A disclaimer: I also authored this post, which cited the potential availability of several players and suggested a move or two. Some of those same players will be portrayed in a different light here. Also for this to make more sense you should start with yesterday’s post.
You might remember the mid-1990’s and those awful Mets teams. If you do, you probably also remember Dallas Green, the Mets old-school martinet of a manager, running both Jeromy Burnitz and Fernando Vina out of town. They got four pitchers in return for these two, none of whom ever did much here. Combined, Burnitz and Vina amassed over 200 home runs (180 by Burnitz) nearly 2,000 hits, 3 All Star berths and two gold gloves (both by Vina). Each played 10 years after being dealt, although Burnitz’ return to New York in 2002-03 was a disappointment. Despite that, the 1997-2001 Mets sure could have used both players. The point is that no one complained at the time these moves were made and the return was some desperately-needed relief pitching help (sound familiar?). The Mets might have modern day versions of these two in Daniel Murphy and Lucas Duda.
Did Duda’s home run on the last Friday of the season in Atlanta give anyone else a pause on the get him outta here campaign? Facing Met-killer Tim Hudson who was twirling a gem, in a hostile environment and against a team trying to avoid a one game play-in, Duda’s nine-pitch at bat was a masterpiece. It gave Jon Niese his career-high 13th win and beat the Braves on Chipper Jones night.
Could Duda be the next Burnitz? Interestingly enough, Duda’s first three season’s slash line of 256/338/429 closely compares to Burnitz’ 249/354/425 during roughly the same period. The next five years Jeromy would post similar average and OBP numbers but his slugging percentage would increase by nearly one hundred points as the result of 163 homeruns. Those are the types of numbers the Mets invested $66 million in Jason Bay to produce.Of course, if Jeromy’s power surge is **ahem** anabolic, then all bets are off!
It has been a tough go for Duda this year; he was pushed into an unfamiliar position and apparently locked horns with another old-school manager. Shuffled off to Buffalo for a while, he returned in late August only to be shoved into a controversy as the anointed replacement should the Mets trade Ike Davis, their actual 30-homer player, this offseason. Must be nice to have total strangers tell thousands of others how little regard they have your abilities. Try dealing with that at your job for a week! There is also the old adage about power needing four years to develop. Would it be a disaster for Duda to come back and play left field next year (perhaps with a caddy providing occasional defensive help and relief against some tough lefties) and see what develops? Wouldn’t it be a worse disaster if he starts launching those homers elsewhere?
When it comes to positional odysseys, Daniel Murphy makes Duda look like a piker. He tried left field in 2009, then first base in 2010, started 2011 on the bench until Ike Davis was hurt and then moved on to second base to start 2012. What if next year, Murphy comes to Spring Training with the second base job locked up? He could focus on his hitting, which is what got him here. Is this stability and extra BP worth one extra hit per week? It sure sounds reasonable. 24 extra hits equates to a .336 batting average, or Daniel challenging for the NL batting crown. Now imagine the wailing and gnashing of teeth here (not to mention all of the Monday morning quarterbacking) if he does that in another uniform. Those dysfunctional Mets…
I realize retaining both of these players is contrary to popular opinion on this blog. Just like 2012, the mantra of the early to mid 1990’s was “gloom and doom and my entire team stinks.” As the Burnitz and Vina sagas prove, there were indeed some good players on those teams. Possibly similar diamonds in the rough are on the current roster.
There is an even bigger example. See you tomorrow.
About the Author
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.