Mets Merized Online » Howard Johnson Tue, 21 Feb 2017 15:20:52 +0000 en-US hourly 1 How Mets Have Fared Under Democratic and Republican Presidents Tue, 08 Nov 2016 17:00:17 +0000 Bush 1st pitch 2001 World Series

There are many factors to consider when voting for a candidate for President of the United States today. At this point, every pitch and angle has been discussed ad nauseam on the web, in print, and on talk radio and cable television. Hopefully, you have all made your decisions by now.

However, if you are still undecided or are looking for a good reason to change your mind, maybe the following will help. If you are wondering how the New York Mets have fared with a Republican or a Democrat in office, you are in luck. Here is how the Mets have performed under each President in their 54 year history:

President Seasons Record Win %
John F. Kennedy 1962 – 1963 91 – 231 0.283
Lyndon B. Johnson 1964 – 1968 303 – 506 0.375
Richard M Nixon 1969 – 1974* 478 – 433 0.525
Gerald R. Ford 1974* – 1976 263 – 277 0.487
Jimmy Carter 1977 – 1980 260 – 388 0.401
Ronald Reagan 1981 – 1988 662 – 573 0.536
George H.W. Bush 1989 – 1992 386 – 423 0.477
William Jefferson Clinton 1993 – 2000 562 – 506 0.526
George W. Bush 2001 – 2008 651 – 643 0.503
Barack Obama 2009 – 2016 630-666 0.486

* Nixon resigned from office August 9, 1974

Here are the cumulative results:

Party Record Win%
Democrat 1,846 – 2,297 0.446
Republican 2,440 – 2,349 0.510

Here are some interesting Mets postseason facts when there was a Democrat or Republican in the White House.

Democrat Postseason Facts

The two times the Mets have been to back-to-back postseasons was when there was a Democrat in the White House (1999 & 2000 – Clinton; 2015 & 2016 – Obama)

The Mets have only had an NLCS MVP when there was a Democrat in the White House (Mike Hampton - 2000; Daniel Murphy - 2015)

The Mets have only won the division once (2015) with a Democrat in office. The other three postseason appearances with a Democrat in office were as the Wild Card.

The Mets have appeared in four total postseasons and two World Series with a Democrat in office. The Mets are 21-17 in postseason games with the following records per round:

Wild Card Game 0 – 1
NLDS 9 – 4
NLCS 10 – 4
World Series 2 – 8

Republican Postseason Facts

The Mets have won their only two World Series with a Republican in office (1969 – Nixon; 1986 – Reagan)
In all five of their appearances in the postseason with a Republican in office, the Mets were the National League East champions.

In three of the five appearances, the Mets won 100+ games with the high water mark coming in 1986 with 108 wins

In four of the five seasons the Mets appeared in the postseason with a Republican in office, the Mets had the best record in the National League (1973 is the exception). In two of those seasons (1986 & 2006), the Mets had the best record in baseball.

In total, the Mets have appeared in five postseason and three World Series with a Republican in office. The Mets are 30-20 in those postseason games with the following records per round:

NLDS 3 – 0
NLCS 16 – 12
World Series 11 – 8

If you wish to mainly focus on player performance over how the team has fared during each administration, Mets players have received more awards during Republican leadership:

Cy Young Award

Republican 4 (Tom Seaver 1969, 1973, & 1975; Dwight Gooden 1985);

Democrat - 1 (R.A. Dickey 2012)

Rookie of the Year

Republican - 3 (Tom Seaver 1967; Jon Matlack 1972; Darryl Strawberry 1983; Dwight Gooden 1984)

Democrat - 1 (Jacob deGrom 2014)

Rolaids Relief Man

Republican - 2 (John Franco 1990; Armando Benitez 2001)

Democrat - 0

Sports Illustrated Man of the Year

Republican - 1 (Tom Seaver 1969)

Democrat - 0

Gold Gloves

Republican - 14 (Tommie Agee 1970; Bud Harrelson 1971; Keith Hernandez 1983 – 1988; Ron Darling 1989; Carlos Beltran 2006 – 2008; David Wright 2007 – 2008)

Democrat - 6 (Doug Flynn 1980; Rey Ordonez 1997 – 1999; Robin Ventura 1999; Juan Lagares 2014)

Silver Sluggers

Republican - 14 (Keith Hernandez 1984; Gary Carter 1985 – 1986; Darryl Strawberry 1988; Howard Johnson 1989 & 1991; Mike Piazza 2001 – 2002; Jose Reyes 2006; Carlos Beltran 2006 – 2007; David Wright 2007 – 2008)

Democrat - 5 (Mike Piazza 1998 – 2000; Edgardo Alfonzo 1999; Mike Hampton 2000)

Roberto Clemente Award

Republican - 2 (Gary Carter 1989; Carlos Delgado 2006)

Democrat - 2 (Al Leiter 2000; Curtis Granderson 2016)

From the Front Office side, Republicans have a 2-1 edge in Executive of the Year with Johnny Murphy winning in 1969, Frank Cashen winning in 1986, and Sandy Alderson winning in 2015. Baseball America named the Mets the top organization in baseball once for the Republican (1984) and once during a Democratic (1995) term.

As a general rule of thumb, the Mets and their players have performed better with a Republican in office. As you enter the voting booths today, take that as you will. But honestly and all kidding aside, I hope you have some better sound criteria for choosing your candidate. Happy Election Day!

vote now

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Cubs Take The Series As Colon Stumbles In Mets 6-2 Loss Thu, 21 Jul 2016 03:12:31 +0000 bartolo colon

The Chicago Cubs (57-37) defeated the New York Mets (50-44) by a score of 6-2 Wednesday afternoon at Wrigley Field.


The 4th inning featured some two out hitting by the Mets, with James Loney and Travis d’Arnaud both knocking singles. Kelly Johnson then singled to center field (A HIT WITH RISP AND TWO OUTS?? NO KIDDING!), however an amazing throw from Jason Heyward in center field cut down Loney at the plate to end the inning.

The Mets got something going in the 7th off Kyle Hendricks, when Travis d’Arnaud led off with a walk and Kelly Johnson followed with a base hit to center. After a mound visit, Juan Lagares then popped a ball into foul territory on which Javier Baez made a spectacular play sprinting from second base to the tarp to make the catch down the first base line.

With one out, the Cubbies brought in Carl Edwards to face Michael Conforto, who lined one to the second baseman for the 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.

Jose Reyes worked a one-out walk in the 8th, then with two outs, Wilmer Flores seared a line-drive home run over the left field wall to decrease the Cubs’ lead to 6-2.

The Cubs tossed closer Hector Rondon out there for the third straight game despite it not being a save situation. After Travis d’Arnaud popped out, Kelly Johnson smacked a base hit, his fourth of the day. He advanced to second on a wild pitch before Juan Lagares went down swinging for the second out. Michael Conforto then flew out to center to end the game.

kelly johnson


Bartolo Colon started for the Mets, and it was an uphill battle for him all day. An Addison Russell 2-run single in the first and two Anthony Rizzo home runs were the big blemishes. He pitched 4 1/3 innings, allowing six earned runs on 8 hits, two walks, and a hit batsman.

Colon was relieved by Antonio Bastardo who came in to face Miguel Montero in the 5th with runners on first and third with one out. He struck out Montero with three straight sliders, but then Javier Baez singled to left to make it 6-0 Chicago. He then struck out Kyle Hendricks to end the inning. He then pitched a perfect 6th.

Erik Goeddel came in for the 7th, and immediately struck out Willson Contreras with three nasty splitters. Jason Heyward blooped out to Kelly Johnson in shallow right-center field, but then Addison Russell singled to center to reach base for the 4th time today. Miguel Montero popped out to end the inning, Cubs still leading 6-0 after 7.

Addison Reed pitched the bottom of the 8th and worked around a lonely base hit for a scoreless inning.


Verizon Trivia Question: Which Mets player has hit the most home runs at Wrigley Field all time?

It was a grueling day for Travis d’Arnaud, who took a foul ball right off the cup in the first inning. He was down for the count but stayed in the game. Howie Rose, our esteemed radio announcer, had this to say: “If he wants to sing karaoke anywhere tonight, he’ll probably be doing it soprano.” He then started off his game on a high note with a double in his first at bat and a single in his second. So that comes out to a total of four balls hit hard.

In only 41 July at bats, Wilmer Flores has now hit 7 home runs, which is second in the Major Leagues. He is batting .341 during that span.

Zack Wheeler will pitch off a mound for the Mets staff Friday in Miami. He still has a full rehab assignment ahead of him which could last as long as a month.

Kelly Johnson, who went 4-4 today, saw only 8 pitches to do it. Since rejoining the Mets, he has hit .339.

Yoenis Cespedes, Neil Walker, and Asdrubal Cabrera all had the day off despite tomorrow being an off day for the team.

