The last time the Mets had a youth movement, it was the in early 80’s and they were coming off a terrible run of losing seasons. The likes of Dwight Gooden, Mookie Wilson, Lenny Dykstra, Wally Backman, and Darryl Strawberry roamed the grounds at Shea Stadium and they quickly made a name for themselves especially after their magical run in 1986 that led them straight to a World Series Championship. Sprinkled in with a group of veterans, the Mets were enjoying the success of their home grown talent. You would’ve hoped that this sort of thing would last for years to come, but it seemed to be short lived.
Fast forward ten years to the days of competing for the right to command the front and back pages of the local New York newspapers with the Yankees. Winning baseball didn’t seem to consist of just developing the youth, it mattered most about getting the right players in a trade or free agency to try and win each and every year. Some years it was successful and other years it was just a terrible waste of money.
The 2000 Mets seemed to have the right pieces in place with some home grown players mixed in with a group of veterans brought in to help the Mets finally reach what they hadn’t done in nearly 14 years, and that is not just make it back to the World Series, but actually win again. With a city focused on Yankee baseball, the right ingredients were what mattered most for the Mets. And in 2000, they had the right team that made it back to the World Series, but this time met a Yankees team that was stronger and more experienced winning the big game, so the Mets settled for another year waiting in second place to the Yankees and longing for that elusive ring.
With six more years of trying to get it right, the Mets tried again to bring in talent from out of the organization through trade and free agency and had a team that the starting lineup consisted of only two homegrown players as in David Wright and Jose Reyes. This mix of players took them to the brink of another World Series appearance, only to be beaten by the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS and once again sending the organization back to the drawing board to try and get it right.
Well in 2013, I believe they finally have the pieces in place to maybe mimic the youth movement of the early to mid 1980’s. Twenty Seven years later, the Mets have decided to go with what they knew best back in the day, to build a team around a few stars, but allow their younger players to grow into superstars.
The lineup that the Mets posted on Opening Day 2013 included six home grown players and the 25 man roster today in total includes 15 players that are from the Mets minor league system. Very impressive when you consider what that would mean to a team in a big market who needs to put a winning product on the field each year. But for the Mets, with the talent that they are producing have set themselves up for many years to come with players that will grow up together and with the hopes of only getting better and one day winning that elusive ring that the franchise has longed for since the last one in 1986. And the Mets are not done yet with two young studs, catcher Travis d’Arnaud (Trade with Blue Jays) and Pitcher Zack Wheeler waiting for their turn to call Citi field their home, hopefully later this season.
This year may not produce a Mets World Championship, but once again there is a future in the Mets part of town and it is exciting. The season is very young (only six games in) but they are already exciting to watch and they are young and just want to play baseball. That is something not seen in NY in a very long time, but something that has been well worth the wait. This season is gearing up to be an exciting run for the Mets with an upside to the whole equation; the Mets are young and only going to get better. The Youth Movement is back in Queens.