As we wind our way through the list of the best Mets of all-time, there are going to be some choices which are beyond obvious. The first one which really came along was David Wright with number 5. The second one which has come along is Edgardo Alfonzo.
In many ways, Alfonzo was the at the forefront of the Mets turn-around from the disaster that was The Worst Team Money Could Buy to the first ever Mets team to make back-to-back postseason appearances. In 1997, Alfonzo, then a third baseman, had a breakout year in his third season in the majors.
That year, Alfonzo led the Mets with a 6.2 WAR as the team shocked baseball winning 88 games. This marked a period where he emerged as one of the best players in the game surpassing 6.0 WAR in three out of four seasons. Over that time span, he would be the top player on the Mets (by WAR) twice.
While Alfonzo broke out in 1997, people did not really take notice of him until 1999. In that season, he was part of the best infield in Major League history. More than that, he emerged as the best second baseman in the National League, even if he would not make the All-Star team. During that season, he would become the first ever Mets player to go 6-for-6 in a game:
While overlooked for the All-Star team that year, no one would overlook him when it came to the big moments. After collapsing to end the 1998 season and just barely missing the Wild Card, Alfonzo was not going to let it happen again hitting .320/.419/.600 over the final six games to help force the Wild Card play-in game against the Cincinnati Reds. In that game, he’d immediately put the Mets on top:
Alfonzo wasn’t done. In what is perhaps the greatest two game stretch for any Mets player in team history, Alfonzo would follow homering in the Wild Card Play-In Game by homering in his first ever postseason at-bat. His homer off of Randy Johnson was the first sign the Mets were ready to shock the heavily favored Diamondbacks. Later, in that game, with the score tied 4-4, he would hit a game winning grand slam off of Bobby Chouinard:
After the NLCS heartbreak, the Mets were determined to win the pennant the following year, and Alfonzo would lead them there. That 2000 season was arguably the best any Mets second baseman has ever had or will ever have.
In that season, he would make his first All-Star team, and he would post the highest OBP of any Met not named John Olerud. His OPS makes him the only middle infielder in the Mets single-season top 10. This time, the Mets would easily grab the Wild Card, and once again, Alfonzo would be great in the postseason.
After hitting a much needed insurance home run in Game 2, a game the Mets won in extras, it was the Mets turn to exact revenge in Game 3. The Mets were down 2-1 facing Robb Nen, who had not blown a save since the All-Star Break. With two outs in the eighth, Alfonzo hit a game tying double scoring Lenny Harris from second. The Mets would eventually win that game on a Benny Agbayani walk-off, and the series the following day on Bobby Jones‘ one-hitter.
Alfonzo was simply great in the NLCS hitting .444/.565/.611 with a double, triple, and four RBI. In addition to Mike Piazza, Alfonzo was one of the Mets who could have staked a claim as the MVP of that series. In fact, it was his RBI single in the first inning of Game 5 which would prove to be the pennant winning RBI.
Like most of the Mets players, Alfonzo would struggle in that World Series. Of note, in the bottom of the seventh of Game 5, Alfonzo would become the last ever Mets player to record a World Series base hit at Shea Stadium.
Unfortunately, back problems would begin to sap Alfonzo of his power, but he would still remain a productive player for the Mets. While he had a down year in 2001, he was still one of the Mets players who wore the first responder’s caps in defiance of MLB. In the first game back in New York after the 9/11 attacks, Alfonzo drew the walk in front of Piazza before the emotional home run.
After his down season, and the 2001 Mets not returning to the postseason, the Mets made a blockbuster trade to acquire Roberto Alomar which pushed Alfonzo back to third; a move he did not want. Being the team first and professional player he was, Alfonzo responded with a very good year.
In fact, by WAR, he was the third best third baseman in all of baseball. Sadly, that was not enough for the Mets to be convinced to keep their star, and Alfonzo departed the Mets during free agency. He would return late in 2006 on a minor league deal, but the Mets never called him up to see if there was any magic left in that bat. As a Mets fan, you couldn’t help but wonder if he could have made a difference, especially in that Game 7.
After that 2006 season, his Major League career was over. At that time, he was the best infielder in Mets history, and he would be named as the best second baseman on the Mets 50th Anniversary team. He ranks fifth in batting average, runs scored, and hits in team history. H also has the seventh best OBP, the 10th most games played, the sixth most doubles, the 10th most homers, and the seventh most RBI and walks.
No matter how you break it down, he is the best second baseman in team history, and he is the best Venezuelan in Mets history. He is also the best Mets player to ever wear the number 13.
