Offseason Q&A with Bobby Malek

Binghamton Mets' outfielder Bobby Malek sits down with InsidePitchMagazine.com for an offseason Q&A session to find out about his game, what type of hitter he thinks he is and will become, what he needs to work on the most, who impresses him the most among the Mets' prospects, and a whole lot more!

InsidePitchMagazine.com: Bobby, take us back to your college days and tell us a little bit about your injury. Was it an injury that you had sustained prior to being drafted?

Bobby Malek: Yeah, it was during finals week in late April or early May my last year of college ball. During a double header, I felt something pinch in my elbow. The Michigan State doctors told me it was something not too serious, but I also got a bunch of other doctors to take a look at it, including the Detroit Tigers' doctors. They suggested that I needed surgery and I wound up having to tell the teams interested in me about the injury the Friday before the draft. There were still a few teams interested in me and wound up going to the Mets. (laughing) When I got to Brooklyn later that summer I took the "H" out of "DH and had the surgery later in August.

Inside Pitch: You hit quite a few home runs in college but had a hard time hitting the dingers earlier in your professional career until last season. Do you think the injury to your elbow was the reason?

Malek: Sure, it had a little bit to do with it. The injury effected my upper body strength mostly. I lost close to 20 lbs after the surgery because I wasn't able to lift in the gym for about a year or a year and a half. My upper body strength went down considerably. I started getting back in the weight room around Spring Training last year and I hit a few more home runs as a result last season. This past December was when I got back to the weight I was bench pressing before the injury and hopefully that translates into even more home runs this coming year.

Inside Pitch: On that point, do you consider yourself a home run hitter?

Malek: You know, I've been thinking about that the last week or so to be honest. I think I am kind of that in between player. I am out there trying to hit line drives. As I've gotten up through the minors, the pitchers throw harder and I'm able to get the ball out a little more. But my philosophy at the plate is that I dont' want to hit "x" number of home runs, but I want to hit "x" average. It is not my game to hit home runs. I get into trouble when I'm up there trying to hit home runs. I am a gap to gap hitter. I'm thinking of hitting the ball up the middle. My power is to right field. I think I had one home run to center this past season. My focus is going to be on hitting for a good average and cut down on my strikeouts. I've set it in my head right now that I want to be a better run producer, driving in more runs and scoring more runs.

Inside Pitch: What would you say are your strengths as a ball player? Give us a scouting report on yourself.

Malek: I think I do a lot of things well. I have good range in the outfield and get good jumps on balls. I have a good arm, (laughing) even with the second elbow. I have good speed but I'm not a burner like Wayne Lydon or somebody like that. I could play center field in an emergency. I pick my spots when I'm stealing bases. Again, I'm not a Lydon, but I get my bags. I am a smart ball player but I had better plate discipline in college. I'm not a natural five-tool guy, but I got all the tools in my bag. I didn't have to work on my power too much in college with the aluminum bats. The pitchers are better in the pros and in the past I've tried to do too much at times. I am taking pitches better more now. I was a little too worried about my stats last year. I just want to be more consistent day in, and day out.

Inside Pitch: You mentioned you don't want to hit "x" number of home runs but focus more on hitting a particular average. Do you have a certain batting average you'll be shooting for next season?

Malek: Well, I don't have a set number in mind. I do however want to see a "3" next to my average next season. My focus is going to be on having good at-bats. John Stearns was talking to us last week about having three good at-bats a night and then take it day-by-day. If I can have three good at-bats each game, I won't have to worry about the numbers. The numbers will take care of themselves.

Inside Pitch: Well diving into that for a moment, what is a good at-bat, in your opinion?

Malek: A good at-bat is when you go up to the plate with plan and executing that plan. That plan could be to get a walk, move a runner over from second base with no outs, or whatever. The plan could be to work the pitcher and get him to throw more so the guys behind me can get a better look. A good at-bat is having on plan and following through on that plan.

Inside Pitch: Do you have any idea where you'll begin the 2005 season?

