Re-engineering the Mets

While researching one thing or another, I happened upon a fantastic piece of history penned by Alan Schwarz in New York Magazine titled “Re-engineering the Mets.” It was published, I think, at some point prior to the 2004 season. Schwarz outlines several moves the Mets could make that would position them for a 2006 postseason appearance. Interestingly, much of the plan was focused on shedding payroll, getting out from under long-term, expensive contract, and focusing on homegrown talent — young arms in particular. Sound familiar?

It’s as if history never repeats itself, or something. Maybe the future we hope for never happens? I’m not sure. Just go here to read the story, then come back here an comment. The tone and thought process is so eerily familiar, it makes you wonder if the Mets will ever find their way to the light at the end of this long and winding tunnel.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Mike B November 7, 2012 at 1:51 pm
    I hate the idea of trying to develope homegrown talent. Its impossable, You look at your team now and want to develope your weakeness but by the time you get strong in that area you are weak where you were once strong. When the Mets are ready to opearate like a major league team they should trade for proven talent. I have no problem trading Wheeler or Harvey or anyone else, look at all the names in that article that had hype and became nothing.

    Joe what do you think about Mike Napoli for catcher, he is coming off an aweful year but I have liked him from afar, only really see him during the playoffs. How much is he going to demand on the FA market?

  2. friend November 7, 2012 at 6:08 pm
    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. – – Albert Einstein
    • Mike November 8, 2012 at 12:00 pm
      Actually Einstein never said that, friend.
      • friend November 8, 2012 at 3:50 pm
        You’re missing the point. The idea here is to have an appreciation for the trappings of insanity. As for the quotation, the origin is unknown, and Einstein may or may not have actually used it, but he demonstrated his awareness of and appreciation for it, and it is therefore useful to associate it with him.
      • friend November 8, 2012 at 3:55 pm
        The following, in regard to Jason Bay, has been reported at, “Alderson made it clear toward the end of the season that this is not an Oliver Perez or Luis Castillo situation”

        This would appear to be yet another instance illustrating that lying to the public is a pillar of the Mets’ re-engineering plan, as we now see that the Bay situation was indeed handled very similarly to those of Perez and Castillo.

  3. argonbunnies November 7, 2012 at 10:08 pm
    Great article, but scary in that so many players who looked like great bets in early 2004 turned out to be largely washed up by 2006. And the ratio of minor leagers panning out was even less than the author’s very conservative estimates.

    Shawn Green, Preston Wilson, Ben Sheets, Kyle Farnsworth, Kaz Matsui, Tyler Yates, Bob Keppel, Matt Peterson. Yikes.

    The core of the idea was to win with Wright, Reyes, and Kazmir playing big roles while still cheap. If only Duquette had done that, who knows, it might have worked. I don’t see a parallel to the 2013 Mets. We have no such threesome.

    • Mike Kelm November 8, 2012 at 4:06 pm
      I think that the Mets might have some of the pieces they need, assuming that some of the talent in the farm club can take the necessary steps.

      Harvey and Wheeler could be a true 1-2 punch that is young and explosive that we haven’t truly had in 25 years, with Neise being a very good 3, and Gee being a good 4. Dickey could also be in the mix (pushing everyone back) or be valuable trade bait.

      Catcher is a known problem, and Josh Thole has failed to develop into what we thought he’d be- this is one area where there is no in-house help to be had.

      First base is held down by Ike Davis, who provides very good power but is not a stellar fielder and had a scary year at the plate. This next season will tell us if he is Carlos Delgado or Adam Dunn- the difference being about 25 or 30 points in batting average. The difference is that Delgado could anchor a line-up, Dunn is more of a complimentary player due to his terrible batting average and high strike outs.

      The rest of the infield, Wright is the face of the franchise but not a true cleanup hitter. He does good work as a 3, but needs someone behind him to succeed. Tejada was a pleasant suprise (and cheap) and could be a long-term piece at short- he’ll never be the exciting player that Reyes was, but he won’t be a weakness. Murphy stayed healthy and was what we always hoped he’d be. An average defender who is a doubles machine. Likewise, a strong piece of the lineup.

      The outfield was a true mess. At present we have Duda and Nieuwenheus, neither one of which is threatening Cooperstown. Duda could be a great DH, but he needs to go somewhere to do that. Nieuwenheus could be a great fourth outfielder, but is likely to hold down the CF job until Den Dekker or Nimmo come to Citi Field. This is the second area (after catcher) that needs attention. A good leadoff hitter (a shame that nobody wants to go after Victorino or Bourn would be a plus (lets Tejada bat 2 and Murphy 6)

      The other area that needs improvement is the Bullpen- how many leads were blown in the 7th/8th innings. In modern baseball (especially with young pitchers like ours) getting anythign more than 6 innings from your starter is unusual, so a focus should be on solid setup men to hold the lead. Parnell needs to learn how to pitch (100MPH fastballs don’t do you any good over the plate) but could be one of those setup men. Familia and Meijia could also be in the mix over the nxt couple of seasons.

      I think the best comparison to where the team is now is 1984, not 2005. We aren’t one or two players away- we’re several, but we have some interesting pieces to work with.

  4. DaveSchneck November 8, 2012 at 9:44 am
    Great reference. Of the 30 MLB teams, at any given time some 25 have this type of plan, and most don’t succeed. That is why all this “2014 will be our year” talk is concerning. Everyone agrees a strong farm system is the base on which to build sustained success, and skilled talent evaluators and developers of talent provide an edge, but this is still very risky and unpredictable. The Mets need to take actions to compete every year, so long as they don’t develop a trend of mortgaging the future. They need to keep quality MLB pitching (Niese) unless someone overpays drastically. At the same time, they need to sign all their top draft picks, not let the #2 draft pick, a starting pitcher, walk away over pocket change. Ultimately, like any of us, they need to walk the talk, something this ownership has not done regardless of the GM or manager.
  5. Kirk C. November 12, 2012 at 6:49 am
    I’m very in favor of a similar plan. I think this offseason would be a perfect opportunity for the Mets to make some moves to both shed payroll and improve their young talent. Trading Wright and Dickey could bring back 2-3 building block caliber prospects to add to our current core of youngsters. It wouldn’t be popular amongst the mostly impatient Mets fanbase, but I think 2-3 years down the road it would pay huge dividends.
    • Joe Janish November 12, 2012 at 9:07 am
      Agreed. One thought, though – wasn’t this 2-3 year rebuilding plan for the impatient Mets fan base supposed to start two years ago when Alderson and co. took over the front office?
  6. J November 24, 2012 at 8:45 pm
    Nice one Joe