Contrary to Published Reports, Mets Farm System Still Sucks

Jimmy:

I’m calling bullshit.

Folks are crowing all over the Metsblogosphere about the system’s strong showing in Jonathan Mayo’s Top 100 Prospect List.

In one fairly representative piece, Craig Lerner at Metsmerized writes, “Mets Prospects & System Finally Getting the Recognition They Deserve“:

The highest ranked Mets prospect was newly acquired catcher Travis d’Arnaud who checked in at sixth overall, with righthander Zack Wheeler not too far behind and ranked number eighth. Also making the list was newly acquired righthander Noah Syndergaard, who was ranked 29th. All in all, a very spectacular showing to say the least.

Meanwhile, based in part on these strong top-level prospects, all three acquired by trade, John Sickels now ranks the Mets system as 11th overall (up from 15th a year ago).

Lerner concluded his piece with this:

It was a great day for the Mets system yesterday as they finally received some well-deserved recognition and have obviously put together a very respectable minor league system that is feeding the major league squad with quality players over the last two years with even more to come.

And I say, Oh goodie. The high-ranked prospects prized by Mayo and Sickels are in no way a tribute to the Mets “system,” which I take to mean a combination of the club’s scouting, drafting, and development. Maybe I’m just playing in semantics here, but I don’t think so.

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It’s one thing to trade away established major leaguers — stars, in fact — for somebody else’s prized prospects. It’s entirely something else to demonstrate the skills and smarts to develop those prospects on your own, within your own system. Then you’ve built something to feel good about.

So, I’m not buying the idea that the Mets system is suddenly worthy of respect and recognition. Not yet. Where are the position players? From what I can tell, last year’s draft looks wobbly at best. Too soon to tell? Yeah, but it gets soon awfully early around baseball. You look up and the cupboard’s bare.

This is also why I think Sickels’ rankings are less than meaningful. Look at it this way, you are an organic farmer looking to buy some land. How fertile is that farm? What is it worth? How would you rank it’s value? Well, you look at what grows there, the quality of the soil — not at the package of goods the current owner just brought home from Shop N Save.

I don’t mean any disrespect to Craig Lerner, who consistently does good work; this is sports talk, a difference of perception. Albeit a major one. I’m not ready to hand out balloons and happy stickers to Sandy Alderson just yet.

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I think people who buy into “The Plan” believe very deeply in the importance of creating a strong, vital farm system. To which I reply, “Who in baseball doesn’t?” I mean, Omar talked that talk long ago, it never came to fruition. In part, because it’s not easy to do. Anybody can say those things. However:

Saying so does not make it so.

Mets GM Sandy Alderson is a good talker and he’s saying all the right things about the farm system. And he’s added to it through a couple of trades. But until I see the Mets draft wisely and develop their own prospects — and maybe some freaking hitters — players who become difference-makers — I can’t sing any accolades for the Mets system.

Mike:

You sound a tad negative there, Jimmy. I’m not ready to pile on, yet. When it comes to whether or not the Alderson regime can draft, sign, and develop talent, I have a grade of incomplete. I think it is too soon to say. They are clearly targeting players that they believe have high ceilings, and it is still a few years before we know about these guys. That is what is tough about regime change, and why the best organizations have continuity. I can’t come down hard on Alderson on drafting or developing yet, or praise him.

In my case the criticism is the very thing he is being specifically praised for. Based on rankings, he has gotten excellent value for Carlos Beltran and R.A.Dickey in rebuilding style trades. Since he just made the Dickey deal, and neither player we received back projects to be on our Opening Day roster, we can assume we are still rebuilding. That means that we will have punted 2011, 2012, and 2013 with Alderson, and the total haul is three prospects. I sure hope they are Hall of Famers.

No trade of Capuano at the 2011 deadline. No trade of Reyes at the 2011 deadline. No trade of Hairston at the 2012 deadline. I could go on. Alderson moves so cautiously, so painfully slow, that I fear it will be 2020 before he will be done. It has already been so long that fans are rightfully getting impatient about the condition of the major league roster. We can’t change history, I do not have a tardis, but these missed opportunities have been tough to stomach.

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If he is going to be praised for making the rebuilding trades he did make, the question has to be asked — why so few? And where could we be now if we had a few more prospects? Some of those guys could have been added to a Upton deal, or used to sweeten a deal for Span. I still think we might have a hole or two in the outfield.

Jimmy:

For the record, Mr. Sunshine, I don’t think I’m being negative. I just don’t understand the praise he’s getting. A system is a system, a factory, a farm, a method of production. It’s just crazy to me to praise the Mets system for players they didn’t produce.

Call me negative, but I don’t see a system that is “feeding the major league squad with quality players over the last two years.” Yes, some players have come up, often more out of necessity than anyone’s idea of readiness, and some have been okay. Add ‘em all up and you’ve got fourth place, again. I’m not seeing the next Strawberry, the next Wright, the next Reyes, anywhere on the horizon, at any level.

I agree, the grade is an “Incomplte.” It might happen. Alderson might achieve this great, worthy goal. But it’s not there yet. Remove the three guys we got from those two trades . . . and how grim is the system, exactly?

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3 comments

  1. Ken H. says:

    I agree that it’s too soon to tell how the talent Alderson has acquired will perform, but it’s not too soon to give him a grade based on how the players project to perform for the talent traded away in the process.

    Based on the best information available and the Mets’ current situation, I believe it’s fair to give Alderson an A for the Beltran trade and no worse than an A- for the Dickey trade

    Now the bad news. No more information is needed to grade the following transactions (and non-transactions):

    Reyes non-trade: F
    Hairston non-trade: D
    Capuano non-trade: D
    Pagan trade: F (Alderson deserved better out of Ramirez though.)

    I won’t include the K-Rod trade here because it was principally a salary dump, but as that season developed, it’s probably generous of me to not factor this one in.

    I still have a good deal of faith in Alderson to put a competitive team on the field by 2014. He has made a couple of very solid trades, but he’s also let a couple of opportunities slip by. Let’s not forget that his current employers have proven themselves to be a couple of the least competent team owners this side of Woody Johnson. Sandy is an intelligent guy. He will continue to identify value opportunities in the trade market. The Reyes non-trade was Alderson’s most egregious error as GM, but if the team improves, he should not be put in a similar situation any time soon.

    Grade: B

  2. Alan K. says:

    Take D’Arnaud, Wheeler and Syndergaard out of the equation and there are zero Mets on the top 100 prospect list. How does that reflect positively on the Mets’ scouting, drafting, and development? Jimmy’s bullshit call is spot on.

  3. Eric says:

    I can look at some of the recent Vet Minor League Contract signings and ASSUME that they could make the team….could prove themselves valuable…….could be involved in a mid season trade for younger talent/prospects. From Santana to Buck to Hawkins and the like—they could all develop value for a pennant chase team at the trade deadline.

    I’m then faced with the reality that Sandy’s regime has been curiously ABSENT from in season trades…. trades that typically overvalue usable NOW players. I won’t pick at specifics—enough has already been written here. The SLUGGISH activity level of THE TROIKA (Sandy and “friends”) is indicative of an organization that REMAINS in disarray.

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