Welcome Back Kevin McReynolds

kevin-mcreynoldsNot long after Mike Francesa announced that Jason Bay accepted the Mets’ contract offer, I received a phone call from good friend and occasional MetsToday contributing writer John Fitzgerald.

John: “Hey, we should invent the internet while there’s still time.”

Me: “Huh?”

John: “Well, it’s 1987 isn’t it? I mean, didn’t the Mets just sign Kevin McReynolds?”

Well played, Mr. Peanuts.

Indeed, Jason Bay today is not far from Kevin McReynolds circa ’87. There are some obvious differences — namely, that McReynolds was only 27 in his first year with the Mets (while Bay is 31), and he was acquired via trade rather than free agency. However, Bay at 31 and McReynolds at 27 are quite similar in many other aspects. It may be easiest to describe McReynolds at the time, and see how closely he compares.

Kevin McReynolds, in 1987, WAS:

– a righthanded, power-hitting left fielder standing 6’1″, 210 lbs. (Bay is 6’2″, 200)
– a player with one year of postseason experience
– expected to provide 25-30 HR, 90-100 RBI, and a .275 – .290 AVG
– a hard-nosed player who was fundamentally sound in all areas of the game
– an above-average runner who provided unexpected speed and smarts on the bases
– a quiet, reserved individual with most of his experience playing in a small market
– counted on to provide a power boost in the middle of the Mets’ lineup

It can be argued that Bay will walk more often than McReynolds ever did, but he’ll also strike out more — both areas are more a factor of the difference in the general approach of hitters in the two different eras than in the players’ skill sets (I believe that hitters tended to make contact earlier in counts, and worked harder to avoid strikeouts, 20+ years ago). It might also be argued that McReynolds — who played CF for the Padres — came in to Flushing as a much better fielder than Bay (though, it can be debated that his defense eroded significantly by the time he left).

Still, though, the similarities between the two players coming in, and the way they are / were expected to perform and contribute through their years with the Mets, is uncanny. It’s like deja vu all over again — or traveling back in a time machine.

If indeed I find myself driving a flux-capacitor-powered DeLorean into the Citi Field parking lot, I won’t be surprised to see “McReynolds” batting fifth behind Carlos Beltran. And I’ll be sure to race home via my newly invented information superhighway.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Walnutz15 December 30, 2009 at 12:17 pm
    Spot-on, Janish — I’ve always likened Jay Bay to K-Mac. And BTTF references always win points with me.

    I like this signing, but don’t love it….we’ll see how he handles it here. I’m hopeful.

  2. Tommy2cat December 30, 2009 at 12:25 pm
    My brother and I nicknamed McReynolds “Lunch Pail”, because he was a man of few words who punched-in and punched-out and said little in between.

    As did Bay, McReynolds led the league in outfield assists, although his mobility was hindered somewhat due to a knee injury suffered before he was traded to the Mets.

    Like McReynolds, Bay makes pitchers pay for their mistakes, but is prone to the slider low and away. Look for pitchers to throw toward the outside part of the strike zone against Bay. We’ll see how he adapts.

    Bay is a good siging, and we didn’t have to give up Kevin Mitchell to get him. Just a second round pick (our first round pick is protected and Boston gets a supplemental first round pick).

    Bay’s true value resides in a projected steady and healthy contribution from the right side. On the field and in the clubhouse, he should mesh well with Francouer and Wright to fortify our line-up from the right side. He’s not a saviour, but an important component to our line-up adding depth and power from the right side.

    Great job, Omar!

  3. Tommy2cat December 30, 2009 at 12:33 pm
    Forgot to mention that Bay and McReynolds have the same homerun dance. Hee-hee…
  4. joejanish December 30, 2009 at 12:47 pm
    Tommy – thanks for adding to the comparison. “Lunch Pail” — that’s awesome! And it is a moniker likely to fit Jason Bay as well.
  5. Walnutz15 December 30, 2009 at 12:48 pm
    Hopefully, they come out with the same “Speak Softly And Carry A Big Stick” poster for Bay….that I had of K-Mac, back in the day.
  6. CatchDog December 30, 2009 at 1:13 pm
    Great article! Hopefully, JayBay turns out to be twice as productive as McReynolds. After all; Kevin wore #22 and Bay will wear #44…
  7. John December 30, 2009 at 2:53 pm
    Wow Joe. It is kind of surreal to see a cell phone call re-enacted as a blog post…

    Just to be clear, I don’t consider the McReynolds comparison a positive. I always viewed his acquisition as the beginning of the end – he was a very solid player, but he never stood out and really faded when Strawberry left. There was alot of Scottie Pippen in that guy – a complimentary player through and through, with a bad mindset for NYC.

    Beltran-Bay-Wright, not exactly Murderer’s Row, but possibly dangerous enough to be called 3rd Degree Attempted Grand Larceny Row.

  8. Walnutz15 December 30, 2009 at 3:29 pm
    I’ll never be part of the “McReynolds = Bust” crowd…..with him, you knew exactly where you stood, and to expect more was foolish in of itself.

    However, as I get older — I do see how the Mets began shedding players with that “80’s edge” in favor of the choir boy crew [e.g. – Kevin Mitchell for Big Mac]; for no other reason but because they perceived these types as bad influences [probably more to protect Gooden and Strawberry].

    But it became more and more of a trend through the years…..picking up a ton of steam after “The Worst Team Money Could Buy”.

    As is the case with Jason Bay — I think the Mets had a very good idea about the player they were trading for, in McReynolds.

    Hopefully, he’s even more productive.

    The success in Boston is a plus, though….it’s not like we’re bringing an extreme country-boy to the bright lights and big city.

    Even still, K-Mac probably exceeded management’s expectations back then, if anything. Always a Met favorite of mine….but keep in mind, that was through the eyes of an 8-10 year old.

  9. Mark December 30, 2009 at 4:15 pm
    Gotta love the flux-capacitor references!

    By the way Bay has been in two post-seasons. When he came over for Manny it was 2008 and he was also in last years brief postseason against the Angels.

  10. mic December 30, 2009 at 9:18 pm
    So now the delgado $$$ are committed to Bay. So what next?s


    So if Olivo goes to the Rox, then what happens to Yorvit? As we salivate over the potential Reyes-?-Wright-Beltran-Bay-Frenchie-Murphy lineup, the question is who will catch? Molina sure looks nice at #7. Will murph be the 2 hitter? Or will Castillo/O-dog?