The best thing about baseball is that it is played over such a long period of the year. After the initial spring beginnings and doses of optimism, the boys of summer come out to play the nation’s past time during the long, hot months and deliver fans with exciting pennant races that culminate in October showdowns. The worst part about writing about baseball in a college setting is that you have to stop writing when the semester ends. So, here are a few reasons you should be hopeful for the Mets this summer.
The Mets have played above and beyond anyone’s expectations so far this season, proving their nay-sayers wrong and showing that smart, calculated roster management can produce a winning team despite the financial constraints they have faced from the Bernie Madoff fallout.
So many young players have risen through the minor leagues and are out to prove they belong at the Major League level. The Mets boasted an entirely homegrown starting-nine on April 25 when they defeated the Miami Marlins — who spent countless dollars on free agents this offseason — by a score of 5 to 1. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this was only the third time in franchise history and the first time since 1971 the Mets had a starting lineup consisting entirely of players who had developed in their minor league system.
This highlights the cultural shift the Mets have undertaken since Sandy Alderson took over from Omar Minaya — an era where free agent signings were the norm and a bloated budget was the result.
The fact of the matter is that the Mets are moving in the right direction. There is a plan, and this plan will deliver results when it is intended to do so. This season is essentially a time for players like Daniel Murphy, Lucas Duda, Jon Niese and others to develop their skills and transform into a core the Mets can add to in the future — and so far this season, they have done just that.
As of Tuesday, these homegrown farmhands have delivered the Mets a record of 16-13 and have stepped up in a time when the team has needed them the most. Is this recent string of over performance a fluke? Maybe. The biggest challenge the Mets will face heading deeper into the summer is not the talent they are putting on the diamond day in and day out, but the extreme lack of depth the team has to fill in the gaps should injuries occur.
We are already seeing the Mets’ lack of depth. When Mike Pelfrey had season ending Tommy John surgery after a test revealed a partial tear in the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, the team was forced to call up Chris Schwinden, a minor leaguer with a career ERA of 3.53 over five Minor League seasons, to fill in the gaps. Schwinden responded with giving up 11 runs over his two starts, complete with four home runs and an ERA of 11.25, ultimately leading up to a demotion. If the Mets intend to stay competitive moving forward, more depth — particularly on the pitching side — needs to be addressed.
This being said, there is reason for hope. Sure, the ballpark might be empty and fan interest might not be all that high, but the Mets had fallen into a tailspin and that spin has finally begun to reverse. The Mets play so far this season has gone above and beyond expectations, and that alone shows there is hope on the horizon.