R.A. Dickey

Best Mets Of All-Time: No. 45 Tug McGraw

Even though John Franco had one of the better Mets careers, and he would wear the number 45, when it came down to all he had accomplished with the Mets, he mostly did it while wearing the number 31. Instead, the best player to wear the number 45 with the Mets was the man Franco honored when he switched to the number – Tug McGraw.

McGraw was a larger than life personality, and he was a beloved Mets closer who was a part of the 1969 World Series and 1973 pennant winning Mets teams. What is really interesting with McGraw is that his first big moment with the Mets came with him as a starter.

Before August 36, 1965, the Mets had never beaten Sandy Koufax. Really, Koufax embarrassed the Mets earlier in their history with a no-hitter and a 13-0 record. However, on this one day, the rookie McGraw would out-pitch the Hall of Famer to help the Mets beat Koufax for the first time. While McGraw would win this game, he just was not a starter.

After three years of being in and out of the rotation, McGraw served in the Marines Reserves, dealt with some arm injuries, and he would learn the screwball. That screwball is the first major thing which would change his career. The other was Gil Hodges moving McGraw into the bullpen in 1969.

McGraw was an important part of that Mets bullpen which went from laughingstock to World Series champions. In that 1969 season, McGraw was 9-3 with 12 saves, a 2.24 ERA, and 1.335 WHIP. Despite his great regular season, the Mets mostly rode with Ron Taylor in the postseason.

In fact, McGraw would only make one appearance that postseason. After Jerry Koosman couldn’t get out of the fifth in Game 2 of the NLCS, Ron Taylor pitched 1.1 innings to help get the Mets back in front. For the final three innings, it was McGraw. In those three innings, he shut down the Braves offense, and he would become the first Mets left-handed reliever to earn a postseason save.

Over the next few years McGraw would pitch well while splitting closing duties. While 1969 had served as his breakout season, 1971 would be where he showed he was ready to take his game to another level. During that 1971 season, McGraw was 11-4 with eight saves, a 1.70 ERA, and a 1.027.

In 1972, everything changed for the Mets. On the eve of the season, Hodges died from a heart attack putting Yogi Berra in charge as the Mets manager. Whereas McGraw was the first manager who believed in McGraw as a reliever, it was Berra who truly envisioned him as a closer. By and large, McGraw was the closer for that team, and he responded.

In 1972, McGraw set the Mets all-time record with 27 saves. That record would stand until 1984 when Jesse Orosco broke it. As it stands, it is still in the top 20 in Mets history. With McGraw repeating his 1.70 ERA, amassing the 27 saves, and having an 8-6 record, he would be an All-Star for the first only time as a member of the Mets. In that game, McGraw would pick up the win.

What is interesting for McGraw is he is mostly known for the 1973 season despite it being one of the worst of his Mets career, at least in his career as a Mets reliever. Through July 9th, McGraw had a 6.20 ERA with Berra trying to find ways to get McGraw back on track. One thing McGraw did on his own was to meet with a motivational speaker who kept telling him to believe in himself.

That set the stage for M.Donald Grant’s team pep talk. Grant’s message the front office still believed in a Mets team who was 11 games under .500 led McGraw to seemingly sarcastically start chanting, “Ya Gotta Believe!” much to the amusement of his teammates. For his part, Grant wasn’t so amused, and told McGraw he better start pitching better.

McGraw did, and he was a key component in the Mets turnaround. From July 11 until the end of the season, McGraw was 5-2 with 14 saves, a 2.21 ERA, and a 1.067 WHIP. In what is unheard of in today’s game, McGraw made 1o separate appearances of over three innings. That included one six inning and one 5.2 inning outing. He would also be on the mound when the Mets clinched the division:

With that, McGraw would get the chance to be an impactful reliever in the postseason. In that postseason, McGraw was as dominant as we have ever seen a Mets reliever in a postseason. Perhaps, it was the best postseason we have ever seen a Mets reliever have.

