Mets New Era: Alderson/Cohen Dialing In On Minor League Development

The Missing Mets Culture (Phoyo: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports_

Mets fans rejoice. Led by Sandy Alderson, the New Era envisions the entire organization in one frame, focusing on Minor League teams.

The Mets system-wide overhaul, jettisoned by Steve Cohen’s hiring of Sandy Alderson, is still in its infancy.

There’s more to come, and the announcement by Jon Heyman of the MLB Network via Twitter, that the pending sale of the Mets organization to Steve Cohen will also include these Mets farm teams:

The Syracuse, Port St. Lucie, and Brooklyn minor league franchises stand on its own as another indication the Mets New Era is real.

While the Mets, especially Alderson, have always been dead-on in spotting talent, too many of their top draft picks die young in the professional career or falter when they finally make it to The Show.

Mets Failure To Develop Young Talent

Mets Generation K (Newsday)
Mets Generation K (Newsday)

In 1993, for instance, the Mets drafted Paul Wilson as the number one overall pick, hoping that the lanky right-hander would be the foundation of their Generation K trio (along with Bill Pulsipher and Jason Isringhausen) for many seasons to come.

The effort never developed. Wilson, in his only season with the Mets, went 5-12 with a 5.38 ERA, and Pulsipher bounced around both leagues before calling it quits with a lifetime 13-19 5.15 career record.

Ironically, it was only after he left the Mets that Isringhausen went to become one of the top relief specialists and closer in baseball.

Spotting talent is one thing; developing it is quite another animal.

Noticeably, the Mets improved in that area when Sandy Alderson came on board.

It was Alderson who drafted a young and talented core of pitchers and position players during his eight-year run with the Mets as general manager. Notable Alderson picks included Michael Conforto, Noah Syndergaard, Dominic Smith, Brandon Nimmo, Zack Wheeler, Travis d’Arnaud’Arnaud, David Peterson, Pete Alonso, and Seth Lugo.

A few like Wheeler and d’Arnaud took longer to develop, but like a fine wine, with time, each is enjoying an extended and productive career in the big leagues.

No More Rosario’s

Amed Rosario, Shortstop, New York Mets (Photo: New York Post)
Amed Rosario, Shortstop, New York Mets (Photo: New York Post)

In contrast and more recently, once a top Mets prospect, Amed Rosario struggles to keep his job at shortstop, and like Wilson and Pulsipher before him, is probably on the team’s shortlist of players who must be moved during the offseason.

The Mets rushed Rosario along because the franchise needed to put him on display as a sign of the future, not because the team needed him.

Blessed with great speed and athleticism, Rosario had to be taught the knack of stealing bases and how to make the phantom base touch on a double play, skills he should have acquired on his way to the majors – not at the major league level. 

Michael Conforto Credits Sandy Alderson

In contrast, it’s noteworthy that Michael Conforto specifically credits Sandy Alderson for his help along the way to the Mets. Even during his initial struggles to stay with the team.

Michael Conforto: Finally, the breakout season everyone knew was coming
Michael Conforto: Finally, the breakout season everyone knew was coming

Conforto had these words for the New York Daily News upon hearing Alderson was coming back:

“I had a lot of conversations with him about the things that he saw that I needed to do to stick around up here at this level. So I definitely respect him. I am thankful that he brought me up when he did, that Alderson drafted me, that he had faith in me.”

The fate of the Mets Double-A club in Binghamton is still unknown due to MLB’s plan to reduce the number of affiliates each big club can have.

But Cohen’s purchase of two low-level Mets teams, plus their Triple-A team in Syracuse, is a profound development for the Mets franchise as a whole.

Mets New Era: It Takes A Village To Raise A Child

“It takes a village to raise a child” is an African proverb that means that an entire community of people must interact with children for those children to experience and grow in a safe and healthy environment.

So too it is with the children in the Mets farm system.

More good news emerged this week with the announcement the Mets are sending sixty players to a revival of the Instructional League, recently authorized by MLB.

The Mets are expected to include OF Pete Crow-Armstrong, RHP, J.T. Ginn, and CF, Isaiah Greene, and their fifth pick, catcher, Matthew Dyer.

When we talk about player development, we are not only speaking of learning the baseball-related skills that are needed to make it to the majors, but also the teaching of those intangibles and the mental side of the game that is often neglected.

Teaching reality and not the dream is part of the growing up process that can take place in the earliest stages of a player’s development.

Have Pete Alonso spend a day or two in Florida with these kids as an example of the highs and lows they can expect during their entire baseball career.

Although it may not be the intention of the Mets, for the ones who don’t make it to the majors, the Mets will have succeeded in transferring life skills that can be applied later when seeking gainful employment in a different arena.

Stingy Wilpons – No More

We’ll probably never know, but it’s possible Brodie Van Wagenen had some of these same ideas, only to have the door slammed in his face when he went to Fred and Jeff Wilpon – because “it’s too costly”.

Sandy Alderson Rejoins The Mets (Seth Wenig/Associated Press)
Sandy Alderson Rejoins The Mets (Seth Wenig/Associated Press)

With the arrival of Steve Cohen, that is not likely to be his answer to Alderson. Like any successful business person, though, Cohen will expect and demand results.

The trick with Cohen will be how extensive his attention span and level of patience is – versus how little time it took him to amass the fortune he now has.

Emboldening the Mets farm system will require a significant increase in overall payroll with the addition of staff.

Not to be overlooked is the wealth of talent the Mets have in former players like David Wright, Ron Darling – and even a few like Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry, who have personal stories to tell young players about the traps within “The Show”.

It all takes an investment of time and money to coordinate what the Mets will be seeking to accomplish. Part of the process can and should be, employing these players to enlighten “the kids” as to what lies ahead.

But as they say, when the formative years of a child ages 1-4 are discussed as the make or break years in a person’s eventual development through their teens and eventually as an adult – the Mets must plant the seeds now for the flowers to bloom later.

Steve Cohen and Sandy Alderson have a plan to make that happen, as well as to develop what has been lacking for so long – a winning culture.

One that separates the Mets from other teams and makes them an organization that players, coaches, and front office personnel from around the world of baseball want to share in.

Welcome to the New Mets Era.


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Author: stevecontursi

I am an amateur writer with a passion for baseball and all things Yankees and Mets.