Darryl Strawberry

20/20 Hindsight: First Place Mets Sweep Marlins

After the Mets swept the Marlins, they’re now 5-1 and in first place as they come home for their home opener. Here’s the 20/20 observations from the last series:

  1. When Pedro Martinez compared Jacob deGrom to himself, you got the perfect comparison to just how dominant deGrom is right now. Although we can be sure the Dodger loving Wilpons think Sandy Koufax (either way you take it).
  2. With deGrom pitching great with Wilson Ramos on Opening Day and Tomas Nido yesterday, we’re seeing giving any credit to Devin Mesoraco was nonsense. Moreover, we’re seeing how better catchers help produce better results.
  1. In addition to their producing well on the field so far, it’s great to see Pete Alonso and Dominic Smith cheering for one another. Since late last year, and perhaps before that, they were adversaries as far as the future of first base was concerned. They rose above it to show they’re better people than they are players.
  2. While we believe Juan Lagares‘ extension was a mistake, there’s no doubt he impacts the game when he’s on the field. In the series, we saw him hit a game tying homer, and with his hustle, he reached base even on outs. He’s already at a 1 DRS, and he’s flashing his arm again. He’s potentially a difference maker.
  3. When the Mets traded Ross Adolph, Scott Manea, and Luis Santana, they paid a hefty price for J.D. Davis. It’s becoming increasingly clear, he’s not going to hit well or play good defense. As a result, each game the Mets force him into the lineup only serves to make a bad situation worse.
  4. On Davis, do yourself a favor and don’t look at the Astros 1B/DH situation.
  5. While it was nice to see Luis Guillorme finally get into a game, he needs to see more action, especially with Davis playing his way to a demotion.
  6. It’s very cool to see Yoenis Cespedes‘ brother Yoelkis regarded as one of the top Cuban prospects available. Here’s hoping the Mets can find a way to add him to the organization.
  7. The schadenfreude seeing the Yankees follow a Mets-like offseason with a series of Metsian injuries (CC Sabathia, Luis Severino, Dellin Betances, Didi Gregorius, Giancarlo Stanton, Miguel Andujar, Troy Tulowitzki, Jacoby Ellsbury) is off the charts.
  8. With respect to Brandon Nimmo, it was shocking to see him not get a day after getting hit on the hand. Even if he was alright, with him scuffling, it made sense to give him the extra day.
  9. Mickey Callaway‘s handling of the bullpen in the series was both bad and dangerous. He pushed a Luis Avilan, a LOOGY with a history of shoulder injuries, to try to pitch two innings. He also pushed Seth Lugo to try almost 40 pitches despite his being ill. That’s how you make two laughers nail biters.
  10. That said, Robert Gsellman needs to be better. It was his performance which led to Callaway needing to turn to Edwin Diaz for the save.
  11. Even with the struggles from the rest of the pen, the Mets are more than alright with Diaz, Jeurys Familia, and Justin Wilson ready to go 7-8-9 to close out a win.
  12. If the Mets can’t trust Jason Vargas to go more than five innings against the worst team in baseball when the bullpen is short, why is he in the rotation, especially when Dallas Keuchel is still a free agent.
  13. With the Mets not trusting Vargas, we need to keep a close eye on Anthony Kay who impressed in Spring Training and will be the Opening Day starter for Binghamton today.
  14. It was hard to tell on TV, but with a large contingent of Mets fans at Marlins Park, is booing Peter O’Brien still going to be a thing.
  15. Umpire Ron Kulpa’s behavior was unnecessarily confrontational and unbefitting to the impartiality and temperance we should expect from an umpire. A.J. Hinch was right to confront him, and now it’s time for MLB to confront and potentially begin to suspend umpires who behave this way.
  16. With respect to Ron Darling‘s book, former teammates Dwight Gooden, Kevin Mitchell, and Darryl Strawberry defending Lenny Dykstra doesn’t mean Darling is lying. There’s a lot of room between those players not hearing something and it actually happening even if Oil Can Boyd said he didn’t hear anything.
  17. More troubling than the Darling/Dykstra controversy is Darling saying Bob Murphy would pass out drunk in the clubhouse and saying Gary Carter tried to stuff the All-Star ballots. Dykstra is a man who is all too eager to defend himself. Dead men like Murphy and Carter can’t.
  18. It’s going to be sad to not hear David Wright‘s name announced with the team on Opening Day. It’s not too similar from 2006 when we didn’t hear Mike Piazza‘s name. Hopefully, this will be like 2006 in more ways than one.

Mets Blogger Roundtable: The Mets Who Got Away

With Jacob deGrom receiving his contract extension, it appears he is going to be a Mets pitcher during his prime, and it sets the stage for him to join David Wright and Ed Kranepool as Mets for life. With that being the bulk of the list, there is a host of Mets players who got away. The most famous of which was Tom Seaver who headlined the Midnight Massacre. Putting Seaver aside, the Mets bloggers discussed those players who got away:

Michael Ganci (Daily Stache)

Honestly in recent memory John Olerud comes to mind. He had one of the best pure swings I can remember. Other than that I guess you have to bring up Daniel Murphy and Justin Turner, but who saw those coming?

