Every team/organization/front office has their philosophy on...... well, pretty much everything. Since Sandy and company took over, one particular philosophy appears to be the excitement and importance placed on minor league playoff baseball experience. Under this current regime, there is a full support and backing of having as many prospects as possible, especially the top prospects, get a taste of playoff baseball within the organizations farm systems.
Now, don't get me wrong, I obviously understand that, at any level, "You play to win the games. Hello". And there are also a few financial reasons, I'm sure, for putting out the best product at the minor league level, to win games and draw a crowd in those stadiums, within those communities.
However, I'm not talking about wanting the Mets to tank games in order to rest and promote players to the parent ball club come September. I'm simply wishing to start an argument between minor playoff appearances, and 40 man/rule 5 eligible players need to possibly be evaluated at the major league level, come September.
As we know now, the new philosophy of Mets baseball has become more about building from within, rather then compete with the other big markets in the free agency bidding wars to fill their roster with top talent.
As we wind down in the final month of the baseball season, we see obviously that our parent ball club is mostly playing to stay out of last place, and/or possibly maintain a protected draft pick. Meanwhile, three minor league affiliates find themselves currently in the midst of playoff baseball.
Its hard to see this as a bad thing. Especially down in Savannah, where the mighty Sand Gnats are currently trying to defend their title. However, we also appear to be coming upon a new era in Mets baseball. And, with no more (I'm assuming) $100million contracts to hand out in the offseason, this team is now relying heavily on the developing and monitoring of their own minor league talent. And, before this season ends, we find ourselves with a couple of interesting dynamics going on.
After the season, the interesting (and to me pretty confusing) rule 5 eligibility of players comes into play. Long story short, it basically just means that a good number of minor leaguers, and their organizations, now have to immediately put-up-or-shut-up by making commits to certain players, and allowing others to be taken by any organization in the MLB who may want them.
It seems as if nobody, at any level, is safe to not protect. Just ask Steven Matz, who was protected by the Mets last year, even though he never pitched above Low A ball. This year, there is talk of the Mets possibly doing the same for Low A ball pitcher Akeel Morris, rather then risk some organization scooping him up, and throwing him in their bullpen for 2015.
For the Mets, its their top two minor league affiliates who are in the playoffs (along with those defending champ Gnats). And with those playoff minor league rosters come with 40 man and rule 5 eligible players. These players, which include former top hitting prospect Cesar Pueblo, and a host of arms including Cory Mazzoni, Jack Leathersich, and the almost seemingly forgotten (at least to me) reliever Zack Thornton, who came over in the Ike Davis Trade.
My thoughts are this: Players like Leathersich seem to have some control issues, and even concerns about not being that Terry Collins favorite LOOGY type pitcher. Mazzoni, as well as Logan Verrett and Darin Gorski are now seemingly starters with a future in a major league bullpen. However, as we enter the last few weeks of ball either way, these prospects find themselves on minor league clubs, and starting rotations (like Mazzoni), instead of getting experience, at bats, and innings at the major league level to see what they got.
Will battle tested/playoff tested at bats and starters innings supplant prospects like Puello and Mazzoni as must-keep players, despite getting less possible September call up experience?
The Mets organization, maybe quite like my favorite New York Football Giants, want to surround themselves with winners, on and off the field. They want players who can step right in, when called upon, even if immediately upon the call up, and show confidence and respect for playing and winning.
However in a sport, like maybe most sports, where 'prospects' can never pan out, what does it do to limit a young players exposure to the stress of major league pressure and exposure, even as a bench warming, bullpen guy for a team with a losing record?
So, what say you Macks Mets? Does minor league teams winning and playoff success translate to prospects having a better chance of succeeding at the major league level?