Let’s say I was to describe a team to you, dear reader, based solely on a breakdown of its parts.
- Officially Licensed By Outerstuff
- Officially Licensed Product
Let’s say this team has a 28-year-old, switch-hitting speed merchant batting leadoff. Let’s say this leadoff hitter also plays a solid left field, grew up in the home team’s greater metropolitan area and hustles his butt off.
Let’s say this team has a line-drive hitting second baseman, who’s improved defensively through years of hard work and is generally regarded as a bona-fide .280 to .300 hitter. Let’s say he bats lefty, and he’s also only 28.
Let’s say this team’s emerging everyday center fielder is a speedy 24-year-old, yet another hard worker, whose play in center field has reminded observers of a young Andruw Jones. Let’s say this youngster is steadily improving his approach at the plate, consistently making contact and producing line drives.
Let’s say the third baseman, captain and “face of the franchise” is a 30-year-old perennial All-Star who’s settling into his leadership role and is having his best overall season on offense and defense.
Let’s say the newly acquired right fielder is a 35-year-old veteran who has reinvented himself by way of widely recognized hard work and excellent fundamental play. Let’s say this right fielder is among the league leaders in outfield assists, hits with moderate power, and has a penchant for beating out infield singles and taking clutch extra bases. Let’s say he’s so appreciative of the team giving him a chance that he’s reported to have teared up when articulating his gratitude. Let’s say this same resurgent veteran has provided clubhouse leadership and contagious hustle to a team full of youngsters still finding their major-league personality.
What’s that? Where’s the pitching, you say?
Well, let’s suppose this team has a rookie power pitcher who is off to a historically good start, pitching with poise beyond his years and jaw-dropping stuff. Let’s say this same pitcher has the physical and competitive makeup that’s almost unheard of in a pitcher of his age. But wait, there’s more.
Let’s say this team has yet another young pitcher with fantastic stuff. Let’s say he’s still learning to pitch with true command, but even so, he’s already begun showing signs of dominance.
Let’s say that behind this potent 1-2 punch lurks what might be the deepest and most promising array of pitching prospects anywhere in the league, most of who are in their early 20s. And yet another pitcher, returning from the disabled list, who would be many teams’ number two but on this team might eventually pitch as far back as fourth in the rotation.
Suppose, while you’re at it, that this team has spent several years grooming a closer whose fastball often reaches the upper 90s. Let’s say this same closer, after a few years of growing pains, has developed a couple of secondary pitches and is able to throw them with confidence. Let’s say that he, too, is only 28.
Lest we forget the important, hard-to-fill position of catcher, let’s say this team has a backstop stashed in triple-A, who’s a top-notch hitting prospect with power. Let’s say he’s also solid defensively, with an authoritative presence behind the plate. And a year or so behind this promising middle-order hitter is a second baseman who’s considered a high-level hitting and fielding prospect.
In addition to their pitching and other prospects, they’ve just drafted an athletic first baseman who’s considered one of the best pure hitters in this year’s draft.
Last, but not least, let’s say this team has cleared enough financial breathing room to pursue a key offseason addition.
Considering all of the above, how would you feel about cheering for this team? Would you be hopeful or pessimistic about their future?
If I was a fan of said team, I’d fancy myself excited for their future.
Would you want this team to make a panicky short-term move at the trade deadline?
While I’ve contended, and still believe, that the New York Mets should not abandon all hope for this year’s postseason, I also contend it would have been foolish to give up one of the above parts for a quick fix. The team has just finished its first winning month since June of last season, and more importantly, they’re showing signs of believing in themselves as more than a streaky underdog. There are holes to fill, to be sure, but not many — and none that are beyond repair. They have as much upside as any youth-dominant team in the National League, and they are beginning to settle into their roles and play beyond their sum. Management has indicated that it’s prepared to make moves in the offseason, but first they would be wise to let this team, as currently composed, continue to develop. Once we’re really sure what the New York Mets are, then plugging in one final piece will be much simpler work — who knows, maybe a big-ticket free agent will be eager to play here.
One thing I am sure of: The New York Mets’ future looks brighter than it has in years, and they’re only a move or two away from being the real deal. However, this year’s trade deadline would have been too soon, and they’d have had to give up too much, to complete the picture just yet. Let this current group continue to grow together and show the world what it’s made of, and the final touches will present themselves soon enough.