Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Mets' AAA team more like AARP

On Monday night, the injury-plagued Mets started three players just brought up from Triple-A Buffalo. One might think that would result in a younger lineup - maybe a couple of kids rushed to the majors. But the Mets, not a young team to start with, actually got older. Monday's lineup only had two players under 30.

When the Mets' top choice to fill in at shortstop Monday and second base Tuesday is 36-year-old retread Ramon Martinez, something is wrong. And a look at the Buffalo roster confirms it.

The Bisons roster contains ten players who are over 30 and three more who will turn 30 during the season. At least seven other players over 30 have already played for Buffalo this year - Martinez, Redding, 40-year-old Ken Takahashi, Nelson Figueroa, Casey Fossum, Freddy Garcia and Rob Mackowiak. It's mid-May, and at least 17 players over 30 have already appeared in a Bisons game.

All teams have some veterans sprinkled in among the prospects. The Yankees recently brought up 36-year-old Brett Tomko and signed Fossum to AAA Scranton-Wilkes-Barre after the Mets released him. But the Yankees only have five players on the current AAA roster who are over 30, as well as two who will turn 30 during the season.

Veterans in the minors can have value if they are recovering from injuries or AAAA types who aren't quite good enough to stay on the big league roster but can still serve as fill-ins. Signing a bunch of older pitchers and hoping to get lucky with one or two is a potentially workable strategy. Redding looks good after one start and Takahashi has an ERA of 3.12 after seven appearances.

The farm has also delivered Omir Santos and Angel Pagan this year. Santos is older than a typical rookie, but at 27, young enough to pinch-run, at least for Ramon Castro. Pagan is 28 and coming back from injury.

With cleanup hitter Carlos Delgado out indefinitely, the Mets need to increase their emphasis on defense and speed. After tonight's loss, the Mets now have only five runs scored in three games. And two of those runs were driven in by John Maine.

The Mets should be trying to get younger, but it won't be possible on the big league level until they figure out how to improve things at Buffalo.

The Buffalo Bisons, by the way, are 10-27, 15 games behind first-place Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.


Anonymous said...

I think your suggestion is misleading. You cannot just "get younger" at a AAA level by willpower. The Mets have been drafting and signing International Free Agents, and in the time since Omar started, they've been doing a good job of it. However, the players won't be ready to start at that level yet. At the moment they are stacked at the low-to-mid levels. The talent is starting to trickle upward, and we might have some prospects, other than Jon Niese and Fernando Martinez, in Buffalo by the end of the season. But just saying "hey, the mets aren't young, and they don't have anyone young on the triple A level" is kind of like going out for the day, forgetting to bring an umbrella, and only pointing out that the sky is about to break open at 4pm. It's too late to get the umbrella (the time for that was 4 years ago), and you're only pointing out the obvious.

Scott said...

The problem for the Mets is that the retread players they're bring up from Buffalo may not keep the big league team competitive or in contention until the players on the DL heal their injuries.

If they fall out of the race early it might be worth writing off this season and bringing up kids from Binghamton or lower classifications along with the few prospects from AAA to see if they can do better.


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