Now You’re Talking Turkey: Mets Transactions During Thanksgiving Week

In my household, the week before Thanksgiving has traditionally been one of preparation. Since we host the annual family gathering, there is food to be bought, a turkey to stuff, rugs to vacuum, bathrooms to be cleaned, toys to put away and extra chairs to be brought up from the cellar.

For the Mets, this week has also signaled the start of their preparation for the next season. With an eye on ticket sales, several Mets GMs have swung deals during this shortened work week. For most of us fans, the news of these transactions is a welcome change from a long stretch of no news at all. In more recent years, a genuine move means temporary relief from the incessant and preposterous speculation in all corners of the media about rumored trades and/or signings.

In retrospect, perhaps we should have had more patience! Here are a passel of Thanksgiving week deals made by the Mets, a few which may lead to some indigestion. We’ll cover a two-week period as Thanksgiving, like Easter Sunday, has an unfixed date.

A big shout out to the Ultimate Mets Database for the source material, the editorializing however, is all mine.

November 18

1994: The Mets deal Jeromy Burnitz and Joe Roa to Cleveland for pitchers Dave Mlicki, Paul Byrd, and Jerry DiPoto.
Like the current team, the 1995 Mets needed help in a lot of places. As a result, they made this quality-for-quantity-type move; although Jeromy Burnitz didn’t have too many fans in New York at the time of the deal. Burnitz’ best years were to come (with Milwaukee, where he would hit 125 home runs over a five-year stretch) and while the Mets got three pitchers, they did little to help. The Mets, thinking that the expected development of their young prospects (i.e., “Generation K”) would leave them with no room for Byrd, gave up on him way to soon. He went on to have the best career of the three, winning 109 games for a variety of teams over 14 years. Mlicki will always be remembered for his six-hit shutout of the Yanks in the inaugural regular season Subway Series game, but he did little else, winning 23 other games between 1995 and 1998 before being shipped to LA for Hideo Nomo. DiPoto, known as “Scary Jerry” in my circle of Mets fans, went from inconsistent relief pitcher to respected front-office man to the brand-new GM of the LA Angels.

2005: Mets trade Mike Cameron to the Padres for Xavier Nady.
In one of Omar Minaya’s better deals, he shipped out the unhappy Cameron for Nady, who hit 14/40/.270 for the Mets in 75 games and helped key their runaway NL East championship. Then came Duaner Sanchez’s ill-fated cab ride that July and Nady was on his way to Pittsburgh for Roberto Hernandez and Ollie Perez. Ollie’s gutsy Game 7 performance in the 2006 NLCS aside, that trade was a disaster, as the Mets offense lost a beat without Nady’s bat. Later, Omar made perhaps his biggest mistake as a GM with Ollie’s contract deal.

2007: Braves sign free agent pitcher Tom Glavine.
This was a curious move by Atlanta as the jury was out on the Mets even offering Glavine arbitration. Instead, the Mets garnered two draft picks as a result of this signing. Those picks turned out to be pitcher Brad Holt and IF Reese Havens. Stay tuned on this one.

November 20

2006: Mets sign free agent Moises Alou and trade Henry Owens and Matt Lindstrom to the Marlins for Jason Vargas and Adam Bostick.
What I remember most about this was that both moves were announced on the first-ever Mets Hot Stove on SNY. That was the about the pinnacle of relevancy for this insipid show.

Both moves fizzled. The period between November 15 and December 11, 2006 was Omar Minaya’s Rubicon Crossing as Mets GM. During those three and a half weeks, he signed Alou, traded away Lindstrom, Heath Bell, and Brian Bannister for essentially nothing and let Chad Bradford and Darren Oliver walk away as free agents. Alou spent almost the entire two years of the contract on the DL and any bullpen combination of Lindstrom, Bradford, Oliver and especially Bell might have helped the Mets avoid the collapses of 2007 and 2008.

November 21

1977: Mets signed free agent Tom Hausman.
Ladies and Gentlemen: meet one half of all that off-season’s free agent signings by the Mets. The other was Elliott Maddox, who signed nine days later. And you wonder why self-pity is in the Mets Fans DNA?

November 22

1993: The Baltimore Orioles sign Sid Fernandez.
As compensation, the Mets get Baltimore’s spot in the June Draft. They used it to pick Jay Payton, who interestingly enough is born on this day in 1972. Speaking of birthdays, this day is Sandy Alderson’s 65th.

November 23

1964:Mets purchase Warren Spahn from Milwaukee.
Later that season, the Mets cut the aged, future hall of famer. This lead to Spahn’s famous quote: “I played for Casey Stengel before and after he was a genius.”

November 24

1994: Mets trade OF Dave Gallagher to Atlanta for SP Pete Smith.
I was coming home from a friend’s house the night this trade was made and tuned into WFAN just in time to hear Doris from Rego Park give her take on this deal, which was how I learned of it. Doris’ estimation was that the Mets had to start rebuilding. As usual, she was right on. Smith stayed a year with the Mets and was on the move, proving that there was more than just something in the water in Atlanta that led to their pitching dominance. RIP, Doris.