Michael Baron

Daniel Murphy is the most recent Met to have gotten away. And, I’ve heard there are people in the front office who would like a mulligan on that one as well. Having him in 2016 and 2017 would’ve been huge, and not having him kill the Mets in DC would have been huge too.

Allison McCague (Amazin’ Avenue)

To me the most egregious example of a Met getting away is Justin Turner, simply by virtue of how little it would have cost to keep him. Of course, it was impossible to know that he would put up the numbers he did after leaving the Mets, but unlike the Murphy situation where it was a choice not to sign the player as a free agent, they non-tendered a perfectly serviceable utility man just because they didn’t want to pay him and trashed his character on the way out for good measure. I think a dark horse candidate in this conversation, however, would be Collin McHugh, who changed his approach after joining the Astros by throwing his fastball less often and his off-speed pitches more often to much greater success than he ever had as a Met. And now he remains a key piece in the Astros bullpen as they head into another season where they will likely make a push for the postseason.

Michael Baron

I’ll give you Justin Turner for sure. What irks me is he’s a good guy and even in the form he was in when he was here, was a valuable piece for the solution. That he evolved thanks to the tutelage of Marlon Byrd while he was here makes it even worse, since this version of Justin Turner would‘ve unquestionably transformed the Mets.

Metstradamus (Metstradamus Blog)

Darren O’Day … just because we lost the Rule 5 pick because Omar Minaya didn’t want to put Mike Pelfrey on the disabled list. That still triggers me.

James Schapiro (Shea Bridge Report)

Joe Hietpas! Got to take the field, but then left without ever getting to bat…he’s Moonlight Graham!

Mark Healey (Gotham Baseball)

Olerud; he was a far superior player to Todd Zeile. Just look at his seasons 2000-02; think he would have helped? In my opinion, if Mets have Olerud, they win 2000 World Series. My God, remember the Zeile farewell tour? Infamnia!

Tim Ryder (MMO)

I’m gonna hesitantly go with Melvin Mora. The guy he got traded away for, Mike Bordick, was a fine pickup and helped that 2000 team get over the hump, no doubt. But Mora went on to have a solid little career and Bordick was back in Baltimore via free agency the following season.

Greg Prince (Faith and Fear in Flushing)

The Mets let 18-year-old Paul Blair go to the Orioles in the minor league draft of 1962. Blair played 18 seasons in the majors, winning eight Gold Gloves as the premier AL center fielder of his generation.

Then again, had the Mets kept Blair, they wouldn’t have needed to trade for Tommie Agee prior to 1968, and Agee robbed Blair in the 1969 Series, so all’s well that ended well, perhaps.

Pete McCarthy (OABT)

I thought Nolan Ryan was the only answer to this question, but there are some fun ones in here. Yay Mets!

Mark Healey

Far be it from me to disagree with you Pete but Ryan wanted out as much as the Mets were frustrated with him. It wasn’t so much that they traded Ryan and he became a Hall of Famer after it’s what they traded him for.

Metstradamus

Scott Kazmir would like a word.

Mets Daddy

There is always going to be a part of me who wonders what would have happened if the Mets kept Darryl Strawberry. He would have one good year in Los Angeles before everything fell apart for both him and the Mets. For those who forget, the Mets opted to replace him with Vince Coleman, who was detestable as a Met, and it lead to a series of poor decisions which built as bad and unlikable a Mets team as we have ever seen. For Strawberry, his personal problems were far worse than anything the Mets encountered.

Looking at everything, there are a number of mistakes like trading Jeff Kent for Carlos Baerga, but that at least indirectly led to the team signing Robin Ventura. Murphy leaving transferred the balance of power back to the Nationals.

But overall, the one which comes to mind right now is Matt Harvey. For Harvey, it was more than trading him for Devin Mesoraco. It was everything. The 2013 version looked like future Hall of Fame. The 2015 version looked like a staff ace. The ramifications of that 2015 season were far reaching, and we never saw Harvey return, literally and figuratively.

Before you go away from this piece, please sure you click on the links and visit the sites of those who have taken their time to contribute to this roundtable.

Also, a very special congratulations to Pete McCarthy and his wife on the birth of their baby girl!

 

Mets Failure To Honor Their History Went Well Beyond Seaver Statue

With Tom Seaver being diagnosed with dementia, there is a renewed call for the Mets to honor their history and to build a Seaver statue outside Citi Field. For Mets fans and for other teams, this is something which should not be up for a debate. After all, when other teams built their new stadiums, they incorporated statutes of their great players around their ballpark. Even older stadiums are incorporating statues.

This is part of honoring a team’s past. This is something which seems obvious, but it never occurred to the Mets when they build Citi Field.

Looking at the original construct of Citi Field, the seats were green, and the outfield walls were black. The Home Run Apple from Shea Stadium was tucked away. The Mets Hall of Fame was nowhere to be seen. Really, the only trace of the team’s history was the retired numbers and pennants on what was then known as “The Great Wall of Flushing.”

