Mets Merized Online » Frank Cashen http://metsmerizedonline.com Fri, 02 Dec 2016 22:21:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.16 Remembering Frank Cashen: The Evolution Of The 1986 Mets http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/05/remembering-frank-cashen-the-evolution-of-the-1986-mets.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/05/remembering-frank-cashen-the-evolution-of-the-1986-mets.html/#comments Fri, 27 May 2016 17:10:17 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=213119 frank cashen davey johnson

As the Mets get set to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of their 1986 World Championship team, here’s a chronological timeline of how it all came together. Unfortunately, the architect of that championship team, Mets GM Frank Cashen, is no longer with us. But his legacy and the impact he had on our franchise lives on forever.

The following shows exactly how all the players from that Mets post season roster came to be acquired.

I broke it down to further illustrate how Cashen didn’t solely rely upon hoarding prospects as his means to an end. They surely helped, but had it not been for the trades that brought in many stars of their time, 1986 may have never happened.

Lets get to the list which I present in chronological order. The first three players were acquired before Frank Cashen was named general manager.

Essentially the team he inherited already had what would be his starting second baseman and center fielder, as well as his closer.

The Evolution of the 1986 Mets

June, 1977

Wally Backman, 2B: Drafted in first round

Mookie Wilson, LF: Drafted in second round

Dec. 8, 1978

Jesse Orosco, RP: Traded from Twins Feb. 7, 1979 to complete trade for Jerry Koosman

June, 1980

Darryl Strawberry, RF: Drafted in first round

June 10, 1980

Doug Sisk, RP: Signed as amateur free agent

November 1980

Kevin Mitchell, OF/INF: Signed as an amateur free agent

June 1981

Lenny Dykstra, OF: Drafted in 13th round

April 1, 1982

Ron Darling, SP: Traded from Rangers with Walt Terrell for Lee Mazzilli

June 1982

Dwight Gooden, SP: Drafted in first round

Roger McDowell: Drafted in third round

Dec. 10, 1982

Danny Heep: Traded from Astros for Mike Scott

Feb. 3, 1983

Ed Hearn: Signed as a free agent

June, 1983

Rick Aguilera: Drafted in third round

June 15, 1983

Keith Hernandez: Traded from Cardinals for Neil Allen and Rick Ownbey

Dec. 8, 1983

Sid Fernandez: Traded from Dodgers with Ross Jones for Bob Bailor and Carlos Diaz

1984

Davey Johnson becomes manager

Jan. 17, 1984

Rafael Santana: Signed as a free agent

June, 1984

Kevin Elster: Drafted in second round

June 15, 1984

Bruce Berenyi: Traded from Reds for Matt Bullinger, Jay Tibbs, Eddie Williams and Eddie Williams.

August 28, 1984

Ray Knight: Traded by the Houston Astros to the New York Mets for players to be named later. The New York Mets sent Gerald Young (August 31, 1984), Manuel Lee (August 31, 1984) and Mitch Cook (minors) (September 10, 1984) to the Houston Astros to complete the trade.

Dec. 7, 1984

Howard Johnson: Traded from Tigers for Walt Terrell

Dec. 10, 1984

Gary Carter: Traded from Expos for Hubie BrooksMike Fitzgerald, Herm Winningham and Floyd Youmans

March 30, 1985

Randy Niemann: Traded from White Sox for minor leaguers Gene Autry and Ken Reed

Nov. 13, 1985

Bob Ojeda: Traded from Red Sox with Chris Bayer, Tom McCarthy and John Mitchell for John Christensen, Wes Gardner, Calvin Schiraldi and LaSchelle Tarver

Jan. 16, 1986

Tim Teufel: Traded by Twins with Matt Crosby for Billy Beane, Joe Klink and Bill Latham

Aug. 3, 1986

Lee Mazzilli: Signed as a free agent (originally drafted in first round, 1973)

Of the 25 championship players here is the breakdown:

  • Three players (Jesse Orosco, Wally Backman, Mookie Wilson) were inherited.
  • Five were drafted in the first three rounds. (Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, Roger McDowell, Rick Aguilera, Kevin Elster)
  • One was drafted in the late rounds. (Lenny Dykstra, 13th Round)
  • Two were signed as amateur free agents. (Kevin Mitchell, Doug Sisk)
  • Three were signed as MLB free agents. (Rafael Santana, Ed Hearn, Lee Mazzilli)
  • Eleven players were acquired in trades, many of which included the Mets top prospects. (Tim Teufel, Sid Fernandez, Ray Knight, Bruce Berenyi, Danny Heep, Bob Ojeda, Gary Carter, Keith Hernandez, Howard Johnson, Randy Niemann, Ron Darling)

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One of Frank Cashen’s first signature move after being named GM, was to trade for Reds’ All Star George Foster and then sign him to what was at the time the richest contract in baseball. Foster would be released in mid season during 1986 after making some inflammatory remarks about the front office. He was immediately replaced by longtime fan favorite Lee Mazzilli.

Sadly, the dynasty Cashen was hoping for never materialized and within two years he began dismantling the championship team he had built. Ray Knight, Gary Carter, Keith Hernandez, Lenny Dykstra, Mookie Wilson and Roger McDowell were either traded or released.

Frank Viola was brought in along with Juan Samuel, and Gregg Jefferies was going to be the new face of the franchise. But just five years after that famous trickler down the first base line, and after a dismal fifth place finish, Cashen stepped down as GM of the Mets and was replaced by Al Harazin.

25 years later, Frank Cashen was inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame on August 1, 2010 along with his manager Davey Johnson, and his two top draft picks; Dwight Gooden, and Darryl Strawberry.

The brilliant Frank Cashen, who brought championships to both the Baltimore Orioles and New York Mets, passed away on June 30, 2014. I will always remember his friendly smile, his commitment to winning, and of course his bow ties.

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Frank Cashen Ranked 10th Best GM in Baseball History http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/02/frank-cashen-ranked-10th-best-gm-in-baseball-history.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/02/frank-cashen-ranked-10th-best-gm-in-baseball-history.html/#comments Thu, 05 Feb 2015 22:14:00 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=174392 cashen

So our friends Mark Armour and Dan Levitt are continuing to roll out their Top General Managers in MLB history. They, of course, are the co-writers of In Pursuit of Pennants, which examines how front offices have historically found innovative ways to build winning teams.

Last week, they named ranked Sandy Alderson 12th Best GM of all time, which led to some hot debate as you would imagine. But this time I think most Mets fans will be pleased and will whole-heartedly agree with their choice of Frank Cashen as the 10th Best GM of All Time.

