While this is the 50th Anniversary of the 1969 Miracle Mets, it is also the 20th anniversary of the 1999 Mets. As part of the 1969 celebration, it appears we will finally get to the Tom Seaver statute Mets fans have been clamoring for over the past decade. However, it does not appear there will be similar celebrations for the first Mets team to make consecutive postseasons this year.
You could present the argument the Mets could do something subtle like dusting off the black jerseys and wearing them like the Mets wore the old racing stripe jerseys three years ago. Of course, the mere mention of bringing back those jerseys tends to set off a firestorm. With that in mind, our roundtable answers the question as to whether the Mets should ever bring back the black jerseys in any way, shape, or form:
Pete McCarthy (OABT)
Only the black hats with blue brim.
Bre S. (That Mets Chick)
I wouldn’t completely bring them back but it would be cool to see them on occasion. The Mets wore the 86 racing stripes in 2016 on Sundays. It would be nice to see them maybe on Friday nights. (Sunday day games might be too hot for black uniforms).
James Schapiro (Shea Bridge Report)
I love the black jerseys, but it’s strange because until last September, David Wright would have been the last active Met to wear them. Now, as far as I can tell, assuming Jose Reyes is done, the only remaining Mets who wore the black jerseys during their original run are Jason Vargas — maybe — and Carlos Gomez — probably. That’s nothing against the jerseys; it’s just a hell of a thought that Juan Lagares is the longest tenured Met, and the current Mets who go back the farthest as Mets are Jason Vargas and Carlos Gomez. I guess my point is yes, absolutely bring back the black jerseys, but also wow, what a weird, crazy world we live in.
Metstradamus (Metstradamus Blog)
I’m not nostalgic about the black unis, especially since we only stopped wearing them seven years ago. I can’t get nostalgic about a uniform that a truckload of Mets fans complained about when they actually wore them. Love the blues much better and would rather wear those on Friday nights.
That said, if you want to bring the black unis back to mark an anniversary, save them until next season. This season belongs to ’69. A truly historic team like that deserves the entire season. Sneaking in a ’99 tribute seems odd to me. Instead, honor the 2000 team. They are probably the most underappreciated team in Mets history. Partly because the ’99 team overshadows them, and partly because they lost to the Yankees, who overshadow everybody. I understand that the roster was essentially the same, but the 2000 team never even got so much as a congratulatory rally at Shea Stadium. A good amount of pennant winners who lost the World Series at least got that, and I think the Mets would have had that if they had lost to anybody except the Yankees. They deserve their due. (Even Armando Benitez.) So I say do it next season.
Greg Prince (Faith and Fear in Flushing)
Come 2022, I’d endorse doing for the 60th anniversary what the Reds are doing for their 125th, sprinkling in different throwbacks throughout the season, the black ones included.
Greg, I thought of that too. If we want to have throwbacks for years ending in 9, give us the ’69 unis, the black unis, but also the two button pullovers from ’79 and the Mark Carreon specials from ’89.
I do like the special days one. Personally, I thought Piazza’s 31 should’ve been in black.
Decade Nights or whatever shouldn’t take that much imagination to pull off.
It also requires a tacit admission that the Mets existed in years besides 1969, 1986 and the current year.
Joe Maracic (Loud Egg)
I was never a huge fan of the black jerseys but if it makes the Mets money they may bring them back. Seems like so many sports teams had a black third jersey and it kind of got played out. From a design point of view, you use black as a shortcut to make the uniform look better… but it doesn’t always work.
The real question: black uniforms or snow-whites?
James, black over the snow whites. Not close.
Whites were always too Brooklyn Dodgers for me
I dare the Mets to bring back the 1997 ice cream hats for one game in 2022. The pillbox hats from 1976. And, of course, the Mercury Mets getup from 1999.
I actually liked the ice cream hats on their own. With the white jerseys, they were terrible
They had a chance to bring back Mercury Mets on the 20th anniversary. Of course they blew it.
Mercury Mets would be ideal for 2021. That was the date of “the future,” in 1999.
Mark Healey (Gotham Baseball)
I’m torn on the black. I did like them, but like always, the team ruined the concept by never truly executing the look properly. The hybrid cap, black with blue bill was atrocious, & did not match the jersey. (Sorry, Pete). They also de-emphasised blue in criminal fashion, wearing the home uniform with black undershirts / sleeves and socks made the team look hideous. If they bring them back, which they will, the all black cap and special one Tim only snow White pants (it looks terrible with the pinstripe pants) is the only way the jersey should be worn. Also Mercury Mets = infamnia.
But I hate the introduction of black as a major element because it ruined the rest of the uniform. That the Mets wore this monstrosity at home in the World Series still irritates me to no end. Hybrid cap, black undershirt, black drop shadow = again, infamnia
I hated the cap, I really, really hate it. If Mets bring back this hideous thing, then I vote No on black alts.
On the hat, I agree. As I noted previously, the hats need updating. I also think the jerseys themselves were overused. If the Mets were so inclined, I think bringing them back for Friday nights may be the best possible solution, mostly because I associate the Friday night black jerseys with Mike Piazza hitting that home run to cap off a 10 run rally against the Braves.
