Hit The Ground Running: A Page From The Detroit Tigers

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Jonathan Bernhardt, perhaps a distant relative many times removed, did a piece called “Time To Shine” for “Sports on Earth.” In the column, Bernhardt highlights prospects he predicts may be on a fast track to reach the bright lights and fame of major league baseball.

It wasn’t the prospects themselves but what Bernhardt had to say about the organizational philosophy of the Detroit Tigers that should serve notice to New York Met fans. Bernhardt was talking about a Tiger infield prospect, Nick Castellanos that Detroit General manager Dave Dombrowski and new manager Brad Ausmus project as the team’s everyday third baseman when Miguel Cabrera is shifted back to first base heading into the 2014 season.

Castellanos will turn 22 in March and played for Triple-A Toledo last summer hitting .276,  slugging 18 HR’s and driving in 76 runs. The Tigers acknowledge that he is less than adequate defensively at third base, but are willing to live with their rookie prospect’s defensive deficiencies if he can make up the difference with the bat.

In explaining the Tigers plans, Bernhardt cites his impression of how the Tigers conduct business as it relates to promising young talent. Here’s what Bernhardt had to say, “The Tigers don’t coddle prospects, and they very rarely play service time games. When they have impact prospects Detroit puts them on a rocket ship through the organization, builds their value and either trades them for major league pieces or throws them right into the fire.”

In this corner, I’m hoping Sandy Alderson and the Met brass take a page from the Tiger organization when rounding out the starting rotation and filling slots in the bullpen this spring. The free agent signings this winter have bolstered the previously depleted hope and energy of a shattered Met fan base. For the first time in three years, Met fans are wondering whether management may be making moves for today, and not simply positioning for a better tomorrow.

A true competition where the youngest and perhaps most talented Met pitching prospects merit realistic chances to make the roster going north would continue to build on the momentum gained during the Hot Stove. In selecting the best candidates to do the job on day one, rather than playing service time games, the Met front office would send a message to Met fans that we are serious about competing in 2014 from Opening Day forward.

Met fans are too smart not to know their team lacks roster depth and can ill afford to put less than their best talent on the field for the first ten weeks of the season while a service time clock ticks, that is, if we are to have any chance of competing for a wild card spot. Let’s throw caution to the wind, hit the ground running, and live with the satisfaction that no matter where we land, we hit them with our best shot.

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About John Bernhardt 165 Articles
MMO Minor League Analyst John Bernhardt is a retired public school teacher and administrator, who still coaches high school baseball. Growing up in a Yankees household, Bernhardt was an ardent Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra fan. When the Yankees fired Yogi in his first season as the Bomber manager, curiosity turned to passion when the Mets signed Berra as a player/coach and he has pulled for the Mets ever since. In retirement, John writes the sports for a local weekly, The Catskill Mountain News and hosts Tip-Off, a Friday morning sports hour, from 8:00-9:00 on WIOX, 91.3 F.M.