Section 518

Where we endeavor to stay positive about the 2011 Mets…

Archive for February, 2011

Nick Evans, And The Battle for Bench Spots

Posted by JD on February 27, 2011

Jack DiLaurio had a decent debut season with the 1969 Mets, a less-successful second season with the Astros, and was out of the majors (never to return) before his third season started. Reading his SABR Bio Project entry I was struck by his approach to his situation. I don’t know if “fatalistic” is accurate, but DiLaurio knew that his path to the majors was blocked in the Detroit organization by better pitchers. He realized that, at age 26, he was running out of time to realize his dream of making the majors and consigned himself to retiring if he didn’t make the team in 1969. Fate intervened (in the form of then farm director Whitey Herzog pushing to first trade for, then promote, him) and DiLaurio made some useful contributions to the Miracle Mets, but his struggle to make the majors really stuck with me.

In terms of the current roster, I can’t help wondering if Nick Evans feels that same desperation (again, not sure if that’s exactly the right word, but it feels close) DiLaurio felt. The Mets’ treatment of Evans has been puzzling at best. Originally an injury replacement for the concussed Ryan Church, Evans made the jump from AA on May 28, 2008 and it was impressive: 3 for 4 with 3 doubles, 2 RBI and a run scored. He was sent down on June 4th after hitting just .174/.208/.304 in nine games, but came back on July 10th and steadily improved. His final line: .257/.303/.404 in 119 plate appearances. Not great, but not bad either (he was only 22 at the time).

Evans didn’t make the club out of spring training (Gary Sheffield took his spot at the last second) and split the season between AA Binghamton, AAA Buffalo, and the Mets. 2010 wasn’t much different: he opened the season in Binghamton, was promoted to Buffalo, and spent September with the Mets. What’s more, he spent most of his time in the minors even though it was apparent that Ike Davis was solidifying his claim as the first baseman of the future.

To this fan, it appeared as if the organization was neglecting his development. Yet, there was reason for him to be optimistic about his chances: not only did a new management team take over with a mandate to limit off-season spending, but Fernando Tatis was allowed to depart as a free agent. Tatis filled the role most suited for Evans: right handed hitter off the bench who had some power and could fill in adequately as a corner infielder and outfielder. With Terry Collins elevated from farm coordinator to major league manager, it seemed as if Evans had a clear path to the majors.

And then the Mets signed Scott Hairston. A second baseman who can play all three outfield positions capably, Hairston is a right-handed hitter who has good power, especially to pull. He doesn’t play first or third, but when you consider that both Brad Emaus and Daniel Murphy play third and Murphy was an above-average first baseman for the Mets in 2009, Hairston’s versatility in the outfield suddenly loomed as a major road block for Evans.

I see the bench competition unfolding like this: Ronny Paulino (Mike Nickeas until Paulino’s PED suspension runs out) as back-up catcher, Chin-lung Hu as back-up middle infielder, the loser of the Emaus/Murphy second base competition, Willie Harris as back-up outfielder/lefty pinch hitter/pinch runner, and Evans or Hairston.

In my eyes, Harris’ presence negates the advantage that Evans has over Hairston, and vice versa. Evans advantage? Corner infield. Willie Harris has played 28 games at third. Hairston’s advantage? Center field. Harris has played 230 games in center. Evans is out of options, but Hairston was signed to a major league deal.

It will come down to who performs better in Spring Training, which is how it should be. The competition should bring the best out of both players and will strengthen the Mets’ bench. I just can’t help but wonder what Evans’ frame of mind is. He’s 25, which is young in real-life terms but dangerously middle aged for a baseball player who hasn’t established himself as a major leaguer. Does he doubt himself at all? Is he hoping to be traded or released or claimed on waivers, to get a fresh start somewhere else? Is he feeling emotions similar to what DiLaurio felt? It’s not the biggest story in camp this year, not by a long shot. But it’s intriguing enough to merit watching.

I don’t know (can’t know, really) who will help the Mets more this season. Hairston has a longer track record and is more athletic, so it seems to me that he has to be the favorite. But I feel for Nick Evans, and hope he has an excellent spring training. And, I hope that he’ll be given a fair shot to win a job on the bench. If he gets a shot and fails, so be it. But given his performance and how well he’s handled being bounced around over the past two years, he’s earned a fair chance to win a spot.

