March 20, 2016 MLB Network Radio on Sirius/XM with Jim Bowden and Jim Memolo discussing the Mets and Nationals;
transcribed by VirginiaScopist (many thanks)
MEMOLO: (In progress) ‑ and so here’s your alignment to do that.
BOWDEN: Yeah. I mean, look, it absolutely ‑ it makes sense what they’re trying to do here. It makes sense logically. “Does it work” is an expression.
You know, I’m a Juan Lagares guy, so you’re talking the wrong person here. I think if Juan Lagares played every day, he’s going to hit a lot more than people think, and I think he’s got a chance to win the Gold Glove in center field every year that he plays. He’s that good defensively.
Now, when I look at the Nationals ‑ the Mets better be scared. You know, they better not walk around saying, “This is our division.” The Nationals have a really good team! And, they’re really healthy and, oh, by the way, they’re 12 and 3 in spring training games. And I’m telling you, it’s a really good team. It’s the team we thought they were going to have a year ago. I’m just ‑ I’m just going to tell you straight out, people better understand it.
So, you know, how do the Mets ‑ how are the Mets better than the Nationals? Well, the Nationals can throw you Scherzer and Strasburg game 1, 2. They’re going to match your big boys. Okay? They are going to match Harvey/deGrom. They can. I’m just telling you, they can. So if you’re going to beat them, it’s going to be your 3, 4, 5 starters against their 3, 4, 5 starters, which ‑ 3, 4, advantage Mets; 5, maybe Nats. Right?
So ‑ but that’s where ‑ that’s where it’s going to play out. The Nationals bullpen is deep and strong. I’d argue their offense, with Rendon back at third and healthy, Ryan Zimmerman at first, now healthy, with the emergence of Michael Taylor as the fourth outfielder, all of a sudden ‑ the Nationals have some speed, they can scores runs in different ways. They’re a team to worry about!
So if the Mets are to win, defense, I think, is going to be the biggest factor here. That’s going to be the biggest factor. If you want to put the best outfield defense with that pitching staff, I ‑ it’s clear what it is. It’s Granderson in right, Lagares in center and Cespedes in left.
Now, the argument that the Mets front office and the analytical department, led by TJ ‑ and it makes sense ‑ is, we’ve got a lot of strikeout ‑ lot of strikeout pitchers –
BOWDEN: ‑ and the fly balls that are hit on our pitchers aren’t gappers –
BOWDEN: ‑ where the outfield defense range isn’t as important as it is for everybody else. And that is an argument that allows me to say, okay, I’m okay with them trying Cespedes in center and a Lagares/Conforto platoon in left because the analytics actually back it up, even though old school concept, I would say, no, don’t do it, don’t do it.
But when you look at the analytics and where the balls land with these big four starters, they punch you out and, when they hit them in the outfield, an average center fielder, an average left fielder can make these plays. You don’t need Gold Glove on this particular rotation.
So it’s kind of a fascinating study.
MEMOLO: You ‑ I mean, you bring up the word “analytics,” but it’s not ‑ that’s not completely unique. I’ve seen a lot of teams over the years, they looked at their rotation, thought they had a lot of swing-and-miss, they weren’t going to worry about defense as much in the outfield. You know, the ’86 Mets were not a great defensive team. They ‑ they didn’t really care because their rotation was a big swing-and-miss rotation. So that goes back 30 years, as an example.
But, yeah, I saw the same thing with ‑ in this situation too. I’m ‑ I wasn’t going to worry about Cespedes’ defense to get his lineup ‑ his bat back in the lineup. I ‑ I didn’t think they were going to spend the money on Cespedes, not knowing that he’d eventually basically sign for one year, that that was even going to be a possibility.
BOWDEN: Well, they didn’t know it either. I mean –
BOWDEN: ‑ as I talked to Sandy Alderson last week, he ‑ it fell in their lap. They never thought they could get a short-term deal on Cespedes, and when it did, they took advantage of it. They were ‑ he was clear with me. They were not planning on Yoenis Cespedes being a Met.
MEMOLO: They ‑ you know, we talk about the Yankees needing good health all around ‑ all around the field, but especially…