Editor’s Note: This is part of a series highlighting the best players in Mets history by highlighting the best Mets player to wear a particular uniform number. In this case, this is not saying Alfonzo was the 13th best player in Mets history, but rather the best Mets player to wear the number 13.
Instead, Frank Clark got Jimmy Garopollo into a grasp only Eli Manning could’ve wrestled out of leading to the drive ending on downs.
A Damien Williams touchdown and Kendall Fuller pick later, and the Chiefs somewhat improbable comeback was accomplished, and they were Super Bowl Champions.
Twenty years later, Mets fans got to finally see Pat Mahomes win a title.
No, it wasn’t with the same team or even the same sport, but Mahomes is a champion. Still, with him wearing his father’s Mets jersey on occasion, as a Mets fan, you couldn’t help from feeling happy for the family.
With the Chiefs winning their first Super Bowl since Super Bowl IV, you also couldn’t help but feel optimism the Mets own drought will soon end.
Like the Chiefs for so many years, the Mets seemed snake bitten facing many brutal losses and horrific moments since their last title.
Of course, we have Beltran looking at an Adam Wainwright curveball and his teams teams collapse in the ensuing two years leaving everyone but Tom Glavine devastated. That’s nowhere near as bad as the embarrassment leading up to Beltran’s firing.
That cast a shadow over his World Series. Mets fans should be so lucky.
Terry Collins can completely blew the series with bad decisions which backfired all series long. Jeurys Familia‘s quick pitch didn’t fool Alex Gordon, and a year later, he was flat out beat by Conor Gillaspie.
This all meant David Wright, forced to retire too soon from spinal stenosis which robbed him of the Hall of Fame, never won a ring. To a lesser extent, there’s the career Matt Harvey never got to have due to his TOS.
Throw in the Madoff scandal and the Wilpons being the Wilpons, and this franchise seems as snakebitten as they come. That’s how the Chiefs fans once felt.
They don’t feel that way anymore. That changed with Mahomes, who is now a champion.
Maybe, just maybe, 2020 will be the year for the Mets.
It may sound ridiculous, but so is Andy Reid managing the clock well and having terrific game management in the fourth quarter to help the Chiefs win a Super Bowl.
Based upon his receiving just 18.1% of the vote last year, it does not seem like Jeff Kent will get anywhere close to the 75% threshold for Hall of Fame induction. Unfortunately, it does not appear as if he is going to get the push he needs to get anywhere close to that 75% in any of the subsequent three years meaning he will one day need to have his case reassessed by the Veteran’s Committee.
Now, there are viable reasons to overlook Kent’s candidacy. After all, his 55.4 WAR puts him below the 69.4 WAR of the average second baseman. The same can be said of his 35.7 WAR7 and 45.6 JAWS. Assessing just those numbers, you could say Kent belongs just in that proverbial Hall of Very Good, but not the Hall of Fame.
However, there is more to his case, and it merits a deeper look.
First and foremost, there are the homers. In his career, Kent hit 377 homers with 351 of them coming as a second baseman. That mark is the best among second baseman in Major League history. In terms of Hall of Fame eligible players, that puts him ahead of Rogers Hornsby, Ryne Sandberg, Joe Morgan, and Joe Gordon, each of whom are Hall of Famers.
There’s more to it. Mike Piazza is the all-time leader in homers at the catcher position. Cal Ripken Jr. is the all-time leader in homers by a shortstop. Mike Schmidt is the all-time leader in homers at third. They are all in the Hall of Fame. Right now, looking across every position, the all-time home run leader at a position was inducted into the Hall of Fame when there was no PED issues.
There’s more to Kent’s offense than just homers. His 562 doubles were also the fifth most at the second base position putting him behind Hall of Famers like Biggio and Charlie Gehringer but ahead of Hornsby, Roberto Alomar, Billy Herman, Frankie Frisch, and Morgan. Breaking it down, Kent is the only Hall of Fame eligible player in the top ten in doubles at the second base position who has not been inducted.
Going deeper, Todd Helton and Kent are the only Hall of Fame eligible players at their position to be in the top five all-time in doubles (not implicated with PEDs) not inducted into the Hall of Fame. That was cemented with Ted Simmons recent election by the Veterans’ Committee.
While considered an out of date stat, Kent’s 1,518 RBI are the third most at the position. All of the Hall of Fame eligible second baseman in the top 10 are in the Hall of Fame except Kent. Again, barring PEDs, the top three Hall of Fame eligible players in RBI have been inducted. All except Kent.