Overall, this was one of my favorite roundtables thus far, and I hope this roundtable encourages you to check out the excellent work of the people who contributed to this roundtable.
According to Jon Heyman of Fancred, the New York Mets are not pursuing Manny Machado this offseason as they “don’t see him as the right player to spend big on.” While this may create an uproar amongst Mets fans and Mets critics, the is 100% the correct move for the Mets franchise. There are several reasons why:
- Machado only wants to play shortstop, and as we saw with Kazuo Matsui displacing Jose Reyes, moving Amed Rosario off shortstop is a bad idea;
- With David Wright and Yoenis Cespedes, the Mets already have two $100 million players. You don’t need three.
- Carlos Beltran was the last under 30 year old who the Mets signed to a $100 million contract. Do we really want the Mets to sign someone who is just going to strike out looking anyway?
- The last Orioles shortstop to play for the Mets was Mike Bordick, and he hit .260/.321/.365 in 56 regular season games with the Mets before getting benched for Kurt Abbott in the World Series.
- With Jack Reinheimer, the Mets already have a 25 year old shortstop.
- Infamously, Timo Perez did not hustle in the World Series. After the World Series, Perez would hit .275/.311/.394 with the Mets. If that’s what we can expect from players who do not hustle in the postseason, giving Machado a megadeal will be a disaster.
- The Mets gave Ronny Mauricio a $2.1 million signing bonus. You cannot give him that type of bonus and then block his path to the majors by giving Machado a huge contract.
- For the price of Machado, you can sign eyes, Asdrubal Cabrera, Bartolo Colon, Oliver Perez, Rene Rivera, Devin Mesoraco, Lucas Duda, Carlos Gomez, Eric Young, Jr., Chris Young, Tyler Clippard, and still have room to make strong offers to Daniel Murphy and Curtis Granderson.
- Machado, like Alex Rodriguez, will prove to be a 24+1 player, and you cannot possibly win with an A-Rod on your team.
- It will be hard to free up the funds to sign him with the Mets still paying Bobby Bonilla.
So really, when you break it down and look at the reasons, the better question is why should the Mets even consider signing Machado?
It may be every fan base, but it seems like whenever the Mets need to add players via trade or free agency, fans seem to look towards acquiring former players. It may not be just the fans either as the Mets bucked conventional wisdom by signing Jay Bruce and Jason Vargas last year. If the fans and organization wants to go down that road again, there are plenty of options this offseason:
Jose Lobaton – If he’s back, we may actually see fans boycott the team.
Devin Mesoraco – Other than like a one week stretch, he was terrible in every facet of the game. There is no way he should be back in Queens next year.
Rene Rivera – He would be a fine addition on a minor league deal to work with up and comers like Justin Dunn. If there’s an injury or two (ideally three), he could resume his role as Noah Syndergaard‘s personal catcher.
Lucas Duda – Fans used to debate at length whether Duda was a good or bad player. The debate is over. He’s now a bad player who has not much to offer anymore.
Asdrubal Cabrera – Unless Cabrera is looking to accept a utility role behind two still largely unproven young players, there would be no reason to bring him back to the Mets.
Daniel Murphy – There is a scenario in which bringing him back makes sense, but that includes the Mets moving at least one bad contract to put him at first base because his knees have made his already poor defense all the worse. There are many other variables past that making this a non-starter.
Jose Reyes – He shouldn’t even be playing for the Long Island Ducks next year.
Neil Walker – Considering he accepted a utility role for the Yankees last year, he could be willing to accept one with the Mets next year. If so, he could be quality depth for the Mets roster which has not had depth on their bench since 2015.
Carlos Gomez – Judging from last year, it does not seem like Gomez can hit much anymore, but he can still play defense. The Mets need a right-handed outfielder or two, and he would be a much better option than Austin Jackson by the simple fact he’s not Austin Jackson.
Chris Young – In 2014, the Mets made a $7.25 million bet Young still had something in the tank. They wound up releasing him, thereby allowing other teams to discover he did have something left in the tank. That something was hitting left-handed pitching, which is something he didn’t do at all last year.
Austin Jackson – He used up all the playing time he should receive in a Mets uniform last year.
Curtis Granderson – With Bruce, Michael Conforto, and Brandon Nimmo, you could argue the Mets have no need for another left-handed hitting corner outfielder. Lost in all of that is the fact Granderson is still a productive player who is great in the clubhouse. It would not be the worst idea to bring him back to let him serve as a mentor to the Mets young players.
Bartolo Colon – If you want him back, you deserve to see the Mets go under .500 again.
Matt Harvey – Harvey has basically said he doesn’t want to return. If you ask the Mets, the feelings are probably mutual.
Chris Beck – He was terrible for the Mets last year, so if you’re upgrading your bullpen, you should probably avoid the guys who were terrible for you.
Tyler Clippard – He had surprisingly good stats last year, which is all the more incredible when you consider he pitched in the AL East. Signing him to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training is not the worst idea in the world.
Jeurys Familia – Familia is the best right-handed reliever in Mets history, and unlike the other free agent relief options not named David Robertson, none of them have proven they can pitch in pressure situations in New York. If you’re looking to compete, Familia could be a big boost to the bullpen.
