The future’s so bright, I gotta wear transition lenses

OK, so this point is more easily made after Dillon Gee’s nice outing last night, but it’s less about any one game and more about reiterating something I’ve been saying for a long time: I don’t think the Mets are in as bad shape as we all think when we’re crying ourselves to sleep at night.

I wrote about this at length in February. For the first time in recent memory, the Mets actually have a crop of young players that appear to be decent and near-ready to be cost-controlled Major League contributors. Not necessarily stars, mind you, just guys.

I’ve been railing for years about how the team mismanages and overspends at the margins of its roster, and here — and I’m not saying this is on purpose, mind you — we see the makings of a low-cost complementary unit that might actually offer the team some youth, upside and flexibility.

The Mets currently have Ike Davis, Josh Thole, Ruben Tejada, Lucas Duda, Nick Evans, Jonathon Niese, Jenrry Mejia and Gee on the Major League roster and contributing in some fashion. All are under 25.

Not all those players will develop into Major League regulars, of course. Some won’t even be Major Leaguers. But all have at least something promising about them — some more than others, naturally — and so at least some of them will likely be a part of the next good Mets team, assuming the next front-office regime puts together a good team.

And that’s the thing: I don’t aim to defend the Mets here. The Mets are a poorly run operation that seems to have stumbled into a crop of decent young players. I have no idea if they intentionally chose not to trade any prospects the past couple of seasons or just couldn’t get their act together to do so, but either way, they mishandled Mejia and even Evans this season.

All I’m trying to get at is that there might actually be something good brewing here, we’re just having trouble seeing it because we’re so bitter about everything that’s happened with this club over the past few years. Things can turn around quick when a team has a good core of young players — look at the Padres.

It might take the Mets a while to get unburied from all the bad contracts, and who knows what else might be done to screw it all up. Plus I’m not saying the young players alone — even with David Wright, Jose Reyes, Mike Pelfrey and the other locked-in elements of the Mets — are nearly enough to guarantee a winner. They’re just elements of a winner is all, and elements that could allow them to go out and acquire the big name players without having to commit millions of dollars — and hundreds of at-bats — to the Marlon Andersons and Alex Coras of the world.

13 thoughts on “The future’s so bright, I gotta wear transition lenses

  1. Good post as usual Ted. despite my year long misery tour, I do think there are reasons for optimism. Ruben Tejada might not be an every day player, but if he can hit .250 and play stellar defense in the middle infield, he’s a useful part. If Dillon Gee can develop into a fifth starter, that’s a few million less we have to spend there. Ike Davis seems to have made adjustments and is no longer enrolled at the Jeff Francoeur hitting academy.

    I am anxious to see if Justin Turner has an opportunity to show some value. Either way, it’s better than watching name veterans with diminishing skill.

  2. I was actually thinking along the same lines.If Tejada can learn to hit, we may have a decent 2nd baseman. Davis, Thole, Tejada, Niese and now Gee give me hope.

  3. I agree that the Mets are on the cusp of something good. For the moment though they are in an unfortunate middle ground exclusively of their own making.

    They have multiple bad unmovable contracts given to declining major league players and they don’t yet have enough minor league/young talent to comprise any depth from which to be flexible.

    Until either these contracts somehow get moved or they expire after 2011, and until the Mets have actual depth to the point where they can trade an asset knowing they have a talented, young, cost-controlled player to step in, they will remain in their self-imposed limbo.

  4. Great Post Ted, I am not a doom and gloomer, but it obviously has been painful for all of us Mets fans the past two seasons…

    With that said, the Mets need a change of culture. Minaya being re-assigned to the head of scouting and/or player development within the organization would be a great start. He’s a nice guy by all accounts, but not a MLB GM.

    The new GM picks the manager(how did we let Showalter get away btw???) Everyone including snoop knows he’s not going to be back…Valentine, Backman, yes please…

    We have a lot of young talent, they should all get opps in spring training. But we need someone to come in, say “the past does not equal the future” and turn this thing in the right direction.

    Barring a trade, Beltran will be here, fine. Maybe he bounces back and has a great walk year. Ollie and Slappy must go, even if we have to eat 95% of their contracts…A change of culture is more than just changing figureheads of the same sinking ship.

