When it comes to the Mets, there have been several bad to disastrous free agent signings. In fact, up until recently, there was a real debate over which signing was the worst.
Players like Bobby Bonilla and Kazuo Matsui never quite fulfilled his promise. Roger Cedeno was nowhere near the player he was in 1999 when he returned to Queens. Jason Bay didn’t hit for power before the concussions happened.
As bad as those were, there was Vince Coleman, who was an unmitigated disaster. Aside from his numbers falling off a cliff, he threw firecrackers at fans, injured Dwight Gooden with a golf club, and he was accused of sexual assault (charges never filed).
Looking at it, Coleman was probably the worst of the group. When you consider the long standing animosity Mets fans had towards him prior to the signing and his off the field problems, he may still have claim to that title.
However, when it comes to on the field performance, Jed Lowrie is definitively the worst ever Mets signing. We just need to look at video from the Mets summer camp yesterday to confirm that.
Jed Lowrie is participating in base running drills with his brace on. His speed is definitely not game-ready. pic.twitter.com/PyVmUqT9J4
— Deesha (@DeeshaThosar) July 5, 2020
Rewinding back to Spring Training last year, Lowrie was initially described as having left knee soreness. Time and again, the Mets downplayed the injury, and to date, they have yet to really reveal what the injury actually is.
They didn’t reveal it when he had multiple rehab assignments shut down. They didn’t reveal it when he was 0-for-7 as a pinch hitter in September. They didn’t reveal it when he came to Spring Training this year not really ready to play. Even months later, they’re still not revealing it. Worse yet, they’re downplaying it.
New manager Luis Rojas was put in the position today that Mickey Callaway failed far too often. He had to offer an out-and-out lie and make it sound believable. According to what Rojas said, Lowrie is a “full go.”
Later in the day, we saw the video running and realized there’s no way that’s true. Lowrie is not a full go, and to a certain extent the Mets talking about Lowrie ramping up to try to play without a brace is a strawman. All told, brace or no brace, this is simply a player who can’t get on the field.
The more you see the aborted rehab attempts, the lack of explanations for the injury, the mixed messages, and Lowrie’s inability to do anything but swing the bat, the more you’re reminded of David Wright. Before his send off, Wright would make similar attempts to get back, but ultimately his body wouldn’t let him. It seems the same with Lowrie.
Maybe Lowrie is different , but that’s anyone’s guess. Really, that’s all we have. That’s partially because the Mets revealed no news, and it’s because Lowrie didn’t either.
Asked what is exactly wrong with his leg, Lowrie said he doesn't want to create a distraction.
— Mike Puma (@NYPost_Mets) July 5, 2020
Maybe telling everyone why his knee, left side, or whatever else the Mets want to call it would be more of a distraction than it is already. Maybe it won’t. Whatever the case, when you strip it all down, the Mets gave a two year $20 million deal to a guy who just can’t play.
The Mets didn’t need Lowrie when they signed him. They already had Robinson Cano, Todd Frazier, and Jeff McNeil. What they needed was arms in the bullpen, but they already allocated their budget towards an infielder who would wind up doing no more than a few pinch hitting attempts (without a hit). You could say the Mets not having those extra arms in the pen is what cost them the postseason last year.
Ultimately, Lowrie is getting $20 million from the Mets, and he can’t get on the field. The money allocated towards him could’ve addressed other deficiencies on the roster and helped pushed the Mets into the postseason. Brodie Van Wagenen signed his former client, who was too injured to even start one game, and with that Van Wagenen quite possibly made the single worst free agent signing in Mets history.
At this moment, MLB and the MLBPA are negotiating on ways baseball can be played safely in 2020. Part of the proposals in the 67 page document were social distancing measures. Those measures included keeping players apart in the dugout and utilizing the empty stands to do that. There was also the suggestion fielders “retreat several steps away from the baserunner.” (ESPN). That suggestion is well founded.
The CDC has strongly recommended social distancing measures which include keeping six feet away from people. That is both indoors (like a clubhouse) and outdoors (like a baseball diamond). The reasoning is “COVID-19 spreads mainly among people who are in close contact (within about 6 feet) for a prolonged period.”
