Excuse me for a second, while I get on my soap box.
Where ever you stand regarding the Mets’ future pitching hopefuls, whether you think they can, or shouldn’t be part of the big club in 2012, last night’s rain delay was perhaps what many of us needed anyway, which is clarity into the situation. And if you ask me, our General Manager spoke on this issue not a moment too soon. That was much needed rain indeed. The Mets have a glaring need for a fifth starter, and a sizable portion of the fan base is itching to dip into our minor league talent. And of course, there are those opposed to such quick action, like myself.
Sandy Alderson spent time on the SNY telecast with Ron Darling and Gary Cohen, and furnished the TV audience with a quite thorough State of the Metropolitans Report. Most important, to me that is, was his declaration, the development of Zach Wheeler, Jeuyrs Familia, Matt Harvey, and Jenrry Mejia, are independent from the success or failures of the Big Club. And he more than assured the greater fan base, outside of perhaps Jenrry Mejia, the other three, more than most likely will not get promoted this season.
As Sandy Alderson explained, unless the pitchers prove themselves worthy of being on the big club through a process of natural progression, only then does a promotion remain a consideration. But the primary plan is to keep them down. And to that, I say bravo. I however, maintain a much more firmer opinion than our GM may have expressed. Under almost any circumstance, I prefer the Mets not call on these pitchers at all; not this year.
There are fair arguments to make, with plenty past examples to chose from, supporting why the Mets might, can, or should, take a dip into the talent pool. Conversely, there are as many arguments to be made opposing their call up. So debate away if you like. But my issues lie in philosophy, are rooted in discipline, and based on tradition.
I don’t know how you would characterize the current state of the Mets. I consider our current condition as something just fractions short of a full-blown rebuilding effort ; but a rebuilding team none the less. As such, this represents the fourth major reconstruction effort in the fifty year history of the Mets.
Once the Mets were done trying to appease and draw old Dodgers and Giants fans, Joe McDonald’s minor league efforts as director of player development led to the Championship of ’69, and the N.L. Pennant four years later. Then, what started with the trades of Tug McGraw and Rusty Staub, the next major overhaul of the Mets commenced in earnest with the trading of Tom Seaver. This time as General Manager, Joe McDonald either drafted or procured a sizable portion of talent that contributed to the 1986 championship. Of course, with new ownership assuming control of the team, Frank Cashen utilized what Joe McDonald left behind, then went on to leave his own indelible mark on the organization as well. The next, and last major overhaul, and true grassroots effort to rebuild the Mets came under General Manager, Joe McIlvaine.
So here we are upon our fourth, much needed renovation of the organization under Sandy Alderson. At least Sandy; much like Frank Cashen did with Joe McDonald; benefited from prospective future players left behind by Omar Minaya. Joe McIlvaine, not so much. He, like Joe McDonald in the mid-sixties, tried building something from scratch. But unlike Joe McDonald’s effort in the 60′s, McIlvaine’s effort was a failure. But Met fans weren’t short on want for trying to rebuild the team the right way.
To rebuild….. Excuse me – In order to rebuild correctly, I stress discipline. And that means not getting all gonzo every time the wind blows; or in the Mets case, every time they do something promising. Because they are just that – a group of promising hopefuls, save a few vets. Nothing more. And if you construe that as a slight against the Mets, you stand corrected. However, I’m not shy to say, the longer the Mets linger in contention within their division, the more inclined many are to deviate from the original plan.
In the following regards, I am clearly Old School.
The best way to master your craft as a player, is through discipline. The best way for an organization to operate smartly, and not act in haste, is again, through exercising discipline. Unfortunately for us members of the Fan Base, we are uniquely in a position to say, feel, and be as polarizing as we chose. So it is probably best Sandy is the GM and not one of us. No?
But yes - I believe pitchers should have somewhere near 500 innings pitched in the minor leagues prior to becoming a consideration for the big club. I think that number is a compromise between my younger indoctrination into baseball, and the modern standards. I still believe that is the best way for a novice to learn his trade, as Tom Seaver would say. I still believe pitchers arrive in the bigs better for having pitched through a full minor league experience. They arrive as more accomplished hurlers, with a far better understanding of their craft, as opposed to someone like Joba Chamberlain, who was summoned to the bigs for good, upon only having 88 minor league innings pitched. What happened to him is another matter. But the youngster clearly had no polish, nor an understanding of “how” to pitch. Lest we forget, he was groomed as a starter.
To bring a rebuilding effort down to the level the Mets currently have, it behooves us/them, to get this right. As with Joba, I want to avoid digressing into what happened with our own Generation-K. However, I’ll add, I do not believe in rules or restrictions. And this is not about risking injury either. I believe in pitching, honing your skills, and learning your craft. If you are a Met Fan, you know full well, the success of this organization has always been predicated on strong starting pitching. And in winning two championships, the starting pitching was largely procured from within their minor league operations, and through related talent procurement efforts. THAT is this organization’s tradition.
I will say this very plainly. To chase down one of two Wild Cards spots in haste, is folly. Speak not to me of this Wild Card. It wreaks eerily of…, meaningful games in September. But of course, I stress, this is just one man’s opinion – mine. But if they can gain a Wild Card spot as presently constituted, or augmented through other means, more power to them, and to all of us.
Above all, I believe in the plan, and do not want it altered. Even among us fans, there should be accountability. Too many fail to recall what they themselves demanded of their team just a season ago; much less two years ago. Life, the decisions we make, as with rebuilding a ball club, can not be so transient as flipping months on a calender.