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Mets About to Make Another “Generation K” Mistake?

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.

14 thoughts on “Mets About to Make Another “Generation K” Mistake?

  • Black Hat

    Alderson is smarter than that. Testing the market on Niese is smart. Trading him for Seth Smith ain’t. (Now watch the deal go down making me look like an idiot.).

  • I don’t think he’s entertaining the notion that these guys are can’t miss, but rather the Mets aren’t going to compete this year or next (and really probably the one after that as well) so if Alderson’s got a chance to get a few more prospects for Niese, and they are good prospects, he might do it. But I don’t think he’s going to give Niese away for nothing. The reports out now is that he’s need to be “knocked out” by an offer to move Niese. I think he’s listening to offers on just about everyone. I think he should.
    As for Gee, I don’t think we can yet say that he’s a “reliable starter.” Not enough of a sample size.

  • Paul+L.

    Fast-forward to the present. It is clear Sandy Alderson is counting on Zach 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?

    Not from Sandy Alderson ever. And not from anyone in the FO………..Your article is bogus.

  • This was specualtive nonsense. I’d give it more than 2 thumbs down if I had more hands.

  • mattytunks

    seems a bit pessimistic to say none will succeed. i think that when you have 4 high ceiling prospects you can count on one of them being at least serviceable. the real problem here is counting on major leaguers that aren’t really that good. dont get me wrong, i like neise a lot. but the truth of the matter is that this could be the best he will ever be. a middle rotation pitcher that hasn’t gotten thru a whole season yet. what if his trade value never gets higher? the problem with minaya’s reign as gm was that he didnt cash the chips he had when there was a need. think about it. fmart and milledge could have at least got the mets a seviceable (if not really good) reliever when they had high value in 2007 or 2008. minaya held onto those guys and the mets couldnt hold on to the division lead both years.
    Sandy isnt afraid to move players when they have value. if he could net a position player and a quality arm for neise now, why not. if you throw enough stuff at a wall, a few good ball players will stick, know what i mean?

  • Pedro

    Who said Zach Wheeler, Matt Harvey, Jeurys Familia and Jenrry Mejia “Can’t miss” prospects?

    Who said Alderson is counting on these four put them back in contention? Is this an assumption on your part? It’s unrealistic to expect these kids to do that.

    The Mets need depth in the minor leagues. If Jon Neise can bring back two quality prospects that add to your future depth, doesn’t it make sense to have the conversation?

    By the way, who said Alderson is shopping Jon Neise anway? Isn’t it possible it’s the other way around? Team are calling Alderson perhaps? Wouldn’t you try to take advantage of a down team with financial issues and a perceived weak minor league system?

    Why wouldn’t you listen to trade offers for anyone on this team?

  • Seth

    Okay, that came out with crazy formatting. Let’s try that again:

    I specifically recall an interview with DePodesta after the Beltran trade, when he was asked about the potential of Familia, Harvey, Mejia, and Wheeler, and he said something like ”we’re hopeful that at least one of those guys will turn into a good major league pitcher. We’d be ecstatic if we hit on 2 or 3 of them.”

    Dangling Niese is really just about seeing what kind of pieces they might be able to get for Niese. If they can improve their situation, they do it. If not, they don’t. It has nothing to do with the idea that the rotation will be filled by four players, three of whom have never pitched above AA and one of whom shouldn’t have.

  • Scott pronesti

    God reading this was a waste of time. Alderson is doing his due diligence as a GM of a fourth place team by seeing what he can get for everyone on this roster. The real mistake the mets made with generation K was the innings leap they had the year they all entered the majors. Alderson knows the value of pitching which is why he is stock piling pitching, I.e. Wheeler trade and all the young pitchers taken in 2011 draft.

  • I dont get that feeling that the franchise is waiting for the young prospects to get to the MLB level. They are still in the minors and some might have setbacks. So there is still time. Would Alderson deal Wheeler if he was blown away by a trade, I would think he would do that. But you can’t go on and say because of past history, history is going to repeat itself. Then why bother getting prospects and see if they’ll pan out. We should have just let Minaya continue do his thing. If they don’t pan out then so be it but it’s far worse than not trying.

  • angel

    This ‘article’ is pure drivel! Clearly February can’t get here soon enough! So, you’re assuming that Alderson is going to make the same mistake of past Met GMs, you’re assuming he thinks the 4 kids in the minors are can’t-miss (which is pure lunacy), and you’re assuming his rationale for trading Niese – if in case he does deal him is that he won’t have any room for him in the rotation… in 2014!!! Dude, either get into fantasy football, or find some other hobby to pass the time between the World Series and when pitchers and catchers report!

  • David K

    Of course, before “Generation K”, the Mets pinned their hopes on prospects named Gooden, Darling, and Fernandez, and that turned out pretty good for them. I know the odds of that happening again are less than the “Generation K” case, but I’m just saying…

  • Pingback: The Lesson of Generation K

  • Matthew

    Of course, one of the other Gen-K mistakes was allowing a dyed-in-the-wool Philly to manage these prized prospects and pitch their arms off.

  • i agree with everyone that at least testing niese’s market is worthwhile, but i don’t think they should trade him. i’m not a big fan of prospects to begin with (strasburg most recently), and i agree; they may never be ready. i honestly haven’t heard anyone call them can’t miss, but i also agree with the basic premise here. don’t plan around the prospects, but plan them around the team, and hopefully they become the center of the team. alderson is a smart man, and so far he hasn’t really given me any reason to be unimpressed with what he did, outside of the handling of reyes and tendering pelf, who shouldn’t be pitching for the mets. i trust he knows what he’s doing, and i’m always gonna keep cutting him slack while he’s working under the wilpons

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