The stolen base and the threat of the stolen base prevents that six foot separation from occurring.
Now, as detailed in a 2015 Grantland article, even the shortest of leads is over nine feet. In and of itself, those leads provide sufficient social distancing measures. However, that’s only part of the problem.
Periodically, a pitcher will throw over to first. The amount of times a pitcher throws over increases when there’s a fast runner, i.e. stolen base threat, like Ronald Acuna Jr. or Billy Hamilton at first.
On those plays, the base runner dives back into first as the first baseman lunges down to apply the tag. The other situation is the base runner gets back without sliding, and he’s now standing almost face-to-face with the first baseman.
Right there, you have a violation of the CDC social distancing guidelines and MLB’s request fielders position themselves several steps away from the base runner.
There’s also the matter of MLB wanting balls touched by multiple players be thrown out. That means on every throw over, a ball needs to be discarded. Basically, a pitcher throws over, a first baseman applies a tag, and then timeout is called so he can discard the ball.
Assuming the base runner isn’t deterred, his taking off for second creates another series of issues.
First and foremost, he’s now well within six feet of the second baseman or shortstop. That means in all likelihood the base runner has been with six feet of the catcher during his AB, the first baseman on the pickoff attempt, and now the middle infielder on the stolen base attempt.
This means the plans to keep players separated go completely kaput once a runner reaches first.
We then get back to the matter of the ball. On a standard stolen base attempt, three people touch the ball – pitcher, catcher, and middle infielder. If there’s a run-down created by a pick-off or stolen base attempt, all hell breaks loose.
Looking at it, MLB wants players to keep distance as much as possible, and they want as few people as possible touching the ball. That’s simply not possible in a game where players reach base and can advance on a stolen base.
The question for MLB is how they choose to address it.
If the goal was safety and social distancing, perhaps, it’s time MLB prevents players from stealing bases in 2020.
Sure, it seems drastic and draconian. It’s also a major rule change, which impacts the way the game is played. The same can be said for the rules MLB already has implemented in 2020. That includes a universal DH and radical realignment. Those changes also take the game and makes it look much different from the way it looked and was played in 2019 and all of baseball history.
While eliminating stolen bases is a radical change, it’s not as impactful as you might imagine. In the 1980s when Rickey Henderson, Tim Raines, and Vince Coleman were running wild, this would have completely changed the game. Now, not so much.
In 2019, there were 2,280 stolen bases. Over 2,430 games, that’s fewer than a stolen base per game. With attempts, this may push it to one stolen base attempt per game. While we know the impact that one stolen base may have (Dave Roberts Game 4 2004 ALCS), on the whole, the lack of that attempt is not dramatically impacting the game.
Looking at it, this is again about health and finding ways for players to safely play the games. Taking out the constant close contact between a first baseman and base runner does that. In lieu of that, there can be a designated spot where runners may take their lead, and first baseman can be permitted to play back on every play.
Is this ideal? No, not in the least. Really, no one wants to see baseball eliminate the stolen base much in the same way National League fans don’t want to see a DH (which is still absurd for many reasons). However, what people want even less is seeing players get infected with COVID19. As a Mets fan, I don’t want any situation wherein Pete Alonso even has a 1% chance of getting COVID19. As a human being, I don’t want to see that happen to any player.
With that in mind, the safest possible course is to eliminate the stolen base in 2020.
Every time a team makes a trade, you hope that it is helping you win a World Series. There are few times you can pinpoint a trade as a significant reason why your team was able to beat the other team. In many ways, that is exactly what the Bob Ojeda trade was for the Mets.
Before the 1986 season, the Mets acquired Ojeda from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for a package which included Calvin Schiraldi. The motivating factor for this deal was for the Mets to get another left-handed starter into the rotation to help them deal with the Cardinals line-up which included the left-handed Andy Van Slyke as well as the switch hitting Tom Herr, Ozzie Smith, Vince Coleman, and Willie McGee.