To be fair to the Mets, it may have been an honest oversight. Moreover, it could have been the result of public pressure altering plans. Due to a number of circumstances, there was a push to name Citi Field after Jackie Robinson. For example, George Vecsey wrote an article about it in the New York Times. He would be far from the only one.

Really, this was a pressure the Mets had faced since 1997. Whether it was in response to the pressure or whether it was always part of the plans, the Jackie Robinson Rotunda was born in a ballpark which was meant to invoke memories of the old Ebbets Field. Certainly, that left plenty of room for the detractors before anyone ever stepped foot inside the stadium.

While the perception the Mets had no intention to honor their history may not have been fair, the team gave it credence when the Mets overreacted to Dwight Gooden signed a wall in what was then dubbed the “Ebbets Field Club.” Initially, the Mets planned to erase the signature. As reportedby the New York Daily News, the Mets heard the backlash, and they were going to listen to their fans:

PR honcho Jay Horwitz said the wall will be removed from the club, preserved behind Plexiglass and moved to an undisclosed area at Citi Field that is more accessible to all fans. He added that the Mets plan to procure similar autographs from other popular ex-Mets such as Tom Seaver, Darryl Strawberry, Mike Piazza and Mookie Wilson and display them around the concourse.

It has almost been a decade since this incident transpired. Honestly, has anyone seen a wall with autographs from all the great Mets players? Is it hiding in some suite most fans don’t have access? Is it in the executive offices no one sees? Is it tucked in a corner somewhere in an area no one regularly passes during games?

Perhaps one good location for the wall would be the Mets Hall of Fame. The Mets Hall of Fame is a whole other matter all together.

You could point out one of the reasons why the Mets Hall of Fame may not be all you want it to be is due to limited space. Of course, that is a problem which arises when you don’t make provisions for one in your original plans for the ballpark. It’s also a problem when the team sells important memorabilia like the jersey Mike Piazza wore when he hit his post 9/11 home run.

Of course, this shouldn’t surprise anyone was the team store really spills into the Mets Hall of Fame. While you’re crowding to see the original Mr. Met costume, you can go through the racks of game worn wear and other merchandise which has spilled on over from the main team store.

But it’s not just the lack of statues, or the inaccessible and probably nonexistent wall, or even a ill-executed Hall of Fame. Just look at what happened to the retired numbers and pennants.

The once prominently displayed retired numbers on the left field wall now hang high above the left field Promenade above the foul pole. The pennants have also been removed from the left field wall. They now reside on the facade hanging above the field level in left field. Now, this may not seem like all that much. After all, most teams do not have their retired numbers and pennants on full display on their outfield walls, but for the Mets, this is a clear break in tradition with no real reason for it.

In the end, that’s the biggest problem. There’s no real reason for any of this. The Mets are a franchise which is now 57 years old. They have have had two players inducted into the Hall of Fame. They have won two World Series and been to three others. They have played in some of the most classic games in Major League history, and their status as an expansion team has forever ingrained them in the fabric of the game.

And yet, when you walk around their ballpark, with or without a Seaver statue, you’d have no idea that was the case.

Mets Should Never Hold Onto Prospects, Make Trades, Or Sign Free Agents

Looking at this past offseason, the Mets have traded away much of their future to improve the 2019 team. Top prospects Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn were part of a package for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz. Ross Adolph, Scott Manea, and Luis Santana were traded for J.D. Davis. Finally, Adam Hill, Felix Valerio, and Bobby Wahl were traded for Keon Broxton.

There has been some debate on each of these moves. Whereas many saw the Mets undervaluing assets, there have been a contingent who have justified the deal under the auspices of how not all prospects work out.

To a certain extent, there is validity to the prospects not panning out. With respect to Generation K, only Jason Isringhausen had a successful career, and that was as a reliever not the front line starter we expected him to be. Outfielders Fernando Martinez, Lastings Milledge, and Alex Ochoa weren’t even so much as a part-time player. Relievers like Eddie Kunz did nothing. The list goes on and on . . . .

Of course, this overlooks the prospects which have had successful careers. Tom Seaver was a Hall of Famer. David Wright, Jose Reyes, Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, and Edgardo Alfonzo were all-time Mets greats. As we know, that list is much longer than that. It also includes Nolan Ryan, which was a trade which lives on in Mets infamy.

That was a trade of a young player who hasn’t figured it out for a past All-Star Jim Fregosi. While prevailing wisdom is that trade was a Mets disaster, the school of thought were you trade young players for proven Major League talent would be fully onboard with that deal. That does beg the question why people are against keeping prospects and are not against the Mets making trades.

Looking over Mets history, this team has made many horrible trades. In addition to the aforementioned Ryan for Fregosi trade, we have also seen several other poor trades in Mets history:

There are several others which have blown up in the Mets faces. In addition to that, there have been trades for players which have greatly under-performed for the Mets. In addition to the aforementioned players, you can include Roberto Alomar, Willie Mays, Joe Torre, and a litany of others did not perform when wearing a Mets uniform.

