I find it hard not to accept Omar Minaya’s (and really, most of baseball’s) philosophy that adding proven, experienced players promotes a solid ball club. But the 2008 season so far seems to be…well…contradicting that.
I’d like someone to look at all the over .500 clubs and calculate the median age–I haven’t quite got the patience to do it myself. But I did check out two of the most unlikely success stories of the year: the Tampa Bay Rays and the Florida Marlins. At the beginning of the season, if someone had told you the Rays would be 10 games ahead of the Yanks and 4 ahead of the Sox on August 21, would you have said “Well, duh“? Probably not. And the Marlins are a team that time and time again outperform expectations. Of the current 25-man roster, the Rays have 14 players (.560) born 1980 or later, and the Marlins have 15 (.600). The Mets currently have 9: Mike Pelfrey, Daniel Murphy, Argenis Reyes, Oliver Perez, Joe Smith, Nick Evans, John Maine, and of course our own David Wright and Jose Reyes. Maine’s having some shoulder problems, we know, but the rest? Certainly not a whole lot to complain about.
So here we are with our own unlikely success story. Unlikely only in that several of these young players were never even near the initial plan for the season. But here they are, getting it done. Mike Pelfrey–Pelf!–has the most wins in our starting rotation. Daniel Murphy just looks at the ball and he’s at 2nd base. And that’s not even considering the benefits of their smaller paychecks.
Sure, you could argue that younger players aren’t mentally prepared for the big leagues, and that’s valid. Pelfrey took almost 2 years to adjust. But they also don’t have to deal with the mental stress of performing up to exorbitant paychecks or enormous trades. They’re eager and hungry–they have everything to prove.
We’ll likely be seeing Kunz again soon with the September call-ups, and I think we’ll see better stuff from him in the future. And I look forward to seeing whomever else might come up from the minors. With all the doom and gloom talk about Billy Wagner’s old beat up elbow, I’m hoping that more young, unproven players step in and surprise us the way our young Mets have so far this year.