Mets Regaining Sense Of Direction

The Mets have just become a baseball <i>organization</i>. Of course, they've always been a <i>team</i> (1992-1994 notwithstanding), but, with the reshuffling of the franchise that added revolutionary, top-line pitching coach Rick Peterson (previously of Oakland), Assistant GMs and "Superscouts" Al Goldis (Cincinnati) and Bill Singer (Pittsburgh), a new era in the Mets' history has begun.

The up and down Steve Phillips administration, which ended this past June with his firing, taught owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon two things: a few expensive, past their prime stars a team does not make, and the loss of scouts and front office advisors truly does hurt an organization's decision making.

After the 2000 season, pitching coach and advisor Dave Wallace left for smoggier pastures in Los Angeles (and this season filled in for Tony Cloninger as Boston pitching coach); they also lost top advisor and baseball man Carmen Fusco. Of course, it would have helped if the Mets' GM was a capable talent advisor at the time, but regardless, an organization without advisors is doomed to fail.

In Singer and Goldis, the Mets have signed experts in player development and scouting, and gain an extra edge in Japanese scouting, where Singer has connections. They are still looking for a statistical analyst, much like a Bill James of Boston and Paul DePodesta in Oakland. While new GM Jim Duquette does not believe in strict statistical analysis as the only way of evaluating a player, he, unlike his predecessors and former colleague Omar Minaya, can see the value in numbers (statistics and averages, not salaries).

The Mets don't have to operate like the small-market organizations that their newest employees come from. This has often caused them problems, as oversized contracts to oversized players have been dumped on them by the smarter organizations. However, they can use their income and market to their advantage.

As seen with the drafting of Scott Kazmir with the 15th overall pick in 2002, the Mets can afford to splurge on early draft picks that others are afraid to take a risk on due to their prospective price tag. With better scouting, they can make the decision as to whether a young prospect is really worth it, and pay a large sum to them in the draft (the Mets have the third pick overall this year, and many first-round worthy amateurs fall to the second and third rounds due to price concerns).

They can also send more scouts into foreign countries, including Japan, where two potential infield options, Kazuo Matsui and Tadahito Iguchi, hail from. This also includes the prospect hotbed Dominican Republic, where the Mets are establishing a new training facility for signees.

The Mets have established a great advantage over opposing organizations, one that gives them both superior scouting and the financial means to put the scouting to use. With Rick Peterson, they have the means to ensure that the prospects have the best chance to make an impact in Flushing.


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