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.

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. isuzudude December 14, 2007 at 8:45 am
    Joe, I think you’re 100% right. Bringing Paulie back made a lot of sense at the end of the season, but for some unbeknown reason the Mets has zero interest in re-signing him, going as far as threatening to sign Torrealba to a 3 year deal. But now it all makes sense. GMS, owners, teammates, trainers…they all know who’s used and who’s still using. I don’t doubt for a second the Mets knew of Lo Duca’s checkered past, gambling on the hope he won’t get caught while in New York and that he still has some natural good years left. Once this report was about to come out, knowing he’s a sure-fire bet to make the list, they distanced themselves away from Lo Duca in the hopes of making them look like the good guys. Truth is, the Mets probably knew all about Lo Duca’s demons way before they traded for him, so the idea of the Mets being perfect little angels just because they ostracized Paul and Mota is trash.

    And what we also have to remember is that this report only points blame at those players who have been tattled on. I’m sure there’s a group just as big – if not bigger – that are also steroid or HGH abusers who just haven’t been outed yet. The sport has truly been changed forever and likely will never be even close to 100% clean. There will always be enough players who could care less about competitive balance and integrity and morality and health to keep a consistent black eye on the face of baseball. For the majority of us, that won’t prevent us from watching or going to games or losing interest in the sport. But it will make us question EVERY SINGLE accomplishment and make us wonder who will be the latest player to lie right to our faces just so he can prolong his undeserving career.

    By the way, if Radomski was selling all these illegal drugs, shouldn’t he be subject to jail time? Has he been granted immunity throughout these proceedings? If so, I think that’s absolute crap, because perhaps if he wasn’t there to make these drugs available, some of these players may never have gotten involved with them in the first place.

  2. joe December 14, 2007 at 10:59 am
    Radomski IS going to jail, eventually. However I’m sure his jail time is being decreased in return for his singing.

    And I agree, this Mitchell Report is just the tip of the iceberg. There are dozens more players who were on steroids / HGH whatever.

  3. Micalpalyn December 14, 2007 at 2:28 pm
    The 17 ex-mets you refer too were very marginal contributors for the most part. G-mota, chris Donnels, Wilson Delgado.

    The two interesting pieces were the Todd Hundley and The LoDuca segments:

    a: The ties between Hot Rod Jr and Radomski were well documented and very plausible. We all know Todd was a high strikeout, low avg hitter but then he had that 41HR season in which his bicep were asking for trouble. Note the NEXT season (?) hundley was injured and I suspect the Mets werehappy to off load him not JUST because of Piazza.

    b. Paulie: A light hitting minor league journeyman who all of a sudden became a hitter. I(we) have speculated that something kept coming up to cause teams to cut bait on him…juice(?). It was widely written that loduca was traded for an injured Brad Penny at a time when they were playoff bound and in the process lost their leader and had no replacement catcher (of like caliber). did they ‘divest themselves’ of a guy who was trying to ‘encourage’ performance enhancers?

    c- i question how much teams communicated these issues. If it was KNOWN a player was juiced did that dilute his trade value?

    d- I dont think the Mets knew, and to me the distanced or divested themselves from known roiders.

    e-Notable too is how much mike Piazza fought the perception of performance enhancers. And again is admonished.

    f. -The other unaddressed topic is the Commissioners office: Does this happen if Fay Vincent is the commissioner. Was he quietly run out because of his steroid stance (see his 1991 edict). it is very suspect that baseball on the heels of Labor and collusion issues (and expansion-retraction), Pete Rose issues install an owner and allow him to be commissioner.

    g: At very least Bud MUST resign.

  4. joe December 14, 2007 at 2:43 pm
    Mic, I have to disagree with some of your points. First, I’d be very surprised to find out that no one in the Mets front office knew about steroids on their team.

    The Dodgers highly suspected LoDuca of using PEDs, and their notes about that were included in the Mitchell Report. I also find it hard to believe that the Dodgers (and Red Sox, for that matter) were the only teams in MLB who “saw” PEDs in their organizations.

    Piazza most likely did some kind of PED — sorry to burst your bubble. He like many others in the late 1990s gained 25-30 pounds of muscle in one offseason thanks to “working out and vitamins”. Yeah, right. Just because a player wasn’t named in the Mitchell Report doesn’t mean he is innocent. That report is only the tip of the iceberg. Or do you believe that Bret Boone, Jason Lane, and Brady Anderson (among others) should also be exonerated?

  5. Micalpalyn December 14, 2007 at 3:40 pm
    1. Your not disagreeing: I think they (The Mets) did know at varying point(s). But given the era, who on the Mets was mashing besides Hundley? This was an era when the Mets were really bad. was Anthony Young juiced, Charlie O’brien? Lance johnson, Segui had a brief Met career.

    Yes. I am sure that a team knew the activities of extra ciricular activities. But HOW teams dealt with it was VERY different. Note how the mets distanced themselves from LoDuca. Was the same treatment given to Hundley, donnels and Segui? Organizations are not talking, and probably never will.

    My point on team communitions: Many suspected Loduca based on his suspicious gain in baseball productivity. but that happens. But do the Fish and Dodgers share their evidence before making a trade. I am sure Peter Angelos called the Astros and let him know Tejada (and his contract) was juiced (previously) enhanced before taking 5 of their best prospects.

    Piazza: point well made. But Piazza always hit. However you are right other roid suspects are not fingered possibly based on lack of evidence. Boone, Klesko…Remember brian Mcrae talking about abuse on the Mets? Yes but he was refering to amphetamine laced coffee. This piece in which Radomski refers Hundley is the first time i have seen it inferred in the METS clubhouse.

    When Fay Vincent was ‘fired’ do you know who hired him? …The Mets.

    Note Segui (and byrd) say their use was prescribed for hormone/pituitary disorders.

  6. joe December 14, 2007 at 6:55 pm
    A. Bart Giamatti and Fay Vincent were the best two people to happen to baseball. Too bad neither spent enough time in charge to fix things. Both were more interested in the integrity of the game rather than solely the interests of the owners (though they obviously also had the owners’ interests on their respective agendas).

    Segui’s defense that he needs HGH for a disorder is laughable now that the Mitchell Report has been released. He was doing a heckuva lot more than just HGH — veterinary steroids and Deca-Durabolin for instance — and he was no more than a high-class pusher, referring other ballplayers to his pal Kirk Radomski as he went from team to team.

    As for Byrd, I’m equally suspicious. If he really was taking HGH for medical reasons, why didn’t he let people know BEFORE he was caught with them?

  7. joe December 14, 2007 at 6:58 pm
    Addendum to whether the Mets knew what was going on is this tidbit from Steve Phillips:

    “With the Mets, I thought four, five, six guys over a six-year period of time were using it. What was I to do? You had nowhere to go as a general manager. I wasn’t going to go through every shoe box or every locker in the clubhouse and say, ‘I wonder if there are syringes in there’ I wasn’t going to expose it and not have the ability to penalize the player. We had assumptions…but you had nowhere to go on the hunches you had (about) the players.”

  8. Micalpalyn December 14, 2007 at 7:48 pm
    Note to addendum:

    SP: I usually defend him, but HE traded for Mo Vaughn, Burnitz and Alomar (and Piazza), he also traded away Hundley.

    a. He could be more detailed.

    b. I think he eventually was willing to get Mo Vaughn because of that statement in which i hear…everyone else is doing it, why dont I get one of those guys for my team….

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