Verizon Trivia Answer: Howard Johnson (19 Home Runs at Wrigley)

On Deck:

At 7:10 PM on Friday, The Mets will send Logan Verrett (3-6, 4.21 ERA) to face off against the Marlins’ Adam Conley (6-5, 3.61 ERA) at Marlins Park.

Follow me on Twitter @LBarer32

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O’ Captain! My Captain! Sat, 18 Jun 2016 13:00:29 +0000 the captain dw

I have to admit, when going online Thursday afternoon and reading the breaking news that David Wright would be undergoing neck surgery to repair a herniated disk, I paused for a moment and reflected on what that news meant.

Yes, the news meant that Wright will more than likely miss the remainder of the 2016 season, but it also might spell the beginning of the end for the 33-year-old. Not only does Wright have this herniated disk in his neck, he’s also dealing with spinal stenosis, which had many already fearing that he wouldn’t live out the remainder of his contract.

Wright still has $87 million owed to him through the 2020 season, but many fans and writers feel that there is simply better odds of winning the Power-ball than Wright playing out his deal. The Mets do have insurance on his contract, where they can recoup 75 percent of his contract once he misses more than 60 consecutive games.

So while the Mets’ brain trust meets and discusses the plans going forward as to who should shoulder the third base duties for the remainder of the season and potentially the future, it’s hard not to get a bit sentimental about our captain, who has endeared himself to the fans and media alike with his winning attitude, his humble nature, and All-Star years he compiled for our team.

It feels like ages ago that Wright was making his Major League debut on July 21, 2004 against the then Montreal Expos as a 21-year-old kid. Wright progressed through the minor league ranks and was regularly featured as a top prospect by Baseball America, garnering the attention of fans who were hoping that Wright could give the Mets a cornerstone third baseman that they haven’t had since Robin Ventura for three seasons and before that Howard Johnson in the late eighties to early nineties.

Wright went on to blossom into one of the best players in the game, and from his rookie year in 2004 through the 37 games played this year, Wright amassed a line of .296/.376/.491 for an OPS of .867. He slugged 242 home runs during that time, and had an OPS+ of 133. For similar comparisons, take a look at what other prominent third baseman have done in similar time frames.

Adrian Beltre-2004-2016: .294/.344/.497 .840 OPS, 324 home runs, .123 OPS+

Evan Longoria-2008-2016: .271/.347/.488 .835 OPS, 221 home runs, .129 OPS+

Scott Rolen-1997-2008: .283/.371/.504 .875 OPS, 268 home runs, .126 OPS+

Wright would also go on to eclipse Mets’ records and become the team league leaders in a myriad of categories, including runs batted in (970), walks (761), doubles (390), runs scored (949), hits (1777), and extra-base-hits (658). Wright remains 270 games shy from tying the Mets’ all time leader in games played, which is still held by Ed Kranepool.

david wright ws hr

As an avid fan who watched Wright be the elder statesman on this team, who could’ve pouted and demanded to be traded to a contender, who day in and day out stood by his locker after good and bad games, he epitomized everything you could’ve hoped to have in a baseball player. He’s the type of player that a father would by a jersey of for his son or daughter, and be proud to root for because he played the game with dignity and class. There was nary a scandal with Wright that got the attention of Page Six in the newspapers, he simply left it all out on the diamond.

Wright released a statement through the team Thursday, speaking on how upset he was that the rehab did not suffice, and has to have the surgery.

“After trying every way to get back on the field, I’ve come to realize that it’s best for me, my teammates and the organization to proceed with surgery at this time,” Wright said in a statement released by the team. “My neck simply did not respond to any of the treatments of the past few week. While incredibly frustrating and disappointing, I am determined to make a full recovery and get back on the field as soon as I can to help the Mets win.”

It’s valiant of him to hope to try and get back onto the field, and of course he cannot say that his career is over and thanks for the memories. But the idea has to have crept into his mind, he has to be thinking long term for his health, and not just for the four more years on his contract. David was married in 2013 to long time girlfriend Molly Beers, and surely would want to start a family one day. If his back and neck keep taking hits on the field, it would be awful to think that he wouldn’t be able to bend down and pick up his kids and play with them. I’m sure he’s receiving council on what the long term plan should be, but in the mean time he’s preparing to give it a try and get back to wearing the number five jersey as quickly as possible.

I’m not alone when I wish David all the best and to a speedy recovery. As a fan, it’s been a pleasure rooting for him, because he made it easy to do so. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Wright on several occasions growing up, and every single time he was gracious and accommodating, which can be somewhat of a rarity in today’s game where superstar egos get in the way. I hope Wright finds solace in the fact that the organization supports him, his teammates care for him, and the fans will always have a special place in their hearts for the captain.

button No 5 wright

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Mets’ Trades Of The Past – Mazzilli Goes To Texas Sun, 15 Dec 2013 14:00:20 +0000 While Mets’ fans wait to see if Ike Davis or Daniel Murphy will be traded and what they might bring back, here’s a look at a trade that was unpopular with many fans at the time, but turned out to be a great move for the Mets in every way possible.

mazz_kissDuring the dismal years of the late 1970’s, Lee Mazzilli was the Mets’ centerpiece player. A first-round draft pick out of Brooklyn, and incidentally, one of the Mets‘ very best first round picks, especially when you consider the players drafted ahead of him*.

Mazzilli quickly rose through the farm system, displaying an exceptional ability to get on base, steal bases, play centerfield, and also hit with consistency and power from both sides of the plate.

Once Mazz reached the big club, he quickly became a fan favorite. He had the look and swagger and put up some nice numbers on otherwise terrible teams. His one glaring weakness was his arm. Ironically, Lee was ambidextrous and his left arm was considered stronger, but once he signed with the Mets, he was instructed to throw righthanded only.

Whether Mazzilli was a legitimate all-star major league centerfielder, he was certainly the best one the Mets had, at least until Mookie Wilson came along. Once Wilson came up, Mazz moved over to left and also played some at first base.

Then, in February of 1982, GM Frank Cashen made what we all thought was a great move for the Mets, acquiring slugging left fielder George Foster from the Reds for a package of spare parts. With Wilson in center and Dave Kingman at first, Mazzilli was destined for a utility role, something that didn’t sit well with him, especially since his mentor, Joe Torre had been replaced as manager by George Bamberger.

In the spring of 1982, Cashen sent Mazzilli to the Texas Rangers for two minor league pitchers, a return that Mazzilli himself saw as an insult and many of his fans agreed.

ron darling

Ron Darling was the Rangers’ #1 draft pick the previous year, a talented pitcher out of Yale who started out in Double-A where his numbers were just fair and his control disappointing. Walt Terrell was considered a fringe prospect at best, a low-round draft pick who put up decent minor league numbers.

Although the Mets didn’t reap any immediate results and had another awful season in 1982 as Foster proved to be a major disappointment, by the following year, Terrell was in the Mets’ rotation with Darling joining him in 1984. Darling went on to put up excellent numbers as a quality starter for seven years and Terrell, after a couple of solid, if unspectacular years with the Mets was traded even-up to Detroit for Howard Johnson, who became the Mets’ top home run hitter and a solid contributor for almost a decade. Terrell, meanwhile was a workhorse for Detroit, so that trade helped both teams.

To top it off, after drifting from Texas to the Yankees to Pittsburgh, Mazzilli returned to the Mets for the 1986 stretch run, replacing the released George Foster, and was part of the World Championship team serving mostly as an effective pinch-hitter. So, this was undeniably, a trade that worked out about as well as possible. We can only hope Sandy Alderson can come up with something similar before the 2014 season.

* Mazzilli was the #14 pick. Between #4 pick Dave Winfield and Mazzilli, the other players selected were Glen Tufts, Johnnie Lemaster, Billy Taylor, Gary Roenicke, Lew Olsen, Pat Rockett, Ed Bane, Joe Edelen, and Doug Heinold.. The only player selected in the first round after Mazzilli to have any kind of career in the big leagues was catcher Steve Swisher.

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HoJo Says Ike Is Still A 30 Homer Guy Wed, 04 Dec 2013 23:33:36 +0000 ike davisHoward Johnson doesn’t buy into the cautious, passive hitting approached espoused by the Met organization. Johnson, the new hitting coach of Seattle’s Mariners and the former third baseman on the last World Series champions of the Mets, talked with the New York Daily New’s John Harper for a piece published in Wednesday’s edition.

Ike Davis was the topic of conversation that brought Harper and HoJo together. Reacting to rampant speculation that the Mets will be moving Davis this winter, Harper was curious to know what Johnson, who worked with Ike as his batting coach during Ike’s rookie season with the Mets in 2010, had to say about the Met first baseman.

