By Mike Steffanos
By now, everyone has heard the news that Victor Zambrano's Mets career is likely finished, with the strong possibility that he may be done, period. Maybe it serves to close the door on a truly pathetic page in Mets history. A team that had no real chance to contend made 2 "today" moves at the expense of young talent in their farm system. Now that the Mets are finally a legitimate contender, neither one of those two pitchers will be helping them.
Maybe now the local sports media will eventually grow weary of giving us constant Scott Kazmir updates. I wish the kid well, but I have no masochistic desire to follow his career any more closely than I would any other AL pitcher. To me, the media has been enthusiastically complicit in somehow painting Victor Zambrano as a sort of villain in this story, understanding how betrayed a lot of the Mets faithful (including this writer) felt about this deal. At some point everyone needed to move on, as there was no way of calling back this lunacy, but the media continued to milk the story for every last bit of effect, as they continue to do today.
Don't get me wrong, I think about this trade and it makes me ill, much in the same way I look back on the Samuel trade and others from that time period. Eventually, however, you have to turn the page and let things go. I have no desire to watch Kazmir with envy from afar, nor do I wish to root against him in some pathetic effort to lessen the sting. The accommodation I made with myself is to stop thinking about the kid, period. I don't check box scores when he pitches, I don't read the countless things still written about him in New York tabloids. I've moved on, because it accomplishes absolutely nothing to linger over a 2-year-old mistake.
Victor Zambrano was a product of an instant gratification culture that permeated the Mets during the 90s and the early years of this decade. These years for me personally marked the low point of my Mets fanhood that reaches back to 1969. I watched fewer games, and paid less attention to them year round, then at any other point in those 3-1/2 decades. Even when they made the playoffs and World Series I rooted for them, but I didn't get overly excited in their future, because I felt no belief in what they were doing. Ironically, it was promoting Jim Duquette and all the talk about building from within that brought me back all the way in 2003 -- only to witness this most Steve Phillips-like of moves a year later.
I have to admit that I didn't trust Omar Minaya all that much when they hired him. From his time in Montreal, I worried that he was someone that traded all of his talent away. Yet he avoided doing something really stupid at the deadline last season, at the expense of being accused of not doing anything. All winter there were reports of dubious player moves, but none of them happened. What we have instead is an interesting balance of solid veterans and some very good young players. Wright is 23, Reyes will turn 23 in June, Bannister is 25, Sanchez is 26, Nady, Heilman and Julio are 27, and even Beltran is only 29. The injured Anderson Hernandez is 23. John Maine, who we're likely to see again, is 25. Mike Pelfrey is 22 while top position prospect Lastings Milledge is 21.
The point here is that the Mets seem to have finally settled into a regime that concerns itself with the future as well as the present. I feel fairly secure that the person who emailed Marty Noble about trading Milledge for Livan Hernandez does not represent the thinking of the Mets -- and back a few years I couldn't guarantee that. Things aren't looking that great for the Mets right now, with Lima getting another start and the Phillies winning every night, but no one in the Mets' hierarchy is panicking, and that's a very good thing when you consider past mistakes.
NY Post: Pelfrey in June?
Joel Sherman finds a "growing sense" that the Mets top pitching prospect will be promoted to the majors in June. Sherman cites factors that he believes will influence the decision:
There are many collaborative parts influencing that progression: Victor Zambrano's season-ending injury, hesitance to extract Aaron Heilman's durable/effective arm from a pen being worn down by too few rotation innings, the lack of faith in the old/young quartet of Jeremi Gonzalez, Jose Lima, Brian Bannister and John Maine, and the rampaging, second-place Phillies' early decision to elevate their top pitching prospect, Cole Hamels, to the rotation.
A couple of days ago, Omar Minaya said that the only thing that will influence what happens with Mike Pelfrey would be how he performs. The Mets want to be confident that Pelfrey can sustain a level of performance at the major league level. Nobody wants to see this kid rushed up to the majors, only to pitch like a 22-year-old Lima and have to go back down. As a Mets fan, I'd love to see him help us this year, but I'm not going to be clamoring for his promotion until the team's development people feel he's ready. I've been impressed by what they've accomplished with the farm system, and I'm inclined to trust their judgement.