Quitting at the Finish Line?
The New York Mets were tasked with a pair of very young stars, David Wright and Jose Reyes. They started at the near same time, were near the same age, played near each other, and nearly were superstars. At the height of their respective careers thus far, they were poised for a title run in the 2006 National League postseason.
They led the team in the regular seasons with .300 averages and combined for 45 homers (good ol’ Shea. . .) and 197 RBI. They both homered in the NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals, although Wright struggled early in the series. Game Seven, remembered rightly for Carlos Beltran’s no-swing, also included an 0-fer from Jose and featured Wright standing on deck after Beltran’s K.
At the time, a tough loss (felt even deeper from the momentum-gathering Endy Chavez Catch that had every Mets fan believing) to a team that looked like they would get there again. After the collective collapses of 2007 and 2008, the blow feels more devastating to the franchise.
But in reality, the team with the very young stars made a bet. They said they could surround the kids with free agent veterans and cast-offs and win “the big game.” Keith Hernandez and Gary Carter became Carlos Delgado and Mike Piazza, while Wright and Reyes were a modern Darryl Strawberry/Dwight “Doc” Gooden (the 1990s version of this strategy being Gregg Jeffries: no more needs to be said).
Perform an experiment, Mets fan: name five successful homegrown Mets talents better than Lenny Dykstra/Kevin Mitchell/Wally Backman anytime after 1990 and before 2005. Just five. Even pitchers.
Now subtract Rey Ordonez because he was really more of a free agent, when you think about it (and also: not that good). Now subtract Jay Payton and Benny Agbayani, because, seriously, they were not the level of Dykstra/Mitchell/Backman. Now subtract any players that had success mostly for other teams. And you should now be back to zero.
Besides Wright and Reyes, there is no player on the current Mets roster drafted prior to 2005. But, starting in 2005, we got Mike Pelfrey, Jonathon Niese, and Josh Thole. 2006 was Daniel Murphy. 2008 is Ike Davis. Now, it’s quite possible that in the long run, these five plus the depth of potential in players like Mike Nickeas, Lucas Duda, Nick Evans, Josh Satin, Ruben Tejada, Justin Turner, Mike Baxter, Jordany Valdespin, Den Dekker, et cetera could give the Mets a full nine of draftees on the field. You might be able to surround Wright and Reyes with the same sort of players that they are: dedicated and loyal professionals that want only to bring a title to the organization they love. Gone are most of the drifter free agents, the players that only loved us for our money, and, thanks to the performance of our greediest stars over the past five years who pushed us to this lowly bottom, in are the new guys, the hustlers, the bangers. All of the aforementioned prospects have looked good enough to give at-bats to (though so many of them are deficient in the field).
And now. NOW! Now that every GM’s scheme is actualized: when the organization’s top talent is matched with its youngest, most competitive, and energetic core of newcomers — they tell us they won’t bring back the top talent! Now! NOW? Now that we have rid ourselves of the bloat of investment in someone else’s detritus, they ask us to forego the plan that we had hatched so long ago? Now that we have a team that fights back during all adversity, we even consider the possibility of letting our best and highest-motivated talent go?!
We have in our recent tragic past borne the difficult and trying task of supporting the dreams of players beyond their greatest potentials. We have tried to win one for the Leiters, the Piazzas, the Bonillas, the Delgados, and the Beltrans — and we have failed each time. We can support them no more.
We will, however, allow Johan along for the ride. And instead of paying the Harrises, the Hairstons, and the Coras for being old and moderately serviceable in the field, play the young guys and pay every dime you save on hitters for the pitchers.
Now that you have been forced to do it the right way, do not fail to follow-through on the faith the fans have poured into this path. Allow us this much, at least.
Sign Reyes. Today. After that, you will only be allowed to spend any money you have left on pitchers. Let the Amazins do the rest.