On April 15, 2022, the New York Mets are finally going to reveal their Tom Seaver statue. It is something which should have happened when Citi Field officially opened on March 29, 2009, but with the Wilpons being the Wilpons, we needed to wait all of this time.
When you talk about the Mets, you talk about Seaver. He is the greatest player to ever don a Mets uniform, and in all likelihood, he will forever be the greatest. He deserved not just the statue, but he also deserved to be the first player to see his number retired.
For a time, Seaver was the only Mets player with his number retired. That was until Mike Piazza was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame with Piazza opting to wear a Mets cap on his plaque. At that moment, there was a clear standard set. If you want your number retired with the Mets, you need to enter the Hall of Fame wearing a Mets cap.
That was the standard until it wasn’t. As the Wilpons were on their way out, they announced Jerry Koosman was going to have his number retired. If you were going to outside the realm of Hall of Famers, Koosman more than deserved to be first in line for this honor. After all, his pitching was the biggest reason the Mets won the 1969 World Series.
After Koosman, Keith Hernandez had his number retired. Unlike Koosman, we can reasonably expect him to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. What we don’t know is what cap Hernandez will opt to have on his plaque.
Gary Carter likely would have his number retired if the Hall of Fame honored his request to go in as a Met. In all likelihood, David Wright will not be inducted into the Hall of Fame, but he will have his number retired one day. After that, who knows?
The one thing that becomes clear is as more numbers are retired the less that honor is for Hall of Famers. For some time, it was something special reserved for the Hall of Famers, and now, that is no longer the case. We can debate if that is a good or bad thing, but in the end, the Mets should have one separate and special honor for their Hall of Fame players.
Seeing the Seaver statue getting erected, it would seem that can and should be the new honor for Mets players inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame wearing a Mets cap. Right now, that applies only to Seaver and Piazza.
This is why Piazza should get his statue. He’s a Hall of Famer deserving of an honor above all the rest. Perhaps, it can be that pose after he blasted yet another big homer.
Certainly, there is more than enough room for it outside of Citi Field. More than that, there is room to further celebrate Mets history and the greatest of the greats. Ultimately, this is why we need a Piazza statue.
During Spring Training, Buck Showalter has made it a point to bring Keith Hernandez down to the field. In fact, as reported by Bob Klapisch of nj.com, Showalter removed the old rule which banned Hernandez from the batting cages. Showalter made it a point to get rid of the dumb rule (which was explained away because Hernandez was a part of SNY).
Specifically, Showalter noted, “I wanted people to notice Keith next to me and it wasn’t by coincidence. To me, Keith Hernandez is Mets royalty. He can go wherever he wants around here. This is his team.”
Showalter is exactly right here. After all, Hernandez was the first captain in team history. That 1986 team constantly talks about how much Hernandez meant to that team in terms of his leadership and defense. To keep that away from the team is pure and utter Wilpon nonsense. Well, the Wilpons are gone and so is much of their stupidity.
This was something Bobby Valentine had done so well during his Mets tenure. We didn’t just see the Mets greats pass through Spring Training for a photo op and media attention. That is something we will see this Spring with Mike Piazza, Al Leiter, David Wright, and others passing through and working with the players for a day or so.
Valentine had taken it a step further than that. Valentine put Mookie Wilson on his coaching staff. We also saw it with him having Al Jackson, an original Met just inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame, on his coaching staff. There many be many reasons why Valentine did that, and it could very well be because Davey Johnson once did the same thing with him and Bud Harrelson on the Mets coaching staff.
Being a Met is different than being a part of any other team. It’s being the big market target while sitting in the shadow of the Yankees. It’s having a fan base who clings to Tug McGraw‘s “Ya Gotta Believe!” who also expects Tom Glavine to implode completing the collapse. We know Gary Carter is going to start an improbable rally while fully expecting Lucas Duda to throw it nowhere near Travis d’Arnaud.
The Mets are the most unique team in all of sports, and they have the fanbase to match. Each and every player who has come through here fully understands it. After all, Carlos Beltran went from reviled while playing here to a standing ovation at the All Star Game wearing the enemy St. Louis Cardinals uniform and fans who cheered him as a conquering hero when he was brought back as the manager.
