I’ve got 26 more teams to breakdown their homegrown vs. acquired all time roster and only 3 ½ months to do it.
No time to rest.
We did the Yankees… let’s go across town and check out the Mets.
Ahhh the Mets. It takes a certain kind of character to be a Mets fan. You have the option of the Yankees who have the tradition, the history, the championships and the clean crisp uniforms.
Or you have the Mets who give their fans a treat about every other decade but the rest of the time their fans sink into their seats, face in their hands and shake their head thinking “Why do I root for this team?”
Because you are Masochists!!!!
Or you think it builds character. (Like there’s a difference.)
As always, the rules for this exercise can be found here.
Let’s makes a list!
ALL TIME HOME GROWN METS TEAM
He was a hard nosed fan favorite who never hit more than 16 homers a year… and then suddenly set the single season home run record for catchers with 41. Hmmmm. His name came up in the Mitchell Report (who knew?) but he was so popular in Queens that a lot of Met fans wanted him over Mike Piazza.
STARTING FIRST BASEMAN
The youngest member of the original 1962 Met team (he was only 17!) Kranepool stuck around and was a steady if not spectacular player for the 1969 and 1973 Met teams. A native New York, he also did a series of strange commercials for Foamy shaving cream. Believe it or not, they are NOT available on Youtube.
STARTING SECOND BASEMAN
About as popular a Met as I can remember… made the All Star Team as a second baseman and then moved to third base when Robbie Alomar came over. When the Mets let him go and he signed with the Giants, “Fonzie” bought as space on taxi cabs thanking New York fans for the love. I don’t think Bobby Bonilla did that.
When I was a kid, I had a copy of the book “How To Play Better Baseball” supposedly written by Harrelson. I read it. It didn’t work. He did a little bit of everything for the Mets. He was a 2 time All Star shortstop, a coach, a manager and for about 3 minutes a broadcaster.
STARTING THIRD BASEMAN
The Mets have a horrible history having stability at third base, but that is all probably over with Wright. Met fans hope he is their answer to Derek Jeter. It might be early to talk like that, but he’s been in the bigs for 4 ½ seasons and have put up MVP caliber numbers in each season. He’s already got multiple Gold Gloves and Silver Sluggers. Put a ring on his finger and he might be the next New York baseball God. And he seems to be taking all the pressure in stride.
STARTING LEFT FIELDER
His stats were never eye popping and the Mets ultimately sent him packing for Jeff Musselman… but is one of the most loved Mets of all time. I’m sure it had as much to do with his hustle, his positive attitude, the fact that he was a good guy in a club house filled with trouble makers and his dynamic speed as being the guy who hit the ball that trickled through Buckner’s legs.
STARTING CENTER FIELDER
When the Yankees were winning World Series and had the complete attention of the city, the Mets needed some sort of attraction. If they called Central Casting, they couldn’t have found a better marquee player for late 1970s New York than Mazzilli. He was handsome, he could hit, he was a native New Yorker and had that cool “Travolta Italian” quality that was all the rage. Helped the Mets when he was dealt to the Rangers for Ron Darling. The Mets rewarded him by reacquiring him for the 1986 stretch run where he picked up a ring. He was so popular in Queens that Steinbrenner had to swipe him twice. First as a player (in exchange for Bucky Dent) and later as a coach.
STARTING RIGHT FIELDER
Could you imagine what this guy could have been if he didn’t derail his career? As it was, it was a pretty impressive career. 4 MVP caliber seasons and that devastating helicopter like swing! That shot off of Al Nipper in game 7 of the 1986 World Series hasn’t landed yet. Hopefully he saved some of the $30 million he made over his career.
TOP PINCH HITTER OFF OF THE BENCH
Did you know Dave Magadan played for 16 years in the majors? I remember watching a game in 2001 and seeing Magadan coming up as a pinch hitter. I thought “Wait, is that the same guy who came up with the Mets?”
Yup. Lou Piniella’s nephew was about as dull and unmemorable a player as you will ever watch. But he was a reliable hitter, many times clearing .300. Would be a solid guy off the bench.