“Frank Cashen had two stints running a big league baseball operation.  In his first job he oversaw a budding great team as president and later kept it contending in the GM role as well. At his second stop he took over a long struggling franchise that needed a complete transformation.  He succeeded at these two opposite challenges masterfully, meriting his status as one baseball’s best baseball ops executives.”

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“In early 1980 Nelson Doubleday, the new owner of the New York Mets, talked Cashen back into baseball, giving him complete control of the club (acting as both GM and the COO).  The Mets had been a woeful team for four years, and in 1979 played before fewer than 800,000 fans (still the low water mark for the team).  Cashen told ownership that he needed at least four years to turn the organization around, and he began by revamping the scouting and minor league systems.  Over the next several years the Mets developed Daryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, Kevin Mitchell, Lenny Dykstra, Mookie Wilson, Rick Aguilera and several others.”

“Cashen’s biggest decision for 1984 was the hiring of new manager — Davey Johnson, who Cashen knew from his Oriole days.  Johnson had managed in the system, and like Cashen wanted to play the kids rather than continuing to lose with veterans.”

Of course the Mets would go onto win 90 games that year after having won fewer than 70 for seven consecutive seasons, and then the rest, as they say, is history.

This is an excellent read with some great biographical research. Check out the rest of the article here.

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Alderson’s Draft Picks Are Indication Of Long Term Plan http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/aldersons-draft-picks-are-indication-of-long-term-plan.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/aldersons-draft-picks-are-indication-of-long-term-plan.html/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 16:31:07 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=168341 brandon nimmoThe hardest thing about building a winning team is the anticipation. Before 1996, there were no guarantees that Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and the rest of a very young Yankees team would prosper at the same time, if at all. The same can be said about the 1986 Mets. Frank Cashen took Darryl Strawberry with the #1 overall pick in the 1980 draft. It happened to be the very first pick Cashen made in New York and it turned out pretty well.

Fast forward to 2011 when Sandy Alderson took over the Mets and selected Brandon Nimmo with the 13th overall pick in the draft. Like Strawberry, Nimmo was a high school outfielder with a ton of raw talent. It took Strawberry three years to reach the majors, debuting in 1983. Three years after that, they won the World Series. Now Alderson is hoping Nimmo is on the same track.

An interesting note from Cody Derespina of Newsday revolved around other high school players taken early in the draft.

“Since 1980, there have been 16 high school players drafted No. 1 overall. That list includes Strawberry, Ken Griffey Jr., Chipper Jones, Alex Rodriguez, Josh Hamilton, Adrian Gonzalez and Joe Mauer. Of the 14 No. 1 picks out of high school from 1980-2011, only Brien Taylor, Matt Bush and Tim Beckham didn’t debut in the majors within three years. Bush and Taylor never even made it to the bigs.”

Nimmo being a 13th overall pick won’t fit into that group but it’s clear that the Mets have completely abandoned a win-now approach in favor of the win-long-term strategy. Mets’ vice president for player development and scouting Paul DePodesta, had this to say about building for the future.

“We’re not necessarily looking for quick fixes. We hopefully plan on being here for a while and really trying to do this right. We’re not going to take a guy just because he might be the quickest mover to the big leagues.”

Nimmo will enter his fifth season in the Mets minor league system this spring at the age of 22. As Derespina points out, three to four years isn’t all that long for a high school player to mature and Nimmo will take longer than that. Gavin Cecchini and Dominic Smith were other players who Alderson drafted out of high school and who are unlikely to debut anytime soon.

Derespina also notes that with Alderson’s contract extension in place, he’ll likely be around until 2017 and by then, Cecchini, Smith, Nimmo and 2014 first-rounder Michael Conforto could debut.footer

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Sandy Alderson Deserves More Respect http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/08/sandy-alderson-deserves-more-respect.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/08/sandy-alderson-deserves-more-respect.html/#comments Tue, 12 Aug 2014 14:00:36 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=163145 sandy alderson

When it comes to the New York Mets it is not difficult to have a litany of complaints about front office personnel and high ranking officials within the organization. Whether they be valid points or fictitious thoughts concocted by the fan base this is New York and losing is never acceptable. However, General Manager Sandy Alderson has done something to this franchise that we have not seen since the 1980′s when Frank Cashen took over a beleaguered Mets organization, he has changed everything about it.

Yes, it is hard to agree with that if you are solely judging Alderson by the Mets’ win-loss record. Cashen was plagued by the same difficulties early on when in 1982 the Mets won 65 games then in 1983 they won 68 before winning 90 games in 1984.

Cashen was able to do something that Alderson has yet to show us, which is trade for impactful major league talent. Alderson has proven he is a very successful evaluator of young talent.

The list of prospects Alderson has traded for is tremendous. He has taken a farm system that was as barren as they come and transformed it into one of the most plentiful systems in all of baseball.

Trading two months of Carlos Beltran to the San Francisco Giants for Zack Wheeler three years ago is something I’d never believe if I didn’t know it actually happened already. Then trading reigning NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey to the Toronto Blue Jays for Noah Syndergaard and Travis d’Arnaud after the 2012 season has proven to be a near genius move. Dickey has a 4.46 ERA with the Blue Jays over the past 2 years meanwhile, d’Arnaud is proving to be the catcher scouts projected him to be and Syndergaard has blossomed into one of the top pitching prospects in the game.

His hitting philosophy, which is frustrating at times, will start to show more results once players who were drafted by Alderson have been developed throughout their professional careers only knowing one way to hit. Taking pitches and waiting for the right pitch to hit will not always work in the major leagues.

Imagine this scenario for a second, the Mets are facing a pitcher who is locked in and looking untouchable however, the Mets have a lineup of 8 players who work the count. For this particular hypothetical we will say the pitcher averages 19 pitches an inning because the Mets are using their hitting philosophy wisely and are tough to get out. With that said if the Mets do their job this game they can chase a pitcher after the 6th inning with an 114 pitch count. Of course this will not always happen but it very much so has the potential to happen starting in the next few years.

Of course everything Alderson has done has not been met with such high praise. The recent DFA of outfielder Chris Young and his .205 batting average is one of the failures Alderson has endured during his tenure as GM of the Mets. In his defense, even though it is hard to defend such a poor signing, the Mets were never going to win this year. Finding stop-gap players and signing them to one year deals so they do not block younger players in the farm system is the smart move.

You may not agree with the signing of Curtis Granderson and his performance in the 2014 season but Granderson is the type of leader you need on a young New York team. Granderson is wise and exemplifies an attitude that young players in the big leagues should all have, hard work pays off and to never forget that baseball is a team sport.

Bartolo Colon is another signing many Mets fans groaned about but Colon is teaching young Met pitchers lessons without ever saying a word. Watching Colon pitch is like watching an artist paint over a blank canvas. Pin-point control, smart pitching and never letting your emotions get to you no matter what the situation is what Colon has done all year. It is no coincidence that Wheeler and Jacob deGrom have begun to show the same characteristics more and more as the season progresses.

