More What Ifs in Mets Hot Tub History

This week there’s been far too much buzz about the fact that postseason superstar Nelson Cruz was once property of the Mets — only to be sent away for a “spare part” when he was a raw and slow-to-develop 19-year-old.

(Hat tip to MetsToday commenter “Mic” for inspiring this post.)

Add in the obvious connection to Rangers President Nolan Ryan (argh! Jim Friggin Fregosi!) and it’s a lamenting week of self-loathing for Mets fans, wondering what might have been had the GM at the time of whatever-bad deal-you-want-to-bring-up not been so goshdarn stupid!

Hold that thought for a moment; let the anger and remorse flow through your body. Now consider some of these other “what ifs” …

What if the Mets re-signed Mike Hampton and therefore not gotten David Wright as a supplemental pick?

What if they hadn’t traded Kris Benson for John Maine and Jorge Julio (who in turn became Orlando Hernandez)? Sure, Maine and El Duque weren’t around very long, but do the Mets get to the 2006 postseason without them?

Similarly, what if they hadn’t traded Yusmeiro Petit, Grant Psomas, and Mike Jacobs for Carlos Delgado?

And what if they hadn’t traded future superstars Dante Brinkley and Gaby Hernandez for Paul LoDuca?

Or if they hadn’t included Mike Fitzgerald, Herm Winningham, and Floyd Youmans in the Gary Carter deal?

Or if they didn’t trade John Christensen, Wes Gardner, Calvin Schiraldi and LaSchelle Tarver in the deal for Bobby Ojeda?

Or if they hadn’t sent Ed Hearn to Kansas City for David Cone?

Or if they didn’t gamble away Ed Yarnall, Geoff Geotz, and Preston Wilson for Mike Piazza?

Or if they didn’t give up on Robert Person so quickly, sending him to Canada for John Olerud?

Or if they’d just been more patient with young closer Neil Allen, instead of trading him for Keith Hernandez?

Or if they’d held on to Dave Colon, Bill Carden, Kevin Collins, and the immortal Steve Renko, rather than sent them packing for Donn Clendenon?

Have I made my point?

Sure, the Mets have made some terrible personnel decisions in their history — some real doozies — when it came to sending away young or minor league players. But they’ve also made some stunningly brilliant deals as well, tapping that same resource of unknown talent. Did it all even out? That’s hard to judge, but at the very least, step out of that “what coulda been” hot tub time machine, and adjust the dial so that it also takes into account the deals that worked out quite well for the Metropolitans. Looking at the franchise’s history more objectively, you might find that they have been just as inept as any other MLB organization when it comes to giving away raw young talent. Just ask a Yankee fan about the Fred McGriff for Dale Murray deal, or the Jay Buhner for Ken Phelps trade. Or a Cubs fan about the Ernie Broglio for Lou Brock deal. Or a Mariners fan about the memories of Heathcliff Slocumb, who was obtained for a minor league battery named Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek. Bad deals happen to every team, and more than once — not just to the Mets.

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. NormE October 20, 2011 at 8:15 am
    Thanks for the history lesson, Joe.
  2. Andy October 20, 2011 at 1:27 pm
    I always thought the real complaint about the Mets front office was its tendency to overpay for high profile free agents.

    I agree that when it comes to trades they are no more or less inept than most other teams (Nolan Ryan and Scott Kazmir notwithstanding). But . . . George Foster? Vince Colman? Bobby Bonilla? Bret Saberhagen? Roberto Alomar? Oliver Perez? Luis Castillo? Jason Bay?

    Has any other team spent so much for so many free agents and got so little in return?

    • Joe Janish October 22, 2011 at 10:38 am
      As Timo points out below, many teams have spent good money toward bad investments in free agency. How much money have the Yankees and Red Sox spent on free agents who didn’t pan out?

      And, as he also points out, we Mets fans tend to focus on the negative — though, it’s part of our nature to do that.

      When one steps out Metsworld, one can see that nearly every other MLB team has made similar mistakes. The only difference is that when the Mets make a mistake, it’s harped on and embraced with a “woe is me” mentality, rather than just moving on. Imagine, for example, if the Mets had been the ones to invest well over $100M on Dice-K? It didn’t keep the Red Sox from winning the World Series nor did it keep them from being perennial postseason contenders. Why do bad investments only affect the Mets?

  3. Timo October 21, 2011 at 9:59 am
    Joey, good points. As Mets’ fan we tend to focus on the negative rather than the positives. We all know about the bad trades from the Mets but never really look at the good ones.
    Andy, we have spent alot of money on crap. However, so has other teams. The Cubs, Orioles, Blue Jays, and Angels have spent lots of money of players that haven’t panned out. The Blue Jays and Orioles have finally got rid of their bad salaries and have decent teams. Once we clear bad salaries, we should be OK again. Here’s the top 10 worst signing. Met’s weren’t the worst.

    As far as Kazmir, we would have been stuck with his salary as well. The Angel’s ended up paying his grossly overpaid salary. the Rays really made out on that deal.

  4. Walnutz15 October 21, 2011 at 11:50 am
    I hope everyone’s taken good notice that Nelson Cruz was a member of our organization over a decade ago.

    *wags finger*

  5. Andrew October 31, 2011 at 10:44 am
    Let’s not forget the all time draft stinker…with the number one pick in the 1966 amateur draft, the Mets select…C Steve Chilcott. With the number two pick, the Athletics select….Arizona State OF Reginald Martinez Jackson.

    Try running a Strat O Matic simulation of the Mets from 1968-1987 with Reggie in the Mets lineup-Mets crush everyone in sight in ’69, maybe win the division in ’70 and flip-flop that ’73 WS result. Dunno about the latter stages of his career (it’s likely Reggie may have bolted for free agency anyway after ’76), but would be fun to project.