If you ask people about Bobby Bonilla‘s time with the Mets, there is nothing but negativity associated with his tenure. There is the annual consternation over his deferred payments. His last ever act as a member of the team was playing cards in the clubhouse with Rickey Henderson as Kenny Rogers walked Andruw Jones. He wore earplugs to drown out the booing, and generally speaking, he was cantankerous.
Truth be told, Bonilla was not well suited to playing in New York either when he was a 29 year old or when he was a 36 year old. However, sometimes we over-focus on negatives like this to overlook the positives.
Bonilla signing with the Mets was supposed to usher in a new era of Mets baseball. A team who never truly forayed into free agency made the highly coveted Bonilla the highest paid player in the game. Bonilla, who grew up a Mets fan, was coming home to play for his favorite team. At least on the first day he wore a Mets uniform, it seemed like this marriage was going to go great.
On Opening Day, Bonilla hit two homers against the hated Cardinals helping the Mets win 4-2. It was exactly what fans expected from him and that team. However, things quickly unraveled for that Mets team who would be dubbed The Worst Team Money Could Buy. From there things went bad, and they went bad quickly.
Bonilla slumped mightly in May while the Mets. Even when he picked it back up in June, a Mets team who was well in contention fell completely apart. With Bonilla having an awful May and his being the highest paid player in the game, he faced the brunt of the criticism. Unlike Carlos Beltran who went from maligned in 2005 to superstar in 2006, Bonilla never quite recovered.
Part of the reason is the Mets were plain bad. To that end, it’s not his fault the Mets plan was ill conceived. Howard Johnson was not an outfielder. Other players like Eddie Murray and Willie Randolph were over 35. Bret Saberhagen and John Franco were injured. Anthony Young was in the middle of his MLB record losing streak. The bigger issue is Bonilla handled it poorly, and then he was terrible at the end of the year hitting just .196 over the final two months of the season.
While stats like this weren’t used regularly in 1992, the 1.2 WAR was the worst he had since his rookie year. The 121 wRC+ was his worst since his second year in the league. Bonilla and that 1992 Mets team was a huge disappointment, and Bonilla’s image never quite recovered.
What gets lost in the criticism is Bonilla did rebound. From 1993 – 1995, he averaged a 3.1 WAR, and he was a 138 OPS+ hitter. He hit .296/.371/.537 while averaging 27 homers and 84 RBI over that stretch. He would make two All-Star teams, and Bonilla proved to be a bit of a team player willingly moving to third base for stretches when Johnson was injured.
Bonilla’s true breakout season with the Mets came in 1995. He was mashing the ball hitting .325/.385/.599 (151 OPS+) when he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles. Really, this is what the Mets envisioned they were going to get with him. It just took a longer period of adjustment for him to get there.
Overall, in the first stint of his Mets career, Bonilla hit .277/.361/.505 with a 130 wRC+ amassing a 9.7 WAR. That was not that bad, and to a certain extent, on the field, you could say he lived up to the contract. No, he did not live up to expectations, but to be fair, he was never surrounded with the talent to help him do that.
When you look at his entire Mets career, he ranks as the fifth best Mets RF by WAR. The four players ahead of him played more games with the Mets. Among players with at least 500 games played, he is the Mets second best hitting right fielder, and he is tied for sixth as the best Mets hitter of all-time.
At least on the field, that is not a player worth as much derision as he receives. No, on the field he was good but not great Mets player. On the field, he did nothing to deserve scorn.
Off the field is a whole other matter. His adversarial nature with the press did nothing to help him. Mets fans are never going to forgive him playing poker while they were crushed by the ending of Game 6. No one is saying you should.
Rather, the suggestion here is Bonilla be remembered for being the good player he actually was. If you want, you can also opt to remember him a little more warmly as his accepting the buyout led to the Mets having the money to obtain Mike Hampton in a trade. That helped the Mets get a pennant, and when Hampton left for Colorado, the Mets used that compensatory pick to draft David Wright.
All told, the Mets were far better off having Bonilla as a part of the Mets organization as you may have realized.
For a second there, things were looking dire for the Kansas City Chiefs. After all, being down 24-0 in the second quarter is a recipe for a blowout, not a lead heading into the half.
However, that’s what happened behind the greatness of Patrick Mahomes.Not only would the Chiefs take a lead into the half, but they’d win by 20 in a 51-31 win. Once again, this puts Mahomes one game away for the Super Bowl.
As a Mets fan, every time I see Mahomes play, it’s a reminder of his father Pat Mahomes and his impact on the 1999 Mets.
It was one of the most pleasant and surprising seasons we’ve ever seen. He became an important piece of one of the best bullpens in Mets history. He was a perfect 8-0 as the long man in the pen.