In terms of RBI, there is more to it. Right now, the only non-PED implicated Hall of Fame eligible players who have at least 1,500 RBI not inducted into the Hall of Fame are Fred McGriff and Carlos Delgado. Essentially, if you are a non-1B with 1,500 RBI, you were inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Kent is also second all-time in slugging at the position. Again, every clean Hall of Famer in the top two in slugging at their position has been inducted into the Hall of Fame. He’s also fourth in OPS. As you can assume, every clean Hall of Fame eligible player in the top five in OPS at their position have been inducted.
It’s this type of production which arguably makes Kent the second best offensive second baseman all-time to Hornsby. That would also make Kent the best at his position in the post World War II Era. It is one of the reasons why he was the 2000 National League MVP.
A second baseman winning the MVP is a rare feat indeed. In fact, there have been only 10 second baseman in Major League history who have done that. With the exception of Dustin Pedroia, who is not yet Hall of Fame eligible, everyone second baseman who has won the award is in the Hall of Fame. That’s everyone except Kent.
Really, the only reason Kent is not in the Hall of Fame is his abrasive personality and his defense. Honestly, there is not much to defend his defense, which was admittedly subpar. However, we should take into consideration Kent has turned the 11th most double plays among second baseman in Hall of Fame history. That is more than Sandberg and Biggio.
Also, for what it is worth his total zone rating is higher than Alomar’s. That’s not insignificant when Alomar is considered a very good defensive second baseman.
There’s one other factor to consider with Kent’s Hall of Fame case. He was an excellent postseason player. In 49 postseason games, he hit .276/.340/.500 with 11 doubles, nine homers, and 23 RBI. Prorated over a 162 game season, those numbers would equate to 36 doubles, 30 homers, and 76 RBI.
That is high end production in games which matter most. Speaking of which, in his only World Series appearance in 2002, he would hit three homers.
Overall, in his 17 year career, Jeff Kent established himself as the second best offensive second baseman, and really, he was the premier slugger at the position. For those efforts, he put up stats which would have been otherwise Hall of Fame worthy, and he would win an MVP award. While he may not be a proverbial first ballot Hall of Famerr, he is someone who has put together a career worthy of induction.
Hall of Fame voting can be very inconsistent at times. For example, we have seen Lou Whitaker (75.1 WAR) and Willie Randolph (65.9 WAR) both get five percented from the ballot on their first appearance while we have seen Ryne Sandberg (68.0 WAR) inducted on his third ballot, and Roberto Alomar (67.1 WAR) inducted on his second ballot. Those same inconsistencies apply to other positions as well as we saw with this most recent Hall of Fame induction.
This past weekend, Roy Halladay was inducted on his first year on the ballot. In 16 Major League seasons, Halladay was 203-105 with a 3.38 ERA, 1.178 WHIP, 1.9 BB/9, and a 6.9 K/9. He would have a stretch of his career where he was as dominant as any pitcher in the game wining two Cy Young Awards and finishing in the top five seven times. From an advanced statistics perspective, he had a 64.3 WAR, 131 ERA+, and a 3.39 FIP.
Behind the numbers, there are a number of great starts and stories with him. Perhaps there is no bigger start than his first ever postseason start where he threw a no-hitter for the Phillies in Game 1 of the 2010 NLDS against the Cincinnati Reds. You could also argue for his perfect game against the Marlins. Between the moments, the numbers, and the awards, it was determined Halladay was a first ballot Hall of Famer.
When you look at David Cone‘s career, he was not far off from Halladay.
Cone would pitch 17 seasons with the 17th season being a five game stint with the 2003 Mets. In his career, he was 194-126 with a 3.46 ERA, 1.256 WHIP, 3.5 BB/9, and an 8.3 K/9. While never seen as quite the dominating starter Halladay was over his career, Cone would win the 1994 American League Cy Young, and he would have five top five finishes in his career. From an advanced statistics perspective, Cone had a 62.3 WAR, 121 ERA+, and a 3.57 FIP.
Looking at Halladay and Cone, the numbers would indicate Halladay was the better pitcher. However, the separation is not as great as the Hall of Fame voting indicates. Whereas Halladay was a first ballot Hall of Famer, Cone would only receive 3.9 percent of the vote in his first and only year on the ballot. This would certainly suggest a lack of appreciation for what Cone accomplished in his career.