Between the NLCS and World Series, McGraw was 1-0 with two saves and a 1.93 ERA. That included his no allowing a run five NLCS innings and his earning a save in the Mets first ever winner-take-all game. That set him up to finally be able to pitch in the World Series.

McGraw would pitch in five of the seven games. While he would blow his first ever World Series save chance in Game 2, he would stay in the game and pitch six innings total as he and the Mets picked up the win in 12 innings. He would convert his next and last save chance with 2.2 scoreless innings in Game 5. Unfortunately, the Mets were not able to win that fourth and final game, and they would lose their first ever postseason series.

While McGraw was an emotional leader who gave birth to the franchise rallying cry of “Ya Gotta Believe!” he was not a Met for long. In 1974, he would struggle, and the Mets would put him in a variety of roles. After the season, the Mets traded him to the Phillies, and it was discovered he had shoulder issues. As those shoulder issues resolved, the Phillies had a great reliever who would be on the mound as they won their first World Series.

Among Mets relievers, McGraw has the third most wins and sixth most saves. While he is fifth in appearances, he is second in innings. Really, he was the first big time reliever in team history, and he is the best Mets player to ever wear the number 45.

Previous

1.Mookie Wilson
2.Mackey Sasser
3. Curtis Granderson
4. Lenny Dykstra
5. David Wright
6. Wally Backman
7. Jose Reyes
8. Gary Carter

9. Todd Hundley
10. Rey Ordonez
11. Wayne Garrett
12. John Stearns

13. Edgardo Alfonzo
14. Gil Hodges
15. Carlos Beltran

16. Dwight Gooden
17. Keith Hernandez
18. Darryl Strawberry

19. Bob Ojeda
20. Howard Johnson
21. Cleon Jones
22. Al Leiter
23. Bernard Gilkey
24. Art Shamsky

25. Pedro Feliciano
26. Terry Leach
27. Jeurys Familia
28. Daniel Murphy

29. Frank Viola
30. Michael Conforto
31. Mike Piazza

32. Jon Matlack
33. Matt Harvey

34. Noah Syndergaard
35. Rick Reed
36. Jerry Koosman
37. Casey Stengel
38. Skip Lockwood
39. Gary Gentry
40. Bartolo Colon
41. Tom Seaver

42. Ron Taylor
43. R.A. Dickey
44. David Cone

Best Mets Of All Time: No. 44 David Cone

While many remember him for wearing number 17 in honor of Keith Hernandez, and the last we saw of him was wearing Dwight Gooden‘s number 16, for most of his Mets career, David Cone wore the number 44.

That was the number Cone was wearing in 1988 when he emerged as the big time pitcher he would be known as throughout his Major League career. Despite starting the year in the bullpen, he would break through into the starting rotation by May, and he would immediately stake his claim to a rotation spot by pitching a complete game shutout against the Braves.

That was just the start of what was a great year for Cone. Cone would jump out of the gate winning his first seven starts. When he lost his first game, it would only be one of three games he lost on the entire year. That seven game winning streak wasn’t his best streak of the year. In fact, Cone would win his final eight games of that 1988 season. With that, Cone would become the first ever Mets pitcher to win 20 games his first full season in the rotation.

In almost any other year, this would have been good enough for Cone to win the Cy Young. In that 1988 season, he had the best winning percentage, and he had the second best ERA in the majors. He had the top ERA out of anyone who pitched over 200 innings. Ultimately, he was in the top 5 to 10 in nearly every pitching category, but he really had no chance with Orel Hershiser‘s record setting 1988 season.

It is really difficult to figure out a true highlight from that season. After all, he had two separate 10 inning complete games. He struck out 10+ seven different times. That was partially the result of that laredo slider. Ultimately, in that 1988 season, we really learned how special a pitcher Cone would be.

The 1988 Mets would win the division for the second time in three years. Cone would take it on the chin in Game 2 after some bold talk, but he would soon step up big time. In Game 3, after a huge five run eighth, Cone entered the game for Randy Myers to close out that victory giving the Mets a then 2-1 series lead.