This was evidence of how he came up big time and again. He’d be great again in the NLCS with a 1.42 ERA in his three games. His work helped allow Robin Ventura hit the Grand Slam Single, and unfortunately allow Kenny Rogers to break our hearts.
As a fan, you don’t forget players like that, and you always have love and respect for those players. They’ll always be Mets. Apparently, the Mahomes family feels the same way.
.@PatrickMahomes5 walks into Arrowhead wearing his dad's jersey!
— NFL (@NFL) October 21, 2018
When Mahomes and his family still hold the Mets near and dear, you can’t help but root for them. Seeing the great player and person Patrick Mahomes has become, that goes double.
As a fan of greatness, you admire Mahomes. As a Mets fan, especially one who has seen the Giants not make the playoffs yet again, you root for him to do well, and hopefully, win a Super Bowl.
With the Washington Nationals defeating the Houston Astros to win the 2019 World Series, the National League East has joined the American League Central as the only divisions in baseball to have had each of their teams win a World Series.
In terms of the AL Central, while all of their teams have won a World Series, not all of them have done it recently. For example, the Cleveland Indians last won in 1948, which was before the Mets or Nationals even came into existence. The Nationals first became a franchise in 1969, and they played their first game against Tom Seaver and the New York Mets. Little did anyone know it at the time, but that 1969 Mets team would win the World Series.
The Mets next World Series title came in 1986. As noted by Mark Simon of Sports Info Solutions, Jesse Orosco would become the last relief pitcher to have an RBI in a World Series game. This would also mark the last time the New York Mets have won a World Series.
Since that time, each of the Mets division rivals have won at least one World Series.
In the strike shortened 1995 season, the Atlanta Braves finally got over the hump when World Series MVP Tom Glavine pitched eight shut out innings allowing just one hit against an absolutely stacked Cleveland Indians lineup. Two years later, Glavine would lose Game 6 of the NLCS to MVP Livan Hernandez and the Florida Marlins.
When Edgar Renteria singled home Craig Counsell in the 11th inning of Game 7, that Marlins team would win their first World Series. Six years later, the Marlins would win their second World Series when Josh Beckett pitched a complete game shutout on three days rest to beat the 2003 New York Yankees in six games.
In 2008, the Philadelphia Phillies would break through and win the second World Series title in team history. Their clincher came when they and the Tampa Bay Rays resumed a rain shortened game the following day. The Phillies returned to the World Series the following year, but they lost in six to the New York Yankees.
That leaves the Mets with the longest drought, which stands at 33 years, as the longest in the division. It is not like the Mets haven’t had their chances.
Everything changed in 1988 with Mike Scioscia‘s grand slam. The 1999 Mets couldn’t pull off the miracle with Armando Benitez and John Franco blowing a save before Kenny Rogers walked in the series winning run. The following year, both Todd Zeile and Mike Piazza would come just short of hitting homers.
The 2006 Mets saw Guillermo Mota shake off Paul Lo Duca, and Carlos Beltran take a wicked Adam Wainwright curveball. There were the ensuing collapses the following years with Glavine getting shellacked by the Marlins in 2007, and Scott Schoeneweis allowing a homer to Wes Helms the ensuing year.
The Mets wouldn’t return to the postseason until 2015. Their World Series hopes were dashed when Daniel Murphy overran a ball, and Lucas Duda thew one away. The following year, Madison Bumgarner proved why he is an all-time great postseason pitcher with his throwing a complete game shutout in the 2016 Wild Card Game.
With Zack Wheeler being a free agent, the Mets offseason was already going to be an interesting one. It is now all the more interesting as you consider all the moves this team will need to make to bring home the team’s first World Series since 1986.
Here’s how bad the National League postseason has shaped up to be. The Washington Nationals, the team who delivered to the Mets a devastating loss when Kurt Suzuki homered off Edwin Diaz, could quite possibly be the lesser of all evils.
The St. Louis Cardinals are one of the Mets most fiercest and longest running rivals. There are stories of Terry Pendleton, John Tudor, and others from the 1980s. The rivalry pushed forward into this century with the postseason match-ups. The last one ended with Adam Wainwright‘s curveball striking out Carlos Beltran in what could be argued was the worst loss in Mets history.
Speaking of torment, there is the Atlanta Braves. Since the dawn of the Wild Card, no team has so tormented the Mets. We saw Brian Jordan and the Braves keep the Mets out of the 1998 postseason. Chipper Jones, who was all too happy to chide Mets fans, almost repeated the act in 1999. There’s nothing to say of John Rocker‘s behavior on and off the field that year. Throw in that NLCS ending with Kenny Rogers walking Andruw Jones, you have enough torment to last a lifetime.