Cone is only one of 21 pitchers to throw a perfect game. He was as big a big game pitcher as there ever was. In the World Series, Cone has a 2-1 record with a 2.12 ERA. When his teams faced elimination, Cone made two starts. The first was a complete game gem against the Dodgers in Game 6 of the 1988 NLCS. The second was against the Mariners where he departed the game with the teams tied in the eighth. In those elimination games, he was 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA.
In his postseason career, Cone would make five starts with his team behind in the series. In those five starts, Cone was 4-0 with a 2.10 ERA. This includes his aforementioned complete game gem in the 1988 NLCS as well as his out-dueling Hall of Famer Tom Glavine in the 1996 World Series to get the Yankees back into that series and eventually win it. On that front, Cone has five World Series rings in his career. That’s one for each All Star appearance.
Considering the Hall of Fame is about honoring the best of the best, you can make the argument there is room for a pitcher like Cone who as at his best on the biggest stages. Looking at his numbers when the chips were down, there is maybe a handful of pitchers you would want over him. If Cone faced any of them, he would give them all he had.
With the understanding it’s not just postseason moments and World Series rings, going back into the numbers, Cone fares well against Hall of Famers. His 62.3 WAR ranks ahead of Hall of Famers like Juan Marichal, Early Wynn, Jim Bunning, and Whitey Ford. Looking at his peak, his 43.4 WAR7 ranks him ahead of Hall of Famers like Mordecai Brown, Don Sutton, and Jack Morris, and his 52.8 JAWS rates him ahead of Hall of Famers like Sandy Koufax, Dizzy Dean, and Bob Lemon.
His 121 ERA+ ties him with Don Drysdale, and it has him ahead of Warren Spahn, Bert Blyleven, Steve Carlton, Nolan Ryan and Glavine. His 2,773 strike outs is 24th best all-time, and it has him ahead of Hall of Famers like Christy Mathewson, Koufax, Halladay, and Catfish Hunter.
He has more complete games than more recent Hall of Famers like John Smoltz and Pedro Martinez. He has more shutouts than Halladay, Pedro, and Smoltz. In terms of WPA (wins probability added), Cone is 52nd all-time among pitchers. His 25.42 mark rates him ahead of Hall of Famers like Lefty Gomez, Dean, and Phil Niekro.
Looking back, it is very likely Cone’s failure to reach 200 wins hurt him. After all, the average Hall of Fame pitcher has 246 wins, and there are just 11 Hall of Fame starters with fewer than 200 wins. It should also be noted a decade later there is fundamentally different emphasis put on the importance of the win, and with that newer perspective it may be time to reevaluate David Cone’s career.
Upon further review, it may be reasonable to determine Cone still falls short. In all honesty, his career may be the ultimate borderline case. However, it is also a much stronger case than a player who had received just five percent of the vote. Certainly, his all-time rankings in the aforementioned categories, his postseason performances, and his perfect game does deserve a fresher look. Hopefully, sometime in the ensuing years we see the Veteran’s Committee (or whatever it is called now) take another look at Cone, and upon a further examination, we may see him get inducted into the Hall of Fame.
On Thursday, I had the honor and the privilege of being a guest on A Metsian Podcast. It was a lot of fun and cathartic, and I would hope you would all take a listen by clicking on the link provided.
I’m not sure if this is a reason to entice you to listen, but during the course of the podcast, I personally mentioned or discussed the following Mets players: Tom Seaver, Jeff McNeil, Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto, Cliff Floyd, Nolan Ryan, Aaron Sele, Jason Vargas, Edwin Diaz, Robinson Cano, Roberto Alomar, Juan Samuel, Jim Fregosi, Bret Saberhagen, Vince Coleman, Noah Syndergaard, Chris Flexen, Paul Sewald, Sean Gilmartin, Darren Oliver, Pat Mahomes, Eric Hanhold, Steve Villines, Corey Oswalt, Jacob Rhame, Hansel Robles, Stephen Nogosek, Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman, Darryl Strawberry, and others. This list is off the top of my head.
Looking at that list, maybe that’s why they haven’t brought me back after my last appearance three years ago when I went on a Daniel Murphy rant.
This was quite a night for the Mets who have frustrated the fan base with poor play and not meeting expectations. That started with the night’s starter Jason Vargas.
Against a Reds team with the fifth worst team wRC+, Vargas had his best and longest outing of the year. With the help of some good defense, balls dying on the track, and some rope-a-dope, he would allow just one earned on three hits and three walks with five strikeouts.
