Mets Player Development Has Dropped the Ball

In recent weeks, we have seen the Mets unable to bunt situationally, run the bases poorly, make sloppy or boneheaded moves in the field and generally, lack the standard fundamentals that Major League players should possess.

Dominic Smith and Amed Rosario are prime examples of just how bad things have veered.

Both were heralded as elite level prospects, but it didn’t take long to see just how ill-prepared they were and neither were able to hit the ground running. In fact, many rival prospects who were ranked behind Rosario and Smith have shined and now figure prominently in their team’s present and future.

Recently, John Harper of the New York Daily News reached out to former Mets minor league manager Wally Backman to see what is and what isn’t being taught in the minor leagues.

“There’s not enough work on fundamentals,” Backman said. “The years I was there, if I saw something that needed correcting with a player, I had to do it myself.”

Backman, who spent seven years managing throughout the Mets system, was not brought back by the organization after the 2016 season. Since then, he has managed for the New Britain Bees in indie ball, but has previously coached in the White Sox and Diamondbacks systems as well.

“Communication was very good in both of those other organizations, from the farm director on down,” Backman said. “They definitely worked harder on fundamentals. I don’t know why but it wasn’t that way with the Mets.

“I always thought there should be more emphasis on the little things. I made players understand that during the season. My most important job was to prepare guys to go to the big leagues, and make sure they understood what they needed to do to stay there.”

Harper also reached out to a former Mets player, who chose to remain anonymous because he is friends with owner Fred Wilpon. However, Harper said he knew this person agrees the Mets have done a poor job developing players.

“I like Fred too much to say what I really think,” he said.

Backman told Harper that he remembers sitting in an organization meeting with Wilpon in attendance several spring training’s ago, and another coach mentioned “The Cardinal Way,” and raved about how fundamentally sound they were.

“Fred was sitting there listening to that,” Backman said, “and he said, ‘I don’t want to hear about the Cardinal way. I want there to be a Met Way. I want people to talk about the Met Way.’”

Whatever that “Mets Way” is, it’s not working, and Dominic Smith and Amed Rosario are key examples. That much is true.

About Rob Piersall 1211 Articles
Rob Piersall is a fourth-year student at SUNY New Paltz, studying journalism with a minor in communications. He is also the managing editor for his school's newspaper, The Oracle. A Mets fan since the age of six in 2001, Rob is senior editor here at MMO. His favorite thing is reporting breaking Mets news and transactions as well as writing columns. He is also ready to see what Mickey Callaway brings to the table in 2018. LGM! Follow Rob on Twitter: @RobPiersall.