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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
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.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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The End of the Beginning of an Era

The Mets won a game today, and in case you had any doubt, winning most definitely feels better than losing.

So how’d they win? By the skin of their teeth, actually. They got their usual terrific starting pitching, with Jacob deGrom throttling the Brewers. They got just enough hitting — TWO WHOLE RUNS, MA! And they didn’t screw up defensively.

(Though they tried. DeGrom spoke for every Mets fan on Earth when he turned away from Darrell Ceciliani and Michael Cuddyer having narrowly missed a collision that would have George Theodore‘d them both and probably ensured a defeat.)

By the midpoint of the game, however, the buzz was all about what’s happening next: The Mets are calling up Steven Matz, apparently to start Sunday.

The six-man rotation is back, and won’t have to stick around too long to have had a longer tenure than the last six-man rotation. After the game, Terry Collins simply muttered that there’d be an announcement on Friday, which seemed unnecessarily mysterious. Perhaps he was told to leave the talking to Sandy Alderson. Perhaps there’s a trade in the works. Perhaps Jeff Wilpon wants to anoint Matz with oil and spices. Who the hell even knows with this bunch?

I’ll be glad to see Matz, though unfortunately he’s unlikely to be the answer at any of the other positions where the Mets are plagued by uncertainty, which right now would be seven of the eight. The one thing the Mets don’t particularly need right now is more starting pitching, not that that’s any reason to keep a kid in the minors who doesn’t seem to have a lot left to learn.

Given what happened to poor Dillon Gee last time there seemed to be more starters than slots, I’m not going to get too worked up about any of this. (Gee, by the way, got pounded for Las Vegas tonight.) It’ll be fun to welcome Matz to the big club, and record him in The Holy Books as (presumably) the 999th Met in franchise history.

And then we’ll see. Maybe he’ll be Jerry Koosman and maybe he’ll be Tim Leary. Nobody really knows, which is where both the anxiety and the fun come from.

What I do know is this: Matz is the last of a very exciting crop of heralded young pitchers to arrive. That group started with Jenrry Mejia, with Matt Harvey, Jeurys Familia, Zack Wheeler, Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard following one after the other, like they were rolling off a pitcher assembly line. (I don’t count deGrom, not to slight him but because absolutely nobody saw him coming.) None of the young pitchers has been a true washout; all have shown at least flashes of the potential that led fans to demand they be sprung from the minors and could still be impact players, either in relief or as starters.

The Mets have other good young pitchers in the system, but Matz will be the last from this era. Once he arrives, our hope — and our impatience — will focus on the system’s hitters. Dilson Herrera‘s the vanguard, arriving early and quite possibly headed back down for more seasoning. Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto are the big bats we’d like to see (and that some are already agitating for); perhaps they’ll head a hitting class that includes Gavin Cecchini, Amed Rosario, Dom Smith and Jhoan Urena.

And perhaps they won’t. A pessimist would predict that the hitters from that group who do prosper in the big leagues will start arriving as the Mets have to start to sell off their young hurlers, leading to a ridiculous see-saw era of solid Mets offense and terrible pitching.

But that’s for future agonized blog posts. The Mets won. We deserve a rest from pessimism. The Mets won and Steven Matz is coming. Let’s enjoy both those things.

20 comments to The End of the Beginning of an Era

  • LA Jake

    Let’s Go Mets!
    Let’s Go Matz!

  • Lenny65

    “A pessimist would predict that the hitters from that group who do prosper in the big leagues will start arriving as the Mets have to start to sell off their young hurlers, leading to a ridiculous see-saw era of solid Mets offense and terrible pitching.”

    This is my biggest Mets fear, that three years from now it’ll be “where’d all the arms go?” as the Mets drop another 11-10 slugfest. It would be just like them to have that happen somehow too, you know? They just can’t be trusted. Anyhow, once again we have too many starting pitchers and not enough spots for them and in typical fashion the Mets will find a way to stupidly bungle the situation in some weird way. Every morning I check the news for that eagerly-awaited headline…”Mets trade Niese, Colon to Other Team for Guy Who Gets Hits Sometimes”…but alas, it never appears.

    Hell, maybe they should go the other way with this and deal their position prospects for MORE young pitching. That way they could revolutionize baseball with he first-ever twelve man rotation. Or alternately, just convert those position players into pitchers. It will help them when they reach the big club and inevitably have to play out of position, thus saving everyone a lot of time.

    Remember 1999 or 2006 when we would have killed for just one budding superstar pitching prospect? DeGrom tossing a complete game gem in game Seven of the 06 NLCS? Harvey on the hill in Game Six 1999? Sigh.

  • Steve D

    You are hoping for Met hitting prospects? My comments on the last thread, with help from Dennis, shows the Mets have developed 10 to 15 quality hitters in 54 YEARS. About half of those never really helped the franchise win anything. Figure there are about 10 new legit hitting prospects in the system every year…historically, the average Met hitting prospect has had about 2% chance of success. Taken as a group, you have about a 1 in 5 chance that ONE of these great prospects ever amount to anything if history holds…and nothing indicates this franchise has suddenly figured out how to develop a hitter. The odds of three becoming top hitters at the same time so the Mets can win are laughable. You should trade these prospects for major league help (think Carter and Hernandez on a lesser scale), but that would require taking on payroll which we can’t do (thanks Wilponz). Face facts…the Mets are nowhere near winning unless Sandy suddenly turns dynamic and the Wilponz spend some money.

    • Rob E

      Why do you think that past failure indicates FUTURE failure? It’s not related in any way to what is coming down the road. The guys here NOW — even the Wilpons — haven’t been here for 54 years…why are you throwing them into one giant dismal history-encompassing soup?

