With yesterday being Black Friday, people ran out to stores and websites looking for deals, and today, they’re assessing what they got and still need to get. Being Mets fans, we expect the team to spend most of the offseason diving through the discount bins.
To a certain extent, every team needs to do that. The player signed to a minor league deal or on the cheap emerges to be much better than anyone could’ve reasonably expected. Many times, when that happens, your team takes it to the next level. In honor of Black Friday, here are some of the best bargain signings the Mets have made in their history.
For this list, we are only looking at players signed to minor league deals, and as this is the Mets we are talking about, it’s being run on Small Business Saturday.
C Todd Pratt – he went from delivering Dominos to being signed to a minor league deal with the Mets. Three years later, Pratt would hit a walk-off homer off of Matt Mantei clinching the first NLDS in team history.
1B James Loney – in 2016, the Mets were left without a first baseman due to Lucas Duda‘s back injury as well as a host of other injuries on the team. Loney would step in and help the team hitting .305/.367/.463 over his first 22 games to help keep that team afloat and make that push for the Wild Card.
2B Jose Valentin – the Mets signed Valentin to be veteran depth only for him to fill the vacuum left at second base by Anderson Hernandez‘s offensive struggles and Kazuo Matsui‘s injuries. In addition to his 3.6 WAR in 2006, he would hit two homers in the NL East clincher.
3B Matt Franco – signed a minor league deal with the Mets entering the 1996 season. He’d emerge as a good pinch hitter who hit a game winning single off Mariano Rivera clinching the Mets first series win in the Subway Series.
SS Omar Quintanilla – the Mets let Jose Reyes go due to a mixture of the Madoff scandal and the belief Ruben Tejada was ready to be the every day shortstop. When Tejada wasn’t Quintanilla was a pleasant surprise with a career year before being traded for cash considerations.
LF Melvin Mora – Mora signed a minor league deal coming out of Japan. In the 162nd game of the 1999 season, he scored on a wild pitch enduring the playoff game. In the Grand Slam Single game, he hit the cut off man leading to Keith Lockhart getting cut down at the plate. In that postseason, he hit .400/.500/.600.
CF Endy Chavez – signed as a free agent prior to the 2006 season, a season where he’d have the greatest catch in NLCS history. He’d also have other defensive gems and game winning bunts in his Mets career.
RF Marlon Byrd – back in the cavernous Citi Field days, Byrd came to the Mets on a minor league deal in 2013 and hit 21 homers before getting traded to the Pirates in a deal which netted Dilson Herrera and Vic Black.
RP Pedro Feliciano – soon dubbed Perpetual Pedro due to his rubber arm, he’d be a key piece of a great 2006 bullpen, and he’d emerge as the best LOOGY in franchise history.
SP R.A. Dickey – this is the gold standard. Dickey was signed to a minor league deal in 2009, and a few short seasons later, he would become the biggest surprise Cy Young winner in Major League history. The Mets then selling high on him and getting Noah Syndergaard and Travis d’Arnaud for him makes signing Dickey all the more legendary.
In quite unexpected fashion, video surfaced of Endy Chavez throwing batting practice to Yoenis Cespedes down in Florida. If you look at the video, you see Cespedes taking some cautious hacks and not driving the ball much, but still, it is unmistakably Cespedes at the plate:
— Yahoo Sports MLB (@MLByahoosports) November 19, 2019
As quickly as it went up on Chavez’s Instagram account, it came down leading many to question the reasons why that happened including but not limited to people surmising it has something to do with the insurance coverage of Cespedes’ contract.
Even seeing this video, under no circumstance can the Mets even think of relying on Cespedes to contribute during the 2020 season. He underwent similar double heel surgery to that which Troy Tulowitzki did, and he would last just five games for the Yankees this season. That came on the heels of his not playing at all in 2018.
That only further proves the point that if Cespedes provides anything in 2020 it will be an unexpected benefit. For that matter, the same can be said about Jed Lowrie. On Lowrie, the Mets still aren’t sure what effectively cost him all of the 2019 season meaning he’s in the same boat as Cespedes.
