The Future is…When?


Most Mets fans have grown both accustomed to and frustrated by losing.  It’s difficult to muster much enthusiasm when you see the crosstown rivals with a blank check and your team is hoping to catch lightning in a bottle with the likes of a former Long Island Ducks’ opposing pitcher (apologies to Greg Burke).

In an ideal world, given the financial constraints of the Mets organization you would want to make trades that would land major league ready talent to fill in the holes in the OF, BP and behind the plate.  The much ballyhooed story about how dire the Mets financial crisis is must be taken with a grain of salt as there are just as many signs that things are starting to turn around (adding back a minor league affiliate, new TV revenue, All Star Game revenue and new contract extension to J.P. Ricciardi among others). 

Let’s assume, however, that the Mets do wind up trading both Wright and Dickey due to financial problems, Moneyball philosophy or whatever…towards what end should they go?  It appears that AA is the established proving ground for ML prospects whereas AAA has become the place to stash spare parts (fringe former major leaguers, AAAA players, etc.) who could help in a pinch should a crisis evolve on the big club. 

Since the team is habitually loathe to jump anyone from AA to the majors, the whole notion of grabbing AAA players in exchange for the two blue chips available to trade may not make the most sense.  Perhaps the team needs to reach deeper into the minor leagues to AA to find the crown jewels that will help propel the Mets back into competitiveness. 

Unfortunately, that’s a very tough sell to the fans.  “You’re giving away our two best players and we don’t even get to see the fruits of what you received in return?”  Wow, talk about your marketing disaster in the making!  Yet I would purport that getting higher level players that can help in 2014 is more important than is saving face in 2013. 

You can try to save face three ways.  You can fill in the roster with has-beens who might still have something left in the tank such as Raul Ibañez, role players who are not full time threats like Jonny Gomes, or 25 year olds from AAA who were never deemed good enough to crack their parent club’s roster. 

Granted, in the short term you may put a slightly more competitive product out onto the field than you would if you cobbled together an outfield that featured the likes of Duda, Baxter and Nieuwenhuis in some alignment.  You could tough it out with another year of Josh Thole and maybe throw Mejia and Familia into the bullpen to see if their live arms are actually capable of striking out major league hitters.   This approach will probably see the team regress a little from 2012.  However, there’s a method to the madness.

What if you were able to get another team’s Wilmer Flores type of bat in AA?  What about 2-4 of them?  They could start the season in AA, move up to AAA and in 2014 be ready to make their full time major league debuts.  Now you have a roster of nearly all minimum wage type guys (save for a few arbitration cases) that can give you a solid core for the next three to five years.  You’ll also have the money to add key pieces via FA acquisition or trade if you haven’t tossed it all away on the has-beens or on contract extensions for players whose best years are behind them. 

There is a risk in this approach, of course.  The lower a player is in the minors the less likely that player will be able to sustain the same level of productivity with each promotion.  However, the direction the club has taken for the past 6 years clearly isn't working and it's time to roll the dice.

The path to choose is likely the one Alderson was brought in to travel – getting the financial house in order and building for sustainable growth.  The challenge is getting the fans to buy into that philosophy when people only want to win now.  Contracts to Frank Francisco and Andres Torres are not that different than the Minaya years of throwing money at a problem -- K-Rod and Beltran, for example.  The difference is there's not that much money anymore, so the returns on the investments are much, much smaller.  This Band-Aid approach cost Minaya his career and it's proving to be a similar failure for Alderson.  Change directions.  


Greg b said...

As a long time mets fan i would go that route. Get the minor with the most talent even if we wait a year before seeing him.the better the talent the better the team longterm

Mack Ade said...

I really think you are going to get your wish, Greg.

Charles said...

Me too... I hope that guy who used to but doesn't work for the Wall Street journal was right. That would solve problems in so many ways.

What people need to understand is how good the Nationals will be for a long time. The Mets can't compete with them unless they restock with blue chip prospects or raise payroll back to 140 million. We all know which of those two options definately ain't happening

TP said...

Can we include Jeff Wilpon in any RA or SW deal for prospects?

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