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I know Mets fans hate any comparison to the Yankees, but stick with me on this one because it offers some hope at a dark time.
Great results were expected from the 2005 Yankees. But on May 6, they were eight games under .500, nine out of first place. Their rotation was in physical shambles, their bullpen was mostly an ineffective mess and their everyday lineup Barry Bonds Jersey was infested with thirtysomethings.
Those 2005 Yankees had a respected but severely fading veteran center fielder finishing a long-term contract in Bernie Williams. They had a diminished farm system from years of using it to make trades, and even George Steinbrenner did not want to throw any more money at this product.
A few weeks into the 2005 season, Steinbrenner invested Brian Cashman with more power than ever before, imploring him to salvage this mess.
Cashman made a few large-scale decisions: 1) He summoned the best of his farm immediately (Robinson Cano and Chien-Ming Wang). 2) He vowed not to trade the best of the system for another bandage/expensive veteran, shielding Phil Hughes in particular. 3) He instead http://www.authenticpittsburghpirates.com/Barry-Bonds-Jersey hunted for solutions at the margins to try to help while hoping his proven veterans led a rebound.
It worked. The 2005 Yankees won 95 games and the AL East. Veterans flourished, with Alex Rodriguez winning the AL MVP. Cano finished second for Rookie of the Year and Wang was solid. Aaron Small was an overnight sensation at age 33, going 10-0. Shawn Chacon was 1-7 and out of favor in Colorado when the Yankees made a minor deal for a guy who thrived down the stretch. The bullpen was turned over and over – veterans like Paul Quantrill and Mike Stanton jettisoned – to augment around Mariano Rivera and Tom Gordon.
This is the road map for the Mets. There are no magic bullets now, no elixirs to make their injured players healthy quicker, no trade market open just for them in the second week of May.
Sandy Alderson and his staff faced a similar plight last year. They plugged with at-the-margin pickups such as James Loney, Jose Reyes and Rene Rivera and got Chacon/Small-like success from Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo.
The Mets have moved so much farm talent to go for it that there is a lot less to use now anyway. Which means turning to youth.
Curtis Granderson, in the Bernie mold of being respected and fading in the final Adidas Bobby Orr Jersey year of his contract, already looks as if he will lose a regular job to Michael Conforto once Yoenis Cespedes returns from the disabled list. T.J. Rivera has earned full-time play with his bat. The Mets’ Cano is Amed Rosario, who is hitting .361 at Triple-A at age 21 (albeit in an offensive haven). Cody Bellinger, at nearly an identical age and number of minor league games to Rosario, has starred since being called up by the Dodgers.
Youthful talent is king in the majors right now. So the Mets should summon Rosario for his energy and athleticism, because they lack both. If it means moving Reyes to the outfield, well, that is what happened to Tony Womack when he was displaced at second base by Cano in ’05.
As for the pitching, perhaps Tommy Milone can come up Small. The Mets signed Neil Ramirez for their pen Tuesday, which mostly sent Twitter scoffing, much like it did last year when Loney, Rene Rivera and Fernando Salas were obtained. Ramirez had an 8.71 ERA early this year for http://www.authenticbostonbruins.com/authentic-bobby-orr-jersey the Giants, but if it needs to be stated, players with 1.78 ERAs are not available now.
Ramirez has a big arm. The Mets will hope he has a few months’ run of competence. If not, there is more of this type of personnel available at the margins. The Mets need to churn through it for their ailing pitching staff.
Like Cashman in ’05, Alderson is going to need to protect the best of his system and hope that with smaller pieces – Brandon Nimmo and/or Gavin Cechini – he can find undervalued or currently underperforming help on the market come July.
This is not the easy path, of course, and the chances of success are not great. But for a team of great expectations, it does offer a path in a time of darkness.