Howie Rose began calling play-by-play full time for the New York Mets in 2004 when he took over for legendary announcer Bob Murphy. He then became the lead radio play-by-play voice in 2006, and today, Howie anchors the Mets broadcast team on 710 WOR, the radio home of the Mets. A fan of the Orange and Blue since their inception in 1962, Howie is proud to ply his trade in Citi Field’s Bob Murphy Radio Booth sponsored by Bigelow Tea.

  1. How concerned are you about Matt Harvey as we approach the beginning of the season?
I’m not concerned much at all at this point because I was particularly impressed with his third outing where his velocity was up significantly and command was a little better. Not being a doctor, all I can do is rely on is what I’ve heard, which is that Thoracic Outlet Syndrome is a very difficult injury to come back from and certainly no one should expect an immediate recovery. It’s a process, and if it means the real Matt Harvey doesn’t emerge for months – if not at all this year – than it’s something everyone is going to have to get their arms around and understand. So overall, I’m not terribly concerned and actually am pretty encouraged from what I’ve seen.
  1. What are your expectations for Zach Wheeler, Seth Lugo, and Robert Gsellman this season?
I think Wheeler is a guy that will have to be brought around slowly because the Mets have depth around their starting pitchers. There is no need to force-feed him. He’s had such an arduous journey coming back from Tommy John surgery – and given the composition of the Mets staff (assuming and hoping they remain healthy), they have the luxury of really taking it slowly with Wheeler. It may mean they leave him down for extended Spring Training or it may mean he gets used out of the bullpen, which is a tricky thing with a guy coming back from Tommy John. The pen doesn’t seem like the optimal place for him. However, I do expect he’ll make a significant contribution this season.

As far as Gsellman and Lugo are concerned, they just keep impressing­ – whether Lugo at the WBC or Gsellman in Florida. Those two guys saved the season last year; there is no other way around it. Gsellman and Lugo, in their own ways, could have been the two MVPs last year. If they hadn’t emerged and pitched as well as they had, the Mets would not have gotten to the Wild Card game. Although you can’t predict a linear path through a young pitcher’s progress, they’ve both shown this spring that what they did last year was no fluke.
  1. Why is Terry Collins the right manager for this team?
Because even at the worst depths that the Mets suffered through in the early years of his tenure – and even as recently as last year and the year before when injuries were piling up and some guys might have wanted to pack it in – the Mets never gave up. He never came close to losing the clubhouse; he learned so much from his prior team managerial experiences. At around the quarter pole of this season – sometime in the early-to-middle part of May (assuming everything goes according the schedule) – Terry Collins is going to be the most tenured manager is Mets history. In other words, he will have managed more games than anyone else in team history. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who thought that was possible when he was hired in the fall of 2010. That’s a tribute to Terry in so many different ways, and I’m just thrilled about it.
  1. How do you feel about the offense as a whole, including the bench players?
One thing that’s particularly impressive to me is the amount of major league caliber depth and versatility on this club. It’s more than I’ve seen in at least 30 years, maybe since the 1986 team. They have the kind of major league talent now to withstand certain injuries. Some guys, like [Yoenis] Cespedes are irreplaceable. We all know that. But most of the other guys – should they go down for 10 days, two weeks, or whatever – are backed up by very capable people. That’s been the hallmark of this team over the past couple of years (that they’ve been able to survive injuries). They’re just better equipped to handle those things now than they’ve ever been.
  1. What is the biggest area of concern for the Mets this season?
The health of the pitchers, given what we’ve seen over the past couple of years. That said, I’m looking in a bit of a different direction: Travis d’Arnaud has got to bounce back. This is clearly a make-or-break year for him. He didn’t throw people out last year, nor did he hit, which was supposed to be one of his calling cards.  

I also hope that you can get out of the middle infielders what you got out of Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera last year. That’s not necessarily guaranteed with both guys in their 30s now.

I think it’s way too easy to say it’s all up to the pitching. They’re very left-handed in the outfield, and they all have to find a way to hit better with men in scoring position than they did last year, which cost them some games. Better situational hitting will be key.
  1. If healthy, is this the best starting rotation the Mets have ever had?
Look, they’re all essentially young guys (all of them being under 30). When you go DeGrom, Syndergaard, Harvey, Matz, Wheeler, Gsellman, Lugo… that’s deep, but I think it’s dangerous to compare staffs of the present with staffs from the past. You have the benefit of not only hindsight, but the ability to know what the body of work at the end of a career is. You can look back on guys who pitched for the 1986 team or the 1969 team. (I’ll always be partial to the 1969 team because that was my youth; being 15 years old when they won it all, it was the greatest thing I’ve ever seen.)

Maybe they’re deeper now than they were in 1969, but Tom Seaver won 311 games; Jerry Koosman won 222 games; Nolan Ryan (although most not with the Mets) won 324 games. Tug McGraw pitched into his 40s and won 96 games out of the pen. That’s the other thing: The Mets developed four guys (Seaver, Koosman, Ryan, McGraw) who all pitched into their 40s with a minimum of physical problems and won somewhere around 900 games. I’m not ready to put a bunch of kids into that category just yet.
  1. Any tips on keeping your throat and voice healthy as you prepare to call 160 plus games?
I’m a tea drinker. I drink tea the way some people drink coffee. I’ll tell you what, Cindi Bigelow and her magic tea leaves have gotten me through a lot of day games after night games, that’s for sure. I will embrace any opportunity to grab a cup of tea and really appreciate the properties that allow my throat to stay coated and hopefully serviceable throughout a long season. It’s all about keeping my throat in “playing condition,” and Bigelow Tea helps me do that.
  1. Favorite Bigelow Tea?
English Breakfast & English Teatime.

Howie’s NL Playoff Picks:

East: Mets – It’s going to be a tight between them and the Nats, but I’m going with the Mets.
Central: Cubs – No one is touching them in that division.
West: Dodgers – They’re the deepest team in the West.
Wild Cards: Giants & Nationals.