Your intrepid columnist tends to tread carefully around comparing young pitching staffs. I was there for star-crossed, hopelessly doomed Generation K. Bill Pulsipher, Paul Wilson and Jason Isringhausen were supposed to lead the Mets to the promised land in the mid-90’s. A combination of foul luck and inept training/coaching in the Metsian bushes scuttled that dream in fairly short order. Generation K never materialized and only Isringhausen salvaged a representative career — as a closer. So you’ll forgive the odd blogger if he’s a wee bit shy in projecting greatness for the next wave of great Mets pitchers.

With little else to rev up what remains of the orange and blue fan base, however, these pitchers are among the few things we fans can point to in our desperate quest to have 2013 become 1984 or 1998. New York fans pride themselves on not being rubes. Anyone can see the Mets will not contend this year. None but the most rabid of fanboy is fooling himself that this will be anything but a “stepping stone” year at best, a year when a new baseline is established, in terms of expectations, hopes and dreams for the future. 1968 was such a year. The second half of 1983 had that kind of air. 1997 was a neat surprise. Will 2013 join those seasons of high rank on Mets Nation’s Fun-O-Meter? The answer lies with Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler.

Of the two, Harvey – all of ten major league starts under his belt — is the more established, of course. Harvey possesses remarkable physical gifts, yes, but more impressive is his attitude. From all accounts, he’s taking a no-nonsense, bulldogish approach to his craft and the performance of his teammates. Early returns indicate that the “new attitude” – the “shift in the culture,” of which we’ve all heard plenty since Sandy Alderson and crew took over the reins of the organization in October 2010 – will emanate not from Alderson or Terry Collins or Jeff Wilpon (shudder!), but at the grass roots level in the clubhouse and that Matt Harvey will be the lynchpin of it. This might sound familiar, if you’re a student of Mets history. A fellow named Tom Seaver brought a similar outlook to the Shea Stadium clubhouse in his rookie year of 1967. Now, your intrepid columnist knows better than to seriously compare Matt Harvey and Tom Seaver in these early days. It could turn out to be a Generation K-like kiss of death. But there is a faint, familiar echo.

Zack Wheeler – an early arrival at his very first big league camp – has made it known he’s just happy to be here. From the accounts I’ve read, he’s ready and eager to show the higher-ups that he’s ready for the big show. From an ability standpoint, he may be right. Scouting reports indicate a world of talent which may benefit from some further refinement in the Las Vegas desert, but Wheeler’s deportment seems to come straight out of Ring Lardner or Damon Runyon: just a kid being a kid, with a 97 MPH fastball.

And lurking below the surface is Noah Syndergaard, the make-or-break piece of the deal that took away R.A. Dickey. It’s tough to get terribly excited over a guy who has only recently hit high-A, but the potential is sufficient that his exclusion could have scotched the whole deal with the Blue Jays. By the time he’s ready to graduate to the bigs as a compliment to Harvey and Wheeler, he could be seen as the final puzzle part, saving Alderson from having to surrender a future prospect for established pitching.

All I ask is that these three allow an old fan to dream.

Follow me on Twitter @CharlieHangley.

7 comments on “Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard: The New Seaver, Koosman And Gentry?

  • AV

    I’m concerned about the lack of lefthanders outside of Niese. Part of what made Seaver and Koosman effective (outside of their general awesomeness) was the contrast of power righty and finesse lefty. All of these guys the Mets have are power righthanders. I think of Detroit with Verlander, Scherzer, etc. They all seem to be the same type of pitcher, not giving the opposing team many different looks.

    Overall I’m just as excited. We think of Generation K but they were the only three prospects. Going back to 1984, there were Gooden, Fernandez, and Darling but there were others. Walt Terrell got flipped for HoJo but Terrell didn’t do much later on. Rick Aguilera followed the Jason Isringhausen path (minus the injury history). And I’m fairly certain there were other guys that didn’t pan out.

    With the current Mets farm system, in addition to Harvey, Wheeler, and Syndergaard, there’s Michael Fulmer, Rafael Montero, Domingo Tapia, Jacob deGrom, Luis Mateo, Hansel Robles, Gabriel Ynoa, Cory Mazzoni, Logan Verrett, Tyler Pill, and others. Even if 75% of them turn out to be busts, the law of averages dictates there will still one or two good pitchers to go along with Niese, Harvey, and Wheeler.

    • Joe Vasile

      I agree. The Mets farm system is so stacked with pitching right now that even if a large percentage of the players turn out to be busts, there will be a few that turn out to be stud pitchers for the team for year to come.

    • Rob Rogan

      Agreed as well. It really is pretty amazing how deep the system is pitching-wise. Too bad the position player depth is virtually non-existent. Hopefully enough of the pitching prospects pan out (or keep improving) to the point where they become expendable and valuable trade assets to be used for a major league OF.

    • Brian Joura

      Walt Terrell threw 1,986.2 IP in the majors and won 111 games. Out of 5,506 pitchers since the end of World War II, Terrell’s innings ranks 229th. Between 1985 and 1987, Terrell threw 691 innings and won 47 games. If that’s doing nothing – sign me up for a whole bunch of nothing.

      Great photo Charlie!

      • AV

        Good point. I never checked his starts after being traded by the Mets. My only memory of him was hitting two home runs in one game against the Cubs at Wrigley Field so I didn’t bother to see what he did over his career as an actual pitcher.

  • Metsense

    I saw Tapia no hit Hickory for 5 innings and was impressed. Raw with a need for better command but promising. Leathersitch also saw and he never was hit in relief. Sneaky. Fullmer and Montero also looked good. There is a future.

  • Pete

    Hey Charlie. You can dream so long as you don’t put the label on Harvey as the next Franchise. It will not make a difference if the kids pitch great and our bullpen continues to collapse year in and year out. With no decent closer and a shakier relief corp I just hope the kids don’t fall into the what’s the point of doing well if they can’t finish closing the game and try to do more than they’re capable of doing. The bullpen needs some cajones. Last years embarrassment by the Phillies in the ninth inning was unacceptable and if I was a starter I would of called out the bullpen for laying down. The only way to change attitudes comes from a player within the organization and preferably a starting pitcher. I remember Dwight Gooden pitching a game against the Pirates and the first batter he faced he drilled in the middle of his back with a 95 MPH fastball. He then turned and glared into the Pirate dugout. Needless to say the Pirates only had a couple of hits and lost the game.

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