AJ Ramos – The main reason Ramos didn’t work out this year was because he was injured. He did have surgery to repair his shoulder, but we don’t know what he will be when he is ready to pitch again. The Mets need far more certainty than that from their bullpen.
Fernando Salas – Salas helped pitch the Mets to the 2016 Wild Card, and the thanks he received was getting over-used by Terry Collins to the point he was released by the Mets in 2017. He returned to a slightly below average reliever last year. The Mets have plenty of those already.
Jerry Blevins – Even with last year’s struggles, Blevins has traditionally been a good LOOGY for the Mets. If Dave Eiland and Mickey Callaway think he can return to form, and he signs a reasonable one year deal, the Mets should bring him back.
Oliver Perez – If Brodie Van Wagenen had a sense of humor, he would work out a contract with either Manny Machado or Bryce Harper, but the day before the Mets officially signs either one of them, the Mets would announce Ollie was returning to the Mets organization.
Zack Wheeler took to the mound three years to the date he and Wilmer Flores were almost traded to the Milwaukee Brewers for Carlos Gomez. While we got to see Flores’ reaction to the trade, we never did quite see Wheeler’s reaction.
At the time, he was rehabbing from Tommy John surgery; a result of him being diagnosed with a torn UCL on the eve what would be a magical 2015 season. Wheeler would sit down with Sandy Alderson to tell him he didn’t want to leave. He wanted to be a part of this team and whatever they could do next.
Even in this lost season, Wheeler has consistently maintained he wants to be a Met.
Well, if Wheeler really wants to be a Met, then he needs to stop pitching this well as Major League Baseball heads towards the trade deadline.
Wheeler completed dominated a Pirates team in the thick of the Wild Card race.
Wheeler would put on a show pitching six scoreless against a Pirates team in the Wild Card race. He would pitch six scoreless in an all around dominant effort with him walking out just one batter and striking out seven.
With the Mets giving him Jacob deGrom like run support, Wheeler would take matters into his own hands.
After a Luis Guillorme two out single, Wheeler would double him home to give him a 1-0 lead. This would make the second straight game he has hit a double, which would make him a much hitter than Jose Reyes:
Zack Wheeler has hit a double in back-to-back starts.
Jose Reyes has two doubles since June 26 in 55 at-bats.
— Michael Mayer (@mikemayerMMO) July 29, 2018
In the top of the seventh, Mickey Callaway would have a decision to make. The Mets had runners on second and third with two outs and Wheeler’s spot coming up. Even with Wheeler being one of the better hitters in the lineup, Callaway opted to go with Michael Conforto.
Conforto would not start the game because he jammed his thumb. Even with the jammed thumb, the Pirates were scared enough to intentionally walk him to face Amed Rosario. Rosario didn’t come through, but he Mets bullpen would.
First, Seth Lugo pitched two scoreless before giving the ball to Anthony Swarzak, who converted his second save chance with the Mets. With respect to Swarzak, he’s been much better since Jeurys Familia was traded. There may be any number of factors, including his getting fully healthy and his making adjustments. Whatever the case, he’s looked and been dominant, giving the Mets a real weapon in the ninth inning.
But the story was Wheeler, who for the first time in his career, has won three consecutive starts. In those games, he has a 2.61 ERA, 1.016 WHIP, and a 4.25 K/BB ratio. This has left the Mets with a dilemma. Do you keep him and have him take a step further forward next year, or do you cash in now?
Given how he wants to be here, and how he’s pitching, it may just make sense to keep him.
Game Notes: With the split, this marks the first time the Mets did not lose consecutive series since May 15 – 20 when they split a two game series with the Blue Jays and swept the Diamondbacks.
During the offseason, there were reports the New York Mets had a deal in place for Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, but the deal never did happen. As noted by Jon Heyman of Fan Rag Sports, the purported trade wasn’t killed over prospects, but rather, “it was killed by someone at the top, very likely over money.”
The money the Mets would have given to Kipnis eventually went to Jay Bruce despite the team already having Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto tabbed as the corner outfielders over the next three seasons.
This is important to note because after all the moving parts to this offseason, the Mets have a trio of players in Asdrubal Cabrera, Wilmer Flores, and Jose Reyes, who both struggle defensively and against right-handed pitching. Moreover, the triumvirate are also injury prone.
That’s where things were interesting with Kipnis. Like most anyone who was on the Mets roster last year, Kipnis’ 2017 season was a nightmare. He had shoulder and hamstring issues. While we can reasonably believe the hamstring issues will be resolved heading into this season, there could be room for doubt over Kipnis’ shoulder.
At this point, it is important to remember this wasn’t the Carlos Gomez trade. The Mets killed that deal over physicals. The Kipnis deal was killed because the Mets couldn’t justify paying him $30.7 million over the next two years. That’s really interesting.
In 2015 and 2016, Kipnis was a .289/.357/.460 hitter who averaged 42 doubles, 16 homers, and 67 RBI. It was part of the reason why he averaged a 4.3 WAR over that two year span.
The last time a Mets position player had a WAR that high was Curtis Granderson in 2015 when he had a 5.1 WAR. The last time the Mets had a position player have consecutive seasons with a 4.0 WAR or greater was David Wright in 2012-2013.