That torment continued into this year with the Braves dominating the Mets all year. With that team having Freddie Freeman, Ronald Acuna Jr., and a young and still developing core, this promises to last deep into the future.
Then there are the Dodgers. Any team who willingly takes on and purposefully promotes Chase Utley deserves hatred just for that. But the history of those two teams goes deeper. There was the 1988 NLCS with Orel Hershiser and Kirk Gibson unofficially ending the Mets 1980s run.
Finally, there is the Nationals. This is a rivalry which only began in 2015 when the Mets and Nationals were good for the first time since the Expos franchise was founded in 1969. Whether it is Bryce Harper‘s hubris asking where his ring was when the team signed Max Scherzer, or it was Daniel Murphy tormenting them after he was the Mets 2015 postseason hero, fans seem to have developed a particular hatred of this team.
No matter how you slice or dice it, choosing a team to root for in the NLDS and eventually the NLCS is an exercise in rooting for the lesser of all evils. Who you think is the lesser of all evils likely depends on your age and your memories of a particular loss here or there.
Instead of looking at things from the perspective of lament, you should realize that three of the teams Mets fans absolutely despise will lose, and they will likely lose in excruciating fashion. That will be quite enjoyable to watch. It should also be enjoyable to watch whichever team win the pennant lose to the Rays, Twins, or Astros in the World Series.
As has seemingly been the case since the dawn of time, the Mets played a big series against the Braves, and the Braves left them in the dust. Somehow, the Mets were not all that worse for ware:
1. Congratulations are due to Pete Alonso who tied Todd Hundley‘s and Carlos Beltran‘s Mets single season mark for homers. Of note, this broke his tie with Mike Piazza for single season homers by a right-handed batter.
2. That homer should’ve been a momentum change in Saturday’s game and for the rest of the series. Instead, due to the way the Mets played, it proved to be a footnote.
3. Speaking of historic footnotes, Jacob deGrom became the first ever pitcher to homer in a game where he struck out 13 batters twice in his career. In that game, the Mets struck out 26 tying a Major League record.
4. With the Yankees roughing up Hyun-Jin Ryu, we should be reminded the Cy Young race is still wide open. On that front, deGrom leads the league in bWAR, fWAR, and strikeouts while being top five in nearly every important statistical category.
5. Steven Matz has also been great recently. On Sunday, he ripped off his fourth straight start of at least six innings allowing two earned or fewer. Of course, with the way the Mets played in this series, he’d take the loss.
6. Two of the three losses were games Billy Hamilton had a huge impact. He got the game winning hit in one, and he scored from first on a single on what proved to be Ronald Acuna‘s game winning two RBI single.
7. One of the reasons Hamilton scored from first was J.D. Davis‘ not hustling in to field it and his weak throw back to the infield. It should be noted he’s a -7 DRS in left.
8. The only thing uglier than his defense was the uniforms this weekend. Seriously, what’s the point of having uniforms promoting players and their personalities if you can’t read them.
9. The only thing worse than that was not claiming Hamilton so you can keep having Aaron Altherr on the bench. To end the narratives, no, Hamilton would not have been designated for assignment when Jeff McNeil and/or Brandon Nimmo returned, especially with rosters expanding in September.
10. Nimmo’s recent rehab appearance looks promising. If he’s right, and Juan Lagares keeps hitting while playing Gold Glove defense, you have to wonder how long the Mets will be willing to live with Davis and his cooling bat in left.
12. On the topic of injuries, the Mets need to be heavily fined for how they handled Tomas Nido‘s concussion. He was hit on the head with the follow through of Josh Donaldson‘s back swing and went down. He had to be pulled then and not finish the inning with him then going through concussion protocol between innings. This is not okay.
13. This wasn’t the Mets only terrible decision. Mickey Callaway having Amed Rosario bunt was one of the dumbest decisions he’s made as Mets manager. He doubled down by overmanaging ordering a hit-and-run with Joe Panik. Panik swung and missed, and Rosario was caught at second easily.
16. On the Rivera point, Francisco Cervelli was released by the Pirates and was picked up by the Braves. Yes, he’s been bad, bout Nido was hitting .088/.162/.176 in the second half. With Ramos’ injury history, the Mets needed more depth, and they passed on that depth. Like with Hamilton, Cervelli made the Mets pay.
17. Brad Brach needs to be better. After allowing runs on three of his last five appearances, his 7.50 Mets ERA is higher than what it was with the Cubs before he was released. The Mets can’t afford for him to be this while Edwin Diaz is dealing with a trap issue. If he’s not, Paul Sewald May take his spot on the depth chart.
18. This series and history highlights why the Braves are the Mets biggest rival and should be the most hated team by Mets fans, not the Nationals.