What the Mets really got was the best pitcher in their rotation. Yes, even with Dwight Gooden atop the rotation, Ojeda would lead that Mets team with a 140 ERA+. In fact, he was arguably the second best pitcher in the National League that year after Mike Scott. Overall, Ojeda was 18-5 with a 2.57 ERA.
As great as he was in the regular season, he was even better in the postseason. His first ever postseason start came in Game 2 of the NLCS with the Mets already down 1-0 in the series. He would respond by out-dueling Nolan Ryan in his complete game victory:
That postseason Ojeda made four starts, and the Mets won all four games he pitched. All four of those games were crucial games the Mets had to have. That included this Game 3 and the subsequent Game 5. The next time he took the mound was in Game 3 of the World Series.
In that Game 3, Ojeda was facing his former Red Sox teammates; teammates who were up 2-0 in the series as it headed to Fenway. Staked to a 4-0 lead before he ever took the mound, Ojeda would shut down the Red Sox offense and get the Mets back into the series. Over seven innings, he yielded just one run on five hits.
In Game 6, the Mets once again handed him the ball asking him to keep hopes alive. With all the drama of that game, one thing which gets completely lost is how well Ojeda pitched. He did all he could possibly do to keep the Red Sox at bay limiting them to just two runs over six innings. When he departed that game, the score was tied, and the Mets were still alive.
An important note to that game was while Ojeda was keeping the Mets alive, Schiradi melted down. After two quick outs, he allowed Gary Carter to start the greatest World Series rally of all-time. Ultimately, Schiraldi would be the losing pitcher of that Game 6, and he would be the losing pitcher of Game 7.
In the history of baseball, you may never get a clearer indication of who won and lost a trade than this 1986 World Series. For the Mets, they have no chance at winning it if they did not have Ojeda in the rotation. With respect to the Red Sox, it’s possible they win that World Series if they had someone else on the mound in those crucial Game 6 and Game 7 moments.
Ojeda’s Mets career was more than just 1986. In 1987, he would get the Opening Day start due to Dwight Gooden‘s drug problems. Unfortunately, his season would be hampered by injury. He would recover to again be an important part of the 1988 rotation.
That year, due to the emergence of David Cone, he was “only” the second best pitcher in the rotation with a 112 ERA+. Yes, he had a losing record, but that tells you more about the that stat than it does about how Ojeda pitched. After all, he had a 2.88 ERA and a 1.004 WHIP. Aside from that record, everyone knew how good Ojeda was. That was evident from his five shutouts, a mark which ranks as the sixth best single season mark in Mets history. His HR/9 that year was also sixth best.
Many to this day, pinpoint his severing part of the middle finger in a hedge clipper accident as the reason the Mets lost the 1988 NLCS. That’s how good he was that year, and really, that is how much of a big game pitcher he was.
Ojeda would last two more years with the Mets pitching well. He would finish his Mets career with a 51-40 record with a 3.12 ERA, and a 1.182 WHIP. His ERA and WHIP are the ninth best in Mets history. That is all the more remarkable when you consider it puts him ahead of pitchers like Johan Santana. Finally, he is ninth in terms of shutouts which puts him not only ahead of Santana but also Jacob deGrom.
More than any of that, he was a driving force for the Mets winning the 1986 World Series. His importance to that team could not be overstated. As a result, Ojeda is the best Mets player to wear the number 19.
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
In Mets history, there have been a number of people who have worn the number 2, and to some extent it is an almost cursed number in team history. Perhaps that is a function of Marvelous Marv Throneberry being one of the first people to ever wear the uniform.
Over time, we would see many wear the number and fall far short of expectations. It was the number of Jim Fregosi. It was also the number of Dilson Herrera and Gavin Cecchini. It was also the number of Justin Turner who had better days after leaving the Mets.
Seeing all the number is and what is represents, perhaps Mackey Sasser is the best Mets player to ever to wear the number.
Knowing Gary Carter‘s days being a top catcher were going to be limited, the Mets were proactive, and they addressed the future of the position by obtaining Sasser from the Pittsburgh Pirates on the eve of the 1988 season. That would make Sasser the back-up catcher for the Mets last division title of the century.
