By Mike Steffanos
John Delcos has a story in The Journal News about the core of young players that the Mets are building their team around. As Delcos points out, several key players will most likely still be playing for this team in 2009 when the Mets open their new stadium (provided sleazy local pols allow the stadium to be built).
For all of the hoopla that surrounds this team that is built to win now, Omar Minaya did a great job of not completely selling out the future. Yes, a lot of good young players left the organization, but others, such as Lastings Milledge, Anderson Hernandez and Brian Bannister, are still here. Those of us that lived through the Steve Phillips regimes and those that preceded him feared another headlong rush down the same dead-end path that the team has traveled down so many times. Despite the somewhat unfair criticism Omar endured from the national media, that never happened.
I assure you that I am not basing this positive assessment of Omar on the team's hot start. Despite early success, I'm not sure how all of this winter's moves will play out. I want to see Xavier Nady develop consistency. Prospect John Maine is probably going to have to develop to justify the Benson deal. It remains to be seem how much Brian Bannister is going to make Mets fans forget Jae Seo. What is clear to me, however, is that there was a careful plan behind every move that was made. While in the Phillips years players seemed to come and go in an almost surreal manner, there was never any problem this winter seeing an underlying logic to everything that happened. For the first time since the pre-1989 Frank Cashen, I actually trust the General Manager of the Mets.
Equally as impressive as the moves made (and not made) at the major-league level are the changes we've been reading about down on the farm. An emphasis on fundamentals and a repeatable system will help to ensure that this team maintains a source of talent from within that will enable them to compete for a title more often than not in the coming years. As a Mets fan, Omar has given me all I can ask for.
Bergen Record: The Rookie
Steve Popper quotes rookie Brian Bannister on his early success:
My goal going in here, I was the new guy, this was a team built to win. I knew my role was to come in here, to lay low, to just eat up innings every game out, to pitch whatever game they needed me to pitch, and to just give this team a chance to win every time. I wasn't coming in here to take over the show. There are so many great players here, if I just stay in the shadows all year and eat up innings, then I'll do my job.
They gave me a leap of faith, put me into the rotation right away. It's a compliment and I've tried to take advantage of it like I did in spring training. I've got to get over my own fears of being out there and do I belong here? Once that happens, I feel like I can be a part of this team and really just rely on these guys to win games.
That was a pretty honest and mature answer from Bannister, admitting that he's still fighting doubts as to whether he belongs. First we have David Wright come up a year and a half ago, bringing an astounding level of maturity and baseball acumen along with him, then this kid comes along with the makeup of a mature, experienced pitcher. Aren't rookies supposed to struggle?
Daily News: Is it too late to get Looper back?
Okay, seriously only kidding with that one. After admitting to the ugliness of yesterday's appearance, Wagner told Adam Rubin that he was grateful for a chance to pitch yesterday:
I think the more I'm on the mound - the more I'm able to get in a rhythm - that will help.
Rubin also quotes Carlos Beltran on the success he is having after shaking off an 0-9 start:
They're trying to get me swinging at bad pitches. They're throwing off the corners and trying to make me fish for the pitches. The good thing is I'm laying off those bad ones and getting on base. My job is to get on base any way I can.
Mets Geek: Minor League Recap
If you're interested in following what happens with the Mets minor-leaguers, Mets Geek's Michael Oliver, who also pens The Metropolitans, offers daily recaps of the happenings down on the farm. The highlight of yesterday was another strong Mike Pelfrey performance.