THE STARTING ROTATION
How much did Tom Seaver mean to this team? How much is he revered by Met fans? My friend Doc Dougherty wrote a play that took place in his neighborhood in Queens the night Seaver was dealt to the Reds. One of the characters contemplates moving to Cincinnati to watch Seaver pitch. The most dominating pitcher of his era and he also received the highest voting percentage for the Hall of Fame up until that point. Seriously, who voted AGAINST him?
Seriously, don’t you wish you could back in time and confront Doc Gooden? Say “Hey, 3 years into your career and you already have a Rookie of the Year, a Cy Young and a World Series ring. All you have to do is not get hurt and not get hooked on Cocaine and you will be in the Hall of Fame and be worshipped as one of the great Gods in New York sports history.”
As it is now, he is a great story of redemption… but damn it he was going to be a GOD!
Stay off of the stuff folks.
Not a bad #3 starter, eh? I heard Tom Seaver on Dibble and Kennedy once talking about hearing that Ryan was traded. He evidently screamed “THEY DID WHAT?” He was dealt for Jim Fregosi, who was already a veteran manager when Ryan retired in 1993. The Mets have never had a no hitter in their history. It’s safe to say that would have been different if Ryan were allowed to stay!
No offense to Donn Clendenon, but how the hell was Jerry Koosman NOT the MVP of the 1969 World Series? Down 1 game to zero to the heavily favored Orioles, Koosman pitched 8 2/3 innings of 1 run ball in game 2 to tie the series… and then pitched a complete game victory to clinch the World Series in 5 games.
Also threw a complete game victory in game 3 of the 1973 NLCS and won game 5 of the 1973 World Series with 6 1/3 shut out innings.
The trade that sent him out of town worked out better for the Mets than the Seaver or Ryan trade. They acquired Jesse Orosco in the deal. In other words, the guy who threw the final pitch of the Mets first World Series title was dealt for the guy who would throw the final pitch of the Mets other World Series title.
A consistent winner for the Mets, Matlack was involved in that intensely confusing 4 team trade on December 8, 1977. Somehow Al Oliver ended up a Ranger, Bert Blyleven ended up a Pirate, Willie Montanez became a Met and a bunch of other people were pushed around and boom! Matlack is a Ranger. In less than 2 seasons, the Mets shed Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman and Jon Matlack. Not 100% what their plan was!
I had a fascination with bullpen closers as a kid and I used to imitate Tug McGraw winning the 1980 World Series often. Tug was everything you would want in a closer… ice water in the veins, clutch and possibly insane. Gave the 1973 Mets the “You Gotta Believe” rallying cry… and then clinched the pennant.
His emergence in 1987 made Jesse Orosco instantly expendable. He had a strikeout to innings pitch ratio to make your mouth drool and created a formidable 1-2 punch with Roger McDowell in 1988. Met fans can only wonder how their fortunes would be different if Davey Johnson had him pitch to Mike Scoscia in the 9th inning of game 4 instead of keeping Gooden in there. Later was dealt for John Franco and was one of The Nasty Boys in Cincinnati.
A classic screw loose relief pitcher, McDowell posted solid numbers all the while pulling practical jokes involving fire crackers and wearing his uniform upside down. Pitched a scoreless 7th inning to earn the win in game 7 of the 1986 World Series… a game most people forget happened. He did let up two critical home runs… one to Terry Pendleton late in 1987 which all but sunk their World Series defense. The other was Kirk Gibson’s 12th inning shot in game 4 of the 1988 NLCS that won that game. Was stupidly dealt in the Juan Samuel trade and the Mets missed his fun persona for years to come. Acted in a Seinfeld episode… which makes him cool.
Yup, Reardon was a product of the Mets farm system. In fact he wasn’t even drafted out of U. Mass Amherst, but was given a shot with the Mets. He got some Rookie of the Year votes in 1980 setting up Neil Allen before being dealt to Montreal and starting a borderline Hall of Fame career and having a tragic downfall in his post baseball life.
Allen is on this list for three specific reasons:
1. He saved 22 games for a lousy Mets team.
2. The Mets traded him for Keith Hernandez
3. As a Yankee in 1988 was credited with throwing a shutout but not a complete game. He threw 9 innings of shutout relief on May 31st against the A's. I watched that game on TV... Al Leiter threw one pitch as a starter, made an error and was taken out of the game with an injury and Allen threw 9 shutout innings. The A's announcers wondered if he would get credit for the shutout, which he did. I have never seen that before or since. And seeing this is Sully Baseball, I felt he was deserved a tip of the hat for that game!