The inability to maintain that high level of production when healthy was not an impediment to the Mets giving large free agent deals to Cespedes or Bruce. However, for some reason, it was an impediment for the Mets acquiring a player who would have resolved their second base situation for the next two seasons.
With Kipnis, it’s more than just those two years too. Since 2012, he has posted a 3.9 WAR or higher in four of the last six seasons. For the sake of comparison, Bruce has had a WAR that high just twice in his 10 year career, and Cabrera has done it just twice in his 11 year career. For both players, those high WAR seasons came a long time ago.
For Kipnis, he did it recently, and he appears to be that player again. Yes, Spring Training stats are flawed and shouldn’t be used as a barometer for future success, but Kipnis is 8-14 with five homers. If nothing else, it tells us he’s healthy and primed to be the 4.0+ win player he has been.
We can’t say the same about Bruce or Cabrera even when they are healthy. However, for some reason the Mets found the money to pay them and not Kipnis. In the end if you want a real barometer for how good an offseason the Mets have had, watch how Kipnis produces this season.
If Kipnis is Kipnis while Bruce and Cabreara are Bruce and Cabrera, the team should have some explaining to do.
If you look around the free agent landscape, you will see that most Major League teams have yet to make any significant moves. Even those who have, like the Cardinals, who have obtained Marcell Ozuna, or the Yankees, who obtained Giancarlo Stanton, are still looking to make additional moves to complete their 2018 rosters.
And there are still plenty of real difference makers on the free agent market. That goes for all positions. Really, you could build an All Star roster over the players still available:
- P Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta
- C Jonathan Lucroy
- 1B Eric Hosmer
- 2B Neil Walker
- 3B Todd Frazier
- SS J.J. Hardy
- LF J.D. Martinez
- CF Lorenzo Cain
- RF Jay Bruce
- Closer Greg Holland
With all of these players still available, we have begun to hear from different sources how Sandy Alderson has made yet another master stroke. He is successfully waiting out the market, and as a result, the Mets are bound to get a bargain in free agency. For proof, we need not look any further than how Alderson signed Yoenis Cespedes in the offseason after the 2015 pennant.
For those that remember, early in that offseason, the Mets had moved on from Cespedes instead signing Alejandro De Aza to take part in a center field platoon with Juan Lagares. The plan was to go with Curtis Granderson, Michael Cuddyer, and Michael Conforto in the outfield. From there, things changed rather dramatically.
First, Cuddyer unexpectedly retired. Perhaps more unexpected than that was no one wanting to give Cespedes a big contract after his terrific run after his getting traded to the Mets. Part of that was some questions marks that began with his time in Boston. Another issue was Cespedes being just one huge free agent in a loaded free agent class that included Chris Davis, Alex Gordon, Jason Heyward, Justin Upton, and many more. The other Major League teams chose the other players.
This had left Cespedes as the last major free agent on the board. While many credited the Mets with sticking it out and getting Cespedes on what was effectively a one year deal, the truth of the matter the team was lucky. If the Nationals had not deferred much of the money in the 5 year roughly $100 million contract offer they made to Cespedes, it is likely Cespedes would have joined Daniel Murphy on the Nationals.
However, credit is due to the Alderson taking advantage of the situation and getting his man.
If we are being honest with ourselves, that was a bit of a miracle. It was not a plan that can be emulated. That goes double for this offseason with so many teams left looking to make moves this offseason. There are many teams with more money who are looking to fill the same exact holes the Mets are. The difference between those teams and the Mets is money.
By many accounts, the Mets only have roughly $10 million to spend this offseason. That is unless they are able to move a contract like Lagares’. For what it’s worth, if you are a Major League team looking for a center fielder, Cain, Jarrod Dyson, Austin Jackson, Carlos Gomez, and Jon Jay are still available. Why would you take on Lagares, when you can just sign one of these free agents?
So no, the Mets are not going to free up payroll. Ultimately, this does not mean the Mets have been patient this offseason. Instead, the team is being idle. The key difference between the two is that when you’re patient you’re waiting for something to happen whereas an idle team moves along the offseason hoping for something to happen.
When you have $10 million to spend, are desperately attempting to attach yourselves to a number of rumors to keep the fans happy, and need to add at least five more key players this offseason to be relevant in 2018, you are idle.
The one thing we never got to see with Generation K was Jason Isringhausen, Bill Pulsipher, and Paul Wilson in the same rotation. In fact, we have never seen them all in the same pitching staff. That never happened because of all the injuries they suffered. Then we saw Isringhausen and Wilson traded in successive years to help the Mets chances of winning a World Series instead of them pitching the Mets to the World Series.
Whatever you want to call the group of Mets young starters (most seemed to like the Five Aces), they never appeared in the same rotation. The closest we got was seeing Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Steven Matz in the same rotation in 2015. Coincidentally, that was also the year the Mets went to the World Series on the strength of their pitching.
The reason Zack Wheeler was not a part of that group that went to the postseason was because he suffered an injury in Spring Training. In fact, Wheeler would be gone for two years rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. For a moment, it seemed as fait accompli the group would never pitch in the same rotation because Wheeler was almost traded to the Brewers with Wilmer Flores for Carlos Gomez. In fact, if not for Gomez’s hip, the dream would have died there.