HoJo prefers that batters approach hitting the baseball with a more aggressive mindset than is currently in vogue at Citi Field. Johnson wants the batter, not the pitcher to determine what happens at the plate. That’s a philosophical constant that is consistent with the Mariner’s organizational approach, and one that Johnson and Harper speculate may have been partially responsible for Davis’s power promise at the beginning of his career.

As all Met fans know, on-base-percentage and base-on-ball’s are staples in the Met hitting philosophy. The Mets hitting beliefs are shared by many teams in baseball including successful run producing teams like the Red Sox and the Yankees.

But, Harper points out that if outputs are your measure of success, the Mets passive approach to batting surely is not working. It’s not that the Mets haven’t been executing the organizational batting model. They have. Harper notes the Mets placed fourth in the National League last season in walks but finished eleventh in runs scored, fourteenth in batting average and tied for the top in strikeouts.

Harper speculates that in the case of the Mets they may be taking their batting philosophy to an extreme. His sources have told him that part of the evaluation system of minor league players in the Met system is based on the number of pitches they average in an at bat. That’s a very cautious approach indeed.

hojoFor his part, Johnson want hitters under his tutelage to be aggressive early in the count and not waste pitches in the strike zone, pitches they were looking for. “We don’t get into having to take a strike. Sometimes your approach is dictated by the scoreboard, the situation in the game, but it comes down to being a good hitter, not a guy who sees a lot of pitches,” he told Harper.

Johnson got a chance to see Davis last year during his stint as the Mariner’s Triple-A hitting coach. His team played in Las Vegas during Ike’s Triple-A demotion, and Johnson joined the Vegas coaches to watch the Met’s slugger take early batting practice.

HoJo was stunned at what he saw. “My jaw dropped when I saw him swing the bat. I couldn’t believe it. He didn’t look anything like the guy I remembered. I saw about eight things right away,” the new Mariner hitting coach told Harper.

Even so, if the Mets have truly given up on Ike Davis, Howard Johnson would love a second shot at the Mets slugger. Johnson believes that beneath the surface the same power potential he saw in Ike Davis when the young Met slugger joined the Mets during his rookie season is waiting to blossom.

Johnson insinuated the answer to the riddle for Ike might be to keep things simple. HoJo thinks Ike’s accommodating personality makes it hard for the Met slugger to tell people “no,” and Davis could be listening to too many voices. And, it’s possible Davis is working too hard trying to follow the Mets hitting blueprint to the letter of the law, like paining by numbers.

“There’s hundreds of ways to get the job done because big leaguers are so talented,” HoJo told Harper. “That’s where hitting coaches get in trouble, if they try to get everybody to do the same thing.”

It’s pretty clear, unlike the Met brass, HoJo has not altered his vision of the slugger Ike Davis can be. It’s Johnson’s view that a simplified approach tailored to meet Davis’s needs, not an organizational script all players must follow, can still unleash the raw potential Davis has already proven is there.

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The Top 10 Worst Scoring Mets Teams Since 1980 Fri, 29 Nov 2013 14:28:27 +0000 Vince - Coleman

To follow up the 10 best offensive clubs since the 80s, it’s only fitting to list the 10 lease offensive (or depending on the context – the most offensive) teams since 1980.  While we are not too far removed from the Times-O-Plenty, we’ve recently been mired in Several Seasons of Drought.

The 10 Worst Scoring Mets Teams since 1980

1.      1981 – 547 runs – 3.38 runs per game

2.      1983 – 575 runs – 3.55

3.      1992 – 599 runs – 3.70

4.      1982 – 609 runs – 3.76

5.      1980 – 611 runs – 3.77

6.      2013 – 619 runs – 3.82

7.      1991 – 640 runs – 3.98

8.      2003 – 642 runs – 3.96

9.      2001 – 642 runs – 3.96

10.    2012 – 650 runs – 4.01

*In the strike shortened season of 1981, the Mets played 103 games and scored 348 runs.  The 547 figure is prorated over a 162 game season.

From 1980-1983 (and quite frankly, before that at the end of the 1970s), the Mets were awful.  The Mets of the “Worst Team Money Could Buy” era of 1991-1992 was bad.  2001 and 2003 were bleak (although interestingly enough, 2001 was right on the tail of two of the team’s best offensive seasons).  Oh… the 2012-2013 seasons were right up there, too.

So who were the primary starters on these forgettable offenses?


C – Alex Trevino / John Stearns / Ron Hodges

1B – Lee Mazzilli / Dave Kingman / Keith Hernandez

2B – Doug Flynn / Wally Backman / Brian Giles

SS – Frank Taveras / Ron Gardenhire / Jose Oquendo

3B – Elliott Maddox / Hubie Brooks

OF – Steve Henderson / Lee Mazzilli / George Foster

OF – Jerry Morales / Mookie Wilson

OF – Joel Youngblood / Ellis Valentine / Darryl Strawberry


C – Rick Cerone / Todd Hundley

1B – Dave Magadan / Eddie Murray

2B – Gregg Jefferies / Willie Randolph

SS – Kevin Elster / Dick Schofield

3B – Howard Johnson / Dave Magadan

OF – Kevin McReynolds / Daryl Boston

OF – Vince Coleman / Howard Johnson

OF – Hubie Brooks / Bobby Bonilla

2001, 2003:

C – Mike Piazza / Vance Wilson

1B – Todd Zeile / Jason Phillips

2B – Edgardo Alfonzo / Roberto Alomar

SS – Rey Ordonez / Jose Reyes

3B – Robin Ventura / Ty Wigginton

OF – Benny Agbayani / Cliff Floyd

OF – Jay Payton / Timo Perez

OF – Tsuyoshi Shinjo / Roger Cedeno

andres torres

And finally, the most recently forgettable 2012-2013* squads:

C – Josh Thole / John Buck

1B – Ike Davis

2B – Daniel Murphy

SS – Ruben Tejada / Omar Quintanilla

3B – David Wright

OF – Scott Hairston / Eric Young

OF – Andres Torres / Juan Lagares

OF – Lucas Duda / Marlon Byrd

*Lucas Duda made 89 starts in 2013 (58 in the Outfield, 31 at 1B)

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The Top 10 Mets Offensive Seasons Since 1980 Thu, 28 Nov 2013 05:19:51 +0000 piazza

It’s hard to believe that we’re only a few seasons removed from some of the best offensive seasons in Mets history (hard to argue they haven’t been offensive lately, just in a different sense).

So what are the 10 best Mets seasons in terms of offensive production over the last 34 seasons? (I’m using 1980 because I’ve been following the team since the 80s)

Runs Scored Per Game

1.  1999 – 853 scored – 5.23

2.  2006 – 834 scored – 5.15

3.  1987 – 823 scored – 5.08

4.  2000 – 807 scored – 4.98

5.  2007 – 804 scored – 4.96

6.  2008 – 799 scored – 4.93

7.  1986 – 783 scored – 4.83

8.  1997 – 777 scored – 4.80

9.  1990 – 775 scored  – 4.72

10. 1996 – 746 scored – 4.60

We can see that from 2006-2008, the Mets produced some of their best offensive clubs since the 80s.  Yes, they collapsed in 2007 and 2008, but they had some of their best run producing seasons those three years.  From 1996-2000, we saw 4 of the top 10 best offensive seasons (with the exception of 1998, which did not make the list).  1986-1987 also produced another two top 10 seasons.   The only season that isn’t clumped together was 1990 – which was at the tail end of their dominance and followed the 1988 and 1989 seasons which included some of their top pitching clubs.

So who made up these typical lineups during these seasons of offensive plenty?


C – Paul Lo Duca / Brian Schneider

1B – Carlos Delgado

2B – Jose Valentin / Luis Castillo

SS – Jose Reyes

3B – David Wright

OF – Cliff Floyd / Moises Alou / Fernando Tatis

OF – Carlos Beltran

OF – Xavier Nady / Shawn Green / Ryan Church

Where was there continuity over those three seasons?  Carlos Delgado, Jose Reyes, David Wright, and Carlos Beltran.  Four pretty good names.


