Why the Mets Are Only Going to Get Even Worse

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Just when you think things can't get any worse for the Mets, you think they can get worse.

As Bill Madden points out in today's Daily News, the Mets don't have much to look forward to in the free agent market this winter "when the two biggest sluggers coming to the market, Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder ... and the two best pitchers, Mark Buehrle and Edwin Jackson, are used to pitching for contending teams and would doubtless only consider the Mets if they were grossly overpaid."

Which, as we know, the Mets are going to be in no shape to be able to do. It doesn't seem likely that they will be in financial condition to make an offer to any of those four.

So the only way the Mets could lure a top free agent would be to sacrifice high draft picks, "something the Mets, especially now, can ill afford to do."

Either that or hope the farm system can start sending up someone on the order of Dillon Gee, whose impressive outing against the Braves on Sunday is about the only ray of hope so far this season. And let's not exaggerate exactly how big a ray -- Dillon went 5 2/3 innings and gave up just one run with four strikeouts. But he's 25 years old, which means it's a little late for him to be the second coming of Doc Gooden, and though he led the International League in strikeouts last season, he had an ERA close to 5.00.

Are there any blue chippers down at the farm? Apparently no position players worth talking about, and only one Triple-A level pitcher, Jenrry Mejia at Buffalo, who has excited anyone (though he didn't excite the Mets much last year, going 0-4 in his brief stint). After two starts in the minors so far this season, it's too soon for returns on Mejia, but the way things are going (and the Mets are currently 15th among 16 NL teams in ERA and first in walks allowed), it's a pretty good bet we'll see him at Citi Field before the year is out.

Meanwhile, though the frequency with which they're pounding home runs has obscured the issue, the Yankees are having similar problems. There seems to be no hot young pitching prospects on their horizon, and now, with Phil Hughes' "dead" arm, they're going to be needing a live arm or two very soon.

And there's something else: as John Nalbone pointed out in Sunday's Trenton Times, "Robinson Cano is the only everyday position player developed by the Yankees farm system."

None of the New York-based beat writers has stated the problem as succinctly as Nalbone: "Years of neglect in the draft and far too many resources directed toward high-priced free agents in the waning years of George Steinbrenner's stewardship of the franchise were to blame for the dearth of major league-ready talent in the minor-league system.

"From 1997 to 2005, the Yankees' drafting and player development was among the worst in baseball, with only 10 position players produced and those players combining for less than 900 major league at-bats."

The difference between the 2011 Yankees and Mets are that with Tampa Bay's injuries and Boston's dreadful start, the Yankees are in a position to win something this year. But right now the future looks pretty dismal on both sides of town.


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