By Mike Steffanos
Today's Mets news is focused on the development side of baseball, one that is often overlooked by fans. You may know the names of a handful of Mets minor leaguers, but do you ever think of the process that helps them reach the majors?
Omar Minaya has been very proactive with the scouting and development side of the Mets since taking over. In September, and then again after the season, Minaya has moved personnel around. The goal is to improve the Mets' performance in both finding talent and then nurturing the kids they find. Development is that nurturing process, which takes the rough talent and polishes it for a productive major league career.
Minaya has hired Adam Rogan to oversee the minor league operations, with the hope that the Mets can develop a consistent and repeatable approach to development -- a "Mets way" of playing the game. It is hoped that Mr. Rogan can contribute to a system that can continue to produce some top-tier talent like David Wright -- which the Mets have had some success with recently -- and also quality supporting players -- which they have not. Minaya hopes to build some depth in his farm system.
The hiring of Rickey Henderson shows Minaya's creativity, too. Henderson was arguably the best leadoff hitter in the history of the game, and was a good teacher even while still playing. It was no coincidence that Roger Cedeno enjoyed his one truly great season with Rickey working with him in 1999. He'll be working with not only Jose Reyes -- who certainly has a lot to learn about leading off -- but also Carlos Beltran, David Wright, and prospects like Lastings Milledge and Anderson Hernandez.
Henderson will be with the team for a week this spring, and then he will follow up with the players for a week at some point during the year. Maybe it's a small detail, but it is this following up week that really impresses me. It shows Minaya is serious about Rickey helping these young players, that this isn't just a spring publicity move.
Mets.com: Adam Wogan profile
Marty Noble has a long, interesting profile of the Mets new Minor League operations director Adam Wogan. Wogan had filled the same position with the Nationals, and had worked in Montreal under Omar Minaya. Noble quotes Wogan on his approach:
I'm not bringing anything revolutionary to the job. We'll just try to emphasize the things that have to be done and be as efficient as possible.
Wogan's job will be to take the talent that the scouting department brings into the system and try to build a program that develops that talent -- teaching them the "Mets way" of playing ball.
Although the Mets system has been responsible for developing some high-end talent, they've done very little to develop secondary supporting talent. I've been on this soapbox a lot recently so I'll give it a rest. We all wish Mr. Wogan well, and hope that he can be a valuable part of building something with the Mets.
Also on Mets.com: Coach Ricky
Marty Noble reports that former Met Rickey Henderson, more or less run out of town in 2000, will be trying to help some young Mets players with their baserunning this spring. For Mets GM Omar Minaya, it's a no-brainer:
What better guy is there to teach our guys how to steal a base and what it takes to get on base?. He'll help all of us. He'll help me. It's up to us to tap into what Rickey knows.
As Noble points out, it was under Henderson's tutelage that Roger Cedeno enjoyed his great year as a leadoff hitter for the Mets in 1999. Henderson will be spending a week with the club in spring training and another week during the season. Hopefully he can teach Jose Reyes a little about leading off.
Daily News: More Rickey
Ian Begley offers a version of Minaya's quote from the conference call that emphasizes Reyes:
"The thinking is, we have a Jose Reyes, we have a Carlos Beltran. And what better guy to teach guys how to steal a base? What better guy - especially with Jose - to teach what it takes to get on base as far as a leadoff hitter?
Begley also cites Manaya that the purpose of having Henderson come back for a week during the season is "to follow up on some guys."
NY Sports Day: Adam Rubin Chat Transcript
NY Sports Day's Joe McDonald has posted selections from Adam Rubin's chat transcript online, and you can view the entire transcript by signing up for the message boards. Most interesting to me was Rubin's response to whether there would be a Diaz/Nady platoon in RF:
I don't think you'll see a right-field platoon. In fact, I think it's Nady's job, barring something unforeseen. No. 1, you can't give up Cameron and not play Nady. And No. 2, Omar Minaya went out of his way when he acquired Nady to lump him with Wright, Reyes and Beltran as the future core of the team. Omar said Nady should excel with a full season of at-bats, rather than the 350 or so he would get in San Diego. Platooning isn't really warranted because they both bat from the same side of the plate.
Interesting -- Victor just gets no respect. What worries me here is that Nady has yet to show he can hit right-handers. Last year he batted .223 in 202 ABs against RHPs. Diaz batted .257 in 226 ABs against righties. In fairness, that's not exactly outstanding, either.
When Omar picked up Nady many of us thought he would prove to be a piece of another deal. Now who knows? Two young outfielders, both with some intriguing potential at the plate that they haven't lived up to, neither a great defensive player. Will the loser stay with the team as the fourth OF (you can see Floyd given a good amount of days off this year if a viable option exists), or be dealt away? It's shaping up to be one of the intriguing stories of the spring.