Malek: Man, I'm excited to get going and see some live pitching. I thought I was going to start in AA-Binghamton last season and I guess I was a little disappointed when I stayed back in St. Lucie. I think I learned the lesson that you can't take anything for granted. It is going to be tough to make AA or AAA this year. I was talking with Wayne Lydon about it and none of us really know where we'll be next year. I'm thinking I'll be back in Binghamton and it would be cool to hit behind him next year and see some more fastballs. Wherever I start, I am going to be looking to become more of a #2 hitter, even if I'm batting third or lower in the lineup. I want to be more selective at the plate, not necessarily patient, but see more pitches. I feel I can fit that role better.

Inside Pitch: Do you have a certain goal in mind of where you'd like to finish up next year?

Malek: Look, I know I'm not old, (laughing) but I am getting there. At minicamp this year, I was looking around at the younger guys and I was like, who are these guys? We've started becoming the older guys and we are getting to that age where we have to start shooting for Shea Stadium. I'd love a callup next season for a stretch in Norfolk at AAA and play for HoJo and "OB". I'd love to play for them again, but I have to earn my stripes. I want to play well, wherever I am. That's my focus right now.

Inside Pitch: Who would you compare your game to at the Major League level? What type of hitter do you think you could become?

Malek: You know, I had a chance to see Cliff Floyd play last year in St. Lucie when he was rehabbing. Without the injuries, he's a big time power hitter. I don't have that kind of pop, but if I grow into my body, I could possibly become a power hitter. I feel one day I could be as good as him in some areas. Some of the guys think I am a J.D. Drew type of player. I don't think that is a bad comparison and I don't mind that comparison at all. Like J.D., I just like to get dirty. I know if my uniform is dirty at the end of the game, I had a good game.

Inside Pitch: Of the positional players in the Mets' system you've played with or seen, which player, or players, have impressed you the most as high ceiling guys?

Malek: I've played with a lot of good ball players. There's already a bunch of guys down here in St. Lucie working out. Alhaji Turay is a guy I'm going to be competing with and boy, he hits balls like Cliff Floyd. The ball just jumps off of his bat. Michael Jacobs is also a great player. He looks just so effortless when he's driving the ball and looks pretty good coming back from the injury. We're all working hard down here. Shawn Bowman is a kid I really like as far as high ceiling guys. He's just 20 years old and really hits the ball well. In the past, I was questioning his power the other way and the other day I saw him hit a line drive off the right field fence. When you watch his swing, he too is effortless and can drive the ball the other way.

Inside Pitch: Switching to the pitchers for a moment, which of the Mets' pitching prospects impress you the most?

Malek: I personally don't get to face these guys, but Yusmeiro Petit was awesome in our last game of the year in Binghamton last season but had to come out early because of a blister. He's really good. Kole Strayhorn is also very good and so is Matthew Lindstrom. I love watching that pure power that Lindstrom has and once he learns to pitch more, he's going to be really good. Kevin Deaton is a guy you know you have a chance to win every game he pitches because he's going to battle out there. You know, we've got some really good pitching in the minors. He a guy that I would go to battle with anyday of the week because he puts it all on the line.

Inside Pitch: Is there somebody in the Mets' farm sytem that you believe is a "sleeper"? Is there somebody you believe will fly under the radar and make it to the Majors that a lot fans would not expect to make it?

Malek: Me!

Inside Pitch: (laughing) Okay, pick somebody other than yourself?

Malek: Honestly? I think there is a lot of guys that could be put into that group. Among the pitchers, Robert Paulk is absolutely dirty. He has a live arm with an awesome curveball/slider and it would be amazing to see what he could do if he stayed healthy. I don't know if this guy qualifies as a sleeper or not, but Corey Ragsdale is somebody I think people overlook. He disappointed me with his high number of errors last year, but he has a great glove. People have to remember that the fields in the Florida State League aren't all that great, but that guy just makes great plays. I don't know what the exact numbers were, but I believe the far majority of his errors came on throwing errors. He has just unbelievable range and a such a good arm, he was being penalized a lot last year for making a great play in the hole, a play nobody else could come close to making, then making an unbalanced throw. He needs more consistency with the bat and he is steadily improving. He gives you what he's got and he's more talented than people realize.

