Back in 1998, Nelson Doubleday went down the hall and told Fred Wilpon the New York Mets were going to go out and get Mike Piazza. When Wilpon brought up the injured Todd Hundley (lost for most of that year), Doubleday said they were getting Piazza.
That was the way it was with Doubleday. He made sure the Mets went out and got the best players. He was in charge when they got Keith Hernandez and Gary Carter. Sure, it led to disaster with Bobby Bonilla, Vince Coleman, Eddie Murray, and Bret Saberhagen, but the team was always trying to bring in the best players.
Being fair to the Wilpons here, they did learn their lesson after they let Mike Hampton walk in free agency, and the team refused to go out and get Alex Rodriguez. When that 2000 pennant winner blew up with those decisions, they went out and got Omar Minaya and pivoted.
When Carlos Beltran and Pedro Martinez were free agents, Minaya made sure they were Mets. Then, the Madoff scandal happened, and the Mets would not bet the Mets again until Steve Cohen took over the franchise.
When the Wilpons were faced with having to sell, they hired Brodie Van Wagenen to completely mortgage the future and try to win one last World Series before they had to hand the franchise to someone else. Their big move and big salary they took on was Robinson Cano.
That was partially because Cano wanted to come back to New York, and Van Wagenen was doing a favor to his former client. It also helped the Seattle Mariners were eating money on the contract regardless of whether or not Cano was eligible to play.
That same offseason, Bryce Harper was a free agent. Harper was a player who belonged on the biggest stage. Harper loved the Mets pitching and was highly complimentary of them during the 2018 All-Star Game:
For a player that wanted to win, the Mets would have been in the conversation if the team pursued him. Instead, the Mets were set with Cano, and then they tried to sell us having no $30 million players is the same thing as having two.
With that, Harper went to the Philadelphia Phillies with him really having no other realistic suitors. Since that time, he has won the 2021 NL MVP and 2022 NLCS MVP. He has completely altered the trajectory of the Phillies franchise who is in consecutive NLCSs.
Helping Harper and the Phillies get there is Zack Wheeler. Van Wagenen tried to sell us they replaced Wheeler in the rotation with Marcus Stroman despite both pitching in the same rotation in 2019. He then went on to tell everyone Wheeler was only good for two halves of his entire career despite his being the best free agent starter on the market.
Wheeler asked the Mets to stay after he was almost traded to the Milwaukee Brewers. He asked to stay for less when he hit free agency. He didn’t want to uproot his New Jersey family making it between the Mets and Phillies for him. The Mets didn’t want him. Instead, we got Rick Porcello.
Wheeler has been a Cy Young caliber pitcher with the Phillies. He has been a postseason ace. With Harper, he has the Phillies back in the NLCS.
This never should have happened. This was Wilpon and Van Wagenen incompetence. Fortunately now, the Mets have an owner that is not going to let this type of nonsense happen again.
Bobby Bonilla and the Brooklyn Nets were in the news yesterday. Bonilla was in the news because Steve Cohen said he wanted to have a Bobby Bonilla Day at Citi Field (an idea first proposed here). The Nets, well, they were in the news because it’s finally over.
The Nets built a super-team much like the one the 1992 New York Mets were supposed to be. Like that Mets team, it was far more of a flop than anyone ever could have imagined leaving everyone to question what exactly went wrong.
Dwight Gooden was still battling his demons and shoulder issues. Howard Johnson and Dave Magadan were playing out of position. Jeff Torborg was way in over his head. When you break it down, the plan was well intentioned, but it was just bad.
Now, in 2023, we know exactly why the plan was bad. To be fair, in 1991-1992, it wasn’t as readily apparent. After all, everyone thought that team was a real World Series contender.
As for the Brooklyn Nets, past, present, and future wisdom will continue to tell you to grab superstars in the NBA because that is really the only chance to win a title. Because of that, the NBA player will always have a disproportionate amount of power. The thing is, the Nets took it too far and gave the power to the wrong players.