That 1988 season was the worst of Carter’s career, and the Mets needed their back-up catcher to contribute more than in year’s past. That season he was an above-average offensive catcher. In fact, he was better than that with his having the sixth best wRC+ among National League catchers with at least 90 PA.
That was the case for his two year tenure as Carter’s back-up. It was Sasser’s play which allowed the Mets to feel comfortable making the very difficult decision in releasing Carter at the end of the year to hand the reigns to Sasser. In 1990, Sasser would reward the Mets faith in him.
In 1990, Sasser would play a career high 100 games that season, and he would catch a career high 87 games. During that season, he would do what had been previously impossible by becoming the first Mets catcher to throw out Vince Coleman attempting to steal a base.
Up until that time, Coleman was a perfect 57/57 in stolen base attempts against his future team. Aside from the throwing highlight, Sasser proved his offense could withstand a heavier defensive workload with his being now the fifth best offensive catcher in baseball. Unfortunately, this season would be it for Sasser behind the plate.
The beginning of the end came on July 8, 1990. In that game against the Atlanta Braves, Sasser was already 2-for-3 at the plate raising his season stats to .336/.381/.455. In the game, Jim Presley ran over Sasser at the plate. Sasser would get the out (he was quite adept at the tag), but he would depart the game with a badly sprained ankle.
From there, Mackey Sasser Disease, the cousin of Steve Blass Disease was born. Sasser would soon begin having issues throwing the ball back to the catcher. This effectively ended his career even with the Mets keeping him around a few more years as a backup and utility player.
That would not be the end of Sasser’s impact upon baseball or the Mets. As it turns out, Sasser wanted answers to why he had the yips. He would seek them out, and as he said to Anthony McCarron then of the New York Daily News, he got that help from Dr. David Grand.
With that help, he was able to successfully be able to throw the ball again, and he would not have issues doing things like throwing batting practice. That would partially help him have a coaching career. In that coaching career, he would again help the New York Mets.
During his coaching career, Sasser would find himself coaching a young infielder named T.J. Rivera at Troy University. When Rivera was undrafted, Sasser called to the Mets and recommended the team sign him. This would eventually lead to Rivera becoming the team’s everyday second baseman in September 2016 and helping that Mets team claim the top Wild Card spot.
More than that, Sasser has made himself available to help those players who have had potentially career altering yips the way he once did. That included calling up Mike Pelfrey when the young right-hander was experiencing issues with balks.
Overall, Sasser not only helped the Mets as a player, but he did what he could do to help the organization after his playing career was over. As we saw, he did hit part to help save Pelfrey’s career, and he helped launch Rivera’s. Even with Turner having his moments and Juan Uribe becoming an instant Mets folk hero, it is difficult to argue any Mets player who wore the number 2 having a bigger impact on the franchise than he.
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 Sasser was the second best player in Mets history, but rather the best Mets player to wear the number 2.
It was officially one year ago today reports surfaced of Jed Lowrie‘s knee injury. When it first occurred, we assumed this was probably nothing more than one of those early aches some players feel during Spring Training. As is usually the case, the Mets really had no idea of the severity of the injury, how to properly manage or diagnose it, or how to get the player back on the field.
Jed Lowrie is sore behind his left knee, Mickey Callaway said.
The Mets are being cautious, focusing on making sure he’s ready for opening day.
They’re not sure how serious it is.
— Tim Healey (@timbhealey) February 20, 2019
By and large, this injury kept Lowrie from playing in the field, and it limited him to just eight pinch hitting appearances in 2019. In those appearances, he had no hits, drew one walk, and struck out four times.
Fast forward to this year, and Lowrie is wearing a leg brace to help him participate in Spring Training. At the moment, no one knows if Lowrie will be able to effectively play with the brace, if he can only play with a brace, or for that matter when or if he will be able to ever play.
What makes this signing all the more troubling is Lowrie’s agent was Brodie Van Wagenen. If there was any GM in baseball who was well aware of the health issues of Lowrie, it would be his agent. Looking back, instead of the enthusiasm for the signing, perhaps there should have been more inquiry why a player coming off an All-Star season and had an 8.8 WAR over the previous two seasons could do not better than signing with the Mets to split time with Robinson Cano, Todd Frazier, and Amed Rosario.
