No Apologies. Just My Philosophy.

An article by posted on December 14, 2010

I’ve been called a Mets apologist here lately. I don’t really understand that to be honest. What am I apologizing for? Giving a newly hired GM more than 3 months and 0 games played before I judge him? Guilty as Charged I guess.

But, while being called an apologist I’ve been accused of just negating “your” ideas. I’m sorry if I find the generic “spend spend spend” and the mindset of “everybody wants to be a Met” slightly unrealistic.

So let me tell you my “plan.” Or my philosophy so to speak.

I look at the New York Mets, and I try to compare them to franchises that I find are fair comparisons. I don’t look at the New York Yankees and say, “that’s what the Mets should be.” I can’t stand the Yankees, why would I want the Mets to become like them? Plus, it’s unreasonable to assume they are a fair comparison.

So I take the following teams:

Boston, LA Angels, Texas, Oakland, Philadelphia, Chicago Cubs, San Francisco, the LA Dodgers.

How do I pick those teams? I judge them based on their market. Along with New York, those teams represent teams who play in the Top 7 markets in the country. In order: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas/Ft. Worth, San Francisco/Oakland and Boston.

So I look at those major leagues teams and I group them into two categories.

Right now if you asked me to do that, my “divisions” would be, Boston-Texas-Oakland-Philly-San Fran. Then I’d group the Mets-Dodgers-Cubs-Angels together in Tier 2.

So I ask you. What are the differences between these teams?

The first and most glaring difference in my opinion is the development of young talent.

I’m going to leave Oakland off this comparison because I understand many resent Billy Beane, and their payroll options really do not reflect their market. One thing I will note, they have the best young rotation in Major League Baseball. You’ll see.

So, Consider this list:

Tier 1
Kevin Youkilis

Dustin Pedroia

Jacoby Ellsbury

Clay Buchholz

Jon Lester

Jonathan Papelbon

Ian Kinsler

Elvis Andrus

Mike Young

Julio Borbon

C.J. Wilson

Colby Lewis

Scott Feldman

Tommy Hunter

Neftali Feliz

Ryan Howard

Chase Utley

Jimmy Rollins

Shane Victorino

Cole Hamels

Buster Posey

Pablo Sandoval

Matt Cain

Tim Lincecum

Jonathan Sanchez

Madison Bumgarner

Brian Wilson

That’s 27 players developed via the draft or acquired at a young age between just four MLB franchises who’s market is comparable to the NY Mets.

There is not a single player on this list that I believe the Mets would pass on if they had the chance. Some greater than others, but every single one of them could fill a hole within the Mets. Every one.

Then I look at Tier 2.

Tier 2

James Loney

Matt Kemp

Andre Ethier

Clayton Kershaw

Jonathan Broxton

Chad Billingsley

Howie Kendrick

Erick Aybar

Kendry Morales

Jered Weaver

Ervin Santana

Geovany Soto

Starlin Castro

Carlos Marmol

Josh Thole

Ike David

Jose Reyes

David Wright

Mike Pelfrey

Jon Niese

Is there anybody out there that will try and tell me the Tier 2 players compare to the Tier 1 players?

The bottom line is, the success of your franchise in today’s MLB starts with how you develop talent. It’s about making wise trades, and seeing the potential in players. Gone are the days of spending every dollar you have in free agency and hoping it buy’s you a winning team.

It’s about the young talent. If the Mets cannot develop talent, they will always be a 2nd tier team. That’s all there is to it. With that said, I feel as thought Sandy Alderson understands this. I don’t think he’d bring J.P. Ricciardi and Paul DePodesta to New York if he didn’t want to focus on minor league talent and the draft.

I realize the popular thing is to doubt the talents or potential talents of Ricciardi & DePodesta. If their main role is to draft, and find undervalued minor league talent that can later vault the Mets into what I consider a “Tier 1” team, then this is their resume.

Here is a list of noticeable players in the Major Leagues who were drafted by a team when either Ricciardi or DePodesta had a role in the amateur scouting:

Barry Zito

Ryan Ludwick

Rich Harden

Bobby Crosby

Jeremy Bonderman

Andre Ethier (drafted twice by Oakland)

Nick Swisher

Joe Blanton

Brad Ziegler

Blake DeWitt

David Price (didn’t sign with LAD)

Aaron Hill

Shawn Marcum

Adam Lind

Ricky Romero

Travis Snider

Brett Cecil

I think it’s fair to point out that I in no way think this list compares to the Tier 1 list I provided earlier. However, you have to understand. DePodesta and Ricciardi do not sit in a room and pick their players like we draft our Fantasy Football rosters.

Scouts take part in this discussion as well. The better the scouts, the better the draft. The more money you have to spend on scouts, the better the scouts.

It all comes full circle to spending on the minor league development, and on the amateur draft. To me, as somebody who likes to look at everything in front of me before jumping to a decision, I’m very pleased that the Mets have brought in two executives who have experience in finding minor league talent. I have to believe they will do the best job possible, and the only way to truly evaluate them is to wait, and see.

It’s for that very reason that I believe the best thing that could happen to the Mets is to have Wally Backman managing our youth. I hope he becomes a Manager one day, but he is more valuable trying to get the most out of our farm players. Not getting the most out of Jason Bay.

When Omar Minaya was fired, I told myself that I’d give the new General Manager time. I’d wait before I judged his decisions.

In today’s MLB, free agency is used as a way to fill in holes around the franchise you have built from your own minor league system.

In most cases, it starts with pitching. But in almost every case, it starts with developing enough talent so that you can sustain a long tradition of winning ball games, rather than being a 1 hit wonder with aging stars making too much money.

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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