19. If you’ve ever heard anyone scream about Brian Jordan, Mel Rojas, Kenny Rogers, or anything Armando Benitez and weren’t quite sure why the vitriol, just look at this series. Mets-Braves games in the late 90s were always like this series.
20. Feel depressed after watching this series? Don’t be. The Mets went from two games out of the Wild Card to two games out of the Wild Card. They’re now hosting the Cubs, the team currently in the second Wild Card spot, and they’re a bad road team.
If you ask a New York Giants fan about the postseason, they will reminisce about Super Bowl XLII and XLVI. You will hear about the Helmet Catch and Eli hitting Manningham down the sideline for 38 yards. You know what you don’t hear about? Fassell having the Giants ill prepared for Super Bowl XXXV or Trey Junkin.
The reason is simple when you win, you remember it forever. However, when you lose, and you lose and lose, that memory festers and worsens year to year.
For years and even until this day, you will occasionally hear Howie Rose bemoan Yogi Berra‘s decision to go with Tom Seaver on short rest over George Stone in Game 6 of the 1973 World Series. One of the reasons that memory lingers is the Mets where irrelevant from 1974 until 1984.
After 1986, Mets fans were in their glory, and to this day many fans who got to live through 1986 talk about it as fondly today as they probably did when they got to work on October 28, 1986.
Behind them is a group of Mets fans who never really got to live through the 1986 World Series. As a result, they just know Madoff Scandals and hauting postseason failures:
- Davey Johnson botched that series including leaving in Dwight Gooden too long in Game Four. Doc would allow a game tying home run in the top of the ninth to Mike Scioscia.
- It was the last hurrah for Gary Carter and Keith Hernandez who struggled over the final few games of the series, and respectively faced poor and injury plagued 1989 seasons before finding new homes in 1989.
- First and foremost, the one thing that should stick out was how those Braves teams just tortured the Mets, and the Mets could never get past them.
- Both John Franco and Armando Benitez blew leads in Game 6 preventing the Mets from sending the series to a seventh game and letting the Mets be the team to do what the Red Sox did to the Yankees five years later.
- Kenny Rogers walked Andruw Jones with the bases loaded to end the series.
2000 World Series
- Timo Perez should have run out that fly ball off the bat of Todd Zeile
- Roger Clemens should have been ejected for throwing a bat at Mike Piazza
- Piazza’s ball goes out if it was just a few degrees warmer
- Guillermo Mota shook off Paul Lo Duca
- Billy Wagner cannot give up a home run to So Taguchi
- Yadier Molina
- Cliff Floyd just missed his pitch, the Jose Reyes liner didn’t fall, and Carlos Beltran struck out looking on an Adam Wainwright curveball
- The subsequent two seasons followed with epic collapses with Tom Glavine not being devastated and an inept Jerry Manuel going to Scott Schoeneweis who gave up the homer that closed Shea for good.
2015 World Series
- Terry Collins making terrible decision after terrible decision.
- Yoenis Cespedes a no-show from the very first defensive play of the World Series.
- Jeurys Familia blowing three saves even if they weren’t all his fault.
- Daniel Murphy overrunning a ball.
- Lucas Duda‘s throw home.
- Matt Harvey for too long in Game 5.
2016 Wild Card Game
- Connor Gillaspie
The list for the aforementioned series really goes on and on, but those were just some of the highlights. After tonight’s game, that is what Astros and Dodgers fans will be doing. They’ll be asking if Dave Roberts was too aggressive with his pitching changes while A.J. Hinch was not aggressive enough. Why didn’t Chris Taylor try to score, or why could Josh Reddick just put the ball in play. Really, the list goes on and on.
For one fan base, they will focus on the things that went wrong. Considering the Dodgers haven’t won in 29 years and the Astros have never won, the pain of this loss is going to hurt all the more. For the fanbase that gets to win this one, they will have memories to cherish for a lifetime, and they will never again be bothered by the what ifs that could have plagued their team in this epic World Series.
Tonight is a jam packed sports night. For Mets fans, no matter how bad things are, you are turning into the game against the Braves if for no other reason than to see Noah Syndergaard pitch. For Rangers fans, it is the first game of the Eastern Conference semi-finals against the Ottawa Senators and their old friend Derick Brassard. However, as we all know the first round of the NFL Draft will get the largest share of publicity. The NFL gets the lion share no matter what it is doing.
The NFL Draft does present someone of an intriguing possibility for Mets fans. One of the top QB prospects in this draft is Texas Tech Patrick Mahomes. He has quite the pedigree with him being the godson of former Mets reliever LaTroy Hawkins. Oh, and Patrick Mahomes is the son of former Mets reliever Pat Mahomes.