The Mets have completely and utterly wasted $20 million on a player who cannot play due to knee injuries. What makes this ironic is the Mets purportedly non-tendered Wilmer Flores partially due to knee injuries which never really existed.
While it was initially reported Flores had arthritis, subsequent reports indicated that was a misdiagnosis. In fact, Flores had tendonitis. Instead of paying him less than $5 million, or working out a team friendly extension he might’ve been inclined to sign, Flores would go to Arizona.
While he had his usual health issues, Flores had a productive season with the Diamondbacks. While continuing to improve against right-handed pitching, he had a 120 wRC+, which was the best of his career. He mostly held his own at second with a -2 DRS and a 1 OAA. That’s right, according to OAA, Flores was a positive defender. Overall, he was worth a 0.8 WAR in 89 games.
Lost in that was Flores’ clutch gene. The same player who is the Mets all-time leader in game winning RBI came up huge down the stretch for the Diamondbacks. From August to the end of the season, he hit .368/.410/.623. His 166 wRC+ over this stretch ranked as the fifth best in the majors.
While this was not enough for Flores’ option to be picked up by the Diamondbacks, he was signed by the San Francisco Giants to a two year $6.25 million deal. In total, that’s $10 million over three years for Flores. Put another way, that’s what Lowrie made in 2019 alone for his eight pinch hitting attempts.
Going forward, the Mets attempts to get another team to take on Lowrie’s contract so they could make another move failed. Meanwhile, Flores is 28 years old and in the prime of his career. Seeing the continued improvements he has made against right-handed pitching and OAA rating his defense much better, Flores could out-play his contract.
In the end, the Mets had a player in Flores who was popular, had a right-handed bat which complimented their heavy left-handed hitting lineup, was comfortable and effective on the bench, and could backup at all four infield positions. Rather than keep him around, Van Wagenen opted to sign his former client who cannot play to a $20 million deal.
This past week I appeared on the Simply Amazin’ podcast to discuss a number of issues facing the Mets right now.
During the podcast I mentioned Anthony Kay, Ali Sanchez, Vince Coleman, Mackey Sasser, T.J. Rivera, Noah Syndergaard, David Peterson, Edwin Diaz, Robinson Cano, Jeff McNeil, Pete Alonso, Brandon Nimmo, Amed Rosario, Ryley Gilliam, Steve Villines, Andres Gimenez, Juan Centeno, and others.
Please click the link and listen.
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.
The Mets went to Philadelphia to take on a wounded Phillies team who was aboslutely reeling. You knew after this series one of these two teams would still be standing, and the other will look like their past offseason was all for naught. Well, the Mets bullpen would make sure that would happen:
1. As noted by Michael Mayer, the last time a team blew five games where they led by at least two runs was the 2011 Mets. No, not the last time the Mets did it – the last time anyone did it. The closer that year was Francisco Rodriguez with Pedro Beato, Bobby Parnell, and Jason Isringhausen serving as setup men. Prior to this season, no one was saying “Come get us!”
2. We can talk about different parts of this Mets team getting exposed, but no one was more exposed than Brodie Van Wagenen. He mismanaged the “crisis” with Mickey Callaway and Jason Vargas. The media reported his involvement in game decisions like removing Jacob deGrom from a game. There were reports it was more than that as well.
4. This debacle is reminiscent of the 1993 Mets with Vince Coleman throwing fireworks at fans and Bret Saberhagen dousing reporters in bleach. What’s the common denominator between those two Mets teams? The Wilpons.
5. It was good for the Wilpons to take nine years to finally do the right thing by honoring Tom Seaver. Of course, they waited so long Seaver is now suffering from dementia so he cannot travel for these honors, and he may also not have the mental faculties to enjoy the honors being bestowed upon him.