      The Braves, Tigers, Royals, Giants, and Pirates all turned things around…and four of those teams had longer periods of futility than the Mets. It CAN be done. If you really think they are doomed to perpetual failure by their blue & orange DNA, WHY INVEST THE EMOTION IN THIS?!?!!? It’s one thing if they suck TODAY, but if you really think the next 54 years are also going to suck, there are better ways to spend this time.

      • Steve D

        Almost every Met fan I grew up with had this pessimism…it must have stemmed from being Brooklyn Dodger fans. Yes, there is a chance it could change someday, but what has this regime showed us to believe that they will do it? We need new ownership to have a chance. This is why I’m at rock bottom with this team. But I always have past memories to hold me over. I feel really bad for young fans who weren’t around for 1986.

        • Rob E

          You don’t think clearing all the dead wood and bad contracts they inherited means anything? Trading for Wheeler and Syndergaard and d’Arnaud doesn’t mean anything? Rebuilding the minor leagues doesn’t mean anything? And doing it without taking on long-term debt doesn’t mean anything? Sandy Alderson didn’t start off at point zero, he started off in a hole.

          A week ago, this team despite all the injuries, was six games over .500. And now one week later we’re looking at a 54-year dry spell. Progress doesn’t always come with a fireworks display…sometimes the steps are incremental and even painful, as they have been here. I don’t know how anyone can look at this organization on paper and tell me they are not better off than they were five years ago. It was a bad week by a severely depleted team!

          • Steve D

            Let’s agree to disagree. Unless the Mets take on the salaries of some proven veteran bats, they will not win. Without Hernandez and Carter, the 1980s Mets would not have won anything. I see little chance the current regime can or will do that.

  • Dave

    “…absolutely nobody saw him coming.” Exactly. And he’s the best of the bunch, so it just goes to show you, you never know. We get worked up about the future rotation and perhaps as early as next year we’ll see how far off we were.

    As someone tweeted yesterday, here’s a list of all the teams who have had success with a 6 man rotation.

  • Rochester John

    With the Mets starting staff approaching the total of Republican presidential candidates, I’m seeing Niese as our Donald Trump, hanging around for no apparent reason, taking attention and innings away from more serious candidates.

    • Dave

      When Flores makes an error, Niese screams out “he’s a terrible shortstop, he’s a loser! I should play shortstop, because trust me, I’m the best shortstop you’ve ever seen. No one is better. And we shouldn’t let Venezuelans into this country to play shortstop anyway. But it happens because Sandy Alderson is weak, he’s a loser…”

  • Rob E

    My fear here is that this is a move to quell the fan and media criticism to do SOMETHING, and that would be bad. Because unless this is a precursor to another move (and it could be), it makes little sense to do it NOW.

    Not that Matz isn’t ready, it looks like he is. But the one shining spot here is the rotation. What will going to six guys do when your problem is the offense? Especially after you just did the same thing with Syndergaard and got ridiculed and didn’t have the stones to see it through.

    • 3D

      >>>>What will going to six guys do when your problem is the offense?<<<<

      It will decrease the number of Niese and Colon starts where they spot the other team 4 runs, and replace them with Matz starts. That makes the job that the offense has to do less difficult.

      It’s a zero-sum game. If you improve either the hitting or the pitching, you’re increasing your chance to win. It doesn’t matter so much which side the improvement comes from.

      Additionally, it will lower the workload on the bullpen and the other guys in the rotation, so that if the Mets make the postseason, these guys can all go deep into it.

  • sturock

    I do think this is a prelude to a trade, hopefully a more minor one where Niese or Colon is shipped out and not a major deal featuring Matz or Syndergaard. But who knows? The six-man does not appear to be a sealon-long plan, just something to shave some innings off the ledger for Harvey-deGrom-Syndergaard and showcase… somebody.

    Interesting piece in Fangraphs yesterday:

    • Rob E

      That was one of the most rational Met analyses I have read….thanks.

      I think the same people that post there post here under different names! Injuries mean nothing, they’ll never win with the Wilpons, it’s hopeless just get rid of everybody…Met fans are nothing if not birds of a feather. And those birds are vultures circling the rotting carcasses of their own hopes and dreams…

  • dgw

    “A pessimist would predict that the hitters from that group who do prosper in the big leagues will start arriving as the Mets have to start to sell off their young hurlers, leading to a ridiculous see-saw era of solid Mets offense and terrible pitching.”

    Ha! I had this very thought while reading the paragraph directly above this statement.

  • Left Coast Jerry

    I suspect that if Matz holds his own in the first couple of starts, the team will actively try to move Niese or Colon. Unfortunately, like the rest of the starters, he’ll pretty much have to throw a shutout to get a win.

    I was at the game at Miller Park yesterday, wearing my deGrom t-shirt, and I’ll gladly take credit for breaking the losing streak. However, anyone in attendance at that game, even if they knew nothing about the Mets, would only have to take a glance at the Mets lineup posted on the scoreboard. NOBODY, at any point in the game had a batting average higher than .265. You just can’t win with that kind of lineup, no matter how many Harveys, deGroms, Syndergaards, and Matzes you have.

  • Ian

    I saw Matz pitch the chanpionship game in Savannah in 2013. He was absolutely lights-out. Not a hope or prayer that he could be touched. I couldn’t believe someone like him was as under the radar as much as he was.

    Can’t wait to see what he does in Queens :-)

  • LA Jake

    Rob E, stop trying to interject logic and common sense to being a fan. :<)

    • Rob E

      Jake, you are absolutely right! Being a Met fan is the sports equivalent of smoking. Even at it’s best, it still tastes bad and no one really enjoys it, but you do it anyway and then complain that it tastes bad and you don’t enjoy it. And the second you DO enjoy it, you complain that it will kill you!