Mitchell Report: Too Many Mets
Out of the 89 players mentioned in the Mitchell Report, 17 were former Mets — that’s a hair under 20%. Despite all the previous reports that former clubhouse / bat boy Kirk Radomski did all his dealing AFTER leaving the Mets, the truth is, many of his first clients were New York Mets.
Interestingly, it seems to have all started with Todd Hundley, the chain-smoking alcoholic who as a good-hit, poor-glove backstop had a hard time batting .270 in the minors, yet was miraculously pushed through the system (son of Randy may have helped) before reaching the Mets big club for good in 1992. He floundered initially, struggling to stay above the Mendoza Line, before having a “career year” in 1995 — batting .280 with 15 homers in 90 games. In 1996 he began using Deca-Durobolin — courtesy of Radomski — and suddenly hit 41 dingers. Huh. It was the same year Brady Anderson hit 50 out of the leadoff spot for Baltimore, so Hundley’s output was comparatively inconspicuous.
Ironically, Hundley would eventually find his way to the Los Angeles Dodgers, where he befriended fellow catcher Paul LoDuca, and was sure to tell Paulie all about these wonderful “supplements” that make your bat go bang! through the ball. Again, it was Radomski supplying the juice, and wouldn’t you know the story went full-circle, as LoDuca himself went cross country to eventually become a Met.
Included in the Mitchell Report is a fascinating tidbit — “notes” from “Dodgers officials” in 2003, less than a year prior to the deal that sent Paulie to the Marlins:
“Steroids aren’t being used anymore on him. Big part of this … Might have some value to trade. Florida might have interest. Got off the steroids … Took away a lot of the hard line drives … If you do trade him, will get back on the stuff and try to show you he can have a good year.”
Good gawd. Lo Duca hit 25 homers back in 2001, a year after Todd Hundley referred him to Radomski. There are also checks written by Lo Duca to Radomski in June 2004 and on August 7, 2004 — Lo Duca was traded by LA to Florida on July 30th.
Interestingly, there is no word of Guillermo Mota in the report, but the stunning thing is that Mota was traded to the Marlins with Lo Duca on that July 30th deadline in ’04. Makes ya wonder.
Perhaps more telling was the cold shoulder given Lo Duca by Mets management this offseason, and the trade of Mota to the Brewers for throwaway item Johnny Estrada. How much do you want to bet that the Wilpons knew full well that Lo Duca would be mentioned in the Mitchell Report, as well as 17 other ex-Mets? If you were the owner of the Mets, and was aware of this information, wouldn’t YOU try to rid your roster of every known ‘roid abuser ASAP?
Maybe I’m a conspiracy theorist, but it sure is ironic that both Mota and Lo Duca were expunged from the organization before the Report came out. Jay Horwitz has enough PR disaster management with all the former Mets — it makes his life a bit easier if the organization can confidently say, “that was all in the past”.
While it’s obvious that Paulie’s skills have diminished markedly in the past few years — and now we know why — something tells me the Mitchell Report was at least part of the reasoning behind the Mets turning their back on Lo Duca. Whether that’s fair or not is your decision — after all, this is a team that similarly turned its back on steroid trafficking in their clubhouse going back almost 20 years.
Personally, I don’t know what to think.