Possibly the most polarizing figure in Mets history, some Met fans speak of him as a superstar to cheer… others scream about him not running out ground balls in key situations. You know a guy is a hot dog when he has to make an announcement that he is going to spend less time on dugout dances.
There was a period of Mets history where they had a dynamic outfielder named Mookie and a rising star third baseman named Hubie. The Mets weren’t winning much, but they had Mookie and Hubie… so how bad could life be. Hubie was dealt off in the Gary Carter trade and was stuck in Montreal… a market that didn’t deserve a hard hitting, run producing infielder named Hubie.
An All Star in 1969 for the Miracle Mets, he also figured prominently in the deciding game 5. He was hit on the foot with a pitch… and thank goodness he was wearing shoe polish because the ump didn’t award him first until manager Gil Hodges pointed out the shoepolish on the ball. He would score on the Donn Clendenon homer to make it 3-2 Orioles. In the 9th, he caught the final out of the World Series. Not a bad day’s work in earning the love of a fan base.
I don’t know a single Met fan who doesn’t have a little bit of reverence for Lenny Dykstra. Hard nosed, arrogant and an annoying S.O.B. to the opposition, he seemed to run through walls while chewing tobacco and brawling. Plus the little twerp had some pop. Just ask Dave Smith, who let up his walk off shot in game 3 of the 1986 NLCS. Just ask Oil Can Boyd who served up his lead off homer in game 3 of the 1986 World Series and set the tone of the Mets blow out win. Was stupidly dealt with McDowell for Juan Samuel (and he mysteriously bulked up while in Philadelphia.) When the Mets made that move and took that grit and humor out of the locker room, the Mets didn’t recover for a decade.
A fixture on the Mets bench for a dozen seasons, Hodges was never a starter. But he had a decent on base percentage. He never made much of an impact on the field but must have been a good guy in the clubhouse. Why else would a .240 career hitter who never hit more than 5 homers in a season survive 12 seasons in the big leagues?
I was in New York that summer of 1993… the Mets were the worst team that money can buy and no player showed the futility of that team than Poor Anthony Young. The poor guy just couldn’t win a game… literally. From May 6 1992 to July 24, 1993 he went 0-27.
But here’s the strange part… he didn’t pitch that badly. He would have a bad inning here or there but kept his ERA hovering respectfully around 4.00. Often it would dip below 4. And Dallas Green tried everything to get him a win. He’d bring him in from the pen in a tie game. He’d start him. And nothing would work. He saved a game on July 22… but that didn’t break the streak.
On July 28th against the Marlins a runner reached base on an error and scored on a 2 out bunt single by Chuckie Carr. Young was in line to drop to 28 losses in a row all the while lowering his ERA. But Eddie Murray hit a 2 out game winning double to give the win to Young.
Here’s the kicker… in a team full of underachieving veterans, surly millionaires, and fire cracker throwing, bleach spraying clubhouse cancers, Young was the most admirable player on the team. He lost but did so with dignity. He never shied from the press. Never blamed anyone else and had all of America wanting him to break the streak. He appeared on Jay Leno as a guest when the streak ended. The place gave him a rousing ovation. With the Mets uneven history, it’s good to have someone who loses with grace on board.
Well a solid team… not a whole lot of pop but a great starting rotation and a deep enough bullpen to withstand an evitable Anthony Young loss.
Now the Acquired Team right off of the bat provided me with a dilemma at catcher. I could chose a Hall of Famer who lead the charge to the World Series title… or I could chose the best offensive catcher in baseball history.
All I can say is Jerry Grote… you are S. O. L.
ALL TIME ACQUIRED METS TEAM
With all due respect for Gary Carter, this HAS to be Mike Piazza’s spot! The guy should have been one of the great Dodgers of all time and his contract dispute and the bizarre trade to Florida was the Mets great fortune.
His high batting average and power numbers should speak for themselves. So should his ability to play hurt and literally bleed for the Mets.
