Reese Kaplan -- Clubs Headed in Opposite Directions

Imagine you’re a club beset by injuries to key players.  In fact, you currently have 8 players occupying the DL!  You’re struggling to win a pennant and are juggling the lineup, rotation and bullpen on a nightly basis to try to stay afloat until people heal.  To try to right the ship you call in reinforcements – not 1, not 2, not 3, but 4 players who are just 22 years old.  In addition you bring in a 24 year old, a 25 year old and a 26 year old to make their rookie debuts.  That’s 7 rookies for a team with pennant aspirations.  And guess what?  They find themselves heading into the All Star Break just 3 games out of first place!

Obviously I’m not talking about the New York Mets.  It’s the crosstown rival New York Yankees that are not afraid to give young players a chance even though they’re fighting for first place.  They don’t put future salary considerations ahead of winning and, lo and behold, they are winning because instead of filling the roster with has been players like Jose Reyes, or never was players like Neil Ramirez, they actually value and show confidence in their prospects by allowing them to be challenged at the major league level before they sprout gray hair.

By contrast the Mets who are almost as close to last place as they are to first are either afraid or too miserly to promote the prospects who might help the ball club.  Granted, not every prospect who hits well in the minors can translate it to the major league level.  You need look no further than infielder Matt Reynolds who once hit .333 in Las Vegas but who never approached that in his several brief trials in the majors. 

Still, you have had black holes at 3B, SS and 2B for much of the season due to injuries and the best they can come up with is a .202 hitter.  In the meantime Amed Rosario is hitting .320 with 7 HRs, 52 RBIs and 14 stolen bases while playing stellar level of defense.  The Mets meanwhile have banished Asdrubal Cabrera from SS to 2B due to fielding deficiencies but his replacement, the aforementioned .202 slugging Jose Reyes, is a ghost of his former self.  Rosario turns (you guessed it) 22 this year but is not headed to Queens unlike the Bronx Bombers who actually care more about winning than anything.

Now to be fair, the Mets HAVE actually elevated three players from the minors to help the cause during 2017.  There was 26 year old Tyler Pill who has shuttled back and forth a few times, 26 year old Paul Sewald who actually appears to be getting the opportunity to play and recently 27 year old Chasen Bradford who toiled in the minors for quite some time to an ERA in the 4.00+ region for his career.  It’s ironic that if you DON’T have prospect status and aren’t likely to command big bucks in the future then you do get an opportunity to make it to the show. 

However, if you are demonstrating future star quality, then you need more seasoning until coincidentally your Super Two status dictates another year of financial control to the team.  By most media accounts the Super Two deadline has passed yet Sandy Alderson has yet to buy a ticket for Rosario who could most certainly help the club at shortstop.  I’ll give him a pass on Smith since the Mets need to showcase Lucas Duda for a trade and since both he and Smith only play 1B there wouldn’t be the opportunity for him to start.  There is no reason whatsoever to keep trotting out Jose Reyes every day as he hurts the club’s chance of winning games. 

Obviously there’s no guarantee that the promotion of Rosario is going to result in a dramatic surge to a pennant.  Only the people wearing the rosiest colored lenses in their eyeglass frames could even imagine that scenario.  However, the bar is not that high.  All he has to do is play superior defense and bat .220.  That’s an improvement. 

Furthermore, as the club slides into the no-man’s land between competing and rebuilding, they are at risk of becoming both boring and irrelevant.  Just as Sandy Alderson acknowledged that the Tim Tebow signing was done to help generate interest in the teams where he played, wouldn’t an infusion of young prospects have the same effect on the big club?  When something’s not working, isn’t it time to try something else? 


Mack Ade said...

I still think Duda will end 2017 in pinstripes

Thomas Brennan said...

Reese, good points. Mack I bet you are right.

Thomas Brennan said...

And any article with a Paul Sewald picture is all right by me!

Reese Kaplan said...

I miscounted. The Yankees actually have 8 rookies playing including Aaron Judge who had under 100 ABs last year.

Thomas Brennan said...

Some teams get it. Young and exciting is the optimal baseball fan formula.

Adam Smith said...

It would help if we had more than two prospects in the upper levels who look like potential big league starters. Yeah, maybe there are one or two in AA who could, maybe, possibly be successful big leaguers, but really, this FO has not exactly stocked the minors with top talent. That said, the point of this piece is right on. This org has an aversion to young players, and it makes for a lot of boring baseball with little to look forward to, and five year "re-builds" with a one to two year window to compete.

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