When the World Baseball Classic rolls around, there is a fear it is going to negatively impact the players. Certainly, Buck Showalter has spoken out about that recently. If you are a defeatist New York Mets fan, you can point to J.J. Putz participating in the 2013 WBC before having the worst season of his career.
However, to be fair there, Putz was already injured. As had been reported, Putz wasn’t really given a physical, and that he was pushed to pitch through a painful bone spur which hindered his performance. That was back in the days of Jeff Wilpon making medical decisions which included forcing an injured and shut down Pedro Martinez to pitch and attempting to prevent Carlos Beltran from having career saving knee surgery.
Going back to Beltran, he participated for Puerto Rico in the inaugural 2006 World Baseball Classic. In fact, the Mets had a heavy contingent of players at that event, which included:
- Carlos Beltran (Puerto Rico)
- Endy Chavez (Venezuela)
- Carlos Delgado (Puerto Rico)
- Pedro Feliciano (Puerto Rico)
- Jose Reyes (Dominican Republic)
- Duaner Sanchez (Dominican Republic)
- Jose Valentin (Puerto Rico)
Looking at that list, each and everyone one of these players had a great 2006 season, and their great seasons started by playing in the World Baseball Classic.
Beltran went from the biggest free agent bust in baseball history, even worse than Bobby Bonilla. Beltran probably should have won the 2006 NL MVP as he was an All-Star while winning the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger. He probably should have won the MVP award with his finishing second to just Albert Pujols in WAR. Arguably, this remains the single best regular season in Mets history.
Chavez would also have a career year. He was always a great fielder, but he could not hit. He would have a 101 wRC+ while playing great defensively. We still talk about that catch robbing Scott Rolen of a home run to this day.
Delgado had a very good year in his first year with the Mets. However, he would be special in the postseason hitting four home runs.
Feliciano was almost left off the Mets Opening Day roster after returning to the organization after a year in Japan. He stayed on the roster, and he would have a breakout season which led him on a path to becoming the best LOOGY in Mets history.
Sanchez was a reliever Omar Minaya gambled on when he traded Jae Weong Seo to get him. Minaya looked like a genius as Sanchez might’ve been the best set-up man that season, and if he didn’t get in that cab, the Mets probably win the World Series that season.
Entering 2006, Reyes was still this great raw talent who had not been able to harness his ability. That 2006 season was the season which Reyes became that dynamic lead-off hitter and shortstop the Mets knew he could be. He learned plate discipline, hit for power, and of course, stole bases. He was a first time All-Star, and he had what proved to be the best season of his career.
Finally, there was Valentin. In the previous season with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the then 35 year old looked done as he hit .170/.326/.265. To be honest, things didn’t look all that great in April for Valentin. However, due to a myriad of injuries at second base, he was given the job, and he was the missing piece that roster needed. He capped off a great season by hitting two homers in the NL East clincher.
That Mets team was a special team, and it still goes down as one of the best regular seasons in team history. For that to happen, they needed almost everything to break right, and it did. That process all started with these Mets players participating in the WBC.
Looking forward to 2023, the Mets are sending a heavy contingent of players including very important ones like Pete Alonso, Edwin Diaz, Jeff McNeil, and Francisco Lindor. If 2006 is any guide, this should be a springboard for these and the other Mets participating meaning we are about to see another great Mets season.
After David Wright signed his seven year $122 million contract, we knew he was going to re-write the New York Mets record books, and he did. If not for spinal stenosis, he would have put all the records well out of reach. Unfortunately, he did get injured, and as a result, he did put the records in play.
Other than Tim Healey of Newsday jokingly referring to Nimmo putting the hit by pitch record completely out of reach, we have not heard the same of Brandon Nimmo when he signed his eight year $162 million contract extension. However, that is very much in play.
Remember, Nimmo is now in his prime coming off a career year (in terms of WAR), and now, he has eight years to be able to accumulate stats. Here are the Mets records and how far Nimmo trails:
Nimmo trails by a good number in most of these categories, but again, he has eight years to make up the difference. Here is what Nimmo would have to average over his eight seasons to go atop the leader-board in each of the respective categories:
Well, right off the bat, we can say Jose Reyes‘ team records will remain in tact. While both are lead-off hitters, they are completely different ones. As a result, while Nimmo can steal you a base, and he did lead the league in triples this past season, he’s simply never catching Reyes even if we may eventually view Nimmo as the best lead-off hitter in team history.
