The Bucs play the Mets the next three days. Here's an interview with D.J. Short, who writes about the Mets at MetsBlog. I also answered some questions for him about the Pirates here.
Bucs Dugout: What are your thoughts on the Xavier Nady / Oliver Perez / Roberto Hernandez deal?
MetsBlog: I think I speak for most Mets fans when I say I'm thrilled with how this deal has panned out so far. It was significant for this franchise for a few reasons. First, the trade would have likely never happened if Duaner Sanchez wasn't involved in a season-ending car accident while in Miami. The Mets needed a bullpen arm at the time, and initially some thought they overpaid by trading an everyday player like Nady, who was a key piece in the lineup vs. lefties. Two, there was a lot of buzz that Omar Minaya would immediately spin Perez back to San Diego to get Scott Linebrink. Thankfully, that didn't happen.
You see, the Mets lost a certain left-handed pitcher to the Devil Rays at the trading deadline in 2004, and we've felt fleeced ever since. Regardless of whether Scott Kazmir turns out to be the next Nolan Ryan or the next Bill Pulsipher, the trade of Kazmir set in place a chain of events that brought Minaya, Willie Randolph, Pedro Martinez, Carlos Beltran, and in turn, Oliver Perez to Shea. By acquiring Perez, and seeing him succeed, Mets fans have that hard-throwing lefty they were so hungry for back in 2004. I'm not ready to say the demon has been completely exorcised, but Perez is off to a good start. He's pitched far better than his record suggests, that's for sure.
BD: What's wrong with Carlos Delgado, who has a .763 OPS this year? Is his July surge for real, or are his first-half numbers more in line with what we should expect from him from here on out?
MB: I'm at a loss to explain his first-half struggles. He had off-season surgery on his right wrist and left elbow, but denies he is playing with any sort of current injury. Call it sheer coincidence, but Delgado is just a flat-out better second half player. I'm not sure if his peaks will be quite as distinct as they were in the past, but he has shown significant power over the last month, even to the opposite field. He's also being patient at the plate, which is a very encouraging sign for me. If both Carloses get hot, the lineup will be very dangerous once again.
BD: Which player in the Mets organization is most likely to be traded by the July 31 deadline? Do you think the Mets might discuss any trades with the Pirates, maybe for a reliever or second baseman?
MB: Honestly, nobody. If the Mets really wanted to make a splash, Lastings Milledge or Mike Pelfrey "could" be had, but I just don't see it happening. I expect minor tinkering, most likely in the bullpen. I wouldn't be completely shocked to see Omar take a chance on an infielder like Jose Castillo, but second base is pretty crowded with internal options that can weather the loss of Jose Valentin, who, honestly, shouldn't make or break this lineup. How 'bout Scott Schoeneweis for Damaso Marte straight-up? Ha.
BD: Moises Alou should return to action during the Pirates series after spending two months on the DL. What do you expect from him for the rest of this year?
MB: I've said all season that as long as Alou is there to hit against lefties in September and hopefully the post-season, whatever else we get from him is bonus. I still believe that. The guy just knows how to hit, and he proved it to me in the first month of the season. This lineup could really use a stabilizing force like him. You can't make a better mid-season acquisiton for a right-handed hitting outfielder.
BD: What are the chances that Pedro Martinez plays, and plays well, for the Mets this year?
MB: I'll believe it when I see it, of course. The organization seems to have tempered expectations for him as recently as this weekend, so as not to make him out as some sort of "savior." He threw a simulated game in Port St. Lucie yesterday, and if he's feeling good, he'll begin a minor league rehab assignment very soon. The best-case scenario is late August. The general consensus among Mets fans is that this team is missing that intangible piece that great teams have. Pedro is special. His presence alone would be a boost.
BD: Which starting pitcher do you think will have the most success against the Pirates this series?
MB: I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that it will be tonight's starting pitcher, John Maine. The Pirates aren't exactly the most patient team in the league (in fact, they've drawn the fewest walks) and Maine thrives on throwing his hard fastball up in the zone. I'm liking that combination. I fear that Oliver Perez might be a little too amped to pitch lights out against his former team, but who knows, really. That's why you gotta love this game.