Whether in baseball, economics, epidemiology, meteorology, or many other pursuits, forecasting the future is error-prone. That's the nature of forecasts. However, that is the GM's job. It is another reason for holding on to a lot of young players, or, at least, trading for other solid, young prospects. What I mean is that because forecasting player development is error-prone, building a large base of solid players in development is more likely to turn out some big hits than placing all the chips on one or two numbers.This development-by-masses has been the Dodgers approach in recent years. Not only does alleviate the need to be a forecasting savant, but as some of these players develop, it provides for a relatively inexpensive core of productive players. Then, the free agent signings can help plug in some gaps here and there. Its the recipe that the Yankees used to build their core in the 1990s.
Goff is a Professor of Economics who has written extensively on sports. The point that he is making here is that developing prospects is a form of forecasting. No one ever gets it 100% right. In baseball, it's important to build a wide base of prospects from which you hope a few emerge as contributors. While the Mets need to do everything in their power to help Álvarez, Baty, Mauricio, and Vientos succeed, it's impossible to know with certainty exactly how it will turn out with these guys. The club is aware of their strengths and weaknesses, but there is still an unpredictable range of outcomes for these kids and others further down in the Mets' system.
It's something to keep in mind as these prospects begin to get their shots with the Mets. Some of them will surely disappoint. Making the final jump to the majors is a huge obstacle to overcome, as the difference in talent from Triple-A to MLB is huge. Sometimes you'll get lucky, and have a kid like David Wright, who became a star almost instantly. For most, there's a longer adjustment period as they figure it out. Some never do, while others are derailed by injuries.
What will complicate things for the Mets in this and future seasons will be the difficulties that arise when trying to integrate young talent into a team that is winning and wants to keep on doing so. How does a club help them through their growing pains when the imperative is to try to win every day? It's a lot harder than it is to bring up young players when the major league club is out of a pennant race, as the Mets were in 2004 when Wright was first promoted. The fans just aren't going to be as patient with a kid who isn't getting the job done. Meanwhile, the media is going to start asking questions like: "How much longer are the Mets willing to live with Joe Prospect's struggles?" The pressure is ratcheted up for the player, the coaches, and the front office.
Tim Britton had an excellent piece in The Athletic this week, looking at the challenges for the Mets in getting some of these prospects into the majors this season. I think Tim does a great job of getting to the crux of the matter here:
Bringing up young players is hard anywhere, anytime. That challenge is steeper when you're trying to win in the short term, and it becomes downright dizzying when you're trying to win in a big market with a less patient fan base.
"You have to be cognizant of the makeup of your players," said Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski. "Can they handle the booing? They're going to have tough moments."
The minor leagues can prepare a player for how to encounter 100 mph fastballs, 2-0 sliders on the black, and hitters with two-strike approaches. But no minor-league ballpark seats 40,000-plus with an upper deck. No minor-league strikeout and no minor-league error lead to cameras and beat reporters gathering around your locker. No minor-league at-bat commences with boos from the home crowd.
How do you prepare players for that?