But it was his intangibles that put him here too. He was the superstar face of the franchise as they competed for fans with the Yankees. Had a gigantic homer against John Smoltz in the 1999 NLCS and homered twice in the 2000 World Series against the Yankees.
But his game winning shot on September 21, 2001… just 10 days after the attacks gave New Yorkers their first reason to cheer and be happy in more than a week. Because of that he will always be in the pantheon of beloved New York sports stars.
Watch this clip from the brilliant Nine Innings From Ground Zero to see what I am talking about.
Also he was great on his Apprentice cameo.
STARTING FIRST BASEMAN
Mex was the best defensive first baseman of his era… but that didn’t impress Elaine Benes.
Made the second out of the 10th inning of game 6 of the 1986 World Series. Like everyone else on the planet Earth he thought it was over. Oh well…
STARTING SECOND BASEMAN
Felix the Cat was a Gold Glove Shortstop who picked up some MVP votes for the 1973 NL champion Mets. His career ended when Ed Ott slid hard into them and they got into a brawl. If I did my homework here, it looks like his career ended with the injuries sustained in the fight.
But I’ll put him on here if for no other reason than to honor a player who keeps his hands that far up on the bat.
A classic all field no hit shortstop, Santana never put up a single season of offensive numbers of note. But he could field his position well… and did so for the World Champion Mets. Not bad for a player cut by the Cardinals. (You can’t blame the Cardinals… Santana wasn’t about to replace Ozzie Smith!)
STARTING THIRD BASEMAN
Let me tell you my Ray Knight story. I was a guest on ESPN2’s show Cold Pizza where I was the lunatic Red Sox fan in residence. My segment was ending and Jay Crawford set up the next segment which involved Ray Knight and his wife, golfing great Nancy Lopez.
When Jay mentioned Ray, the MVP of the 1986 World Series… the guy whose two strike single prolonged that 10th inning, the guy who scored on the Buckner error, the guy who homered off of Schraldi to give the Mets the lead for good in game 7… Jay said “Sorry Paul.” He knew I was still smarting from that series. (It was 2004… the Curse was alive and well.)
When Jay said “Sorry Paul” Ray Knight smiled and on the air gave a little punch in the air motion… TOWARDS ME.
That wasn’t a generic “That’s right Red Sox fans, we won” moment. That was a specific gesture that said “Hey Paul Sullivan… the greatest moments of my professional career haunt you at night… AND I COULDN’T BE HAPPIER TO BE TORMENTING YOU… PAUL SULLIVAN!”
It was a strange moment.
STARTING LEFT FIELDER
McReynolds put up some nice power numbers when he was picked up from San Diego after the 1986 World Series. The Mets needed a good right handed power stick and the soft spoken McReynolds let his 20 some odd homers a year do the talking.
But he was never embraced by Mets fans. Best as I can figure it out, they saw McReynolds as the beginning of the break up of the raucous fun loving 1986 Mets. (Hell raiser but fan favorite and future NL MVP Kevin Mitchell was sent to San Diego in the deal.)
He gave them steady play and no headlines… an unforgivable crime for the Met fans of the 1980s!
STARTING CENTER FIELDER
Beltran hit 41 homers with 116 RBIs in 2006. He keeps putting up power numbers and driving in 110+ runs. He steals bases, wins Gold Glove awards, is named to the Silver Slugger Team every year and gets MVP votes.
If only he swung the bat in the 9th inning of game 7 of the 2006 NLCS. He might actually be loved by Met fans!
STARTING RIGHT FIELDER
Now we're talking a beloved player! In fact the only question is what fan base loved him more: The Mets or the Expos who hailed him as The Grand Orange! If the Mets won the 1973 World Series he would have been the MVP. He later came back to the Mets as an overweight pinch hitter.
My cousin Dave told me about a game in the 1980s where Staub had to play the outfield and the manager kept shifting him from left field to right field to avoid having the ball hit to him. Davey Johnson never played him once in the field in 1985. He missed being on a World Series winner by one year... but he later ran a cool restaurant in New York.
TOP PINCH HITTER OFF OF THE BENCH
Is there a stranger career in baseball than Dave Kingman's? The guy could homer left and right and strike out every other time. Who else can lead the league in homers like he did in 1982 but have a lower average than the Cy Young Winner?