Alderson is an intelligent human being, a Harvard Law graduate and United States Marines veteran of the Vietnam War, he knows the Mets are on the brink of becoming something they have not been in a long time, a winner. With a few smart moves this offseason the Mets can be legitimate contenders for 2015 and beyond. Yes, it is hard to be patient with owners who are deceiving and a public relations team that has no clue, but despite that we are also seeing the team prosper with growth and youth.

Alderson will most likely be extended as general manager of the Mets in a short period of time. There will be fans who hate this move but Alderson deserves it.

mmo presented

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Bowties and Rings http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/06/bowties-and-rings.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/06/bowties-and-rings.html/#comments Mon, 30 Jun 2014 19:44:42 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=159525 Frank Cashen, who served as Mets general manager from 1980 through 1991, died today at age 88. Cashen was regarded by many as the architect of the last Mets World Series championship team in 1986. The following was originally written about Cashen and current Mets GM Sandy Alderson, shortly after Alderson assumed control in 2010.

cashenFrank Cashen arrived in Flushing with an impressive resume; two World Series rings, a drawer full of bowties and patience.

Throughout Spring Training and most of April 1980 Cashen watched Joe Torre’s team sputter. There were no trades, nor firings. Not a single transaction. The Mets front office was quiet.

“When is the man going to make a move?” Mets catcher John Stearns boldly asked the media. “He’s had 90 days and nothing has happened.”

The new Mets GM didn’t break a sweat. He didn’t blink. Cashen’s first player transaction didn’t come until June, it was barely a twitch. He acquired Claudell Washington from the White Sox for a minor league pitcher. That same week Cashen used his No. 1 draft pick to select a tall, skinny kid out of Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles. His name: Darryl Strawberry.

Cashen made minor trades, signed free agents and put together a patchwork teams during 1981 and 1982. “I was looking for cosmetic things to try to make the Mets look decent until I could rebuild them,” Cashen told Peter Golenbeck in Amazin’.

Sandy Alderson was introduced as the new general manager of the New York Mets at Citi Field last week and, for better or worse, the organization is going through a rebirth.

Alderson adopts a mediocre major league roster and a minor league system that’s been labeled and assessed by baseball analysts as “fair,” “poor” and “a disaster.”

Like Cashen, the Mets new GM has a philosophical track record that is tied to player development. Alderson sold himself to the Mets on this very foundation, hence the four-year contract. There’s no quick fix when it comes to building long-term success.

“I’ve always had a preference for holding on to our own talent and seeing how far it can go,” Alderson told the media last week at Citi Field. “If it succeeds and realizes its full potential, we benefit. If it doesn’t, I think we’ve still made the right decision in terms of our fan base.”

Like it or not, Mets fans are going to get the opportunity to see if Ruben Tejada is a major league second baseman; if Ike Davis and Daniel Murphy will blossom into serious offensive threats; if Lucas Duda is ready to play every day at the major league level; can Josh Thole hit consistently and command the respect of the pitching staff; is Jenrry Mejia ready to pitch at the major league level? How about Dillon Gee? Aberration or the real deal? Brad Holt: Ready or not? Will the real Mike Pelfrey please stand up?

Go ahead, take the entire 2011 season to assess the situation. Alderson – and whomever is given the job as Mets manager – will beta test, conduct fire drills and in season simulations to determine the answers to these and other questions.

One thing is for certain, you won’t find the Mets brass in a bidding war for Cliff Lee or Carl Crawford this winter. There will be no repeat of the multi-year, multi-million dollar press conference player introductions Mets fans have become accustomed to.

“I think we’re going to be busy, but that’s first and maybe ultimately only to assess the market,” Alderson said. “We don’t really know what’s out there. We need to be actively engaged in finding out what’s available to us, who has interest in some of our players … we’re going to be out there fishing.”

In the meantime, if the fish aren’t biting, the clock will be ticking on the contracts of Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo and Carlos Beltran, a potential $30 million payroll reduction post-2011.

Alderson, a military man, is brilliant at working the media to his advantage. He won’t tip his hand. He won’t point directly at a player. He won’t offer specific details on any single issue. In fact, he has the uncanny ability to speak in riddles – and get away with it in front of a room full of New York media.

At last week’s press conference, Alderson was asked about player contracts, the free agent market and the team’s direction. He responded:

“One of the reasons that fans like baseball is because it provides a certain consistency and continuity in their lives that maybe doesn’t exist otherwise. It’s important to recognize that. But, at the same time, I think fans enjoy change.”

Fans like “consistency and continuity,” but “fans enjoy change.”

He’s not being evasive, but deceptive. Alderson is intentionally non-committal. He teaches marketing. He know the value of working the media. Alderson has a gift. It’s the art of the pick-off play from the GM’s seat.

Sun Tzu’s The Art of War states deception provides a competitive advantage. It forces your competition to second-guess your next move. The unknown poses a psychological threat to the competition.

In public Alderson would offer this translation: “I don’t think we’re going to go out actively trying to move anybody. But, at the same time, let’s see what’s out there. So, to that extent, I don’t think anybody is untouchable.”

Before he begins dangling his roster to the league like carrots on a stick, Alderson must first hire a manager, where there’s been no shortage of debate on who is best suited for the job. What does Alderson think? He offered little at the press conference.

“The manager is a very critical part of the overall leadership structure,” he said. “I can appreciate a fiery manager. I also think it’s important for a manager to be somewhat analytical … We’re looking for somebody that fits intellectual requirements, but also intuitive and emotional ones.”

That narrows the available field to roughly 15-20 candidates. Vegas and the New York press have Bob Melvin, Terry Collins or Clint Hurdle as odds on favorites. Keep guessing.

Three decades and five general managers removed from the Cashen era, Sandy Alderson arrived in Flushing with an impressive resume (including two World Series rings) and patience. Sound familiar?

All that’s missing are the bowties … and the next Darryl Strawberry.

MMO footer

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Tim Leary and the Subtle Danger of Talent http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/04/tim-leary-and-the-subtle-danger-of-talent.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/04/tim-leary-and-the-subtle-danger-of-talent.html/#comments Sat, 20 Apr 2013 17:32:40 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=115430 On January 18, 1985 Tim Leary was quietly traded by the New York Mets to the Kansas City Royals. Leary was selected out of UCLA in the first-round (second overall) by the Mets in the June 1979 Draft. Less than two years later, at age 22, Leary made his major league debut. It lasted seven batters.