This is more than just Kyrie Irving. He will get the lion’s share of the blame as well he should. However, it wasn’t just him. James Harden forced his way out of Houston, and then, when he didn’t go to Philadelphia like he wanted, he forced his way there from Brooklyn.
Then, there is Kevin Durant, who might be the best player in the NBA right now. Like that 1992 Mets team, he didn’t belong in New York because it wasn’t the right place for him and his personality. He got into Twitter battles and tried to antagonize the New York Knicks fanbase needlessly.
Kyrie and Durant forced out a very good coach in Kenny Atkinson to replace him with Steve Nash. The goal was to run roughshod over the coach like they were the GM, and it ended with disaster. Eventually, Nash was fired for a competent head coach in Jacque Vaughn.
Through it all, this Nets group won one playoff series. When you have two superstars, that can’t happen. What also can’t happen is blowing up the team when they had a shot to win the NBA title.
After the KD injuries and Kyrie’s sometimes disinterest in basketball (which included the vaccine drama). They had a shot this season, and both players sought to go elsewhere. Again, it started with Kyrie.
This is why the Nets are a bigger flop than the 1992 Mets. That Mets team never had a chance. This Nets team did. More than that, they should have won at least once.
That 1992 Mets team wasn’t really built to win anything. We thought they did, but we know better now. However, the Nets, they could have won if they kept the team together, and really, didn’t cave to each and every one of Kyrie’s whims.
The shocking part of The Oscars was when Will Smith responded to a Chris Rock joke about his wife by slapping him in the face and then yelling at him. Being a diehard Mets fan, Rock is obviously accustomed to unexpected slaps in the face.
In fact, through the years, there are just a number of players Mets fans just wanted to give the Will Smith treatment to for what they did on or off the field. To wit, here is the Mets all-time deserved a slap team:
SP Tom Glavine – Glavine was never truly appreciated by Mets fans after he had beaten them all those years with the Atlanta Braves. Despite his success, any goodwill he had unraveled as he did in the final game of the 2007 season. After the game, Glavine explained to devastated fans, he was disappointed but not devastated.
RP Guillermo Mota – How do you shake off Paul Lo Duca and then get beat by Scott Spiezio ? That moment forever changed the trajectory of that series. Also, why was he such a punk constantly throwing at Mike Piazza?
C Kevin Plawecki – When T.J. Rivera wore the crown after a Mets win (why was that ever a thing?), we saw the type of objects he kept in his locker. Making matters worse, he was a better relief pitcher than he was a hitter with the Mets (I kid, I kid).
1B Lucas Duda – Duda was an underrated Met, and he was a driving force for the 2015 Mets comeback to win the division, but that throw to home plate was one of the worst throws in Mets history.
2B Luis Castillo – How in the world do you just drop an easy pop-up which could end the game, and why did he have to do it against the Yankees? Consider he under performed his contract so much even the Wilpons were willing to eat money just to get rid of him.
3B Jim Fregosi – It’s astounding. The 1962 Mets were the worst team in Major League history, and yet, the first real instance we see the Mets mocked for is when the team traded Nolan Ryan in the deal for Fregosi. After the trade, Ryan became a Hall of Famer, and the Mets would eventually see Fregosi off to the Rangers. To make matters worse, we’re constantly reminded of this every single trade deadline when we hear about all-time worst trades.
SS Mike Bordick – In typical Mets fashion, Bordick went from career year to near career worst numbers when he went from the Baltimore Orioles to the Mets. Making this even worse is the fact the trade cost the Mets Melvin Mora who was both beloved and a future All-Star and Silver Slugger.
OF Vince Coleman – There should be no more reviled Mets player than Coleman. He was the enemy with the St. Louis Cardinals. He was flat out terrible with the Mets, and he would throw a firecracker at fans. He would even injure Dwight Gooden‘s shoulder practicing his golf swing, He’s literally the worst to put on a Mets uniform.