When Cone took the mound again in Game 6, the Mets were on the verge of elimination. He would not let that happen with a gutty complete game victory evening up the series. This was really the first truly great postseason start which would one day become the hallmark of his career.

The shame for Cone was this was his only chance to pitch for the Mets in the postseason. That great Mets team would fall apart due to a mixture of age, off the field problems, and some really ill-advised transactions. Despite the Mets falling apart over the years, Cone would remain great.

Over that time frame, much like in 1988, Gooden would be the ace in name, but by production, Cone was the true ace of those Mets staffs.

During his time with the Mets, he was a real fan favorite with the Coneheads there to greet his every start. Cone was there with great outings racking up big strikeout totals, and on more than one occasion, he would with becoming the first Mets pitcher to pitch a no-hitter. The closest he got was April 28, 1992 when a Benny Distefano swinging bunt with one out in the eighth refused to roll foul.

One of the reasons Cone was able to flirt with no hitters like this was he was so difficult to hit. In five of his first six seasons with the Mets, he struck out over 200 batters. In 1990 and 1991, he led the league in strikeouts. In fact, from 1988 – 1992, Cone had struck out more batters than any other National League pitcher.

It was more than just the strikeouts for Cone. He also had the most shutouts over that time frame while pitching the third most innings. He was third overall in FIP trailing just Gooden and Jose Rijo. His WAR was the third best in all of baseball.

To put it in perspective, he trailed just Roger Clemens and Greg Maddux, and he was ahead of Nolan Ryan. If not for Clemens cheating, those three pitchers would be in the Hall of Fame. Really, when you look at it, during his time with the Mets, Cone was a Hall of Fame caliber pitcher. Somehow, despite that, he was just an All-Star twice and received Cy Young votes just once in his Mets career.

Really, he did things only Hall of Fame caliber pitchers could do like tying the National League single game strike out record on the final game of the 1991 season:

While that mark would later fall, at the time, that tied him with Tom Seaver for the most by any National League pitcher. To this day, it remains a Mets record. That should put Cone’s Mets career in perspective. He did the things only Seaver could do. As it stands, Cone was a truly great Mets pitcher.

He’s only one of nine Mets pitchers to win 20 in a season. By WAR, he is the ninth best pitcher in team history. By FIP, he is the sixth best. He is also eighth all-time in wins, third in K/9, 10th in innings pitched, sixth in strikeouts, seventh in complete games, and fifth in shutouts.

One special thing Cone did do was return to the Mets. Due to injuries which had taken their toll on his arm and health, he missed the 2002 season. The Mets gave him a shot in 2003, and in his first start of that season, he shut out the Montreal Expos for five innings for the last win of his Major League career.

Even with Cone having a 17 year career taking him to both New York teams, Toronto, Kansas City, and Boston, Cone’s first and last win of his career would come while wearing a Mets uniform. Over that time, he’d wear many numbers, but in the end, he would ultimately become the best Mets player to ever wear the number 44.

Previous

1.Mookie Wilson
2.Mackey Sasser
3. Curtis Granderson
4. Lenny Dykstra
5. David Wright
6. Wally Backman
7. Jose Reyes
8. Gary Carter

9. Todd Hundley
10. Rey Ordonez
11. Wayne Garrett
12. John Stearns

13. Edgardo Alfonzo
14. Gil Hodges
15. Carlos Beltran

16. Dwight Gooden
17. Keith Hernandez
18. Darryl Strawberry

19. Bob Ojeda
20. Howard Johnson
21. Cleon Jones
22. Al Leiter
23. Bernard Gilkey
24. Art Shamsky

25. Pedro Feliciano
26. Terry Leach
27. Jeurys Familia
28. Daniel Murphy

29. Frank Viola
30. Michael Conforto
31. Mike Piazza

32. Jon Matlack
33. Matt Harvey

34. Noah Syndergaard
35. Rick Reed
36. Jerry Koosman
37. Casey Stengel
38. Skip Lockwood
39. Gary Gentry
40. Bartolo Colon
41. Tom Seaver

42. Ron Taylor
43. R.A. Dickey

Best Mets Of All-Time: No. 43 R.A. Dickey

When signing players to minor league deals, it is really a no risk proposition. Whether it is a veteran player on his last legs or a journeyman just seeking an opportunity, when done right, the player gets a chance to prove themselves. This is the story of R.A. Dickey with the New York Mets.