Life would have been better if no one said the phrase – ever — but it’s too late now. By the time Tim Leary first heard someone say it in his presence all he could do was go out and try to provide evidence to support the claims.

tim leary

Leary, a UCLA graduate, overpowered hitters with a 96-mile per hour fastball, then buckled their knees with a biting curveball. In 1980, his first season of professional baseball in the New York Mets organization, he was unhittable. Leary was named Most Valuable Player of the Texas League. Honestly, that only made matters worse.

The occasional mention became an everyday occurrence. Scouts, fans, analysts were singing a chorus of praises that always ended in similar refrain: Leary was going to be “the next Tom Seaver.”

Mets manager Joe Torre and pitching coach Bob Gibson watched his 22-year old prospect blow away major league veterans in the Spring of 1981. Torre told the media Leary was “overpowering.” The Mets manager wasn’t alone in his praise. ”You look at him pitch and know that someday he’ll be a super baseball player,” added St. Louis Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog.

”I like that son of a gun on the Mets. What’s his name, Leary?” Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda told New York Times reporter Joe Durso. “He can throw the hell out of the ball.”

Torre and Gibson knew they’d have to convince GM Frank Cashen to get Leary on the 25-man roster. Cashen was staunchly conservative in his approach to promoting young, developing arms.

By the end of Spring, Leary made it difficult for Cashen to say no. The Mets GM gave in. Leary was in. He earned it. He pitched his way North. Leary would join a 1981 rookie class that included Cal Ripken Jr., Fernando Valenzuela, Tim Raines, Tony Pena and Mets Mookie Wilson and Hubie Brooks.

It was a typical cold, windy 46-degree Sunday at Wrigley Field in Chicago. It was a day filled with hope for the Mets. Hopeful that rookie Tim Leary would be all the things he was promoted to be, hopeful the 22-year old would not feel overwhelmed by the pressure, hopeful that they were witnessing the beginning of “the next Seaver.”

Leary struck out Ivan DeJesus swinging and Joe Strain looking at a called third strike. Two batters, two strikeouts and now hope was floating in the Windy City. Bill Buckner grounded out and Mets fans were confused. Was this Tim Leary or Tom Seaver?

In the second inning, after Steve Henderson lined out and Bull Durham struck out, Cubs third baseman Ken Reitz worked walked. Leary threw a wild pitch and Reitz moved to second. But Leary retired Scot Thompson on a fly ball to end the inning.

Did you see it? What … the wild pitch?

No. Leary felt “a searing pain” in his elbow as he worked to Reitz. Something was wrong, really wrong. “I felt some pain in my arm on the way north,” remembered Leary.

When the Cubs came to bat in the third inning it was Pete Falcone, not Leary pitching. Four days later he was placed on the disabled list. He wouldn’t throw a major league pitch for another 30 months. Cashen never forgave himself – or Torre – for what happened wrote Peter Golenbeck in Amazin’.

”Since I was 8 years old, I pitched hundreds of innings and was never hurt,” remembered Leary. “Now, I was hurt. Any time you even sit in a whirlpool, you get criticized. And I was taking whirlpools twice a day for months. When I went home to Los Angeles, I’d walk the beach. I became a loner.”

The whispers about being “another Seaver” faded – fast. Injury trumps all in professional sports. Being a “head case” is a close second and Leary was branded with both. Once a player is tagged, the climb to the majors becomes Mount Everest.

“The pressure is on in New York,” former teammate Terry Leach told Peter Golenbeck, author of Amazin’. “Some people can’t handle the attention, because they expect so much of you. Or you think they expect so much of you, so you try to do more than you’re capable of, and that’s not good. And that’s what happened to Tim Leary in New York. He was young, it’s hard to cope. You don’t know what it’s like until you play big league ball in New York. That is the big leagues.”

Leary reported to Spring Training in 1982, hopeful. He spent the winter exercising, strengthening his elbow. Leary pitched one inning against the Philadelphia Phillies and he was “roughed up.”

”Every time I threw, it hurt,” said Leary. “I couldn’t even pitch. I went back home, and didn’t do much of anything except walk the beach and worry. That was the low point.”

In June 1983 Leary visited Dr. Daniel Alkatis, a nerve specialist in New York. In minutes Alkatis diagnosed Leary with a pinched nerve. “I’d been lying around for eight months, he found it in five minutes,” he said. “I still had a long way to go, but my mind was finally free.”

Sure the modest crowd that peppered the box seats on the final day of the 1983 season was a far cry from the dreams Leary once carried on his right shoulder, but No. 38 was pitching again. The “next Seaver” comparisons were gone, maybe for good, but he was back in uniform, on the mound, in the major leagues at Shea Stadium. And that was all that mattered now.

Leary pitched nine innings and beat the Montreal Expos. It was his first victory in the big leagues.

1984 was an ironic convergence of the past and then-present. Dwight Gooden, Tim Leary and Frank Cashen arrived in Florida for Spring Training.

Gooden was wearing Leary’s 1981 shoes, Leary was “damaged goods,” a reclamation project hoping for a spot on the roster and Cashen was waxing, bordering on hypocrisy, to the media about the lesson he learned.

”We’re starting to hear Gooden used as a standard of comparison for other young pitchers,” said the Mets GM. ”The scouts are starting to say that so-and- so has a Gooden-type fastball. That’s a form of subtle pressure in a way, but Gooden doesn’t understand what subtle pressure is, while Leary did.

”Gooden is very phlegmatic. He’s not burdened with a lot of hangups. I don’t want to say that Tim Leary was emotionally immature, but he was like Cassius in Shakespeare. You know, ‘Young Cassius has a lean and hungry look. He thinks too much.’ That can be dangerous.”

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Harvey Is The Best Pitcher The Mets Have Drafted In Over 30 Years http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/04/harvey-is-the-best-pitcher-the-mets-have-drafted-in-over-30-years.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/04/harvey-is-the-best-pitcher-the-mets-have-drafted-in-over-30-years.html/#comments Tue, 09 Apr 2013 12:36:31 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=113842 matt harveyLast night, at least six times, I heard fans, beat writers and announcers drawing comparisons to Tom Seaver when talking about Matt Harvey. He’s quickly becoming not just a Mets story limited only to the five surrounding boroughs, but a national baseball story as well. A cover on the front of Sports Illustrated or ESPN magazine is not far away.

Harvey, 24, had his second consecutive scintillating start in a row on Monday evening, holding the Phillies to just one run and three hits over seven innings of work. The righthander struck out nine and now has 19 strikeouts in 14 innings.

The seventh overall pick in the 2010 draft is tearing down long-standing records for pitchers who are breaking into the majors and after 12 starts he even had the great Doctor K himself saying, “I am sitting here watching Matt Harvey… this kid is better than advertised … looking forward to watching him every 5th day.”