6. The article by Wallace Matthews of Yahoo is completely ridiculous. Not only does he call Vargas the team’s most reliable starter, but he gets a chance to speak with Jeff Wilpon. With that access, he talks about the incident with Tim Healey instead of literally anything else. Honestly, if Jeff wants to talk about that, don’t bother. It’s a waste of time.
7. Jeff Wilpon’s silence on the state of this team and the continual inept way it is run from a number of facets should be met by fans with silence. We could call to organize a boycott or something, but in reality, the team being this soul crushingly bad is going to keep the fans away anyway. When that happens, Jeff’s silence will be met with silence.
8. Worse than that, Jay Bruce gets a key pinch hit home run and a walk off double, Robinson Cano has multiple 0-for-5’s, and Edwin Diaz blows a save. Right there, his biggest move completely busted. Actually, that’s not fair, it was a bust long before that.
9. So much for scapegoating Dave Eiland and Chuck Hernandez because the Mets bullpen imploded in the four game set. Worse yet, these were games the Mets absolutely should have won:
The Mets' peak win probabilities for these four games in Philadelphia:
MON: 68.2 percent
TUES: 86.1 percent
WED: 95 percent
THRS: 92.6 percent
They went 0-4.
— Tim Britton (@TimBritton) June 27, 2019
10. What Dominic Smith has done this season has been nothing short of remarkable. This team needs to be smart and really look at him in left field for the rest of the year to determine if he can be a long term solution there. If nothing else, the Mets need as many cheap bats as they can get.
11. Amed Rosario has had a number of peaks and valleys, and recently, this has been a bit of a peak. Over his last 11 games, he is hitting .342/.366/.500 with four stolen bases in as many attempts. Ultimately, there still remains hope for him.
12. The Mets need to figure out what to do with Cano, and they need to figure it out sooner rather than later. Realistically speaking, he needs to be moved to a less demanding position like third base and get some days off. As each day passes, it’s clear he can’t play second everyday.
13. Moving Cano to third solves the problem there, and it allows the team to move Jeff McNeil back to second base. This should clear that spot for Smith and hopefully Brandon Nimmo if his injury proves to not be career altering.
14. Speaking of Nimmo, only the Mets could take a talented fan favorite player like him, have him get to an All Star level, and then do all they can to completely ruin him. It’s a not so fun pattern with this team.
15. Todd Frazier has done a lot to help this team and build his trade value. The problem is he’s still a rental who is not really getting you something in return. Really, if you want to make a difference at the deadline, you need to trade major pieces, but with the young talent so close, you can’t do that either.
16. Michael Conforto continues to show himself to be both a great and underappreciated player. He should be an All Star this season. If he isn’t, it’s because this team stinks, and the organization can’t be bothered to promote it’s most talented and perhaps best position player.
17. Chris Mazza getting called up at 29 years old is a feel good story. It’s a feel good story just like Tyler Pill and Drew Gagnon was before him. He should enjoy the moment, but we shouldn’t be expecting anything from him.
18. Chris Flexen looks like a real weapon in the bullpen. Brooks Pounders may become that as well. The optimistic Mets fans could look at them joining Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman in front of Diaz, who really cannot be this bad next year, to become a formidable bullpen. As Mets fans, we should know better than to hope.
19. Callaway does sound ridiculous when he says the Mets are so close, but he’s not wrong. This team continues to fight and play hard. If they had even a capable bullpen, they’d be in a much better position. If fact, this is the only team in baseball with more blown saves (20) than saves (18). If you just take back half of those blown saves, the Mets are 47-35, which puts them a game out of first place.
20. Short of honoring the 1969 Mets this weekend, and maybe sometime late in the season to see if Pete Alonso breaks some home run records, there is zero reason to go see the Mets at Citi Field other than your love of the Mets and baseball. The latter is why the Wilpons have us and will never sell the team.
With Jacob deGrom receiving his contract extension, it appears he is going to be a Mets pitcher during his prime, and it sets the stage for him to join David Wright and Ed Kranepool as Mets for life. With that being the bulk of the list, there is a host of Mets players who got away. The most famous of which was Tom Seaver who headlined the Midnight Massacre. Putting Seaver aside, the Mets bloggers discussed those players who got away:
Michael Ganci (Daily Stache)
Honestly in recent memory John Olerud comes to mind. He had one of the best pure swings I can remember. Other than that I guess you have to bring up Daniel Murphy and Justin Turner, but who saw those coming?
