Mets Complete Trade with Toronto Blue Jays

The Mets traded their ace starter to the Toronto Blue Jays on August 27, 1992, when David Cone was sent as the “hired gun” to help the Jays to a pennant and World Championship.

Oh, I’m sorry — did you think this post was going to be about some other trade between the Mets and Blue Jays involving the Mets’ ace starter?

In all seriousness, the looming trade of R.A. Dickey to Toronto brought back the Cone memory. Back then, the Mets received rookie infielder Jeff Kent and a player to be named later who turned out to be one of Toronto’s top-ten prospects — Ryan Thompson. Many of us remember how that deal turned out: the highly athletic, motormouth Thompson was a bust, and Kent went on to have a Hall-of-Fame career — after the Mets swapped him away for Carlos Baerga.

Granted, the situation was different from the Dickey deal, but there are some parallels. An in-season, August trade, Cone was essentially a two-month rental for the Jays, so the return package wasn’t quite as juicy as the one we expect to see for R.A. At the time, the Mets were dealing from strength — they had a surplus of starting pitching, with Sid Fernandez and Dwight Gooden heading a strong rotation (on paper). Pitching was all they had, in fact; the team finished 72-90 mainly because their punchless offense underperformed (Bobby Bonilla‘s 19 HR led the club). Further, they had two can’t-miss pitching prospects in their early 20s who appeared to be a year or two away — Pete Schourek and Bobby Jones. Expectations were high for Schourek, in particular, as he jumped up from A ball all the way to MLB in ’91, and was impressive in 21 MLB starts in ’92. Other than those two young hurlers, a questionable outfielder struggling at AAA (Jeromy Burnitz), and another outfielder who just tore up the Florida State League (Butch Huskey), the minor league system was barren. It was assumed that Cone would auction himself off via free agency after the season, so the Mets made the move with the plan of getting back a few young position players — since there was little, if anything, coming from the farm anytime soon.

Sound familiar?

Looking back, the Cone trade could have worked out OK if the Mets held on to Kent — or at least, traded him for someone that wasn’t on a fast slide downward. Thompson was always iffy, so it wasn’t a huge surprise that he was a bust. Jones eventually turned out to be a reliable back-end starter for the Mets for several years, while Schourek wasn’t able to figure it out until leaving New York for Cincinnati, where he won 18 games in 1995 (the Reds plucked him off waivers in ’94).

What does it all mean? Nothing — it’s just something that came to my mind, since the Mets again appear to be trading an ace starter to the Blue Jays. We’ll see if history repeats itself, or if it will be rewritten.

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. Kanehl December 16, 2012 at 7:05 pm
    All true. But it’s reasonable to bet on D’Arnaud since (a) Dickey’s performance wouldn’t make the Mets a contender in 2013 or 2014, and (b) with only 4 MLB level starting position players (and none coming up for at least 2 more years, other than maybe Flores who is blocked out at 3B), we gotta start building a lineup from outside.
    • Joe Janish December 16, 2012 at 7:24 pm
      Kanehl, you’re making my point for me. Similarly, David Cone wasn’t going to make the Mets a contender in ’93, as they lost over 100 games. The Mets were in a very dark, dangerous place, and had to build up their lineup from the outside — just as they need to do now.

      One slight difference: Kent was already a somewhat proven MLB commodity, having hit 8 HR and .767 OPS in 65 games with the Jays before joining the Mets. D’Arnaud has yet to play a big league inning.

      Maybe furthering the point — Kent did very well in ’93, hitting 21 HR, 80 RBI, .270 AVG, .765 OPS — but the Mets still lost 103 games. Why? Because Kent was all they had — the farm wasn’t producing players fast enough. It wasn’t until 1997 that the Mets finally had a winning season. Will we have to wait ANOTHER 4-5 years before seeing similar progress? I really wonder.