Valentine knew all of this, and he had a coaching staff reflect that. Showalter seems to get that as well, and he wants the former Mets to be a part of this team both in Spring Training and beyond. He understands the team history, and in the end, Showalter just implicitly gets it.
When the Mets have a manager who gets what being a New York Met is all about, magic happens. We saw it in 1986 and 1999. Mookie brought home Ray Knight. Robin Ventura hit a grand slam single. Seeing how Showalter is managing this team, Mets fans should be ready to see what is coming next.
Due to site difficulties, this is going up a week later than anticipated, but fortunately (or unfortunately), all of what was discussed remains relevant. Players discussed during this podcast included Michael Conforto, Jeff McNeil, Pete Alonso, Melvin Mora, Mike Bordick, Brandon Nimmo, Mark Canha, Starling Marte, Billy Taylor, Jason Isringhausen, Matt Harvey, Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, Josh Hamilton, David Wright, Ike Davis, Jake Marisnick, Blake Taylor, Dominic Smith, Robinson Cano, Eduardo Escobar, Shawon Dunston, Craig Paquette, Pedro Martinez, Carlos Beltran, and many, many more.
As always, thanks to Timothy Rider. It was an absolute blast. Please take a listen to the Simply Amazin podcast (by clicking on this link).
With the return of the Old Timer’s Day, we are going to see some of the most beloved Mets in history return and play a game in front of adoring fans. We will once again get to see beloved players like Cliff Floyd, Daniel Murphy, and Robin Ventura return for the day. It is going to be a great and emotional experience.
Those are players forever in Mets lore. We will always love them for what they did on the field. Not all of them had the biggest personalities. There are, however, some Mets who had the innate ability to become fan favorites without so much as dominating.
One player all over the baseball news is Tsuyoshi Shinjo. The formet Met was hired as the manager of the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters. Sorry, as Shinjo says, he isn’t the manager, but he is rather the “Big Boss.” This is just Shinjo being Shinjo. No one has better understand the great theatre baseball can be in the moments outside of the action. After all, he used to name his homers and orchestrated his own epic retirement ceremony
Baseball needs that type of theatre, and the Mets are the perfect frachise to embrace it. Shinjo can create a spectacle which could garner attention and interest. Really, teams pay a lot of money to hire people who try to figure out the things Shinjo just does on his own, and it comes naturally to him. Whether as a part of the coaching staff, televsion, or just as a team ambassador, Shinjo would make Mets games that much more entertaining.
In recent history, Mets games have probably not been as much fun as they were in 2015. A large part of that was the Mets winning the pennant. Another component of that was the force of nature that was Juan Uribe.
Uribe was the perfect addition to that Mets team. First and foremost, he was the real stopgap third baseman the team needed. He would quickly ingratiate himself to Mets fans with a walk-off hit in his second game with the team. He would then become a larger than life character for needling David Wright, objecting to football being played on TV, and for declaring he doesn’t wear a cup in the field because there isn’t one big enough for him.
Uribe was great in the clubhouse keeping the team on an even keel and upbeat during their first real pennant race. He was also a leader who helped the team reach their full potential that season. In some ways, his presence was missed the following season as he helped a Cleveland team get to the next level. Certainly, you want to believe there is room for him to do the same again for the Mets in some capacity.
Finally, there is Curtis Granderson. Aside possibly being the best human being to ever don a Mets uniform, Granderson was as fun a player as there was. He was not just terrific on the field, but he was also the genius behind the We Follow Lucas Duda Instagram account. Granderson didn’t just understand how to make baseball fun on the field, he knew how to do it off the field as well. The fact he is a great person on top of it makes it all the more important to get him to return in some capacity.
Overall, the Mets franchise has had a number of colorful characters. From Roger McDowell to the hot foots to Pete Alonso with the fake hitting coaches, you need a certain personality to handle and thrive in New York. While the Mets do need to honor their greats, they also need to find a way to better incorporate those players who made the Mets the fun team they are and hopefully always will be.