Posted in Daniel Murphy, Ike Davis, Mets, Offseason Moves, Spring Training, Terry Collins | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

The Best Single Season Pitchers

Posted by JD on February 24, 2011

As one commenter noted, my previous list didn’t address pitchers who only played one year with the Mets. So, in the spirit of completeness, we’ll tackle that today. This list also has a caveat: I left R.A. Dickey (3.4 rWAR; would have tied for second on this list) off because, barring a surprise trade or some very unfortunate circumstances, he’ll be pitching for the Mets this year. With that being said, here we go:

9. & 10. Jack DiLauro and Juan Padilla (1.1 rWAR, 1969 and 2005): DiLauro was on the postseason roster in 1969 but didn’t appear in the NLCS or World Series. He was removed from the 40-man roster that offseason and selected by the Houston Astros. Even though DiLauro’s major league career lasted only two seasons, he had an interesting journey, bouncing around AAA before retiring at the age of 29.

Padilla represents a mild case of “what might have been”. Signed as a free agent after unsuccessful stints with the Reds and Yankees, Padilla had a decent season in 2005. His 1.49 ERA is a bit deceptive (he only struck out 17 in 36 1/3 innings of work and his 2.05 BABIP and 4.90 xFIP indicate he was more than a little lucky), but he should have been a part of the 2006 bullpen. Instead, Tommy John surgery wiped out his 2006 season. The Mets signed him to a minor league contract before the 2008 season but released him after only 14 innings and he’s been kicking around the independent leagues ever since.

6. 7. & 8. Hisanori Takahashi, Mark Bomback, and Kenny Rogers (1.3 rWAR, 2010, 1980, 1999): Takahashi’s stay with the club is still fresh in everyone’s mind, so I’ll just say this: I stand by this post. Omar Minaya should have traded Takahashi when he had the chance. He was a luxury item at the time and should have been converted into a younger, cheaper asset with more potential.

According to poster JFK at the Ultimate Mets Database, Bomback was given his nickname “Boom-Boom” from “the sound one heard when he was pitching–the sound of the ball off the bat and the sound of the ball hitting the wall afterwards.” He did lead the 1980 Mets in hits allowed, so there was probably more than a little truth behind it.

I’ve got nothing nice to say about Kenny Rogers, so I won’t say anything at all.

4. & 5. Mickey Lolich and Mark Guthrie (1.4 rWAR, 1976 and 2002): Lolich was acquired from the Detroit Tigers after the 1975 season, a season which saw him lose 18 games despite being worth 4.1 rWAR. This deal was unpopular with Mets fans at the time because the price to acquire Lolich was fan-favorite Rusty Staub, who was coming off a 105-RBI season (which was worth 3.1 rWAR). Although Staub never really came close to being the player he was in 75 again, Lolich “retired” from the Mets before the 1977. Staub went on to be worth 6.3 rWar to the Tigers, while Lolich was literally worth nothing.

Guthrie was acquired from the A’s (along with Tyler Yates) for David Justice, who had been acquired from the Yankees for Robin Ventura. So, in a way, you could say that the Mets acquired Guthrie for Ventura, I guess. I had been under the impression that Guthrie was a lefty specialist for the Mets, but his splits don’t really show it: he faced 103 righties vs. only 87 lefties. He held lefties to a .187 average, but righties only hit .221 against him and he actually had a slightly higher OPS+ against righties than lefties (60 to 57). That being said he was a decent reliever in a bullpen that, despite being maligned, wasn’t all that bad.

3. Orel Hershiser (1.9 rWAR, 1999): The Bulldog was a nemesis for Mets fans during the late 80’s, having a ridiculous Cy Young award winning season that culminated in shutting out the Mets in Game 7 of the NLCS. I know they won the World Series that year, but I really only remember one unbelievable at-bat from it: I wasn’t paying close attention after the Mets were eliminated. He signed with the Mets 11 years later He appeared in three games that post-season, the final one being the fateful Game 6 against the Atlanta Braves. Again, since I can’t say anything nice about Kenny Rogers, I won’t say anything at all. But I find it fascinating that Orel Hershiser appeared in two of the most painful post-season losses for the Mets.

