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Homegrown, For Better Or Worse

Posted By Howard Megdal On May 3, 2012 @ 10:13 am In Today's Mets headlines | Comments Disabled

So, not hearing a lot of bragging from the Mets about how they replaced one homegrown rotation member, Mike Pelfrey, with another, Chris Schwinden.

It’s a sad thing to see Schwinden get lit up like this. The man doesn’t belong in the major leagues. Not now, probably not ever, but the Mets had to know he wasn’t ready to perform. And yet, Schwinden was the best option available to the team right now.

He’s no different than Kirk Nieuwenhuis, though their results have been markedly different. This isn’t the “new plan”. This is the New York Mets, not able to add talent that costs anything, and therefore stuck with MacGuyver roster construction, using whatever happens to be lying around.

Fortunately, they had a talented center fielder who has adapted quickly to the major leagues.

Unfortunately, they don’t have a starting pitcher.

Would Matt Harvey have more success? Probably, but the Mets don’t want to rush their top prospect, and with good reason. Letting him learn to pitch before getting to the major leagues will go a long way toward allowing him to maximize his potential. Rush him, and you run the risk of getting an unfinished pitcher, like the recently departed Pelfrey.

In an organization with money of any kind to spend, this is not an issue. It was raised on Twitter yesterday: what teams have reasonable alternatives if a starting pitcher goes down? Well, it varies, but a good example is the Yankees right across town, who have already lost a starter for the season in Michael Pineda, and replaced another with Freddy Garcia going to the bullpen. David Phelps, who would be a number three or four with the Mets, is their new number five, and he has a proven track record at Triple-A. Andy Pettitte, of course, is also around the corner. And both D.J. Mitchell and Adam Warren have exceeded anything the Triple-A Mets alternatives have done in the high minors.

The Red Sox just lost Josh Beckett to injury. They brought up Aaron Cook, a better alternative than anyone the Mets have. (Not that he’s great, but he’s at least had major league success and seems to be healthy.) The Braves, who were without Tim Hudson for the first several weeks, employed the talented Randall Delgado. The results aren’t there just yet, but Delgado had pitched more than 500 innings in the minor leagues, and giving him a shot was far different than pitching Harvey, who has a total of 165 2/3 professional innings under his belt.

I could go on. The point is, Sandy Alderson can’t be asked to produce a bunch of high-end pitching propects that are ready to join the Mets overnight, and some patience is necessary. But because homegrown is the only thing the Mets can afford right now, that makes the alternatives ugly, and Chris Young, with eight total starts over the past two years, looming as the savior.

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