Friday, October 14, 2011

The NY Mets & Their Problem with "Upside"

As the Mets begin to pick up the pieces and move towards next season, the front office must take stock of where players stand both within the organization and elsewhere.  Who will stay?  Who will go?  Who will they look to bring in off the free agent market?  It is these observations and the decisions that will go a long way towards carving the 2012 roster.

The same assessment process took place last winter.  As a result of those observations, the Mets chose to bring in the likes Chris Young, Chris Capuano and Jason Isringhausen amongst others.  What was said about each?  They had a lot of upside!  Well, upside saw Chris Young's twice reconstructed arm last four appearances before giving way, saw Capuano post a mediocre record of 11-12 amidst periodic struggles and saw Izzy become a fixture out of the pen for much of the season before tiring later in the year.

The 2011 lineup had its fair share of players with upside as well. Daniel Murphy and Lucas Duda are two such players whose presence at the plate seemed to have fans and the organization turn a blind eye to their struggles elsewhere...but they have a lot of upside!  Even Josh Thole has a set of supporters who seem to think he is only a small epiphany away from reaching his potential.

I don't mean to say that these guys aren't legitimate baseball players.  The problem is, upside doesn't win ballgames.  Upside, isn't consistent and it doesn't always make good decisions.  Upside, by nature is a work in progress and you can't honestly expect big things from your team when its loaded with it.  Bringing in older guys to act as stop gaps isn't as big a deal as having young players with obvious flaws who your hoping to build around.  The Mets needn't look any further than Mike Pelfrey to see a failed attempt at the development of upside.  Where are they left if other players come up short?

This offseason, the Mets front office needs to recognize that in order for the organization to move forward, it may be time to abandon some of the project players who possess that ever present upside.  At the very least, a third of the lineup and more than half of the team's rotation can't be comprised of players whose ceiling is still a real unknown.  Its time to stop force feeding the fan base potential and rebuild things the right way.  Retain the right players and starting working on the development and/or acquisition of those who can help to piece together a winning team.  Upside is great, but the Mets have too much of it and I'm yet to see a team bring home the hardware when that's their best feature.

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