New York Mets Echo Tampa Bay Rays’ Method, But Success Is Still Years Away

It wasn’t such a long time ago the New York Mets were an excellent baseball team. As recently as 2006, they were one game away from the World Series, and as recently as 2008 they were battling for the postseason. But after winning  between 70 and 79 games the last four years, the Mets and their fans are searching for answers. One thing that had to make Mets fans feel a little better about their team was when the New York Post’s Kevin Kernan asked Rays Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations (and de facto GM) Andrew Friedman about the Mets system and he had this to say:

“The Mets have a tremendous amount of young talent,’’ Friedman told The Post yesterday. “I think those guys have done a tremendous job of acquiring some high-end young players that they can grow with, and I think that [front office] is extremely good at supplementing around those guys and also having enough good young depth.

The Mets indeed have gathered themselves a group of young impact players even the Rays would be proud of. They found a great young starter on Jonathon Niese, signed him to a Rays-esque extension prior to the 2012 season, and watched him deliver a breakout year, going 13-9 with a 3.40 ERA in 190.1 innings pitched. Pairing him with talented young starter Matt Harvey and top prospect Zack Wheeler gives the Mets the chance for a homegrown top three in their rotation as good as anyone in baseball. And then you have prospects like Travis d’Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard acquired in the R.A. Dickey trade, although Syndergaard could be a while away, right-hander Jenrry Mejia, infielder Wilmer Flores, and then a group of talented prospects in the low minors like their last two first round picks, shortstop Gavin Cecchini and outfielder Brandon Nimmo, and right-handers Luis Mateo, Rafael Montero, and Hansel Robles. But developing a good group of prospects isn’t the only way the Mets have emulated the Rays.

They found a great pitcher years ago on the scrapheap, R.A. Dickey, watched him turn into a Cy Young-caliber pitcher, and had no qualms dealing him when the right package of prospects came around from the Toronto Blue Jays, exactly what the Rays would have done. (In getting d’Arnaud, they got themselves the topflight catching prospect the Rays have never been able to get ahold of.) They’ve also had some success with pitchers like Chris Young and Chris Capuano and outfielder Scott Hairston on low-risk deals, and they hope that Shaun Marcum will be next. But their reclamation project track record has been far too spotty at this point and they’ve never been able to copy the Rays’ specialty of finding relievers on the cheap, getting a few nice middle relief finds like Jason Isringhausen and Tim Byrdak in 2011 but missing big with guys like Frank Francisco and never getting a consistent late-inning presence. The bottom line with the Mets is that they have made strides with their minor league system and have found some quality low-cost signings in the majors, but the core of their team simply isn’t there yet. They parallel the Rays’ Evan Longoria with quite possibly a better player in David Wright, but beyond him, Ike Davis, and maybe Ruben Tejada and Lucas Duda, who else can be above-average among their major league position players? But that’s not unexpected. If the Mets really want to follow the Rays’ example, it’s going to take time.

There’s going to be no quick fix for the Mets- they are going to have to get worse and compile top prospects through the draft for years before their team finally comes together. There’s hope on the horizon, but Mets fans are going to have to stay patient- something especially hard to do in New York City instead of Tampa Bay- and hope that their team refuses to yield to the pressure and continues to do the same. Fans during the Devil Rays years understand how tough it is to lose game after game and become a laughingstock throughout baseball. But if the Mets can somehow find the light at the end of the tunnel and put together a run of success anything like what the Rays have done in recent years, it will all be worth it.

Topics: New York Mets, Tampa Bay Rays

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  • Kevin

    Mets VS Rays Player by Player 2013 Comparison

    This is based on projecting player performance for 2013 on a who would you select to man the postion for these 2 team rosters.
    Superior Player in CAPS, Comments in (),

    POSITION PLAYERS

    1B: DAVIS vs Loney edge METS (By a considerable margin

    2B: MURPHY vs Roberts edge METS (Murphy’s got an excellent bat, plus for position)

    3B: WRIGHT vs Longoria edge METS (by a nautical mile)

    SS: TEJADA vs Escobar edge METS (Tejada is better today and his best is ahead)

    C: Buck vs Molina edge METS (He wasnt better in Toronto and he isn’t now either, didn’t need it so I left D’Arnaud out of debate)