We can come close to saying Ed Kranepool‘s one remaining team record will remain in tact. With his injury history, it’s safe to say there is just no way we can reasonably expect Nimmo to play 156 games per season. If he plays 151 like he did this past season, that is a win.
Finally, we can be assured Nimmo will not threat Strawberry. Certainly, Pete Alonso may eventually destroy that record, but he is going to have to sign his own extension in the future to do that.
While the aforementioned Mets legends are safe, Wright’s position atop the leader-boards is a little tenuous. On the bright side for Wright, Nimmo shouldn’t be in a position to surpass him in RBI. It also looks like Wright’s doubles lead may be safe but is far from secure.
One thing to remember is going forward Major League Baseball has banned this shift. That creates chances for more hits, and Nimmo should be one of many beneficiaries of this change. As a result, we may seem him make a real run at Wright’s hits lead. With Nimmo’s ability to draw walks, he should claim that record as well, and with all of his times on base, Wright’s runs scored record may also fall.
In a circuitous way, that brings us to WAR, or put another way Wright’s standing as the best position player in Mets history. When Nimmo has played at least 140 games in a season he has surpassed that 4.0 WAR mark. The caveat is he’s only done that twice in his career. However, Nimmo will be a beneficiary of the Mets investments in player health, which is something we saw play out with him playing 151 games this past season.
Nimmo averaging a 4.0 WAR over the next eight seasons is very much in play. With some big seasons early in this contract, he may very well surpass Wright. Of course, who will be seen as the best position player in Mets history is usually more subjective than objective. For example, Wright is universally seen as being a better Met than Strawberry even though Strawberry averaged a higher WAR, was a better higher (higher wRC+), and has a World Series ring partially the result of Strawberry’s postseason success.
The key for Nimmo is health. That is something that eluded him most of his career, and health is the reason why many of Wright’s records are even in reach. In the end, it will be great to see Nimmo try to surpass Wright in all of these categories, and if he does that’s a good thing because it will mean success for him and the team.
One of the topics discussed with Jacob deGrom‘s free agency was his New York Mets legacy. If he were to stay, he was definitively going to surpass David Wright as the best player in team history to spend his entire career with the Mets. However, deGrom signed with the Texas Rangers leaving Wright’s legacy secured.
That is not to say Wright’s legacy is set in stone. There are other players who could potentially challenge Wright’s status with the franchise. One of those players could be Brandon Nimmo.
Nimmo has started to make some headway onto the Mets record books. He’s fourth all-time in OBP, 11th in SLG and triples, 21st in runs scored, and 29th in doubles. He’s in the top 30 in a number of other categories. He’s also fifth all-time in wRC+ and sixth in OPS+.
Put another way, Nimmo has been one of the more dynamic offensive weapons in Mets history. He is not seen as such, but one day he could be viewed as the best lead-off hitter in team history. At the moment, that title probably belongs to Jose Reyes partially due to his longevity, and also, partially because of the stolen bases and triples.
In terms of Wright and Reyes, Nimmo has proven to be the far superior defender. Yes, Wright has the two Gold Gloves, but for his career, he had a -24 DRS. We can ignore OAA because there is only data for his 2016 season when he should not have been in the field due to the spinal stenosis. For his part, Reyes had a -60 DRS at short.
Nimmo was great this year in center with a 6 OAA. Much of that is in thanks to the Mets rebuilt scouting and analytical departments who positioned Nimmo better in the outfield. At the moment, he is a very good defensive center fielder. Over the long term, we know he will age well as he has experience playing good defense in the corners.
All told, Nimmo looks like the type of player who can emerge as one of the true greats in franchise history. In fact, he could emerge as the best.
He’s knocking at the door in terms of advanced offensive metrics like wRC+ and OPS+. We also see his defense at a level where he has become very good. That all should translate to WAR. That did this past season with him having a 5.1 bWAR and 5.4 fWAR. Of course, that is where things get a little more dicey with him.
