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Fraternizing With the Enemy (Part 4)

Meet the Mets?  It seems like recently we've met them, had dinner with them, and are about to arrange a vacation together.  The end is here though (until the post-season?), and for the last series against the Mets, I've once again exchanged questions with Joe Janish of  My answers to his Phillies questions are here, and his answers to my burning Mets questions are below:

1) With the Mets having a 99.2% chance of winning the NL East (number thanks to Baseball Prospectus), is the team still trying?

Yes, the Mets are absolutely still trying -- they want this thing wrapped up. Losing phour in Philly lit a phire under their butts -- they've been playing like a team on a mission ever since.

2) What have you learned from Pedro's return so far?

Pedro's velocity is topping out at around 87 MPH, which is about 3-5 MPH less than where he was in the months before the surgery. He does, however, still have immaculate control and throws at a variety of speeds going all the way down to 68 MPH. He's added a sinker to his repertoire, and has good command of his changeups (that's plural because he throws them at different speeds and with different movements). The curveball is still coming along, and he's been using it sparingly so far. We think he can throw between 90-95 pitches this weekend. Otherwise, he looks healthy, and has been much better thank I ever expected. Of course, facing the Phillies lineup will be a significant test.

3) Health has been a major issue for the Mets all year.  How healthy is the team coming down the stretch?

Other than Carlos Delgado -- who may not even return if there's a postseason -- the Mets' main players are finally fairly healthy. Luis Castillo is limping around on bad knees and will get rested a few times a week. Paul LoDuca's two-week stint on the DL was a blessing in disguise, as he needed a rest and now looks rejuvenated. Moises Alou should have "Fragile" on his back instead of "Alou", but that's nothing new. The biggest health concerns at the moment are with Pedro's recovery and the recent foot injury to Orlando Hernandez -- which appears to be affecting his performance.

4) What are your major concerns with the team looking toward the post-season?

Three things: 1. This series with the Phillies. 2. The bullpen, which like most MLB teams, has been more like the firemen of Fahrenheit 454 than the ones we rely on to put out fires. 3. The health of El Duque and Pedro combined with the recent inconsistency of John Maine and Oliver
Perez. Maybe I shouldn't be concerned with the starting rotation, but Perez's Jekyll and Hyde act and Maine's 6.32 ERA in August dampened my enthusiasm.

5) Are Mets fans bitter that it looks like the Yankees are going to be in the post-season once again?  The prospect of the Mets being the only New York team in the post-season must have been a pretty nice one earlier in the year when the Yankees were playing terribly.

Not in the least. In fact, we prefer that the Yankees play in the postseason, because that means the press will be all over the Yanks in the Bronx clubhouse rather than venturing into Queens. We're very happy not to see the Mets on the back pages of the tabloids, or skewered on sports talk radio. Makes it much easier for the players to concentrate on the games.

Thanks Joe.  Here's to a fun September and October.