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Homegrown

Posted By Howard Megdal On April 27, 2012 @ 7:57 am In Today's Mets headlines | Comments Disabled

Look, I’m not even going to bother pointing out in any detail that the all-homegrown Mets lineup is a function of ownership’s financial limitations. We all know, or should know, how we got here.

The question is: what has this new, one-pronged approach brought the Mets?

Adam Rubin pointed out that this was the third all-homegrown lineup in Mets history. The other two were deployed [1] in September 1971. Well, was this a glory time for the franchise? Hardly. The Mets won 83 games in 1971, 83 games in 1972, and 82 games in 1973-sneaking in a division title with the worst winning percentage of any division winner ever- then 71 wins in 1974.

As for the actual homegrowners: Duffy Dyer, C, Ed Kranepool, 1B, Ted Martinez, 2B, Tim Foli, 3B, Bud Harrelson, SS, Cleon Jones and John Milner, LF, Mike Jorgensen, CF, Ken Singleton, RF, easily the most valuable of the group was Singleton. The Mets traded him, along with Tim Foli and Mike Jorgensen in April 1972 for Rusty Staub, signing Staub to a three-year, $330,000 contract.

So the all-homegrown dream fell apart pretty quickly.

But had the Mets kept that team together, do we have any reason to believe things would have turned out better? Is there some value to exactly how players are acquired? Or is this simply a fetish, getting explored right now because the Mets have lacked the wherewithal to bring in anyone of impact other than whoever graduates from the farm system, and is therefore cost-controlled?

The other popular notion is to re-examine the Omar Minaya Era in light of so many of these players coming from his watch. And never mind that most of them never got a shot under Minaya, or in the case of Murphy, for instance, never were sent to one position, second base, to learn and develop.

We will, in a way few general managers get, now manage to evaluate Minaya’s drafting and international signings in a largely comprehensive way. I’ll be honest, though: I’m not quite sure it means anything.

Oh, sure, if this team manages to go on and win 95 games, then we have grossly underestimated Omar Minaya’s player development system. But even then, most critics of Omar didn’t take issue with his ability to identify young talent, but rather his ability to put that talent in position to win, and augment it, along with big ticket signings, with the secondary players needed to fill out a roster.

And let’s say this team wins 70 games. Is that really an indictment of Omar Minaya’s young talent? I don’t think so; again, most teams that aren’t being run on an emergency basis can acquire players in a variety of ways, and supplement that kind of production from in-house talent to go ahead and win divisions and pennants. As Sandy Alderson said when he was hired, he wants to acquire talent through every channel available, and to be in the free agent market every year.

But there’s no money for that. So for now, the Mets need to rely solely on the talent evaluations of his predecessor. How limited the results are likely to be ultimately will say far more about the current state of ownership than it does about the old general manager.

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