Unlike his son, Mahomes wasn’t really on anyone’s radar heading into the 1999 season. Through six major league seasons, he was 21-28 with a 5.88 ERA and a 1.627 WHIP. After a poor 1997 season, where he was only able to pitch in 10 games for the Boston Red Sox, Mahomes found himself pitching for the Yokohama Bay Stars of the Japanese Leagues. In his eight starts and two relief appearances, he was far from impressive going 0-4 with a 5.98 ERA and a 1.510 WHIP. Still, Mahomes must have done something right in that stint as the Mets signed him to a minor league deal in the offseason.
With Josias Manzanillo struggling to start the year, there was an opening in the Mets bullpen in 1999. Mahomes was called up, and he took complete advantage of his opportunity. Mahomes became the long man in the Mets bullpen, and he thrived in that role. While the long man in the bullpen is an overlooked role on most teams, it was vitally important to that 1999 team.
Al Leiter and Kenny Rogers were the only pitchers who averaged more than six innings pitched, and Rogers didn’t come to the Mets until July. One of the team’s better starters, Bobby Jones, was injured leading to a revolving door of fifth starters. Top options in Jason Isringhausen and Octavio Dotel had the talent, but they couldn’t go deep into games. Overall, the team needed a good long man. Mahomes was that and more.
During the season, Mahomes would make just 39 appearances, but he would pitch 63.2 innings. It should be noted Mahomes was partially able to pitch those innings because unlike most relievers Bobby Valentine could trust him at the plate. During the 1999 season, Mahomes was 5-16 with three doubles and three RBI. However, we all know Valetine kept going to him because of the results Mahomes got on the mound.
In Mahomes’ 39 appearances, he had a 3.68 ERA and a 1.272 WHIP. As a result of his terrific pitching, he finished the season with a perfect 8-0 record. Considering it was the steroids era, those are truly impressive numbers. Considering where he was just a season ago, they are inspiring.
Mahomes would continue pitching well into the postseason where he had a 2.25 ERA and a 1.250 WHIP in eight innings over four appearances. Notably, Mahomes pitched four shutout innings in at epic Game 6 of the NLCS which permitted the Mets to get back into the game. What was once unfathomable when Leiter gave up five innings in the first inning, the Mets took the lead in the seventh inning. While the Mets did not win that game, they were in that position because Mahomes stepped up big in that spot. That was a theme for him during the 1999 season.
So to that extent, we know that big game ability is in the Mahomes gene pool. We also know the ability to play in New York in high pressure situations is as well. To that end, maybe, just maybe, Patrick Mahomes would be a fine fit with either the New York Giants, as Eli Manning’s successor in waiting, or the New York Jets as the latest franchise quarterback.
The talent is there. In a recent Peter King MMQB column, Mahomes was compared favorably to Brett Favre. With talent like that and his background, there should be no doubt Mahomes can thrive in not just the NFL, but also in New York. His name may not get called tonight, but it will likely get called on Friday.
Whatever the future holds for him, the best of luck to Mahomes. His father was one of the players that made one of the most enjoyable seasons in Mets history happen. Hopefully, wherever Mahomes lands, he can provide those fans the same joy his father provided Mets fans. With any luck, that will be with the Giants.
It has been almost 15 years since Bobby Valentine has managed the Mets, and because of how history works, the enduring image we have of Bobby V is the time he came back into the dugout with sunglasses and a fake mustache made with eye back after he had been thrown out of a game. Bobby V was much more than that.
After a disappointing player career that included two forgettable seasons with the Mets, Valentine became a coach. In 1983, he was named the third base coach for the George Bamberger led Mets. Despite Bamberger not lasting the season, and General Manager Frank Cashen cleaning house, the Mets decided to keep Valentine when Davey Johnson was hired. From 1983 – 1985, Valentine was generally regarded as a very good third base coach, who helped in the development of a young Mets team from cellar dwellers to contenders. He would be hired as the Texas Rangers manager, and he would miss all of the 1986 season.
After his stint in Texas, a brief stop in Norfolk, and one in Japan, the Mets brought Bobby V back to the organization for the 1996 season. Initially, he was named as the manager of the Tides. However, after Dallas Green had finally run through all of the young arms on the team, Valentine was named the interim manager for the final 31 games of the season. In the offseason, the interim tag would be removed, and he would start the 1997 season as the Mets manager.
The 1997 Mets were THE surprise team in all of baseball. Despite a starting rotation that was comprised of Rick Reed, Dave Mlicki, Bobby Jones, Mark Clark, Brian Bohanon, and Armando Reynoso, the Mets would go from a 71 win team to an 88 win team. Now, there were good seasons for the turnaround. There was the acquisition of John Olerud. There was also another strong season from Lance Johnson, and Todd Hundley proved his record setting 41 home run 1996 season was no fluke. However, there were other factors at play, and they were directly related to the manger.
