Optimism about the Mets eventual re-rise to prominence may be found in a similar Phillies youth movement just previous to their World Series victory in 2008 and a similar youth movement by the Mets in the early 1980s. Yes, the Phillies were more advanced in 2006 – they won 85 game in 2006, 88 the year before, but that’s because the Phils integrated their up-and-comers gradually while the current Mets look to be on a crash program. Meanwhile, the young 1983 Mets won just 68 games, then won 90 in 1984 and 90 or more in five of the next six seasons.
I’m not saying there is a direct or exact parallel between the Phils of 2006, the early 1980s Mets and this year’s Mets, or between the individual players I’ve listed below. But the past can inform the future in patterns that repeat themselves, and we shouldn’t project the future against today’s frustrating results.
Peruse these comparative stats of the then nascent Phillie stalwarts in their first or second years and similar young Mets from the early 1980s, both groups of which developed into World Series winners, to our current crop youthful offenders (Mets 2010 stats as of Friday):
As you can see, the young Mets have stats similar to those of players who would blossom into stars for the Phillies in 2008 and beyond and into the 1985-1990 Mets. And drawing the parallels even further, all three teams have established aces (Santana, Moyer, Gooden) and a trio of established vets (Wright/Reyes/Bay, Rollins/Burrell/Feliz, Carter/Hernandez/Knight) and steady the ungainly colts.
There’s no reason why these current young Mets, plus other hopefuls such as Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Reuben Tejada, Reese Havens, and Dillon Gee couldn’t develop equally well and as quickly as the young Phillies of a few years ago and the early 1980s Mets.
It will likely take at least one or two more season for these current young Mets to mature to near their full Phillie/1980s Mets-like potential; hopefully whomever the Mets bring in as GM and manager recognize this and stick with the youth program. And once the Mets rid themselves of their hefty fiscal responsibilities to Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo and Carlos Beltran, and have a steady hand at GM and manager (I know, a lot of ifs), they’ll be better able to re-sign David Wright and Jose Reyes to extensions and use the talent being developed to trade for or convince key pitching free agents to come to Queens to make the Mets playoff contenders in a year or so and true World Series favorites in the same year CitiField will host the All-Star Game, 2013.
In the meantime, I’m willing to exhibit the same sort of patience I ask of management in these next few developing years.