Mickey Callaway trusted Vargas to go out for the sixth. After getting one out, Eugenio Suarez finally got to Vargas with a home run. With Vargas at 86 pitches, he was lifted for Robert Gsellman. The shame was Vargas did pitch well enough to win, but he wouldn’t get it because he left the game with the score tied 1-1.
On the other side, the Reds had Luis Castillo on the mound. No, not the Luis Castillo of dropped ball infamy. No, this Castillo has been great all year for the Reds entering the game with a league leading 1.23 ERA.
Even with him having a dominant outing tonight, the Mets would get to him partially because Amed Rosario proved to be his kryptonite. The struggling Rosario had a great game going 2-for-3 with a walk and a stolen base.
In the third, Rosario started a rally with a leadoff single. Juan Lagares hit into a fielder’s choice, and Lagares would be sacrificed to second by Vargas. He was then on third when Castillo unleashed a wild pitch. This put him in a position to score when McNeil laid down a great bunt:
— New York Mets (@Mets) May 1, 2019
What was interesting is McNeil seemed intent on bunting his way on there. In fact, two pitches prior to the hit, he fouled off a bunt attempt. McNeil pulled a Roberto Alomar and dove to first JUST beating Castillo to the bag.
The score would stay tied 1-1 entering the bottom of the seventh. That’s when Todd Frazier jumped all over the first pitch of the inning:
— New York Mets (@Mets) May 1, 2019
In the bottom of the inning, the Mets would also get him an insurance run. McNeil, who was great tonight (4-for-5, R, 2B, RBI) got the rally started with a double against Robert Stephenson.
After a couple of strikeouts, McNeil was in a position to be stranded at second. With Michael Conforto‘s struggled against Castillo all night (3 K), even the LOOGY Amir Garrett must’ve been a welcome site. It sure seemed that way when he delivered an RBI single to give the Mets a 3-1 lead.
Familia then started the ninth with two strikeouts giving the Mets some hope this would end without a hitch.
Of course, Familia would walk Jesse Winker and allow a hit to Jose Iglesias to make things too close to comfort. Callaway stuck by Familia in the spot. It seemed like the wrong move when Kyle Farmer hit a soft RBI single over Pete Alonso‘s head to pull the Reds to within 3-2. Worse yet, the tying run was at third.
Callaway would go too far with Familia. Jose Peraza hit the game tying single. Then again, it seemed like his only other choice was Drew Gagnon, and that’s not exactly a safe choice. Gagnon would find himself in the inning anyway.
With Votto due up, Daniel Zamora came in, and he made matters worse by walking Votto to load the bases. Gagnon would get the job done striking out Suarez to keep the game tied. He’d get into trouble in the 10th, but he’d get out of that jam too.
J.D. Davis had a very good at-bat to start the 10th, and he’d double off a hanging slider from Raisel Iglesias. After a McNeil single, Alonso got his first walk-off RBI with a sacrifice fly giving the Mets a 4-3 win.
This was never how you would draw it up, but you gladly take this one. Certainly, this game was a testament that it takes everyone contributing to win. Hopefully, this won’t be the last time this year we say that.
The Mets finished their first homestand of the season going 2-3, and now they are embark on a brutal road trip taking them through Atlanta, Philadelphia, and St. Louis. Here are some observations before the Mets set off for that trip:
- Jacob deGrom just didn’t have it. It was bound to happen, but it was still startling to see.
- Anyone who even suggests deGrom’s struggles were related to Travis d’Arnaud behind the plate simply doesn’t know anything about baseball. It wasn’t d’Arnaud who caused the chilly weather, nor was it the weather which caused deGrom to miss his pitches by a foot.
- Baseball is funny sometimes. After thorough research shows Citi Field suppresses exit velocities, the ball was flying out of Citi Field. Of course, when you have power hitters like Pete Alonso and Michael Conforto that will happen anyway.
- In one series, Mitch Garver went from a nameless guy to the second coming of Mike Piazza.
- Jason Vargas was terrible, and it is simply inexcusable he was not so much as challenged for the fifth starter spot.
- The Mets have gotten away with calling up Alonso saying every game matters while carrying Vargas as the fifth starter and having Tim Peterson in the bullpen. Why do fans just let the Mets get away with pushing narratives like this?
- The booing of Brandon Nimmo and d’Arnaud was embarrassing. Mets fans should be better than that.
- And just like that, in his last three games, Nimmo is 4-for-10, with two doubles, a homer, three RBI, a walk, and a HBP.
- What the Mets did to Corey Oswalt is inexcusable. He effectively lost a year getting jerked around by the team, and the first chance this new regime gets, they call him up on three days rest to sit in the bullpen.