C – Todd Hundley

1B – Butch Huskey / John Olerud

2B – Jose Vizcaino / Carlos Baerga

SS – Rey Ordonez

3B – Jeff Kent / Edgardo Alfonzo

OF – Bernard Gilkey

OF – Lance Johnson

OF – Alex Ochoa / Butch Huskey

Edgardo Alfonzo made 85 starts in 1996 at 2B/3B/SS


C – Mike Piazza

1B – John Olerud / Todd Zeile

2B – Edgardo Alfonzo

SS – Rey Ordonez / Mike Bordick

3B – Robin Ventura

OF – Rickey Henderson / Benny Agbayani

OF – Brian McRae / Jay Payton

OF – Roger Cedeno / Derek Bell


C – Gary Carter

1B – Keith Hernandez

2B – Wally Backman

SS – Rafael Santana

3B – Ray Knight / Howard Johnson

OF – Mookie Wilson / Kevin McReynolds

OF – Lenny Dykstra

OF – Darryl Strawberry

Tim Teufel made 70 starts in 1986 and 72 starts in 1987 as part of a platoon with Backman, Mookie Wilson made 76 starts in 1987


C – Mackey Sasser

1B – Dave Magadan

2B – Gregg Jefferies

SS – Kevin Elster

3B – Howard Johnson

OF – Kevin McReynolds

OF – Daryl Boston

OF – Darryl Strawberry

edgardo alfonzo

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Speed Kills: The Stolen Base Gets No Respect Sun, 24 Nov 2013 13:00:10 +0000 strat-o-matic-047f286ce1214543I grew up playing Strat-O-Matic in the 1980s and made two observations about the game of baseball before I was ten years old. One observation I made was embraced in baseball. The other was scorned. The first was the importance of on-base percentage. The other was the stolen base.

I came to the same Moneyball observation that a walk was as good as a single. It may not look as pretty, but it got you on base.

The other observation is that stolen bases score runs.

In the Moneyball era, outs are sacred. They are a finite resource. The aim is to keep the lineup moving and not surrender your outs. With that mindset, why would you risk getting thrown out at second base on an attempted steal? Better to just keep the lineup moving, right?


As an offense, the objective is to score runs, not to horde your outs. Standing put while on first base, moving station to station or to wait for the home run doesn’t always work. While standing on first base, without a home run, you’ll likely need two at-bats to score that runner from first base.

Chris Davis, who hit 53 Home Runs in 2013, only hit one out in 7.8% of his plate appearances.

The OBP in MLB in 2013 was .317. The batting average in MLB in 2013 was .253. The average MLB team hit 155 HR in 2013.

There was only (on average) a 2.6% chance to get that stationary runner in from first base via a Home Run. To get that stationary runner in from first via a double or triple (the average MLB team had 274 doubles and 26 triples in 2013) was less than 5.0% (as not every double will score a runner from first). If the objective of the offense is to score and if you have less than a 7.6% chance of scoring that runner from first base by staying stationary, why wouldn’t a manager run at will? There’s a reason why a runner at second base is called being in scoring position.

Let’s play the stationary game. With only having a 7.6% chance of scoring a stationary runner from first base, there’s a 92.4% chance that you’ll need more than one batter to get that runner home. A walk or hit to advance that runner to second (31.7% chance) plus a base hit to get that runner in once that stationary batter is moved to second base (25.3% chance) gives you approximately an 8.0% chance of getting that runner in from first base with more than one batter. Add it up and you have approximately a 15.6% chance of getting that runner home from first base by playing station to station ball.

jeansegura_042013_blogcutWhen you get that runner into scoring position via a stolen base, you dramatically raise the odds. It is worth trading a potential out on an attempted steal. And the numbers are consistent.

Let’s look at some past Mets teams to see how stolen bases translated into runs – the numbers are consistent, on good teams and bad.

The 1982 Mets had three players that stole 15 or more bases (Mookie Wilson, Bob Bailor, John Stearns). These three players had a combined 95 stolen bases and were caught 26 times (79% success rate). 42 runs were scored after one of these players stole a base. In other words, one of these three men score 35% of the time when they attempted to steal. When they were successful, they scored 44% of the time.

The 1983 Mets had four players that stole 15 or more bases (Mookie Wilson, Darryl Strawberry, Bob Bailor, Brian Giles). These four players had a combined 108 stolen bases and were caught 35 times (76% success rate). A run was scored 33% of the time a stolen base was attempted. A run was scored 44% of the time they were successful.

The 1986 Mets had three players that stole 15 or more bases (Lenny Dykstra, Darryl Strawberry, Mookie Wilson). These three combined for 84 steals and were caught 26 times (76% rate). They scored 32% of the time when an attempt was made, 42% when successful.

The 1988 Mets had five players with 15 or more swipes (Lenny Dykstra, Darryl Strawberry, Howard Johnson, Kevin McReynolds, Mookie Wilson). These five combined for 118 stolen bases and were caught 33 times (78% rate). They scored 27% of the time an attempt was made and 35% when successful.

Now let’s look at the 2013 version of the Mets. There were three players with 15 or more steals (Eric Young, Daniel Murphy, David Wright). These three combined for 78 stolen bases and were caught 13 times (86% rate). These three scored 31% of the time when an attempt was made and 36% of the time when successful.

These numbers are fairly consistent. When you have speed in your lineup and actually use it increases, your odds of scoring increases. Add speed to your lineup and you’ll score. Add speed to the lineup and have someone in your lineup that can hit, you’ll get runners in from second base consistently.

Let’s look at the Mets top 15 stolen base seasons:

  1. Jose Reyes – 2007. 78 stolen bases with a 79% success rate. Scored a run 33% of the time an attempt was made and 42% when he was successful. (Note – when the Mets collapsed down the stretch, Reyes had 11 base hits and not a single stolen base)
  2. Roger Cedeno – 1999. 66 stolen bases with an 80% success rate. Scored a run 46% of the time an attempt was made and 58% after a successful steal (which illustrates how dangerous a base stealer is when there’s a solid lineup).
  3. Jose Reyes – 20006. 64 stolen bases with a 79% success rates. Scored a run 31% of the time when attempting a steal and 39% when successful.
  4. Jose Reyes – 2005. 60 stolen bases – success rate 80%. Scored on 39% of attempts and 48% of the time when successful.
  5. Mookie Wilson – 1982. 58 stolen bases – 78% success rate. Scored on 38% of attempts and 48% when successful.
  6. Jose Reyes – 2008. 56 stolen bases – success rate 79%. Scored on 38% of attempts and 48% of successful steals.
  7. Mookie Wilson – 1983. 54 stolen bases – success rate 77%. Scored on 37% of attempts and 48% of successful steals.
  8. Lance Johnson – 1996. 50 stolen bases – 81% success rate. Scored on 29% of attempts and 36% of successful steals.
  9. Mookie Wilson – 1984. 46 stolen bases – 84% success rate. Scored on 35% of attempts and 41% of successful steals.
  10. Frank Taveras – 1979. 42 stolen bases – 69% success rate. Scored on 26% of attempts and 38% when successful.
  11. Howard Johnson – 1989. 41 stolen bases – 84% success rate. Scored on 27% of attempts and 32% when successful.
  12. Lee Mazzilli – 1980. 41 stolen bases – 73% success rate. Scored on 30% of attempts and 41% when successful.
  13. Jose Reyes – 2011. 39 stolen bases – 85% success rate. Scored on 41% of attempts and 49% when successful.
  14. Eric Young, Jr – 2013. 38 stolen bases (with Mets) – 84% success rate. Scored on 33% of attempts and 39% when successful.
  15. Vince Coleman – 1993. 38 stolen bases – 75% success rate. Scored on 35% of attempts and 47% when successful.

When we look at the top 15 stolen base seasons, Frank Taveras had the lowest success in scoring a run, only 26% of the time when he attempted a steal, which was the result of being thrown out 31% of the time while attempting to steal. Even with this, when he tried to run in 1979, he’d end up crossing the plate 38% of the time – significantly higher than playing station to station.

Howard Johnson only crossed home plate on 32% of successful steals in 1989 and Lance Johnson only 36% of his successful steals in 1996, rates that are still significantly higher than playing station to station ball.

When you put speed in your lineup and use it, that rate at which those speedsters will score is predictable. Get a lot of speed in your lineup (like the 1985 Cardinals that had 5 players with over 30 stolen bases) you have a lineup that is deadly and scores at will. The 1985 Cardinals led the league in runs and scored 41 more than the next highest scoring team (0.25 runs per game) while hitting only 87 Home Runs (11th in the league).

Speed Kills. Moneyball just hasn’t figured it out yet.


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How Has Dave Hudgens Impacted The Mets’ Hitting Results? Mon, 14 Oct 2013 18:44:56 +0000 dave hudgens

Hodges14 asks…

Exactly what does a hitting coach get judged by? How do you measure whether or not he’s doing an effective job? I would think it’s things like improving the team’s overall batting average and reducing strikeouts, so why is Dave Hudgens coming back? There’s a better case to be made for firing Hudgens than there ever was for firing Howard Johnson. I just don’t understand the front office’s fixation and obsession with this guy and there seems to be an apparent lack of accountability.

