Though nobody in the Mets front office wanted to say it directly, the fans and the media were well aware of what 2013 was for the Mets: a continuation of the “rebuilding” process. There were great building blocks in place in Matt Harvey, Jonathon Niese, Josh Edgin, Bobby Parnell, Ike Davis, Ruben Tejada, and David Wright. There were top-shelf prospects on the cusp of making their major league debuts, like Zack Wheeler and Travis d’Arnaud, that would strengthen the core of the next Mets contending team even further.
Yes, it was expected that the next stride in the rebuilding of a consistently winning Mets team would be made at the very earliest in 2014. It appeared as though that line of thinking was accepted, however begrudgingly, by fans and media alike. They seemed to generally buy into the patience approach with eyes towards the increasingly bright future, so any surprises that the 2013 Mets could provide would be icing on the cake. There have even been instances of writers lauding the Mets shiny future. The funny thing about patience, though, is its fleetingness.
D’Arnaud suffered a fracture in his left foot when it was struck by a foul-tipped ball in mid-April. He was also injured in previous seasons. Although a rogue foul ball colliding with a person’s metatarsal bone doesn’t feed into the “injury prone” narrative, d’Arnaud became exactly that. The media absolutely ran with the narrative, and suddenly the Mets future looked just a bit dimmer.
Top pitching prospect Wheeler has struggled down in Triple-A Las Vegas early in the season. That shouldn’t really have come as a shock since the Mets had been stating since early in Spring Training that he was not quite ready for the majors. That warning fell on deaf ears and instead of pieces on how the Mets made the right decision with Wheeler there are questions about his, and the Mets’, future. Thankfully, there is some level-headed thinking out there regarding Wheeler.
A huge thorn in the Mets side for the last few seasons has been the atrocious bullpen. This year, Mets GM Sandy Alderson chose to sign several veterans on low-risk deals to see if any of it stuck. It didn’t. This was in strict contrast to last off-season, when Alderson spent most of his budget on the bullpen. That didn’t work out too well either. Is the bad bullpen really a shock to anyone? Bullpens are the most fluid and least predictable pieces of a major league baseball team every year, and so they should always be treated as such in their construction.
About those great building blocks? Davis is off to another putrid start, Edgin is now playing in Double-A Binghamton, and early in the season Tejada seemingly forgot how to catch and throw a baseball. These have been very discouraging and thoroughly reported. What about the positives? Beyond Harvey (who has garnered significant and deserved press), there hasn’t been much on how Niese has developed into a solid, front-of-the-rotation pitcher. There haven’t been many stories on how Captain Wright has continued to perform well even after signing his huge contract or how Parnell looks like a legitimate closer of the future, even if he hasn’t gotten many chances to show it in 2013.
Where has all the patience gone? This is what 2013 was about: some players excelling, some players falling on their faces, players getting promoted or demoted, and confirmation on whether players really are building blocks or not. These things should not come as a surprise to anyone. This is exactly where we expected the Mets to be this year.
Don’t lose sight of the goal because some would present only the negatives and only in misleading context. The goal has remained the same: building a perennial contender. That doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a long process. It’s a hard process. Continue to have patience, fellow Mets fans.