- Oswalt should be making Vargas’ start this Saturday, and if he doesn’t the Mets cannot pitch Oswalt until then because they may need him to piggyback that start.
- These two games were miserable creating difficult pitching situations. It led to deGrom’s struggles, and it likely led to Jeurys Familia‘s, but that’s now two bad outings from him. Too soon to overreact, but not too soon to take notice.
- After J.D. Davis‘ two home run game, he’s back to being Davis. He his 42.9% of his balls on the ground, and he has hit 45.8% on the ground this year. His inability to make a play at third led to Familia getting in trouble, and he almost botched a double play only to be saved by Luis Guillorme making an amazing turn.
- With Todd Frazier getting a rehab start at SS, it would seem Guillorme will be the odd man out, which is a shame because he’s doing everything he could do to stay. It’s at the point where he’s having to wear batting gloves because he has blisters from all his extra batting practice. He’s also been really good in the field.
- When you have players fighting this hard to stay in the majors, you will get the best results not just from them, but also from the players they are pushing. We are seeing some of that with this team.
- Robinson Cano has a knack for the moment with two big home runs already and a walk yesterday. That said, his overall body of work has not been good. He may be a slow starter, but he has never been this slow. It’s something worth monitoring with his age, PED suspension, and the Mets history on this front (Roberto Alomar).
- Mets are going to regret waking up the Nationals. They went from a team in trouble to a team who took consecutive road series from the red hot Mets and Phillies.
- There may be some holes and warning signs with Alonso here and there, including his having difficulty on two grounders this series, but pointing them out would be being a killjoy. So far, Alonso has been great, and the only things people should point out is how great he has been.
- We should not care what his final stat line said. Noah Syndergaard was dominant yesterday, and when you consider how everyone else pitched, he looked all the more so. Really, if not for some poor defense, he gets through the eighth unscathed.
- Good for Jay Bruce hitting seven homers so far this season and helping the Mariners to a 12-2 start. He gave the Mets everything he had, and it was not his fault it was a poor fit.
- In waht was promised to be a tight NL East, we have the Mets, Braves, and Phillies tied atop the division with a 7-4 record with the Nationals right behind them at 6-5.
Looking at this past offseason, the Mets have traded away much of their future to improve the 2019 team. Top prospects Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn were part of a package for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz. Ross Adolph, Scott Manea, and Luis Santana were traded for J.D. Davis. Finally, Adam Hill, Felix Valerio, and Bobby Wahl were traded for Keon Broxton.
There has been some debate on each of these moves. Whereas many saw the Mets undervaluing assets, there have been a contingent who have justified the deal under the auspices of how not all prospects work out.
To a certain extent, there is validity to the prospects not panning out. With respect to Generation K, only Jason Isringhausen had a successful career, and that was as a reliever not the front line starter we expected him to be. Outfielders Fernando Martinez, Lastings Milledge, and Alex Ochoa weren’t even so much as a part-time player. Relievers like Eddie Kunz did nothing. The list goes on and on . . . .
Of course, this overlooks the prospects which have had successful careers. Tom Seaver was a Hall of Famer. David Wright, Jose Reyes, Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, and Edgardo Alfonzo were all-time Mets greats. As we know, that list is much longer than that. It also includes Nolan Ryan, which was a trade which lives on in Mets infamy.
That was a trade of a young player who hasn’t figured it out for a past All-Star Jim Fregosi. While prevailing wisdom is that trade was a Mets disaster, the school of thought were you trade young players for proven Major League talent would be fully onboard with that deal. That does beg the question why people are against keeping prospects and are not against the Mets making trades.
Looking over Mets history, this team has made many horrible trades. In addition to the aforementioned Ryan for Fregosi trade, we have also seen several other poor trades in Mets history:
- Amos Otis for Joe Foy
- Lenny Dykstra and Roger McDowell for Juan Samuel
- Jeff Kent for Carlos Baerga
- Jason Isrinhausen for Billy Taylor
- Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano
There are several others which have blown up in the Mets faces. In addition to that, there have been trades for players which have greatly under-performed for the Mets. In addition to the aforementioned players, you can include Roberto Alomar, Willie Mays, Joe Torre, and a litany of others did not perform when wearing a Mets uniform.
With the Mets losing valuable young players and with the team getting veterans who have not performed, you have to wonder why the Mets don’t just operate on the free agent market. Of course, the reason there is the extensive failures the Mets have made on that front. The list is well known, and Mets fans can cite them in their sleep – Jason Bay, Bobby Bonilla, Luis Castillo, Vince Coleman, George Foster, Oliver Perez, and many, many others.