2. Kevin Appier: (3.1 rWAR, 2001): Appier signed a 4-year, $42 million contract before the season, largely to replace the next pitcher on this list, and was traded away for Mo Vaughn after it. It seemed like an overpay to me at the time (after all, he only won 11 games that season), but now I’m not so sure. I’ve read several articles about the monetary value of a wins above replacement (I linked to a good one in this post). Though I don’t understand exactly how the values are calculated, I’ve seen them range between $4 and $5 million. In the interest of being extra-conservative (and not having access to the actual data as I write this), let’s say the value of 1 WAR in 2001 was $3 million. Using that scale, Appier was worth about $9 million that season: not much less than what the Mets actually paid him. Not bad, and not at all worth throwing away for Mo Vaughn.

On a related note, this post from Rany Jazayerli makes a great case for Appier to be elected to the Hall of Fame. It’s too late now, but the post is interesting nonetheless.

1. Mike Hampton (4.6 rWAR, 2000): “The Colorado school system”. Those four words will forever be associated with Mike Hampton in the minds of Mets fans. Sure, he spurned our favorite team and gave us a lame reason to justify it. But, through the lens of time, I’d argue that he did us a great favor: he was never the same pitcher after 2000. He struggled with the altitude in Colorado, struggled with injuries in Atlanta, and accumulated just 3.3 rWAR in the years after he left the Mets (or, just about what Appier gave them in 2001). In the end, it all worked out: Hampton put his kids in the school system of his choice, and Mets fans didn’t have to watch him clog their payroll. A reall win-win situation.

Posted in Flushing Frivolities, Mets | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

One Year Wonders

Posted by JD on February 22, 2011

As I was ranking Mets players with Presidential surnames, I noticed a few of them only had one year tenures with the team. This got me to wondering which one-year Mets were the most productive, and I was back on the Baseball Reference Play Index before I knew it. The results are listed below (as with the President list, I’m relying exclusively on the version of WAR (rWAR) used by Baseball Reference).

One note before we start: I omitted the best “one-year Met” from my list. Ike Davis had a 2.5 rWAR in his rookie year, which easily tops all of the other contenders. Seeing as how he’ll be the starting first baseman this season, I figured he didn’t technically qualify. If he suffers a career-ending injury before the season starts feel free to blame me for jinxing him. Now, on to the list:

10. Derek Bell (1.3 rWAR, 2000): A throw-in in the Mike Hampton deal (at least, that’s how I always looked at it); Bell was the starting right fielder for most of the 2000 season (a season ending injury late in the year prevented him from playing in the postseason). He slashed .266/.348/.425 in 624 plate appearances over 144 games. He added 18 home runs and 69 RBI, but his 98 OPS+ indicates that he was slightly below average for a right fielder.

My favorite Derek Bell memory has nothing to do with his time on the Mets. He signed a two-year deal with the Pirates after the 2000 to be their starting right fielder. When informed that he would have to compete for his starting job, Bell launched his infamous “Operation Shutdown”. From the Wikipedia:

“Nobody told me I was in competition. If there is competition, somebody better let me know. If there is competition, they better eliminate me out of the race and go ahead and do what they’re going to do with me. I ain’t never hit in spring training and I never will. If it ain’t settled with me out there, then they can trade me. I ain’t going out there to hurt myself in spring training battling for a job. If it is [a competition], then I’m going into ‘Operation Shutdown.’ Tell them exactly what I said. I haven’t competed for a job since 1991.”

That’s one of the best sports quotes I’ve ever heard, trailing only Latrell Sprewell’s “I got my family to feed” and Rasheed Wallace’s epic “As long as somebody CTC, at the end of the day I’m with them. For all you that don’t know what CTC means, that’s ‘Cut the Check.” If I ever re-name this blog, Cut The Check is the hands-down favorite to be the new name.

9. Richie Ashburn (1.3 rWAR, 1962): While technically tied with Bell, I couldn’t bring myself to equate a Hall of Famer with “Operation Shutdown”. After all, Ashburn played his final season with the inaugural 1962 Mets, which was inglorious enough. He slashed .306/.424/.393 and had a 122 OPS+, an incredible line for a 35 year-old. In fact, Whitey’s .424 OBP stood as the team record (minimum 400 at-bats, an entirely arbitrary threshold) until John Olerud topped it.

8. Rick Cerrone (1.4 rWAR, 1991): Even though I remember Cerrone on the Mets in 1991, I have always thought of him as a Yankee. That’s why I was surprised to learn that he played for six other teams (Cleveland, Toronto, Atlanta, Milwaukee, Boston, and Montreal). Another interesting factoid is that 1991 was the second most valuable season of his career (in terms of rWAR, at least), trailing only his 1980 season (3.9 rWAR for the Yankees).