Dickey was one time first round pick of the Texas Rangers who had his prospective bonus slashed considerably when it was discovered he was born without a UCL in his right elbow. He would eventually make it to the majors, but he struggled mightily because he just didn’t have the stuff to succeed. As a result, he had made the attempt to convert to being a knuckleball pitcher.

For any pitcher that is a difficult conversion with many pitchers taking years to accomplish the task. Many don’t make it. For Dickey, he didn’t succeed enough to stick with the Rangers, Mariners, or Twins organization. Heading into the 2010 season, the best he could do was grab a minor league deal with the Mets. It proved to be the best thing for both sides.

By that point, Dickey had perfected throwing his knuckleball. It was a different one than the ones we had see with knuckleball pitchers of old. Dickey had a hard knuckleball which danced a little less, and he could control it more. Still, Dickey also had that fluttery one which many became accustomed. The ability to mix up that pitch on speed and locations made him a unique and difficult to hit pitcher.

In 2010, he quickly made his Mets debut, and he would stick in the rotation. In his first start, he picked up a no decision despite allowing just two earned over six innings. After that, he would win his first six decisions as a pitcher for the Mets. Overall, it was a great debut which was highlighted by his one hitting the Phillies in a complete game shutout.

The 2010 season was where he proved he deserved a chance. The 2011 season was where he proved he belonged. In that season, he had a losing record which reflected how bad the Mets were. However, his 112 ERA+ was reflective of his being a good pitcher. In 2012, he would become a great pitcher.

In 2012, Dickey would shock everyone not only by being an All-Star for the first time in his career, but the 37 year old would win the Cy Young Award over Clayton Kershaw. While it may seem strange to believe Dickey could be better than Kershaw, he was. In that 2012 season, he led the league in starts, complete games, shutouts, nnings, and strikeouts. He would also have a number of highlights like becoming the first ever Major League pitcher to record back-to-back one hitters with 10+ strikeouts:

Moreover, Dickey would become the first Mets pitcher to win 20 games since Frank Viola did it in 1990. He was the first Mets right-handed pitcher to accomplish the feat since David Cone did it in 1988. He was the first pitcher to have 20 wins with a sub .500 team since Roger Clemens did it in 1997 with the Toronto Blue Jays. He was the first knuckleball pitcher to accomplish the feat since Joe Niekro in 1980. It was that special a season.

That 20th win was his penultimate start with the Mets. After that, the rebuilding Mets would trade him to the Toronto Blue Jays for a package which included Travis d’Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard. To that end, even though he didn’t get to pitch for a winner with the Mets, he would help the team build their next winner.

Overall, Dickey joins Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden, and Jacob deGrom as the only Mets pitchers to win a Cy Young. He is fourth all-time in Mets history with a 2.95 ERA, and he has the fifth best WHIP. By ERA+, he is the third best starter of all-time. Ultimately, he is the Mets best knuckleball pitcher and best player to ever wear the number 43.

Previous

1.Mookie Wilson
2.Mackey Sasser
3. Curtis Granderson
4. Lenny Dykstra
5. David Wright
6. Wally Backman
7. Jose Reyes
8. Gary Carter

9. Todd Hundley
10. Rey Ordonez
11. Wayne Garrett
12. John Stearns

13. Edgardo Alfonzo
14. Gil Hodges
15. Carlos Beltran

16. Dwight Gooden
17. Keith Hernandez
18. Darryl Strawberry

19. Bob Ojeda
20. Howard Johnson
21. Cleon Jones
22. Al Leiter
23. Bernard Gilkey
24. Art Shamsky

25. Pedro Feliciano
26. Terry Leach
27. Jeurys Familia
28. Daniel Murphy

29. Frank Viola
30. Michael Conforto
31. Mike Piazza

32. Jon Matlack
33. Matt Harvey

34. Noah Syndergaard
35. Rick Reed
36. Jerry Koosman
37. Casey Stengel
38. Skip Lockwood
39. Gary Gentry
40. Bartolo Colon
41. Tom Seaver

