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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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To 2015 and Beyond!

Sandy Alderson insisted losing two out of three to the Nationals didn’t have anything to do with Friday’s developments in Metland, but let’s not kid ourselves.

Wilmer Flores is going to be the guy at shortstop, not Ruben Tejada. Lucas Duda is going to play against tough lefties. Kirk Nieuwenhuis was going to be the guy in left, except Chris Young is now unemployed, so Matt den Dekker is going to be the guy in left, with Kirk rotating between outfield positions. Alderson made all that pretty clear after Friday night’s game, while offering a fig leaf that it’s Terry Collins‘ decision. Judging by too many of Terry’s lineups earlier this year and his bizarre comments about not having time to develop players, I hope this time the manager understands it’s not really his decision and his most important job for the rest of the year is … to develop players.

So the Mets have resigned from the pennant race. Never have I been happier with a withdrawal.

The Mets weren’t going to win in 2014. Once upon a time that would have been obvious. Now, with two wild cards, you can pretend otherwise. A few teams pretty much know they’re in unless they blow it (we know what that’s like), a few teams know they’re roadkill, and everybody else is left to argue that their glass is this or that fraction full/empty. The Mets could have trudged along in that philosophical limbo, but after getting spanked by an imperfect but clearly superior opponent they stopped pretending and started thinking about 2015.

Standing in a dreary beige hallway beneath Citizens Bank Park, Alderson had a pretty interesting comment about the youth movement. He said it wasn’t just about committing to young players, but also about making an investment in those players by giving them a 150-at-bat head start on 2015. I hadn’t ever heard it put quite that way, and it struck me as smart. Also smart: showcasing the likes of Flores, Nieuwenhuis and den Dekker for teams that might be looking to pick them up in August or during the offseason — those additional ABs can be an audition/investment for other general managers too. (As for finally accepting that Young was a sunk cost, eh. It was only a one-year deal, and struck me as a worthy gamble, but I sure wish the Mets had walked away in June.)

The Mets aren’t going to win, but I feel better about them than I have in years. They’ve got plenty of starting pitching, enough to trade for things they don’t have. They’ve got a bullpen going through growing pains, but that’s capable more often than not. They’ve got three hitters in Duda, Juan Lagares and Travis d’Arnaud who’ve taken steps this year to convince you they can be solid big-league regulars. And they’ve got bats in the minors that could help as soon as next summer. They’re not that far away — so the best use of their August and September is clearly trying to accelerate the timetable, rather than chasing the unlikeliest of playoff hopes.

So what’s the wish list for the rest of the year? I’d love for them to finish at .500, which is a tall order (they’d have to go 27-19) but a worthy goal. Failing that, though, my only wish — for all of us — is patience. Give Flores a real shot at short, and be understanding if sometimes or a lot of the time he looks like the guy every scout said couldn’t play the position. Let’s see den Dekker in left, Ks and all, instead of Eric Young Jr. providing a spark outs. (In fact, why not just release Young too and call up Andrew Brown?) Shake your head when Jeurys Familia or Vic Black hit a bump, instead of taking to Twitter in a frothing rage. We’re investing here; a good investor keeps his or her eye on the long term and doesn’t get too caught up in the daily ups and downs.

That doesn’t mean seven weeks of mulish endurance, though. A team of young guys playing for jobs can be a lot of fun to watch. That’s also true of milestones achieved by old guys: Bartolo Colon pocketed his 200th career win tonight, joining Juan Marichal and Pedro Martinez as the third Dominican-born pitchers to reach that number. (Not the way I would have categorized it, but clearly it mattered to Bartolo, so good enough for me.)

For most of the night it looked like Colon would waltz to his milestone, if you can imagine Bartolo waltzing. He handled the moribund Phillies with ease, while the Mets smacked around A.J. Burnett. Colon had thrown 107 pitches after eight innings, and with a 5-1 lead I was hoping he’d go back out there for the complete game so I could see his reaction. But instead Collins opted for Dana Eveland to face Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, to everyone’s immediate regret. Utley doubled and Howard walked, and on came Jenrry Mejia, who gave up a single to old friend Marlon Byrd and then a long drive to Grady Sizemore that just missed being a game-tying grand slam.

With Collins rehearsing his excuses, Mejia got a little help and started trading runs for outs. No, actually Mejia got a lot of help: Curtis Granderson flopped on his back to make a sliding catch against Carlos Ruiz as a hatless Daniel Murphy ran past him. Duda then made a nice pickup at first to retire Cody Asche, and finally Mejia retired Reid Brignac on a nifty outside change-up/inside fastball combination, the first pitch aided by a generous strike zone from Mike Winters.

As milestones go, Colon recording his 200th win in blue and orange is one for the “Oh that’s right” file rather than the sidewalk outside Citi Field. I had forgotten that Pedro recorded No. 200 as a Met in 2006 or that Orel Hershiser had done so in 1999. I’ve blocked out T@m Gl@v!ne’s 300th win. Gary Sheffield‘s 500th home run and Eddie Murray‘s 400th made similarly shallow impressions. That’s because all of those guys are much more memorable for what they did in other uniforms, a description that will almost certainly apply to Colon, too. But that’s all right: Years from now, when Matt Harvey‘s going for his 200th win, perhaps we’ll see a clip of Colon tonight and smile to remember that was in the early days of Mejia’s residency as closer, or Flores’s tenure at shortstop, or just before Duda found the confidence that would fuel his monster seasons. Maybe we’ll see the investments, and appreciate the future that was starting to be written.

