By Zach Gewelb
The New York Mets continue to show questionable decision-making.
The team announced its decision Sunday to promote 29-year-old “prospect” Tim Tebow from Low-A Columbia to High-A St. Lucie despite his subpar numbers. The left-handed hitting outfielder slashed .220/.311/.336 with three home runs and 23 RBI in 64 games for Columbia, hardly impressive production. Yet, general manager Sandy Alderson felt his performance merited a promotion.
“His last two or three weeks trended pretty well and given all the other circumstances, age and so forth, we felt this was the right time to promote him,” Alderson told the media.
In his last 14 games, Tebow has gone 9-for-43 (.209), with 12 strikeouts. Those numbers do not merit a move to a higher minor league level, but now Tebow is advancing to face better talent in High-A ball.
The Mets believe Tebow can be better and think he has handled adversity well. Alderson said the fact that Tebow hasn’t “bombed” yet shows the potential he has.
“I don’t think about his ceiling,” Alderson said. “There was a chance he would completely bomb in spring training, and that didn’t happen. I think his performance there justified his assignment to a full-season club. He went to Columbia and I wouldn’t say he’s excelled there, but I think what he’s done there, given all the circumstances, justifies the promotion to St. Lucie.”
Tebow may not have bombed yet, but he hasn’t been successful either. Any other 29-year-old with similar statistics and less name recognition would likely have been shown the door at this point. That he hasn’t shows that the Mets are trying to milk every last dollar from minor league fans out of Tebow while he is with the team.
While the team won’t come out and say this, it’s clear that this is a marketing grab. The Mets marketing of Tebow while at Low-A Columbia was already more than any other minor league player usually gets, and now the team is going to keep taking advantage of Tebow’s name by doing the same in St. Lucie.
But his name is why he is still around, and will continue to be around for the near future. The Mets will not let go of Tebow before they have to because he generates too much revenue at the minor league level — revenue that normally wouldn’t exist. In fact, expect Tebow to “earn” another promotion to the Mets’ Double-A affiliate because surely the squad in upstate New York could use the extra revenue.
If he eventually earns the call to Double-A, consider it likely Tebow will be called up to the majors when rosters expand in September, especially if the Mets are out of the playoff picture. A call to the show for Tebow would allow the Mets to sell more merchandise and draw more fans to the ballpark in what will have been a lost season.
Tebow is attempting to do something very few athletes have done successfully: play in both Major League Baseball and the National Football League. You have to give the guy credit for trying. But it’s becoming clear that Tebow doesn’t have the skills to get it done. If not for his name-recognition and marketing benefits, he would be out of the league.
But the Mets are perfectly happy to keep him around, squeezing every dollar from his name in the process.
Reach reporter Zach Gewelb by e-mail at zgewe