Two former Met greats say goodbye
Neither John Olerud
nor Rickey Henderson
was with the Mets for very long, but both made an impact in their own way. Henderson only spent about a year and a half of his first ballot Hall Of Fame career in the orange and blue, and he's as remembered for playing cards with Bobby Bonilla
as the 1999 NLCS ended as for anything he did on the field. But he had quite a year in 1999, hitting .315/.423/.466 for the Wild Card Mets. It doesn't seem like anything official has come out yet, but word around the winter meetings is that Henderson is finally retiring, twenty-six years after his first major league season. There will never be another one quite like Rickey.
Olerud was with the Mets a bit longer, from 1997 to 1999, and his excellent offense and defense played an important role in the Mets' late-'90s success. He now holds the top spot on the Mets' career and single-season lists for batting average and on-base percentage and is also the franchise's career leader with a .926 OPS. He won't wind up in Cooperstown, but he had a long, impressive career. He hit .295/.398/.465 over seventeen seasons with five teams, racking up 2239 hits and 1275 walks in 2234 games. He was a quiet, classy guy and his departure left a hole that it took the Mets six years to fill. He will never truly be replaced.
Mets appease fans nostalgic for the old days of inexplicable trades
The Mets have acquired catcher Paul Lo Duca
from the Marlins
for minor league pitcher Gaby Hernandez and another as yet unnamed minor league pitcher. Hernandez had been the best pitching prospect in the Mets' system for a good week and a half following the trade of Yusmeiro Petit to Florida in the Carlos Delgado
deal. Hernandez is only nineteen years old and a long way from the majors, but he had put up excellent numbers in rookie ball and low A ball before having some trouble in high A. He had a lot further to go than either of the two top pitching prospects the Mets have traded in the last year and a half. But given that the top honor now goes to either a guy who hasn't signed yet or a guy recovering from Tommy John surgery, this trade has really left the ranks of Mets pitching prospects barren.
And for what? The New York Daily News says that Lo Duca "is regarded as one of the top offensive catchers in the game". I wonder if the people who regard him as such realize it's not 2001 anymore. Last year he hit a dismal .283/.334/.380 and that was the second time in the last three years that his slugging percentage was .380 or lower. Even free agent defensive specialist Bengie Molina
has managed to slug .400 each of the last three years. Molina's played in a better offensive environment than Lo Duca has, but when a player needs his numbers to be put in context to explain why he didn't hit as well as Bengie Molina, he's not going to be much of an offensive force in any environment. Lo Duca just isn't a good hitter anymore. And he's never been known as a good defensive catcher. The Daily News also brings up his reputation as "a team leader and positive clubhouse presence," but really, that's the sort of thing you say about a guy who's actual baseball abilities don't merit much praise.
So for this nice guy who's not very good at playing baseball, the Mets gave up Gaby Hernandez. And another pitcher. And, oh yeah, 12.5 million dollars over the next two years. The only thing that made sense about the Mike Cameron
deal was the money the Mets saved. And now they've given that all away to a guy who didn't even hit as well as Ramon Castro
(.244/.321/.435) last year. There is some speculation that perhaps the Diamondbacks
want Lo Duca as part of a deal for Javier Vazquez
, in which case this may make sense. But if not, this is a really awful trade.