Overall, these are all conversations for another day. For now, we can just appreciate seeing Cespedes trying to make a comeback. For fans, seeing him at the plate again, we can dare to dream of his repeating his 2015 surge and electrifying the Citi Field crowd again:
Seeing him taking some November batting practice gives you hope he can come up as a pinch hitter at some point in 2020 and hit a big homer. Watching him swing the bat, there is some hope of that happening. More than that, we really hope the Mets don’t plan on that happening. If they do, when and if Cespedes has that big pinch hit home run, it will be nothing more than a happy footnote than an impactful homer.
While this site does not focus on breaking news and the like, sources have confirmed the New York Mets are considering hiring Endy Chavez to replace Edgardo Alfonzo as the manager of the Brooklyn Cyclones. The Mets are considering other candidates for the job, but at the moment, those other candidates are not yet known.
On Sunday, I had the privilege of being invited back on A Metsian Podcast to discuss the Braves series and all things Mets. During the podcast, I recall mentioning Pete Alonso, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Dillon Gee, Logan Verrette, Aaron Altherr, Tomas Nido, Jed Lowrie, Brandon Nimmo, J.D. Davis, Amed Rosario, Wilson Ramos, Joe Panik, Todd Frazier, Jeff McNeil, Jason Vargas, Carlos Delgado, Endy Chavez, and others.
Please take time to listen. Thank you.
There have been a few times in the Mets history where they have surprised or even shocked the World in making their run to the postseason. The biggest example is 1969, which occurred 50 years ago. The Mets would make their Miracle run in 1973, and they would emerge in 1999, 2006, and 2015.
When you look at those rosters, there are players who are comparable to the players on this year’s Mets roster. Here’s a look at how it breaks down:
Wilson Ramos (Paul Lo Duca) – Ramos may not have been the catcher the Mets may have originally expected to bring in during the offseason, but like Lo Duca, he could be the perfect fit for this team and surprisingly be a very important piece to this club.
Juan Lagares (Endy Chavez) – Chavez was the defensive oriented player who was pressed into more action than anticipated, and his play on the field was a big reason the 2006 Mets came withing a game of the World Series.
Corey Oswalt (Logan Verrett) – The Mets need a low round drafted prospect to put together a string of great starts to help put this team over the top. With his increased velocity, this could be Oswalt.
And finally, there is Mickey Callaway, who we are hoping will be able to accomplish what Willie Randolph accomplished by proving himself a good manager in his second year and by leading the Mets to being the best team in the National League.
Prior to Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS, there was much debate over who Willie Randolph should give the ball.
It was Steve Trachsel‘s turn in the rotation, but he was terrible in Game 3 and bad in the NLDS. Possibly, it was the result of the microdiscectomy he had in 2005, but he didn’t have in anymore.
Due to the rainouts in the series, Tom Glavine in one day of rest was a non-starter leaving the Mets unable to throw their best (healthy) pitcher in a winner-take-all-game.
As a result, when you broke it all down, the Mets best option was Darren Oliver Perez. That’s right, it was some combination of Darren Oliver, the former starter who was brilliant in the Mets bullpen in 2016, and Oliver Perez, the pitcher who did just enough to win Game 4. With Perez not being nearly as good as he was as his 2002 breakout season, and him starting on three days of rest, this truly was an all hands on deck type of game.
Looking at the game, it made sense to put the Mets bullpen front and center. The Mets had the best and deepest bullpen in the National League. That bullpen led the National League in wins, ERA, and fWAR. It was dominant, and even with the hiccups in Games 2 and 5 in the series, you certainly trusted it much more than you trusted anyone in the rotation.
As we are aware, things turned out much differently than anticipated. With the help of Endy Chavez making the greatest catch you will ever see, Perez would allow just one earned on four hits in six innings of work. He went far beyond what anyone could have anticipated, and really, he put the Mets in position to win that game.
Ultimately, the Mets would lose the game and as a result the series for two reasons. The first was the Mets offense didn’t deliver. After Endy’s catch, Javier Valentin struck out with the bases loaded, and Endy did not have more magic left for the inning instead flying out. In the ninth, Cliff Floyd struck out, Jim Edmonds robbed Jose Reyes, and Carlos Beltran struck out looking.
The second reason was the bullpen, specifically Aaron Heilman. He pitched a scoreless eighth, and he started off the ninth well striking out Edmonds. After the Scott Rolen single, he really was through the dangerous part of the lineup. He should have gotten through that inning unscathed to give the Mets a chance to walk off. Realistically speaking, no one could have anticipated what came next.