42. Ron Taylor

Citi Bracket: (2) Jacob deGrom vs. (15) R.A. Dickey

(2) Jacob deGrom – 2014 Rookie of the Year winner. Two time All-Star who would’ve been three had he not stepped aside for Bartolo Colon in 2016. Struck out three batters on 10 pitches in 2015 All-Star Game. Had phenomenal postseason start in Game 1 of 2015 NLDS. Followed that up with gutsy win in Game 5. Was 3-1 with a 2.88 ERA in the 2015 postseason helping the Mets win the pennant. First ever Mets pitcher to win back-to-back Cy Young awards. Only pitcher in MLB history to win the Rookie of the Year and back-to-back Cy Youngs. Joins Tom Seaver and Justin Verlander as the only pitchers in MLB history to have a Rookie of the Year and two Cy Youngs. Arguably the second best starter in Mets history.

(15) R.A. Dickey – Best minor league deal in Mets history. Earned way into rotation with one hit shut out of Phillies in 2010. Shocked the baseball world in 2012. Became the first pitcher in Major League history to post back-to-back one hitters with 10+ strikeouts. Was an All-Star, and he surprisingly beat out Clayton Kershaw for the Cy Young. Currently is the last Mets pitcher to win 20 games in a season. Was traded to the Blue Jays in a deal which changed the course of the franchise leading to the 2015 pennant.

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Best Mets Of All Time: No. 34 Noah Syndergaard

It’s rare a team can trade the reigning Cy Young Award winner and make the trade look like an absolute steal. However, that is what happened when the Mets traded R.A. Dickey to the Toronto Blue Jays for a package which included Noah Syndergaard.

After the December 2012 trade, Syndergaard would have a somewhat interesting path to the majors. It included him trying to push his way to the majors partially to get away from the environment in Triple-A Las Vegas. He would also be ambushed by David Wright and Bobby Parnell in Spring Training with the duo throwing out his lunch. That strange odyssey led to him being truly ready in 2015.

The Mets first called him up in May when Dillon Gee hit the disabled list. Syndergaard would have a very impressive start to his Major League career. In his fourth career start, he hit his first Major League homer. In August, he would be named the National League Pitcher of the Week. He’d set a Major League record by becoming the first rookie since 1900 to have consecutive starts with nine strikeouts and no walks. This was a pitcher not only ready to debut; this was a pitcher ready for the biggest of stages – New York and the postseason.

He pitched well in his first postseason start, Game 2 of the NLDS, but he would get tagged with the loss partially because what should’ve been an inning ending double play was a blown call by second base umpire Chris Guccione when Chase Utley tackled and broke Ruben Tejada‘s leg. Syndergaard would get his revenge twice for this. The first time was his relief appearance in Game 5:

That relief appearance helped propel the Mets to the NLCS. Syndergaard would pitch again in Game 2 of the NLCS helping the Mets get a 2-0 series lead on the Cubs after striking out nine Cubs in 5.2 innings. He would not take the mound again until Game 3 of the World Series. With the Mets down 2-0, he would send a message to the Royals that he was 6’6″ away.”

The Mets would win that game and get back in the series. With that win, Syndergaard would become the first ever pitcher to win a World Series game at Citi Field. Unfortunately, he never got to take the mound again in what should’ve been an epic Game 7.

Instead, he took the mound in Kansas City for the second game of the 2016 season. In that game, he unleashed a wicked slider which would be a key to his having a great year, one which he was named an All Star for the first time in his career. Over his first two starts of the season, he tied a club record with Pedro Martinez and Dwight Gooden for the most strikeouts over the first two starts of the season (21).

In that season, Syndergaard developed not only that slider but also a chemistry with Rene Rivera. He would have a number of great games including his two home run game against the Dodgers.

