Sometimes, a fresh start is needed. And it´s about time this happens for the Mets in terms of managing the players on the active roster.
Zack Wheeler, Rafael Montero, Jacob deGrom, Jeurys Familia, Jenrry Mejia, Travis d’Arnaud, Juan Lagares and Wilmer Flores make up almost one third of the Mets roster by now and are looking to establish themselves as major leaguers for the long haul and maybe part of the Mets next core going forward. All eight are 25 years old or younger. And all eight remain under team control for the next 5+ years.
Hopefully the growing pains won´t be too extensive. And while Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard – the two highest ceiling arms that also belong into that group – remain in the pipeline poised to help either late in this season or early next, this is pretty much it in terms of potential impact young talent for the major league roster for the foreseeable future. There are no blue chip prospects other than Syndergaard left in the upper levels – with Cesar Puello and Kevin Plawecki coming closest but projecting more as solid complementary pieces. So, the time has arrived where things have to be taken seriously.
The Mets chances for the remainder of the 2014 season but even more so in 2015 largely depend on how this group of young players ends up performing and how quickly they manage to adjust to the major leagues. With veterans like Wright, Granderson, Murphy, Niese, Gee and Colon potentially also playing a vital role, of course.
For the past 3+ years, Terry Collins and his staff have navigated the Mets through the rebuilding phase, dominated by severe financial restrictions and tried to keep spirits up in spite of having limited talent at hand. It´s tough to say whether the impact of TC and his staff on the 77, 74 and 74 win seasons from 2011 through 2013 was positive, neutral or negative. Still, at the very least, TC was a good soldier and oversaw the transition on the field. But now a new era has begun.
The wave of young talent we’ve been waiting on for a couple of years has pretty much arrived. Yet, the results on the field haven´t changed and the Mets once again seem headed towards a mid-70 win season with no “meaningful” games scheduled for August and September. TC – apparently well liked & respected by his players – deserved the chance to return in 2014 with the financial restrictions lessened and the wave of young talent finally arriving. But a good start was mandatory to receive an extended chance – and the Mets currently find themselves at 20-25 approaching the end of May and are another losing streak away from pretty much eliminating themselves from the 2014 playoff race for good.
This experiment can´t go on. While TC deserves credit and appreciation for trying his best with what he had, he symbolizes the transitional period of 2011 and 2013 – with the common denominator that his teams have constantly failed to win. It may not be his fault and it may not be fair. But he can´t remain in charge of the Mets. Offer him a job within the organization as a thank-you . But relieve him of his duties. Right NOW – and not in a month when the Mets may well be 30-40 and totally out of things.
Wally Backman may not be the ideal longterm manager for the Mets. No other major league organization has seriously considered him for an MLB managerial job in recent history. And he sure has some personal baggage on his resumé. But he also symbolizes a very good time in Mets history and a fighting spirit that will give him the backing of the fan base.
Backman also is highly regarded by all of his players. And while Collins has continued losing with the Mets, Wally Backman has gone 113-77 with the Las Vegas 51s over the past year and a third with large chunks of the current Mets roster having played and won under his watch. Now is the time to win back the fans, create some excitement and give Wally Backman his well deserved chance. Maybe he can be the modern version of Davey Johnson who took over the 1984 Mets with success after successfully managing the Tidewater Tides in 1983. Do it now. And stop hoping things turnaround themselves. They won´t.
Will this be the cure and instantly turn the Mets into a 90-game winner ? Probably not. But it would show how serious ownership & the front office are about EXPECTING and not just hoping to win. And creating a fresh start with a fresh group of players. If that still doesn´t work, the front office will have to ask themselves whether to start making significant changes to the roster structure via trades. What´s needed in 2014 isn’t necessarily a playoff team, but obvious progress. And currently we´re not seeing that. ACT!