InsidePitchMagazine.com would like to thank Bobby Malek for taking time to talk to us from St. Lucie. We wish him the best of luck in Spring Training and in the upcoming season.

Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nInsidePitchMagazine.com: Bobby, take us back to your college days and tell us a little bit about your injury. Was it an injury that you had sustained prior to being drafted?
\r\n
\r\nBobby Malek: Yeah, it was during finals week in late April or early May my last year of college ball. During a double header, I felt something pinch in my elbow. The Michigan State doctors told me it was something not too serious, but I also got a bunch of other doctors to take a look at it, including the Detroit Tigers' doctors. They suggested that I needed surgery and I wound up having to tell the teams interested in me about the injury the Friday before the draft. There were still a few teams interested in me and wound up going to the Mets. (laughing) When I got to Brooklyn later that summer I took the \"H\" out of \"DH and had the surgery later in August.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: You hit quite a few home runs in college but had a hard time hitting the dingers earlier in your professional career until last season. Do you think the injury to your elbow was the reason?
\r\n
\r\nMalek: Sure, it had a little bit to do with it. The injury effected my upper body strength mostly. I lost close to 20 lbs after the surgery because I wasn't able to lift in the gym for about a year or a year and a half. My upper body strength went down considerably. I started getting back in the weight room around Spring Training last year and I hit a few more home runs as a result last season. This past December was when I got back to the weight I was bench pressing before the injury and hopefully that translates into even more home runs this coming year.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: On that point, do you consider yourself a home run hitter?
\r\n
\r\nMalek: You know, I've been thinking about that the last week or so to be honest. I think I am kind of that in between player. I am out there trying to hit line drives. As I've gotten up through the minors, the pitchers throw harder and I'm able to get the ball out a little more. But my philosophy at the plate is that I dont' want to hit \"x\" number of home runs, but I want to hit \"x\" average. It is not my game to hit home runs. I get into trouble when I'm up there trying to hit home runs. I am a gap to gap hitter. I'm thinking of hitting the ball up the middle. My power is to right field. I think I had one home run to center this past season. My focus is going to be on hitting for a good average and cut down on my strikeouts. I've set it in my head right now that I want to be a better run producer, driving in more runs and scoring more runs.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: What would you say are your strengths as a ball player? Give us a scouting report on yourself.
\r\n
\r\nMalek: I think I do a lot of things well. I have good range in the outfield and get good jumps on balls. I have a good arm, (laughing) even with the second elbow. I have good speed but I'm not a burner like Wayne Lydon or somebody like that. I could play center field in an emergency. I pick my spots when I'm stealing bases. Again, I'm not a Lydon, but I get my bags. I am a smart ball player but I had better plate discipline in college. I'm not a natural five-tool guy, but I got all the tools in my bag. I didn't have to work on my power too much in college with the aluminum bats. The pitchers are better in the pros and in the past I've tried to do too much at times. I am taking pitches better more now. I was a little too worried about my stats last year. I just want to be more consistent day in, and day out.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: You mentioned you don't want to hit \"x\" number of home runs but focus more on hitting a particular average. Do you have a certain batting average you'll be shooting for next season?
\r\n
\r\nMalek: Well, I don't have a set number in mind. I do however want to see a \"3\" next to my average next season. My focus is going to be on having good at-bats. John Stearns was talking to us last week about having three good at-bats a night and then take it day-by-day. If I can have three good at-bats each game, I won't have to worry about the numbers. The numbers will take care of themselves.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Well diving into that for a moment, what is a good at-bat, in your opinion?
\r\n
\r\nMalek: A good at-bat is when you go up to the plate with plan and executing that plan. That plan could be to get a walk, move a runner over from second base with no outs, or whatever. The plan could be to work the pitcher and get him to throw more so the guys behind me can get a better look. A good at-bat is having on plan and following through on that plan.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Do you have any idea where you'll begin the 2005 season?
\r\n