In 2006, Heilman did not get hit hard. He yielded just a 4.4% FB/HR ratio, and he had a 0.5 HR/9. He had not given up a home run since July 16th, and that was hit by Phil Nevin. Again, no one could see Yadier Molina‘s homer coming.
That didn’t stop it from coming, but just because it came, it did not mean Randolph and the Mets made the wrong decision trusting Heilman.
Sometimes, you make the right decision, and the wrong thing happens. It is what we saw happen last night with the Athletics.
Like the 2006 Mets, the real strength of that team was the bullpen. In a winner take all game, Bob Melvin put his faith in them. Ultimately, it was two of his best relievers, Fernando Rodney and Blake Treinen, who failed most. They took a close game and put it well out of reach.
That doesn’t mean he was wrong to trust those arms for one game. It just means the team’s best players didn’t perform, which is the reason the Athletics lost. Really, it was the use of an opener or the bullpenning. It was Rodney and Treinen, two pitchers who were definitively going to pitch in the game even if the Athletics used a traditional starter, who lost the game.
In the end, there is still a debate at the merits of using an opener or bullpenning, but the Athletics losing this game did not settle this debate. Not in the least.
The Mets Fan
I’m Justin Weiss, an 18-year-old aspiring journalist from Long Island. In addition to writing about the Mets, Islanders and Knicks for Elite Sports NY, I’ve been credentialed to cover the Brooklyn Cyclones.
How You Became a Mets Fan
My father, who is the contrarian in the family, became a Mets fan because his father was a Yankees fan, and I guess that I just stuck with it. My earliest memories are of Endy Chavez’s miraculous catch in the 2006 NLCS and my first game — a 5-3 loss (no shocker there) to the Philadelphia Phillies.
Favorite Mets Player
I’m not really sure why, or when, or how, but I became the de facto president of the Logan Verrett Fan Club (membership: 1), and my love for him has grown ever since.
Favorite Moment in Mets History
Message to Mets Fans
In the eighteen years of my life, I’ve seen not so much Amazin’, and way too much failure. But sticking with this team has been worth it, because the highs are so much sweeter. Hang in there, because when the Metsies finally enjoy some success, so will you.
The Mets Fan
Hi! My name is Becky, and I’ve been a sports fan my whole life and dabble around writing for Blue Seat Blogs.
How You Became a Mets Fan
I’ve been a Mets fan since I was in the womb- literally. My mom was 7 months pregnant with me when the Mets won their last WS (whoops aging myself).
Growing up in my house, I had no choice. Of my Mom, Dad and two older brothers, my Mom is by far the most rabid fan. I spent many summers at Shea. some of my favorite memories are of being in high school, getting cheap tickets from the box office, and sneaking down to Loge to watch the really bad early 2000s teams.
Favorite Mets Player
Favorite Moment in Mets History
Moment in mets history? Everyone will say the Endy Chavez catch, but that wound up being a bad bad night. I would say the Piazza HR in the first game after 9/11 against the braves. To this day, that clip gives me chills.
Message to Mets Fans
My message to Mets fans is that although ownership can be a mess (and has always been), games are always fun to go to. You have a fun family along with other Mets fans and damn it, we’re due for another World Series. I personally can’t wait for Opening Day if, for nothing else, to listen to Gary Keith and Ron. Not to mention Citi really is a gorgeous and fun atmosphere with good food, good beer and great fans. LGM!!
One of the themes of this offseason has been Sandy Alderson going out and bringing back some players to help this current team try to win a World Series. We have seen these efforts work in the past with the Mets bringing back Bobby Bonilla in 1999 and Endy Chavez and Pedro Feliciano in 2006. We have also seen these efforts fail miserably like when the Mets brought back Roger Cedeno and Jeromy Burnitz in 2002.
Where this season falls on the spectrum is still to be determined. Those results will largely depend on those players the Mets have brought back to the team. Can you name them? Good luck!
The expectation is that with a game changing play, you would expect things to become a little more one-sided, and one team to begin to pull away. As Endy Chavez and Carlos Beltran can tell you, that is not always the case. Last night, there was a myriad of change-changing plays. Here’s a shot at ranking the Top 10:
1. Gurriel’s 3 Run Homer (4th Inning)
Perhaps none of yesterday’s game would be possible if not for Yuli Gurriel‘s three run homer. At that point, the Astros were down 4-1, and their former Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel had nothing. While the Astros had already gotten to Clayton Kershaw, it’s still Kershaw. If Kershaw gets Gurriel there, the inning is over, and the game has a much different feel. Instead, Gurriel hit a homer that came out of nowhere and descended us all into madness.