6. & 7. Joe Foy and Duke Snider (1.4 rWAR, 1970 & 1963): We touched on Foy during the Presidential post, but I’ll say it again: just an unnecessary trade. Duke Snider’s story was similar to Ashburn’s in that he was a past-his-prime future Hall of Famer still hanging around. Unlike Ashburn, Snider had a connection to the Mets as one of the brightest stars of one of the franchises they were meant to replace, the Brooklyn Dodgers. Snider didn’t play much center for the Mets, appearing in only 11 games there in 1963, but while his bat was not up to his previous standards he did have an above-average OPS+ (115). He would finish his career in 1964 with the San Francisco, making him one of only four men to play for the Giants, Dodgers, and Mets. The other three are listed at the bottom of the post.

5. Dick Schofield (1.8 rWAR, 1992): Jayson Werth’s uncle was acquired from the then-California Angels along with a PTBNL (Julian Vasquez) for Julio Valera. Schofield was a defense-first shortstop with an excellent arm, but he was a pretty poor hitter. That’s being nice actually. According to the Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dick_Schofield Schofield shares the record (with Mark Belanger) for most seasons with more than 400 at-bats and less than 100 hits with four. This seems like a bad thing, but it isn’t really. They are arbitrary thresholds, and some good players (including Mark McGwire, Ricky Henderson, and Barry Bonds, to pick just three) appear on the list. For the record, 12 other players had similar seasons with the Mets, including Dave Kingman, Todd Hundley, and Tommie Agee.

4. Desi Relaford (2.1 rWAR, 2001): Relaford falls into the nebulous category of “players I liked for no particular reason”. The Mets picked up on waivers from the San Diego Padres and paid him just $475,000, then later packaged him with the also-awesome Tsuyoshi Shinjo for Shawn Estes. 2001 was a career year for Relaford (he didn’t come close to replicating that season again) so Steve Phillips was right to try to sell high. Being Steve Phillips, however, he completely botched the transaction.

3. Eddie Bressoud (2.2 rWAR, 1966): I didn’t really know that much about Bressoud, who played all four infield positions (but primarily shortstop) for the 1966 Mets. Turns out he was very productive (at least in terms of Mets from that era): his single season with the Mets produced the third highest rWAR among position players to that point in the franchise’s history (behind Ron Hunt’s 2.6 and Ken Boyer’s 3.0). According to Baseball-Reference.com, he’s fairly similar (as a player, not necessarily as a person) to Tony Bernazard. I wonder how many times he challenged minor leaguers to a fight?

1. & 2. Tommy Davis and Richie Hebner (2.3 rWAR, 1967 and 1979): A Brooklyn native, Davis had an 18 year career for 10 teams. He actually lead all Mets position players in rWAR in 1967, admittedly not the most impressive achievement ever. A former MVP candidate (his 6.8 rWAR in 1963 trailed only Willie Mays and Frank Robinson that season), Davis was acquired along with Derrell Griffith in a trade for Ron Hunt and Jim Hickman. 1967 would be a last hurrah of sorts for Davis: he would never again be that productive, and he would play for 8 more teams over the next nine years. Unlike with Relaford, however, the Mets successfully sold high on Davis: packaged with three other players, he brought back Tommie Agee and Al Weis in a 1967 trade with the White Sox.

Richie Hebner also had an 18 year career, though he was much less traveled (he only played for five clubs). Hebner was known for digging graves during the offseason, but more importantly the Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richie_Hebner notes that “Few people know that Rich Hebner has 3 heros: Jerry Flynn, his son Joe Hebner, and his nephew Michael Hebner.” I felt I had to do my part to spread that important piece of information, so there you go.

Hebner came and went before my Mets fandom began and nothing jumped off of his Baseball-Reference page, so I originally didn’t have anything else to add. That is, until I read his page over at the Ultimate Mets Database. Holy crap did this guy elicit a lot of raw emotion from Mets fans, and they are all over the map. I had no idea so many felt so strongly about a guy who was only here for one year. Bonus: someone defended him by calling him a “gamer”.

Trivia answer: Jim Pignatano, Orel Hershiser, and Darryl Strawberry.