Joe D. replies…

I took a quick look at how the Mets performed under Dave Hudgens in various offensive categories:

Batting Average

2011 – .264 (Ranked 2nd)

2012 – .249 (Ranked 10th)

2013 – .237 (Ranked 14th)

On-Base Percentage

2011 – .335 (Ranked 2nd)

2012 – .316 (Ranked 11th)

2013 – .306 (Ranked 14th)


2011 – 1,085 (Ranked 13th)

2012 – 1,250 (Ranked 7th)

2013 – 1,384 (Ranked 1st)

Based on those team averages and rankings, it’s true that the team has regressed under the approach being incorporated by Dave Hudgens. It’s not exactly something that can be fixed by having the team spending extra time in the batting cages either. Especially if they have bad habits or a bad approach to begin with.

I know that there’s a good portion of fans that believe hitting coaches and pitching coaches make no impact on a team either way. However, I find that to be a simplistic view that’s not really based on the reality of why teams have specific coaches with defined roles in the first place.

Many coaches go into a given season with 2-3 pet projects. That is working with players that they’d like to see an improved performance from.

We’ve heard before that Ike Davis, for example, was not very coachable and that Ruben Tejada was another player I’ve heard that about. So it would seem that Hudgens has been working personally with these two players in an effort to impact their games positively. Of course it never happened for either of them, so obviously Hudgens wasn’t really connecting with them or vice-versa.

When Marlon Byrd was asked this summer to give a reason for his remarkable comeback this season, he credited hard work and hitting coach Dave Hudgens.

So I’m gonna roll with the assumption that Hudgens is a lot more than a flesh and blood paperweight with a nice title.

With that out of the way and given the teams backsliding couple with regressions from 4-5 key components of the Mets lineup, Hudgens isn’t living up to his end of the bargain.

Does he deserve to be fired? That’s not for me to say, but he doesn’t have many success stories he can point to. I often wonder why Mets hitters don’t do things I see hitters on the Yankees, Braves and Phillies do like shorten up their swings with two strikes on them or just being better situational hitters in general. The Mets are one of the worst team in the majors when batting with runners in scoring position.

How much of that is Sandy Alderson’s fault and how much of the blame goes to Hudgens?

It’s very likely that both share some of the blame.

If I had to grade Hudgens’ based on his three years with the Mets, I’d give probably him a C-. But if I were to grade him solely on the 2013 season, he’s earned a solid D and maybe an F.

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2013 Season Review: Daniel Murphy, 2B Fri, 11 Oct 2013 12:25:43 +0000 MLB: New York Mets at Philadelphia Phillies



As often has been the case with Daniel Murphy, expectations were moderate at best. If given the chance, the Mets would have replaced him, but with more pressing needs they spent their limited resources elsewhere so Murphy remained in the lineup. After several years of searching for a position, Murphy finally settled in at second base and has improved defensively. As a .290 lifetime hitter with limited power, Murphy was expected to get on base and be a table setter as opposed to being a run producer. Murphy’s lifetime 162-game average is .290 with ten homers, 70 RBI and a .333 on-base percentage. However, for his reputation for being a contact hitter, Murphy has averaged 81 strikeouts with just 38 walks, which isn’t a good ratio. One thing the Mets could expect from Murphy is durability, as he played in 156 games with 571 at-bats in 2012.


Murphy played in 161 games and settled in as the No. 2 hitter with 113 games started batting second. However, he started games batting first through six, plus ninth in the order. With injuries throughout the lineup, Murphy was a consistent presence. Murphy posted career highs in at-bats (658), hits (188), runs scored (92), homers (13), RBI (78), total bases (273) and stolen bases (23). A strong case can be made for him being the Mets’ MVP. However, Murphy also struck out a career-high 95 times while drawing only 32 walks. For his reputation as being a patient hitter, Murphy only had a .319 on-base percentage. Murphy proved reliable in the clutch with a .354 average with runners in scoring position and two outs; .305 with the game tied; and .297 with the Mets within one run.


John Delcos Says:

General manager Sandy Alderson, in listing the Mets’ offseason priorities, said he could live with Murphy at second base. With Murphy’s propensity for delivering in the clutch, if the Mets can’t add a power bat, they might go with Juan Lagares hitting second and drop Murphy to the middle of the order where he would be in more RBI situations. Murphy will never be mistaken for Roberto Alomar defensively, but is gradually improving, especially in turning the double play. With Murphy coming off his most productive season, he’ll go into spring training for the first time as an established player, and not fighting for a spot in the lineup. Conventional thinking dictates, as a player gets older and stronger, and more familiar with the pitchers, he should hit for more power. Murphy is a doubles machine – ideal for Citi Field – but it isn’t expected he’ll be a 20-homer hitter.

Joe D. Says:

As Ed Leyro recently wrote, Daniel Murphy had one of the greatest seasons ever recorded by a Mets second baseman in 2013.  He finished the year with a .286 batting average, 38 doubles, 13 homers, 78 RBI, 92 runs scored and 23 stolen bases.  Prior to Murphy, the only second basemen in franchise history to reach double digits in both home runs and RBI in the same season were Gregg Jefferies and Roberto Alomar.  But neither player matched Murphy’s totals in batting average, runs scored, runs batted in and stolen bases.  In fact, the only two players in team history who had better numbers than Murphy in all six offensive categories (batting average, doubles, home runs, RBI, runs scored, stolen bases), regardless of their defensive position, were Howard Johnson in 1989 (.287 average, 41 doubles, 36 HR, 101 RBI, 104 runs scored, 41 SB) and David Wright in 2007 (.325 average, 42 doubles, 30 HR, 107 RBI, 113 runs scored, 34 SB).

In a season that saw the 28-year old finish in the National League’s top ten in base hits, doubles, runs scored and even stolen bases, you would think Murphy’s job security with the Mets would be a slam dunk. However, given the pattern of this front office to sell high on any player who performs above major league replacement level, Murphy’s hold on second base is anything but certain. His name is often brought up as a potential trade chip this offseason by the mother ship, MetsBlog. That scares me.

Can you imagine how much worse this underwhelming offense would be without Murphy? They’ve already got their hands full trying to replace the 37 home runs from Marlon Byrd and John Buck, and if Murphy goes that will be 200+ RBIs the Mets will have to account for. In my opinion, any trade for Murphy will most likely create another gaping hole in the lineup and at best would be a lateral move that could possibly backfire. At some point we have to break this current cycle of shedding quality major leaguers not named David Wright for untested minor leaguers.

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Mets vs Reds: Harang On Hill As Amazins Try To Extend Win Streak To Four Mon, 23 Sep 2013 20:23:37 +0000 aaron harang

Mets (71-84) at Reds (89-67) • 7:10 p.m.

RHP Aaron Harang (5-12, 5.69) vs. RHP Johnny Cueto (5-2, 3.02)

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Starting Lineup

  1. Eric Young Jr., LF
  2. Daniel Murphy, 2B
  3. David Wright, 3B
  4. Lucas Duda, 1B
  5. Andrew Brown RF
  6. Juan Lagares CF
  7. Travis d’Arnaud C
  8. Omar Quintanilla SS
  9. Aaron Harang, P

Wilfredo Tovar became the ninth Met to make his major league debut this year for the club on Sunday against the Phillies. He had two hits, the game-tying RBI in the seventh inning, and a stolen base. Tovar became one of four Mets to have two or more hits, one or more RBI and one or more stolen bases in his major league debut, joining Rod Gaspar, Lenny Dykstra and Preston Wilson.

Daniel Murphy has swiped 19 consecutive stolen bases without being caught, tied for the third longest single-season streak in team history. Howard Johnson had 26 straight stolen bases in 1989, Kevin McReynolds was 21-for-21 in 1988 and Tommie Agee also had 19 straight stolen bases in 1971.

Game Preview

The Mets are fresh off a three game sweep of the Phillies and head off to Ohio to face the Reds. Aaron Harang gets the start for the Mets. So far with the Amazin’s he is 0-1 over 2 starts and 11.0 innings allowing 7 runs, 6 earned which is a 4.91 ERA which makes him 5-12 on the season with a 5.69 ERA. He is 3-0 over three starts and 19.0 innings with a 1.89 ERA when facing his old team. His old team has the following numbers against him:

Ludwick 14-36, 2B, 3 HR
Izturis 0-17
Choo 2-8, 2B
Paul 4-7, 2B
Bruce 0-5
Cozart 1-6

Johnny Cueto gets the start for the Reds. On the season he is 5-2 over 10 games with a 3.02 ERA. His last start was his first since June 9th, and in the first start back he allowed no runs over 5 innings. Earlier this season he faced the Mets and allowed 3 ER over 5.0 innings. The Mets have the following numbers against Cueto:

Wright 5-19, HR
Murphy 2-10
Duda 2-6
Young 2-5
Turner 2-3, 2B
Tejada 0-2

Lets Go Mets!

