The New York Mets (5-11) will take on the Houston Astros (5-11) in a “Battle of the Cellar Dwellers.” Both teams are the butt of jokes in their respective divisions, and for that reason, are in dire need of winning ballgames. The question is–will it be like throwing a piece of steak in the middle of two stray dogs, or like watching a JV Girls Volleyball game? To find out more about the competition, I chatted with Brandon Croce, the leading blogger at Climbing Tal’s Hill, and asked him six questions.
1. How confident are you with Brandon Lyon closing games?
I am still pretty confident in Lyon as he did convert 20 of 22 save opportunities last year. Unless your name is Mariano Rivera, every closer has a bad game or two, the problem was Lyon had his in the very first game. I think Lyon will be able to get the job done this year as closer for the Astros.
2. Before the Wilton Lopez injury, did you see him eventually stealing the 9th inning duties from Lyon?
I never really did. I think Lopez is a great talent but I always pictured him as a very good set up man. I don’t really have any other reasons for my conclusion, it has just been a personal opinion of mine.
3. Are you worried about Wandy Rodriguez’s bad start to the season?
No because Wandy does it every year. He is a very talented pitcher but he for some reason is a very slow starter and has not been able to put together a full season of good pitching. I will be worried if after the All-Star break Wandy is still continually having these games.
4. Will J.R. Towles ever become a viable starting catcher in the majors?
In 2008, Towles hit 8 RBI in one game and I don’t think he has had 8 total since that game. He has struggled a lot at the plate since that game and I don’t want to jinx him but he seems to be playing better to start 2011. I think Towles realizes that this was his last chance to prove he can be a starter in the majors and is taking advantage of it. I still believe Towles has the talent to be a starting catcher it is just up to him to get the results.
5. Who do you think will become a bigger star–Brett Wallace or Chris Johnson?
Brett Wallace. I think he has more potential at the plate than Johnson and everybody’s criticism of him has been his lack of defense at the field. However, he has worked very hard at that and has become a pretty good defensive first baseman. I think if the Astros want any chance of competing in the future they will need both to be stars but Wallace gets the slight edge.
6. The Lance Berkman deal looked pretty one-sided at the time, but Mark Melancon has looked like a real gem so far in 2011. What are your sentiments about the trade now?
When the Lance Berkman trade happened, I wasn’t mad that he was traded as I knew the Astros needed to do it to move the organization forward. I did feel we could of got more but was a fan of Mark Melancon coming because I pictured him as our future closer and too this point he has not changed that opinion. If Lyon does struggle, I could see Melancon getting the ball over Lopez and excelling in that role.