With the Mets losing valuable young players and with the team getting veterans who have not performed, you have to wonder why the Mets don’t just operate on the free agent market. Of course, the reason there is the extensive failures the Mets have made on that front. The list is well known, and Mets fans can cite them in their sleep – Jason Bay, Bobby Bonilla, Luis Castillo, Vince Coleman, George Foster, Oliver Perez, and many, many others.

Point is, no matter which way you look, you see a history of failures when it comes to the Mets organization. Their prospects always fail. They only trade for veterans in decline. Every free agent signing is a bust.

Of course, that’s not remotely the truth. When looking at each area, the Mets have had plenty of successes and failures. The goal for every General Manager is to have more success than failures and for those failures to not come back and bite you. That’s what defines periods like the 1980s Mets and also the period immediately thereafter.

So in the end, when judging moves, do it on their own merit and not because you believe the Mets prospects fail, trade acquisitions production declines, and every free agent is a bust.

What Exactly Is The Mets Type of Player

Jon Heyman of Fancred reported the Mets are not pursuing Manny Machado because, as one Mets official put it, Machado isn’t “our type of player.”

With the Mets saying isn’t their type of player, the question needs to be asked about what exactly is the Mets type of player. Well, here are a few examples.

Jose Reyes – beat wife until the point she needed to be taken to a local hospital

Bartolo Colon cheated not just the game with a PED suspension, but he cheated on his wife. To top it all off, he didn’t pay sufficient child support for his second family.

Francisco Rodriguez – assaulted the grandfather of his children in three Mets family room at Citi Field

Jenrry Mejia – first ever player to be banned from baseball due to failing three PED tests

Bret Saberhahen set off firecrackers around reporters and shot bleach at them with a water gun

Vince Coleman threw firecrackers at fans which would injure a child

Wally Backman brought back to organization as a minor league manager after he had been fired by the Diamondbacks after domestic “disputes” came to light

This is just a small list which doesn’t include everything Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry did, or Keith Hernandez’s participation in the drug trials.

The overriding point here is the Mets type of person wants is a hot head who beats people weaker than them. To that extent, the Mets could not have given Machado a bigger compliment.

Bright Spots In Lost Mets Seasons

The New York Mets have had a number of down seasons with 2018 being one of them.  There were some bright spots this past season with Jacob deGrom emerging as the best pitcher in baseball being one of them.  This is reminiscent of how many times we have seen different Mets players have great seasons in what has been an otherwise lost season for the franchise.

The last time we saw anything like deGrom’s season happen was R.A. Dickey‘s 2012 season.  While the knuckleballer had been better than expected for a few years, no one could see him winning 20 games let alone beating out Clayton Kershaw, who was still in his prime, for the Cy Young Award.

While it was Dickey who won the Cy Young Award, it was Johan Santana who captured the hearts of Mets fans by pitching the first no-hitter in Mets history.  Special mention needs to go here for Mike Baxter‘s catch.

In 2004, Mike Piazza passed a significant career milestone by hitting his 352nd career homer as a catcher.  With the home run, he passed Carlton Fisk, and he all but cemented his Hall of Fame case by hitting the most home runs as a catcher.

Another Mets catcher who set a home run record was Todd Hundley.  In 1996, his 41 homers would not just match a Mets single season record, but it would also pass Roy Campanella‘s single season record for most homers by a catcher.  That season saw a number of feats including Bernard Gilkey setting the Mets single-season record for doubles and Lance Johnson setting the record for most triples in a season.  Remarkably, all three of these Mets records stand to this day.

On the final game of the 1991 season, which was the Mets first losing season since 1983, David Cone tied the then National League record with 19 strikeouts in a game.  It was a feat which had only been previously met by Mets legend Tom Seaver.

Speaking of that 1983 season, Darryl Strawberry would become the first and to this date only Mets position player to ever win the Rookie of the Year Award.  The 1983 season was also notable because after the Midnight Massacre, Seaver would finally come home to the Mets.

Really, it was that 1983 season which was the beginning of something special with the Mets.  In addition to Strawberry and Seaver, the Mets called-up rookie starter Ron Darling.  Much like how he is joined in the SNY booth now by Keith Hernandez, he was teammates with Hernandez that season because the Mets would make a franchise altering trade to acquire the former MVP.

Really, when you look at 1983, you can see how even a bad year is the building block towards a team building a World Series winning club.  Hopefully, that is what the 2018 season was for the Mets.

You can argue it was the case with deGrom emerging as the best pitcher in baseball, and Zack Wheeler matching him big start for big start in the second half.  Brandon Nimmo had the second highest wRC+ among National League outfielders, and Michael Conforto returned to being Michael Conforto in the second half.  More than that, Amed Rosario seemed to turn the corner while his new double play partner, Jeff McNeil, burst onto the scene.

In the end, when you look at losing seasons like 2018, you can see great things.  More than that, you can see how great things will soon be in store for the Mets.

Should The Mets Retire Davey Johnson’s Number?