At the moment, Nimmo ranks 14th among position players in Mets history with a 17.2 bWAR. That leaves him trailing Wright’s 49.2 by 32.0. His 17.9 fWAR ranks 13th, and he trails Wright’s 51.2 by 33.3. That is a significant gap.
However, as we learned with Wright’s career, you need to both stay and be healthy. For his part, Wright did stay, but sadly, he was not healthy as his career came to a very premature end due to spinal stenosis. When it comes to Nimmo, for most of his career, he has been injury prone, but for the first time this year, he was relatively healthy.
If Nimmo can stay healthy and stay, there’s a chanced he catches Wright. Assuming he lands a five year deal, he would have to average a 6.4 bWAR and 6.7 fWAR to catch Wright. Considering Nimmo’s high is a 5.1, that is a steep ask, but then again, he is capable of doing it or coming close to it.
Keeping in mind there is a universal DH and an ability to move to one of the corners, there is a chance Nimmo could play longer into his career and remain productive. We did see it with a player like Curtis Granderson. Again, while we can dicker over the likeliness of it all, it still remains a possibility.
However, for all of that to even be a discussion, the first step has to happen. Nimmo has to stay and re-sign. Of course, that’s not all on Nimmo. Much of that is on the Mets. When it comes to that, Nimmo being the only real center fielder on the market means the Mets have no other choice than to step up and keep him.
We saw Jacob deGrom leave. That was unfortunate. The Mets cannot let Nimmo leave. They need to keep him and let him secure his own legacy as a member of the New York Mets.
When you look at New York Mets history, only Tom Seaver was better than Jacob deGrom. M. Donald Grant was dumb enough and had a big enough ego to get rid of Seaver.
When Steve Cohen purchased the Mets there was an implicit promise we’d never see the organization lose a legend again. Well, first chance a Mets legend had to leave, he left. That makes deGrom signing with the Texas Rangers Cohen’s Seaver moment.
When Cohen first purchased the team, there was an inquiry as to what it would take to get deGrom not to exercise his opt out. It didn’t get done, and as we would learn, it would never get done.
As time passed, deGrom saw the Mets make Francisco Lindor the highest paid shortstop in the game. Max Scherzer was given the highest AAV. Edwin Díaz received the largest ever contract for a reliever.
As for deGrom, well, the Mets never made an offer after the ace officially opted out. Worse yet, they didn’t formulate one, nor were they in a position to act quickly if another team heavily pursued him.
To be fair, there is a conflicting report where the Mets made a very strong opening offer. Notably, the contract was less in terms of AAV than what the team gave Scherzer.
This could be a Jose Reyes situation when signed with the Miami Marlins. The team moved on from the player and never made an offer.
It could also be Darryl Strawberry signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers. At that point, both sides knew the relationship was over with Strawberry going to his preferred destination.
Whatever the case, Cohen had the money to keep deGrom, but he didn’t do enough to keep him. If there was a contract that could’ve enticed deGrom to stay, the Mets never got remotely close to positioning themselves to make it. That holds true for whichever report you believe.
If deGrom was going to leave no matter the circumstances, even despite his current and former teammates saying he wanted to stay, the Mets were ill prepared.
If you know deGrom is leaving no matter what, trade him. The package you receive will FAR exceed the compensatory fourth round pick the Mets get for deGrom signing with Texas.
Want to say paying a 40 year old deGrom $37 million was too much? Well, we’re all about to talk ourselves into the Mets giving a 39 year old Justin Verlander $40+ million for multiple years.
We can and will keep going back-and-forth on this. What we’re left with is the best pitcher in baseball no longer resides in Queens.
Whatever we all choose to believe, there’s just the simple truth Jacob deGrom is a Texas Rangers ace. He’s an ex-Met. That was something we never could’ve imagined happening with Steve Cohen owning the Mets.
At this point, there’s nothing left for Mets fans to do but wish deGrom the best and thank him for everything. The Mets front office now has to make sure this doesn’t come back to haunt them.
We will soon find out if this was the best for all involved. Hopefully, it is, and eventually, when it comes time for the Hall of Fame and retiring his number, deGrom will again belong to the Mets just as it should be.