One thing I found impressive came from former major leaguer turned ESPN analyst Doug Glanville say, “He has four plus pitches – make that plus, plus pitches. And even if he only has three of them working he’s going to pitch a great game. Even if he has just two of the working, he’s going pitch a good game.”

Manager Terry Collins kind of backed that up after the game, “Obviously he wasn’t real sharp, but he was still very good,” Collins said. “The fact that the change-up has helped him. He threw some very good breaking balls today. He just wasn’t as sharp with the command of his fastball…It just tells you what the quality stuff can do and when you make a pitch you have to make, you get people out.”

Can Matt Harvey become the best pitcher the Mets have developed since – well since – Dwight Gooden?

I’m starting to believe that it’s certainly a possibility. He may be the best pitcher a Mets GM has drafted since Frank Cashen took selected Gooden fifth overall in 1981. That was six general managers and 32 years ago.

Is it too early to make such a claim? Maybe. But I’ll stick to my guns and wait ten years to see if I was right.

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The Great Divide: Where We Are Going and Where We Are http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/03/the-great-divide-where-we-are-going-and-where-we-are.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/03/the-great-divide-where-we-are-going-and-where-we-are.html/#comments Tue, 26 Mar 2013 20:10:39 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=112002 If there’s one thing I can say about Mets fans if I were to use Twitter as the barometer, you could slice the entire fan base down the middle and the divisions are quite clear.

In the past 12 months, when anyone asked me to describe the state of the Mets fan base, my reply would always be this:

half hate like

So color me surprised when I came across some of the comments made by general manager Sandy Alderson yesterday, in an interview on MLB.com.

“I kind of have a sense of what they’re thinking, and that’s motivation in itself,” Alderson said. “My goal ultimately is for a lot of Mets fans to be happy with where we are — not where we’re going, but where we are.”

Close enough, right? Who knew we were so alike… :-)

The great thing about MMO is that both those of those sides frequent the site and defend their positions quite passionately – and for an unlucky bakers dozen – too passionately.

Alderson fully understands the resentment many fans have for him and the way he’s gone about it. He knows his offbeat, off-the-cuff style doesn’t resonate with many of the fans. But here’s another interesting quote from the same article regarding that very thing, and it came from newly appointed captain, David Wright:

“It’s obviously a difficult position when you’re trading Carlos Beltran, when you’re trading R.A. Dickey,” Wright said. “Sometimes it’s not the most popular thing to do. Fans are very expressive about how they feel. But in the grand scheme of things, he has a vision and a plan, and he stuck to that, whether it’s been a popular move. That’s what you want out of a general manager.”

Somewhere in Bayonne, I can sense someone is seething upon reading that.

In a way, the captain is correct. You do want a GM who isn’t swayed by the whims of fans as I told another blogger last week about him needing to see Travis d’Arnaud in the Opening Day lineup.

The way I see it, what’s the point of having a general manager if all he did was coddle to a vocal majority? We can get any sheep to do that. I can certainly tell you that Frank Cashen never did that. Whether Bing Devine or Johnny Murphy ever did, you would have to ask our Mets historian Barry Duchan. But I’ve never heard that was their style either.

Alderson acknowledges mistakes and does not run from the tough questions. Whenever I get the chance to speak with him, I like to needle him with those types of questions. But I think he understands that someone has to speak for the half that hates where we are – and I do hate where we are – make no mistake about it.

But I also know that sometimes it takes patience to build a winner, so I sit and wait like the rest of you, hoping that the other half are right about the future.

We’re putting a lot of our eggs in one basket, and I’ve seen this before – actually many times before and dozens upon dozens of times before if I were to include other teams.

Many of Frank Cashen’s prospects all came through for him. 50% of his top picks struck gold. Usually, as Billy Beane famously said, if you strike gold with just one out of fifty you’ve done a great job.

For Sandy Alderson’s sake, and of course the Mets’ sake too, I hope he strikes gold with his prospects, none of which have arrived yet.

“Are there things I would have done differently? Absolutely,” Alderson said. “In this business, you have to keep in mind that you’re not going to be right every time. But you have to be right often enough so that the team is successful. We haven’t been right often enough.”

Honesty is a good attribute to have if you wan’t to connect with ALL the fans in this town. We’re seeing more of that from him in the last few months.

Like him or not, Sandy Alderson is ours and the future of this team is in his hands. If you are not rooting for his success, I don’t think too highly of your Mets fandom.

Obviously, we can’t expect much from this current Mets team this season. I’ve yet to see anyone say the Mets are going to win the World Series this year – at least not on the record. But as for our future Mets team (2015?), I’ll leave you all with this quote from one of John Lennon’s songs,

“Let’s hope it’s a good one, without any tears.”

The Future

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Crash and Burn http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/03/crash-and-burn.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/03/crash-and-burn.html/#comments Wed, 23 Mar 2011 00:11:01 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=46364 So now that the Mets have parted ways with both Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez, there are a variety of opinions on how this soap opera has panned out.  Should they have stayed on because they were owed a king’s ransom, the Mets would essentially be paying them either way, right?  Or does this truly show that the new world order on the Mets front office team has an agenda, one that says, if you don’t perform, take a hike?

If the latter thought tags me as an optimist, then consider my glass half-full (but bartender, please keep the refills comin’).  Yet, the dialogue has continued into the organization’s past, present and future.  Present times it’s easy: the Mets are going on hungrier talent from within, plus a few reclamation projects with some upside and an intact core of talent that’s getting older (but on good days we can see why they were once the Children of our Future).  The future we see in fuzzier terms.  The new brass has a plan and while able to listen to the rumblings of fans in the current construct, they are willing to take a more patient approach in internal growing.  As for the past, well, it’s evident in seeing David Wright, Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, among others.  But we know after this season, one of those three will still certainly be a Met…

This brings me to a cycle of abuse that the Mets have had historically, not just in the free-spending Omar Minaya administration, but even dating back to the M. Donald Grant days.  Couple that with since basically the Joe McIlvaine days (which in baseball parlance, lasted about 15 minutes), there hasn’t been a steady draft or even a drafting plan.  It’s a double-edged sword, building one’s team.  If one chooses to do the free agent route, one has to part with many first round draft picks and harbor questions about future performance.  If you go the prospect route, some of them might not pan out, but can be used as bargaining chips to solidify teams that are one or two pieces away from it all.

If you’ve read the Maple Street Press Mets Annual 2011, two pieces addressed these very issues.  Jon Springer, of Mets by the Numbers fame, wrote a piece on the Mets history of free agency dealings titled “I’ll Buy That For A Dollar,” while Toby Hyde of Mets Minor League blog wrote a piece on the last draft that Sandy Alderson, Paul DePodesta and JP Ricciardi are working around called “Back Draft: Same Old Song in the Last Minaya Draft.”  By the way, if you haven’t read the MSP Mets Annual, well…why haven’t you?

