Rounding Third: Syndergaard giving the Mets something to believe in

10:54 AM, Mar 5, 2014   |    comments
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Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - There is a sign inside the main offices of the Sports Network that reads, "We didn't expect to be this good this fast".

You have to think the New York Mets are muttering the same thing down in Port St. Lucie, FL, these days when watching 21-year-old flamethrower Noah Syndergaard.

There's always a player who makes a name for himself in the spring. Miami took a chance last season on a 20-year-old named Jose Fernandez, who was more than up to the task and walked away with an NL Rookie of the Year and was among the finalists for a Cy Young.

Syndergaard has easily become that guy this spring.

Like Fernandez, it's not as if Syndergaard came out of nowhere to compete for a spot. He is one of the best pitching prospects in all of baseball and was one of the pieces the Mets received from Toronto in the R.A. Dickey deal last winter.

His time was coming. I'm not sure the Mets thought he would be this good, this spring, but Syndergaard has been the story not only in Mets camp, but in all of baseball the first couple of weeks.

Syndergaard did nothing to quell the hype his first time out this spring, as he pitched two scoreless innings and struck out two, while hitting 98 mph on the radar.

"Right now, he's on track to be special," Mets manager Terry Collins said.

With a rotation that already includes highly regarded Zack Wheeler, Bartolo Colon, Dillon Gee and Jon Niese, Syndergaard's still a longshot to make the team out of camp.

And let's face it, him making it tough on the Mets to send him back down is not exactly the worst problem in the world to have, especially for a franchise that was at an all-time low just a few months back.

This was always supposed to be the year the Mets jumped back into the fray in the National League East. After what seemed like years upon years of rebuilding and never ending stories of financial peril, 2014 was going to be the season to remove the laughingstock label from the 'Amazins.

Despite another sub-.500 season in 2013, the plan was still on schedule thanks in large part to the ascension of right-hander Matt Harvey, who firmly established himself as one of the best young pitchers in baseball.

But, as much as Mets fans embraced the idea of Harvey leading them back to respectability, there was still a big portion of that fanbase that was waiting for the other shoe to drop.

And it did on Monday, Aug. 26 when the Mets announced that Harvey had a torn ligament in his elbow that would likely need dreaded Tommy John surgery to fix, pretty much ending any chance he had to make a meaningful impact for the team in 2014.

No matter what the Mets did this offseason, fans knew the original plan was shot.

Even if Syndergaard is the real deal, the Mets still aren't going to win 90 games. Unless, of course, he also finds a way to hit 30 home runs.

With Harvey gone, however, Syndergaard has given the fans something to latch onto this season.

But he is only 21 and has never pitched above the Double-A level. Then again, Fernandez was 20 at the start of last season and had never gone past Single-A.

Then there's the financial conundrum. Of course, the Mets can retain another year of service time by keeping Syndergaard down in the minors until around Memorial Day.

Conversely, though, the Marlins were even worse off financially than the Mets last season and threw service time to the wind with Fernandez.

Yes you always run the chance that Syndergaard struggles and maybe they lose him from a mental standpoint. I mean he is only 21. But, if that's the case, he's probably not cut out for New York for the long haul anyway.

But if he's ready, he's ready.

Call me crazy, but I'd rather see Syndergaard learn on the fly than endure two months of Daisuke Matsuzaka. And maybe they strike gold the way Miami did. At worst he gets the first-year jitters out of the way in a year, that let's face it, is likely not going to result in anything anyway.

Then, he, Wheeler and Harvey hit the ground running in 2015.

Geez, is there a team better set up for the next decade than the Mets?

The Sports Network

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