That season, he would also get tossed from a game trying to exact revenge against Utley by throwing behind him. As if that moment was not iconic enough for Mets fans, it created the infamous Terry Collins rant video.

In that season, Syndergaard would lead the league in FIP and HR/9, and he would be second in the majors in pitcher WAR and third in ERA and ERA+. For some reason, he would only finish eighth in the Cy Young voting that year. Despite the voting, one thing was clear – Syndergaard had arrived on the scene as a true ace. The was the type of ace you wanted to give the ball to in a winner-take-all game, which is what the Mets did.

In the Mets first National League Wild Card Game, Syndergaard was phenomenal. Over seven innings, he actually out-pitched Madison Bumgarner, the greatest big game pitcher of his generation. Unfortunately, the Mets were not able to give him the support he needed, and ultimately, Jeurys Familia would allow a three run homer, and the Mets would be eliminated from the postseason.

One interesting fact about Syndergaard is he joined Al Leiter and John Franco as just the only Mets pitchers to pitch in elimination games in consecutive postseasons. Familia would join him in that feat as well.

After 2016, Syndergaard has had difficulty taking the leap we expected. In 2017, he had a torn lat, and as we recently discovered, in addition to the bone spurs in his elbow, he had a torn UCL. Despite the injuries, Syndergaard pitched like an ace level pitcher. For example, in 2019, he was 18th in the Majors in FIP, and he had the second best hard hit rate.

In fact, since his debut in 2015, Syndergaard has the 10th best WAR and FIP in the majors. During that time frame, he has also been etching his name onto the Mets record books. In fact, despite all the hand wringing some commentators have about his ability to strike people out, he has the second best K/9 in team history. He has also demonstrated exceptional control with the fourth best K/BB in team history.

In the end, he has the fourth best FIP in team history. He has also established himself as a big game pitcher who you can trust to take the ball with everything on the line. He has already established himself as the best Mets player to ever wear the number 34.

Previous

1.Mookie Wilson
2.Mackey Sasser
3. Curtis Granderson
4. Lenny Dykstra
5. David Wright
6. Wally Backman
7. Jose Reyes
8. Gary Carter

9. Todd Hundley
10. Rey Ordonez
11. Wayne Garrett
12. John Stearns

13. Edgardo Alfonzo
14. Gil Hodges
15. Carlos Beltran

16. Dwight Gooden
17. Keith Hernandez
18. Darryl Strawberry

19. Bob Ojeda
20. Howard Johnson
21. Cleon Jones
22. Al Leiter
23. Bernard Gilkey
24. Art Shamsky

25. Pedro Feliciano
26. Terry Leach
27. Jeurys Familia
28. Daniel Murphy

29. Frank Viola
30. Michael Conforto
31. Mike Piazza

32. Jon Matlack
33. Matt Harvey

Best Mets Of All Time: No. 29 Frank Viola

Believe it or not, the number 29 is tied for the second most chosen uniform among Mets players. Currently, it is worn by Brad Brach, and there has been a player wearing it every year, sometimes multiple players in a year, every year since Alex Trevino and Tom Gorman wore it in 1978.

This is a number which probably should have been synonymous with Ken Singleton, but the Mets traded him far too soon. When you look at the history of the number, three names stand above the rest.

There is Steve Trachsel, who was a human rain delay. He also had some highlights like pitching two one hitters in the 2003 season and being the winning pitcher in the 2006 NL East clincher. He should also be forever commended for being willing to take a demotion to 2001 to figure things out.

There was also Dave Magadan who had a great game himself in the 1986 clincher, and he nearly won the 1990 batting title. He was also in the top 10 in OBP and OPS.

However, when you look at the number 29, there is only one Mets player who was truly great wearing that number – Frank Viola.

In 1989, the Long Island native and St. John’s alum came home to pitch for his hometown New York Mets, the team he rooted for as a child. That 1989 season was a difficult one for him in Minnesota and New York. Entering the 1990 season, he switched his number from 26 and 29, and he was once again the pitcher who was the 1987 World Series MVP.