The New York Mets made the announcement they are officially bringing back Old Timer’s Day. So far, it has been announced Mets greats Cliff Floyd, Howard Johnson, Daniel Murphy, and Robin Ventura will be there. We are undoubtedly going to see many other greats.
As we work through the list of players which will undoubtedly include Mike Piazza and David Wright, the most important player would be Carlos Beltran. This would set the perfect stage and opportunity for the best free agent signing and center fielder in team history to return.
The saga of Beltran and the Mets is in many ways a story still unfolding. During his playing days, he was never fully appreciated by the fans. Part of that was his very disappointing first year in Flushing, and then in 2006, when he was everything and more the fans expected, he would strikeout looking to end the NLCS. After that, while Beltran was great, he was part of the Mets teams who collapsed in consecutive seasons.
From there, he was a bit injury prone. Lost in everything was the Wilpons interference with his ability to get the treatments he needed. There was also the fact he graciously accepted a move to right field because it was what was best for the team. After his departure, it did seem Beltran was better received by Mets fans as evidenced by the ovation at the 2013 All-Star Game.
Of course, we know all too well Beltarn was initially hired to replace Mickey Callaway. He wouldn’t get the chance to manage one game because of his role in the Houston Astros cheating scandal. To date, he is the only player to face any discipline as the callow Wilpons fired him.
Sadly, it wasn’t the Mets who gave Beltran his path back into baseball. That would be the Yankees. Much like how Beltran began his post playing career working in the Yankees front office, he will be part of the Yankees’ YES studio shows. It is something the Mets could’ve potentially done with SNY, but it should be noted the Wilpons still owned the network, and as such, Steve Cohen didn’t have the chance.
This is now Cohen’s opportunity. He can reach out to Beltran and bring him back for a big ovation at Citi Field. He can remember him of all that was great during his time, and that Beltran will go to Cooperstown largely because of his time with the Mets.
Remember, Beltran will be on the ballot for the first time next season. Looking through his career, Beltran will likely have three choices for his Hall of Fame cap: (1) Royals; (2) Mets; or (3) blank. Beltran played more games for the Mets than any other team. He also accumulated his highest WAR, all three of his Gold Gloves, both of his Silver Sluggers, and five of his nine All-Star appearances with the Mets.
Fact is, Beltran will go to the Hall of Fame because of what he did in a Mets uniform. He belongs in Cooperstown as a Met, and his 15 should be retired. However, there is evidently still some healing which needs to occur to secure Beltran wearing that Mets cap. That should begin with Old Timer’s Day. It’s an excellent opportunity for a first step, and hopefully, it will be a big step in what can be a journey for Beltran emerging as a great former Mets ambassador for years to come.
It used to be in order for a New York Mets player to have their number retired, they needed to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame as a New York Met. That is why Tom Seaver and Mike Piazza had their numbers retired, and why Gary Carter didn’t. Had the Baseball Hall of Fame not treated Carter differently than every other Hall of Famer in baseball history, his number 8 would be in the rafters at Citi Field.
Somewhere along the way, perhaps not coincidentally coinciding with Steve Cohen’s purchase of the New York Mets, the Mets changed their policy on retiring numbers. First, it was Jerry Koosman. Then, it was Keith Hernandez. Certainly, we anticipate David Wright will be next followed by a massive argument amongst the fanbase as to who gets their numbers retired.
Therein lies the problem. When the Mets had a stringent policy, there was at least one. A player wasn’t slighted by not having their number retired, and they weren’t having their career or impact on the Mets belittled. Rather, there was a policy in place, but there was a Mets Hall of Fame available for some of the true Mets greats.
Now, there is admittedly a quagmire. While you can argue Koosman and Hernandez tweak the standard to impactful and great Mets who have won a World Series, Wright’s eventual number retirement will throw all of that out. What follows is really just chaos, and more importantly, a need for explanation on a number of players.
John Franco is the all-time leader in team history in saves, and he was the third team captain in history. You can argue his number should now be retired. If it should, do you double retire 31, or do you retire his 45? If you opt for 45, why not Tug McGraw too?