First, Edgardo Alfonzo was made the everyday third baseman instead of the utility player he was under Green. Also, while Reed had started the season coming out of the bullpen, Bobby V moved him into the rotation. Additionally, whereas Green’s calling card was to abuse his starters’ arms, Valentine protected his starters’ arms (his starters averaged six innings per start and less), and he used the bullpen to his advantage. On a more subjective note, this was a team that played harder and was more sound fundamentally. It was a team that probably played over their heads for much of the season.
One important note from this season, Mlicki threw a complete game shut-out against the Yankees in the first ever Subway Series game. While the Mets were overmatched in terms of talent in that three game series, Bobby V had that group ready to play, and they very nearly took the three game set from the Yankees.
With the Mets having overachieved, the front office led by General Manager Steve Phillips gave his manager some reinforcements. The team would acquire Al Leiter and Dennis Cook from the Marlins. The Mets would also add Japanese pitcher Masato Yoshii from Japan. However, this team was struggling due to Hundley’s elbow injury and Bernard Gilkey and Carlos Baerga having yet another disappointing season. Bobby V and the Mets kept the team above .500 and competitive long enough to allow the front office to make the bold move to add Mike Piazza.
From there, the Mets took off, and they would actually be in the thick of the Wild Card race. They were in it despite the Hundley LF experiment not working. They were in it despite getting nothing offensively from left field and their middle infield. They were in it despite the fact the Mets effectively had a three man bullpen. The latter (I’m looking at you Mel Rojas) coupled with the Braves dominance of the Mets led to a late season collapse and the team barely missing out on the Wild Card.
The Mets re-loaded in 1999 with Rickey Henderson, Robin Ventura, Roger Cedeno, Armando Benitez, and Orel Hershiser (no, Bobby Bonilla is not getting lumped in here). Things do not initially go as planned. After blowing a late lead, the Yankees beat the Mets, and the Mets found themselves a game under .500. Phillips responded by firing almost all of Bobby V’s coaching staff.
The Mets and Bobby V responded by becoming the hottest team in baseball. From that point forward, the Mets were 70-37. At points during the season, they even held onto first place for a few days. The Mets were helped by Bobby V being judicious with Henderson’s playing time to help keep him fresh. Like in year’s past, Bobby V moved on from a veteran not performing to give Cedeno a chance to play everyday, and he was rewarded. Again, like in previous seasons, Bobby V had to handle a less than stellar starting rotation.
In what was a fun and tumultuous season, the Mets won 97 games. The team nearly avoided disaster again by forcing a one game playoff against the Reds for the Wild Card. Not only did the Mets take that game, but they upset the Diamondbacks in the NLDS. The NLDS performance is all the more impressive when you consider Piazza was forced to miss the last two games due to injury. In the NLCS, they just met a Braves team that had their number for the past three seasons. Still, even with the Braves jumping all over the Mets and getting a 3-0 series lead, we saw the Mets fight back.
In Game 4, it was an eighth inning two run go-ahead Olerud RBI single off John Rocker. In Game 5, it was a 15 inning game that was waiting for the other team to blink first. While, the Mets blinked in the top of the 15th with a Keith Lockhart RBI triple, the Mets responded in the bottom of the 15th with Ventura’s Grand Slam single to send the series back to Atlanta. The Mets would be ever so close in Game 6. They fought back from a 5-0 and 7-3 deficit. Unforutnately, neither John Franco nor Benitez could hold a lead to force a Game 7. Then Kenny Rogers couldn’t navigate his way around a lead-off double and bases loaded one out situation in the 11th.
In 2000, Bobby V finally got the rotation he needed with the trade acquiring Mike Hampton and the emergence of Glendon Rusch. However, even with the much improved rotation, it still was not an easy year for the Mets. It rarely ever was during Bobby V’s tenure.
First, the Mets had to deal with the Henderson and Darryl Hamilton situations. Henderson became a malcontent that wanted a new contract. Hamilton lost his starting job due to a toe injury and had become a part time player. The result was the complete transformation of the outfield with Benny Agbayani and Jay Payton becoming everyday players. In the infield, the Mets lost Olerud to free agency and had to convert free agent third baseman Todd Zeile into a first baseman. Additionally, the Mets lost Gold Glove shortstop Rey Ordonez to injury leading the team to have to rely on Melvin Mora as their shortstop for much of the season. In what was perhaps Bobby V’s finest managing job with the Mets, the team made the postseason for the second straight year. It was the first time in Mets history they had gone to consecutive playoff games.