Still to this day, we have never seen the five in the same rotation. However, we have seen them all pitch in the same season in the rotation. It may not seem like much, but it’s something. It’s also a step closer to seeing them all in the same rotation. It may finally happen next year.
Matz should be ready for Opening Day after the surgery to repair his ulnar nerve. This was the same surgery deGrom had last season, and he was able to last the entire season injury free. Both Harvey and Syndergaard were able to return and pitch before the season was over. Like in 2015 and 2016, the only question is Wheeler.
In the end, the Mets are a step closer to having all five of their proverbial aces in the rotation. At a minimum, they are a step closer to seeing them all on the same pitching staff. If it does happen, one of the open wounds Mets fans have suffered will close a bit. Howeve,r that wound will not fully heal until we see this group pitch the Mets to a World Series title.
After two straight tough starts to begin his career, Chris Flexen finally had that magical major league experience every organization’s young top prospect envisions they’ll have.
Staked with a 4-0 lead on the strength of homers hit by Michael Conforto, Yoenis Cespedes, and Travis d’Arnaud off Rangers starter A.J. Griffin, Flexen was able to go out there and just focus on getting the batters out.
Now, it wasn’t always pretty. He did wind up walking three batters. He also came close to hitting a few batters until he finally plunked Rougned Odor in the fourth. With that said, Flexen pitching inside was a welcome change, and it was part of his effectiveness.
The Rangers wouldn’t score off of him until a Joey Gallo homer to lead-off the fifth.
Despite the homer in the fifth, Flexen would start the sixth. He would come just short of finishing the inning. If he had, he would’ve doubled the amount of innings he lasted in his first two starts.
First, it was an Adrian Beltre homer. After a Carlos Gomez two out walk, Terry Collins pulled his young starter and entrusted Erik Goeddel to get the Mets out of the jam. Goeddel would first allow Gallo to hit an RBI double to pull the Rangers to within 4-3 before Goeddel would get out of the inning.
Flexen’s final line in his first career win was 5.2 innings, four hits, three runs, three earned, three walks, and four strikeouts. In addition to that, Flexen would double in the fifth to collect his first career hit.
It also helped Asdrubal Cabrera hit an RBI double scoring Conforto in the seventh to provide an insurance run in the 5-4 victory. That homer loomed large with the Robinson Chirinos two out homer in the ninth.
The game certainly earned Flexen another opportunity to start. That’s a good thing when you consider the Mets are stubbornly playing their vets over the young kids. At a minimum, we can see the maturation of Flexen.
Back when the Mets traded Carlos Beltran for Zack Wheeler, the Mets touted the trade as the team adding another potential ace that would one day serve as one of the cornerstones of a rotation that would bring the Mets their third World Series title. Unfortunately, with Wheeler missing two years after his Tommy John surgery, it hasn’t happened that way.
In the time he was gone, he almost became expendable. Matt Harvey was the ace in 2013, and he was well on his way in 2015 to re-claiming that spot. Jacob deGrom went from 2014 Rookie of the Year to the Game 1 starter of the 2015 NLDS. Noah Syndergaard brought a repertoire that included a 100 MPH fastball and a mid 90s slider. Throw in the tantalizing talent of Steven Matz, and the Mets almost moved Wheeler in 2015 as part of the ill-fated Carlos Gomez deal. With Gomez’s hips, Wheeler remained a Met, but after he missed all of 2016 as well, he was almost an afterthought.
Now, he has gone from damaged goods to the staff ace. After shaking off some rust in the early part of the season, he really has been a dominant starting pitchers. Since May, Wheeler has made six starts going 2-1 with a 2.48 ERA, 1.431 WHIP, and a 7.7 K/9 while averaging over six inning per start. Last night, we watched Wheeler play the part of the stopper with him going seven strong and giving the Mets a chance to snap the Mets out of a funk that saw the team lose five out of its last six games.
Now, many would point to the fact Wheeler is now the staff ace because the rest of the rotation is either injured or has struggled. Syndergaard is likely gone for the year with a torn lat. Matz and Seth Lugo have yet to throw a pitch this season. Harvey and deGrom have not been the same pitchers after last year’s season ending surgeries. And frankly, anyone is better than Rafael Montero, Adam Wilk, and Tommy Milone. Still, even if everyone was pitching to their best abilities, Wheeler would stand out.
It’s easy to forget, but we did get a taste of this with Wheeler. In 2014, Wheeler had a stretch from July until September 6th where he made 12 terrific starts. In those starts, Wheeler was 7-1 with a 2.28 ERA, 1.213 WHIP, and an 8.9 K/9. During that stretch, Wheeler looked like the ace the Mets thought they were getting when they traded away Beltran. It was during that stretch where you believed the three starters who would carry the Mets to the World Series were Harvey, deGrom, and Wheeler.
It seems as if Wheeler is recapturing some of what he was back in that terrific 2014 stretch. If he is, he is certainly becoming the ace the Mets believed he could be. More than anything, he is the ace the Mets need right now.