Springer lays the foundation for the Mets history of free agency, starting mostly in the M. Donald Grant era, which famously lost two superstars in Tom Seaver and Dave Kingman to begin with, then set off a chain of events that kept the Mets from not only being uncompetitive, but being basically rock bottom in anything.  The idea, Grant suggested, is that “we’re sportsmen — we’re not in it for the money,” until, Springer relates, money got involved.  Grant went on to say that by not going after high-profile free agents that he was keeping costs low and visiting the ballpark as a cost that was within reach.  This in and of itself was a double-edged sword.  If he wasn’t putting money into the team, why should the fans?  We see some of that now, except prices are high for free-spending at CitiField these days, but with absolutely nothing to show for it except for some guys who are still being paid to potentially play for other teams.

However, it wasn’t for lack of trying.  In a twist of fate, they showed interest in Gary Matthews, Sr. (you may remember his son, who had a bloated free agent contract himself with the Angels), but was about $750K less than what he eventually signed for.  You see, we did show interest, we felt we gave him a fair offer but it was trumped.  However, how much of it was a low-balling-let’s-hope-he-really-doesn’t-take-it offer?

Even Frank Cashen’s days weren’t without free agent drama.  For a General Manager who was revered as a visionary in his time, and is even a charter member of the Mets Hall of Fame, his luck with free agents wasn’t all that great.  Take for instance losing out on the Dave Winfield sweepstakes, who went to cross-town rivals the Yankees, and settling for George Foster instead.  This appears to be a common thread in Mets lore.  Even though Minaya didn’t show interest or visibly anyway, settling for Jason Bay who was the “second best guy” in the free agent pool in the going-into-2010-season, after Matt Holliday.  It’s tough to judge who might have been the better signing, but that’s neither here nor there.  The point is, the Mets have had to settle for “sloppy seconds” in the free agency pools.  How much of it was perception of playing with the Mets (did anyone truly prefer playing in Queens as opposed to the Bronx or anywhere else for that matter?) or was it that they truly felt they were giving what they thought was fair market value and allowed FAs to walk out?

Springer even relates how the Mets lost out on Darryl Strawberry going into 1991 as a free agent.  After negotiations went south with a contract extension, Cashen panicked and had to instead give extra money to Vince Coleman.  A few firecrackers later, we know how that one turned out.  Here’s the thing though: if Cashen maybe was a little more serious about keeping Strawberry, perhaps not lowball him (even though Straw made it clear he’d wanted to play for his hometown team, the Dodgers).  Overall, this attitude seems to be one that pervades even more recent teams.  Let’s overpay the guy we didn’t really want just to say we got him.

Like I said, a cycle of crash and burn that ended with the release of Castillo and Perez.

Springer did a good job of intermingling the drafts in between those times.  Cashen was gifted in that he was able to trade off some valuable pieces he inherited for value (take for instance his deal that sent fan favorite Lee Mazzilli to the Texas Rangers for Walt Terrell – who in turn ended up into Howard Johnson — and Ronnie Darling, whom we still hear today).  Creativity is something that had to come into play, but if a General Manager lacked that acumen, it meant trouble.  Not saying that only happens to the Mets, but we follow them so closely, it does hit close to home.

The idea is that in the last few years, the farm system is a little middle-of-the-road, too MOTR for Alderson’s liking as he’s said, which is how Toby Hyde starts his discussion with “Development is Job One.”   It’s a misnomer that big market teams should spend big; they should also develop big to use as bargaining chips or to have them become superstars after development.  It’s clear after reading Hyde’s piece that the Mets system isn’t neglected nor barren: it just needs some structure.

Which leads into the “Back Draft” piece.  An issue that seems to pervade the front office thinking is that there is a strict adherence to the slotting guidelines set forth by the Commisioner.  I think this is something that needs to change, personally, and perhaps we will see these changes with this so-called executive dream team.  However, the last draft was indicative of previous Minaya drafts: “parallels continued into specific picks” according to Hyde.  Minaya liked to collect arms; I guess one could argue there is no such thing as too much pitching, but on the other hand, it doesn’t give a lot of diversification in building around a core unit.  The good news is that there is some bona fide talent in the system such as Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Cory Vaughn and Matt den Denker.  The bad news, if you can even call it that, it will take a few years before they are truly “ready.”  Perhaps Nieuwenhuis is the closest, according to Hyde’s estimates.

These two, actually three, articles jumped out at me because we’ve discussed this ad nauseum on the boards here at Metsmerized Online, and even in person when I get together to discuss Mets baseball with other fans.  The free agency cycle for the Mets has caused horrific crashing and burning that we’ve had to sit through and deal with, while the farm system lays barren that was mostly done to keep progress of winning teams going.

It backfired.  We’ve seen more bad than good come out of that.  I think it’s high time to try another route, one that won’t cause these dramatic peaks and valleys that make me write 1500 word posts.  In any event, ESPN came out with a piece on how the Mets are paying their dumped players the most.  Along with all the other poor contracts they got out of in the early 2000s, it’s evident that the cycle needs to end.  Period.

In the meantime, I highly suggest reading the Maple Street Press.  If I can get this much out of it, imagine what you can!

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In Alderson We Trust? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2010/12/in-alderson-we-trust.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2010/12/in-alderson-we-trust.html/#comments Tue, 07 Dec 2010 04:53:48 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=39794 Remember 1986? Wasn’t it great? We had Gary and Keith, Doc and Darryl, Lenny and Wally, Mookie and Frank. Frank???? Frank who?

Remember the miracle of 1969? What an amazin’ year? Tom and Jerry, Cleon and Agee, Swoboda and Shamsky, Buddy and Johnny. Johnny??? Who the hell was Johnny?

The Frank I’m referring to was Mets GM Frank Cashen. The Johnny from 69 was GM Johnny Murphy. Great baseball memories, the common history that we all share as Mets fans, stem from the memories created by the players, not the front office. I remember Jesse dropping to his knees after whiffing Marty Barrett and tossing his glove to the heavens. I don’t recall Frank Cashen doing the same with his bow-tie.

Lately it seems as if the Mets have become a front office first and a baseball team second. We’ve become a bunch of suits who happen to control 25 guys in a uniform. Yes, Baseball is a business but it should only be a business to those in the office and not to us fans who hand over money for tickets and merchandise. To us, it’s still a game.

However Mets fans take the side of ownership more then the side of the players. I’m not about to get into the pros and cons of our new GM vs. our old GM. My concern, however, is this: For the last 3 years, Omar had every move, or non-move, second guessed and third guessed and torn apart. Our new GM has been given a free ride. Mets fans are so hungry to win that we have put Alderson on a pedestal, above being second guessed. He is beyond reproach.