Point is, no matter which way you look, you see a history of failures when it comes to the Mets organization. Their prospects always fail. They only trade for veterans in decline. Every free agent signing is a bust.
Of course, that’s not remotely the truth. When looking at each area, the Mets have had plenty of successes and failures. The goal for every General Manager is to have more success than failures and for those failures to not come back and bite you. That’s what defines periods like the 1980s Mets and also the period immediately thereafter.
So in the end, when judging moves, do it on their own merit and not because you believe the Mets prospects fail, trade acquisitions production declines, and every free agent is a bust.
Last night, the New England Patriots won the sixth Super Bowl in team history. If you look at how the Mets have performed in the other five years the Patriots won the Super Bowl, you may not believe this to be a good thing:
Super Bowl XXXVI
After a disappointing season on the heels of a National League pennant, Steve Phillips decided it was time to make some drastic changes with the Mets. The team would clear out Robin Ventura and Todd Zeile to make way for Mo Vaughn and Roberto Alomar. The team would also reunite with Roger Cedeno and Jeromy Burnitz. A disappointing rotation was “buttressed” with pitchers like Pedro Astacio, Jeff D’Amico, and Shawn Estes.
What would result was an unmitigated disaster as none of the imported players would perform close to their historical levels of production. In fact, only Estes would be playing baseball the next time the Mets made the postseason. Perhaps the biggest indignity to their also-ran season was Estes inability to exact revenge against Roger Clemens.
Super Bowl XXXVIII
This year was probably rock bottom for that era in Mets history. The team proved ill advised at trying to make Mike Piazza a part-time first baseman. Kazuo Matsui looked like a bust leading you to wonder why the Mets not only contemplated signing him, but also shifting Jose Reyes to second base to accommodate him. You also wondered if Reyes was going to prove out to be an injury prone player. Braden Looper should never have been contemplated as the closer.
As bad as that was, the team made a series of trade blunders. First and foremost, for some reason with the Mets being five games under .500 and seven out in the division, they talked themselves into contender status leading to the infamous Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano trade.
As bad as that was, we would also see the Mets first obtain Jose Bautista only to trade him away for Kris Benson. Again, this was done in the vein of the Mets are contenders despite being so many games out of contention.
Jim Duquette would shoulder the blame for the moves, which probably were not all his idea, and he would be reassigned in September. Without Duquette at the helm, the Mets would completely bungle firing Art Howe leaving him to manage the end of the season knowing he was doing it with the axe swiftly coming down on his head.
Super Bowl XXXIX
With Omar Minaya and Willie Randolph at the helm, this was a new look Mets team. Still, things weren’t quite there. Doug Mientkiewicz proved to be a bit of a disaster. The team leaned on Miguel Cairo too much. At the time, Carlos Beltran seemed to be channeling Bobby Bonilla with a year where he regressed in nearly every aspect of his game. As bad as that was, he had the horrific collision with Mike Cameron in right-center field in San Diego:
The biggest bright spot of that season was Pedro Martinez, who was vintage Pedro all year long. He flirted with no-hitters, and he led the league in WHIP. He was a throwback to a time when the Mets dominated with their pitching. He would also battle some injuries leading to Randolph smartly shutting him down for the rest of the year.
Except he wasn’t. As Pedro would detail in his eponymous book “Pedro,” Jeff Wilpon forced him to pitch while he was hurt. This would exacerbate his existing injuries and would lead to other injuries. Instead of having Pedro in the 2006 postseason, he was watching with the rest of us.
Super Bowl XLIX
Mets: Lost World Series 4-1
Even when things are going right, they fell completely apart. Alex Gordon jumped on a Jeurys Familia quick pitch. Daniel Murphy booted a grounder. Lucas Duda couldn’t make a throw home. Terry Collins did about as poor a job managing a World Series as you possibly could do. What was once fun ended in bitter fashion.
Super Bowl XLIX
The 2016 Mets made a late furious push to claim a Wild Card spot despite being without Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, and Zack Wheeler in the rotation. The thought was if these pitchers could be healthy in 2017, then the Mets could return to the postseason for a third consecutive year, and maybe, just maybe, the Mets could win the World Series.
Instead, Harvey would have off-the-field issues leading to a suspension. Back then, we thought those issues were affecting his performance. In actuality, it was Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. Joining Harvey on the shelf was Noah Syndergaard, who went down with at a torn lat. Matz had ulnar nerve issues costing him most of the season. With Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman unable to reclaim their 2016 magic, the season was history.