At the 2006 trade deadline, many believed the Mets were in need of a big starting pitcher to help the best team in baseball win the World Series. At that time, the big name was Barry Zito, but the Mets were reportedly balking at the asking price which included their top prospect in addition to their best set-up man in Aaron Heilman. Certainly, Heilman became untouchable with Duaner Sanchez‘s injury. However, there is still some debate whether any of the Mets prospects should have been so untouchable so as to prevent them from being moved in a trade many believed the Mets needed to make to win the World Series.
Keeping in mind the Mets didn’t want to move a top prospect, let’s take a look at who was considered the Mets Top 10 prospects back in 2006 and see how their respective careers fared:
The Mets 2003 first round draft pick was seen by many as a future star in the major leagues. He was supposed to be a five tool center fielder. Unfortunately, it did not pan out that way.
Milledge first got his chance in 2006 at first due to a Xavier Nady injury and then because of Nady being traded to sure up their bullpen due to the Sanchez injury. Milledge would show he was not quite ready for the limelight. That shouldn’t be surprising considering he had only played 84 games in AAA, and he was 21 years old. In 56 games, he would only hit .241/.310/.380 with four homers and 22 RBI. He would be unfairly chastised for high fiving the fans after a game tying home run in extra innings.
Unfortunately for him, the home run that led to much hand wringing might’ve been the top moment in his career. Milledge would never figure it out for the Mets, and his star potential would diminish. In 2007, the Mets would move him for Ryan Church and Brian Schneider.
Overall, Milledge would only play six years in the majors hitting .269/.328/.395 in parts of six major league seasons. He would play his last game for the Chicago White Sox as a 26 year old in April 2011. From there, he would play four years in Japan. In Japan, he wouldn’t re-establish himself as a major leaguer like Cecil Fielder did, nor would he become an acclaimed Japanese League player like Tuffy Rhodes. Rather, he hit a disappointing .272/.348/.447 averaging 10 home runs and 32 RBI.
Milledge suffered injuries limiting him to just 34 games in 2014 and 2015. No one would sign him to play professional baseball anywhere in 2016. In the end his professional baseball career is over at the age of 31.
Petit was the one major prospect the Mets would move to help the 2006 team. The Mets included him in a deal with Grant Psomas and Mike Jacobs for Carlos Delgado. Delgado would go on to become a slugger at first base the Mets had never truly had in their history. For his part, Petit has put together a nice major leauge career.
Petit would not figure things out until he became a San Francisco Giant in 2012. Under the tutledge of Dave Righetti and Bruce Bochy, he would become a very good long man in the bullpen. In his four years with the Giants, he as 10-7 with one save, a 3.66 ERA, and a 1.128 WHIP.
His best work was in the 2014 postseason. That year the Giants rotation was Madison Bumgarner and a group of starters the team could not truly trust to go five innings in a game. Accordingly, Petit was used almost as a piggyback starting pitcher. In that 2014 postseason, Petit would make four appearances going 3-0 with a 1.42 ERA (no runs allowed in the NLDS or NLCS) and a 0.868 WHIP.
In the past offseason, Petit was a free agent, and he signed a one year $3 million deal with the Washington Nationals with a $3 million team option for 2016. He struggled this year in his 35 relief appearances and one start going 3-5 with a 4.50 ERA and a 1.323 WHIP.
In his nine year career, Petit is 23-32 with a 4.58 ERA and a 1.276 WHIP. Whether or not his option is picked up by the Nationals, we should see Petit pitch in his tenth major league season in 2017.
The Mets traded their 2004 third round pick with Dante Brinkley for Paul Lo Duca. Lo Duca was the emotional leader for the 2006 Mets that almost went to the World Series, and Hernandez never pitched in the major leagues.
Hernandez would bounce around from the Marlins to the Mariners to the Red Sox to the Royals to the White Sox and finally to the Diamondbacks. While Hernandez had shown some early promise with the Mets, he never realized it. He topped out at AAA where he would pitch for four seasons going 30-36 with a 5.80 ERA and a 1.562 WHIP.
Hernandez has not given up on his major league dream. Since 2012, Hernandez has been pitching in the Atlantic Leagues. Over the past three seasons, he has pitched Winter Ball. He made 25 starts and two relief appearances for the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, he was 7-10 with a 4.88 ERA and a 1.216 WHIP. At the moment, the 30 year old Hernandez has not been signed to play for a Winter Leagues team.
The Mets 1999 38th round draft pick was part of the aforementioned trade that helped the Mets acquire Delgado. The Mets were largely able to use Jacobs as part of the trade because of the tremendous start to his career.
In 2005, Jacobs hit .310/.375/.710 with 11 homers and 23 RBI in 30 games. While Jacobs continued to be a power hitter after leaving the Mets, he would never again reach those levels. Eventually, his impatience at the plate caught up to him, and he would only only last seven years in the major leagues. His penultimate season was with the Mets in 2010 when he was unseated by Ike Davis as the Mets first baseman.
After being released by the Mets, Jacobs has spent the past six seasons in AAA with a 13 game cup of coffee for the Diamondbacks in 2012. In Jacob’s seven year career, he hit .253/.313/.473 with 100 homers and 312 RBI. As a Met, he hit .290/.360/.645 with 12 homers and 25 RBI. If he had enough at-bats to qualify, Jacobs would have the highest slugging percentage in Mets history.
