Magic Number

Mets Magic Number is Seven

The Mets never seem to get it right sometimes. The Yankees got Hideki Matsui, and the Mets got Kaz Matsui. The Mariners get Ichiro, and the Mets get Tsuyoshi Shinjo. The Royals have two sport superstar Bo Jackson, and the Mets get Magic Man Number 7 D. J. Dozier:

 

Dozier was a football player. He was a first round draft NFL pick by the Vikings and an 18th round draft pick by the Tigers. In the NFL, he’d get stuck behind Barry Sanders and Hershel Walker. He theoretically signed (as a minor league free agent) with the Mets for that reason. Basically, he was John Elway, but he stuck with baseball. 

While in the Mets’ organization, he began to rise. He was ranked as the #44 Best prospect in all of baseball. He stayed with the Mets due to his unhappiness with the Vikings. The trouble is he never really panned out. He finally made the Mets in 1992 on the “Worst Team Money Can Buy.”  He hit .191/.264/.498 in only 25 games. 

This is a cold reminder that typically the Mets are reactive instead of progressive. It’s a time when moves didn’t pan out. This move seemed more of the same like when Michael Cuddyer struggled right out of the gate.  It looked like another lost year at times with the struggling offense. As we know, it didn’t happen that way. 

This year the moves and call-ups have panned out. Michael Conforto has been great.  We know about Yoenis Cespedes and his incredible hot streak after coming over to the Mets. This isn’t 1992 anymore. The Mets can win this year. This is why I like remembering players like Dozier. I want to see the progress of the team, and I like people are seeing how things are different now. 

So with that said, let’s offer a hat tip to magic man number seven D. J. Dozier. 

2015 Mets Magic Number

Previously, I had done multiple posts for 10 when there was no change in the magic number. When I looked over the candidates again, I didn’t believe there was another player worthy of a write-up. Instead, I thought that I should have a master list of every selection I have made. 

Before, I list them out, please keep in mind the rules: (1) I’m focusing on bad, disappointing, or players that haven’t panned out; (2) I must’ve seen the player play; and (3) the player played on bad or disappointing Mets teams. I began the list with 17, and I do not publish anything until the Mets and Nationals have finished their games (if they both played on the same day). 

Without further ado, here’s the master list:

Current Magic Number: 0

METS CLINCHED THE NL EAST!

Magic Number 0 – Mr. Met

Magic Number 1 – Chris Young

Magic Number 3 – Omar Quintanilla

Magic Number 4 – IV*

Magic Number 5 – Charlie O’Brien

Magic Number 6 – Kelly Shoppach

Magic Number 7 – D.J. Dozier

Magic Number 8 – Carlos Baerga

Magic Number 9 – Craig Brazell

Magic Number 10 – Joe Hieptas & Rey Sanchez

Magic Number 11 – Vince Coleman

Magic Number 12 – Alvaro Espinoza

Magic Number 14 – Ken Boyer

Magic Number 16 – Rick Ankiel

Magic Number 17 – Jeff McKnight

As the Mets have won the NL East, this series has come to a close. I’ve had a lot of fun doing it, and I hope you’ve had fun reading it. It’s now off to the playoffs. 

Lets Go Mets!

Mets Magic Number is 8

I’ve alluded to who my selection for number 8 would be. After looking over the candidates and my self-imposed rules, the pick is Carlos Baerga:

  
When the trade was made in 2006, Baerga switched to number 8 for the 1997 and 1998 seasons. We all know by now it was an awful trade. Baerga provided the Mets with a triple slash line of .267/.302/.373 with 18 homers and 116 RBIs. 

The man he replaced, Jeff Kent, turned out to be a career .290/.356/.500 hitter with 377 homeruns and 1,518 RBIs. He was the 2000 NL MVP. He is the all time leader for second baseman in homeruns (351), RBIs (1,389), slugging percentage (.509), and doubles (560). I remember my Dad was angry when the trade first took place, and he would become more irritated each and every passing year. 

Now, record wise, 1997 and 1998 were pretty good. However, 1998 was heartbreaking. For all the fans looking for a repeat of 2007 and 2008 after a couple of losses to the Marlins, they forgot about the original collapse. 