In 1990, Viola had a great All Star year where he had the second most wins in the National League. In fact, with him winning 20 games that season, he is the last Mets left-handed pitcher to win 20 in a season. The only other Mets pitcher to win 20 in a season since him was R.A. Dickey in his 2012 Cy Young award winning season.

He’d lead the league in starts and innings pitched that season. He’d also have the second highest WAR in the league among pitchers, and he would finish third in the Cy Young voting. He would only trail teammates Dwight Gooden and David Cone in FIP.

Although the win/loss record didn’t show it, Viola backed up his 1990 season with another All-Star campaign in 1991. In making that second All Star Game, Viola joined Jerry Koosman, Jon Matlack, and Sid Fernandez as Mets left-handed starters who have gone to multiple All Star games. Since Viola went to back-to-back All Star Games, no other Mets starting pitcher has accomplished that feat.

In a little over two seasons with the Mets, Viola was 38-32 with a 3.31 ERA with a 110 ERA+ and a 3.26 FIP amassing a 9.8 WAR. In addition to his time spent on the mound, he returned to the Mets as a minor league pitching coach who helped build that 2015 staff. That included his picking up a dejected deGrom by telling him he wanted to be there for deGrom’s Major League debut.

In all, Viola was not with the Mets long as a player, but he did things rarely done in team history, and some of his feats have not been repeated. He was a very good pitcher in his brief Mets tenure, and he has had a profound impact on the franchise both as a pitcher and a pitching coach. All told, that is why he is the choice for the best Mets player to wear the number 29.

Previous

1.Mookie Wilson
2.Mackey Sasser
3. Curtis Granderson
4. Lenny Dykstra
5. David Wright
6. Wally Backman
7. Jose Reyes
8. Gary Carter

9. Todd Hundley
10. Rey Ordonez
11. Wayne Garrett
12. John Stearns

13. Edgardo Alfonzo
14. Gil Hodges
15. Carlos Beltran

16. Dwight Gooden
17. Keith Hernandez
18. Darryl Strawberry

19. Bob Ojeda
20. Howard Johnson
21. Cleon Jones
22. Al Leiter
23. Bernard Gilkey
24. Art Shamsky

25. Pedro Feliciano
26. Terry Leach
27. Jeurys Familia
28. Daniel Murphy

Simply Amazin Podcast Appearance (Preparing For The Universal DH)

I had the honor and privilege of joining Tim Ryder on the Simply Amazin Podcast. During the podcast, I referenced my Kobe, DH, and Sign Stealing articles.

The following people were mentioned: Curtis Granderson, J.D. Davis, Seth Lugo, Jake Marisnick, Marcus Stroman, Noah Syndergaard, Jeremy Hefner, Luis Rojas, Carlos Beltran, Mickey Callaway, Phil Regan, Jeremy Accardo, Steven Matz, Dellin Betances, Edwin Diaz, Justin Wilson, Jeurys Familia, Mo Vaughn, Jared Kelenic, Justin Dunn, Andres Gimenez, Mark Vientos, Rick Porcello, Jason Vargas, Bartolo Colon, R.A. Dickey, Asdrubal Cabrera, Devin Mesoraco, and others.

Please listen.

Mets Black Friday Deals

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.

If Giants and Jets Can Trade, Why Not Mets and Yankees?

Yesterday, the New York Jets traded Defensive Lineman Leonard Williams to the New York Giants for a 2020 third round draft pick and a conditional 2021 fifth round draft pick. This is a shocking trade between teams who don’t just share a city but a building.

It was a gamble for the Giants in taking on an enigmatic player who is a pending free agent. For the Jets, this was seen as a coup to get a good return for a player they were not re-signing. However, if the Giants are able to get Williams to play like someone who was once the third overall pick in the draft, the Jets will constantly be reminded of their failure.

At the end of the day, who cares? Both the Giants and Jets did what they thought was best for their franchises. They put the fears aside, and they made a football trade just like they would’ve done with any other team. Somehow, this concept eludes the Mets.

