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Mets Prospects Looking Up

Mike SteffanosMonday, August 7, 2006
By Mike Steffanos

Yes, yes, I get it. You keep telling me how bad the farm system is. Oh, by the way, how many of those "elite" farm systems have produced two 23-year-old All-Stars? If the Mets were crazy enough to do it, how many of them wouldn't be willing to practically empty their systems in return for the Mets' two gems? Believe me, every day I'm grateful the Mets fired Steve Phillips before he traded these two kids away for mediocre major leaguers.

What a concept, though -- instead of overpaying for talent, the Mets got these two kids at bargain rates because they both want to be here. That's right, the Mets got a home team discount because they refused to listen to blowhards in the media who are always pushing the team to trade away the cream of their system for a quick fix or a 2 month rental. Omar and company recognize that in the changing landscape of major league baseball, producing your own talent is smarter, cost-effective, and provides you with players that are loyal to your franshise rather than simply chasing the last dollar available.

Bravo to Omar Minaya, Fred and Jeff Wilpon and everyone else involved in finding, nurturing, and finally ensuring that these two talented and admirable young players will be playing in Queens for a long time. We've been bemoaning the lack of clear direction from the Mets' front office for so long that the contrast in how we feel about them today is almost astonishing. If Jose Valentin is one of the top candidates for comeback player of the year, how about the Mets hierarchy for comeback organization of the decade? Only two years ago there was "no light at the end of the tunnel. Now the glare is practically blinding.

I could only hope that the organization will continue to ignore the pressure to make moves just for the sake of making them and continue to act in the best interests of the team both now and in the future. There are some young pitchers both on the Mets and in their system that promise to provide the team with a shot in the arm to the pitching staff that Wright and Reyes provided to the offense. I look forward to seeing which ones live up to the hype and put together meaningful careers in New York. We hope that 2-3 years down the road we're talking about their long-term contracts.

Somehow this doesn't surprise me
As I write this I just received the following comment from "Matt", who tells me:

Chris "Mad Dog" Russo is right now going his usual crazy over Wright's contract being more then Reyes.. sometimes you just cannot listen to him. ugh.

This is exactly why I stopped listening to that show. There always has to be some negative to really harp on. I guess we should be grateful that it gives him something to talk about besides blaming Sanchez personally for his cab being hit.

Did I go too far?
To the handful that have accused me of being overly harsh in my criticism of Newsday's Bob Herzog, I honestly don't get your point. You felt that I shouldn't have criticized him personally for stating an opinion, yet in his opinion he was very insulting to Mets fans -- in a personal way, questioning their class, baseball knowledge and "respect for the opposition". For all of the reasons that I stated and will not rehash here, I feel my criticism was legit. And honestly, I'm tired of this trend of those in the media to lump all fans together and then be dismissive and insulting towards them. When I see it, I get angry and I respond. That's my right. When others criticize me for what I say, that's theirs.

Lo Duca
We found out today why Paulie was mad at the press. I've decided that I won't write about his personal life in this space. Since he's never written about my personal life, that seems only fair.

This post is being discussed in the MetsMerized Mets Talk Forum.

SI.com: Money well spent
Jon Heyman is quite correct when he says the Mets saved millions of dollars by signing their two special kids to long-term deals.

NorfolkTides.com: Pelfrey wins AAA debut
Mike Pelfrey went 5 strong innings to win his first outing in Norfolk.

Baseball America: Deolis Guerra
The 17-year-old Mets pitching prospect made BA's Daily Dish:

Mets righthander Deolis Guerra continues his remarkable season. The 17-year-old sensation had a career-high 11 strikeouts last night against Greenville as low Class A Hagerstown defeated Greenville 3-1. Guerra took the no decision, but he allowed only one run on five hits over 5 2/3 innings to go with his 11 whiffs. In his last three starts he has allowed just two runs over 17 innings with a 17-3 strikeout-walk ratio. On the season, the Venezuelan is 5-6, 2.39 in 72 innings.

Baseball Prospectus: Fernando
In today's Future Shock column, Kevin Goldstein updates us on 17-year-old wunderkind Fernando Martinez, who just received a promotion to St. Lucie:

Martinez was the prize in last year's international signing period as the Mets won a bidding war to ink the toolsy Dominican for $1.4 million. In his brief pro career, Martinez has proven to be much, much more than just a raw package of athleticism; he has shown himself to be a very good baseball player as well. After missing nearly a month with a strained knee, Martinez hit .361 in 14 games for Low Class A Hagerstown to raise his averages to .333/.389/.505, earning a promotion to the Florida State League, an assignment nearly unheard of for a 17-year-old. He went 3-for-13 over the weekend in his first three games for St. Lucie, and led off Sunday's game with a home run. Although his reviews as a defender in center field are poor, his offensive accomplishments at his age move him into elite status.

You hear that -- "elite status". Not bad for the worst farm system in baseball, eh?

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Comments (7)

I agree. I don't even follow the minors as closely as some and even I know that the "terrible" Mets farm system has produced: Reyes, Wright, Milledge, Bell and Bannister in the last 3 years, along with Mike Jacobs, Petit, Huber playing for other teams. Pelfrey, Humber and possibly Owens may be fixtures soon and the future also looks good for Gomez, Martinez, and Guerra. I am sure there are others but the point is it's not exactly a wasteland in the farm system.

Good to hear about Pelfrey... he just needs some experience under his belt/time to develop.

Chris -- The Mets farm system lacks in quantity, not quality, that's for sure.
Matt -- We might see Mike in the rotation again before the season is over.

I think it would be best if they kept Pelfrey in AAA for the rest of the year. Just so he can fine tune his pitches and just learn. Remember, this is his first year ever in organized professional baseball. YOu don't want to rush him, get a mental complex, and then never be seen again (i.e. Rick Ankiel)

Matt -- I would have agreed with you a couple of months ago, but I think that Pelfrey has shown the perfect mental makeup to handle things. Having said that, if they elected to keep him down I would be fine with that.

Supplementing the system through a first-class international operation is a huge step towards replenishing it. Guerra and Martinez both came this way. Both would seem to have enormous upside - 17 yr-olds simply do not play in the FSL, and they certainly don't bat leadoff and hit homeruns. Guerra, in his short time in pro ball, has just gotten better and better, and the only question seems to be whether he begins next season at high-A St. Lucie or AA Binghamton as a just-turned 18 yr-old. Wow.

And lets not forget Carlos Gomez, who is 20, I believe, and who seemed to take a month or two to adjust to AA, but is now tearing up the league down there.

Add in the Wright and Reyes deals this week, and I find myself in very unfamiliar territory as a Mets Fan... rooting for a first-class organization that is doing things the right way.


I hear you -- I feel the same way, and I'm pinching myself constantly to make sure I'm not dreaming.

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