When we discuss batting titles, we usually go back to Ted Williams hitting .406 in 1941. As the lore goes, Williams could have sat and hit .400 for the season. Instead, he played both ends of the doubleheader going 6-for-8 at the plate raising his average to .406.
We need to keep in mind that Boston Red Sox team finished the season 17 games behind the New York Yankees. All Williams had to play for that season was the batting title. Williams was also in a race with himself. He had the batting title locked up. It was all about hitting .400.
At the time, Williams was not literally batting .400. It was a .400 after .399 was rounded up. By going to the plate that day, he made it a more legitimate .400. More than that, that mark was all Williams had to play for that season. He made sure he was going to get it, and there would be no question we got it.
Fast forward to 2011, and Jose Reyes did not feel the same way as Williams did. The Mets were playing out the string having not been a factor in the National League East race since April. The only thing Reyes had to play for was winning that batting title. He went into the last game of the season ahead of Ryan Braun.
As the math worked out, if Reyes got a hit in his first at-bat, he would win the batting title (barring something like a 5-for-5 game for Braun). Reyes led off the top of the first, dropped down a bunt single, and then he came off the field.
That was all Reyes had to play for that season, and he took the easy way out. More than that, we all knew that was going to be his last game in a Mets uniform. Fans came out to see him try to win the batting title and to say good-bye. Make no mistake, Reyes earned that right, but it did leave a bitter taste with Mets fans and some parts of the baseball community.
That brings us to the present with Jeff McNeil. McNeil heads into the final game of the 2022 season leading Freddie Freeman in the batting race. McNeil is batting .326, and Freeman is at .322. In theory, Freeman can catch McNeil much like Braun could have caught Reyes. However, this is a completely different situation.
McNeil has played 147 games this season. After Kenley Jansen closed out the division title, many of the Mets players came out of the doubleheader. Not McNeil. McNeil played both ends of the doubleheader (much like Williams did in 1941). More than that, he switched from right field to second base to stay in that game.
McNeil stayed in for his doubleheader. He has done everything he could do over 147 games to try to win the batting title. More than that, he tried everything he could do to help the Mets make the postseason. For McNeil and the Mets, the postseason begins on Friday.
As the Mets attempted to win the division, he has not missed a game since the second game of the doubleheader on August 6. Before that, his last day he didn’t play on a game day was on July 23. This is a player who has answered the call and played nearly everyday. Through it all, he’s done everything he can do to win games. That includes raising his batting average on July 23 from .297 to .326.
McNeil has earned his batting title. He’s played everyday. Now, if he and the Mets want, it’s time to take a break, it’s time to take a break. Right now, the Mets and McNeil have to do what they need to do to try to win the World Series. At the moment, that’s the only thing that matters.
In their 60 year history, the New York Mets have never had an MVP. Francisco Lindor is set to change that.
This is a record setting season for Lindor, and it’s the type that gets recognized. He’s really out there doing what Hall of Famers do. Being a future Hall of Famer, that shouldn’t be too much of a surprise.
As noted above, Lindor is one of 12 players in MLB history to have 10+ game streaks with a run scored and an RBI. That list includes Babe Ruth, Mel Ott, Rogers Hornsby, Hack Wilson, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, and Joe Morgan.
Lindor is also setting Mets records. He’s the first Mets shortstop with consecutive 20 home run seasons. In fact, he’s the only Mets shortstop with a 20 home run season.
Lindor ranks sixth in the majors with 79 RBI. That puts him two behind Jose Reyes for the Mets single season record by a shortstop.
Overall, Lindor has played 110 games thus far. He’s hitting .268/.344/.462 with 17 doubles, three triples, 20 homers, and 79 RBI. He’s 11/14 in stolen base opportunities.
From an advanced stat perspective, Lindor has a 4.4 bWAR, 4.8 fWAR, 130 wRC+, 127 OPS+, and an 8 OAA. These are outstanding numbers.
The fWAR ranks Lindor fifth in the NL within shouting distance of Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt. Historically, Arenado and Goldschmidt cool off a bit over the final month of the season.
The bWAR ranks Lindor sixth. One note here is Arenado and Goldschmidt may split the vote. With respect to Austin Riley, there may be emphasis on how much better the Mets were, and how good Lindor was in that division altering series.