In the postseason, the team showed the same toughness and grit as they had in prior years. In the first game of the NLDS, they overcame an injury to Derek Bell and saw Timo Perez become a folk hero. The Mets outlasted the Giants in Game 2 despite a Benitez blown save. In Game 3, Agbayani hit a walk-off homer in the 13th, and Game 4 saw the Jones one-hitter. With the Mets not having to face the Braves in the NLCS, they steamrolled through the Cardinals en route to their first World Series since 1986. While the team never gave in, the balls did not bounce in their favor. That was no more apparent than when Zeile’s fly ball hit the top of the left field wall and bounced back into play.
From there, Phillips lost his magic touch. The team started to get old in 2001, and by 2002, everything fell apart. After what was his first season under .500 with the Mets, Bobby V was fired after the 2002 season. With one exception, it was the end of a forgettable and disappointing two seasons for the Mets.
One thing that cannot be lost with the 2001 season was how the Mets dealt with the aftermath of 9/11. Every player did their part. So did their manager. After 9/11 happened, Bobby V was a visible face of the Mets franchise visiting firehouses and helping relief aid at Shea Stadium. When it was time to return to playing games, he was able to get his players in a mindset to play baseball games. That is no small feat when your captain was a local guy who lost a friend on 9/11. Also, while it was the players who spearheaded wearing the First Responders’ caps, it was their manager who stood by their side and encouraged them to wear them despite requests to take them off from the Commissioner’s Office.
Through the roller coaster ride that was the 1,003 games of the Bobby V Era, the Mets were 536-437. During that span, Bobby V managed the second most games in Mets history while earning the second most wins in Mets history. His .534 winning percentage is the third best in Mets history just behind Johnson and Willie Randolph. In all but his final season as Mets manager, the Mets either met or exceed their expected (Pythagorean) record.
Bobby V stands as just one of two managers to go to consecutive postseasons. His 13 postseason wins are the most by any manager in Mets history. He’s the only Mets manager to win a postseason series in consecutive postseasons. He’s managed in more postseason series than any other Mets manager.
Overall, Bobby V is an important part of Mets history. Out of all the managers in Mets history, it is fair to say the Bobby V consistently did more with the talent given to him by his front office. For some, he is the best manager in Mets history. Most will certainly agree he is at least the third best manager in Mets history. For all of this, and how he represented the Mets organization during 9/11 and the aftermath, Bobby V should be inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame.
Recent reports indicate that President Elect Donald Trump is considering Bobby Valentine as the United States Ambassador to Japan. If Valentine is indeed selected as the Ambassador to Japan, it would be his second biggest accomplishment. Naturally, his biggest accomplishment was leading the 2000 Mets not only to the postseason, but to the National League Pennant.
As luck would have it, the New York Mets would begin the season in Japan. Valentine’s Opening Day outfield was Rickey Henderson–Darryl Hamilton–Derek Bell. Of that group, only Bell would play in a postseason game for the Mets, and he would be injured in Game One of the NLDS. Henderson would prove to be a malcontent that wanted a new contract, and ultimately, he would be released in May. Hamilton would lose his job in April after suffering a toe injury. This led to the Mets outfield being Benny Agbayani–Jay Payton-Bell for most of the season.
The one thing Agbayani could do was hit. In 2000, he hit .289/.391/.477 with 15 homers and 60 RBI in 119 games. However, he was a terrible fielder who did this in the field during a game that season:
For his part, Payton was one of the heralded players out of Georgia Tech that included Jason Varitek and Nomar Garciaparra. While Payton was once considered on par with them, if not better. As a prospect, Payton’s star would diminish a bit, but he would still become a major league player. In his 2000 rookie season, Payton relatively struggled at the plate hitting .291/.331/.447 with 17 homers and 62 RBI in 149 games.
There was more than that. Valentine also had to help make Todd Zeile an effective first baseman after he spent most of his career as a third baseman. Zeile was of course signed to replace John Olerud, who departed in free agency. While Zeile had a nice season hitting .268/.356/.467 with 22 homers and 79 RBI, his production fell far short of Olerud’s .298/.427/.463, 19 homer run, 96 RBI season. When you consider the drop off defensively from the Gold Glover Olerud to the quickly adapting Zeile, the team was noticeably worse at first base.
The team was also worse at shortstop. While Rey Ordonez never hit for much, he was a Gold Glover at shortstop. The Mets would miss that defense after he broke his left arm trying to get a tag down in May. This led to the Mets trying to get by with Melvin Mora at shortstop, who struggled at the plate and in the field. This led to the ill advised trade for Mike Bordick who would hit .260/.321/.365 in his 56 games as a Met.
In reality, this was all part of a Mets team that was considerably weaker than the 1999 version. Pat Mahomes was nowhere near as good as he was in 1999. In place of well established veterans like Orel Hershiser and Kenny Rogers in the rotation, the Mets had Glendon Rusch and the return of Bobby Jones. However, it should be noted the rotation was one area the Mets were better.
