Much has been made in the media about the abundance of home-grown players starting on a regular basis in the Mets lineup. From Tejada to Murphy, Thole to Duda, and Ike to Kirk, up and down the entire lineup features players drafted and groomed by the Mets minor league system. It kind of brings a feel good story for us long suffering Mets fans. It definitely makes it a little easier to watch a mediocre team. However, I think we may be getting a little too excited about the home-grown element. As far as I am concerned, calling up a player from the minors who has short-term success is one thing; however, sustaining long-term success is what I am concerned about and to be quite frank, I do not see many long-term answers with the home-grown players producing for the Mets today aside from David Wright. Lets take a look at the home-grown talent and dissect exactly what the Mets are working with:
Ike Davis - Davis' career got off to a fantastic start. After his promotion in 2010 he quickly became a fan favorite as he launched 19 HR and drove in 71 runs. But then came the collision with David Wright last year in Colorado that made him miss most of the 2011 season. Thus far in 2012 it has been a struggle to say the least for Davis. He currently sports a batting average of only .188, and even that is skewed by a little hot streak from the weekend series in Colorado. He has looked completely lost at plate as he tends to watch fastballs down the middle and swing at breaking balls in the dirt. Despite his terrible start, I do expect Davis to come out of it and be a solid player for years to come. He is by far the most capable home-grown player of turning into a long term solution for the Mets.
Lucas Duda - I just cannot get a read on this kid. He has a ton of power and at times seems to have a very good idea at the plate as he has shown he is capable of hitting to all parts of the field. However, can we honestly sit here and say that he is a long term solution the Mets OF? First off, he is not a good defender. He goes back on balls very timidly and is definitely not a RF. I also question whether he will ever become the dynamic power hitter that most teams expect from there corner OF positions. I can definitely see him hitting between 17 and 23 HR's a year, but is that enough? I personally feel you need more from your corner OF positions.
Ruben Tejada - Tejada has gotten off to a hot start after replacing another home-grown talent in "you know who." His defense is solid which is a necessity at SS; however, I am not confident that he will be able to sustain enough offensive production to be a long term answer. I think after the honeymoon period is over with the fans, Tejada is going to be under a lot of pressure to produce offensively, and I just don't know if he has it in him. One thing I know is for sure, the Mets will not be able to contend with Tejada in the lead-off or two hole in the lineup. He is not that type of hitter and I am sure by the end of this year he will find himself in the 7th or 8th spot.
Daniel Murphy - I love this guy. He plays the game so hard and has obviously taken over as the leader of this ball club, especially with the departures of Beltran and "you know who". Murphy can flat out hit but he does not have a position which obviously makes him very overvalued to the Mets. Lets face it, he is not a 2B and the experiment in LF did not go well. With Davis anchoring down 1B for what seems to be the long haul, I just don't see how Murphy fits. I would not be surprised to see Murphy dealt eventually to the AL, not because he is a bad player, but simply because he doesn't have a position.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis - I have seen this dance before. A kid comes up from the minors and produces immediately while the fan base gets extremely excited as if they just found the next Albert Pujols. Nieuwenhuis has been fantastic so far in 2012, but is he going to sustain it? I find it hard to believe that in 2 months we will still be talking about him as a possible ROY candidate. He has good toughness and can swing the bat; however, I do not think he has enough to be a long term answer in the Mets OF. He is not your typical CF as he is a big kid and I question whether he can make the adjustments to a corner spot as we have already seen him make a few bad decisions in LF. I hope I am wrong because he is a lot of fun to watch and root for, but I just don't see him still being part of the big picture a few years down the road.
Josh Thole - I do not know about you but I have already seen enough of Josh Thole. I do not understand why the organization is so enamored with this guy. He is a spray type hitter that might hit .300 one year, but his defense is awful and his throwing is just as bad. If there is one position on the field where you can throw away all offensive ability in exchange for great defense it is Catcher. Thole just does not bring enough to the table to play everyday for the next several years.
Like I stated earlier, sure, it is great to have home-grown talent. It obviously makes it easier as fans to relate to the club as we have heard about some of these players since they were first drafted. But is it really worth the instant gratification of the fan base if they will not be here in 3 years? The Mets organization must start to assess their home-grown talent on long term success, rather than immediate reactions. Right now, I just do not see enough star potential in any of their home-grown players to get overly excited.