OF Roger Cedeno – Mets fans were beyond excited Cedeno was returning in what we hoped was a retooling of the pennant winning roster. Instead, what we got was “The Worst Team Money Could Buy” Part Deux with Cedeno being flat out terrible.
OF Bobby Bonilla – He wore earplugs because he couldn’t handle the heckling. He was playing cards in the clubhouse when the Mets lost the 1999 NLCS. He became a perpetual punchline for a team who never spent money.
Keep in mind, this is not a complete list. We can go on and on and on. No matter where you wind up on any of these players and your suggestions for others, please keep in mind, no one deserves the treatment more than Jeff Wilpon. No one did more to hurt the Mets than him during his stretch of absolute embarrassing incompetence.
When making decisions at the trade deadline, it is not just about where your team is in the standings. It is also about where you are at as an organization. Right now, the Mets are 4.0 games up on the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies, two teams who are under .500. As for the organization, well, they are in a much more tenuous spot.
After this season, Michael Conforto, Jeurys Familia, Rich Hill, Aaron Loup, Marcus Stroman, Noah Syndergaard, and Jonathan Villar will be free agents. After the following season, Edwin Diaz, Seth Lugo, Trevor May, Brandon Nimmo, and Kevin Pillar will be free agents. Jacob deGrom can also opt out of his contract, and Taijuan Walker can decline his player option.
Focusing more narrowly, after two years, the Mets could lose 2/3 of their outfield and 4/5 of their starting rotation. They can also lose four key set-up men as well as their closer. Put another way, this team is on the precipice of losing very important pieces of a team which is going to take it to the postseason this year.
Now, this is certainly a much different proposition with Steve Cohen at the helm than it was with the Wilpons. There is an implicit trust Cohen will continue trying to win. However, as we know, you’re not always successful identifying who to keep and who to let go as well as who the right replacements are.
When we look back to the early 90s, the Mets were coming off their best stretch in Mets history. They made the right decision letting Gary Carter and Keith Hernandez go. However, they made some bad calls like thinking Vince Coleman could replace Darryl Strawberry. They over relied on their belief Kevin Elster, Dave Magadan, and Gregg Jefferies could be first division starters. Of course, there was also the Worst Team Money Could Buy.
All told, when the Mets switched from build around a core to replacing and altering the core, things fell apart. We can look at other points in Mets history when that happened. It happened again when the Mets passed on Alex Rodriguez as part of a calamitous offseason after the 2000 pennant. The 2009 Mets made the mistake of keeping Oliver Perez. The 2017 Mets got their money tied up in Neil Walker, and they saw Robert Gsellman and Lugo couldn’t hang as starters for a full season.
In some ways, that leads us to now. The Mets have extremely important decisions to make on who stays and who goes. They need to see who the correct replacements are. From what we’ve see from this front office, we should have faith they are up to the task. That said, we all had very well placed faith in Frank Cashen, and he blew it up.
Seeing where the Mets are, the best decision they can make right now is to absolutely go for it. Yes, that may very well require overpaying for players and rentals. Back in 2015, that didn’t make much sense. It was year one of contending for a young core who was cost controlled. Their decisions, including letting Daniel Murphy walk, turned it into a two year window. That window slammed shut without a World Series.
Right now, the Mets window is definitely open, but it’s being propped open. Without the right options, this window can slam shut after this year. It may well be that after the 2022 season. The Mets definitely need to keep this possibility in mind as they look to add at the trade deadline.
Players like Kris Bryant and Trevor Story dramatically changes the fortunes of this team. The same can be said for a player like Jose Ramirez. It may hurt to overpay for Max Scherzer or another top of the line starter, but imagine a two headed monster of deGrom and Scherzer (and having deGrom insurance) as the Mets look to win a World Series.
Ultimately, the Mets are going to see radical changes to this roster over the next few years. They’re in first place now with a team capable of winning a World Series. They need to make sure they do everything they need to do to get that World Series, or they may be ruing the missed chance for a team in transition over the next few years.
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.