What happens to Edgardo Alfonzo? By WAR, Alfonzo is the Mets best middle infielder, and he ranks ahead of Hernandez in the rankings. He was part of the best infield in Major League history, was a clutch hitter, won a pennant, and he won the New York-Penn League championship as a manager.
Bud Harrelson was the first Met inducted into the team Hall of Fame, and he’s the only man to win a ring with the 1969 and 1986 teams. Howard Johnson was the first Met to have a 30/30 season, he’s the only Met to do it twice, and he was part of the 1986 Mets.
Of course, you have Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry. Both symbolize all that was great and went wrong with those 1980s teams. To this day, you could argue they’re also two of the most beloved Mets ever.
Everyone is going to have their line and opinion. Without clear standards, each and every one of these players will be slighted by not having their number retired. There are and will be more.
Yes, honoring Koosman and Hernandez is great. They deserve to be honored. It feels good to honor them.
What doesn’t sit right is all those who won’t get that honor now wondering why they haven’t.
With all due respect to Jayson Stark of The Athletic, Jimmy Rollins isn’t close to being a Hall of Famer. While he seems to be on track to somehow crack the 5% to stay on the ballot, he shouldn’t stay on for long.
Rollins had a terrific career. In his 17 year career, he hit .264/.324/.418 with 511 doubles, 115 triples, 231 homers, and 936 RBI while stealing 470 bases.
On the advanced stat side, he had a 47.6 WAR, 95 OPS+, 95 wRC+, and a 50 DRS.
He was a three time All-Star, four time Gold Glover, and the 2007 NL MVP. He was also a member of the World Series winning 2008 Philadelphia Phillies.
Again, great career. It’s just not a Hall of Fame one.
The average Hall of Fame shortstop has a 67.7 WAR, 43.2 WAR7, and a 55.5 JAWS. Rollins had a 47.6 WAR, 32.7 WAR7, and a 40.1 JAWS.
Put another way, the entirety of his 17 year career was the equivalent of the seven peak seasons of a Hall of Fame shortstop. That’s how much his career lagged behind the standard.
On that front, Rollins wasn’t a great postseason player. Over his 50 games played, he only hit .246/.308/.364. Out of the 11 postseason series he played in, he had an OPS higher than .624 three times.
No, a player’s career shouldn’t be discredited for postseason struggles. However, you can’t look to his postseasons as a reason to try to bolster his career.
Overall, Rollins had a great career. The Phillies should have him on their Wall of Fame, and he should be under consideration for having his number retired.
However, no matter how magnanimous he was, and no matter how much of a leader he might’ve been, his is a career which fell well short of Hall of Fame standards. It’s a shame because Rollins was as like-able, and hard working a player as they come.
Since 1989, you would tune into the occasional New York Mets broadcast, and you would hear Howie Rose incredulous another Mets player wearing the number 17. With the New York Mets announcing Keith Hernandez‘s 17 will now be retired, we will be forever robbed of those moments, but we can look back at the players who wore the number after Hernandez left the Mets.
David Cone – Cone would change his number from 44 to 17 in honor of his teammate. It would be the number Cone wore when he led the league in strikeouts and tied Tom Seaver‘s then National League record of 19 strikeouts in a game.
Jeff McKnight – McKnight became the first player assigned the number after Hernandez wore it, and you could argue it was even more of an eyesore because it was the year the Mets had the underscore jerseys. Believe it or not, McKnight just had a knack for wearing great numbers. He would also wear David Wright‘s 5, Jose Reyes‘ 7, Carlos Beltran‘s 15, and Darryl Strawberry‘s 18.
Bret Saberhagen – Saberhagen changed from his usual 18 with the Kansas City Royals and the number he first had with the Mets after his good friend Cone was traded to the Toronto BLue Jays. While Saberhagen did have some success with the Mets, he was probably the player least suited to wearing the number after the bleach incident.
Brent Mayne – Again with the former Royals wearing 17. Mayne’s first hit with the Mets was a walk-off RBI single off Dennis Eckersley to take the opening series of the season. Even after that, he still couldn’t get recognized on the 7 line on the way to the park.