He hit 442 homers back when that meant something, but doesn't get even a courtesy mention for the Hall of Fame.
He had two stints with the Mets and had a 37 homer season in each tour of duty (at the time the Mets record.)
He hit 35 homers his final season with Oakland and never played in the bigs again.
Again, strange career.
THE STARTING ROTATION
How many good looking Hawaii born Ivy Leaguers can also win 17 games and get the ball for game 7 of the World Series. Darling was stolen from the Rangers in the Lee Mazzilli trade and gave the Mets as great a #2 starter as you can find in the game. Finished with a 1.53 ERA in 17 2/3 innings for the 1986 World Series.
He never was spectacular. He just won and threw 200 some odd innings each year.
There were many things about the 1986 World Series that make me grind my teeth.
High up there is the fact that Bobby Ojeda, a Red Sox pitching prospect who was on the verge of blossoming for what seemed like 15 years (actually it was only 6 seasons) was traded away to the Mets and suddenly became an 18 game winner.
Ojeda was traded for Wes Gardner and Calvin Schraldi.
Ojeda won game 3 of the 1986 World Series.
Schraldi lost games 6 and 7 of the 1986 World Series.
In other words that trade led directly to 3 of the Red Sox 4 losses.
Grinding my teeth.
Al has done a little bit of everything in his career. He had played on two World Series winners (1993 Blue Jays and the 1997 Marlins) was an All Star and threw a no hitter before he arrived in Queens. He became a steady and reliable winner throwing a complete game shut out in the one game playoff against Cincinnati to win the 1999 Wild Card.
Yeah he talks too much and is an annoying broadcaster. That shouldn't diminish from a memorable if not great career. (Why did Valentine leave him in that long in game 5 of the 2000 World Series?)
I've heard some people erroneously list David Cone with the 1986 Mets pitching staff.
That's easy to do because he fit right in with the hell raising Met culture. His incident with a few young ladies in the Bullpen is one of those that makes you wish there was a security camera clip leaked onto Youtube.
He went 20-3 in 1988 and became a part time journalist with a Dodger bashing article in the Daily News.
Met fans loved him and were furious when he was dealt to the Blue Jays for Jeff Kent.
He won a Cy Young Award with the Royals and became a World Series hero with the Yankees... but he blossomed as a Met!
Yeah I'm sure there are other more popular Mets to put here. I'm sure there are people who would think that Sid Fernandez should be here. And yeah I know he only spent one year as a Met and turned down their dough and gave a laughable reason for signing with the Rockies. (He did it for the school system? $10 million a year and you can't afford private school?)
But he also was the MVP of the 2000 NLCS.
He also threw a complete game shut out in the deciding game 5 of the 2000 NLCS.
When the Mets won the pennant, they all rushed the mound to pile on Hampton.
Folks, that should amount to some love!
It's taken me a long time to look at that clip of Marty Barrett striking out to Jesse Orosco and not wince.
(For those of you who don't know... that's how the 1986 World Series ended... it didn't end with a ground ball through Buckner's legs!)
Orosco throwing that glove into the air...
The wild celebration...
I can't say it doesn't hurt anymore. But seeing my team win two World Series has made that clip more palatable.
Damn Orosco was good in his day... and he played for 24 seasons. Not too shabby at all.
By the way, in that game 7... not only did Orosco save the game... but he got an RBI single too.
For 14 seasons, John Franco was the fireman in Queens. He was a Met with Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden... He was a Met with David Wright and Jose Reyes. He saw the Mets crumble in the Bobby Bonilla/Bret Saberhagen years... he outlasted Bill Pulsipher, Paul Wilson and Jason Isringhausen... he was a teammate of Mike Piazza and played in the heart stopping 1999 NLCS. Nobody seemed more excited to part of the 2000 pennant clinching celebration. And the native Brooklynite seemed more crushed than anyone that the Mets couldn't deliver a division title for a post September 11th New York.
So why isn't he more loved by Met fans?
He seems destined to be part of the Mets TV network.
One of the top relief specialists for the 1969 team, Taylor saved game 2 of the World Series making sure the Mets came to Queens tied 1-1. Pitched for a few more seasons after the 1969 World Series and then went back to his native Canada to become a doctor.