    CF: Nieuwenhaus vs Jennings EVEN (Nieuwenhaus is younger, lefty and has similar prorated stats)

    LF: Duda vs Joyce EVEN (Duda is 2 years younger, lefty and has identical prorated stats)

    RF: platoon vs ZOBRIST edge RAYS ( You get this on the merits of it being a single reliable player but all the platoon has to do is replace Scott Hariston stats last year to neutralize this advantage)

    Synopsis: Edge Mets

    The Mets have a dynamic infield built on the pillars of their corner infielders who provide excellent offensive and defensive play and are supported by the soild and improving play of thier middle infielders. This group could blossom into a historic infield with the emegance of Travis D’Arnaud and the continued development of Tejada offensively and Murphy defensively. The only postion that the Rays command an advantage is in RF and only because Zobrist’s adequate stats are as yet uncontested by anyone identified in camp.

    STARTING PITCHING

    SP1: Santana vs PRICE edge RAYS (Depends on which Johan shows up
    but could be a tie if he has the endurance to pich whole year like 12′ first half)

    SP2: Niese vs Hellickson EVEN

    SP3: Harvey vs Moore EVEN

    SP4: Marcum vs Cobb EVEN

    SP5: Gee vs Niemann EVEN

    Synopsis: Slight edge Rays

    The Mets starters are competitive with Rays with a slight preseason advantage to Tampa. This is after trading R.A. Dickey and still having potentially our best pitcher (talent wise) Wheeler in Triple A. The Mets also have more ML ready spot starters (McHugh, Hefner and projectable ML ready talent (Wheeler, Mejia, Famila).

    RELIEF PITCHING

    CL: Lyon vs Rodney EVEN ( I have to go on career stats and not 1 year abberations. Even 3 year averages destroy Rodney’s projections and call into questions PED issues.)

    RP: Parnell vs Mcgee EVEN (Parnell is coming into his prime with 100 mph heat and a pitchers approach, He could be a dominant Closer solution which seems to echo McGee’s profile)

    RP: Francisco vs Peralta edge RAYS (If Francisco is healthy this is a tie)

    RP: Atchison vs Gomes EVEN

    RP: Burke vs Ramos EVEN

    RP: Hawkins, Feliciano vs Farnesworth edge Mets ( Farnsworth is done)

    Synopsis: EVEN

    The fortunes of relief pitchers are typically unpredictable. The Mets also have other established players in camp vie for a spot in the pen (Acosta, Byrdak, Laffey) as well as younger players with great potential ( Carson, Edgin, Egbert, Familia, Ramierez)

    Watch out for the Mets in 2013!

    • Juan

      So according to your analysis, the Mets. Have a better team and will win more games than the Rays….. Wow!!!! LMAO!!!!!

      • Kevin

        Hey John, clean out your ears and take off those Ray colored glasses. I notice you could not contradict the analysis. The Mets have better players than I am sure you realized and you have lost talent with your inability to keep players with your constrained small market budget. My analysis shows that as currently contituted the Mets have as much potential on their roster as your team. Unfortunately we play in the NL East and you are in a lighter division with the atrophy that will affect the Yankees, instability of the Angelos owned Orioles, neurotic and brittle Red Sox, and yet to prove they are more than mediocre and aging Blue Jays. So no you may win more games but it still won’t mean your a better team. Mets are improving with a dynamic young MLB talent and improving farm system, not to mention 60 to 70 million in payroll flexibility starting in 2014. Don’t worry your players are safe since like the Rays the Mets are deep in pitching. So yeah! maybe you should adopt a NL team since the run we are gonna get on will torture the Yankee fans for the next 10 or 12 years! If you care I would also be interested in a point by point counter argument but then again if you could be correct then really your just tearing your own team apart!
        Adios my new Mets fan!

  • Robbie_Knopf

    Congratulations, guys. I am now thoroughly confused.

    • Kevin

      What exactly are you confused about Robbie? Your article was a back handed compliment to the Mets and the current leadership of the front office. An outstanding group of professionals that has rebuilt a complete disaster impacted by a national financial scandal that negatively impacted the team finances, reputation and morale. I have provided a retort to your statements about the similarities or superior attributes of my team and would appreciate any constructive reply directed to the points of comparison that you can muster.

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