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A Day At The Cages With Murphy And Hudgens Wed, 24 Jul 2013 12:00:19 +0000  clinic 1

To celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of their batting glove, the executives at Franklin Sports held a celebratory private batting clinic with Mets second baseman, Daniel Murphy, and team batting coach, Dave Hudgens, for a few contest winners and a number of media representatives. This one hour batting session gave viewers a first-hand chance to learn from professional ballplayers in the private facilities they often inhabit.

Team officials greeted the attendees just within the doors of the Hodges entrance. Once inside, the group was guided through the stadium’s hallways to the team’s private batting cage. After a brief introduction, Murphy and Hudgens made their grand entrance.

Daniel Murphy has arguably been one of the Mets best hitters over the past few years, with a career slash line of .288/.332/.420 and a batting average in the top five of team rankings over the last three years.

Dave Hudgens has been the Mets hitting coach since replacing Howard Johnson in 2011. He briefly played professionally in 1983, appearing in six games for the Oakland Athletics. He would go on to work as the hitting coach for the Athletics in 1999, and then again from 2003-2005 before coming to the Mets in 2011.

They began right away, introducing the audience to many key elements of a swing and all the work that goes into maintaining its efficiency. They detailed many of it’s critical components, and touched on the many factors that contribute to a successful at-bat.

“There are certain things that every hitter does that is probably the same. You’ve got to have good balance, you’ve got to have good head position, you’ve got to see the ball well,” Hudgens said.

And even though the focus of the clinic was how to successfully swing a bat, the two ballplayers made sure to speak to the kids about the amount of work it takeclinic3s to thrive in the major leagues.

“That’s the main objective, to take good at bats in the game. That’s why they come in here to do their work,” Hudgens said.

“It all starts long before 7:10,” Murphy said referring to the start time of most night games.

But the work has a reason. The many hours spent within the cage are for the very purpose of locking down mechanics and making them feel almost instinctual.

“When you get to the game, if you trust your swing, hopefully all you have to do is look for the ball,” Murphy said. “And that’s what we’re trying to get to.”

After the introduction and brief preliminary lessons, Murphy transitioned into actual training. Picking up a wooden bat to take some hacks and show onlookers the many steps that go into his swing.

“I really want to make sure I fire my hands right through the ball,” he said.

As he spoke, he would occasionally pause, focusing himself on crushing another ball to the back of the cage, before beginning his speech again. He would describe a mechanic of his swing and then demonstrate it to the audience before him. After each blast, Hudgens would replace the ball and adjust the tee, adding to the lesson and allowing Murphy to focus on the demonstration.

Murphy’s many tips were spoken simply as he attempted to guide the children through the incredibly complex nature of a successful swing.

“Everybody’s swing is going to be different. A swing is your personality. It’s like your DNA, and we all have different DNA.” Murphy said.

“Every hitter is a little bit different, every hitter’s mechanics are a little bit different” followed Hudgens.

Eventually, the clinic transitioned into a front-toss session between Hudgens and Murphy where the two ran through the specifics of successfully hitting a moving ball.clinic2

Hudgens seated himself behind the L screen and lofted balls gently at Murphy who slammed them towards a section of the cage. The two would pause after every toss and analyze every minor detail of the swing.

“There’s three areas where you’ll see the ball. You’ll see it out of the hand… You gotta see it in the middle area ’cause that’s where these guys will start to see a little bit of spin… and then as you track the ball into the hitting zone,” Hudgens said.

The event concluded with a brief hitting session where the children took swings at soft tosses thrown by Hudgens before a group photo wrapped it all together.

Murphy and Hudgens were knowledgeable and gracious hosts. The two seemed legitimately interested in helping the next generation of ballplayers develop and were excited to be the ones to help. The young Murphy played the part of a relatable role model, while Hudgens sat back as the grizzled veteran, positions they both filled perfectly. At the end of the day, both men did an exemplary job of leading these kids while giving them valuable advice for their future playing careers.

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Memorable Mets Moments: Jesse and Roger in the Outfield Wed, 10 Apr 2013 17:28:35 +0000 jesse oroscoChampionship seasons are invariably marked by certain games and plays that are later tabbed as “turning points” for posterity.  For the 1986 edition of the Mets, their turning point may well have occurred in only the 6th game of the season when, after winning their first two contests but dropping the next three, the team sat a game under .500. Although another 157 games remained to be played, many fans and even tabloid back pages cried out: “What is wrong with the Mets?” The answer of course, was nothing, and they set about proving that by winning their next eleven games and seven of the next eight after that on their way to a finishing a gaudy 21 and ½ games in front of the runner up Phillies for the division title.

But there are also games that seem to be indicative of some kind of destiny intended for a team. When it appears in retrospect that a team was destined for greatness, the games that stick out are the type where a win that seemed wholly improbable at one point was captured either through perseverance, dumb luck, a managerial gamble, or some apparently mysterious force. Such was the case when the Mets met up with the Cincinnati Reds at Riverfront Stadium on the night of July 22 of that memorable year.

The Mets were down to their last out in the top of the ninth, trailing 3-1 as Keith Hernandez faced John Franco with the tying runs on base. Hernandez lifted an easy fly to right that looked to be the last gasp for the NY squad as the Reds’ Dave Parker settled under it. In a stunning turn of events, Parker dropped the easy chance and the runners scurried home to tie the score. Given second life, the Mets began a tenacious and somewhat  outre’ extra-inning odyssey.

A combination of factors including the use of 3 pinch hitters, a double switch, and an ejection (Darryl Strawberry in the 6th for arguing a strike call) had left the Met bench bereft of options for manager Davey Johnson. As the game moved into the bottom of the 10th, Johnson brought in Jesse Orosco as the fifth Met pitcher of the evening. It was at this point that an element of strangeness began to pervade the proceedings.

After Parker was retired for the first out, Pete Rose, then player/manager of the Reds, inserted himself as a pinch hitter and singled. He then reverted to straight managerial mode and brought in Eric Davis to pinch run. Davis promptly stole second and then went for third on a subsequent pitch. His hard slide brought him into contact with Mets third sacker Ray Knight who responded with a bit of contact of his own. A shoving match ensued along with some words being exchanged and before you knew it, Knight’s Golden Gloves instincts had led him to pop Davis right in the kisser. The result was your standard bench-clearing bedlam, and when order was restored, two players from each team were ejected including Knight, Davis, Reds pitcher Mario Soto and Mets RF Kevin Mitchell who had been inserted to replace Strawberry. This left the Mets without sufficient position players to field a full team as the only remaining bench asset at this point was backup catcher Ed Hearn.

roger mcdowell

Having conferred with his coaches and remaining eligible players, Johnson elected to shift Gary Carter from behind the plate to third replacing Knight and inserted Hearn at Catcher. The outfield was another matter entirely.

Anticipating the probability of needing a right handed arm to spell Orosco if the game continued much beyond the current inning, Johnson inserted reliever Roger McDowell in RF and initiated a strange merry-go-round of pitchers and outfield alignments to compensate for the Mets’ suddenly shorter bench.

As different Reds players came to bat, Johnson would shift either Orosco or McDowell to the mound based primarily on whom he felt could best induce the batter to hit the ball to an established outfielder if solid contact was made (at this point, Mookie Wilson and Lenny Dykstra comprised the other two thirds of the outfield).

As the game wore on, players were shifted repeatedly as Johnson managed to dodge situations where his pitcher/outfielders would actually have to figure in a defensive play. By way of contrast, one of his other displaced troops sparkled in the bottom of the twelfth when, with two Reds on base and none out, emergency third sacker Carter figured in the middle of a nicely turned double play to end the threat.

In the bottom of the thirteenth, Tony Perez stepped to the plate seemingly intent on exploiting the Mets’ compromised defense.  Looking for a pitch he could drive the other way, he swung at a McDowell offering and lined a shot to right field where Orosco was stationed. Jesse made a quick lateral move and snagged the liner, unable to suppress a smile at the seeming absurdity of it all.

Finally, in the top of the fourteenth, Howard Johnson provided the coup de grace with a long three-run bomb off pitcher Ted Power and McDowell finished the Reds off for a 6-3 victory.  In retrospect, the result of this game seemed almost inevitable, as the Mets of that season were a juggernaut that apparently could beat you with one outfielder tied behind their back.

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Howard Johnson (HoJo) To Play For Rockland Boulders Tue, 30 Aug 2011 18:38:50 +0000

Today the Rockland Boulders of the Can-Am League announced that they have signed former New York Met Howard Johnson, along with his son Glen for the remainder of the season.

I happen to live 15 minutes from Provident Bank Park, home of the Rockland Boulders, and interned there over the summer. This is the first year of the organizations existence, and they are rounding out their 50 game home schedule over the next week. Johnson and son Glen will live out the old father/son Field Of Dreams, dream. They will place next to one another on a baseball diamond for a professional baseball team.

The Boulders are a first class organization. It was a pleasure to intern with them this summer and put together a true foundation for future years. It was not surprise me at all if the Mets or Yankees eventually sign the Boulders as an affiliate for their minor league systems.