I hearken back to the words George W. Bush spoke almost a decade ago: You’re either with us or against us. Speaking out against Sandy Alderson is tantamount to treason in Mets Nation.

The majority of fans were hoping Bobby V. would make a triumphant return. Others were clamoring to see Wally Backman in the dugout once again. We would have been okay with Clint Hurdle. But when the great and powerful Alderson chose Terry Collins, one who few would’ve even listed in the top 5, we all decide to give him a pass. In Alderson we trust.

Dan Uggla signs with the Braves. That’s 2bman Dan Uggla, a position we desperately need to upgrade. And while this happens, Alderson sits by. No one’s upset. We disregard the fact that Uggla has averaged 32 HR’s, 96 RBI’s and a 494 slugging percentage the last 3 years, saying he’d be a defensive liability. Uggla’s fielding percentage has been 978 over this time frame. Chase Utley’s, for example, is only 983. But I don’t hear anyone in Philly wanting to trade him.

Adam Dunn goes to the White Sox. Alderson does nothing. Mets fans don’t say a word. Adrian Gonzalez goes to Boston. Alderson does nothing. Mets fans don’t say a word.

Now, Jaysen Werth goes to Washington. Washington, the only team in the division worse then us last year. Alderson does nothing. Mets fans scoff at the salary he is getting. Of course what no one mentioned is that Werth hit 419 in Nationals Park last year, higher then any other stadium.

John Maine, bothered by physical problems, is released. However, Alderson has no indication of dumping Oliver Perez, bothered by mental problems. Fans say nothing.

I have several friends who are Yankee fans. Over the past 2 weeks, they have been livid, furious, over the way Cashman and Steinbrenner played hardball with Derek Jeter. Last year, the Yankee captain hit just 270 with a 340 OBP, both career lows. But when all the political wrangling and posturing was done, the Yankees came through and awarded Jeter $51 million for 3 years. Why? His numbers don’t warrant it. But the Yankees most likely did it cause of what Jeter HAS done, not cause of what he WILL do. And also, to appease the Yankee fan base. The fans want Jeter to retire a Yankee and now, he will. They want to see him get 3000 hits while wearing pinstripes. And now he will.

Yankee fans would riot if Jeter would play anywhere else. Fans took the side of the player. On the flip side, Mets fans are practically drooling to get rid of Beltran. And Reyes. And I’m sure if some team offered us 3-4 good rookies for Wright, we’d do that, too. Especially if the all-knowing Sandy Alderson said it was good business.

Fellow blogger Craig Lerner reported in an article about Alderson’s reaction to the Werth signing. When our GM arrived in Orlando for the winter meetings he was greeted with the news of Werth going to the Nationals for 7 years/$126 million. Alderson’s reaction: “That’s a long time and a lot of money. I thought they were trying to reduce the deficit in Washington.”

I like his response. It’s good to know that if this whole GM thing doesn’t work out in NY, maybe he can get a gig at The Improv.

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Nice Guys Finish Last…And That’s Where We’re Heading http://metsmerizedonline.com/2010/07/nice-guys-finish-last-and-thats-where-were-heading.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2010/07/nice-guys-finish-last-and-thats-where-were-heading.html/#comments Mon, 26 Jul 2010 08:52:05 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=32138 It was June 15, 1977 when the Mets were sent into a tailspin that would last almost a decade. ‘The Franchise’ was traded to Cincinnati for 5 players who were basically scrubs. After what became known as The Midnight Massacre the Mets proceeded to average 96 losses for the next 7 years.

It was 6 years to the date, June 15, 1983, when GM Frank Cashen began lifting the Mets from the depths of the NLE. He sent pitchers Neil Allen and Rick Ownbey to STL in exchange for Keith Hernandez.

With the exception of Seaver, Keith is perhaps the most beloved Met of all-time. But this has nothing to do with his stats. While his numbers were impressive for the 6 ½ seasons he batted 3rd and played 1B, he meant more then that, both to fans and to teammates. Keith was always in the game, if not physically then mentally. He played the game the way it was designed to be played. Keith knew not only how to play, but also how to win.

Keith was our team captain and being a captain of that bunch was not easy. There was media savvy Gary Carter on his way to Cooperstown, the hot-headed Ray Knight, the fiery Wally Backman and the youthfulness of Darryl and Doc. But it was ‘Mex’ who emerged as not just team captain but leader. And winner.

Fast forward 20 years. After falling one base hit shy of the World Series in 2006, we were seemingly one player from a Championship. Now, 4 seasons later, we seem about 6 players away.

Mets management has tried many different things. None have worked. We acquired the best LHP in baseball in Johan Santana. It didn’t matter. We signed K-Rod after his record setting 62 saves. That didn’t matter. We brought in a veteran with winning experience in Gary Sheffield. No difference. This past winter we signed one of the best available bats in Jason Bay. Same thing.

The one piece of the puzzle we have failed to add is a leader, a la Keith. The Mets are a bunch of nice guys with good talent and a solid core. But as Leo Durocher famously stated, Nice Guys Finish Last.

We have waited impatiently for David Wright to take over that role. But lets be honest–That aint happenin’. David’s a great hitter but he is not carved out for such a title. Carlos Beltran? A great all-around player but it’s not in his makeup. Reyes we all love but Jose’s having too much fun playing major league baseball. Johan possibly could but to be a leader you need an every day player.

It seems like just yesterday the Mets were knocking on first place and leading the wild card. After enduring stretches of 16, 24 and 17 innings without scoring a run, after only scoring 30 runs in our last 15 games, we have dropped to 3rd place, only ½ above Florida, just one game over .500.

We not only need a captain but more importantly a leader. And a winner. That one player who can kick his teammates in the ass. Keith kept the team focused, driven and determined. In the early days of our success, our leader was quite possibly Buddy Harrelson. In spite of his lifetime .234 BA he was out there every day for 13 seasons. He took his life in his hands when he took on Pete Rose in 73, showing Rose and the Reds that the Mets were not going to be pushed around. Can you honestly see any of the current players making a statement like that?

Mets management doesn’t seem to get it. To build a winner you don’t need the best team on the field; You need the RIGHT team on the field. And now we are expressing interest in Gil Meche. Gil Meche???? Meche is one of the few pitchers in Baseball who makes Ollie Perez look good. That laughing sound you hear is coming from The Bronx. And Philadelphia. And Atlanta.

Most of our beloved 86 champions went on to play with other teams. Bobby Ojeda, Ron Darling and Roger McDowell all left New York and proceeded to wear #17 with their new club as a tribute to Keith. Can you picture anyone leaving the Mets now and wearing #5 as a tribute to the leadership skills of David Wright?