Posted in Flushing Frivolities, Ike Davis, Mets | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Mets With Presidential Surnames

Posted by JD on February 20, 2011

With Monday being Presidents Day, I thought it would be fun to rank the Mets with presidential surnames. There are 23 of them (although Russ Adams is in camp and played for Buffalo last season, he’s never suited up for the Mets and doesn’t qualify for this list), and I used Baseball-Reference’s version of Wins Above Replacement to rank them in reverse order. I have a feeling that you’ve probably already guessed the top three, but here we go:

23. Paul Wilson (-2.8 rWAR): I’ll admit, this one surprised me. I knew Wilson struggled while he was with the Mets, but I didn’t realize how much. A former number 1 overall pick and member of “Generation K”, Wilson started 26 games for the 1996 Mets, going 5-12 with a 75 ERA+ (and a 5.38 ERA). In terms of rWAR, Wilson’s 1996 is the single worst season by a Mets pitcher. Craig Anderson (-2.0 rWAR, 1962) and Randy Jones (-1.8 rWAR, 1981), are in the discussion, but it’s not really close. Wilson would go on to have moderate success in Tampa (and later in Cincinnati), but he seriously under-performed his hype while with the Mets.

22. Hawk Taylor (-1.8 rWAR): Robert Dale “Hawk” Taylor was a catcher/first baseman/left fielder for the Mets from 1964-67. According to the Wikipedia, Taylor appeared as a pinch hitter in the first game at Shea Stadium on April 17, 1964. This is true, though not especially significant (he struck out, and he wasn’t even the first pinch hitter used: that “honor” belonged to Ed Kranepool). The Wikipedia also credits him with hitting the first pinch hit grand slam in franchise history (against the Pirates, on August 16, 1967). So he’s got that going for him.

21. Darrin Jackson (-0.6 rWAR): Darrin Jackson had to very good years for the San Diego Padres in 1991 and 1992, posting 4.4 and 3.8 rWAR respectively as the Padres made an ill-fated push for the NL West pennant. Jackson was then caught up in the Padres’ infamous fire sale and traded to Toronto for future-Met Derek Bell (and minor leaguer Stoney Bell). It didn’t work out in Toronto and Jackson was traded to the Mets on June 11, 1993 for fellow former Padre Tony Fernandez. Jackson slashed .195/.211/.241 in 31 games for the Mets, which translated into a woeful 22 OPS+ (78% worse than the average outfielder). Jackson left for the White Sox during the following offseason where he rebounded in the strike shortened season (2.4 rWAR).

20. Roy Lee Jackson (-0.5 rWAR): Possessing one of the cooler names in franchise history, Jackson appeared in 40 games for the Mets between 1977 and 1980 (starting 14 of them). He was on the AAA shuttle for most of his time with the Mets: 28 of his 40 appearances came in 1980 (when he was worth 0.1 rWAR). Jackson was traded to Toronto (for Bob Bailor) and had some success for them in 1981 (1.2 rWAR) and 1982 (2.1 rWAR).

17 – 19. Mark Johnson, Chuck Taylor, Billy Taylor (-0.4 rWAR): I’m not going to bother splitting these guys up, but I will add these three comments: 1). When he signed with the Mets, Johnson was one of three active “Mark Johnsons” in MLB. He wasn’t the best, but he wasn’t the worst, either. So there’s that. 2). This Chuck Taylor did not have a signature shoe line. 3). Billy Taylor was involved in one of the worst trades in franchise history, having been acquired for Greg McMichael and Jason Isringhausen. While Taylor was gone from the Mets after the 1999 season, McMichael and Isringhausen combined to produce 1.5 and and 11.8 rWAR in their careers. On a related note, Steve Phillips stinks.

16. Brian Buchanan (-0.2 rWAR): Buchanan was involved in two fairly big trades: the Yankees sent him to Minnesota with Eric Milton, Christian Guzman, and Danny Mota for Chuck Knoblauch, and the Twins later sent him to San Diego for Jason Bartlett. His last appearance in the majors came with the Mets on August 29, 2004.

13 – 15. Sammy Taylor, Tom Wilson, Preston Wilson (0.0 rWAR): Again, I’m not going to bother splitting them up, but I will add three comments: 1). Sammy Taylor actually appeared in 90 games for the Mets in 1962-63. I thought this was a record of sorts until I found that former Met Willie Montanez’ career total was also 0.0, but in 1,632 games. Now that’s impressive. I guess. 2). Tom Wilson was hitless in four at bats (with one walk) for the 2004 Mets. 3). Preston Wilson went on to have a decent career, but I doubt there’s a single Mets fan that wouldn’t have traded him for Mike Piazza.