And if not, well, 200’s a nice round number and beating the Phillies is a nice way to spend a Friday evening.

18 comments to To 2015 and Beyond!

  • Lags1013

    I couldn’t agree more. This makes me very excited. They maybe worth watching again.

  • Wheaties54321

    It’s time the mets locked up Murphy to a 3 or 4 year extension. A team starved for offense on most nights ought not let it’s best hitter, entering his prime years, walk away.

    In other news, I’m really glad none of us will have to endure any longer the sight of Chris Young in a Mets uniform. I cannot remember a player who did less on the field and appeared by his body language to be utterly uninterested in playing the game we all love so much. He’s the anti-Murph.

  • Dave

    The investment analogy is the best explanation I’ve heard as to why we have to be patient. You buy stocks not for what they’ll be worth tomorrow, you’re not supposed to fret if they’re down one day unless you were planning on selling them that day, you buy them for what they’ll be worth down the road. Let us bury our faces in our hands when Flores makes a bad play or want to reach for a bottle of bourbon when what could have been Mejia’s last pitch of the game instead gets deposited in the middle of the second deck. Gonna happen. But if it means that by 2016 this is a genuine contender, it’ll be worth it, just like watching young players come up and sometimes struggle in the early 80’s was worth it a few years later.

    Wheaties, I’m with you on Chris Young, except in the “utterly uninterested” category you seem to be forgetting Bobby Bonilla’s 2nd time around as a Met, year 2 of Rickey Henderson, Richie Hebner, or Kevin McReynolds’ passion for duck hunting. Chris Young (who by all accounts is a standup guy, good luck to him, but he’s a non-roster invitee somewhere next March) was Charlie Hustle compared to those clowns.

  • Pleased enough with the pitching despite the hiccups of the relievers. The team is in a very soild place with their staff. More than sold on Legares for his glove skills alone. Now they need to develop bats and trade some pitching for more than hitting question marks. They’re in position to get real value for pitching and I hope Alderson does not sell them out.

  • Something else to think about: might it have been a better idea to give Marlon Byrd two years for $16 million instead of $60 million for four years to Curtis Granderson?

  • ToBeDetermined

    It’s clear that the initial lower case “d” is the Mets’ wave of the future, with Jacob deGrom firmly established in the rotation and Matt den Dekker joining the lineup that already features Travis d’Arnaud along with d’Avid Wright, d’Aniel Murphy, Lucas duDa, and Curtis Gran deRson.

    But I just can’t seem to make Wilmer Flores fit. (Not that I’m advocating continuing to play Ruben Teja d’A, mind you…)

    As they say, better late than never. I’d probably feel a lot more annoyed at how long it took to dump washed up veteran Chris Young if not for the comparative example of the Phillies right in front of us.

  • metsfaninparadise

    The irony, of course, is that if we’d started playing the kids earlier we might not be withdrawing now

  • Ken K. in NJ

    OK, Wilmer Flores is once again the Regular Shortstop. Except when Tejada gets his first start as backup, goes 3 for 4, therefore starts the next day, goes 1 for 4 but has “good at bats” and so starts again the day after that. Repeat 4 or 5 times a year.

    I know, this time it’s different. It always is.

  • Bruce From Forest Hills

    I’m pretty shocked by this post. I am as good with numbers as anyone else, and these are the numbers I know — in 1969 and 1973, the Mets were further out in August than they are now, and in 2007 and 2008 — . Ya gotta believe. This is not the time to get a head start on next season. This is not spring training, this is not the instructional league. Most importantly, no one is giving me a discount on my cable bill, or on the price of tickets. (Only kidding — if the team is going to tank, I am not going to be attending any games.) IMHO, in a professional sport, on any given day, you have to play the line-up that you think gives the team the best chance to win. Finally, if the Mets are really planning on tanking, they should shut down David Wright, before he really and truly hurts himself. And maybe Jennry Mejia, too.

    • Bruce From Forest Hills

      Josh is on the radio telling me that they are offering discount tix for the next Mets homestand. I stand corrected.

  • eric1973

    In honor of the 40th anniversary of Richard Nixon’s resignation and finally, the release of Chris Young: “Our long national nightmare is over!”

  • Steve D

    And they’ve got bats in the minors that could help as soon as next summer.

    I have to plead ignorance on these bats…the prospect list I use shows the top Met hitting prospect is way down at 69th best prospect in MLB…Dominic Brown in A ball. The Las Vegas roster does not impress me either. Who do you think will help next year?

    I will say that if the pitching holds up, Harvey comes back as an ace and d’Arnaud is a hitter, they are only two players away from contending…a power hitter and a veteran leader in the mold of a Keith Hernandez. So close yet so far…Sandy will have to make some great deals to pull it off.

    • Dilson Herrera could be here by summer. Nimmo’s had a good year and is coming fast. Plawecki and Puello will be worth a look. Conforto’s an experienced college hitter who could be here by 2016. I think you mean Dominic Smith — he’s probably Class of ’16.

      • Steve D

        Yes…meant Smith.

        You are very optimistic…Nimmo is hitting .227 at AA…Puello .243 at AAA…Plawecki did well at AA, but hitting .238 in 84 AB at AAA.

        Hererra looks like a good prospect…but only 20 years old. Conforto may be the best hope for next year.

  • […] so that little speech about patience? Today was why it needed to be […]