Thursday, July 28, 2011

Hello There, Zack Wheeler

Let me just say this: Zack Wheeler is an absolute stud. The potential ace, former first round pick pitchers are the ones that are never available. The fact that Sandy Alderson acquired a player of this caliber, for two months of Carlos Beltran, means he deserves quite the pat on the back.

I do not want to take anything away from how good Beltran was for the Mets and how underrated he was in the past. He was their best EVERYDAY player this season. Yes, Jose Reyes has been incredible as well, but Beltran's presence not only in the lineup but also in the clubhouse cannot be overstated. He made this team believe, and really kept it afloat while teammate after teammate went down with injuries.

Let's not forget how he won over a fan base, myself included, that never fully appreciated just how good he was his 6.5 years as a Met, (averaging roughly 4.8 WAR per season with the club). He has had an unbelievable season; I already miss him. But this is no longer about 2011. This is about 2012 and beyond, and how much I love this trade.

Wheeler has "ace of the staff" type potential. With a 91-95 MPH fastball that has late movement, combined with his reasonable command of the pitch, and you already have a plus pitch. Add in a curveball that sits in the 70's, with a devastating break that he can places anywhere from your head, to the dirt, and you have the makings of another plus pitch.

Being as young as he is, and where he pitched for the Giants, he will start in High-A ball. He is still working on his secondary stuff, but is still young for his league (he turned 21 in May), and has plenty of time to develop. At least a year away from the majors, if he can string together another pitch or two, we should see him dominating Queens with a bunch of "wheel-esque" giveaways to boot.

My one problem with Wheeler is the potential delivery risk that scouts and "insiders" keep referring too. They say he has a very violent delivery and many expect arm surgery in his future. This is obviously not news I like hearing, but I have a couple of stories that will help me sleep at night.

How about Zack's former spring training teammate, Tim Linceum? This was a kid who teams had to "stay away from" because of delivery concerns. Now, he has back-to-back Cy Young awards,and is one of the best starting pitchers in the game.

In addition, look at Mark Prior and Stephen Strasburg.

Prior was proclaimed the best pitching prospect ever, a perfect arm with a flawless delivery. He started off incredibly, leading the Cubs to the NLCS. However, with the help of Dusty Baker and a few too many innings, he blew out his arm and has been unable to find a consistent spot in the bigs since. Nobody was worried about Stephen Strasburg or his delivery, either, but one year and one Tommy John surgery later, nobody knows who or what Strasburg will be when he comes beck.

Injuries will always be a part of the game. However, I think with a controlled workload, and a delivery that the pitcher himself is comfortable with are most important and will help avoid arm trouble.

The point is, getting a player of Wheeler's potential, for two months of Beltran, especially when the Mets were a .500 team is phenomenal. Beltran might even be back next season. The Mets as an organization are better today than they were yesterday, and the prospect of Sandy Alderson running this team look better and better every day.

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