Unfortunately my internship ended last week as I had to go back to school. I will not be able to cover any of the HoJo comeback games. However I will be sure to Tweet HoJo’s batting line from each nights game once they go final.

Follow me on Twitter – @Ben_Yoel

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Daily News: Howard Johnson Leaves Mets Thu, 17 Feb 2011 23:28:45 +0000

According to the New York Daily News, sources have told the paper that Howard Johnson has decided to leave the Mets organization. 

Johnson played for the Mets from 1985-1993, joined the coaching staff in 2007 as first base coach, and later became the hitting instructor.  He served in that role under Jerry Manuel, and while he seemed headed for reassignment once the team dismissed Manuel at the end of last year, team insiders assumed that Johnson would find another role.

New general manager Sandy Alderson announced upon hiring Terry Collins as manager in November that Johnson would not be retained as hitting coach, and would likely be reassigned.  Alderson later hired Dave Hudgens as Johnson’s replacement.

The team offered Johnson the position of hitting coach for its affiliates in Port St. Lucie and Brooklyn, but Johnson declined.  Shortly afterward, the parties decided to part ways.

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Mets Need To Make More Changes Tue, 19 Oct 2010 11:00:03 +0000 The Mets make 2 important changes by firing Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel.  Not much has happened since.  As the Mets take their sweet time looking for a general manager there are still a lot more changes that need to be made.

1) The Ballpark: Citi Field is just too big! I know we’ve been saying that for the last 2 seasons but the Wilpons refuse to bring in the fences.  All you look at what happened to David Wright in his the first season at Citi Field.  His power numbers were down and the last 2 seasons his strikeouts have been on the rise.  Wright’s power at Shea was to the right center.  Citi Field’s right center is about 45-50 feet deeper than Shea’s and it has affected Wright negatively.  Some called it a fluke but then look at Jason Bay’s horrific first season.  The park took away his power. Citi Field without a doubt robbed Bay realistically of 5 homeruns and probably more.  The great fence of Flushing needs to go down too while we’re at it.  It’s time to admit the size of this park was a mistake and change it.

2) Coaching Staff: The entire coaching staff needs to go.  Howard Johnson has been a horrible hitting coach.  The situational hitting since Hojo took over has been non-existent.  It seems like Hojo would rather be their friends than a coach.  I get it he’s an 86 Met and the Wilpons are reluctant to fire him.  The Mets should just give Hojo a job with a nice title and a good payday and let him go away.  Dan Warthen also needs to go.  I know the pitching was better than expected this season but I don’t like all the injuries to our pitchers under his reign as pitching coach.  I didn’t like that in 2009 he didn’t know about Johan’s latest injury and he didn’t know that Santana was skipping side sessions.  I also didn’t like him calling Maine a habitual liar to the press. That’s just something you don’t say.  Razor Shines just needs to go.  Chip Hale seems to be a decent to good coach but at the same time Ron Darling mentioned many times throughout the season that Hale had been working with Wright and changing his defense.  Wright’s defense this year was pretty bad. He committed 20 errors and at times was slow in turning a double play.

3) The 3 Poisons (Carlos Beltran, Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo): Once the Mets finally do hire a general manager that GM (Alderson) must find a way to get these three off this team! Castillo is done, he can’t hit and he has absolutely no range at 2nd base.  Castillo brings nothing to the New York Mets, time to cut ties with him. Oliver Perez should not be on this team, he has done nothing for the Mets since signing that contract.  Perez cares more about himself than the team as he repeatedly refused to go to the minor leagues.  He didn’t win 1 game in 2010!  If you look at the way the Mets played before the all-star break and after the break there’s a huge difference.  Carlos Beltran decided to finally grace the team with his presence and was supposed to be the spark for this team but unfortunately did nothing other than make outs at the plate and miss balls hit to center on defense. Beltran refused to move over to right field to allow the better player Angle Pagan to play center and help the team.  Let’s not forget that these guys also refused to go visit wounded soldiers with the rest of their team.  These guys are not team players, they’re hurting this team and it’s time to get rid of them.

The new GM when he/she is finally hired has a lot of work to do and a lot changes to make.  Without these changes we can expect another losing season.

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Sounds Like Heads are Gonna Roll Mon, 26 Jul 2010 02:15:17 +0000

In a post to his blog on ESPN New York, Adam Rubin wrote that even though Omar Minaya declared manager Jerry Manuel’s job safe at the start of the Dodger series, he would offer no such assurances for hitting coach Howard Johnson and the rest of Manuel’s staff on Sunday.

Asked specifically if the entire staff would be in their current roles when the Mets return to action Tuesday at Citi Field against the St. Louis Cardinals, Minaya offered no guarantee.

“I don’t want to talk about that,” Minaya said. “I feel everybody here is trying hard. I could tell you the staff is trying hard. If you ask me [about] the overall performance that has happened, of course I’m not happy. Nobody is happy.

Invited again to fully quash speculation regarding the coaching staff’s future, Minaya said: “That’s all I’m going to say.”

With the Mets finally completing what could only be described as a disastrous 2-9 road trip, and the prospects for a rebound and run for the division looking bleak, somebody has to pay the price.

The Mets have struggled tremendously at the plate and Rubin points out the current 16-inning scoreless drought, which comes after 24 and 17 inning scoreless ruts just on this West Coast road trip. They were shut out four times!

The Mets have averaged 2.1 runs per game on this trip and batted .196, and an even worse .103 average with runners in scoring position.

“We’re going to get back on the plane, me and Jerry, and talk some,” Minaya said. “Everything is fair when you have a trip like this. You have to sit down and assess how you’re going to get it right and what needs to be done to get it right. We’re just not going to sit back. All of us are going to work hard, and we are working hard to find a way how to get it straight.”

Obviously, Howard Johnson would be the primary target, but he may not be the only one. Manuel and Dan Warthen appear to be the only ones who are safe.

One thing to keep an eye on if HoJo does get fired, is how this will effect David Wright who is extremely close to him/

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Wright = HoJo? Thu, 27 May 2010 14:51:59 +0000 I was chatting with a Yankee fan by the water cooler on Monday, and something he said really resonated with me.  He told me that when David Wright came up against Mariano in the 9th, on Friday…. he knew the game was over. This really convinced me that things have changed drastically for Mister Wright.

This isn’t going to be another article written about my theories on why David has morphed from a dangerous, pure, clutch hitter, with power; into an all-or-nothing slugger, with speed, and mediocre power.  Nor, am I going to expound with theories on how he can recover his long-lost aura of super-stardom.  What I would like to do is talk about an epiphany I had when looking over his projected stats for 2010.

David Wright is slowly but surely transforming into his long-time hitting coach….Howard “HoJo” Johnson.  Now, I am not saying that this is a conscious thing that HoJo is trying to do to David.  I’m only speaking of a familiar feeling, and the end results.

Howard Johnson was an awesome player, certainly one of my favorite Mets in the late 80’s. He had multiple 30-30 seasons for the Mets, and was easily their most dangerous hitter for more than a few years.  The problem with Johnson (besides the fact that he lost it at all 31) was that he was a classic compiler. 

He never hit for a high average; He would get the occasional clutch hit; He would steal 25-40 bases; He was an ok third baseman (with a cannon arm); and he would hit 30 plus HR every other year; In other words he was a very solid but unspectacular ballplayer.  With all his numbers, he wasn’t someone that teams had to game plan for, in order to beat the Mets. 

I fear this that David is becoming this type of hitter.  The numbers are so similar. .260 30 HR 30 SB 100 RBI is what most projections have David at this year.  Hardly numbers to sneeze at, but not the numbers we where hoping for, from the face of the franchise!  Those numbers are eerily similar to an average Howard Johnson year. 

The problem with emulating Howard Johnson (besides the fact that no one outside the Mets even remembers him), is that HoJo was never a “core” player that other teams feared.  He finished in the top 5 for MVP twice and had multiple silver slugger awards, yet he is a distant memory for your average baseball fan outside NY.

I don’t know about you guys, but I had vastly higher hopes for David.  I really thought he was going down the road to all-time Mets greatness, I fear this is now at risk.  Forget about numbers, we as Mets fans know that certain aspects of his game have been declining since 2008, and I now fear that he is settling into mediocrity.

I hope I’m wrong, but did anyone here even think for a second, that he would come through against Mariano last Friday? I surely didn’t.

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Mets Beat Yankees But That’s Hardly Enough Mon, 24 May 2010 14:26:03 +0000 So many indelible moments in life seem to occur in slow motion, sometimes both the good and bad moments. The 2010 Mets season for me has been just that, a slow motion Shakespearean tragedy. Perhaps to some a typically bad CW network soap opera. It’s your choice.

