Thole Needs To Stay; Focus on 2011.

An article by posted on July 21, 2010

I think I’m starting to come to the realization that not only will the Mets not pick up a big time pitcher before the deadline, but that this team really isn’t a playoff caliber team. I know what’s going to happen, half of the comments will be calling me out like I’m some fair-weather fan, and half will act as though this team is worse than they really are. 

Here’s the truth, the Mets are an average team in 2010. You have to tip your cap to Omar Minaya, (prediction: few bad comments for this.) Last year was one of the most forgettable years as a Mets fan in the 2000’s, but he stuck to his guns and he put together a team that would play competitive baseball. We (the collective Mets fan) didn’t buy in.

I laugh when I see those commercials (BENNNNN HUUUUR) no not that commercial…the one where the Mets are thanking the fans for their home field advantage.

That commercial campaign really should be, “Come see what you’ve been missin!” Because in all honesty, we’re getting our money’s worth when they play at Citi Field.

Do you realize the Mets are filling the stadium at a lower capacity than Milwaukee, and Colorado? The Mets are 11th in attendance percentage based on capacity, and 12th in total attendance.

That’s embarrassing, and you know what? Yeah 2009 was awful, but why should the Mets and their brass go out and get a big time pitcher? It’s not like we the fans are giving them a reason to go spend more money. Are we?

Is there some petition going around that says if the Mets acquire Roy Oswalt, the attendance will increase to at least crack the Top 10 in MLB? I didn’t think so.

With all that being said, I think the smartest thing Omar Minaya and the Wilpon’s can do is ensure that the future of this franchise is not thrown away for a long shot chance at the post-season. I’m not saying rebuild, and I’m not saying this team cannot pull off a nice streak and get back into it. 

I am saying they shouldn’t sell 2011 for the sake of 2010. If this were a 1 team race, then maybe. You can’t tell me Philadelphia isn’t poised for a summer run like they always do. You also can’t tell me the Braves are going to lose steam.

With that said, I think the Mets need to continue to carry 3 catchers for now, and then say thank you and goodbye to Rod Barajas or Henry Blanco prior to 2011. The talk of Josh Thole being a part of some deal that doesn’t bring a legitimate #2 starter into this rotation for more than 1 season has to be thrown away.

Thole has proven that he belongs in the major leagues, he clearly has more to learn about managing a game, but he’s not going to learn any more than he has in the minor leagues. For those of you who absolutely are smitten with Barajas, I’m not going to get into this discussion about his value anymore. 

He hit some big HR in April and early May, but he has driven in 2 runs since June 1st. He’s playing *exactly* how the back of his baseball card dictates he would’ve. He doesn’t get on base, and I don’t care how nice of a guy you are, or what fingers you put down between your legs so a pitcher can see, if you cannot get on base; you’re not a starter. With a minimum of 100 AB’s as a catcher, Barajas is last in on base % in the NL.

That means 19 other catchers are better at getting on base than he is. That’s awful. And please do not say it’s a slump. If it’s a slump, then his entire 2009 season must’ve been a slump, plus 2008. I think he did a great job early on with the pitchers, but now it’s time to teach while sitting on the bench.

Josh Thole is 23 years old, and plays a position that most teams covet due to the fact there are not many good starting catchers under the age of 30 in Major League Baseball. Name them…

Joe Mauer, Brian McCann, Russell Martin are the first 3 that come to mind. Then you’ve got Wieters, Doumit, Napoli and Yadier Molina based on his defense. Throw in Buster Posey, and that’s really it. Doumit is 29, so cross him off your list for 2011.

I’m not saying Josh Thole is Joe Mauer, but what I am saying is he plays a position that very few teams can say they are set at for years. He plays a position that teams are constantly in the free agent market for. If the Mets don’t have to go into 2011 looking for a catcher, then that allows them to focus their time and efforts on other problems.

So first things first, Josh Thole needs to become this teams everyday catcher and Rod Barajas and Henry Blanco need to teach him whatever it was they were able to do early on to guide this pitching staff.

If you take an honest look at the 2010 Mets, they need to let 2010 run it’s course and focus on next year. Consider 2010 a rebound year after the disaster that was 2009. Will it be awesome if they find a way to make the playoffs? Absolutely.

I used to be that guy who said, go for it. Make 2010 happen.

But, I just don’t feel like it’s smart to go all in right now when you have 2 division teams to leapfrog or 3 NL West teams plus an NL Central team to jump over. It may seem like the right idea to us fans who want to see a winner, but if you believe guys like Thole, Tejada, and Mejia are big leaguers; then this franchise needs to keep them in their system and not spend $ for the sake of spending $ and still finishing in 3rd place.

This has been one of the most likeable Mets teams in a pretty long time. I don’t think that has to change. I think if they wind up .500, I’ll still enjoy watching them play.

2011 Opening Day could have Thole-Davis-Tejada-Reyes-Wright in the infield. 5 guys, all brought up through the organization leaving the Mets with no worries regarding their infield for several years.

About the Author ()

Michael Branda grew up a Mets fan watching the mid 1980's teams and his favorite Met of all-time is (and was) Wally Backman. When it comes to sabermetrics versus old school thinking, he's in the middle and believes adopting new ways to get answers is helpful, especially when the old way has not produced results.

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