While it is not an official policy, the Mets organization will only retire the numbers of players who enter the Hall of Fame wearing a Mets cap.  That is why the only Mets players who have their numbers retired are Tom Seaver and Mike Piazza.  If the Baseball Hall of Fame honored Gary Carter‘s choice, he would have gone into the Hall of Fame with a Mets cap, and as a result, his number would have been retired as well.

That would have pleased many Mets fans who want to see his number be retired.  More than Carter, Mets fans seem to want to see Keith Hernandez‘s and David Wright‘s numbers retired.  With respect to those two, chances are neither enter the Hall of Fame, and just like Carter, chances are Hernandez is inducted into the Hall of Fame wearing a Cardinals cap.

Much of the Carter and Hernandez push is related to both players being key veterans on the 1986 World Series team.  Oddly enough, the same case has not been made for Davey Johnson.

Back in 1984, Frank Cashen tabbed Johnson to be the Mets manager.  He was entasked with leading a Mets team to not just win a World Series, but really to just win games.  The Mets had not been over .500 since 1976, which was Seaver’s last full season with the Mets.  Seaver was back in 1983 only for the Mets to lose him again.

The winning happened immediately.  Behind Rookie of the Year Dwight Gooden, and a young core which included Darryl Strawberry, Wally Backman, Ron Darling, and Sid Fernandez, the 1984 Mets finished second place in the National League East with a 90-72 record.  This began a string of eight straight seasons where the Mets would finish second or better in the division.  Johnson would oversee six of those seasons.

The 1985 Mets won 98 games, which was then the second most wins the Mets had ever accumulated.  They were that close to winning the division.  Entering 1986, Johnson would declare the Mets were the team to beat, and his team would back him up.  Their 108 wins is the third most ever by a National League team.

When you include the postseason, the 1986 have won more games than any other National League team over the past century.

Yes, this does speak to how great the 1986 Mets were, but it also speaks to Johnson’s managerial abilities.  He was ahead of his time using data and statistics to inform his decisions.  Yes, those 1980s Mets teams were talented, but it was Johnson who got everything out of those talented teams by optimizing his team’s lineups.

This is why Johnson would become the first ever National League manager to have 90+ wins in each of his first five seasons.

He’s also the only Mets manager with two 100 win seasons.  He joins Gil Hodges as only one of two Mets managers to win a World Series, and he was the first Mets manager to go to two different postseasons.

Johnson is the Mets all-time leader in wins and winning percentage.  He is second only to Terry Collins in games managed.  He is second to Bobby Valentine in postseason wins, which is partially a function of Major League Baseball adding an additional postseason round when they added the Wild Card in 1994.

Despite all of these records and his impact on the franchise, Hodges and Casey Stengel remain the only two managers who have had their numbers retired by the Mets.  Given how the standards to retire manager numbers (to the extent there is any) is far lower than for players, it is odd how nearly 30 years after Johnson managed his last game, he has not had his number retired.

His number not being retired may become more of an issue going forward as once again he is a candidate on the Today’s Game ballot for the Hall of Fame.  With his having a better winning percentage than Hall of Famers like Bobby Cox (a manager who also has just one World Series to his credit), and his being only one of two managers in MLB history to lead four separate franchises to to the postseason, there is a real case to be made for Johnson’s induction.

If inducted, he is likely going to enter the Hall of Fame as a member of the Mets.  If so, any and all excuses to not retire his number have gone by the wayside.  Of course, that is unless you are not of the belief Johnson has not done enough to merit having his number retired anyway.

Given how his number has not been retired, it is certainly still up for debate whether it should or should not be retired by the Mets organization.  Going forward, when debates happen,,when taking into account standards already set forth coupled with the impact on the organization, Davey Johnson should probably be first in line when it comes to having his number retired.

Mets Worst Free Agent Signings

In their history, the Mets have had a number of truly awful free agent signings.  Their foibles on the free agent market have inspired books, and they have led to the Mets having prolonged down periods which have led to the team being under .500 for extended periods and eventually rebuilding.  Their mistakes are not limited to just any position.  Really, they have made mistakes across the diamond:

C Rod Barajas (1 year, $500,000) – In the Mets history, they have had just four free agents catchers as their Opening Day starter with Barajas being one of them.  With respect to Barajas, he was the cheap option in a truly uninspiring free agent group of catcher, and he would not last the season getting released towards the end of August.

1B Eddie Murray (2 years, $7.5 million) – Murray was the first piece the Mets locked down in what was to be known as the Worst Team Money Could Buy.  In his previous stops, he was a surefire Hall of Famer and one of the best switch hitters to ever play the game.  With the Mets, Murray had two disappointing seasons where he hit .274/.330/.446.

2B Luis Castillo (4 years, $25 million) – In 2007, the Mets needed a second baseman, and the team was able to get Castillo for nearly nothing.  While that team collapsed, Castillo was hardly to blame hitting .316/.404/.418 over the final month of the season.  To that end, it made sense to bring him back but not for the extreme overpay which was immediately panned by everyone.  Castillo would disappoint from that point forward, and eh woudl become a symbol of what was wrong with the team with the seminal moment being his dropping Alex Rodriguez‘s pop up leading to the Mets losing a game to the Yankees.