      • Kanehl December 17, 2012 at 3:55 am
        Point taken. The House of Wilpon’s reign has left our development system bereft of top level talent, especially with position players. It’s pitiful that our top 3 prospects are the guys Alderson got in the trades for Beltran andDickey. It’s going to take some luck to execute on the plan: we have to hoe that Wheeler and Harvey are sustainable top of rotation guys, Niese continues to blossom, and one of our other young arms is for real. And we have to make 2 or 3 good choices in the FAa market in 2014 and 2015 to build a credible lineup. Lots of Ifs. But at least there’s a plan, and some adults in charge. Let’s hope the Idiot Son stays out of the decision room.
  2. Tommy2cat December 16, 2012 at 7:28 pm
    I didn’t think Toronto would ever part with d’Arnaud.

    Gotta hand it to Omar for possessing the scouting acumen to reel RA into the Met fold, and Alderson for knowing when to sell high.

    We all love RA as he personifies some of Baseball’s most magical qualities. However, he’s a hamstring/split fingernail/plantar fasciitis away from the DL.

    To obtain d’Arnaud & Syndergaard in one shot is like achieving a 7-10 split in bowling.

    Way to go, SA!!!

    • Joe December 16, 2012 at 10:05 pm
      Sheesh. Half empty kind of guy.
      • Joe December 16, 2012 at 10:06 pm
        [wrong place … the post complimenting those people is a bit premature and violate blog rules for which the Mets and SA suck suck suck.]
  3. Dan B December 16, 2012 at 8:11 pm
    I can just see the next Mets Today headline — “Joe Janish’s Favorite Josh Thole and Others Traded to Blue Jays for D’Arnaud and Others” By the way, I could not help but notice the subtle references to “can’t miss” pitching prospects that do miss, even after a bright start. I am not saying this is the case of Harvey and Wheeler, but I have been burned before enough to not pencil them into an all star game just quite yet.
    • Izzy December 17, 2012 at 5:25 am
      Every “intellignet” baseball fan knows that you don’t know who won or lost a trade involving prospects for years. All the blind followerers of this false god, the man who knows roids and birth certificates, have proclaimed victory based on their devotion to their lord and master. What a fan base. Fortunately, most Met fans are smart and know that the only thing that counts are wins and plaoyff years. To the lovers of the false god.. Learn a sport. Your stats and rankings are a joke
  4. jerseymet December 16, 2012 at 10:40 pm
    Good to have a catcher that can show the ropes to the staff…D’Arnaud does know his way around Las Vegas.
  5. Walnutz15 December 17, 2012 at 11:28 am
    This is a solid deal, IMHO – as it not only sold-high on Dickey….but grabbed us a couple more pieces to add to the “development” of the Major League Mets somewhere down the road.

    If there’s one thing this organization almost never has…it’s legitimate (performing) Top Position Playing Prospects. While I would have liked to see an outfielder mixed into the fray; this deal represents the arrival of 2 more very talented kids.

    – Beltran brought back Wheeler.
    – Dickey returns d’Arnaud and Syndergaard.

    More than I would have figured us to be getting, in both deals….and really – the Wilpon-despising part of me wonders what Alderson could have netted, provided he got clearance to trade Reyes —– instead of having to hold onto him, for the asinine “rationale” of watching him pursue a Batting Title.

    (I’m of the belief that Alderson could have dealt him, prior to Jose’s injury….so spare the “he was hurt!” talk. The Wilpons never wanted to enter into that trade deadline by giving up Reyes and having nothing else to watch for the rest of the summer.)

    …….now it’s all about a few things breaking in our favor.

    Excellent job by Alderson, especially since dealing with the Mets looks to be the equivalent of working with the nosey co-worker who listens to your phone conversations….leaking it to whoever else in the office wants to know the business.

    Hopefully, this plan comes together.

    As for Dickey: thanks for giving us something to watch the past few years. I wish him luck, but am not shedding any tears over pulling the trigger on a deal here. Part of me wonders what the talk on this board would have been, provided Dickey cracked a fingernail or something (worse) – early on in the season.

    I’m fine with this deal……especially since we can finish in 4th place with just about anyone. Cy Young’s, Batting Titles, doesn’t matter an ounce to me.

    At some point, you sell-high on guys. I’m just glad they didn’t go with that ridiculous early sentiment relayed to us by Jeff Wilpon….we’re more than prepared to go into the season to let him play his contract out; and that trading him would be the last option on the list.

    Totally agree: It was good to see the big boys pushing Jeff out of the board-room…..and get something done here.