All of this nonsensical talk of the Mets thinking about trading Jonathon Niese has got me thinking that the Mets could be setting themselves up for another “Generation K” mistake.
For you younger readers or you older, forgetful readers:
In the mid-1990’s the Mets were counting on young stud starters Jason Isringhausen, Bill Pulsipher and Paul Wilson (below, dubbed Generation K) to lead them to the promised land with a string of 20-win seasons each. These were can’t-miss guys. Of course they all missed. Wilson and Pulsipher struggled through injuries, and Isringhausen just struggled until he was dealt to the A’s and converted to a reliever, a role in which he flourished.
Poor Isringhausen, unable to grow a beard. And why do Isringhausen and Wilson look more like Jim Carrey and Liev Schreiber, respectively?!
Fast-forward to the present. It is clear Sandy Alderson is counting on Zack Wheeler, Matt Harvey, Jeurys Familia and Jenrry Mejia to emerge in 2014 and pitch the Mets into contention (Mejia could eventually wind up coming out of the bullpen). These are all considered can’t-miss guys. Hmm, where have I heard that before?
The trade talk of Niese makes it clear that Alderson feels that there will be no room in the rotation for him in a couple of years, so why not trade him now and get something for him?
This presents two problems — first, who pitches for the Mets over the next couple of seasons until the young studs are ready? And two, what if they are never ready?
It seems like so many young pitchers are getting injured; Mejia is recovering from Tommy John surgery as we speak. Such injuries set back a player’s progress for a year. If any of the other three guys suffers a similar injury, the grand plans goes out the window.
And what if they are just not good enough? You can’t swing a maple bat without the shards hitting a can’t-miss pitching prospect who never made it. You just can’t put an entire franchise on hold waiting for prospects to fulfill their potential.
What I think the Mets should do is build their pitching staff thinking these guys will not make it (or maybe leaving one slot open for one of them). Then if they do all make it, great, you have trading chips. But if not, you are not sitting back and waiting. This means keeping guys like Niese and Dillon Gee for now. It’s nice to know that going forward you can count on at having at least two reliable young starters in the rotation.
Then again, there’s no way these guys don’t make it, right? I think that’s what mid-1990s general manager Joe McIlvaine was saying on his way out the door.