The Mets had a one game lead over the Cubs and four games over the Giants with five games remaining (seven for the Giants). The Mets lost all five of their remaining games. They were home as the Cubs and Giants had a play-in game for the Wild Card featuring future Met Steve Trachsel, and former Met, Jeff Kent. 

In those final five games for the Mets, Baerga went 2-13 (.154) with no walks, one RBI, no extra base hits, and one game on the bench. He wasn’t the only one responsible for that collapse, *cough* Mel Rojas *cough*. However, the Mets were stuck with Baerga while Kent was in the play-in game. It just shows you how changing one player for another can have a profound impact on your season. With this year’s flurry of trades, it’s something Mets fans know well. 

So let’s tip our cap to Magic Number 8, Carlos Baerga, who shows us, in part, our fears of collapse are behind us. 

Also, take this time to remember the late, great Gary CarterJe me souviens. Rest in peace. 

Mets Magic Number is 9 

After the Marlins beat the Nationals last night, the Mets magic number is finally in single digits. At a minimum, I thought it was nice to be off of 10. However, I saw the choices for 9, and I quickly realized it was going to be difficult to find a player that fits within my parameters

Many of the players either played well or were on good teams. Many of the players played before I was born. However, I knew there was a player out there. I trusted that I could find someone who wasn’t that good and played on a bad Mets team. I then found my man Craig Brazell:

 
If you don’t remember him, it’s probably because he only played 24 games with the 2004 Mets, who went 71-91. In these 24 games, he would hit .265/.286/.412. He wouldn’t play in the majors for another three years when he would play five games for the Royals. 

It’s a shame because he was an actual major league prospect. He was a Top 10 organizational player seen to have good power and a good glove at firstbase. Unfortunately for him, he was blocked by the Mike Piazza firstbase experiment. The next season, he was blocked by Doug Mientkiewicz (because Carlos Delgado wouldn’t sign with the Mets). After 2005, he was granted free agency, and he left Mets organization. 

In some ways, Brazell reminds me of Ike Davis in that they were both good fielding first base prospects with power (Davis was a much better prospect). Unfortunately, neither panned out even if Davis had some early success. However, unlike with Brazell, the Mets had a viable option in their system with Lucas Duda

That’s what this season has taught us. You need organizational depth. You need it not just to get the players you need at the trade deadline, but also to fill-in spots for your team when there is injury or ineffectiveness. It’s unfortunate when the prospects work out. It’s devastating when there’s no viable alternatives at the ready. 

So with that, let’s offer a hat tip to our magic man number nine, Craig Brazell. 

TENtative Concerns

So there was no movement in the magic number for the second straight day.  While I’m enjoying the series, but I’m not ready to move on to Shingo Takatsu as of yet, especially with the potential that the number may hold until Friday night. 

I could discuss the managers who have worn the number, but that would limit me to Terry Collins and Jeff Torborg. With respect to Collins, I’ve written a lot about him, so I wouldn’t be breaking any new ground. With Torborg, his teams were terrible, but it’s not like his firing was a positive. If you don’t believe me, go ask Generation K

The reason I’m moving on is because:

No, it’s not seven with 17 remaining, but it could be with a Nationals win tomorrow. There are enough Mets fans needlessly panicking that this is the 2007 season all over again. I guess a loss to the Marlins can do that, especially two straight losses. As a symbolic gesture, I’m not picking another 10 as I think it’s time to move on. Not just from the Takatsu’s of the world, but from the concept of another collapse. 

This is not the same team. This is a different season. I’ve been just as harmed as the next Mets fan by that season, but I don’t see the need to make it my focus. I’m more concerned about the playoff roster. You should be as well. I’m more concerned as to pick for the remaining magic numbers as I’m confident the Mets will get it done. 

With that said, I’m moving on. I hope you will too. 

