Exclusive Q&A with Jack Bowen

Former Mets' Director of Scouting, Jack Bowen, goes "on the record" in an exclusive Q&A session to shed some insights on the Scott Kazmir trade, the Ian Bladergroen trade, if he believes the Mets are truly looking to build from within, who are the names Mets' fans will want to remember among the prospects, who the "sleepers" are, and much, much more!

InsidePitchMagazine.com: Were you approached for your thoughts on the trading of Scott Kazmir, Matt Peterson, Justin Huber, and Jose Diaz? If so, what were your recommendations?

Jack Bowen: Yes, I was approached about the possibility of trading our guys. I really didn't know anything about the guys we were getting back, especially in regards to Zambrano. I never saw him pitch. When we were talking to the Devil Rays about Kazmir for Zambrano, I was little surprised we were talking about Kazmir being available and wanted to make sure we were looking at other possibilities for maximum value in return. I never got a definitive answer on whether or not other clubs knew Kazmir was in play. I was in Binghamton a week before the trade and Scott pitched seven strong innings and was outstanding. A couple of the Tampa scouts winked at me, so I knew what might happen. I was just hoping we were talking to everybody in baseball. I was not saying Scott was untouchable. I just wanted to make sure we were doing our due diligence. Other clubs came up to me after the deal went down and people were telling me they didn't know Kazmir was available and some clubs thought perhaps they could have given us more for Kazmir had they known he was available.

Inside Pitch: Ian Bladergroen for Doug Mientkiewicz: Would you have made that trade? Do you think Mientkiewicz could have been had at a cheaper price?

Bowen: Well, it is tough for me to judge that trade. I was not privy to what the trainers had said about Bladergroen and the effects from the injured wrist he had last season. But to answer your question, no, I don't I think would have traded Bladergroen with the lack of position players available in the drafts, especially with that terrific first half he had last year. But in all honesty, you don't know what he is going to be like coming off an injury like that. I just thought it was tough to trade Bladergroen for a short term solution. Coming from my background, you're always partial to your own players. I don't know how much shopping was done and only Omar knows that. The Mets needed a first baseman and Doug Mientkiewicz was the best option out there. The Mets probably got held up because of the limited options out there, but it is really not fair for me to comment on how good the trade was because there is a lot of things behind the scenes that I don't know about.

Inside Pitch: How much do you believe the current Mets' regime believes in the Mets' farm system as it is currently formed?

Bowen: I believe in Omar a lot in his philosophy of building from within because of his background and where he comes from. He and I come from same background. I hope it stays that way even though the Mets are a big market team. I believe he believes in the farm system. My tune might change if I was the General Manager, especially in the Mets situation with three down years in a row. The Mets want to win now and win quick after some subpar seasons. A lot of the guys in the organization and a lot of fans don't want to hear about a guy three years from now. Omar loves the player development, the scouting, and would love to see it work that way. The Mets have lost out on a lot of picks each year from signing the big-ticket free agents and Omar is going to be facing that situation more now. The Mets will be missing out on a lot of the top 100 players in the draft this year. It looks like a solid draft this year too, so with no second or third round picks, the Mets are going to watch many talented players go by on the board. If you are able to keep those picks, you get some really talented players and it is a lot easier to build the farm system when you have those picks.

Inside Pitch: What was your best draft pick while the Director of Scouting for the Mets?

Bowen: Right now, I'd have to say Scott Kazmir, but we won't know for a while. You could also put Lastings Milledge up there too. You could also say that our best pick while I was the Scouting Director may have been Shawn Bowman or Ian Bladergroen. We won't know that for a while though. I will say that during my time as the Scouting Director, I wouldn't have done anything different. I would have taken Kazmir and Lastings in a heartbeat. Those two guys were easy. In fact, the year we drafted Lastings Milledge, he was my top guy from the minute I saw him.

Inside Pitch: Regarding Brad Meyers, what was the deal? Was he interested in signing with the Mets and it just came down to money?

Bowen: Brad definitely wanted to sign with the Mets. We thought he was a good pick and our scouts believed he was a top talent. It was not about money though. Mr. Wilpon took the recommendation from the commissioner's office to not drastically overpay for the round he was selected in and I respect that. I don't believe it was about not wanting to pay the money. It certainly wasn't about the finances. He was advised by the commissioner's office to hold the line here and it was that simple. Mr. Wilpon told me what the advice was from the commissioner's office and he told me that's what we're going to do. You can't fault an owner for that and I totally respected his decision.

Inside Pitch: Who are five guys Mets fans are going to want to remember, among the prospects, in the next five years?