\r\nMalek: Man, I'm excited to get going and see some live pitching. I thought I was going to start in AA-Binghamton last season and I guess I was a little disappointed when I stayed back in St. Lucie. I think I learned the lesson that you can't take anything for granted. It is going to be tough to make AA or AAA this year. I was talking with Wayne Lydon about it and none of us really know where we'll be next year. I'm thinking I'll be back in Binghamton and it would be cool to hit behind him next year and see some more fastballs. Wherever I start, I am going to be looking to become more of a #2 hitter, even if I'm batting third or lower in the lineup. I want to be more selective at the plate, not necessarily patient, but see more pitches. I feel I can fit that role better.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Do you have a certain goal in mind of where you'd like to finish up next year?
\r\n
\r\nMalek: Look, I know I'm not old, (laughing) but I am getting there. At minicamp this year, I was looking around at the younger guys and I was like, who are these guys? We've started becoming the older guys and we are getting to that age where we have to start shooting for Shea Stadium. I'd love a callup next season for a stretch in Norfolk at AAA and play for HoJo and \"OB\". I'd love to play for them again, but I have to earn my stripes. I want to play well, wherever I am. That's my focus right now.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Who would you compare your game to at the Major League level? What type of hitter do you think you could become?
\r\n
\r\nMalek: You know, I had a chance to see Cliff Floyd play last year in St. Lucie when he was rehabbing. Without the injuries, he's a big time power hitter. I don't have that kind of pop, but if I grow into my body, I could possibly become a power hitter. I feel one day I could be as good as him in some areas. Some of the guys think I am a J.D. Drew type of player. I don't think that is a bad comparison and I don't mind that comparison at all. Like J.D., I just like to get dirty. I know if my uniform is dirty at the end of the game, I had a good game.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Of the positional players in the Mets' system you've played with or seen, which player, or players, have impressed you the most as high ceiling guys?
\r\n
\r\nMalek: I've played with a lot of good ball players. There's already a bunch of guys down here in St. Lucie working out. Alhaji Turay is a guy I'm going to be competing with and boy, he hits balls like Cliff Floyd. The ball just jumps off of his bat. Michael Jacobs is also a great player. He looks just so effortless when he's driving the ball and looks pretty good coming back from the injury. We're all working hard down here. Shawn Bowman is a kid I really like as far as high ceiling guys. He's just 20 years old and really hits the ball well. In the past, I was questioning his power the other way and the other day I saw him hit a line drive off the right field fence. When you watch his swing, he too is effortless and can drive the ball the other way.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Switching to the pitchers for a moment, which of the Mets' pitching prospects impress you the most?
\r\n
\r\nMalek: I personally don't get to face these guys, but Yusmeiro Petit was awesome in our last game of the year in Binghamton last season but had to come out early because of a blister. He's really good. Kole Strayhorn is also very good and so is Matthew Lindstrom. I love watching that pure power that Lindstrom has and once he learns to pitch more, he's going to be really good. Kevin Deaton is a guy you know you have a chance to win every game he pitches because he's going to battle out there. You know, we've got some really good pitching in the minors. He a guy that I would go to battle with anyday of the week because he puts it all on the line.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Is there somebody in the Mets' farm sytem that you believe is a \"sleeper\"? Is there somebody you believe will fly under the radar and make it to the Majors that a lot fans would not expect to make it?
\r\n
\r\nMalek: Me!
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: (laughing) Okay, pick somebody other than yourself?
\r\n
\r\nMalek: Honestly? I think there is a lot of guys that could be put into that group. Among the pitchers, Robert Paulk is absolutely dirty. He has a live arm with an awesome curveball/slider and it would be amazing to see what he could do if he stayed healthy. I don't know if this guy qualifies as a sleeper or not, but Corey Ragsdale is somebody I think people overlook. He disappointed me with his high number of errors last year, but he has a great glove. People have to remember that the fields in the Florida State League aren't all that great, but that guy just makes great plays. I don't know what the exact numbers were, but I believe the far majority of his errors came on throwing errors. He has just unbelievable range and a such a good arm, he was being penalized a lot last year for making a great play in the hole, a play nobody else could come close to making, then making an unbalanced throw. He needs more consistency with the bat and he is steadily improving. He gives you what he's got and he's more talented than people realize.
\r\n
\r\nInsidePitchMagazine.com would like to thank Bobby Malek for taking time to talk to us from St. Lucie. 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