Daniel Murphy is the most recent Met to have gotten away. And, I’ve heard there are people in the front office who would like a mulligan on that one as well. Having him in 2016 and 2017 would’ve been huge, and not having him kill the Mets in DC would have been huge too.
Allison McCague (Amazin’ Avenue)
To me the most egregious example of a Met getting away is Justin Turner, simply by virtue of how little it would have cost to keep him. Of course, it was impossible to know that he would put up the numbers he did after leaving the Mets, but unlike the Murphy situation where it was a choice not to sign the player as a free agent, they non-tendered a perfectly serviceable utility man just because they didn’t want to pay him and trashed his character on the way out for good measure. I think a dark horse candidate in this conversation, however, would be Collin McHugh, who changed his approach after joining the Astros by throwing his fastball less often and his off-speed pitches more often to much greater success than he ever had as a Met. And now he remains a key piece in the Astros bullpen as they head into another season where they will likely make a push for the postseason.
I’ll give you Justin Turner for sure. What irks me is he’s a good guy and even in the form he was in when he was here, was a valuable piece for the solution. That he evolved thanks to the tutelage of Marlon Byrd while he was here makes it even worse, since this version of Justin Turner would‘ve unquestionably transformed the Mets.
Metstradamus (Metstradamus Blog)
James Schapiro (Shea Bridge Report)
Mark Healey (Gotham Baseball)
Olerud; he was a far superior player to Todd Zeile. Just look at his seasons 2000-02; think he would have helped? In my opinion, if Mets have Olerud, they win 2000 World Series. My God, remember the Zeile farewell tour? Infamnia!
Tim Ryder (MMO)
I’m gonna hesitantly go with Melvin Mora. The guy he got traded away for, Mike Bordick, was a fine pickup and helped that 2000 team get over the hump, no doubt. But Mora went on to have a solid little career and Bordick was back in Baltimore via free agency the following season.
Greg Prince (Faith and Fear in Flushing)
The Mets let 18-year-old Paul Blair go to the Orioles in the minor league draft of 1962. Blair played 18 seasons in the majors, winning eight Gold Gloves as the premier AL center fielder of his generation.
Then again, had the Mets kept Blair, they wouldn’t have needed to trade for Tommie Agee prior to 1968, and Agee robbed Blair in the 1969 Series, so all’s well that ended well, perhaps.
Pete McCarthy (OABT)
I thought Nolan Ryan was the only answer to this question, but there are some fun ones in here. Yay Mets!
Far be it from me to disagree with you Pete but Ryan wanted out as much as the Mets were frustrated with him. It wasn’t so much that they traded Ryan and he became a Hall of Famer after it’s what they traded him for.
Scott Kazmir would like a word.
There is always going to be a part of me who wonders what would have happened if the Mets kept Darryl Strawberry. He would have one good year in Los Angeles before everything fell apart for both him and the Mets. For those who forget, the Mets opted to replace him with Vince Coleman, who was detestable as a Met, and it lead to a series of poor decisions which built as bad and unlikable a Mets team as we have ever seen. For Strawberry, his personal problems were far worse than anything the Mets encountered.
Looking at everything, there are a number of mistakes like trading Jeff Kent for Carlos Baerga, but that at least indirectly led to the team signing Robin Ventura. Murphy leaving transferred the balance of power back to the Nationals.
But overall, the one which comes to mind right now is Matt Harvey. For Harvey, it was more than trading him for Devin Mesoraco. It was everything. The 2013 version looked like future Hall of Fame. The 2015 version looked like a staff ace. The ramifications of that 2015 season were far reaching, and we never saw Harvey return, literally and figuratively.
Before you go away from this piece, please sure you click on the links and visit the sites of those who have taken their time to contribute to this roundtable.
Also, a very special congratulations to Pete McCarthy and his wife on the birth of their baby girl!
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.