Lindor is certainly in the Gold Glove mix and may find himself a finalist. Even if he’s not, he’s the one shortstop in the game who or year-in and year-out one of the best defenders and hitters at the position.
All told, the Mets are having a special season, and Lindor has been their best player. Historically, players like this do well in MVP voting.
With 51 games remaining in the season, we could well see Lindor establish himself as the best player in the NL. He could be the Mets first MVP.
One of the best things Steve Cohen has done in terms of fan engagement is Old Timers’ Day. The New York Mets now have their own history, and we now get the opportunity to celebrate it. Apparently, fans aren’t the only ones eager to celebrate it.
We have seen a number of players eager to return. Already on the docket are a who’s who of Mets greats including Mike Piazza, Keith Hernandez, Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, Howard Johnson, John Franco, Johan Santana, Pedro Martinez, Daniel Murphy, Mookie Wilson, and many, many more. Really, Mets players are coming out of the woodwork to try to attend this event.
With every name came more excitement and more fond memories. Then, the Mets announced Jose Reyes was returning.
While the Mets were blowing Game 4 of the 2015 World Series, Reyes was in Hawaii grabbing his wife by the neck and throwing her into glass doors. The altercation was so violent, the hotel would need to call the police, and his wife would need to be taken by ambulance to a local hospital to be treated for her injuries.
The Colorado Rockies (who also had Trevor Story ready) were so appalled they released Reyes. There was a debate whether Reyes would ever play a game again. After all, who in the world would want someone like that on their team? It’s one thing to deal with someone on your roster. It is a whole other to proactively go out and sign that player (or acquire him if you are the New York Yankees and Aroldis Chapman).
Well, frankly, the Mets were cheap morons, and their third base plan for 2016 was David Wright. That lasted until May 27. After that, the Mets were trying to figure it out on the fly. Instead of looking to make a trade, they opted to do the whole dog-and-pony show of trying to rehabilitate Reyes’ image.
Reyes was decent enough, and he had a big homer against the Philadelphia Phillies. The media acquiesced with the Mets demands and wrote the necessary articles (yes, they are 100% complicit) to support the Mets bold move to cheap out and take bad a wife beater. Everyone was so happy the Mets brought Reyes back.
Well, third base wasn’t good enough anymore for Reyes. With Asdrubal Cabrera‘s thumb injury, Reyes pushed his way to short. It was a bad year for Reyes, and it was apparent to the Mets, they needed to pivot. Amed Rosario was called up at the end of the year to be the shortstop of the future, and in the offeseason, they had to sign Todd Frazier to play the third base Reyes no longer wanted to play.
Reyes agreed to be the utility player. Anything to help the team. Again, just talk.
Reyes didn’t really put the time in to succeed in the outfield. He was terrible, and he stopped playing there. Then, the sham of the narrative he was going to mentor Rosario was exposed when he whined to the media about it. This came at a time when the baseball world was wondering if he was done and would soon be ticketed for being designated for assignment. Instead, he was rewarded with more playing time.
Despite the beating of his wife and acting bigger than the organization, he was given a big send-off as part of the Wright festivities. He got to retire as the Mets leadoff hitter and shortstop. He deserved none of this.
After he beat his wife, the Mets had kept throwing him olive branch after olive branch. None were good enough for him. He showed a complete lack of gratitude to this organization. And now, he’s going to be rewarded by being brought back for Old Timers’ Day like he didn’t beat his wife and wasn’t a completely selfish jerk on his way out?
Seriously? This is Wilpon level garbage and has no place in the Steve Cohen era. In reality, Reyes has no business being at Citi Field for Old Timers Day even if he bought his own ticket.
If in 2019, Jacob deGrom spoke with reporters and said he wasn’t signing an extension but was instead testing the free agent market, New York Mets fan would’ve been in a panic.
The Wilpons never could’ve afforded a bidding war for deGrom. For that matter, they probably had zero interest in one. In all likelihood, it would’ve been the Jose Reyes to the Miami Marlins all over again.
Put another way, deGrom would’ve been gone without an offer, and the Mets would be playing media games. No Mets fan could’ve handled that.