Whereas the 1999 Mets were an offensive juggernaut with a strong bullpen, the 2000 Mets were built on starting pitching. Al Leiter had an improved season making him 1A behind the ace the Mets acquired in the offseason, Mike Hampton. With Rusch and Jones outperforming their expectations, and quite possibly what their rotation counterparts did in 1999, the rotation was one area the Mets were improved.
The rotation along with two terrific players in Mike Piazza and Edgardo Alfonzo, Valentine was able to lead the Mets to the World Series. Valentine was able to do that despite a diminished offense, vastly diminished defense, an overall less talented roster, and some drama (which usually follows Valentine wherever he goes). It was a team that outperformed their Pythagorean win-loss record by six games. It was a team that outperformed expectations.
Making it to the 2000 World Series should be considered Valentine’s biggest accomplishment. That Mets team really had no business making it to the postseason let alone the World Series. It is why that should stand as Valentine’s biggest accomplishment even if he were to be named as President Trump’s choice to be the Ambassador to Japan.
Back in 2014, Jaime Garcia had surgery to have a rib removed in order to alleviate his thoracic outlet syndrome. He came back about a year after the surgery was performed, and he had a strong 2015 season going 10-6 with a 2.43 ERA and a 1.049 WHIP in 20 starts. So far this year, he has struggled a bit with a 7-6 record with a 3.98 ERA and a 1.363 WHIP in 19 starts. On the whole, it would be fair to say Garcia is a success story for players who have had surgery to alleviate their thoracic outlet syndrome.
His former Cardinals teammate, Chris Carpenter, was not as lucky. He would have the surgery in 2012, and he would never be able to return. Now, there are a world of differences between Garcia and Carpenter, and this is probably too simplistic a conclusion, but overall the Cardinals franchise has had a 50% success rate in pitchers returning from thoracic outlet syndrome surgery.
Fact of the matter is, we still don’t know enough to know how a pitcher will return from the surgery. For every Kenny Rogers, there is a Jeremy Bonderman. There is the Garcias and the Matt Harrisons of the world who have returned to initially pitch well after the surgery only to see their future performance regress. Overall, there are a lot of question marks about not only how successful the surgery is in restoring a pitcher to full health, but also what the lasting effects of the surgery is. This is the point where Matt Harvey is right now.
Watching the game from my hospital bed. One less rib, but the road to recovery has begun ? ? pic.twitter.com/QDTLagN63c
— Matt Harvey (@MattHarvey33) July 20, 2016
With Harvey having the surgery, he missed the remainder of the 2016 season, but really he missed more. Harvey wasn’t right throughout the 2016 season. Accordingly, the Mets missed out on a real chance to challenge for the division, and for his part, Harvey missed out on his chance to build off of a strong 2015 season that culminated in his great Game 5 World Series start. While the surgery was successful, and Harvey has been reportedly been long tossing and looks ready to start the 2017 season. What Harvey will be in 2017 still remains a mystery.
In 2013, Harvey helped make the Mets a much more relevant franchise being a Cy Young contender and staring the All Star Game before his succumbing to a UCL tear requiring Tommy John surgery. Last year, Harvey was part of a starting rotation that led the Mets to not only winning the National League East, but also the pennant. The Mets are a better team with him in the rotation, and they will be a better team going forward with a healthy Harvey in the fold. The question is not only if he will be healthy, but also for how long will he be effective? These are the questions hanging over the heads of both Harvey and the Mets organization.
The Mets could let Harvey work his way back from the surgery and hopefully return to form ext year when he will be 28 years old. From there, they could let him pitch for a year and a half before determining whether they want to open the pocketbooks to make Harvey the pitcher they want to extend. It might be the prudent way to go. However, it could also prove to be the expensive route as well.
Realistically speaking, there may be no better opportunity for the Mets to discuss an extension with Harvey. Given his previous comments on the matter and the uncertainty of his future, Harvey may be more open to a contract extension now than he ever was or will ever be. Scott Boras may not prove to be an impediment as evidenced by the Stephen Strasburg extension with the Washington Nationals. There may be an opportunity here.
As we have seen, the strength of this Mets team is pitching. When healthy, the rotation of Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Steven Matz helps overcome the Mets offensive issues. This is a rotation that helped the Mets go to the World Series last year. However, this is a rotation that may ultimately need to be broken up as arbitration and free agency may prove too costly to keep them all together. If you make a move on Harvey now, you would most likely get him at a discount thereby allowing you to allocate that money towards a deGrom or a Syndergaard. With that in mind, the Mets may be best suited to rolling the dice and making a move to keep Harvey for the long term.