Back in 2017, the New York Yankees were rumored to have interest in Lucas Duda. However, rather than trading Duda to the Yankees, the Mets opted to trade him to the Tampa Bay Rays for Drew Smith. There were rumors the Yankees could’ve bested the offer of what was just one relief prospect, but there was no real confirmation of what that return would be.

The Yankees were also to have been interested in Neil Walker. The Mets eventually wound up trading him to the Milwaukee Brewers for Eric Hanhold, a player the Mets recently designated for assignment so they could keep pitchers like Drew Gagnon, Donnie Hart, and Chris Mazza. In terms of the Yankees, we are not sure what they would offer, and there are some rumors the Yankees backed out of their deal because of Walker’s medicals.

Finally, there was Jay Bruce. The Yankees were reported to offer multiple prospects for him. Instead, the Mets moved him to the Cleveland Indians for Ryder Ryan, a converted reliever.

Over the past few years, the Yankees have been rumored interested in a number of Mets players like Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Zack Wheeler. Those trades never materialized, but then again, no trade ever materialized between the Mets and another team with those players.

Still, the point remains there has long been a hesitation between the Mets and Yankees to make a trade. While it does seem to mostly come from the Mets side, there is assuredly some hesitation from the Yankees as well. That may be in no small part due to their Pedro Feliciano experience, or inexperience as it proved to be, and they may also harbor the same issues which are imputed on the Mets.

Whomever is to blame, they need to get over themselves, and they need to make smart trades between themselves to benefit both teams.

The Yankees have seen former Mets like Carlos Beltran, David Cone, and Darryl Strawberry play well for them. The Mets have seen former Yankees like Curtis GrandersonOrlando Hernandez, and Al Leiter play well for them. This is of little surprise as good players who can handle New York can play well for either team.

Given how that is the case, perhaps it is time both teams benefit from these players switching teams rather than seeing other franchises serve as the beneficiaries of being the ones who get these players in-between stops.

Mets Can Wear All Sorts of Crazy Hats But Not First Responder Ones

During the 2019 season, the New York Mets are going to wear all sorts of crazy caps for all sorts of reasons. Here are some examples of the hats MLB has chosen for their teams to wear to commemorate different dates on the calendar this year.

For Mother’s Day, teams wore special pink caps like they have for a few years now:

For Armed Forces Weekend, teams wore a special camouflaged cap:

For Memorial Day, all teams wore a patch on their cap and a poppy on their uniforms:

Like with the pink caps on Mother’s Day, there would be blue caps for Father’s Day:

For the Fourth of July, MLB teams would wear stars and stripes themed caps:

There would be more than few caps for the All-Stars for the game played in Cleveland:

Then, to much controversy, there was the Player’s Weekend caps and uniforms the players and fans seemed to hate with the teams being forced to wear them:

So for the year, Major League teams have worn pink and blue caps. They’ve worn camouflaged and stars and stripes caps. There was two different All Star Game caps as well as black and white caps. What we won’t see is the First Responder caps the Mets wore after 9/11 to help a city and a country heal.

The reason we will not see the caps is because Major League Baseball will not allow it. To be fair, they didn’t allow it in 2001, but Todd Zeile would not stand for it, and he on the field with the rest of his teammates. He would have the support of his manager Bobby Valentine and the entire Mets organization.

The only thing Major League Baseball has permitted is for them to be worn pre-game when the game is not televised. It’s at the same time players can basically wear whatever they want making this nothing more than a hollow empty gesture especially since MLB officials go scrambling to collect the caps before the National Anthem.

As R.A. Dickey once noted, they’re not even allowed to be on the field for the commemorative ceremonies, and players are threatened with fines. The last player who tried to defy Major League Baseball to do the right thing was David Wright, but the caps were gone before he had the chance to do it.

To their credit, the Wilpons have tried and have been rebuffed. The players have tried and were rejected. The fans have begged for them. Through all of it, one thing remains clear: Major League Baseball still doesn’t care, and they clearly forgot.

Just remember that the next time you see a “fun” pink or blue cap on the field.