In their history, the Mets have had a number of truly awful free agent signings. Their foibles on the free agent market have inspired books, and they have led to the Mets having prolonged down periods which have led to the team being under .500 for extended periods and eventually rebuilding. Their mistakes are not limited to just any position. Really, they have made mistakes across the diamond:
C Rod Barajas (1 year, $500,000) – In the Mets history, they have had just four free agents catchers as their Opening Day starter with Barajas being one of them. With respect to Barajas, he was the cheap option in a truly uninspiring free agent group of catcher, and he would not last the season getting released towards the end of August.
1B Eddie Murray (2 years, $7.5 million) – Murray was the first piece the Mets locked down in what was to be known as the Worst Team Money Could Buy. In his previous stops, he was a surefire Hall of Famer and one of the best switch hitters to ever play the game. With the Mets, Murray had two disappointing seasons where he hit .274/.330/.446.
2B Luis Castillo (4 years, $25 million) – In 2007, the Mets needed a second baseman, and the team was able to get Castillo for nearly nothing. While that team collapsed, Castillo was hardly to blame hitting .316/.404/.418 over the final month of the season. To that end, it made sense to bring him back but not for the extreme overpay which was immediately panned by everyone. Castillo would disappoint from that point forward, and eh woudl become a symbol of what was wrong with the team with the seminal moment being his dropping Alex Rodriguez‘s pop up leading to the Mets losing a game to the Yankees.
3B Todd Frazier (2 years, $17 million) – After a year in which Frazier had his first ever trips to the deisabled list and he had a careeer worst .390 SLG and .693 OPS, he was an obvious candidate. Frankly, the choice was much easier when you consider how well Robin Ventura played during his Mets tenure and the Mets predominantly using homegrown players or trades to fill the position.
SS Kazuo Matsui (3 years, $20.1 million) – Despite the presence of Jose Reyes, the Mets opted to sign Matsui to be their shortstop. It looked like a great move when Matsui homered in his first ever at=bat, but it was all downhill from there as Matsui disappointed at the plate and in the field. Matsui dealt with injuries, was moved to second base, had a negative WAR in his last two years with the Mets, and he was eventually traded for Eli Marrero, who lasted just two months with the Mets.
LF George Foster (5 years, $10 million) – The Mets first free agent splash was Foster, and in many ways, Foster set the tone for some for the big moves the Mets would make in the future. Foster would go from being an All Star who hit .295/.373/.519 to someone who hit .252/.307/.422 in a Mets uniform. Overall, Foster had a rocky tenure with the team, and he would be released in 1986 after making comments to the press.
CF Vince Coleman (4 years, $11.95 million) – It wasn’t enough the Mets let Darryl Strawberry go to the Dodgers they replaced them with Coleman, a player who tortured the Mets. If Mets fans didn’t despise him enough when he wore a Cardinals uniform, they certainly did during his Mets tenure which featured not just poor play but also throwing firecrackers at a group of fans.
RF Roger Cedeno (4 years, $18 million) Cedeno wasn’t just an important part of the 1999 team, but he would also serve as a key piece of the trade which brought the Mets Mike Hampton. When he was a free agent, the Mets pounced to bring him back. Just three years later, he was a shadow of the player he was leading to his being traded to Wilson Delgado.
SP Oliver Perez (3 year $36 million) – After being obtaine by the Padresx, Perez was great in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS, won 15 games in 2007, and gave the Mets every chance to win in the final game every played in Shea Stadium. Despite all of that, there were red flags everywhere, and Perez predictably failed after getting his big free agent deal. He struggled, and he would refuse a stint in the minors leading to the team freezing him out. His Mets career would end in infamy as he was brought into the 14th inning of the final game of the season after not having pitched in nearly a month. He’d be released after the season with a one year and $12 million left on his deal.
