The Kids Are Alright: Mets Owe Successful April To Nieuwenhuis, Tejada, Niese & The Youngsters

The Mets finished April ahead of even the most optimistic Met fans’ hopes. I should know; I’m one of them. 13-10 is a damn sight better than the 11-16 of last year, and those of us with longer memories will recall that they had to scramble to achieve even that wretched mark — the 2011 Mets stumbled out of the chute 5-13. As has been noted, there is a far different feel around the ol’ Citi. The fumigation process that started with the hiring of Terry Collins for the manager’s seat is starting to bear fruit on the field. Where there had been a distinct lack of leadership in the clubhouse, there has been a noticeable reversal in that area. Where the scribes would automatically beeline to David Wright’s locker for some barely audible whispers about the latest loss or the freshest controversy, they now have a veritable smorgasbord of quotable, affable, mostly jovial players from whom to choose. It’s better than a new paint job, or some pictures on the wall.

The fact that the average age of the team has dropped from 30.7 in 2007 to 26.8 this year speaks volumes about the Alderson approach vs. Minaya’s machinations. With little spending money to work with, the Mets’ GM has had little choice but to rely on the products of the much maligned farm system to field even a semi-competitive team. The desperation has so far paid more dividends than most could imagine. Starting with the surge of Kirk Nieuwenhuis immediately after his callup, one by one the Kiddie Corps has brought their own brand of excitement to the fore. Ruben Tejada has run rings around his predecessor – who, let’s be honest, gave us no rings for all his marvelous gifts. Josh Thole has rewarded the faith that Minaya, Alderson and Collins placed in him, at least on the offensive side. Daniel Murphy – almost a sage, seeing as he’s been here since 2008 – has done nothing but hit and stay healthy, which is what we all wanted at the beginning of March. Jonathon Niese and Dillon Gee have become staunch pillars of a better-than-decent pitching staff. There has even been patience shown for the slow starts of Lucas Duda and Ike Davis, allowing them play their way out of their respective slumps rather than being yanked onto the bench with a panicky jerk.

Do I expect this run to continue? Not really, seeing as all young players have growing pains. There’ll probably be some grumbling when Jason Bay returns from his injury and somebody has to go to the pine. Don’t forget, the jackals from the MSM are always hanging around, waiting for the seemingly inevitable meltdown. Except that with this group, the meltdown doesn’t seem so inevitable. There is a definite “stand-up” quality to these guys. If they stink one day, not one of them is afraid to say so. I wasn’t there, but I doubt there was anyone hanging out on the trainers’ room or the off-limits-to-the-press players’ lounge after the disaster that was Friday night (4/27). And speaking of which, hasn’t it been great how they bounced back from that to take the next two from the Rockies and very nearly came all the way back against the Astros on Monday? This group is very rarely out of a game early – another attribute of youth. They come back, simply because they say they will.

This could turn out to be one of the funnest seasons of all.

Follow me on Twitter @CharlieHangley

6 comments for “The Kids Are Alright: Mets Owe Successful April To Nieuwenhuis, Tejada, Niese & The Youngsters

  1. Brian Joura
    May 1, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    I find it pretty remarkable that the Mets add:

    Ramon Ramirez (30)
    Frank Francisco (32)
    Jon Rauch (33)
    Andres Torres (34)

    in the offseason and their average age drops nearly four years.

    • May 1, 2012 at 2:06 pm

      And on top of those guysm, they kept Miguel Batista (65)

      • Brian Joura
        May 1, 2012 at 3:47 pm

        And Tim Byrdak (62)

    • David Groveman
      May 1, 2012 at 2:55 pm

      I think we all agree that 2012 was going to be in the hands of the Met youth. In 2013 the Mets have more freedom to improve the ballclub through free agency.

  2. Metsense
    May 1, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    “another attribute of youth. They come back, simply because they say they will.” This is why I cheer for this group, and watch to the end, and it IS fun. Now management has to do the right thing. Platoon Bay/Torres and at least platoon Nieuwenhuis in CF and keep him leading off when he plays. This group is playing competitive baseball. The defense, the back end of the rotation, and bullpen needs to be addressed to consider them true playoff contenders.

  3. AJ
    May 2, 2012 at 11:45 pm

    The kids were alright… until they ran into a buzz saw called THE HOUSTON ASTROS. Ouch.

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