2005: Mets get Carlos Delgado from Florida for Yusi Petit, Grant Psomas and Mike Jacobs.
This may have been Omar Minaya’s best deal as Mets GM. The Mets got the missing piece to their offensive puzzle in Delgado. In three-plus years he hit 104 homeruns and drove in 339 runs. None of the three players the Marlins received ever made much of an impact.

November 27

1996: Mets trade Jerry DiPoto to Colorado for Pitcher Armando Reynoso.
There has to be some kind of witticism to be made here about Thanksgiving leftovers, but it escapes me right now.

November 29

1966: Mets trade Ron Hunt and Jim Hickman to the Dodgers for slugging left fielder Tommy Davis.
Both Hunt and Hickman went on to have long, useful careers after this deal. Davis, who carried some baggage with the Front Office as a union organizer, lasted a year, hit 16 homers and then was shipped to the White Sox for a pair of future Miracle Mets: Tommie Agee and Al Weis.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! And a special thanks to all of the brave men and women of our Armed Forces who spend this day far from home.

A Mets fan since 1971, Dan spent many summer nights of his childhood watching the Mets on WOR Channel Nine, which his Allentown, PA cable company carried. Dan was present at Game 7 of the 1986 World Series and the Todd Pratt Walkoff Game in 1999. He is also the proud owner of two Shea Stadium seats. Professionally, Dan is a Marketing Communications Coordinator. He is married, lives in Bethlehem PA and has a 10-year-old son who unfortunately roots for the Phillies.
  1. Jeff November 23, 2011 at 6:54 pm
    Finally, someone who agrees with me that the Nady for Roberto Hernandez and Oliver Perez trade was a disaster. I’ve been saying this for years. Omar panicked after Duaner’s cab accident and got absolutely FLEECED for his starting right fielder and #7 hitter in order to re-acquire a 40-year old relief pitcher. Are you kidding me? Oh yeah, Omar was able to “pry away” Oliver Perez from the Pirates, who was something like 3-10 at the time of the trade. Great move, Omar. You really put one over on the Pirates GM getting Ollie thrown in the deal. Meanwhile, Nady’s solid #7 bat was removed from our line-up, forcing the till-then surprising Jose Valentin to move from the #8 spot up to the #7 spot, where he failed miserably. Then Cliff Floyd got hurt and now there was no protection for the middle of our order, and THAT is why we lost to St Louis in the NLCS. Our line-up was a shell of what it was earlier in the season, and the trade of Nady was devastating to our lineup that year and may have cost us the world series. The fact that Ollie won 15 games in 2007 is irrelevant and does not make up for the lost opportunity in 2006. And as for Omar’s purge of Heath Bell, Matt Lindstrom, Brian Bannister, Chad Bradford and Darren Oliver in the fall of 2006, that was disastrous. Look up the stats of Jason Vargas and Ambiorix Burgos in 2006 and tell me what Omar saw in those two. Go ahead. Look it up. OK, I’ll save you the trouble. Ambiorix Burgos gave up 16 home runs in 73 innings, posted a 5.52 ERA and blew 12 saves while saving 18 – a blown save rate of 40%. Oh, but he threw hard. That’s right. Meanwhile Jason Vargas had an unfathomable ERA of 7.33 and allowed 84 base runners (50 hits, 30 walks and 4 hit batters) in just 43 innings. Oh but he threw hard. And was a lefty. Yeah, just focus on that and ignore the stats Omar……
    • Piazza November 25, 2011 at 3:52 am
      You can’t blame transactions for losing a playoff series, and I’ll never call 2006 a failure, but I agree with the rest. It seemed like Omar did things just to do things. Truth is, if a team wins 97 games, there’s usually a good reason (and therefore, no reason to go after aging relievers and headcases).
      • Dan November 25, 2011 at 8:12 am
        While it is true that transactions don’t lose games, one has to wonder why the 2006 season ended because of a home run given up by a pitcher in his 2nd inning of relief after a full inning the previous day, in the 94th inning of his 80 game season.

        Transactions and management surely has something to do with that situation developing, especially considering that the relief pitcher probably should have been a starter, and possibly available for relief duty without being totally worn down at that point in the season.

        • Piazza November 25, 2011 at 4:43 pm
          The Mets lost that game 3-1. You look at that Mets line up and there’s no way that they aren’t able to score more than a single run. It just happened.

          I never like to gauge offseason contributions by postseason success. Otherwise, I could say Bobby Jones was a better pitcher than Dwight Gooden.

  2. Jeff November 25, 2011 at 10:41 pm
    I also forgot to mention that the gaping hole in our lineup after Nady was traded was filled by a thoroughly washed up (and overpaid) Shawn Green, who basically played pepper with the second baseman…….
    • Dan November 25, 2011 at 10:56 pm
      Nady hit .300 for Pittsburgh after he was traded, a little more offense could have made a big difference in at least one of the lost NLCS games.