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Jason Fry and Greg Prince
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

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These Were Not Prime Time Players

I may have accidentally made sense eight months ago:

Don't know if it's still conventional wisdom in baseball circles to define a player's prime as more or less the ages of 28-32. Since conventional wisdom never dies, probably. But if that's the prime — when you're old enough to know better and young enough to successfully implement what you know — we lack prime time on our team…

Other than Carlos Beltran Superstar, 30 as of April 24, nobody among frontline Mets is in his prime by traditional standards. But when were these traditional standards set? Probably when average life expectancy, to say nothing of typical career endurance, was a whole lot lighter. Yet this mildly freakish two young/one prime/three kinda old/one rather old/one practically my age demography has been nagging at me a bit as the wind chill turns these venerable bones cranky.

Selective cutting and pasting omits my February rationalization that everything was going to be fine, that the young Reyes and Wright along with the old Lo Duca, Delgado, Valentin, Alou and Green would mesh wonderfully with Beltran and we'd all be figuratively making love to Betty Grable on the White House lawn by Christmas.

To be honest, I'd forgotten this momentary age-related anxiety until after the season was prematurely over and I looked around and thought, man, almost everybody on this team was either too old or too young. Or, more accurately, too injury-prone or too immature. Most of those added on both ends of the age spectrum throughout the campaign fell into those categories as well.

Obviously vintage isn't everything. David Wright is extraordinarily developmentally advanced (except maybe in the field) while Moises Alou apparently stole the soul of a much younger man in September. Nobody was checking birth certificates in Philadelphia, but now that I'm looking at their roster, they sure do have an everyday nucleus that seems a little more geared to peaking. Just about every key player was between 26 and 31 this year.

As I've heard myself say to myself many times since Sunday, I don't know, I just don't know. But maybe it was more of a warning sign than could have been appreciated last winter when merely being the Mets seemed license to print playoff tickets well in advance of Opening Day.

15 comments to These Were Not Prime Time Players

  • Anonymous


    …merely being the Mets seemed license to print playoff tickets well in advance of Opening Day.


    Mea culpa. I was as guilty of this hubris as anybody: I was looking for a fleece or a hoodie to wear to the playoffs last Christmas…

  • Anonymous

    I think your as always cogent analysis misses the bigger point.
    The single greatest difference between the 2006 and 2007 Mets was the bullpen. Last year it was reliable and everyone's role was defined.
    Law of averages being what it is, the bullpen this year required someone with vision, the ability to think, plan, etc. The Mets obviously lack a person with that ability.
    Exhibit A– Fucking tomato can known as Guillermo Mota leads all Mets relievers in IP from June 1 on. Someone with a brain sees a mop-up man. Willie Randolph sees his workhorse.
    Now, if you want to blame Omar for putting Mota on the roster to tempt the idiot (or for hiring the idiot to begin with) I'd say that's a fair point. But I don't think it's much of a stretch to say Randolph's handling of the pen cost us a few games. Turns out those might've come in handy.

  • Anonymous

    You mean the inadequate-to-begin-with bullpen that was never called on to relieve a starter later than the start of the seventh in 14 of the final 16 games? Yeah, that could have had something to do with it, too.
    I had no idea Mota pitched more innings than anybody else for four months. Wow. As Will Ferrell said in Blades of Glory, that's mind-bottling. Guess Willie viewed him as a fresh arm.

  • Anonymous

    Ditto… perhaps I tempted the baseball fates last week buying the Missus a nice, heavy Mets jacket to wear to frosty NLCS games. What I thought would be an awesome and timely anniversary gift just bummed everyone out instead.
    I do recommend the jacket though – insulated (assumed rainproof) nylon with removable fleece-lined hood, logos throughout, for only $49.99 at Modells – if you can brave the most depressing displays, like, ever. Windows chockablock with “Joba Rules” t-shirts, Playoff sweatsirts, a veritable sea of navy and pinstripes, with a sad little sale rack of Mets stuff in one corner.

  • Anonymous

    The bullpen was below 2006 standards. Still, Feliciano, Heilman and Wagner is more than most teams have back there. Schoenweiss was treated as a multi-purpose guy while Feliciano was treated like a LOOGY (and left unused for four and five game stretches at times)which everyone knew Randolph had backwards.
    And why sit Humber for a month before starting him in a critical game? There's never an excuse to start Brian Lawrence. Why not use a young unproven in relief instead of an established useless piece of shit?
    Zero imagination.
    And his “proven winner,” “leader of men” alleged attributes I think have been exposed.
    Randolph is a worthless fraud and needs to go. Yesterday.

  • Anonymous

    Speaking of prime players, though they finished dead last in the National League this year, in 2009, no fewer than 23 players on the Pittsburgh Pirates' active roster will be in that magic “age 28-32″ window.
    http://pittsburgh.pirates.mlb.com/team/roster_active.jsp?c_id=pit
    Maybe this'll be our next simmering rivalry at Citi Field, like they used to be back when Barry Bonds had a head smaller than his bobblehead doll's.

  • Anonymous

    We may well have Ramon Castro as the best available front-line catching alternative in 08 and sure enough – he's 31.
    While Luis Castillo hobbles around like an older man and he may not be back – an alleged bad influence on Reyes – he too is listed as 31.
    Given the dumping of Bannister and Lindstrom as too old to be rookies, Mets really need to look at their scouting and development team. Throughout the 80s the system kept coughing up young guys who were just plain ready to step in and play. Now we keep guys on the farm til they're too old to be rookies.

  • Anonymous

    Kaz Matsui will be 32 this month…and is playing like a spring chicken. Or sprung chicken.
    Good to watch somebody/anybody beat the Phillies.

  • Anonymous

    I just wish Kaz had gotten that piddly single for the cycle…

  • Anonymous

    And that the Rox had padded their margin. Ah, whoever heard of anybody blowing a big lead late to the Phils?

  • Anonymous

    Kaz was on my fantasy team this year. So I'm feeling rewarded for my faith. I think we have to admit, although Kaz may never have been able to accomplish this with the Mets, in retrospect, it was a pretty atrocious trade for Eli freakin' Marerro. I mean, come on.
    The Rockies are actually kind of scary team, line-up-wise. I hope Kaz can keep leading them past the Phils.

  • Anonymous

    Filthies down 2 games to none. Yankees losing to Tribe 10-3 in th 6th.
    Schadenfreude is competing with my feelings of loss over the Mets.
    Make that 11-3

  • Anonymous

    To be fair on the Matsui trade, he hit .250 with no pop outside of Colorado this year so wouldn't you have rather given him away as the Mets did and had Valentin last year and Valentin/Gotay/Easley/Castillo this year? Addition by subtraction in this case

  • Anonymous

    Not unlike the positive results of the Scott Kazmir debacle, in some ways, you're right. I'm just saying it'd have been nice not to let the Rockies make out like bandits to such an obscene degree.

  • Anonymous

    Incidentally, Darren Oliver is in the postseason. And we, needless to say, are not.