At this point, it is unknown if the 35 year old Jacobs will continue playing professional baseball in 2017.
The one theme that is developing here is that while these players didn’t have a big impact in the majors or the Mets, Omar Minaya utilized these players to help the ballclub. Humber is a perfect example of that.
The Mets 2004 first round pick (third overall) had an inauspicious start to his professional career needing Tommy John surgery in 2005.
With that Humber would only make one start in his Mets career, and it wasn’t particularly good. With the Mets collapsing in the 2007, and the team having a rash of starting pitcher injuries, the team turned to the highest drafted player in their system. Humber kept the woeful Washington Nationals at bay for the first three innings before allowing Church to hit a two run homer in the fourth and then sowing the seeds for a huge rally in the fifth inning that would see the Mets once 6-0 lead completely evaporate in a frustrating 9-6 loss. This would be the last time Humber took the mound for the Mets. In his Mets career, he would make one start and four relief appearances with no decisions, a 6.00 ERA, and a 1.333 WHIP.
Still, he showed enough to be a major part in the trade that would bring Johan Santana to the Mets. Santana and Humber would both enter immortality. Santana would throw the first no-hitter in Mets history. Humber would become perhaps the unlikeliest of all pitchers to throw a perfect game. It was the 21st perfect game in baseball history. He joined David Cone as the only ex-Mets to throw a perfect game. He joined a much longer list of seven former Mets, highlighted by Nolan Ryan, who threw a no-hitter AFTER leaving the Mets. Humber would also become the pitcher with the highest career ERA to throw a perfect game.
In all, Humber played for five major league teams over his eight major league seasons. In those eight major league seasons, he has gone 16-23 with a 5.31 ERA and a 1.420 WHIP. He threw his last major league pitch in 2013 in a season he went 0-8 in 13 starts. In 2014, he pitched for the Oakland Athletics’ AAA affiliate. In 2015, he pitched for the Kia Tigers of the Korean Leagues going 3-3 with a 6.75 ERA and a 1.855 WHIP in 11 starts and one relief appearance.
Humber had signed on with the San Diego Padres and was invited to Spring Training in 2016. He was released prior to the start of the season, and he did not throw one pitch for any professional team in 2016. He is currently 33 years old, and at this point, he has not announced his retirement.
Gomez has been far and away the best player on the list of the 2006 Mets top prospects. He would be moved with Humber as a centerpiece in the Santana trade.
In Gomez’s early career, it was clear he was a Gold Glove caliber center fielder. He made highlight reel play after highlight reel play for the Twins. However, it was clear from how he was struggling at the plate, the projected five tool player wasn’t quite ready to be the hitter everyone anticipated he would be at the major league level. Eventually, the Twins traded him to the Milwaukee Brewers, and in Milwaukee, Gomez would figure it out.
In Gomez’s five plus years with the Brewers, he won a Gold Glove and was a two time All Star. He was also a coveted player at the 2015 trade deadline, and he almost became a New York Met again in exchange for Zack Wheeler and Wilmer Flores. As we all remember, Flores cried on the field, and the Mets front office was disappointed in Gomez’s medicals causing them to rescind the trade due to a purported hip issue.
Gomez would then be traded to the Astros, and the Mets would appear to be vindicated for their decision. Gomez played 126 games for the Astros before being released and picked up by the Texas Rangers. In Texas, Gomez began playing like the player the Mets coveted at the 2015 trade deadline. The 33 game burst came at the right time as the 30 year old Gomez will be a free agent for the first time in his career this offseason.
Overall, Gomez has played for 10 years, and he is a .257/.312/.415 hitter with 116 home runs, 453 RBI, and 239 stolen bases. He is still a good center fielder, and he may still have a couple of good seasons in front of him.
From the moment the Mets signed him as a 16 year old amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic, F-Mart was seen as a top prospect. Many imagined he would become a five tool player like a Carlos Beltran. Instead, his career went the way of Alex Ochoa.
F-Mart was the first big prize Minaya brought in when he become the General Manager of the Mets. Understandably, he was considered untouchable in trade discussions. As it turns out, the Mets wished they moved him when they had the opportunity.
F-Mart would only play in 47 games over three years with the Mets hitting just .183/.250/.290 with two homers and 12 RBI. Eventually, with him not progressing as the Mets once hoped he would, and a different regime in place, F-Mart would eventually be put on waivers and claimed by the Houston Astros. With the Astros, he would only play in 52 games over two years, and he would just hit .225/.285/.424 with seven homers and 17 RBI.
In 2013, the Astros traded him to the Yankees for minor league depth. After the 2013 season, F-Mart would become a free agent, and he would find no suitors.
In 2014, he only played in the Dominican Winter Leagues, and in 2015, he played in only seven games in the Mexican Leagues. Given how he has bounced around and seeing how many major league teams have either passed on him or have forgotten his existence, it is hard to believe that he is just 28 years old.
Hernandez is undeterred, and he is still playing baseball. Right now, he is playing alongside current Mets shortstop prospect Luis Guillorme for Spain in the World Baseball Classic qualifying rounds. Spain would go 0-2 in the European Qualifier and will not be a finalist for the World Baseball Classic.