Magic Number is Still 10

With the Mets losing and the Nationals winning, there is no change in the Mets magic number. However, I’ve been having some fun doing these, so I figured I would take another crack at 10. Today, I’m looking at the 2004 season and Joe Hieptas:

  

 

During the Mets 2004 season, when they finished 71-91, they would call up Hieptas in September to become the Mets third string catcher. On October 3, 2004, his dreams would come true, and he would play in a big league game catching one inning in an 8-1 win over the Montreal Expos. Unfortunately, Hieptas did not get a chance to bat making him a modern day Moonlight Graham

Hieptas tried all he could to get back to the majors. He would convert to a pitcher at the Mets suggestion in 2007, but he would never make it back to the big leagues. Much like the 2004 Mets, he never really had a chance, but he still went out there anyway. I know at times it must be frustrating for him, but he can sleep at night knowing he gave it his all. 

Hieptas’ story reminded me of Mets fans’ favorite punching bag, Eric Campbell. I’ve seen a number of things written about him. I believe most of it is unfair and sometimes just wrong. 

He’s a guy who plays hard and hits the ball hard. He’s doing everything he can do to be a big leaguer. It’s just ironic that Campbell sees his salvation in a position Hieptas had to leave to get another shot. Hieptas and Campbell are both reminders that whether a team is good or bad, there is always someone out there trying to make the most of their talent and opportunity. 

So with that lets tip our hats to Joe Hieptas. 

Mets Magic Number is 10

After losing the 2000 World Series and a rough 2001 season, Steve Phillips decided the Mets needed to shift gear.  He thought the Mets needed to be an offensive based team.  He started with what seemed like the masterful Roberto Alomar trade. He also added Mo Vaughn (don’t trust the narrative, sadly the Mets won this trade) and Jeromy Burnitz via trade. Finally, the Mets signed Roger Cedeno. It was a disaster with the Mets finishing in last place with a 75-86 record. 

All of the aforementioned players underachieved, none more so than Alomar. Part of the narrative behind Alomar’s season was the adjustment to New York and his rift with Rey Ordonez, who would be cast off to Tampa before the season. In his place, the Mets brought on a player approved by Alomar to play SS, today’s magic number 10, Rey Sanchez:

 

In theory, it made sense. You make a superstar like Alomar feel as comfortable as possible to get the most out of him.  In practice, it failed. Alomar would hit .262/.336/.357 in 73 games for the Mets in 2003. With the Mets sitting at 36-47 and 16 games out of first place, the Mets traded Alomar. Sanchez couldn’t save him. 
In fact, Sanchez needed to save himself. Sanchez had his career worst year in 2003. He hit .207/.240/.236. I think the Mets pitchers this year hit better than that. His play was so poor, he would only play in 56 games. Of course, he would leave the Mets and resurrect his career. Unfortunately, he couldn’t resurrect a Mets team that finished 66-95. 

So Sanchez reminds us that there was a time that players didn’t always excel like Yoenis Cespedes when they came to the Mets. It’s also a reminder that it takes a special personality like Juan Uribe to come in and create a new clubhouse culture. Again, we learn how different and special this 2015 season is. 

So with that, we all owe a hat tip to Rey Sanchez. 

Mets Magic Number is 11

I so badly wanted to use number 11 to rant about how much I despised Razor Ramon Castro. However, since he was on good Mets teams, he doesn’t qualify

That’s fine. I was able to find a truly despicable Met in Vince Coleman:

  

Coleman was a terrible Met, and if his Mets tenure was any indication, he was a terrible human being. It all came to a head in 1993, the only year Coleman wore 11, for a 59-103 Mets team. 

That was the year Coleman crossed the line you do not cross. He attacked the fans. After a July game, he threw a M-100, which is used by the military to simulate grenades, towards a group of 200+ fans less than 30 feet away. It was described as nothing more than a prank. I guess it’s alright that he threw the firecracker because they were heckled after not stopping for autographs. 

Unsurprisingly, there were fans injured. This included a two year old girl who suffered from second degree burns, a lacerated cornea, and an index finger injury. So no, I don’t agree with Coleman when he says he’s “no monster.”  Who does this to people? By the way, where was Bud Selig, who was then acting commissioner?  The lack of a suspension makes Roger Goodell look like he has a clue. Speaking of punishments, Coleman would serve no jail time, get 200 hours of community serve, and owe a small fine.