3B Todd Frazier (2 years, $17 million) – After a year in which Frazier had his first ever trips to the deisabled list and he had a careeer worst .390 SLG and .693 OPS, he was an obvious candidate.  Frankly, the choice was much easier when you consider how well Robin Ventura played during his Mets tenure and the Mets predominantly using homegrown players or trades to fill the position.

SS Kazuo Matsui (3 years, $20.1 million) – Despite the presence of Jose Reyes, the Mets opted to sign Matsui to be their shortstop.  It looked like a great move when Matsui homered in his first ever at=bat, but it was all downhill from there as Matsui disappointed at the plate and in the field.  Matsui dealt with injuries, was moved to second base, had a negative WAR in his last two years with the Mets, and he was eventually traded for Eli Marrero, who lasted just two months with the Mets.

LF George Foster (5 years, $10 million) – The Mets first free agent splash was Foster, and in many ways, Foster set the tone for some for the big moves the Mets would make in the future.  Foster would go from being an All Star who hit .295/.373/.519 to someone who hit .252/.307/.422 in a Mets uniform.  Overall, Foster had a rocky tenure with the team, and he would be released in 1986 after making comments to the press.

CF Vince Coleman (4 years, $11.95 million) – It wasn’t enough the Mets let Darryl Strawberry go to the Dodgers they replaced them with Coleman, a player who tortured the Mets.  If Mets fans didn’t despise him enough when he wore a Cardinals uniform, they certainly did during his Mets tenure which featured not just poor play but also throwing firecrackers at a group of fans.

RF Roger Cedeno (4 years, $18 million) Cedeno wasn’t just an important part of the 1999 team, but he would also serve as a key piece of the trade which brought the Mets Mike Hampton.  When he was a free agent, the Mets pounced to bring him back.  Just three years later, he was a shadow of the player he was leading to his being traded to Wilson Delgado.

SP Oliver Perez (3 year $36 million) – After being obtaine by the Padresx, Perez was great in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS, won 15 games in 2007, and gave the Mets every chance to win in the final game every played in Shea Stadium.  Despite all of that, there were red flags everywhere, and Perez predictably failed after getting his big free agent deal.  He struggled, and he would refuse a stint in the minors leading to the team freezing him out.  His Mets career would end in infamy as he was brought into the 14th inning of the final game of the season after not having pitched in nearly a month.  He’d be released after the season with a one year and $12 million left on his deal.

 RP Francisco Rodriguez (3 years, $37 million) -Needing a close, the Mets went out and signed the closer who just set the single season saves record to a massive contract.  In his first year in the deal, he had the second most blown saves in the NL and a then career worst ERA, strikeouts, WHIP, HR/9, BB/9, and K/9.  In the second year of his deal, he was placed on the restricted list after being arrested for assaulting his girlfriend’s father in the family room at Citi Field.  The Mets finally traded him in the last year of his deal to accomplish both rebuilding and to prevent an onerous option from being activated.

In Brodie Van Wagenen’s first offseason as Mets manager, it is incumbent upon him to navigate through the minefield of potential free agent busts which are lurking.  The success of the 2019 Mets and his success during his tenure as the Mets General Manager depends on it.

Complicated Good-Bye To Jose Reyes

Back in 2011, Jose Reyes would lay down a bunt single to preserve his batting title.  The first in Mets history.  After reaching safely, Reyes would be lifted from the game much to the consternation of Mets fans.  Much of the consternation eminated from the fact it looked like this was going to be the last time fans were going to get to see Reyes in a Mets jersey, and those fans wanted to see Reyes play just one last time and say good-bye.

Sunday, Reyes was in the lineup once again leadoff in what many believed to be his final game as a Met.  Reyes would take one at-bat, ground out, and he would walk off the field for a final time.  While the circumstances may seem to mirror what transpired seven years prior, the two situations could not have been more different.

During Reyes’ first stint with the Mets, he was the most electrifying player in the Majors.  He could turn anything into extra bases, and extra base hits were nanoseconds away from becoming triples.  When he was on the basepaths, he was a constant stolen base threat, and his dancing at third base helped entice a few balks leading to a run.  Reyes was so dynamic we came up with the term “Reyes Run” for him getting on, getting over, and getting in.

Reyes was more than a dynamic offensive force.  He was a shortstop with a bullet arm and a fan favorite.  His apparent joy on the field was infectious to the fan base, and it did seem to get the team going.  (Sometimes, like 2007, it would also motivate the opponents).  Mets fans would shower him with the “Jose!” chant (a chant which began Saturday, March 29, 2003).  We loved him, and he seemingly loved us too.

In 2011, you could argue it was he and not David Wright whom the Mets should keep.  After all, Reyes was the younger player, and Citi Field was built more to Reyes’ than Wright’s strengths.  Whatever the case, the Mets opted not to re-sign him, devastating a fan base, and having the organization a nd fans  looking for a new fan favorite.  Arguably, no one could fill that void like the way Reyes once did.