RP Francisco Rodriguez (3 years, $37 million) -Needing a close, the Mets went out and signed the closer who just set the single season saves record to a massive contract. In his first year in the deal, he had the second most blown saves in the NL and a then career worst ERA, strikeouts, WHIP, HR/9, BB/9, and K/9. In the second year of his deal, he was placed on the restricted list after being arrested for assaulting his girlfriend’s father in the family room at Citi Field. The Mets finally traded him in the last year of his deal to accomplish both rebuilding and to prevent an onerous option from being activated.
In Brodie Van Wagenen’s first offseason as Mets manager, it is incumbent upon him to navigate through the minefield of potential free agent busts which are lurking. The success of the 2019 Mets and his success during his tenure as the Mets General Manager depends on it.
With the way things are going with the New York Mets, it is becoming increasingly clear this team will be in position to sell at the trade deadline. The question is what in the world do the Mets have to sell.
Well, the biggest asset the Mets have right now is Jacob deGrom. If he was ever truly available, you would have 29 teams lining up to give you their best prospects. The problem with that is, you could assume the Mets will not deal with either the Yankees or the Nationals. With the Yankees, you are taking one deep farm system off the table, and that is assuming the Yankees would part with their top prospects in a trade with the Mets.
Overall, based on recent comments from Sandy Alderson, it does not appear the Mets are trading deGrom anytime soon, which is a relief because Sandy really does poor work at the trade deadline. He’s much better working deals in the offseason.
So when looking at players to trade, you obviously begin with guys on the last year of their deals. Well, the Mets don’t have much to offer there:
Jerry Blevins – the LOOGY has a 5.28 ERA, 1.761 WHIP, and a 6.5 BB/9. Worse than that, left-handed batters are hitting .351/.415/.514 off of him.
Jose Bautista – When he was released, the Mets were seemingly the only team who called him, and it’s hard to imagine teams giving up much for a second division bench player with a .366 SLG.
Asdrubal Cabrera – A year after the Mets found no takers for him, they may be in the same position after having him play through injuries. Since April 24th, he’s hitting .233/.269/.423 while playing the worst defensive second base in the majors (-10 DRS).
Jeurys Familia – If he returns from the DL healthy, Familia has real value because he has once again shown himself to be a good reliever and closer. The issue with him is Sandy Alderson flipped Addison Reed, who was healthier and having a better year, for an uninspiring group of Gerson Bautista, Jamie Callahan, and Stephen Nogosek.
Devin Mesoraco – Briefly, Mesoraco was a revelation showing power and helping buttress a struggling Mets lineup. The hot streak has worn off, and he’s hitting .107 with no extra base hits over his last nine games.
AJ Ramos – Ramos is contemplating season ending shoulder surgery. That would take him off the table. The same can be said for his 6.41 ERA.
Jose Reyes – He’s the worst player in all of baseball this year; one the Mets are reportedly asking to retire.
Alright, so the Mets don’t have much in terms of players on expiring deals. Maybe, the team can look at players whose deals are expiring after the 2019 season:
Todd Frazier – The normally durable Frazier landed on the DL, and he has not been the power hitter he has been in his career. The positives are he’s kept a solid walk rate while playing a solid third base. Overall, he’s the type of player who is of more value to you than to what you would get back in a deal.
Jason Vargas – He’s now a five inning pitcher with a 7.39 ERA.
Zack Wheeler – Wheeler is an interesting case because he has shown promise, but he is still prone to the occasional hiccups. He’s probably not due for a large arbitration increase from his $1.8 million, which should be enticing for a Mets team who probably doesn’t want to spend $8 million to replace him with next year’s Vargas.
So, right now, looking at the expiring deals by the end of the 2019 season, the Mets assets basically amount to Familia and maybe Frazier and Wheeler. Arguably, Frazier and Wheeler are not bringing back the type of players who would be key pieces of a rebuild. To that extent, you at least have to question why you would move them on a Mets team with a fairly solid core which includes Brandon Nimmo, Michael Conforto, Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman, Noah Syndergaard, and deGrom.
And really, past that group, there isn’t much else available for the Mets to trade to justify blowing it up.