However, now, deGrom announces he’s opting out, and fans are wondering just how much more the Mets will give him. There’s just an implicit trust Steve Cohen and the organization will not let deGrom leave. Certainly, not over money.
After all, we saw the Mets give Max Scherzer $43 million per year to join the rotation despite his being 37. We saw Cohen shrug off the Cohen Tax and announce he’s going over it.
Now, this isn’t to say deGrom returning is a lock. Weird things happen. For that matter, the opt out isn’t an absolute certainty. There’s a lot that can happen during the 2022 season.
What we know is Cohen has the money. We also know deGrom has repeatedly said he wants the chance to spend his entire career with the Mets. Both have the will to make deGrom a lifetime Met.
Because this isn’t the Wilpons, we can have faith it will happen. Because we’ve seen the lengths Cohen is willing to go this offseason, we can trust it will happen.
In many ways, this is the best part of Cohen buying the Mets from the Wilpons. We can believe and trust it will happen.
Since 1989, you would tune into the occasional New York Mets broadcast, and you would hear Howie Rose incredulous another Mets player wearing the number 17. With the New York Mets announcing Keith Hernandez‘s 17 will now be retired, we will be forever robbed of those moments, but we can look back at the players who wore the number after Hernandez left the Mets.
David Cone – Cone would change his number from 44 to 17 in honor of his teammate. It would be the number Cone wore when he led the league in strikeouts and tied Tom Seaver‘s then National League record of 19 strikeouts in a game.
Jeff McKnight – McKnight became the first player assigned the number after Hernandez wore it, and you could argue it was even more of an eyesore because it was the year the Mets had the underscore jerseys. Believe it or not, McKnight just had a knack for wearing great numbers. He would also wear David Wright‘s 5, Jose Reyes‘ 7, Carlos Beltran‘s 15, and Darryl Strawberry‘s 18.
Bret Saberhagen – Saberhagen changed from his usual 18 with the Kansas City Royals and the number he first had with the Mets after his good friend Cone was traded to the Toronto BLue Jays. While Saberhagen did have some success with the Mets, he was probably the player least suited to wearing the number after the bleach incident.
Brent Mayne – Again with the former Royals wearing 17. Mayne’s first hit with the Mets was a walk-off RBI single off Dennis Eckersley to take the opening series of the season. Even after that, he still couldn’t get recognized on the 7 line on the way to the park.
Luis Lopez – Lopez was a utility player for the Mets for three years including the beloved team. His biggest hit with the Mets was the time he punched Rey Ordonez on the team bus. Hearkening back to the team photo incident between Hernandez and Darryl Strawberry, this may be the most Hernandez moment any of the subsequent players to wear the number 17 ever had.
Mike Bordick – Bordick was supposed to be the key pickup for the Mets to replace the injured Ordonez at short. He gave us all hope as he homered in his first Mets at-bat, but things would end badly as he would be benched for Kurt Abbott in the World Series, and he would return to the Baltimore Orioles in free agency. Worse yet, 1999 postseason hero Melvin Mora, who was traded for Bordick, would go on to be a star for the Orioles.
Kevin Appier – With Cone, Saberhagen, and then Appier, it seemed Royals pitchers really liked wearing 17 with the Mets. Appier came to the then pennant winning Mets in the hopes of winning a World Series, but unfortunately, he is forever known as the key piece sent to the Angels for Mo Vaughn.
Satoru Komiyama – That Japanese Greg Maddux never was close to that spending one forgettable winless season with the Mets before returning to Japan.
Graeme Lloyd – Lloyd was one of the few who thrived with the Yankees who pitched well for the Mets. He didn’t last a full season as he and many of the 2003 Mets who battled under Art Howe was moved at the trade deadline.
Wilson Delgado – Mets fans were thrilled to obtain Delgado in 2004 as he would be the return for Roger Cedeno. Delgado played 42 games for the Mets in 2004. He’d never appear in a Major League game after that.
Dae-Sung Koo – A largely forgettable LOOGY who will forever live in Mets lore for that impossible double off of Randy Johnson followed by that mad dash home from second on a Reyes’ bunt.
Jose Lima – The 2006 Mets pitching staff was so injured that we’d get Lima Time! for four starts. After struggling mightily, this marked the end of his MLB career as he then played internationally.