That was the Reyes who left New York after the 2011 season.  That Reyes was barely recognizable after leaving.

After one year in Miami, he was traded to the Blue Jays as part of that organization’s efforts to return to the postseason.  In 2015, in Reyes’ third year as a Blue Jay, it seemed the organization’s plans were coming to fruition.  They were competing for a postseason spot with hopes for the division.  It was time for a bold move, their GM Alex Anthopoulos made that bold move.  In a six player trade, Reyes was traded to the Blue Jays for LaTroy Hawkins and Troy Tulowitzki.

In a year, Reyes and the Mets were supposed to return to the postseason, Reyes instead found himself playing for the Colorado Rockies.  He didn’t want to be there, and the team didn’t want him.  This also meant instead of playing in the postseason, Reyes would be making vacation plans to go to Hawaii.

On October 31, 2015, Michael Conforto hit two homers.  Instead of going to Jeurys Familia for the six out save, Terry Collins brought in Tyler Clippard, who walked two of the three batters he faced.  When Familia finally did come in, Daniel Murphy booted a grounder.  The Mets 3-2 lead would quickly become a 5-3 deficit.

While this was happening, Jose Reyes would throw his wife into a glass door in Hawaii.  His wife would need to be taken to a nearby hospital to treat her injuries, and Reyes would be arrested. Reyes faced not just prison time but also deportation.  Instead, because his wife did not cooperate with prosecutors, the changes would be dropped.

While Reyes was able to avoid legal troubles, he could not escape MLB punishment.  With a new Domestic Violence policy, Reyes would be suspended 51 games, which stands as the longest Domestic Violence suspension to date.  With the Rockies already wanting to transition to Trevor Story, they were more than happy to release Reyes.

Fortunately for Reyes, the Mets needed a third baseman.  Wright was injured again, and he was going to miss the rest of the season.  Eric Campbell, Matt Reynolds, Wilmer Flores, and Kelly Johnson just weren’t to cut it.  Partially due to desperation and partially due to nostalgia, the Mets threw Reyes the rope none of the other 28 teams were likely willing to give him.

A fan base was divided.  While the “Jose!” chants returned, they did not have the same enthusiasm.  Some of the people most willing to lead the cheer would sit on their hands or boo.  Reyes beat his wife, and the Mets signing him was sending the wrong message.

Still, Reyes stayed, and he played reasonably well.  He would have some highlights including the September 22nd game where both he and Asdrubal Cabrera homered which helped turn a 6-4 loss into a dramatic 9-8 11 inning victory which helped propel the Mets into the top Wild Card.  Much like in his last postseason game with the Mets, Reyes went hitless as his team was eliminated at home.

In the subsequent two years, he was about the worst players in baseball.  Despite all of Collins’ efforts to get him going, Reyes floundered, and there would be reports he was not happy playing third base.  At the end of the 2017 season, he helped reinvent himself as a mentor to Amed Rosario.  Between that and his hitting in September, the Mets brought him back.

He was dreadful this year hitting .189/.260/.320.  He’d post a -0.8 WAR.  Worse yet, he would complain about his playing time.  He believed as a utility player he should have received more playing time, and really, without that playing time, the Mets were not giving him a chance to succeed.  While there were some who were able to compartmentalize the off the field issues, when he was bad on the field, more and more Mets fans were disenchanted with him.

However, despite the ever growing calls to release him and make way for more talented prospects like Jeff McNeil, the Mets stubbornly held onto him.  They treated him like one of the Mets greats, which he was in the first part of his career.  Against all odds, Reyes would last the full season with the Mets.  It allowed him to play alongside Wright in the Captain’s final game.

It also meant Reyes would get to leadoff in what is likely his final career game.  Between innings, the Mets showed a video tribute.  Reyes would emerge from the dugout to tip his cap to a standing ovation.

The crowd was much smaller than the sold out crowd who was there to see Wright’s final game.  The standing ovation Reyes received did not remotely compare to the one Wright received.  If you went back a decade, that would seem implausible as both were beloved players with Reyes being the one who probably generated more enthusiasm from the fans.

Personally, I loved Reyes.  The first player jersey I ever purchased was Mike Piazza, the second Wright, and the third Reyes.  Overall, I had more Reyes shirseys than any other player including a last season at Shea and first season at Citi one.  That Reyes was the most exciting player who ever played for the Mets.  When he went to Colorado, I still believed he had an outside shot at the Hall of Fame.

After he left, I was left livid with the organization.  In no way should Wright and Reyes have ever been split up.  Like great Mets duos of the past, Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman and Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry, it seemed like their destiny was to win a World Series together.  Between that, Flores’ struggles at short and Ruben Tejada not being a particularly good baseball player, I desperately wanted the Mets to make a trade with the Rockies to bring back Reyes for that 2015 run.

To this day, part of me wonders what would have happened if Reyes did return to the Mets in 2015.  Do they win that World Series, or do they still fall short?  Would Reyes and his contract stood in the way of Yoenis Cespedes returning?  Mostly, I wonder about that night.