Bowen: I can't list just five guys, but Scott Kazmir, Lastings Milledge, Gaby Hernandez, Shawn Bowman, Jesus Flores, Carlos Gomez, and Jamar Hill are all good looking kids. There are even a few more Mets fans should keep their eye on over the next couple of years. Anybody would be proud to say that they are a member of their organization. The Mets have some really good talent in the minors, Patrick. I think the Mets' scouting staff did an excellent job. I mean, just talking about the trade of Bladergroen, the Mets were able to get a Major League player for a 40-something round draft pick. That's a pretty deep farm system if you're able to do something like that.

Inside Pitch: Now that you are not part of the Mets, how would you rate the Mets' farm system in comparison to others?

Bowen: From the feedback I've gotten, from the people that see our minor league clubs, they think the Mets have a quality farm system. Regardless of what some people have said in and out of the organization, we do have a quality farm system. When you take into account the picks we've lost from the free agents the Mets signed, I am proud of what we've accomplished. It hasn't been perfect by any means, but I am proud of the job we've done. I believe, and many others do as well, that we did a very credible job. Put it this way, I don't think there was a trade the Mets couldn't have made last year because we had the talent in the minor leagues to make any deal. Credit should be given where credit is due, but because of people that were brought over into the organization that weren't as familiar with the prospects from top to bottom, we were heavily criticized without those people having the necessary overall analysis of the system.

Inside Pitch: Which players do you believe are the "sleepers"? You know, the ones that will contribute well at the Major League level that people may be overlooking right now?

Bowen: Well, Jamar Hill was a late pick and now his numbers are waking people up. He was flying under the radar like Ian Bladergroen did. Evan MacLane was a hell of pick by our area guy out in Calfornia. Chuck Hensley signed him and that kid [MacLane] just knows how to pitch, whether or not his stuff is graded as above average. I know he was a third round pick, but I believe Gaby Hernandez was a good sign for the Mets, especially coming from Florida out of Miami, which is a very highly scouted area. Ryan Harvey is just a baseball player. We'll see what he does at St. Lucie but he's another guy that could continue to fly under the radar and he's got a chance. Mike Carp had a real nice first year as did Sean Henry and those two look like they could be good ball players for the Mets down the road. Blake McGinley is not going to have a major impact in New York, but I think he can contribute a lot. He's not going to be the next John Franco or anything, but he signed for $500 and could contribute in the Majors. He was a very good late round pick for us.

Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nInsidePitchMagazine.com: Were you approached for your thoughts on the trading of Scott Kazmir, Matt Peterson, Justin Huber, and Jose Diaz? If so, what were your recommendations?
\r\n
\r\nJack Bowen: Yes, I was approached about the possibility of trading our guys. I really didn't know anything about the guys we were getting back, especially in regards to Zambrano. I never saw him pitch. When we were talking to the Devil Rays about Kazmir for Zambrano, I was little surprised we were talking about Kazmir being available and wanted to make sure we were looking at other possibilities for maximum value in return. I never got a definitive answer on whether or not other clubs knew Kazmir was in play. I was in Binghamton a week before the trade and Scott pitched seven strong innings and was outstanding. A couple of the Tampa scouts winked at me, so I knew what might happen. I was just hoping we were talking to everybody in baseball. I was not saying Scott was untouchable. I just wanted to make sure we were doing our due diligence. Other clubs came up to me after the deal went down and people were telling me they didn't know Kazmir was available and some clubs thought perhaps they could have given us more for Kazmir had they known he was available.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Ian Bladergroen for Doug Mientkiewicz: Would you have made that trade? Do you think Mientkiewicz could have been had at a cheaper price?
\r\n
\r\nBowen: Well, it is tough for me to judge that trade. I was not privy to what the trainers had said about Bladergroen and the effects from the injured wrist he had last season. But to answer your question, no, I don't I think would have traded Bladergroen with the lack of position players available in the drafts, especially with that terrific first half he had last year. But in all honesty, you don't know what he is going to be like coming off an injury like that. I just thought it was tough to trade Bladergroen for a short term solution. Coming from my background, you're always partial to your own players. I don't know how much shopping was done and only Omar knows that. The Mets needed a first baseman and Doug Mientkiewicz was the best option out there. The Mets probably got held up because of the limited options out there, but it is really not fair for me to comment on how good the trade was because there is a lot of things behind the scenes that I don't know about.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: How much do you believe the current Mets' regime believes in the Mets' farm system as it is currently formed?
\r\n
\r\nBowen: I believe in Omar a lot in his philosophy of building from within because of his background and where he comes from. He and I come from same background. I hope it stays that way even though the Mets are a big market team. I believe he believes in the farm system. My tune might change if I was the General Manager, especially in the Mets situation with three down years in a row. The Mets want to win now and win quick after some subpar seasons. A lot of the guys in the organization and a lot of fans don't want to hear about a guy three years from now. Omar loves the player development, the scouting, and would love to see it work that way. The Mets have lost out on a lot of picks each year from signing the big-ticket free agents and Omar is going to be facing that situation more now. The Mets will be missing out on a lot of the top 100 players in the draft this year. It looks like a solid draft this year too, so with no second or third round picks, the Mets are going to watch many talented players go by on the board. If you are able to keep those picks, you get some really talented players and it is a lot easier to build the farm system when you have those picks.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: What was your best draft pick while the Director of Scouting for the Mets?
\r\n
\r\nBowen: Right now, I'd have to say Scott Kazmir, but we won't know for a while. You could also put Lastings Milledge up there too. You could also say that our best pick while I was the Scouting Director may have been Shawn Bowman or Ian Bladergroen. We won't know that for a while though. I will say that during my time as the Scouting Director, I wouldn't have done anything different. I would have taken Kazmir and Lastings in a heartbeat. Those two guys were easy. In fact, the year we drafted Lastings Milledge, he was my top guy from the minute I saw him.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Regarding Brad Meyers, what was the deal? Was he interested in signing with the Mets and it just came down to money?
\r\n
\r\nBowen: Brad definitely wanted to sign with the Mets. We thought he was a good pick and our scouts believed he was a top talent. It was not about money though. Mr. Wilpon took the recommendation from the commissioner's office to not drastically overpay for the round he was selected in and I respect that. I don't believe it was about not wanting to pay the money. It certainly wasn't about the finances. He was advised by the commissioner's office to hold the line here and it was that simple. Mr. Wilpon told me what the advice was from the commissioner's office and he told me that's what we're going to do. You can't fault an owner for that and I totally respected his decision.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Who are five guys Mets fans are going to want to remember, among the prospects, in the next five years?
\r\n
\r\nBowen: I can't list just five guys, but Scott Kazmir, Lastings Milledge, Gaby Hernandez, Shawn Bowman, Jesus Flores, Carlos Gomez, and Jamar Hill are all good looking kids. There are even a few more Mets fans should keep their eye on over the next couple of years. Anybody would be proud to say that they are a member of their organization. The Mets have some really good talent in the minors, Patrick. I think the Mets' scouting staff did an excellent job. I mean, just talking about the trade of Bladergroen, the Mets were able to get a Major League player for a 40-something round draft pick. That's a pretty deep farm system if you're able to do something like that.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Now that you are not part of the Mets, how would you rate the Mets' farm system in comparison to others?
\r\n
\r\nBowen: From the feedback I've gotten, from the people that see our minor league clubs, they think the Mets have a quality farm system. Regardless of what some people have said in and out of the organization, we do have a quality farm system. When you take into account the picks we've lost from the free agents the Mets signed, I am proud of what we've accomplished. It hasn't been perfect by any means, but I am proud of the job we've done. I believe, and many others do as well, that we did a very credible job. Put it this way, I don't think there was a trade the Mets couldn't have made last year because we had the talent in the minor leagues to make any deal. Credit should be given where credit is due, but because of people that were brought over into the organization that weren't as familiar with the prospects from top to bottom, we were heavily criticized without those people having the necessary overall analysis of the system.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Which players do you believe are the \"sleepers\"? You know, the ones that will contribute well at the Major League level that people may be overlooking right now?
\r\n
\r\nBowen: Well, Jamar Hill was a late pick and now his numbers are waking people up. He was flying under the radar like Ian Bladergroen did. Evan MacLane was a hell of pick by our area guy out in Calfornia. Chuck Hensley signed him and that kid [MacLane] just knows how to pitch, whether or not his stuff is graded as above average. I know he was a third round pick, but I believe Gaby Hernandez was a good sign for the Mets, especially coming from Florida out of Miami, which is a very highly scouted area. Ryan Harvey is just a baseball player. We'll see what he does at St. Lucie but he's another guy that could continue to fly under the radar and he's got a chance. Mike Carp had a real nice first year as did Sean Henry and those two look like they could be good ball players for the Mets down the road. Blake McGinley is not going to have a major impact in New York, but I think he can contribute a lot. He's not going to be the next John Franco or anything, but he signed for $500 and could contribute in the Majors. He was a very good late round pick for us.
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