2. Barnes’ Hustle Double (9th Inning)
If you subscribe to the theory home runs are rally killers, Yasiel Puig‘s two run homer in the top of the 9th gave Chris Devenski and the Astros a chance to exhale, get the last out, and win the game. Instead, Austin Barnes stretched what should have been a long single into a one out double. The pressure was back on, and more importantly, the game tying run was in scoring position for Joc Pederson and eventually Chris Taylor, who would deliver to the two out RBI single to tie the game.
3. Taylor Didn’t Go Home (8th Inning)
After Corey Seager hit a one out double off Will Harris to pull the Dodgers to within two runs, Justin Turner hit a deep fly ball to right center. Instead of challenging the arm of Josh Reddick, and pulling the Dodgers within a run, Taylor stayed at third base. The reason was because Minute Maid Park was so loud, he confused third base coach Chris Woodward‘s direction to “Go!” as him saying “No!” Chalk that one up for home field advantage.
4. Altuve Ties It Again (5th Inning)
Narratives exist because things happen. Game 5 was case in point why people say he chokes in the postseason even with his Game 1 peformance. After recording two quick outs, he walked Springer and Alex Bregman back-to-back, and with him at 94 pitchers, Dave Roberts brought in Kenta Maeda, who had been previously unscored upon this postseason. That changed with the Altuve home run, and it really set the table for the complete inability for the respective bullpens to get the job done.
5. Springer Redemption (7th Inning)
The half inning after Springer made an ill fated dive at a sinking liner in center (more on that in a moment), he would lead-off the bottom of the seventh against an exhausted Brandon Morrow, who had nothing. Springer got back the run he effectively gave up by hitting a monster of a game tying home run. That would spark a three run rally giving the Astros an 11-8 lead.
6. Bellinger Unties It (5th Inning)
After Gurriel hit the aforementioned game tying three run homer, Cody Bellinger hit a three run homer off of the struggling Collin McHugh, who had not pitched since the ALDS. At that time, the Dodgers seemed to have reclaimed momentum, and they gave Kershaw back a sizeable lead he should have been able to protect.
7. Bregman Walk-Off (10th Inning)
It may seem strange to have this so low, but that was the type of game it was. Bregman’s two out walk-off single against Kenley Jansen was the capper in a series of back and forth plays that not only gave fans whiplash but also sleep deprivation.
8. Springer Dove and Missed (7th Inning)
Believe it or not, the sixth inning of this game was scoreless as the bullpens began to settle in a bit after a crazy fifth. A Turner lead-off double of new reliever Brad Peacock created some tumult. Turner would then score easily when Bellinger hit a sinking liner to center. Instead of fielding in on a hop and trying to get Turner at home or decoying him, Springer dove . . . and missed. At the time the Astros fell behind 8-7, and they were lucky Bellinger wasn’t able to score on an inside-the-park home run.
9. The “Double Steal” (1st Inning)
At the outset of this game, you honestly believed a pitching matchup of Kershaw and Keuchel would be a pitcher’s duel. In fact, the Dodgers took Game 1 with both pitchers mostly shutting down the opposition save for three homers in the game. With the Dodgers having a 2-0 first inning lead, they were already in the driver’s seat.
Then, Keuchel made the weakest of pickoff attempts, and in what must’ve been a designed play, Logan Forsythe took off for second. As Gurriel threw it wide of second, Kiké Hernandez broke for the plate. With the errant throw and Forsythe getting in just ahead of the tag, it appeared as if the Dodgers had a commanding 3-0 lead in the game en route to a 3-2 series lead heading back to Chavez Ravine.
10. Correa in Just Ahead of the Tag (4th Inning)
Before the Gurriel game tying homer off Kershaw, Carlos Correa would deliver a one out RBI double to get the Astros on the board. On the play, Correa got in just ahead of the throw of Hernandez, and he would keep his foot on the bag. Had he not stayed on, he’s not on base when Gurriel hits the game tying home run.
Overall, these are just 10 moments from an otherwise Helter Skelter type of game. We all may have a different order, and there may be some plays that should have been included that were not. That’s just indicative of what type of game that was and what type of series this is.