New York Mets: The Franchise's 5 Worst Midseason Trades in History
Like many people, I view the trade deadline as a chance for the Mets to get some fresh blood. Sometimes it's in the form of prospects who will contribute at a future time (Zack Wheeler), sometimes it's veteran help that could potentially contribute now.
Sometimes the deal works out and said player goes into the echelon of Mets players who made a difference. Other times, and this happens a lot, the deal blows up in the Mets' faces.
With the deadline approaching and Sandy Alderson committed to improving the bullpen and maybe the offense with a right-handed bat, we look back at the five worst deals in franchise history.
5. Juan Samuel for Lenny Dykstra and Roger McDowell, 1989
If there was any trade that effectively killed the 1986 World Series champions, it was this one. The Mets, who had gone into camp with a serious mindset, apparently weren't serious enough to defend their NL East title.
To the Philadelphia Phillies went Lenny Dykstra, the leadoff hitter, and Roger McDowell, the closer. In return, the Mets nabbed a supposedly promising infielder by the name of Juan Samuel.
It soon became apparent that the Mets got the wrong end of the deal, as Samuel limped through his Mets tenure with a .228 average with three home runs and 28 RBI. He was later shipped to Los Angeles before the 1990 season for outfielder Mike Marshall and Alejandro Pena.
As for Dykstra and McDowell?
Dykstra stayed with Philadelphia until the 1996 season, winning the NL pennant in 1993, and earning three trips to the All-Star Game and a Silver Slugger.
4. Mike Bordick for Melvin Mora, 2000
You have to wonder what Steve Phillips was thinking at the time when he traded away a promising infielder like Melvin Mora for an aged middle infielder named Mike Bordick.
In the midst of a postseason run which would ultimately culminate in the Mets' last ever trip to the World Series, Phillips felt that the Mets needed a defensive asset at shortstop, as Rey Ordonez had been lost for the season due to injury. At the time, Bordick had just come off his first (and only) All-Star game, and Phillips felt it was a good idea to get him (remember, Jose Reyes had just signed a contract the previous year and was in the low minors).
Out went Melvin Mora, who was a promising young third baseman, and the Mets had their guy. Ultimately, Bordick was just a summer rental, and departed for Baltimore after the season ended.
As for Mora, he would play nine and a half seasons in Charm City, garnering two All-Star nominations, a Silver Slugger and possible recognition as one of the best Orioles in the 2000's.
On the flip side, had Mora not been traded and played the way he did in New York, the Mets may not have drafted David Wright. Still...
3. Billy Taylor for Jason Isringhausen (1999)
Although you can kind of say that Izzy may have slightly atoned for his young failures this past season, losing out on his best years was probably one of the worst things that Steve Phillips could have done.
Izzy, who was starting to come into his own as a reliever in 1999, was surprisingly dealt to Oakland for a prospect named Billy Taylor. For those of you who don't know who Billy Taylor is, be glad you don't. He never amounted to anything as a Mets reliever.
Izzy played two and a half seasons in Oakland before starting a near decade of dominance as the closer for the St. Louis Cardinals. Afterwards, he pitched a year in Cincinnati before making his return to New York.
One thing the Mets have over Oakland and St. Louis with Izzy is that he earned his 300th save in New York, when Terry Collins opted for the closer committee.
As of now, Izzy is pitching relief in Anaheim along with former Mets phenom Hisanori Takahashi.
2. The Midnight Massacre, 1977
Grant's tomb. That's what Shea Stadium was called after M. Donald Grant traded away Tom Seaver to Cincinnati for players Pat Zachary, Doug Flynn, Steve Henderson, and Dan Norman.
Seaver's years in Cincinnati weren't like his years in New York. As a Red, he did finally throw a no-hitter, made three more All-Star teams and such, but afterwards, he was starting his steady decline.
Seaver joined the Mets for one last hurrah in 1983, in an otherwise forgettable season. Later, he would pitch for the Chicago White Sox and the Boston Red Sox; incidentally, he would have played against the Mets in the 1986 World Series had he not gotten hurt.
We all know what happened afterwards.
As for Zachary, Flynn, Henderson, and Norman, they each had their moments in New York, but none of them could provide the excitement that Seaver had in his time in New York.
But the reason why this is one of the worst trades in franchise history was because it immediately plunged the team into one of the darkest periods in franchise history. From 1978-1983, the team was effectively dead, and nothing could be done to help them.
1. The New Massacre (2004)
Old fans will say that the original Midnight Massacre was the worst trade in team history, I would agree, had I seen it. For newer fans, the worst trade in history is what I like to call the "New Massacre."
Scott Kazmir was a young phenom from Texas when he came to the Mets in 2002. A highly rated pitcher, he wowed people with his pitching, and seemed almost destined to be a member of the Mets soon-to-be-great rotation. Fate wouldn't have it that way, as Jim Duquette, apparently in one of his three sparks of stupidity (signing Kaz Matsui, trading away Jose Bautista), felt that it would be better to get a guy with arm problems in the rotation.
And thus, Kazmir (and Jose Diaz) were sent to Tampa Bay, then known as the Devil Rays, for Victor Zambrano, otherwise known as the "Wrong Zambrano," and Bartolome Fortunato.
Zambrano is known for being a nightmare on the mound, and not in the positive sense. Even Rick Peterson, the Oakland Athletics pitching guru brought over, couldn't help him, and he soon faded away. Fortunato made a couple appearances, but ultimately he also faded into obscurum.
As for Kazmir? Eh, not much, just two All-Star appearances, the 2007 strikeout crown and a World Series appearance, Oh, and before David Price, he was considered one of the greatest pitchers in Rays history. Yeah, not much at all.
As of now, all four are out of Major League Baseball. Kazmir, by far, is the funniest example, as he's in independent ball playing for the (snicker) Sugar Land Skeeters of the Atlantic League.