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New York Mets: Reasons to Replace Shaun Marcum and Get Younger

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New York Mets: Reasons to Replace Shaun Marcum and Get Younger
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COMMENTARY | Zack Wheeler may have excelled in his MLB debut for the New York Mets but if the club hopes to improve, it will continue to take strides to create a younger personnel.

Shaun Marcum, 31, is now winless on the year (0-9) with an ERA of 5.76. Despite his age and poor play, the Mets still call on Marcum to pitch, as he has recorded 59.1 IP this season. Marcum has allowed four or more runs in five of his 11 starts. His recent play has certainly been no saving grace: In the seven days between his most recent two starts, Marcum has allowed 11 runs on 13 hits and 5 walks.

According to Adam Rubin, in Marcum's $4 million contract for the 2013 season, the pitcher will be given financial incentives for milestone achievements on the mound.

Once Marcum reaches 120 innings pitched, for instance, he will be given a $250,000 bonus. Each time he reaches subsequent goals (140, 160 and 170 innings), that total will be matched regardless of the level of success in his play on the field.

If the Mets hope to contend in the trade market and pay for an attractive new addition to their roster before the July 31 deadline, the club must explore alternatives to paying Marcum additional money to simply be dead weight on the mound and find a fifth starter to replace him.

Marcum was expected to lose his starting spot once the Mets transitioned from a six-man staff (with the addition Zack Wheeler) to the regular five-man staff, until Jonathan Niese was placed on the disabled list with a left shoulder injury.

But can the Mets afford to keep calling Marcum to the mound and continue to earn more innings pitched?

"That's up to them,'' said Marcum, who would also receive a $375,000 bonus once he reaches 90 and 120 days on the active roster. "I can't really do anything about that.''

With a losing record and a season nearly impossible to salvage, it's time for the Mets to either focus on the "future" guys or find new ones, without giving up promising talent such as 21-year-old infielder Wilmer Flores.

While top prospect Travis D'Arnaud, acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays for R.A. Dickey, may provide immediate MLB help at the position of catcher once he recovers from a fractured left foot, the pitching prospect that he arrived with still has plenty of time before he is ready for MLB play.

Noah Syndergaard currently plays in Double-A for the Binghamton Mets and would be a long-term investment for a trade partner, so it would be wise to let him develop rather than find a trade suitor.

Perhaps the surplus of minor-league pitching talent (e.g. Syndergaard, Rafael Montera, or currently injured Jeurys Familia, etc.) may help compliment the current MLB capacity of Wheeler and Matt Harvey, but until they are called to pitch in MLB they unfortunately may be considered trade assets within the organization.

This is evidenced by the fact that the Mets are publicly unwilling to part with closer Bobby Parnell, who is considered to be their most attractive MLB-level trade chip. Perhaps more valuable options for the Mets to send away could come in aging MLB veterans such as Marcum or Marlon Byrd.

Fortunately, the Mets are not acting afraid to bring on help.

"What I'd like to be able to do is maybe acquire a player or two who will not only be with us this year but into the future," said Mets GM Sandy Alderson, who is believed to be interested in acquiring an outfielder to replace the 36-year-old Marlon Byrd. "We're going to keep working at it, and I'm sure you'll see some different faces between now and say the end of July or the All-Star break."

The Mets' front office recently worked out a deal with the Rockies to acquire Eric Young Jr., and the team has also brought Josh Satin, David Aardsma, Rick Ankiel (albeit brief) and Carlos Torres into the organization as well. Ike Davis and Mike Baxter are working on their swings in Triple-A, and their performance has improved rapidly amidst their minor-league stints.

While it is also expected that the Mets look for big-name outfielders Carlos Gonzalez, Jacoby Ellsbury and Andre Ethier to bring on as the trade deadline nears closer, it will be important to keep their young pitching talent in tact. Of the three available outfielders, Ethier is considered to be the least likely addition considering his age (31 years old) and poor play and the Mets do not want to fall victim to another failed trade.

The organization is beginning to show some signs of being a proactive clubhouse both internally and externally, and the answer will be in youth on the mound and in the outfield.

"I do believe that over the next six months or so we will be in position to make some significant acquisitions," said Alderson. "We're certainly looking forward to that possibility."

Bryan Kalbrosky is a student at the University of Oregon School of Journalism. His work has previously been featured on BleacherReport.com, Tumblr Sports and various other media outlets. He is still coping with the fact that his Queens born father raised him to be a fan of the New York Mets. Click here to follow @BryanKalbrosky on Twitter.

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