Mets taking All-Star Game opportunity to sell franchise
Manager Terry Collins’s words were equal parts fact and warning shot across the bows of the other 29 MLB franchises.
“We’ve said it before, we have players coming. We have pitching coming. I think all this does is prove the point [that] down the road there’s going to be a lot of fun around here,” Collins said during his media availability Monday afternoon at Citi Field.
Fun has been something in short supply for Citi Field and, by proxy, the Mets in the park’s four-and-a-half year history. Since it opened in 2009, Citi Field has been a homefield disadvantage for the Mets, who have won only 175 of the 368 regular-season games played there.
Not coincidentally, the Mets have finished fourth in each of the last four seasons. After 91 games this season, the Mets’ 41-50 mark is fourth-best in the NL East. They trail division-leading Atlanta by 11 games, and are 10 games behind wild-card co-leaders Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.
So, no, it does not seem likely that Flushing will play host a playoff game this fall for the first time since the night of Oct. 19, 2006. That is the night etched in Mets fans’ memory banks due to Adam Wainwright freezing Carlos Beltran with a curveball to end Game 7 of the NLCS.
Still, the value of the season’s second half for Collins is that it will teach the organization’s youth the importance of meaningful games.
“I think it’s so important for Matt [Harvey] and Zack [Wheeler] and any of the young players to play in September,” Collins said. “Because if you’re going to be a winner down the road, you have to know get through that last [month].”
But there is a significant addendum. The Mets are not going to fast track Noah Snydergaard or Rafael Montero to the majors despite fan and media demands. Snydergaard and Montero received a taste of life in the majors when they participated in Sunday’s All-Star Futures Game at Citi Field.
“We’re going to move the young talent to the big leagues when we think they’re ready, not before [to] just put them out there,” Collins said. “Matt Harvey, last year you saw flashes that [made you say], ‘Wow, if this guy gets it, he’s going to be tough.’ Got it. The start last week [Zack] Wheeler put in San Francisco, he’ll get some real chances. He starts throwing those out there, three out of four, he’s going to win a lot of baseball games. We got three or four more pitchers on the way. They’re going to be here soon. Look at the Pirates right now. They’re winning with pitching and that’s how we’re going to start winning. We’re going to win because we’re going to run some great arms out there.”
The organizational blueprint is similar to the one used during the franchise’s glory years of 1969 and 1986. But those teams had productive offensive players. Outside of David Wright and Daniel Murphy, there are precious few offensive contributors on the 2013 Mets and there doesn’t seem to be the impactful bat in the minor leagues ready to be promoted.
But the park and the power arms throughout the organization can be a selling point in free agency.
“I think it will. [General manager] Sandy [Alderson] has done a great job because [the] rebuilding is coming along exactly how he planned. We’re going to rebuild the minor leagues. We’re going to get some young talent here,” Collins said. “It worked out that way. We have a great facility but it’s about players. This game is always about the players. Every organization wants to build up with players, including us. The ones we’re bringing up, they’re proving us to be right.
“We’ve been talking all year long there’s light at the end of the tunnel. [Tuesday night], Matt Harvey is going to show everybody just exactly where we’re headed.”
Follow Mets beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.