farily. Any standouts, surprises?
I try not to assess the farm system against opinions outside of the organization. We have to make our own assessments. Publications are a nice way to measure what we have. The reason the farm system doesn’t get as much credit as it should because 1) we’ve graduated people from the system as recently as last year (Thole, Parnell). We have some other players on the verge (Mejia, Gee). I think further down we have a number of players (Puello, Flores). Those players tend to get high marks from the independent publications. One guy who has looked good this Spring is Matt Harvey. Overall, I think we are reasonably happy with what we have, but need to be more aggressive and successful in developing players out of the draft.
Caryn Rose: Transparency, and how its important. Regarding fan perception, how much transparency is TOO MUCH transparency? Whats your thought process over thinking about what you’re going to say?
Honesty is the best policy. Thought it would’ve been disingenuous if I hadn’t said fan sentiment didn’t have anything to do with the decision. With the new management team, and turning the page, it was too obvious of a consideration.
Eric Simon: How do you approach Spring Training roster decisions, and the bullpen in particular? How important is Spring performance vs. past performance?
I think the career body of work is normally what gets a player into camp who is under consideration. I think you have to keep in mind career numbers and trends. At the same time, you do take into account what goes on during Spring Training. It’s the nature of competition and the hope that certain people will rise to that level of competition. But you cant let Spring games dictate results entirely.
Steve Keane: Seems there is a minority in the fan base, and a majority in the mainstream media that likes to dwell on the negative. They don’t seem to want to talk about great team offense – a lot of walks, doubles, etc.. Also, the defense has been good, but the big thing is the pitching has been great. How close is the competition in the bullpen, specifically 7th spot?
You look at the guys who are competing for the last two or three spots. We have a young kid, Rule V pick (Beato) who is untested. He has improved greatly since the start of camp. Comparing him to Jason Isringhausen, who is a veteran presence and how he might influence that bullpen. Then you have Boyer and Acosta, who each are very close in overall results but get there in different ways – Boyer is a ground ball pitcher, Acosta has more life, more command, more of a fly ball pitcher. Each of those guys represent a very different choice. We haven’t resolved those situations yet. We met with the front office people and the coaches/manager today and resolved a few other things, but the bullpen is still unresolved.
Kerel Cooper: Second Base – Obviously Castillo is no longer here, Turner was sent down, and it looks like EMaus has the inside track. Are you surprised it has taken all Spring to figure out the second base situation, or did you figure it would be a drawn out process?
We didn’t expect it would come at the end of camp, although given the number of candidates, it was reasonable to expect it. It gets back to balancing Spring Training performance vs. past history. Take Emaus – there is a history, albeit a minor league history. In his case, it was a matter of him showing he could do things in Spring Training that his prior experience indicated he could do. In Murphy, it was watching and seeing if his defense would develop. Turner would have had to lap the field, because he had options which gave us flexibility. But I’m not surprised it has taken so long – Im glad Emaus has shown offensively what he can do. He turns the double play very well. He may not have the range of some prototypical second baseman, but he will make the routine plays, and we think he will fit pretty well for us.
Shannon from Mets Police: As you head forward and build a roster, what non-baseball factors into building a roster?
They may not have significant weight, but they come into play. Isringhuasen is a good story, Chin-lung Hu has developed a following because of his last name. Its not going to determine whether or not they make the team, but it is the case in some small magnitude. Izzy’s case might have slight weight.
Ed Marcus: Regarding Emaus, how much does his Rule V status factor in?
It has a lot to do with it. If he was not a Rule V draftee, he wouldn’t have presented the immediacy that he does. If he’s not the starting second baseman, I’m not sure how much he helps us in a bench role. At least at the outset, you’re going ot give him every opportunity. There is a very good possibility we will keep both our Rule V picks (Emaus and Beato).
Michael Donato: Last couple of years there’s been a feeling the GM hasn’t been aggressive in making changes. How quick would you be in making changes at positions that are failing?
You can be overaggressive. There is a real balance which has to be maintained. You have to have enough patience to give players an opportunity so they don’t feel that every game they play may be their last. In our bullpen, we appear to have some depth…the problem is, when you look at all the roster considerations, all that depth disappears immediately. And so its conceivable, in our bullpen,. the only real depth at AAA after we make our chocies is someone like Ryota Igarashi. Its just the nature of deals which are made in the off-season. Same is true at second base. We do have quite a bit of protection there (Hu, Justin Turner, Ruben Tejada). You do want to give people an opportunity to demonstrate they can play, and have to be careful about pulling the trigger too quickly, and not giving a player a chance.
Greg Prince: You emphasized in the fall about not being able to make any judgments. After a few months, has the outsiderness worn off?
There is still a little bit of getting used to, but by and large, thats behind us. Now in Spring Training, the focus is on baseball. We are down here everyday with our major league and minor league staff. While I haven’t had as much exposure to our minor leagues as I will over the course of the season, we have had meetings, talks. We have had a lot of cross fertilization, and I think we are getting there. I am pleased with the way things have come together. I thought they came together well in the off-season, and that’s been reinforced here. That sense of newness and lack of history has largely been overcome.
Matt Artus: Regarding Jason Bay’s offense – there has been a decline in power. Are you concerned about him rediscovering his power stroke?
In terms of his power, its still a work in progress. In the off-season, he worked with an old hitting coach from Pittsburgh, and came into Spring with a new setup at the plate. He recently canned that and went back to his old approach. While there hasn’t been any power numbers, he’s hitting quite well, and his on base percentage is very high. From my standpoint, first priority is OBP, second priority is power. I’m certainly hopefully it will come back, and most of us expect he will adjust to Citi Field. When the power comes, it comes. I am pleased with his approach at the plate.
John Delcos: Regarding Jose Reyes, what do you have to see from him to warrant giving him an extension? Do you have to see that prior to the All-Star Break?
That’s a compound question. First off, what do I have to see – he’s a very dynamic player. Its hard not to notice that. I think he is working on a couple of things which have been discussed publicly. Speed is his game, but for it to work, he’s got to be on base, and he’s acknowledged that. If Jose Reyes had a .400 OBP, I don’t know if anyone would be debating this, given what he does. We will see how it goes through the season. I think he’s a team player. As far as mid-season is concerned, I think part of it depends on how he performs over the first half, and how the team is performing at the deadline. If he performs well, and the decision is to sign him, I don’t think it matters how the team does. If the decision is to not sign him, and the team is performing well, I don’t think he’s going anywhere (for the rest of the season). The financial situation hasn’t impacted us yet. Will it in the future? Who knows. Given all the money we have coming off the books, even the money we anticipate Reyes trying to get, we should be able to accommodate, even if there is a reduced payroll.
Joe Janish: Regarding Carlos Beltran’s health, it seems as though there may be someone else in right field on Opening Day. You talked about fan appreciation, and fans appreciate Nick Evans. Does he have a chance to make the team, and who else could play right field?
Evans is in the mix, whether or not Beltran can go at the start of season. If Beltran is not able to go, I think there are a number of candidates, among Scott Hairston and Willie Harris, and maybe Nick Evans. At this point, we haven’t given up on the notion about Beltran being ready. We will see over the next two or three days. Realistically, it would be a platoon if Beltran isn’t ready to start the season.