While statistics prove differently, to this day, I hope it was an isolated incident, which could have been avoided by Reyes being in New York instead of Hawaii.  In the converse, maybe this was a pattern of behavior which grew increasingly violent, and perhaps, things could have been hidden for longer if he was never in Hawaii.  There is no way of knowing anything.  What we do know is that instead of being in New York, Reyes was in Hawaii where he forever changed his legacy by committing a vile act.

Because of all of this, I was initially irritated Reyes was sharing Wright’s spotlight, but I made peace with it because it was what Wright wanted.

At the sake of sounding hypocritical, I must admit seeing Reyes doubling and moving to third on a sacrifice bunt was exciting. Wright coming up to the plate in an RBI situation was exciting. Wright being able to drive Reyes home just one last time made the moment all the more special.

In all honesty, I was surprised nostalgia got the better of me in the moment.

Perhaps it is because I truly miss the Reyes of 2003 – 2011.  I just miss how fun it was to watch him play.

That fun completely disappeared when he returned.  He was no longer a young up and coming superstar.  He was a violent wife beater.  Some people may be able to compartmentalize it, but I wasn’t.  Certainly not for a player I once held in the highest of regards.

Now that is career is over, I honestly do wish Reyes well.  I want him and his family to be able to move on from the domestic violence to have a happy and safe home life.  If that happens, then no matter how much I was against it, Reyes returning to the Mets was worth it.  I will be happy if Reyes returning to a place he was loved and cared for led him to not only seek help but to end what might have been a pattern of abuse.  Hopefully, he is a better husband and father for the experience.

In the end, congratulations to Reyes on a great career.  You are the greatest shortstop in Mets history.  The memories of you and Wright playing together were some of the best I’ve had as a fan.  Rooting for you was never the same, and it will never be the same again.  Still, each and every Mets fan, including myself, wish you and your family well.

God bless the Reyes family.

Mets Real David Wright Dilemma

If you’ve been to or watched Mets alumni at Citi Field for events like the 30th Anniversary of the 1986 World Series or Mike Piazza‘s number retirement, you will see just how much former Mets respect and revere David Wright.

What makes those moments so special is you see Wright look on with admiration at players he grew up rooting for as a child, and they treat him as an equal. There is a mutual respect between Mets greats.

As we are seeing with the Mets yet again, this mutual respect is shared between Mets players but not ownership. No, the Wilpons just have a way of alienating themselves with players like they have with the fans.

Darryl Strawberry has spoken candidly how he no longer associates with the Mets due to Jeff Wilpon. There are multiple instances of the Mets alienating their former players.

One interesting note is how prominent Mets who have played for both the Mets and Yankees are more closely affiliated with the Yankees organization. David Cone and Al Leiter have worked for YES. We’ve seen them and players like Dwight Gooden participate in Old Timer’s Day.

Part of the reason we see these Mets with the Yankees is because of the World Series titles. We also see the Yankees making the efforts to bring these players back. More importantly, these players have typically received better treatment from the Yankees than they have the Mets.

For example, could you imagine the Yankees removing a popular player’s signature from the walls of their stadium? Would you see them turning Monument Park into an unkept portion of their team store?

More importantly, could you see the Yankees handling the Wright situation in the matter the Mets have? It’s extremely doubtful.

Over what amounts to less than $5 million, the Mets are not going to let Wright play again. For what it’s worth, the Mets have that money socked away from the trades of Asdrubal Cabrera and Jeurys Familia and maybe even the insurance from Yoenis Cespedes.

Sure, the Mets have offered other reasons, rather excuses. They’re going to rely on medical reports (even though he’s been cleared to play baseball games). They’ve said there’s a higher standard of medical clearance to play in MLB as opposed to minor league games.

Now, the Mets are moving the perceived goalposts by saying the team wants him to be a regular player as opposed to a “ceremonial” player or pinch hitter.

Of course, Wright being an everyday player is a bit difficult with the presence of Jay Bruce, Todd Frazier, and Wilmer Flores. It’s also more difficult due to Wright’s own personal physical limitations.

Of course, the Mets don’t know what Wright wants or feels like he’s capable of doing because John Ricco admits to not talking to Wright about all of this.

Seeing how all of this has transpired and how the Mets have opted to operate their business, especially post Madoff, this is about the insurance money.

While Wright has always said the Wright thing and has never been truly critical of the organization, everyone has their breaking point, and this could be his.

Much like we’ve seen with former Mets greats, Wright may be so aggrieved, he just stays away (not that the Mets give players reasons to return with event like Old Timer’s Day). And seeing how Wright has been treated, we may see the same thing with fans and other former players because, at the end of the day, no one should be alright with how this is transpiring.

Sadly, unlike the greats of Mets past, there’s no other home for him. The Mets are it.

So while we’re seeing what could be Wright’s final chance, we may be seeing the end of Wright before he fades away forever. That could be the saddest thing of all, and it was all over a few million.