Okay, Mike, dream with me.
I read the phrase from time to time, most often coming from Mack Ade’s splendid, blazing keyboard, but the sentiment is widely shared, this idea that by 2015 the Mets might be holding “four aces.”
Harvey, Wheeler, Syndergaard, Montero.
I realize there’s quite a leap to get there — many of us remember “IPP”: Izzy, Paul, and Pulse — so we’re not inclined to count our prospects before they’re hatched.
But no matter the configuration, it’s not hard to imagine the Mets with a fierce, young, hard-throwing staff at this time next year.
You feel it?
Of course. Looking up and down the organization, these guys are the strength. Pitchers who are advertised as being the type that not only can win, but make you sit up and take notice. In Harvey’s case we have already seen him be dominant, the only question now is will he bounce back from his injury. The very early prognosis is things are moving along well.
When it comes to Wheeler, I have already declared him the player that I am most pumped up to watch for this year, 2014. He already showed electric stuff in 2013 and had enough rookie success to make me confident he can do even bigger things. And Syndergaard is touted as a universal top 20 major league prospect. Noah looks the part of stud pitcher too, we were able to get some nice close up shots of him at the Futures Game last year and he is an imposing sight.
Montero is different then Syndergaard, not quite a finesse pitcher, but he doesn’t have the overwhelming fastballs of the other three. His greatest asset to-date has been outstanding control. What Montero might lack in pure stuff has not hurt his performance. He has risen through every level of the Mets system without any real bumps along the way. Last year, at age 22, Montero posted a 3.05 ERA and 1.241 WHIP in 16 starts at our Triple-A hitters’ haven in Las Vegas.
I’ll admit that calling Montero an “ace” is stretching it — but he could be good! It’s fair to note that those four aside, the Mets will also control Colon, Gee, Niese, and Mejia in 2015. So if stockpiling pitching was the idea, it looks like Sandy Alderson has pulled it off — at least, from here, in February, 2014. Things can change quickly.
For all the criticism he has gotten here at “2 Guys” — all of it fair, btw, and much of it deserved — Alderson did execute the trades that brought over Wheeler and Syndergaard. He did sign Montero as an international free agent. He went out and got Bartolo Colon. This goes to the heart of his legacy with the Mets. There’s a lot riding on those arms.
I don’t personally like the Colon signing, that second year looks ugly. But within the context of our overall pitching situation that is a quibble. The list of arms we have right now is the greatest case for optimism. It can even be argued that we don’t have room for all of these guys, which always has me wondering about a potential trade. Even pitching-rich teams need some hitting. But this is a delicate balance, pitchers also are fragile, and excess can evaporate very quickly. That’s why it’s not easy being a GM.
Hey, it’s not even easy being an armchair GM — the salted cashews are in the other room! Guys suddenly go down, fall apart, fail to perform. Thus the twin truisms: 1) You can’t have too much pitching; and 2) There is no such thing as a pitching prospect.
The Mets also appear to have an interesting second-wave of prospects moving through, guys like Lara, Matz, Ynoa, Fulmer, etc. Plus bullpen arms who might become extremely valuable some day, guys like Mazzoni and Goeddel, to name just two.
Which brings us to today, the first game of Spring Training. I enjoy these early games, with a new pitcher on the hill practically every inning. I’m most looking forward to that this spring, taking a look at the parade of young pitchers.