11. & 12. Chris Carter, Ben Johnson (0.1 rWAR): I’m sure you remember the Animal (I’m going to miss that character. Not much, but still). Ben Johnson was acquired (along with pitcher Jon Adkins) for Heath Bell and Royce Ring. Adkins pitched one (flawless) inning for the Mets and Johnson received 30 plate appearances over nine games. Ring’s bounced around (-1.0 rWAR) but Bell became one of the best closers in the game (91 saves in 111 opportunities, 9.0 rWAR for San Diego). This is probably Omar Minaya’s worst trade.

9. & 10. Bob Johnson, Stan Jefferson (0.2 rWAR): A pair of championship Mets. Bob Johnson of Aurora, IL (Wayne’s World! Party time, excellent!) was a September call-up for the 1969 Miracle Mets, throwing 1 2/3 scoreless innings over two games. That offseason, he was traded to the Kansas City Royals (along with Amos Otis) for Joe Foy in one of the seemingly-countless trades the Mets made for third basemen. Most of the angst in this trade is generated by the loss of Otis, but Johnson had a decent career himself (6.6 rWAR over his next six seasons. In a twist of fate that means absolutely nothing to no one other than this author (and maybe his parents), Johnson played his final major league game on the day I was born.

A native New Yorker, Jefferson was a September call-up for the World Champion 1986 Mets, slashing .208/.296/.375 in 27 plate appearances (over 14 games). That offseason, he was sent to San Diego along with Kevin Brown (thankfully, not the Hall of Fame candidate), Kevin Armstrong, Shawn Abner (the second former number one overall pick referenced in this post) and Kevin Mitchell for Kevin McReynolds, Gene Walter, and Adam Ging. Two September call-ups on championship teams later involved in franchise altering trades. How’s that for a coincidence?

8. Claudell Washington (0.5 rWAR): Washington appeared in 76 games for the 1980 Mets, his only season with the club. I always remember Washington as a Yankee in the late ‘80’s (he had his second-best season with them in 1988), and I kind of wondered why the Mets let him get away. In the long run, it turned out to matter very little: the Mets outfield was more than solid for the rest of the decade.

7. Vance Wilson (2.5 rWAR): This was another surprise for me. Although he wasn’t an offensive superstar in his six seasons with the Mets, Wilson hit well enough (.254/.308/.354) to be slightly above replacement in each season. Wins Above Replacement is a cumulative stat, and he compiled enough steady seasons (in which he did little to help, but even less to hurt) to accrue a decent career rWAR.

6. Al Jackson (4.5 rWAR): An original Met, Jackson was something of a bright spot on some pretty crappy teams. Though never even a league-average pitcher (his highest ERA+ during those seasons was 94 in 1962), Jackson didn’t embarrass himself: he was never worth less than 0.5 rWAR in any given season and was worth 3.1 in 1962. His second stint was less successful (-0.6 rWAR in 1968-69). He didn’t get to see the Miracle Mets reach the promised land in 1969, but he returned to the club after retirement and has held a number of front office positions since.

5. Ron Taylor (4.8 rWAR): Another member of the Miracle Mets, Taylor had a productive run with the club from 1967-71, averaging almost a full win above replacement each season (0.96 rWAR). A spot starter earlier in his career, Taylor was exclusively a reliever with the Mets. He appeared in 269 games and earned 49 saves while never having an ERA+ lower than 94 (his average ERA+ in those years was 115). His post-playing career was also very successful: he graduated medical school in 1979 and became team physician for the Toronto Blue Jays in 1979.

And now, the Mets’ “Mount Rushmore”:

4. Lance Johnson (8.9 rWAR): As Patrick Flood noted, Johnson is “The Trivia Answer”: he holds so many unique distinctions that, as Flood so aptly put it, “If you ever see a Mets trivia question, and the answer could be Lance Johnson … the answer is probably Lance Johnson”. I hated the trade that sent him away, but in hindsight it wasn’t that bad: Johnson accumulated just 0.3 rWAR in his remaining three seasons. It appears as if he emptied his tank in 1996-97. Sure, we had to put up with Mel Rojas, but Brian McRae at least had one decent season and the Turk Wendell experience was pretty awesome, so I guess it wasn’t as bad as I thought at the time.