David Newhan – There really isn’t much to tell with Newhan. In his one year with the Mets, he proved himself to be that classic Four-A guy who annihilated Triple-A pitching but struggled in the majors.
Fernando Tatis – Omar Minaya first signed Tatís as an amateur and would bring him to the Mets organization. Tatís rewarded Minaya’s faith by winning the 2008 NL Comeback Player of the Year. For a franchise known for “what ifs,” you can’t help but wonder if the Mets don’t collapse for a second straight season if Tatis didn’t injure his shoulder. While Tatís had many memorable moments with the Mets, perhaps, his most memorable was his being one of the few actually capable of hitting it over the Great Wall of Flushing.
After Tatis, the Mets had finally said enough was enough. They were taking the number 17 out of circulation like they had done in the past with Willie Mays‘ 24. That meant the number was not going to be worn again. That is, unless, the next Rickey Henderson came long. However, now, with the number being officially retired, no one will ever wear Hernandez’s 17 again.
The New York Mets seem to be narrowing their managerial search, and reading the tea leaves, it seems Buck Showalter will be the next manager. There are reports Steve Cohen wants him, and there are ties from the New York Yankees between new general manager Billy Eppler and Showalter.
If we are going to go back to Eppler’s old Yankees ties, the Mets could also look at Willie Randolph for the managerial role. With Randolph, there are two things which stand out in his candidacy: (1) he’s actually had success as the Mets manager; and (2) he has unfinished business.
When we look back at Randolph’s Mets tenure, people mostly remember the bad. There was the 2007 collapse, and he was fired one game into a west coast trip. There was the chasm between him and Carlos Delgado. Of course, many forget the 2008 Mets also collapsed, but this time under the helm of Jerry Manuel.
Really, Randolph had to deal with more as the Mets manager than most did. He never had the full backing and respect of ownership. Things got so bad Manuel and Tony Bernazard were going behind Randolph’s back to not only spy on him but to find reasons to remove him from the job. The shame of it was Randolph was quite good at the job.
First and foremost, Randolph was immediately challenged in his job by trying to find a way to graciously end Mike Piazza‘s Mets career. Randolph did it in a way where Piazza not only had a strong season, but he had his dignity during the course of the season.
Randolph was gifted an old foe in Pedro Martinez atop the rotation. Notably, despite the many battles between the two during the heyday of the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry, there was nothing but respect between the two. Randolph had tried to protect Martinez from the team, but to no avail.
Another challenge with Randolph was the Carlos Beltran situation. He helped Beltran navigate through what was a disaster of a 2005 season and get him playing at a Hall of Fame level. By most accounts, the two had a good relationship, which is something a smart manager will have with their superstar.
One important part of that is the ability to adapt. When Randolph first took over the Mets job, he initially tried to make the Mets more like the Yankees. Case-in-point was the restrictions on facial hair. That is something he eventually rescinded.The ability to adapt to the job is of vital importance.
There were other highlights from Randolph’s tenure with the most important being his development of David Wright and Jose Reyes. With respect to Reyes, he was able to help him hone his skills to develop a more sensible approach at the plate to help him become an All-Star. With respect to Wright, he admitted in his book, The Captain: A Memoir, Randolph helped him become the Major League player he wanted to be. If not for injuries, that would’ve been a Hall of Famer.
Looking at Randolph, one of the biggest skills he had was his working relationship with Rick Peterson. The two worked together to get the most out of the Mets pitching staff, and we saw them do some things which may now be considered commonplace. For example, Randolph had a very quick hook in the 2006 postseason, and he was not afraid to let his superior bullpen win him games. The Mets will be looking for something like that in 2022 with Jeremy Hefner being retained as pitching coach.
Overall, Randolph had strenghts and weaknesses as manager. As we saw with him, the strengths far outweighed the weaknesses. That’s a major reason why he’s second only to Davey Johnson in winning percentage. He was a very good manager, who for some reason, never got another opportunity to manage.
Perhaps at 67, Randolph no longer has any designs on managing. If he does, we need to remember he was a good manager for the Mets. Unfortunately, he never received a fair shake. All told, Randolph knows what it takes to succeed with the Mets. No, he’ll never get the job, but there should have at least been some level of interest.