The words Frank Cashen spoke over a quarter of a century ago are more poignant today then any recent time in our history. Cashen explained that he acquired Keith not only for what he was capable of doing on the field but for what he meant to a team–in the clubhouse, in the dugout. As Cashen stated, ‘To build a winner, you need to start with a winning attitude.’

Fred? Jeff? Omar? Are you listening?

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If Charges Stick, Should Gooden Be Honored In August? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2010/03/if-charges-stick-should-gooden-be-honored-in-august.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2010/03/if-charges-stick-should-gooden-be-honored-in-august.html/#comments Thu, 25 Mar 2010 14:21:03 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=23147 As most Mets fans know by now, former Mets pitcher Dwight Gooden was arrested yesterday after fleeing the scene of an accident. He was driving with his five year old son at the time and everyone involved was unharmed.

The story first broke on Deadspin so you can imagine all the delirious twists and turns the story has taken, and in a post to MetsBlog, Adam Salazar (Brooklyn Met Fan) cautions that much of what has been reported is inaccurate. That said, one thing that is very accurate is this list of what Gooden was charged with:

  • Driving under the Influence of a controlled dangerous substance;
  • Endangering the welfare of a child
  • DWI with a child passenger
  • Leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident
  • Reckless driving
  • Failure to keep right
  • Failure to notify change of address regarding driver’s license

Of course, the first three “if true” are very disturbing and one would hope that Gooden has not succumbed once again to his inner demons which have plagued most of his adult life.

That said, all of us should let the entire process play out and withhold judgment until the time is appropriate and all the facts are out. That could takes days, weeks or even months depending on how Gooden’s legal team decides to proceed. For all we know, most of those charges could easily get dropped as they were based on the arresting officers perception. By the looks of what has been reported no sobriety tests were given and no blood/alcohol levels were indicated.

However, if the charges stick and Gooden is convicted of the most egregious of these charges, should the Mets continue with honoring him on August 1st when he will be elected to the Mets Hall of Fame?

According to Adam Rubin, a Mets source said they will not change plans for Gooden to be inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame on August 1st. He was expected to be honored along with Darryl Strawberry, Frank Cashen and Davey Johnson.

What are your thoughts on this matter?

If the charges stick, should the Mets still go ahead with plans to honor Dwight Gooden?

    

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Remember When… Mets Deal Hurler Terrell For 3B Johnson http://metsmerizedonline.com/2010/01/remember-when-mets-deal-hurler-terrell-for-3b-johnson.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2010/01/remember-when-mets-deal-hurler-terrell-for-3b-johnson.html/#comments Thu, 07 Jan 2010 14:12:54 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=18604 December 7th 1984 -  Poking hot coals from Hot Stove History

The guy pitched well, but there were so many arms “on the come” throughout the Mets minor leagues and majors that Frank Cashen dealt away a good young arm in Walt Terrell on December 7th 1984.

Walt Terrell had arrived via a trade from April 1, 1982. I think the Texas Rangers organization and fans realize the “April fools” joke was on them that year. Walt was acquired with another young arm named Ron Darling for OF/1B Lee Mazzilli.

Mazzilli was the face of a Met franchise in total disarray at that time…  A period of time I’ve heard dubbed as “The Dark Ages”…“Grant’s Tomb” around Shea. (’77-’83)

But with that deal at that time, Frank Cashen stabilized a need for good young pitching at the upper levels of the Mets minor league system, and continued with his “five year plan”.  In Darling and Terrell, the Mets received quality pitching in exchange for a player on the decline. Darling was the Superstar.

Terrell wasn’t a superstar. But he was blessed with good ability, a bulldog mentality, and good control.

He made the majors in late ’82. In 1983, He started to establish himself as a viable, dependable starter. In 1984, he managed to go 11-12 with a 3.52 ERA, but more importantly he threw 215 innings.

The Detroit Tigers had just won the 1984 World Series. Sparky Anderson, the Hall of Fame manager, wasn’t happy with young 3rd baseman Howard Johnson’s streakiness during the season. Sparky went so far as to question his toughness and ability to handle pressure. He began rotating 3rd baseman in late ’84. He sat ‘HoJo’ for almost the entire playoffs with the exception of a single at-bat. Johnson became available when the Tigers, who were looking for starting pitching, swapped the young switch hitter for the young Terrell with the Mets.  

Many Met fans were annoyed by this deal and questioned why the Mets had brought in another 3rd sacker. (Ray Knight and Hubie Brooks being the others) Met fans found out 3 days later when Brooks headlined a package that brought All-Star catcher Gary Carter from Montreal.

But I digress…  to Howard Johnson…

Howard Johnson played for the Mets from 1985 until 1993.  ‘HoJo’ turned out to be one of the best offensive players the Mets have ever had. An incredible athlete, he made the phrase 30/30 a regular occurrence around Shea in the late ‘80’s and gave it familiarity like it should happen for him and us that way every year… For 5 years, the 30/30 threat that was Howard Johnson helped lead the Met offensive attack.

Johnson became the starter at 3rd in the winter of 1986 when the Mets let World Series MVP Ray Knight leave via free agency.  Ironically Knight signed with the Detroit Tigers who were searching for a new third baseman to replace Tom Brookens who had platooned in Detroit with ‘HoJo’ prior to his being traded to New York.

Johnson began the 30/30 talk in ’87 when he hit .265 with 36 HR 99 RBI and 32 SB. In subsequent years, he began alternating 30/30 seasons doing so again in 1989 and 1991.  He made All-Star appearances in 1989 and 1991.

‘HoJo’s Met career was done soon thereafter. For his final two seasons in New York, Johnson seemed to fight injury after injury which he just couldn’t get through. After two sub-par seasons, one in Colorado another in Chicago with the Cubs, Howard gracefully stepped away. He was just 35. He made a brief comeback in 1997 with the Mets but, time, age, and injury had taken their toll. He was finished for good at 37.

Howard Johnson continues to be affiliated with the Mets today as their hitting instructor. He’s a favorite among many. He wasn’t the flashiest to play for the Mets but he was very good.

My best memories of Howard Johnson were and still are his battle with Cardinals closer Todd Worrell. I recall it was power vs. power and HoJo came through hitting a pinch hit homer off the hard throwing reliever. I know many others recall Howard in his heyday, and I remember some of his special days, but I remember the young Johnson vs. Worrell and recall it with fondness. It was when I realized in April of ’86 the Mets were better than anybody. They were special.

Howard Johnson’s acquisition by Frank Cashen on December 7th 1984 should be celebrated for multiple reasons. It gave the Mets a young, superior offensive player and enabled Frank Cashen to trade depth at 3rd base for Gary Carter. Walt Terrell went on to pitch very well for the Tigers; however he was never a top end starter. The trade was a heist for the Mets.

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