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What if…what if there was baseball right now? My father used to say that “if” was the biggest word in the English language. He would say, “If…if my grandfather had wheels…he would have been a trolley car. If…if my grandmother had balls…she would have been my grandfather. If…”
Every team has their own “what ifs” that they often look back on. Well, how about these Top 10 “what ifs” for the Mets?
The Mets have made some awful trades in their history, some that have truly hurt the club over the years. Yet, they have also made some pretty good trades that helped mold the team into a winner.
This time I will examine the 10 Best Trades in Mets history:
The Mets have made some disastrous trades over the years. Of course, the trading away of Nolan Ryan ranks up there as one of the worst in Major League history. And there is that one called the Midnight Massacre that has come to define the Mets futility as an organization.
With that in mind, I decided to take a look at the 10 Worst and 10 Best Trades in Mets history. First a look at the 10 Worst Trades made by the Mets:
Most Mets fans remember that General Manager Sandy Alderson stunned the fanbase when he traded away Cy Young Award Winner R.J. Dickey to the Toronto Blue Jays for a young catcher named Travis d’Arnaud. Included in that deal was a flamethrower named Noah Syndergaard. D’Arnaud would never live up to expectations, but Syndergaard, turned out to be the gem in the deal, regardless that he is out due to Tommy John surgery.
Some years earlier, another GM, Gerry Hunsicker, in an attempt to rebuild, surprised many when he traded away ace David Cone to get a couple of young prospects, infielder Jeff Kent and outfielder Ryan Thompson. Kent arrived first and immediately was slotted into the lineup at third base, and Thompson came some weeks later, and was thought to be the five-tool superstar that the Mets coveted to play centerfield. Thompson was one of a number of those “five-tool hopefuls” the Mets would acquire like Alex Ochoa and Steve Henderson who would never live up to those expectations.
Every true baseball fan is crying inside. No opening day. And it doesn’t look like it will take place anytime soon. Perhaps that will cushion yet another crushing blow for the Mets, with Noah Syndergaard needing Tommy John surgery. You have to wonder if the Mets hierarchy is feeling any sense of embarrassment now, after letting Zack Wheeler sign with a division rival because they believed that they had a healthy Syndergaard for two more years of team control at a great price. I would think they would have to feel somewhat embarrassed by the way things have gone recently. I don't know...but I think it is getting a bit embarrassing.
Anyone who knows me is fully aware that my two favorite baseball teams, my two obsessions really, are the University of Miami Hurricanes and the New York Mets. With no baseball to watch, and my mind wandering, I began to think about how the two are connected, in a number of ways, in ways that all lead to some sort of embarrassment.
Fifty years ago today is when it happened. Movies have immortalized it. George Burns talked about it as one of his miracles in “Oh, God!” Dennis Quaid communicates with his son by talking about the seemingly miraculous occurrences during the ’69 World Series in “Frequency.” Cleon Jones going to one knee is shown multiple times in “Men in Black 3.” The sitcom “Everybody Loves Raymond” had a number of “69 Mets as guests on an episode when Tug McGraw, in typical “Tug McGraw” fashion tells Ray Romano “Take a hike Barone!”
October 16, 1969 seems like so long ago but it also feels like it just happened.
The Yankees have clinched the division title and have eclipsed the 100-win mark. Good for them. Congratulations. What they have done is amazing this season considering everything they have had to endure. They have survived serious, long-term injuries to key personnel. And regardless of who went down, there was someone to step in.
General Manager Brian Cashman has really done a fantastic job of keeping the team’s resources at maximum capacity, making some great moves to acquire players who played vital roles and made an impact. And with a mere 10 days to go in this season, you have to look at the Mets and wonder why this team couldn’t do the same.
Going into the last 10 games, the last seven of them at home, the Mets still have a chance to capture a wild card berth. They are not out of it. Not mathematically. But common sense dictates that the Mets can’t complete the comeback from an absolutely dreadful first half of the season and finish it off with a playoff spot of their own. And why do I think that? Because for one thing, the very asset that the Mets have that the Yankees DON’T have, is a starting pitching staff, and that staff has been good, sometimes great, but for the most part, inconsistent. And when you dig yourself the kind of hole the Mets dug themselves the first half of the season, you leave yourself no room for error.
On July 12 the Mets were 11 games under .500 at 40-51, 14 1/2 games out of 1st place and 8 teams to climb over for a wild card berth. Turns out it was their low watermark of the season. Five weeks later...they are 5 games OVER .500 at 65-60, nine games out of 1st place and ONE team in front of them for a wild card spot, two games behind. That's a 16-game swing!
They took care of the teams they NEEDED to put away… and now they are playing the meaningful games they wanted to play. The Mets had Citifield rocking like it hasn’t been since sometime in 2016, stealing two come from behind wins from the Nationals before finally seeing their winning streak come to an end in a way that has come to define the 2019 season. Then they headed to Atlanta to take on the 1st place Braves, and grabbed one of the three games before taking two of three from the lowly Royals in Kansas City. Now they are back home up against the Cleveland Indians who have had the same mid-season resurgence as the Mets.
In a season where the Mets are celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the 1969 Miracle Mets, management is actually asking the fans to think more in the line with the 1973 “Ya Gotta Believe” Mets. The problem is that the Mets of 2019 do not resemble either of those teams.
It’s so easy to point to the bullpen as the problem. However, the Mets bullpen is actually not in any more of a state of dysfunction than any other team this year, except for the Yankees. Every team is having bullpen problems. The horrible state of the bullpen is AN issue but not THE issue.
Although the 1973 team was handicapped by injuries to just about every key player on the team and was in last place in August, the reason there was hope for that team was that once the team was again at full strength, the pitching rich team was exceptionally strong up the middle with Jerry Grote behind the plate, Bud Harrelson at short, Felix Millan at second base, and Don Hahn in centerfield. This year’s team falls far short of being strong up the middle, important especially when you build your team around your starting pitching.
For the second year in a row, the Mets started out looking like they were going to take the league by storm. Instead, they look overmatched everywhere they go.
The roster is constructed poorly no matter how you look at it. The complaint following the last game in Milwaukee was that there was no lefty on the bench to pinch hit late in the game. That’s because the Mets are too left handed in their starting lineup to begin with. They have too many infielders and not enough outfielders.
Their best fielding (and hitting) second baseman is playing left field. Their best fielding first baseman was relegated to the minor leagues because he can’t effectively play left field. Their star shortstop is a fielding nightmare and even I could get him out as long as I threw a breaking pitch a foot off the outside corner of the plate. The star catcher who came in to make us try to forget how bad Travis d’Arnaud has been hasn’t hit much at all and is brutal behind the plate, actually making d’Arnaud seem somewhat functional. Todd Frazier, who I never considered an everyday player, is proving that he is not an everyday player. He swings for the fences on every pitch. Speaking of swing for the fences on every pitch - the apparent success that the Mets experienced by hitting the ball to the opposite field and putting the ball in play has…suddenly…disappeared. Once again, every hitter - with the exception of Jeff McNeil - clearly appears to be swinging for the fences again. I guess Chili Davis’ advice was only good for a few games.