Folks, that is some versatility!
Oh I am sure some Met fans don't agree with this one.
He had a horrific 2006 NLCS, losing game 2 and giving the Cardinals some hope. And he blew a key game to the Phillies down the stretch in 2007. But his value was shown this year as the Mets collapsed when he went down for the season.
Plus his absence made the Mets overpay for Francisco Rodriguez and J. J. Putz. He must have had some value.
Why is Skip Lockwood on this list?
Let me count the 4 reasons:
1. Jim Bouton had some nice things to say about him in Ball Four.
2. He saved 20 games for a HORRIBLE Mets team in 1977.
3. When he came over to the Red Sox, he lived in my home town of Weston. I would see him every once in a while in the center of town wearing a Mets jacket.
4. On principle, I can NOT put Armando Benitez on this list, despite the fact that Benitez is among the team leaders in saves and many relief categories. Benitez is a horrible reliever. If you don't believe me, ask any Mets fan... or Orioles fan... or Giants fan. Besides, I had to swallow my pride and honor him with the Marlins. Once is enough!
The one time Olympic star came to the Mets from the White Sox and provided great defense in one of the best defensive infields of all time.
He also had plenty of pop in his bat as shown by his walk off grand slam/single in game 5 of the 1999 NLCS. You would think that Todd Pratt, who had hit a game ending homer just a week before, would have known better than to prevent him from circling the bases!
Seriously, what were Mr. and Mrs. Johnson thinking when they named their kid Howard?
Who didn't chuckle when they first heard there was a dude actually named Howard Johnson playing ball?
What's next? Someone named Milton Bradley?
Either way, the guy without a position (is he a third baseman? Is he a short stop? Should they make room for Magadan, Elster and Jefferies?) gave the Mets switch hitting power and speed on the basepaths.
All the while playing with a silly name.
Why is Ashburn on this list? He only played one season with the Mets.
I’ll tell you why. Because I felt that a member of the 1962 Mets who finished 40-120 should be honored. Ashburn was the first ever Met All Star… an honor that probably hastened his retirement the next season.
When I was a kid, one of the first videotapes we ever had was the 1980 HBO Special The First 25 Years of Sports Illustrated.
It was hosted by James Caan and while the whole show was great, I tended to fast forward to the baseball parts.
The biggest baseball highlights were the 1975 World Series (which I wore the tape out watching that), Hank Aaron's 715th home run (set to the bad ass "What Do You Do With A Drunken Sailor" NFL Films music) and the 1969 World Series.
The part that I loved the most were the two catches by Tommie Agee. One he dives for and the other is a spectacular snow cone grab.
An 8 year old Paul Sullivan used to try and simulate that snow cone grab while playing catch with my dad.
I did it every once in a while. Never in a World Series situation.
Gary Carter was a great player and a Hall of Famer.
I almost put him ahead of Mike Piazza as the starting catcher but changed my mind.
OK, got that out of the way.
Of all the members of the 1986 Mets he was the one I hated the most.
1) He hit those two homers in game 4 of the 1986 World Series that tied the series 2-2 and killed the Red Sox momentum.
2) He was nicknamed The Kid. That's horsesh--! TED WILLIAMS was the Kid!
3) He started the rally in the 10th...
4) His smile grated on me.
So yeah, on a team filled with drug addicts and brawlers, it was the Good Christian who drove me batty.
There were many people up for 25th man but I felt like I couldn't omit the most valuable player of the 1969 World Series.
Clendenon refused to report to the Houston Astros in a trade from Montreal. It may have been bad sportsmanship, but it turned out well for the Mets when they sent future Red Sox non entity Steve Renko and others to the Expos for Clendenon.
He didn't play in the NLCS nor in all 5 World Series games. But hit key homers in games 4 and 5 to seal the World Series victory. The Mets cut him 2 years later... very sentimental team.
SO WHO WOULD WIN IN A HEAD TO HEAD SERIES?
The acquired team has more power, a deep pitching staff and a pair of World Series MVPs... but are you really going to bet against a starting staff that goes Seaver-Gooden-Ryan?
VERDICT: THE HOME GROWN METS WILL WIN... PROVIDED ANTHONY YOUNG STAYS IN THE PEN!