Mets Making History Every Day!

NEW YORK, NY: David Wright #5 of the New York Mets celebrates after defeating the Miami Marlins at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.The Mets defeated the Marlins 5-1. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Wednesday, David Wright hit a two-run home run. This was especially notable because Wright established a new franchise record, and a pretty good one.

Career Runs Batted In, New York Mets
1. David Wright (735)
2. Darryl Strawberry (733)
3. Mike Piazza (655)
4. Howard Johnson (629)
5. Ed Kranepool (614)

Barring an unexpected trade or an injury, Wright's going to clear 800 this season. And his record, wherever it settles, is likely to stand for quite some time, as the Mets' best young hitter is probably Ike Davis, who's more than 600 ribs behind Wright.

Anyway, that was Wednesday. Something interesting happened Thursday, too: Every single player in the Mets' lineup was a product of the franchise's farm system. And this hadn't happened since ... well, in a long time. From Mark Viera (via the Times):

Every player in the lineup had a link to the former general manager Omar Minaya, but the batting order was also a reflection of the circumstances facing the new regime, which has not acquired frontline position players because of the team’s financial troubles. The current injury concerns were obvious, too, with an infielder forced to play the outfield.

--snip--

It was only the third time the Mets fielded a lineup of all homegrown players, and the first time in 41 years, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The only two times it had happened before Thursday were on Sept. 17 and Sept. 19, 1971.

--snip--

That the Mets had only previously relied on such lineups late in the season, after the expansion of the rosters, was perhaps not surprising. But this season is still young, and the exclusive use of homegrown players on Thursday spoke to the team’s circumstances. It also recalled Minaya’s Mets tenure, which ended with his firing after the 2010 season.

Here's that September 17 lineup ...

Ted Martinez - 2b
Bud Harrelson - ss
Cleon Jones - lf
Ed Kranepool -1b
Mike Jorgensen - cf
Ken Singleton
- rf
Duffy Dyer - c
Tim Foli - 3b
Gary Gentry - p

and September 19:

Ted Martinez - 2b
Bud Harrelson - ss
John Milner - lf
Ed Kranepool - 1b
Mike Jorgensen - cf
Ken Singleton - rf
Duffy Dyer - c
Tim Foli - 3b
Jerry Koosman - p

Aside from the starting pitchers, the only difference is rookie John Milner playing left field instead of veteran Cleon Jones.

If you're familiar with 1970s baseball, you probably noticed that neither lineup is real impressive. Among the hitters, only Ken Singleton had a career that might be described as great (though most observers would probably stop at excellent or something). But that wouldn't happen with the Mets; shortly before the '72 season, the Mets traded Singleton and Tim Foli and Mike Jorgensen -- all three of them in both of those all-homegrown lineups -- to the Expos for Rusty Staub.

That wouldn't have been the worst trade ever, except Singleton was actually better than Staub, all by himself. With Foli and Jorgensen both proving useful players, in their limited ways. Of course, the Expos didn't really take advantage, ultimately trading Singleton to the Orioles for three magic beans that merely fell to the ground and rotted.

But I digress. Should Mets fans be excited about their homegrown lineup? Here it was:

Kirk Nieuwenhuis
Ruben Tejada
Daniel Murphy
David Wright
Lucas Duda
Ike Davis
Josh Thole
Jordany Valdespin
Jon Niese

Most of these guys, you know about already. Wright's a veteran. Davis has a chance to become a star. Duda can hit, but probably is miscast as an outfielder. Baseball America says of Nieuwenhuis, "he profiles as a near-perfect outfielder," while Valdespin "could have a future as a utility player or fringe starter at second base."

In other words, the younger crop probably doesn't include the next David Wright or Jose Reyes. And of course that's what the Mets need: another couple of superstars. They can get them from their farm system, or they can sign them; but to compete with the beasts of the east, they'll need them from somewhere. And I'm not seeing any young superstars in that lineup, though Ike Davis or Lucas Duda might build a career something like Singleton's.

So Thursday's lineup was less a positive augur than a curiosity. Were I a Mets fan, I would be interested and amused, but not wildly encouraged. Especially with Jason Bay still on the payroll.

***


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