As Mets fans shake their heads in dismay at what has happened to a promising season so quickly, there is much blame to go around. Fans can take their pick: Terry Collins‘ horrific inability to handle the bullpen; the medical staff which has rushed players back from injury only to see longer term injuries debilitate and side line players; underachieving veterans; an assortment of injuries that has cursed this team since the end of the 2015 season.
To see the foundation for this disappointment one doesn’t really have to look further than Sandy Alderson. His draft picks have left the Mets minor league system bare of quality arms and little in the way of relief to address the injuries. Few of the arms he has drafted have developed, and Alderson was willing to trade the few who might have been able to contribute.
Between 2011 and 2014 the Mets took 17 pitchers in the first 10 rounds of the minor league draft. Only one of them, Michael Fulmer, has had any sustained success at the Major League level. Not only have none of the others established themselves in the Bigs, none are regarded as top prospects within the Mets organization.
In 2011 Alderson selected Brandon Nimmo in the first round. While most Mets’ fans enjoy his smile, he has not been able to crack the Major League lineup and looks like little more than a bench player. Alderson then concentrated on starting pitching. He had his one and only home run (with a pitcher) when he selected Michael Fulmer with a supplemental first round pick. He then followed that pick with Cory Mazzoni (2nd round) , Logan Verrett (3rd), Tyler Pill (4th), and Jake Leathersich (5th), none of whom look to be important parts of the Mets’ future.
In 2012 Alderson drifted away from starting pitchers in the first round, though the Mets have gotten little in return from the Mets two first round picks (Gavin Cecchini and Kevin Plawecki). The Mets still selected four pitchers in the first ten rounds: Teddy Stankiewicz (2nd), Matt Koch (3rd), Brandon Welch (5th), and Corey Oswald (7th). Again, these are not names we have heard to come and help the Mets out as our starters and relievers flounder. The Mets failed to sign Stankiewicz, and traded Koch for Addison Reed; Welch hasn’t pitched past rookie ball and Oswald is in Double-A Binghamton.
In 2013 Alderson further depleted the farm system’s pitching depth by only selecting three pitchers in the first 10 rounds. While Dominic Smith, the Mets first round pick, is the only player Alderson drafted considered a top-100 prospect, his second round pick Andrew Church, along with Casey Meisner (3rd) and Ricky Knapp (8th) have done little to suggest they will be in the Bigs soon. Casey Meisner was traded to Oakland for Tyler Clippard and currently has a 6.39 ERA in Single-A ball, Church currently has a 4.38 ERA in Single-A, Ricky Knapp has made it to Triple-A Las Vegas where he currently has a 5.77 ERA.
The 2014 draft started with a bang with Michael Conforto, the one player Alderson had drafted in six years who is actually playing and producing on the Major League roster. The pitchers selected that year? Josh Prevost (5th), Brad Wieck (7th) and Kelly Secrest (10th). Prevost had Tommy John surgery and hasn’t returned, Wieck was traded for the Padres along with Cory Mazzoni for the ineffective lefty reliever Alex Torres, and Secrest currently has a 4.44 ERA pitching out of the pen in Double-A Binghamton.
The Mets had high expectations for 2017, and one of the reasons was the perception of a top notch starting rotation with pitching depth to back it up. Neither have held up to be true, with the rotation’s 4.89 ERA dead last in all of baseball. We can blame injuries; but why is a team (or its fan base) surprised when Steven Matz, Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Zack Wheeler (and even Robert Gsellman) were coming back from surgery that injuries would befall them again? Last season the Mets were bailed out by the surprising performances of two mediocre prospects in Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo. Gsellman has pitched more to the franchise’s expectations of a 13th round pick borderline prospect, and Lugo has been hurt all season.
The Mets have looked to the minor leagues as their starters have floundered and have come up with little. Rafael Montero and his 9.00 ERA are still on the team. Adam Wilk and Sean Gilmartin both have ERAs above 12. Gsellman and Josh Smoker have ERAs above 7.00. Why are they all still pitching for the Mets?
Alderson’s drafts have left the cupboards bare; the Mets just have no one to bring up. So unless the current roster of pitchers turn things around, the Mets not only have no one to bring up, they have little to offer in terms of a trade that will bring anything back in return.