The Kids Are All Right…We Hope

Strange ways, here we come…

I believe that with the trade of Jeff Francoeur last night to the Texas Rangers, the Mets have essentially conceded the season. Not that I truly believed there is a “chance” that things could turn around, but you can never tell with baseball.  I guess I’m a bit naive that I refuse to give up hope until mathematical elimination is complete.  However, I am not going to go so far as to say the trade of Francoeur specifically was white-flag waving.  He is a likable guy, cannon of an arm, lousy hitter.  On this team, unfortunately, offense is key and if he wanted to play every day, well don’t let the door hit you.

Let’s just be thankful that we got a warm body for him at this point.  Although Joaquin Arias isn’t really anything to warm up to, with a lifetime .322 OBP over four partial season (ouch), he can at least play some second-base.  Much like the stomach being the way to a man’s heart, playing second base is the quickest way of getting to the big club these days.

However, I’m not going to lament the loss of Jeff Francoeur, simply because it was bound to happen, and it may as well have been now.  The proverbial waving of the white flag has occurred indirectly, though, and that is in the fashion of the focus on the “kids,” specifically the September 1st callups.

Photo credit by Sharon Chapman

Lucas Duda is starting in left field against the Braves tonight, and Jenrry Mejia will be making his first major league start on Saturday against the Chicago Cubs.  They are not the only homegrown talents not named David Wright or Jose Reyes who are playing regularly.  Mike Pelfrey is currently getting shelled at “press time” and Jonathon Niese made the start last night, also of a similar fate.  Ike Davis is our starting first baseman, and Josh Thole is the starting catcher. The Mets’ playing field is green, folks, and I’m not just talking about the grass.

With the Mets lineup on September 1st, we are seeing a lot of homegrown talent, specifically talent drafted and scouted by Omar Minaya & Co.

Isn’t this what we wanted?

It’s entertaining watching them play, to say the least.  I saw earlier a fudged play by young Thole, yet a redeemed play at the plate later on, halting a potential run scored by Rick Ankiel. The Mets did lose Rod Barajas to waivers recently; however, I know he was not figuring into the long-term plans of the team with Thole looming in the distance.

Jon Niese has incredible poise, but the occasional hiccup like a rookie should have.  I won’t argue if the coaches decide to limit his pitches for the rest of the season, but it has been refreshing to see him have a relatively successful rookie season.

Lucas Duda should have a nice cup of coffee with the team in September, at least keeping Jason Bay’s spot warm should he return in 2010 (I’m not holding my breath).  Several of my friends have seen him play on the B-Mets when they would visit the Trenton Thunder.

If ever there were a team Jenrry Mejia should make a start against, it’s the team with a higher payroll and a more disappointing team than the Mets, the Chicago Cubs.  I disagreed with his handling earlier this season, and I hope that has not hurt his development for the long-term.

What confused me though is the pick up of Arias in the Francoeur trade.  I understand the Mets won’t get someone like Josh Hamilton, per se, for Jeff Francoeur, but I wondered why there was a pressing need for a non-power hitting, no-walk taking first baseman who was a career AAAA-er.  I did see, though, the term “infielder” certainly applies to Arias, as he also plays second base and shortstop.  I hope injury-prone Reese Havens becomes less so and emerges as the Mets second-baseman of the future.  Is it too much to dream that perhaps the Mets are gearing up to eat Luis Castillo’s contract or at the very least eat a part of it?

I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing that the Mets are going with the youth-route. I do, however, think it’s a nod to the idea that the Mets are looking to play the role of spoiler, and not be competitive in the stretch.  “Meaningful games” indeed.

I guess the bright spot to this whole thing is that reports of the Mets’ farm system death have been greatly exaggerated.  To say the children are the future though…There’s certainly depth, and I’ll leave it at that.  A youth movement, and less of a dependence on veterans though…can we break bread on that at least?