Jay Bruce is injured, and he already looks like he’s in a group with Jason Bay and Vince Coleman for the worst free agent mistake in Mets history. Yoenis Cespedes is both injury prone and has a no trade deal, which will likely limit their ability to move him.
Really, what the Mets need to be doing is some soul searching.
Much like they did when they extended David Wright, the team needs to assess whether players like deGrom and Syndergaard will be here when promising young players like Andres Gimenez, David Peterson, Justin Dunn, Mark Vientos, and Jarred Kelenic are here to open the Mets next World Series window.
If they’re not, you’re doing the franchise a complete disservice by hanging in this if everything breaks right structure. Really, things only broke right in 2015, and the team has been ill designed every since.
Blow it up now, or start spending money on players like Manny Machado this offseaosn. If you’re not doing that, this Mets team isn’t going anywhere for at least the next decade.
With one bold move, the Mets completely transformed their team with the acquistion of Mike Piazza. While he was not immediately adored (he was replacing the injured fan favorite Todd Hundley), he became a beloved Met.
To understand the Piazza adoration, you first have to understand what was happening. Honestly, I think things were worse in 1998 than they were now. The Mets were in year 10 of a rebuild from the glorious 80’s teams. That involved every player Mets fans loved leaving the team. The first step in the rebuild was The Worst Team Money Could Buy. This started some depressing baseball.
After that was the Vince Coleman firecracker incident. There was also the Bret Saberhagen bleach incident. The fans took everything out on Bobby Bonilla, who would wear earplugs to drown out the booing. It’s hard to see a team lose without trying. It’s worse to see a team try and be incompetent in doing so.This all set the Mets back years. Throw in the 1994 season ending strike, and you had the nadir of Mets baseball in my lifetime.
Nope, it wasn’t quite the nadir yet. The rebuild for the 90’s Mets was based on the same theory as the current Mets. It was based upon pitching. The problem is it didn’t work in the 90’s. The Mets entrusted Generation K to Dallas Green. All of the arms burned out. They were all injured under his watch. The Mets switched to Steve Phillips and Bobby Valentine, and things started getting better. It’s hard to imagine it, but 88 wins felt like the Mets had actually won something.
Part of the reason is the Mets acquired Mike Piazza. He came to the Mets in 1998 and he hit .348/.417/.607 with 23 homers and 76 RBI in 109 games. He did what Mets fans thought Yoenis Cespedes did in 2015. He carried the team for almost a whole season. He transformed the team. The Mets had no choice but to bring him back.
In 1999, he became the second Met to hit 40 home runs in a season. He led the team to the playoffs (even if they needed a play-in game to get there). He hit a homerun in the 1999 NLCS that I seriously thought was going to help propel the Mets to win Game 6 and complete the then impossible:
In 2000, he again led the Mets to the postseason. For much of that year, he was considered an MVP candidate. Unfortunately, the Mets lost as Piazza’s ball didn’t carry far enough. It was a shame because Piazza was the reason Mets fans had pride. He was the reason the Mets fans believed they could win it all. He was the reason the Mets could step toe to toe with the Yankees.
They did. There were some epic games between the two teams back when the Subway Series mattered. Everyone remembers the Matt Franco single, but they forget the two Piazza bombs in that game:
Did you see where that ball went? How epic was that bat flip? He was a dangerous and feared hitter. It’s why Roger Clemens went after him not once but twice. But getting back to the home runs, it was one of several huge home runs he hit for the Mets. Do you remember the homerun he hit against the Braves capping off a huge comeback:
I remember being there that night. It was insane. That homerun sums up his tenure with the Mets perfectly. Even against teams like the seemingly unbeatable Braves and Yankees, the Mets always had a chance no matter how bleak the odds were. Seeing those highlights made me a little emotional. That reminds me of this moment:
To me, that’s still the greatest homerun ever hit. If you didn’t forever love and respect Piazza before that night, you did now. It’s part of the reason why after he left Mets fans still cheered him. I know I returned in 2006 for his first game back. It was important for me to cheer the man that meant so much to Mets fans:
I remember the constant standing ovations and cheering his name. I just wish I was there for the next night when he got a curtain call:
Seriously, how many visiting players get a curtain call? This moment shows how much Piazza means to Mets fans. We loved him. It seems he loved us back. He came back to close out Shea and open up Citi Field. He is now the guy who throws out the first pitch at World Series games.
