Friday, January 18, 2008

What's Missing: New York Mets Edition

New York Mets - A Quick Start, Ace Pitcher, Let Youth Develop

First let me start off by saying that again "Let the youth develop". Well, there wasn't much that the New York Mets needed to do. After all, this is the virtually same team that cruised into the postseason, and into the NLCS in 2006. In 2007 they maintained a seven game lead heading into mid-September over the Philadelphia Phillies, and went on to choke and make history in a negative way. Yes the Mets failed to hang onto their huge lead over the last three weeks of the 2007 season. For the third year in a row the 2008 Mets will be almost a carbon copy from the last two years.

I think it’s highly important that the Mets get off to a strong start. If they falter early on, the NY media will be absolutely relentless. Of course, the only way they can really silence doubters would be if they could build a lead going into September and maintain it this time around. But a good April will spare the team from having to read about “the collapse” to the point where they have to swear off reading anything for all of eternity.

Additionally, sometime before Opening Day, the Mets, Yankees, Red Sox and Twins need to piss or get off the can when it comes to Johan Santana. Despite Pedro Martinez’s successful return towards the end of last season, the Mets still lack someone they can call their ace. Oliver Perez took a couple steps forward in 2007 but he’s still a box of chocolates. John Maine also showed improvement, but he must continue to limit walks and home runs. Neither of them can yet be considered as more than mid-rotation arms with some room to grow. Pedro should no longer be considered an “ace pitcher” since we have no idea if he can sustain himself over 100+ innings, let alone 200. IF the Mets end up with Santana, this will allow the team to potentially put Orlando Hernandez in the bullpen, which in my mind would be ideal as it allows the Mets to not rely on Jorge Sosa to do much of anything.

Lastly, this isn't necessarily something they need in 2008, but for the sake of 2009 and beyond, I'd like to see the Mets have a better organizational philosophy when it comes to managing their younger players. As a franchise, the Mets have historically rushed their prospects to the big leagues and 2007 was no exception. Carlos Gomez has the talent to be sure, but had no business playing on a team that needed to win every game possible to make the playoffs. Both Mike Pelfrey and Phil Humber were not considered “Major League ready” when they made their respective debuts either.

Of course, this is a total moot point if Johan Santana becomes a Met. Last I heard, the Twins were actually asking the Mets to include the entire minor league system! Lets Go Mets.