I’m sick over the fact the Mets have an AAA team in Las Vegas. The only question in my mind is, “How big a disaster is this going to be?”
I see this situation as analogous to the early years for the Colorado Rockies. You get a lot of misinformation in the data — where ordinary hitters suddenly look like studs — and worse, much worse, it might be a place that destroys pitchers.
Right now, the top hitters are Josh Satin, Andrew Brown, Juan Lagares, and Jamie Hoffman. They are all putting up big-time numbers. Lagares slugging .551; Satin slugging .630! As if they were actual hitters. That crappy unit scored 12 runs on Thursday night — and lost. It’s a circus.
The team ERA is 5.51!
This is where we are going to send all our up-and-coming pitchers? And don’t forget, some of these guys will be our best trading chips. That is, until they get to Vegas and their numbers turn to mush.
I don’t want to get carried away or anything. It is beyond stupid for a team to put its Triple A team in Las Vegas. Soft enough?
I keep hearing Ricciardi’s comment about how, when he was GM with Toronto, they tried to keep their top pitchers down at AA rather than send them to Vegas. Just the other day, DePodesta was quoted about possibly jumping Montero from AA directly to Flushing, skipping Vegas altogether — a tacit admission that Vegas may not be the best place for developing a prized pitcher. I know I’ve said this before.
Then the Mets drop Josh Edgin and send him all the way down to AA — because, as Terry Collins admitted, they were worried about his pitching in the disaster that is Las Vegas baseball. It might be bad for his confidence. Read this quote from Collins, it’s amazing:
“The worst place you can send a pitcher who is struggling mentally is to Las Vegas, or to Colorado Springs, or to Albuquerque — one of those places where you make a good pitch and the guy hits a two-run double. So I just said, ‘Go to Binghamton. You know what? You’re close. You’re going to get your confidence back.”
Meanwhile, we send our top pitching prospect there and then made negative remarks about his progress. Terrific. I read articles daily that talk about Wheeler’s “poor start” and recite stats as if they had any meaning whatsoever.
It’s important to notice how the guys stuck on the baseball side of the team are starting to comment. They can’t be happy. After three years of trying to build a strong farm system, the team decides to hinder development for a few more minor league dollars? I know Buffalo tossed them aside, but its a big country. This move smacks of taking the biggest dollars available no matter what the consequences. You mentioned the circus. Doing this would be like a New York City team renting out its parking lot to a circus during the season. Who would do that, right? Vegas has the stench of the Madoff triplets — Katz, Wilpon, and Wilpon.
If only this team had real ownership instead of that clown (sticking with the circus theme). People need to start doing the mental calculations we learned to do with the Rockies, especially during the early years. We’d hear a guy is hitting .340 with 40 HRs and 120 RBIs and we’d automatically normalize the numbers in our heads. But even more than that, we’d say, “Yeah, but it’s Colorado.” In some respects, you had to throw it all out the window. Especially for pitchers — no one could succeed there. No one, at least not for long. The Rockies are still desperately trying to figure it out.
Of course. But worse is how does any player develop? Isn’t that, you know, the idea of the minor league teams? Let’s focus on the hitting side of the equation. A guy like Wilmer Flores has a nice season in AA, but not so fantastic that Citi Field should be the next step. Normal situation, he goes to Triple A for a little more seasoning. Things get slightly tougher as he sees some major league castoffs and plays with more veterans. Sounds good.
Only in Vegas every fly ball he hits goes out, and the opposing pitcher can’t get a curveball to break. Triple A could end up being less of a challenge than Double A, leaving us with no place to send players like this to further develop their skills.
Collins was critical of Wheeler the other day — and I’m guessing the kid is not happy about any of this, btw — noting how the park has probably gotten into his head, he’s trying to avoid contact, overthrowing, and so on. Hello? Hello? Forget the criticism of the kid, notice instead the recognition that the park is a big issue — that the location itself is the biggest challenge Wheeler has to face. Refining his secondary pitches? It’s not going to happen out there, it’s like throwing cue balls in that dry air. What about confidence? Command? Managing a ballgame? How do any of those things improve in Vegas? Okay, yes, I realize that Collin McHugh has had a nice start so far. There will always be exceptions. But there’s no way in the world I see this as a good experience for Zack Wheeler. Wait till the heat sets in. These guys will be wilting under those conditions. Everything this management group has preached for three years has been about draft and development, waiting for the prospects, and now we throw Vegas into the system? Thank goodness Matt Harvey got out when he did.
One more thing to remember is this. It’s very far from New York. Real major market teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, and Phillies keep their Triple A affiliates close by so when a call-up is needed the player can quickly get to the majors. It is only a matter of time until the Mets play a game shorthanded waiting for someone to get to New York from Las Vegas or another PCL outpost.
The Mets are locked in for a two-year contract. After that, it must end before we see lasting damage to the organization. Get out, get out as soon as possible, and get Wheeler out of there even faster before the arm blows up.