One of the most complimentary titles in the entire sports world is being referred to as “My boy.” To date, only two players have earned that, Heath Bell and Jeff Keppinger. These two earned the title by playing well in the minors but never being given a fair shot by Mets management. Upon leaving being forced out of the organization, both have played as well as, if not better than, I thought they could. Hearing about Bell’s rigorous offseason workout regime, inspired me, how good (bad) would a team be made up entirely of former Mets players? So, pop open the champagne and turn up the music; without further ado, here are your 2009 (former) New York Mets.
(Alright, a little ado, to qualify for the team, a player can’t simply have played in the Mets organization [No, Hampton, Floyd] but must have been traded/released/lost before being eligible for major league free agency)
Jesús Flores: After a season at Advanced-A ball where Flores displayed adequate defense and power beyond his years, the Mets left him unprotected from the Rule 5 draft figuring no team would want to keep such a young and unproved player on their roster all year long. Unfortunately for the Mets, catcher is the easiest position player to hide on a roster due to the limited at-bats that a backup catcher receives. Flores isn’t without his drawbacks and was somewhat of a disappoint last year (only worth 1 win) but who knows where he would have at this time with more minor league time.
Mike Jacobs: Unlike Flores, the Mets “losing” Jacobs was completely warranted. Coming off a season where he hit .310/.375/.710 in 100 AB, Jacobs’s value could never be higher. The Mets wisely included him in the deal that brought in Carlos Delgado.
My Boy™ Jeff Keppinger: Despite hitting .300 at every level for the Mets, the Mets focused on what Keppinger couldn’t do rather than what he could. Mainly, Keppinger had no power, was slow and didn’t have great range. What Keppinger could do was control the strike zone and was somewhat sure handed. Considering the average second sacker hits .275/.340/.409 (in 2008) and the Mets inability to find a second basemen since Fonzie, you would think they would give him a chance. Instead, after a lost 2005 season due to injury, the Mets sent him in a challenge trade straight up for Ruben Gotay. Still not appreciated, Keppinger was put on waivers and traded to the Reds where he excelled (worth a shade over 2 wins) in 2007 playing mainly short, third and second. Keppinger couldn’t follow up his 2007 though, playing terrible defense and dealing with various injuries.
Ty Wigginton: Wiggy had a nice little career with the Mets. Eventually being traded in the Benson deal which was basically a wash unless you consider that Benson eventually led to John Maine. He has since become somewhat of a nomad.
Marco Scutaro: Star of the (alright) documentary A Player to Be Named Later, Scutaro was another player the Mets never gave an elongated chance to. Scutaro just happened to be placed on waivers, along with Matt Watson, after the A’s gave Peterson permission to go the Mets, unsurprisingly the A’s picked up both players.
Jason Bay: Like the Jacobs trade, trading Bay was totally justifiable. In 2002, with the playoffs in sight, the Mets shored up their bullpen by, essentially, trading Bay for 37 year old, sidearmer Steve Reed. With Reed’s stellar 2.08 ERA, the Mets ended the season with a 75-86 record. Reed left for Colorado after the season (great public school system I hear.)
Carlos Gomez: Okay–for real this time–like the Jacobs trade, trading Gomez was totally justifiable. Gomez is a fine player (2.2 wins in 2008) almost entirely due to his defense. The fact that the guy just can’t hit combined with Carlos Voltron in center field, Gomez’s value would extremely limited on the Mets, so flipping him for Johan Santana was a great (understatement) use of resources.
Lastings Milledge: The jury is still out on the Thrilledge/Ryan Church/Brian Schneider deal. I personally was a big fan of Milledge and though the antics were blown way out of proportion. High-fiving fans on the way to the outfield after hitting a huge homerun should be encouraged; he was expressing the same joy we (as fans) felt and making us feel a part of it as opposed to just spectators. Creating music (any artistic expression for that matter) should also be encouraged. (The merits of L-Millz’s music can be debated.)
One last point: Milledge wore number 44 to honor Hank Aaron, but once Dunn signed with the Nats, Milledge promptly switched his number. Dunn had this to say:
“There were no negotiations. He basically gave it to me,” Dunn said. “He didn’t have to do that. It didn’t matter to me. It’s very cool. I appreciate it.”
Has Milledge learned his role, as Billy Wagner would say, or was his behavior completely overblown by a New York media that needed something easy to write about?
(Note: The Former Mets are going with a 12-man pitching staff.)
Justin Huber: The Awesome Aussie (Not his real nickname) seemed to have the potential to be the Mets’ replacement for Piazza; however, his defense was questionable at best. He was shipped to the Royals by way of the Pirates in the Kris Benson deal, where he was moved from first to catcher back to first, and later to left field after being acquired by San Diego. Kind of stretch having him as a backup catcher, but it was him or Jason Phillips, and I’m not sure Phillips is even in this country anymore (he is).
Backup First Baseman
Craig Brazell: I’m torn between two baseball movies. Leading the minors in HR for most of the year in 2007, I want to call him Crash Davis, but those 27 HRs in Japan in 2008 call for Mr. Baseball. Personally, I liked Mr. Baseball better, but I’m biased, I’m a big NPB fan (Go Buffaloes!).
Anderson (IPOR) Hernandez: Traded for Ayala…meh.
Backup Left Fielder
Mike Carp: Last year, Evans, Murphy, and Carp formed quite a 3-4-5 (2-3-4) out by my alma mater. Carp was clearly the lesser of the ’08 Binghamton Bash Brothers, with his limited defense and relative lack of power. Traded in the Putz deal, I plan on following him as I thought him to be an interesting player, and I’m curious how he will develop.
Victor Diaz: The centerpiece of the Jeremy Burnitz deal, Diaz came over as a second basemen but quickly proved unable to play the position. With a pretty potent bat and a growing frame, the Mets moved Diaz to the outfield. He quickly got the nickname “Mini-Manny” based on his pudgy appearance and his all-stick, no glove play. Suffice it to say, the nickname was a bit hasty, as, in 2006, Diaz showed up to camp out of shape and was in the middle of a poor season in Triple-A when the Mets decided to ship him off for nothing (Mike Nickeas). Diaz bounced around a bit and will be playing for the Hanwha Eagles in 2009.
Breakdown of the Starters
Player Offense Defense
Flores Average Average
Jacobs Average-ish Below Average
Keppinger Average Below Average
Wigginton Average Below Average
Scutaro Average Average (Above in ’08)
Bay Above Average Below Average
Gomez Below Average Above Average
Milledge Average Below Average
The breakdown makes it pretty clear that this is an offense first team with the exception of Scutaro and Gomez. Making matters worse is, sans Hernandez, the backups are pretty brutal defensively as well. In order to be competitive, this team is going to need some pitching and, luckily, there is a good crop of former Mets to choose from.
Next week, I’ll not only present the pitchers but also a spreadsheet projecting how many wins this team would…ahem…win. If you feel like I’m missing anyone, or care to take a guess which pitchers I’m picking, or have a prediction for how many wins this team will end up with, let me know in the comments section.