Ron Darling spent most of October in the TBS broadcast booth analyzing the NL playoffs after completing his 18th season on SNY’s Mets telecasts.
Post Sports+ caught up with the former Mets pitcher this week to get his thoughts on the team and MLB’s postseason.
How many big arms do you think the Mets have to acquire this winter?
Maybe what we need more is Jose Quintana, what he did for the team.
We would do well with Edwin [Diaz] back in the bullpen and concentrating on some real solid bullpen arms to help him and having some guys who will go out there and make 30-plus starts and give you six-plus innings and be healthy, and those are cheaper than the other type.
Somebody like Kyle Gibson with the Orioles, a veteran guy who can give you 30-plus starts and throw 200 innings — those are the kind of guys I would opt for because it would not cost you as much and it would allow your bullpen to maybe not pitch as many innings.
I think the offensive players the Mets have are really good and only going to get better. They have some things to answer as far as third base and [Ronny] Mauricio and all of that, but they’ve got enough offense to do a lot of damage. I think some trustworthy bullpen arms and some [rotation] arms that will give you some health. I think that really would be a start.
Did you see enough from Kodai Senga to believe he can be the ace of this rotation?
RD: I wouldn’t throw “ace” on him. I think he had an “ace” kind of year last year. If he’s all alone, that doesn’t do any good, so if they made him the ace and he doesn’t get a lot of help, it doesn’t matter. I think he’s so good and so solid, and I want more good and solid guys.
I think the innings for starting pitchers are a very important number. The fewer innings your relievers pitch, the more effective they’ll be. You can only do that with guys who are dependable and will take the rock every five days. Those guys aren’t cherished as much in today’s game because of the chase for velocity, but they’re sure cherished by a team throughout the course of a season.
Craig Counsell is a candidate for the team’s managerial vacancy. He’s had success taking the Brewers to the playoffs, but do you think he would succeed in New York?
RD: Craig Counsell is one of the best young minds in the game. His leadership and intelligence and all the things needed for the job, he’s got them in spades. Would he be successful in New York? I don’t know that. It’s such a wild card. It’s harder than ever. Look at the New York teams and what they’ve done since 2009 when the Yankees won it. Just trace back and how many championships do you have since then? It’s harder to win a championship in New York than it’s ever been.
Why is that the case?
RD: My first thought is because it’s the biggest market, there are more knee-jerk decisions that are made, meaning that a lot of teams in other areas are allowed to develop over time and have some seasons that aren’t as good. That seems to be something you can’t do in this town. I think there’s a lot of decisions, among all the major sports in New York, of trying to get those guys that will make the difference, sell tickets and get you [attention in] The Post. Maybe it’s happenstance, but it hasn’t worked.
Last week marked the 37th anniversary of the Mets’ last World Series title, of which you were a part. If I had told you then that in 2023 the Mets still wouldn’t have another championship, would you have believed it?
RD: No, because we thought we would win in 1987 and ’88. But if you had asked me when I was traded in 1991 when the next World Series for the Mets would be, I would’ve said within five years. It’s really nice to have won a world championship. It’s one of the great things that I’ll ever do as a sports guy, but I think for me personally my career would be full if I were able to broadcast a New York Mets team that won the World Series. If I played for one and broadcast one, that would make my career complete as far as the Mets were concerned.
Is there anything to be learned from what we saw this postseason?
RD: What we’ve learned, not only this year but probably going back to the Nationals [in 2019], the last four or so years, is who is playing the best that gets in are the ones who are going to get to the World Series. We have seen teams that win the most games, they don’t get to the World Series, and that has happened in the last four or five years, so it really has become a tournament type of postseason where whoever is playing the best and whoever gets hot can run it out. That being said, Houston has been so good the last few years, so you can have a great team and be dominant in this format, but it does allow the hot team that won fewer than 90 to have a chance.
To the World Series, by way of Queens
I don’t recall a World Series that included as many Mets alumni as the one that concluded Wednesday with the Rangers’ Game 5 victory over the Diamondbacks.
Tommy Pham helped the D-backs win the NL pennant, but you wonder if maybe the World Series would be going still if he could have delivered just once in Game 5 with runners on base — he came to the plate three times in a scoreless game in such instances.
Paul Sewald was another key component to the D-backs’ run to the World Series, but the game-tying homer he surrendered to Corey Seager in the ninth inning of Game 1 (and Adolis Garcia’s subsequent blast off another former Mets reliever, Miguel Castro) changed the course of the series.
On the Rangers’ side of things, Max Scherzer was barely a factor with three scoreless innings pitched in Game 3 before he departed with back spasms, but Travis Jankowski’s two hits and two RBIs in Game 4 left a mark on the D-backs.
Jacob deGrom was also along for the Rangers’ ride as he rehabs from Tommy John surgery, as well as an additional Mets connection: former interim GM Zack Scott is a consultant with the club.
On your marks…get set…go into the offseason
The offseason is underway with the World Series complete.
Business pertaining to 2024 will be discussed at the GM Meetings, which begin Monday in Scottsdale, Ariz., about 15 miles from where the World Series concluded.
The Mets’ new president of baseball operations, David Stearns, will have plenty of questions to answer from reporters just over a month after his arrival. There’s a manager to hire, a GM vacancy and holes to fill on the roster.
Traditionally, very few transactions — if any — occur at the GM Meetings, but team executives and agents at least get to meet in person and start exchanging ideas. The Winter Meetings, during the first week of December in Nashville, Tenn., is where you can expect the bulk of offseason activity to occur.
A new badge
The Mets named Keechant Sewell on Thursday as the senior vice president of security and guest experience (a newly created position).
Sewell, the 45th New York City police commissioner, will be joining the organization on Nov. 27.
This story originally appeared on NYPost