Luis Lopez – Lopez was a utility player for the Mets for three years including the beloved team. His biggest hit with the Mets was the time he punched Rey Ordonez on the team bus. Hearkening back to the team photo incident between Hernandez and Darryl Strawberry, this may be the most Hernandez moment any of the subsequent players to wear the number 17 ever had.
Mike Bordick – Bordick was supposed to be the key pickup for the Mets to replace the injured Ordonez at short. He gave us all hope as he homered in his first Mets at-bat, but things would end badly as he would be benched for Kurt Abbott in the World Series, and he would return to the Baltimore Orioles in free agency. Worse yet, 1999 postseason hero Melvin Mora, who was traded for Bordick, would go on to be a star for the Orioles.
Kevin Appier – With Cone, Saberhagen, and then Appier, it seemed Royals pitchers really liked wearing 17 with the Mets. Appier came to the then pennant winning Mets in the hopes of winning a World Series, but unfortunately, he is forever known as the key piece sent to the Angels for Mo Vaughn.
Graeme Lloyd – Lloyd was one of the few who thrived with the Yankees who pitched well for the Mets. He didn’t last a full season as he and many of the 2003 Mets who battled under Art Howe was moved at the trade deadline.
Wilson Delgado – Mets fans were thrilled to obtain Delgado in 2004 as he would be the return for Roger Cedeno. Delgado played 42 games for the Mets in 2004. He’d never appear in a Major League game after that.
Jose Lima – The 2006 Mets pitching staff was so injured that we’d get Lima Time! for four starts. After struggling mightily, this marked the end of his MLB career as he then played internationally.
David Newhan – There really isn’t much to tell with Newhan. In his one year with the Mets, he proved himself to be that classic Four-A guy who annihilated Triple-A pitching but struggled in the majors.
Fernando Tatis – Omar Minaya first signed Tatís as an amateur and would bring him to the Mets organization. Tatís rewarded Minaya’s faith by winning the 2008 NL Comeback Player of the Year. For a franchise known for “what ifs,” you can’t help but wonder if the Mets don’t collapse for a second straight season if Tatis didn’t injure his shoulder. While Tatís had many memorable moments with the Mets, perhaps, his most memorable was his being one of the few actually capable of hitting it over the Great Wall of Flushing.
After Tatis, the Mets had finally said enough was enough. They were taking the number 17 out of circulation like they had done in the past with Willie Mays‘ 24. That meant the number was not going to be worn again. That is, unless, the next Rickey Henderson came long. However, now, with the number being officially retired, no one will ever wear Hernandez’s 17 again.
There are rumors the New York Mets may have interest in Kyle Schwarber. Given the construct of the Mets roster, it was certainly a name you did not expect to hear them connected to for this offseason.
Schwarber came up as a left fielder with the Chicago Cubs out of necessity. The thing is he’s terrible in the outfield. For the Mets, that’s not a big deal as they already have Mark Canha, Staling Marte, Jeff McNeil, and Brandon Nimmo.
After he was traded to the Boston Red Sox, he started playing some first base. That made sense given the fact that many assumed this is where he would eventually land. However, the Mets have Pete Alonso and Dominic Smith. Considering Schwarber was terrible there, that’s not exactly a disappointment.
Really, when looking at Schwarber, all he can do is hit. Man-o-man, can he hit.
Last year, Schwarber hit .266/.374/.554 with 19 doubles, 32 homers, and 71 RBI. He posted a 148 OPS+ and a 145 wRC+. Had he been on the Mets, that would have made him their best hitter. In fact, the last time the Mets had someone with an OPS+ that high over a full 162 game season was Nimmo in 2018. Before that, it was David Wright in 2013. Yes, it has been that long.
In some ways, it was a career best year, but in reality it was him living up to his full potential at the plate. On that note, he is still just 28 years old. His exit velocity, hard hit rate, and barrels are off the charts. His eye is superb too. Yes, there is swing and miss, but he either annihilates the ball or walks. It doesn’t matter who you have on your team, if there is a DH, you absolutely need a Schwarber on your team.