    Let’s Go Mets in 2011!~

  5. Thank you for an excellent article. I do want to emphasize that I believe Minaya has done an excellent job rebuilding a horrible minor league system and for that I believe he deserves credit.

  6. Yes we do have some good players which the Mets seem to have lucked into. BUT, if they indeed did luck into those guys, why should I believe for one second that they can properly develop these guys, keep the best ones, and surround them with the talent necessary to regularly make the playoffs? Yes, I’m glad we have some decent (no Heywards, Stantons, or Strasburgs in that group mind you) players, but I don’t necessarily share your optimism for their future.

  7. The Mets are a poorly run organization, but I don’t see the basis for saying that they “stumbled into” some decent prospects.

    The one criticism that has been made over and over again with respect to the Mets’ ability to produce good major leaguers from within their own system is that they do not spend enough money on high-risk, high-reward HS players in the draft. At least in the last few years, there haven’t been a lot of claims that their development system is bad, or that the college players that they *do* take in the draft were the wrong ones to take.

    The current situation seems to reflect pretty accurately the overall strategy. Apart from Mejia and Flores, who were international signings, there are no likely All-Stars on the horizon for the Mets. There is a larger-than-usual collection of minor leaguers who show signs of *possibly* being major-league contributors of some sort. Among these are guys like Duda, Captain Kirk, Sean Ratliff, Cory Vaughn, and others — all below-first-rounders who were college players.

    If any of these guys are proving to be better than expected, I don’t know why one would conclude that the Mets “lucked into” them as opposed to simply making some good (though overly conservative) choices. Did the Mets just pick their names out of a hat?

    • That’s fair. I guess instead of saying they stumbled into the players, I should have said they stumbled into keeping the players. As I’ve written before, it’s never been clear to me whether hanging onto all these guys has been part of an organizational plan to get younger or the pleasant byproduct of a bureaucracy-choked morass that couldn’t manage to trade prospects for veterans even if it wanted to.

  8. I think the problem is if you look across the ML nearly everyones future is bright. If you look at our guys in a vacuum it looks great. But when you look at our young guys and then look at Atlanta with Hanson, Minor, Medlin, Heyward and Freemen, plus McCann who I think is 25 and I guess Prado though he’s older, or Florida with the 400 young players they call up every year, or Washington who’s building a legion of young players one awful year at a time it starts to look a bit dimmer. Like the guy above said we only have a few possible stars and most of them are still a bit away or struggling with injuries, the rest are likely around average guys, where as just in our division Florida and the Braves are churning out stars like it’s nothing

    I think compared to how it was the latter part of the decade our system has come light years, but the problem is we finally started to develop our own players right around the same time the rest of the league took their own development in 4th gear or something. So compared to ourselves 5 years ago we look great, compared to the rest of the league we’re still behind.

  9. I’m optimistic for 2011, but for me it comes down to what happens with second base, and if Bay can return to form. I think the pitching may be good enough for a wild card run if they re-sign Dickey and either Meijia or Gee can step into the 5 spot behind Santana, Pelf and Niese. They need someone from the group of Turner, Havens and Satin to step up and claim the job and play well there. It’s inexcusable that Turner didn’t get a call up with his strong finish. Hernandez is not in their plans, he shouldn’t be playing. I don’t think Tejada can hit enough to start at least for a couple years, so it was important to give Turner some ABs.

  10. I’ve been a Mets fan since 1969. That was the real Amazin’s ! The Mets now are amazingly disappointing ! With all the hub bub about the team at the beginning of the season, about how well they were going to do, and then wind up in 4th place. Another disappointing season. So 1986 was our last World Series win, how long do we have to wait for another one ? The Mets management better get on the ball too, and develope another winning team. So who can be surprised why most New Yorker’s are Yankee fans ? The cross town rivals are again going to the playoffs and have a good chance of winning another World Series.So go wonder ? Mets fans have a hard time in NY dealing with Yankee fans, especially dealing with Yankee wins after wins and another Mets disappointing season. How long do Met fans have to wait for another World Series ? When will our long suffering drought end ?

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