The New York Mets are feeling pretty good about themselves these days.
The team is fresh off a three-game sweep of the Miami Marlins and Jose Reyes, who in the offseason left New York for free agent riches in Miami. Sweeping Reyes and his new team out of town may have given the Mets a small sense of satisfaction, but how they did it provided a great sense of pride. On Thursday, April 26, the Mets defeated the Marlins, 3-2, with a starting lineup of nine homegrown players.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the first time since 1971 (and only the third time in franchise history) that the Mets submitted a lineup card consisting entirely of players signed and developed by the organization. On Thursday, lefty Jonathon Niese pitched seven strong innings and Kirk Nieuwenhuis went 3-for-5, including the game-winning hit in the bottom of the ninth inning. On Wednesday, homegrown hero David Wright belted what turned out to be the game-winning two-run home run in the sixth inning.
Ironically, Wright and Reyes formed the core of the Mets for the last few years. Reyes signed with the Mets as an amateur free agent in 1999 and became an instant fan favorite with his electric personality and offensive ability. Unfortunately, the Mets couldn't -- or didn't want to -- pay the steep price for his services beyond last season and were forced to move on without him. Now they rely on guys like Wright, Nieuwenhuis and Niese, who earlier this month signed a five-year, $25 million extension.
"You've got to have players coming through your farm system to be successful," Mets general manager Sandy Alderson told Mets.com. "And you've got to give them an opportunity to play at some point, whether that's out of necessity or just creating opportunities. They've got to have a chance to play."
With highly-rated pitching prospects Zack Wheeler and Matt Harvey, plus 2011 first-round draft pick Brandon Nimmo down on the farm, the Mets have more young talent in the pipeline. So Reyes may have left for sunny South Beach, but there are brighter days ahead for the young Mets, too.
Adam Martini is a freelance sportswriter who grew up in Queens, N.Y. with a view of Shea Stadium from his bedroom window. He spent many nights in the upper deck at Shea rooting for the Mets. Follow Adam and the Mets on Twitter @PegCitySports.