Now, that would create a logjam for the Mets. They are already saddled with the Robinson Cano conundrum. The DH could’ve afforded them the opportunity to have Smith play first with Alonso at first, a situation where we saw Smith come alive in 2020. They could’ve used it on a rotating basis with some older and injury prone players in their lineup. Really, there are a lot of things they could have opted to do.
However, you throw those plans out when you have Schwarber. It is also important to remember you can never have enough depth. We saw that with the Mets last season as the proverbial bench mob helped keep the Mets afloat. It should also be noted Schwarber also has the ability to at least stand at first or in left on a one game basis. That has enormous value as well.
Anyway you look at it, Schwarber is a difference changing bat the Mets could have in their lineup. If there is an NL DH, the Mets need to heavily pursue Schwarber to be that DH. He is just the perfect fit for this team, and he would take the Mets to another level offensively. With that, the Mets become that much closer to moving from legitimate World Series contender to World Series favorites.
The New York Mets seem to be narrowing their managerial search, and reading the tea leaves, it seems Buck Showalter will be the next manager. There are reports Steve Cohen wants him, and there are ties from the New York Yankees between new general manager Billy Eppler and Showalter.
If we are going to go back to Eppler’s old Yankees ties, the Mets could also look at Willie Randolph for the managerial role. With Randolph, there are two things which stand out in his candidacy: (1) he’s actually had success as the Mets manager; and (2) he has unfinished business.
When we look back at Randolph’s Mets tenure, people mostly remember the bad. There was the 2007 collapse, and he was fired one game into a west coast trip. There was the chasm between him and Carlos Delgado. Of course, many forget the 2008 Mets also collapsed, but this time under the helm of Jerry Manuel.
Really, Randolph had to deal with more as the Mets manager than most did. He never had the full backing and respect of ownership. Things got so bad Manuel and Tony Bernazard were going behind Randolph’s back to not only spy on him but to find reasons to remove him from the job. The shame of it was Randolph was quite good at the job.
First and foremost, Randolph was immediately challenged in his job by trying to find a way to graciously end Mike Piazza‘s Mets career. Randolph did it in a way where Piazza not only had a strong season, but he had his dignity during the course of the season.
Randolph was gifted an old foe in Pedro Martinez atop the rotation. Notably, despite the many battles between the two during the heyday of the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry, there was nothing but respect between the two. Randolph had tried to protect Martinez from the team, but to no avail.
Another challenge with Randolph was the Carlos Beltran situation. He helped Beltran navigate through what was a disaster of a 2005 season and get him playing at a Hall of Fame level. By most accounts, the two had a good relationship, which is something a smart manager will have with their superstar.
One important part of that is the ability to adapt. When Randolph first took over the Mets job, he initially tried to make the Mets more like the Yankees. Case-in-point was the restrictions on facial hair. That is something he eventually rescinded.The ability to adapt to the job is of vital importance.
There were other highlights from Randolph’s tenure with the most important being his development of David Wright and Jose Reyes. With respect to Reyes, he was able to help him hone his skills to develop a more sensible approach at the plate to help him become an All-Star. With respect to Wright, he admitted in his book, The Captain: A Memoir, Randolph helped him become the Major League player he wanted to be. If not for injuries, that would’ve been a Hall of Famer.
Looking at Randolph, one of the biggest skills he had was his working relationship with Rick Peterson. The two worked together to get the most out of the Mets pitching staff, and we saw them do some things which may now be considered commonplace. For example, Randolph had a very quick hook in the 2006 postseason, and he was not afraid to let his superior bullpen win him games. The Mets will be looking for something like that in 2022 with Jeremy Hefner being retained as pitching coach.
Overall, Randolph had strenghts and weaknesses as manager. As we saw with him, the strengths far outweighed the weaknesses. That’s a major reason why he’s second only to Davey Johnson in winning percentage. He was a very good manager, who for some reason, never got another opportunity to manage.
Perhaps at 67, Randolph no longer has any designs on managing. If he does, we need to remember he was a good manager for the Mets. Unfortunately, he never received a fair shake. All told, Randolph knows what it takes to succeed with the Mets. No, he’ll never get the job, but there should have at least been some level of interest.