In a world where dominance on the pitching mound is King, one man is the last one standing. The closer. Or maybe not the closer, but a relief “ace.” The guy who inherits a game-turning moment. The bases jammed with bad guys just itching to score and he calmly saves the day by freezing them where they stand, retiring the side to end the threat.
Those are the kind of pitchers who stay cool and calm under fire. The ones who when on the mound show a bulldog mentality and toughness that enables them to get a tough job done. These are the types of pitchers that you want to stock your bullpen with.
The recent success of young pitchers Jenrry Mejia, Jeurys Familia, and Vic Black, have given the big league club a push in the right direction as far as building a dominant bullpen. What about the players who have been toiling in the Mets system for the past several years but are now in a position to take a quantum leap in their development?
Is there some factor that is presently holding them back? Stalling their progress? Do the Mets have such a glut of players in their minor league system, that they are virtually paralyzed now in regards to affording adequate playing time and player promotions? Absolutely.
Brandon Nimmo is stuck at St. Lucie. There is no room in the Binghamton outfield for him to play if he were promoted. Savannah shortstop Ahmed Rosario was stonewalled in extended spring training until just a few days ago due to overcrowding ahead of him at the shortstop position.
One of the most crowded places in the Mets minors right now is the bullpen at Binghamton. Wally Backman‘s AAA squad has as many as eight right-handers in the bullpen, with no lefties, but there are four lefties jammed into the AA bullpen. And none of them are getting much work.
What is up with that? Is that any way to run an airline? In the last week Bingo lefties Adam Kolarek has pitched 1.0 innings. Jack Leathersich: 1.0 innings. Hamilton Bennett: 1.2 innings. T.J. Chism was put on the 7-day D.L. with an “undisclosed” ailment but that was over two-weeks ago. These guys are not going to be able to take the next step if they do not receive an opportunity to pitch. Why develop them for 4-5 years and then deny them the chance for success?
When a player like Collin McHugh is drafted by the team and developed for six years you might think they would have an idea about what they got. I can’t kill the front office for trading him away because they did get a major league commodity back in Eric Young.
But when the Rockies dropped McHugh from their roster it would have been nice for the Mets to get him back. Instead the Astros picked him up and now he’s one of their best starters going 4-3 with a 2.52 ERA and 54 strikeouts with only 14 walks. In eight starts this season covering 50.0 innings McHugh has a 6.1 H/9, a 2.5 BB/9 and a 9.7 K/9, to go with a 0.960 WHIP.
The reason I bring up McHugh is not to make the front office look bad, after all hindsight is 20/20. But I would hate to see more guys leaving the organization after years of honing their craft only to find big league success for other franchises. We need to do a better job of interpreting what we’ve got, before we jettison these guys. If we can’t adequately scout our own players, how can we successfully scout other players?
What about you? If you are still reading this far down in the piece I would imagine you have some interest/knowledge in the Mets farm system. Well how do you determine the worth of a player? Are you a stats “guru?” Do you go to one of the minor league venues to do your own scouting? Do you watch games on MiLB TV? All of the above?
I can tell you this – if you try and make a determination based on stats alone, you are going to be wrong more often than you will be right. The only way to tell for sure is through the “eye test.” If you haven’t actually seen a player perform in a game, especially contrasted against other players on the same field, then you know less than half the story.
But I digress. Let’s get back to the waste happening right now in our own farm system, Mets fans. Are you confident that the young players in our system are getting a fair shake, an ample opportunity, a chance to play and show their stuff before getting released? Do you think our Mets execs are letting these guys develop unimpeded and that they are able to make accurate judgments as to their players’ abilities?
If you said yes, I can guarantee that there are many Mets minor league players that would disagree with you. There is an abundance of frustration throughout the player ranks, just ask the army of Mets soldiers who are stationed at extended spring training. There are so many Mets farmhands down there that you can’t swing a cat without hitting a couple of them.
These are guys who may have significant talent, but no team to play on. They toil with the promise of a spot on a short-season roster, but there are no guarantees after the Amateur Draft takes place Thursday and Friday. In a week or so there will be around 30 new players entering the Mets minor league system, and competing with the guys already there.
The Mets need to alleviate the logjams that they have peppered throughout their farm system. They must find a way to get more of their players involved in the game, or these guys will rot like fruit on the vine. What mystifies me the most, is why they don’t trade some of their wealth of minor league players, or even release some of the fringe guys. If they were to trade some of the surplus they might be able to get some value back, and it’s not like the big league club is without any holes to fill. Oh, and by-the-way the Mets are only 2.0 games back in the Wild Card standings.
One Mets source told me that Sandy Alderson has been approached by numerous teams ever since spring training and asked about the availability of young players and prospects in the organization only to be rebuffed.
This Mets insider told me Sandy was like a “kid in the sandbox who has all the toys and won’t let anybody else play.” That’s a wonderful image.
Is Alderson gun-shy about making trades? He’s been good at trading major league assets for prospects, but has yet to show that he can reel in a major league quality player to fill a need. Is he afraid to be taken to the cleaners by a superior GM? Meantime the Mets are in a position where they must cut young players who never got an adequate chance to perform while getting nothing of any value in return. Why do I get the sense of Nero fiddling while Rome burns?