Whether it’s today or in the future, Mike Piazza will be a Hall of Famer. He deserves it. Mets fans deserve it. It’s important to a of us. We want to see him recognized for all he did for the Mets and all Mets fans. My favorite Mets teams were the ones with Mike Piazza. He’s my favorite Met. He’s my favorite player.
It’s important to me and all Mets fans he gets elected to the Hall of Fame.
In 1991, the Mets streak of finishing second or better in the NL East came to an end. The Mets had a 77-84 record, good for second to last in the division.
Part of the problem was the Mets had a hard time retooling. Davey Johnson gave way to Bud Harrelson. Frank Cashen gave way to Jerry Hunsicker. Darryl Strawberry gave way to Vince Coleman. Gary Carter initially gave way to Mackey Sasser, who was terrific until he came down with Steve Blass Disease. The Mets knew they needed another catcher, so they traded for Magic Man Number 5 Charlie O’Brien:
O’Brien was meant to be that classic backup catcher who was terrific defensively. That was his reputation. However, he couldn’t play everyday because he was terrible offensively. In 1991, his first full year with the Mets (only year he wore 5 with the team), he hit .185/.272/.256. For his Mets career, he would hit .212/.289/.309. While with the Mets, he would only play in losing teams.
Really, his only claim to fame was his hockey style catcher’s mask, which he wouldn’t wear in a game until he was long gone from the Mets. Ultimately, he would serve as a mentor to the young Todd Hundley, but that would not be for a few more years.
Charlie O’Brien reminds me of earlier this year when the Mets couldn’t generate any offense. He reminds me of a time when the Mets were trending downward as opposed to being on the verge of something potentially great. He reminds me that older players can effectively mentor younger players to help them be the best players they can be.
Charlie O’Brien may have been on a Mets team that was heading in a different direction, but he exhibited some of the virtues that have helped make this Mets team great. So with that, let’s tip our caps to Magic Man Number 5 Charlie O’Brien.
That’s fine. I was able to find a truly despicable Met in Vince Coleman:
Coleman was a terrible Met, and if his Mets tenure was any indication, he was a terrible human being. It all came to a head in 1993, the only year Coleman wore 11, for a 59-103 Mets team.
That was the year Coleman crossed the line you do not cross. He attacked the fans. After a July game, he threw a M-100, which is used by the military to simulate grenades, towards a group of 200+ fans less than 30 feet away. It was described as nothing more than a prank. I guess it’s alright that he threw the firecracker because they were heckled after not stopping for autographs.
Unsurprisingly, there were fans injured. This included a two year old girl who suffered from second degree burns, a lacerated cornea, and an index finger injury. So no, I don’t agree with Coleman when he says he’s “no monster.” Who does this to people? By the way, where was Bud Selig, who was then acting commissioner? The lack of a suspension makes Roger Goodell look like he has a clue. Speaking of punishments, Coleman would serve no jail time, get 200 hours of community serve, and owe a small fine.
This was the lowlight of an otherwise dreadful 1993 season. It was a season that reminded you that sometimes your team is hard to root for when it has terrible people. It’s not only the baseball is bad, but the players are terrible as well. They don’t respect each other, the fans, or the game. They suck a the fun out of everything.
When I first thought of Coleman and the 1993 Mets, I was irritated. However, I began to think of the 2015 Mets and how they are the polar opposite in every way. This team is enjoyable. They play hard. They respect the fans. In fact, thinking of the 1993 team has made me appreciate this team all the more. Since that was the goal of this series, I guess mission accomplished.
I’m not offering a hat tip here to Coleman. He doesn’t deserve it. Let’s tip our caps to the 2015 Mets and hope they complete their mission to win the World Series. Lets Go Mets!