This was the lowlight of an otherwise dreadful 1993 season. It was a season that reminded you that sometimes your team is hard to root for when it has terrible people. It’s not only the baseball is bad, but the players are terrible as well. They don’t respect each other, the fans, or the game. They suck a the fun out of everything. 

When I first thought of Coleman and the 1993 Mets, I was irritated. However, I began to think of the 2015 Mets and how they are the polar opposite in every way. This team is enjoyable. They play hard. They respect the fans. In fact, thinking of the 1993 team has made me appreciate this team all the more. Since that was the goal of this series, I guess mission accomplished. 

I’m not offering a hat tip here to Coleman. He doesn’t deserve it. Let’s tip our caps to the 2015 Mets and hope they complete their mission to win the World Series. Lets Go Mets!

Magic Number is 12

Yesterday, the problem was finding out who to pick for 14 in this series with the paucity of choices. Today’s selection was an abundance of good choices. 

There was Roberto Alomar‘s disappointing tenure. I’m sure there are Mets fans that would’ve picked Willie Randolph, but he was decent with the Mets in the last year of a good career. Furthermore, I was higher on him as a manager than most people. I remember that Jeff Kent was hated by Mets fans, except the ones in my household. 

When fans booed Kent, my Dad was baffled. When he saw Kent, he saw a terrific player. My Dad was right. Kent played well in his five years as a Met. Kent would win the 2000 NL MVP and finish his career with the most homeruns by a second baseman. However, all of that happened elsewhere. Why elsewhere? Well, the Mets made an idiotic trade including him and Jose Vizcaino for Carlos Baerga and today’s selection, Alvaro Espinoza:

  
Espinoza was not a great major league player, but truth be told, he was at his best in those 48 games with the Mets. So, why pick him?  He was part of a trade that ditched a possible Hall of Fame second baseman for a player fading fast in Baerga. Neither player was of much help, especially in a 1996 season when the Mets finished 71-91. 

Baerga’s numbers dropped steadily his three years in New York, and he couldn’t stay on second base.  He would be gone before the glory years of 1999 and 2000, but you know who would reappear in 2000?  Vizcaino. The man who put an end to Game 1 of the 2000 World Series. He was in that position due to Timo Perez‘s lack of hustle and Armando Benitez once again caving in from the pressure. 

So I picked Esponiza more as a symbolic gesture as a reminder that the trade for the star usually doesn’t work in the Mets history. I think that reminder is quite aprospros this season. 

With that in mind, please join me in offering a hat tip to Magic Number 12, Alvaro Espinoza. 

Magic Number is 14

Considering the fact that only three Mets have worn the number 14, I thought it might be hard to keep up my Magic Number series.

First and foremost, including Gil Hodges was a non-starter. Sure, he was an original Met. That meant he played on the worst team in MLB history. He also turned the franchise around as a manager and was in the dugout when the Miracle Mets won the 1969 World Series. He also died too young. Lastly, the number 14 was retired in his honor. 

One of Hodges’ players on the ’69 Mets was Ron Swoboda. That was also a non-starter as he was a key member of the 1969 team. I know he wore 4 that year, but that was because Hodges took it back. In any event, the infusion of Swoboda would’ve been nonsense with this catch (1:24 mark):

That left Ken Boyer:

  
Now, Boyer is a borderline Hall of Famer. However, in the great tradition of Mets acquisitions, he was better elsewhere, much better. 

Boyer might have been a five time Gd Gliver, an MVP, and seven time All Star, but he was an also-ran with the Mets. A career .287/.349/.462 hitter would hit .266/.304/.415 in 1966 and .235/.335/.355 in 1967 before he was traded to the White Sox. He was not Ken Boyer in Flushing. 

In 1966, the Mets finished in ninth place (the penultimate place) with a 66-95 record. In 1967, the Mets finished in last place with a 61-101 record. Boyer was a sign of the rough times. assured, he could be in the Hall, but certainly not fur his play with the Mets. 

So without further ado, let’s all offer a hat tip to Magic Number 14, Ken Boyer.