3. Gary Carter (11.2 rWAR): “The Kid” cracks the top three on our list of Mets with Presidential surnames. Carter was a WAR machine from 1977 to 1985, averaging 6.02 rWAR and failing to top 5 rWAR once (in the strike-shortened 1981 season). His 1986 wasn’t too shabby either (3.8 rWAR), but he fell off a cliff the next three seasons: 0.9 (1987), 0.1 (1988) and -0.3 (1989). Like Lance Johnson, he makes this list because of two excellent seasons.

2. Mookie Wilson (19.4 rWAR): I make no bones about this: Mookie Wilson is one of my favorite Mets of all time, and I’m thrilled to see him make this list. He was like clockwork from 1982 to 1988: he accumulated 17.8 rWAR during these seasons, averaging 2.5 rWAR and never going lower than 1.8 (1982) or higher than 3.2 (1984 & 1986). And, to top it off, he had one of the most pleasant public image I’ve ever seen an athlete have. I have to digress for a moment and share two personal stories about Mookie, one big, one small:

  • 1986 was my first full season as a Mets fan (I only started watching baseball in the summer of 85). On that fateful night, I went to bed at some point during the game. I guess my parents felt that bedtime was more important than the World Series, but I’ve never asked them. And, as a dumb kid, I listened to them and went to bed. Anyway, I have mixed memories about what happened next. My Dad definitely woke me up with the Mets trailing 5-3 in the bottom of the tenth. For a long, long time I thought he did it to let me watch my favorite team’s season end, but for the past ten years or so I’ve had a sneaking sensation (a false memory maybe?) that he woke me to see a bit of baseball history: the Red Sox’ first World Series since 1918. I’ve never talked to him about it because I’m not sure I want to know. But I do know this: what happened next was one of the greatest moments to ever happen to me, and I love my Dad for waking me up.
  • My first game professional game was the second half of a day/night doubleheader against the Cubs. I think it was 1987, but it could have been 1988. Either way, I remember being terribly confused and almost violently upset when the Shea faithful booed as Mookie Wilson lead off in the bottom of the first. My uncle laughed at me and explained that they were screaming “Mooo!” Needless to say, I screamed it at the top of my lungs each time he came to the plate after that.

1. Howard Johnson (24.7 rWAR): Hojo’s 1989 (7.7 rWAR) was a season for the ages: according to B-R.com it was the fifth best season in Mets history, trailing only John Olerud’s 1998 (8.1), Bernard Gilkey’s 1996 (8.1), Carlos Beltran’s 2006 (8.0), and David Wright’s 2007 (7.8). His six-year peak was generally excellent as well: he averaged 4.84 rWAR from 1986 to 1991 and received national recognition for it with three top-10 MVP finishes (including top-5 in 1989 and 1991) and two all-star appearances. And just like that, it was over. He earned just -1.4 rWAR over his final 1,165 plate appearances for the Mets, Rockies, and Cubs.  In a minor coincidence, he left the organization (after they made him wait months for a job offer that turned out to be a major demotion) in the same year that Mookie Wilson returned to it.

And so, to recap:

  • 23 Mets share a surname with a POTUS.
  • There are five Johnsons (Andrew, Lyndon Baines), five Taylors (Zachary), five Wilsons (Woodrow), and three Jacksons (Andrew), two Carters (Jimmy), one Buchanan (James), one Jefferson (Thomas), and one Washington (George).
  • When their careers are combined, the 23 Mets are worth 70.0 rWAR.

Posted in Flushing Frivolities, Mets, Mike Piazza | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Valuing Carlos Beltran

Posted by JD on February 17, 2011

Dave Studeman of the The Hardball Times published this evaluation of Carlos Beltran’s contract on Monday. I apologize if you’ve seen it already, but I just stumbled upon it today and had to share it. If you’ve read this blog for any amount of time, you know I’m a Beltran fan. Read Studeman’s piece and make your own decision, but know that I couldn’t agree with it more. Sure, it’s a clear-cut case of confirmation bias, but it’s always nice when a comprehensive analysis supports your subjective opinion.

I’m not sure what to expect from Beltran this year, given his injury history and a possible (likely?) position switch, but he’s already justified the big contract he signed in 2005. Some people will never give him a break, but that shouldn’t obscure the excellent seasons he gave us in 2006, 2007, and 2008. Here’s hoping for he bounces back in big way.

Posted in Carlos Beltran, Mets | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.