By Rich Coutinho
» More Columns
The Mets fan has felt beat up the past few years, and rightfully so. The record on the field has not been where it should be and the future has been cloudy.
I stress the word was because I firmly believe that this team is on the rise. Are there unresolved problems? Absolutely. But Sandy Alderson has the ship steering in the right direction, and in 12 to 24 months I think that Mets fans will be happy campers.
The biggest reason I say that is because there is a plan, and there always has been one. The plan always focused on the year 2014, when the bloated contracts were set to expire coupled with the arrival of young prospects that would become the future of the organization. We have already seen players like Ike Davis, Matt Harvey, Dillon Gee and Ruben Tejada contribute and show great promise.
We have also seen Alderson trade for blue-chip prospects in exchange for players like Carlos Beltran and R.A. Dickey. Come next offseason, the Mets will have more payroll flexibility than they have had in over a decade.
In many ways, the Mets have used the blueprint that the World Champion San Francisco Giants have used.
Accumulate top-level pitching prospects either via trade or the draft, sign one offensive player long-term that is homegrown, and the rest of the lineup can be assembled as you go. When you look at the ’12 Giants, their lineup is vastly different from the ’10 World Championship team aside from Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval.
Their entire outfield is different and their infield is almost entirely different, but core starting pitchers remained constant with the bullpen being tweaked year to year because of injuries and performance. This is the plan that Mets fans will begin to see in earnest this year.
In sports, nothing is guaranteed. But I personally like what Alderson is doing here. It creates a solid foundation and provides the flexibility to add players in position of need. I have seen a marked improvement in the level of players I see in the Minor League complex every Spring Training, and I like the fact that the entire organization has a unified approach on how it develops players.
I know most media types do not share my optimism, but I have spent time with Alderson, J.P. Ricciardi and Paul DePodesta, as well as John Ricco. They are great baseball people and they live, eat and sleep the game. The Mets’ scouting department has been significantly upgraded, and those professionals are also making solid contributions toward carving out a great future for Mets fans.
I know that Mets fans are being told a much different story from other people, and I am not promising a World Series or even a playoff appearance in 2013. But this team is on the rise and will make you proud in the coming years.
And the first steps toward that journey will take place in 2013.
The Mets have been extremely quiet this offseason — as expected — but are they headed in the right direction? Do you believe that they’ll be competitive by 2014? Sound off with your thoughts and comments below…