Although this year’s MLB Draft was relatively quiet for the New York Mets without their first-round pick, Flushing was well-represented at the draft with Doc Gooden in attendance.
Speaking at the draft in Secaucus, N.J. Monday night, Gooden said he was honored to have been asked to attend by the Mets.
“It’s a great feeling to be here to represent the (Mets), because I did play for a couple teams after the Mets, so to come back, you feel like you’re back into the family now,” he said.
For many former big leaguers at the draft, it was a time for reflection on the day they were drafted. Gooden, who was picked fifth overall by the Mets in 1982, said he was shocked to have been picked so high.
“I remember my high school coach telling me that I’m probably going to be picked between the fifth and tenth round. I said, ‘that’s fine, I just want to get drafted,'” said Gooden, then a 17-year old standout high school hurler from Tampa.
“So we’re watching the draft, it got to the Mets with the fifth pick, and I see my name across the screen, ‘Dwight Gooden,’ I’m like ‘I just got picked fifth.’ I actually called New York to make sure that was right just based on what my high school coach had told me. They said ‘yeah, that’s right.’”
Though the Mets were short a first round pick due to the signing of Michael Cuddyer, New York has fortified themselves with plenty of young talent in recent years, highlighted by their current starting rotation along with Steven Matz still incubating in Triple-A. Gooden said he sees serious potential in the group of arms the Mets have put together.
“Once you get into the playoffs, with that staff, anything can happen,” he said.
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The 1985 NL Cy Young award winner has been highly complimentary of the Mets young pitchers in the past, going as far to compare them to the 1986 rotation. Gooden said such comments drew some flak from former teammate Bobby Ojeda.
“I actually got a call from Bob Ojeda the other day because I had said that this staff could be better than the ’86 staff, so he didn’t like that too much,” Gooden said with a laugh.
The 2015 Mets are well-positioned to capture their first playoff bid in nine years, so long as they can overcome injuries to their primary bats and the resulting offensive woes. Gooden said if the Mets are going to without Wright or d’Arnaud–who is expected to return this week–for a long period of time, they need to make a move.
“If you can’t get both back, I think they should go out and get a veteran hitter for the middle of the order,” he said.
Although acquiring a bat should be a necessity for the Mets, Gooden said they also have to be careful not to mortgage the future with dealing an abundance major-league ready talent. Instead, he said the Mets should look to deal from the talent in the lower minors.
“You have to make a move, but it’s got to be the right fit, because you don’t give up a young pitcher, then in 3-4 years have it come back to bite you,” he said.
“So I would try to trade my lower minor league guys, because they have prospect pitchers all through the system, and try to stay away from my Triple-A and big league guys if I can do that. But if trade comes along that you can’t resist, you need to figure out what guy you want to move and go for it.”