The Mets are in my opinion, just about beyond tinkering because the problems are systemic and involve the dreaded “intangibles”. Unfortunately a win here and there only clouds the minds of the fan who just wants to see their Metropolitans win. Even winning 2 out of 3 over the Yankee’s this past weekend, while emotionally gratifying, hasn’t changed the situation. It’s just given fans a welcome reprieve.

Having delusions of grandeur, thinking a trade for another team’s aging, expensive ace isn’t the answer if it’s going to cost key prospects. It’s merely fodder to deflect attention off deeper problems.

Believe me I’m not trying to rain on our parade here, the Mets had a good weekend, but this isn’t fantasy baseball or Playstation where ridiculous unbalanced trades are routine and reality plays little to no part. At this point why would any player, especially one with the veto power of a no-trade clause, really want to come to Flushing other than to dare I say, flush their careers away.

It’s harsh of me to say, I know. I get no joy out of feeling like this but we have to stay rooted in reality. As unfortunate as it may be.

You can fire Minaya, every coach and Manuel and the team will still be…the team. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t happen. Clearly Manuel and his coaching staff have made their share of mistakes.

It certainly wouldn’t hurt the Mets to have an infusion of new blood. How much worse can it get? There is no place worse than last place that is more demoralizing.

One of the same questions that dogged the team this past off season is still relevant and is coming home to roost. Why didn’t the organization go after AT LEAST one other starting pitcher in an aggressive way?

Yes we’ve all wrangled over how the finances aren’t Monopoly money and how these decisions aren’t made lightly. However we were also told that finances weren’t affected by the Madoff scandal. I dare anyone to keep defending that postulate with a straight face.

The bottom line, the players simply have to play to their standards. Why isn’t that happening? It’s difficult to answer that without speculating and delving into a seriously dark place that every fiber of my being wants to refuse to go.

Maybe it’s the skeptic in me. Perhaps I’m just jaded. It’s the 800 lb gorilla in the room that none of us ever want to talk about. I hate that it even enters my mind but it does, as I’m sure it has yours at some point. Perhaps some standards have been skewed. I really hope not. The game has taken enough hits.

So many excuses for so long can only be accepted so much. The result, the team giving away free tickets to former season ticket holders to this year’s Subway Series.

Seriously? It’s embarrassing on so many levels and before any of you argue in favor of a poor economy or lack of interest in inter-league play causing this, which I won’t argue doesn’t play a part, the majority of the empty seats were scattered everywhere throughout the stadium. Not just the very pricey seats.

Adding insult to injury, the first Subway Series game of 2010 at Citifield had Yankee fans outnumbering the Mets fans 2 to 1, conservatively speaking. It was a shameful backdrop for the 2000 Mets World Series team that was on hand and being honored before the game.

Where do we go from here? It’s never easy with New York sports since New York teams are always expected to win and compete for a championship. Even the Yankee’s could attest to that.

Remember, last year was the first time in almost a decade that the mighty Bronx Bombers tasted from the Championship Holy Grail. It’s time for some serious soul searching and like I said a while back, and I will say it again, Fred Wilpon, it’s time to save your team. Your team sir, not your son’s. YOUR team. Albert Einstein once said,

To do the same thing over and over again, and expect different results, is insanity.

]]> 0 Mets Need To Fire Coaches Too! Tue, 18 May 2010 11:00:14 +0000 Baseball is a long season and when a team under-performs the way the Mets are you always hear the usual fire the manger and/or general manager.  I support that 100%.  Jerry and Omar absolutely need to go.  Omar has done a horrible job of building the franchise and Jerry Manuel is just not a manager who can lead a team to a championship.  However very rarely do you hear complaints about the coaches on the team.  I’m not talking about the 1st or 3rd base coaches or the bench coach.  Chip Hale has done a great job defensively with this team and does a great job with the base runners.  I’m just happy that Razor Shines is not longer there, he does a great job at 1st base.  The coaches I’m talking about are hitting coach Howard Johnson (HoJo) and pitching coach Dan Warthen.

George Steinbrenner in his day would sometimes get tired of firing managers and criticizing the team and the manager so on certain days he would attack the hitting coach.  Some would laugh or roll their eyes but if you look at the Mets lineup from top to bottom this team offensively is just not producing.  They have been horrible in the clutch since the middle of 2007 which is when HoJo took over as the hitting coach.  Look at Jason Bay as the latest victim of Howard Johnson.  Bay was not on this team in 2007, 2008 and 2009.  Bay is and always will be a streaky hitter but he has produced for his team over the years.  Bay joins the Mets and as of this writing he has not hit more than 1 home run.  Now sure Citi Field has robbed him of a few but what about on the road in smaller parks like Citizens Bank Park?  The frustrating thing about the Mets offense is that they are getting on base, in fact a couple of season’s ago they had as many hits as the Phillies but they cannot drive in runs.  This team in 2006 was very clutch, at least up to the NLCS.  In the beginning of 2007 they weren’t getting on base much but were scoring and driving in runs but for some reason the team freaked out, fired Rick Down and promoted HoJo as the hitting coach.

HoJo also for some reason last year decided to screw around with Wright’s swing.  Wright was a .300+ hitter who before last year hit 30 or more home runs and drove in well over 100 RBI’s.  2009 saw a very big decline for Wright.  Part of that decline was aided by the lack of good hitters hitting in front of and behind him.  Can anyone really defend making Wright change his swing?  I guess HoJo never heard of the old saying “if ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  I also cannot understand why HoJo doesn’t work more with Wright on going back to his old swing.  Do your job, get out the game footage and sit David down and watch the old footage.  I never really understood why the Mets went with HoJo as the hitting coach.  I’m not saying that HoJo was not a horrible hitter but he was not the greatest.  His career average is just .249.

Don’t forget that HoJo before coming up to the big leagues as a coach was a manager in the farm system.  He was for the most part a very unsuccessful manager.  It is worth noting that HoJo was David’s manager when Wright was in Triple A.  One of the reasons why I think HoJo has kept his job is that he’s latched onto David Wright.  It’s no secret that Wright and HoJo are friends off the field.

Dan Warthen as the pitching coach was not a move I liked.  I thought Peterson was a good pitching coach.  Granted he was out there sometimes.  I’m still trying to understand his interview that he did the day he was fired.  In all seriousness Peterson was able to work with these pitchers not just on mechanics and physical stuff but on an emotional level.  In 2007 Ollie won 15 games as did Maine.  Somehow he was able to get through to Oliver Perez, something that neither Warthen nor Ollie’s other coaches have been successful at.  Under Warthen these guys have regressed.  Also under Warthen the entire staff has lost their velocity and that is really what concerns me.  How can an entire pitching staff’s velocity go down in 1 season?  It has to be something that is unprecedented in baseball, just has to be.  The lack of velocity has hurt these pitchers, especially Oliver Perez.  Perez was always a sloppy pitcher, in fact the phrase “better to be lucky than good” sometimes could have been applied to Ollie in the past.  The one thing Ollie had going for him was his velocity.  The many mistakes he would make would not always hurt him as batters couldn’t catch up to his fastball and when he mixed in his changeup he was effective.  Ollie used to average 94-95, now he’s lucky to get to 90.  Maine comes to mind as well as a pitcher whose velocity has gone away and that came back to hurt him in the earlier games this season.

Warthen has also done his fair share of tinkering with his players.  John Maine’s delivery was changed and it hurt him his first few starts.  Since going back to his original delivery he has improved in every appearance up until this past Saturday.  I don’t know what Warthen was attempting with making Maine be a different pitcher as it obviously did not work.  Maine decided on his own that his new delivery was not working and that he would go back to his original one.  Why didn’t the pitching coach think about that?

After the 2009 season Dan Warthen was quick to blame the catchers for all the trouble the pitchers had last year.  I thought it was unprofessional then and I still do.  He was also wrong!  Yes Santos was a young catcher who was still learning his craft but now the Mets have 2 excellent catchers in Rod Barajas and Henry Blanco.  Both catchers call a great game and have been effective so far for the Mets.  Unfortunately the Mets pitching staff still leads the majors in walks!  For the last 2 seasons Mets pitching has allowed 24 walks to the opposing pitcher!  This falls squarely on the shoulders of the pitching coach.  This guy was a walk machine as a player and now he’s teaching our pitchers on how to walk the park.

Now firing these guys is not the complete answer to turning this franchise around but it’s a start.  I don’t relish seeing these guys go, it’s tough to lose your job, they have families to support but this is the business they have chosen.  Probably harder to fire Howard Johnson considering his history with the franchise but if the Mets want to win they’re going to have to make the tough choices and say goodbye to Warthen and HoJo.

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Remember When… Mets Deal Hurler Terrell For 3B Johnson Thu, 07 Jan 2010 14:12:54 +0000 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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