The Mets acquired Hernandez from the Detroit Tigers in exchange for backup catcher Vance Wilson in 2005. Hernandez intrigued the Mets because he was an exceptionally skilled defensive shortstop. The question with him was whether he was ever going to hit.
Despite these questions, and with Kaz Matsui starting the year on the disabled list, Hernandez would actually be the Mets Opening Day second baseman. On Opening Day, he would show everyone why he was so highly regarded defensively with an impressive over the shoulder catch. However, Hernandez would also show he would never be able to hit at the big league level. That fact may have forever changed Mets history.
Despite hitting .152/.164/.242 in 25 games with the Mets, he would make the NLCS roster. In Game 7 of the NLCS, with the Mets trailing 3-1, Jose Valentin and Endy Chavez led off the inning with back-to-back singles. Instead of going to Hernandez to pinch-hit for Heilman to get the bunt down, Willie Randolph went to an injured Cliff Floyd to try to win the game. Floyd would strike out, and Hernandez would enter the game only as a pinch runner for Lo Duca, who had worked out a walk to load the bases. From first base, Hernandez got a good view of how the series would end. Had Hernandez been able to hit just a little bit, it is possible he would have been sent up to bunt, and maybe things would have gone differently.
Overall, Hernandez never did show the ability to hit at the major league level. The Mets gave up waiting. In 2008, with the Mets desperate for relievers to plug in holes to a decimated bullpen, Hernandez was traded to the Nationals for Luis Ayala.
Hernandez would play for four teams in six seasons hitting .241/.300/.314 with four homers and 60 RBI. While he did show he was skilled defensively, he could never hit enough to stick in the majors, and as a result, his major league career was over in 2010 when he was 27 years old.
From 2011 – 2013, Hernandez would play in AAA. For the past three seasons, he has played in the Japanese Leagues. In every season since 2006, the 33 year old has played in the Dominican Winter Leagues for Tigres del Licey. It is unknown at this point if he is going to play for the Tigres this year or if he will return to the Japanese Leagues next year.
Bannister was the Mets 2003 seventh round draft pick out of USC. He would become the first ever Brooklyn Cyclones pitcher to pitch a game for the New York Mets. Bannister had earned that right by beating out Heilman for the fifth spot in the 2006 Mets Opening Day rotation. There were a myriad of reasons including but not limited to Heilman’s importance in the bullpen.
Bannister’s career would get off to quite the start with him going 2-0 with a 2.89 ERA and a 1.393 WHIP. While he struggled with his command and couldn’t go very deep into games as a result, the Mets were willing to stick with him through those five starts. Unfortunately, Bannister would suffer a hamstring injury at the end of April that would linger for most of the year. By the time he was healthy, John Maine was already a fixture in the rotation. With the Mets acquiring Perez at the trade deadline, there was no longer a spot for him on the major league roster.
With there no longer being any room for him, the Mets moved him in the offseason to the Kansas City Royals for Ambiorix Burgos. It was a trade that was detrimental for both players. Bannister would pitch four years for the Royals going 35-49 with a 5.13 ERA and a 1.417 WHIP. Burgos’ Mets career was marked by ineffectiveness, injury, and domestic violence.
After going 37-50 with a 5.08 ERA and a 1.421 WHIP in his five year major league career, Bannister had signed a two year deal to pitch for the Yomiuri Giants. Bannister would never pitch for the Giants. After an earthquake and tsunami hit Japan, Bannister retired from baseball. Since the 2015 season, the 35 year old Bannister has been a professional scout for the Boston Red Sox.
In 2003, Soler defected to the Dominican Republic from Cuba. The following year he would sign a three year $2.8 million contract with the New York Mets.
Soler would only pitch for the major league club in 2006. He would make eight starts highlighted by a complete game two hit shut out of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Unfortunately, the rest of his starts weren’t as great, and he would finish the year going 2-3 with a 6.00 ERA and a 1.578 WHIP. His contract would expire at the end of the season, and the Mets would not re-sign him.
Soler would pitch in 14 games, mostly out of the bullpen, for the Pittsburgh Pirates AA affiliate in 2007. In the following two seasons, Soler would return to the tri-state area pitching for the Long Island Ducks and Newark Bears of the Independent Leagues. He would not pitch well at either stop, and no one would offer him a contract to play professional baseball in 2010. In 2011, he pitched in two games in the Puerto Rican Winter Leagues. Since that time, the 37 year old Soler has not pitched in professional baseball.
At this time, it is unknown as to what Soler has been doing in his post-baseball career.
What is known is that while the top prospects from the 2006 season largely did not pan out, then Mets GM Omar Minaya was able to utilize a number of the players to improve the 2006 and 2007 Mets teams that fell just short. This has left many fans wondering what would have happened if Milledge was moved at his peak value or what would have happened if Hernandez learned how to hit. Things may have gone very differently in both of those seasons.
Still, while you could call each of these prospects, save Gomez, a bust. It is notable that nine of the 10 players played in the major leagues for multiple seasons. Three of the players played in the postseason, and one won a World Series. There have been All Star appearances and a perfect game from this group. While you expected more, each player left their own mark on the Mets and the game of baseball.
Editor’s Note: this was first published on Mets Minors.