Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer
This current crop of highly-regarded, young pitchers (Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Rafael Montero, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndgergaard, etc.), plus being able to replace around $20-30 million in payroll every winter, is what the last few years have been about, Sandy Alderson has repeatedly said over the last year or so.
The goal has always been to have these pitchers direct the future of the franchise. The way I see it, talk of 90 wins, moving goal posts, 2014 being a pivot year, etc., is all just talk. I try to only believe what I see, which is really good, young pitching in the minors, some in the majors, all fine tuning themselves, while a below-average big-league roster and an adequate manager try to do the best the best they can with what they have to work with, which is not much.
I lament the lineup, which is painfully inept. I shake my head at their fielding. However, one day adding Harvey and Syndergaard to the rotation, with Wheeler, Dillon Dee and Jon Niese – and adding Bobby Parnell, deGrom and Montero to Jenrry Mejia and Jeurys Familia in the bullpen – could mean a significantly better team next year, regardless of what they do to the lineup.
However, what happens if Harvey isn’t the same Harvey we fell in love with last summer? What if he has a set back? What if Syndergaard eventually needs surgery, despite what the medical reports say today? I’ll always see Wheeler as an injury risk because of his velocity and inconsistent delivery. Niese has looked terrific, but this repeated need to rest his shoulder is beyond alarming. So, while I love the idea of building a Tampa Bay Rays in Queens, while I’m enticed by seeing a factory for young pitching with a flexible payroll that can regenerate the roster year after year and win each step of the way, I’m hesitant to totally buy in because of what I know about the risks associated with all pitching prospects – let alone pitching prospects from the Mets.
I’ve put faith in Plan A, because I believe baseball teams ultimatly win with pitching. But, when I see so few bats in the farm system, when I see payroll decreasing year after year, when I see so many hard-throwing pitchers around baseball needing Tommy John surgery, when I see an empty ballpark and a fan base growing more apathetic every day, I end up fearing the future as much as I’m looking forward to it.