Still, during that season there was a glimmer of hope in the form of Michael Conforto. The then 24 year old was playing at a superstar level. He was named a first time All Star, and he was proving himself to be a leader for a Mets team which still had the talent to be contenders in 2018. Instead on August 24, he would swing and miss on a pitch and collapse to the ground with a severe shoulder injury.
As if that all wasn’t enough, this would be the first time since 2003, David Wright would not appear in at least one game for the New York Mets.
Super Bowl LIII
This past offseason, Brodie Van Wagenen has set out to put his stamp on the Mets. He has rebuilt the bullpen with Edwin Diaz, Jeurys Familia, and Justin Wilson. He has reshaped the lineup with Robinson Cano, Jed Lowrie, and Wilson Ramos. There are still some holes on the roster, but generally speaking, this is a stronger club than the Mets have had over the past two seasons.
The additions have come at a cost. The Mets traded away arguably their two best prospects in Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn. The team has also parted with well regarded prospects Ross Adolph, Luis Santana, and Scott Manea for J.D. Davis. There was also a further burying of former first round picks Dominic Smith and Gavin Cecchini on the depth charts.
Sure, there is no real correlation between the Patriots winning a Super Bowl and the Mets performance during the ensuing season. To suggest that is foolish. And yet, there is an unsettling pattern where a Patriots Super Bowl begets a disappointing Mets season.
Really, when you break it down, the real analysis to be made here is the disparity between the Patriots and the Mets. Whereas the Patriots are regarded as one of the best run organizations in all of professional sports with a terrific owner, the Mets are regarded as one of the worst run organizations with meddlesome owners. If the Mets are to break this “streak,” it is going to be because the Mets are a much better run organization who has the full resources and backing it needs from ownership.
I’m not sure where the axiom ever arose, but somewhere, sometime people made the decision teams could not possibly rebuild in New York. I always found this statement odd because on the one hand, New York fans are credited as smart a fanbase as there is in sports, but by the same token, many believe we are too ignorant to accept a team rebuilding.
This notion has created MANY mistakes by our professional teams. Rather than admit defeat, we have seen the Mets constantly try to hold on tightly as their short lived runs slip away. With respect to the Mets, we have seen it time and again – Eddie Murray, Roberto Alomar, Jason Bay, etc. Bad contracts and trades resulting in even more disappointing seasons. Worse yet, it was all part of a mismanagement of assets which delayed rebuilds and made the cupboards even barer when the time came to finally strip it all down.
As bad as the Mets history is, the Knicks history is worse – so much worse. Just a series of Eddie Currys and Antoio McDyesses and Stephen Marburys. It’s ridiculous, and it’s why after Ewing left, this organization has been a mess.
However, when it comes to postseason droughts and an outright refusal to rebuild, I think back to the Rangers. In the pre-salary cap NHL, the Rangers just outright refused to commit to a rebuild. What ensued was trades for big names and getting the top free agent available – LaFontaine, Lindros, Fleury, Dunham, Holik, Jagr, Kovalev, and the return of Messier.
It makes you question, what if a New York team actually acknowledged they hit the end of the line with their roster, and they were going to make the hard choice and rebuild. Well, with the New York Rangers, we are about to find out:
If you are a Rangers fan, you knew the team didn’t have it this season. However, as an organization, you could talk yourself into this being just about the injuries with Kreider and Shattenkirk going down. Maybe it’s true, and maybe it isn’t.
It doesn’t matter because the overriding point is the Rangers knew they weren’t going to sniff the Cup this year, so why continue down this road? The team smartly accepted the end of this run, and presumably, they look at the trade deadline as an opportunity to jump start their rebuild. With any luck, you can get the assets to make this a retooling. Largely, that will depend on which assets the Rangers opt to trade.
Overall, as a fan, I’d rather my organization be as up front with me as the Rangers just were. This is a unique step for a New York organization, and it is one that should be lauded. Hopefully, this will prove to be a positive step forward for an organization which looks to win its first Cup since 1994.
I know it is something I wish the Mets were more honest about in years past and with this roster. Last year, hard choices were eschewed, and instead of cleaning house, the Mets got a collection of right-handed relievers, none of which are supposed make the Opening Day roster, and continued to play the likes of Jose Reyes over younger kids who could’ve used the development time.
Maybe after seeing how the Rangers chose to conduct their business, other New York sports teams will follow. Maybe then people will say New York is the best place to rebuild.