2009 is going to end in a couple of days, bringing an end to a bittersweet decade for the New York Mets.
In the past 10 years, Mets' fans have witnessed the rise of David Wright and Jose Reyes. Carlos Beltran and Pedro Martinez signed big time contracts with the Amazins'. And future Hall of Famers Mike Piazza, Tom Glavine, and Garry Sheffield reached two momentous milestones while in a Mets' uniform.
Now for the bad. Two devastating September chokes, the leaving of Bobby Valentine, the signings of Roberto Alomar, Mo Vaughn, and Steve Phillips. But we must not forget those damn St. Louis Cardinals!
But I digress...
Here's my list of the best and worst players this decade for the New York Mets.
Mike Piazza didn't have his best seasons in the 2000's but he is still way ahead of every other Mets' catcher of the decade.
Piazza played in 722 games from 2000 to 2005 with the Amazins'. He hit 157 homers, drove in 455 runs and batted .286 with a .525 slugging percentage.
Mike also went to five All-Star games and collected three Silver Sluggers. Piazza's stand out year was 2000, when he hit 38 long ones with a .324 average and a .614 slugging percentage in his last 100+ RBI season.
Mike also has one of the most memorable moments for the Mets this decade: when he passed Carlton Fisk for most home runs by a catcher, hitting his 352nd on May 5.
Brian Schneider (2008 - 2009)
I like Schneider a lot, but his two years in New York were terrible, and he missed most of '09. His .244 average makes my point.
When Carlos Delgado came to the Mets in 2006, he made them better than the Braves and the Phillies. Carlos was the final piece of the puzzle for the '06 team. Sadly, the only thing they did was lose the Pennant and come in second two straight years.
Carlos hit 104 dingers with 339 RBI in his four years in New York. Delgado had two amazing years, '06 and '08, both in which he hit 38 homers while driving in 114 and 115 runs, respectively. In 2007, he had a miserable year and in '09 he missed all but 26 games due to injury.
In the 2006 playoffs, Carlos batted .351 with four homers and 11 RBI.
Mo Vaughn (2002 - 2003)
I liked Mo when he was a Met. I hated that they got him, but that still didn't stop me from liking him. Mo played in 166 games with New York, batted .249, and hit 29 homers for $45 million plus.
It has to be Edgardo Alfonzo. He only played for three years and had a terrible season in 2001, but he played longer in New York than Luis Castillo, and there are no other choices.
Fonzie played in 409 games, batting .294, blasting 58 homers, and driving in 199 runs. He also made the All-Star team in 2000.
It's amazing how the Mets did not have a long-term second baseman from Edgardo to Castillo, with only one shining light in between: Jose Valentin.
Roberto Alomar (2002 - 2003)
It's amazing what one winter does to a great player. In 2001 with the Indians, Alomar hit 20 homers with 100 RBI and a .336 average. In 2002 with the Mets, he hit nine fewer homers, drove in 47 less runs and batted 70 points worse then the year before. And he wasn't any better in 2003.
David Wright is probably the best National League third baseman this decade. He came up in 2004, and since then hasn't suffered a gap in his success (except for his power numbers in '09).
Wright's career numbers are 140 home runs, 561 runs batted in, a .309 average, and a .518 slugging average with 222 doubles in 847 games. In these six years, Wright has been to four All-Star games, collected two Silver Sluggers and Gold Gloves.
Along with being the Mets' third baseman of the decade, he is their Player of the Decade. If he has a 2008-type year in '10, he will be the best third baseman in Mets history.
Ty Wigginton (2002 - 2004)
I hate to put Wiggy in a category called "THE WORST" but he was the worst for the Mets this decade. Ventura was too good in his two years and the only other guy who played third base full-time was Alfonzo in 2002, when he put up some terrific numbers. So at the end of the day, Wiggy was the worst for the Mets, but turned out to be a solid ball player.
Jose Reyes is easily the best shortstop in New York Mets history.
From 2005 to 2008, Jose was easily the best shortstop in baseball, but sadly suffered a speed bump in '09 in the form of an injury.
Reyes led the National League three times in triples (2005-2006, 2008) and stolen bases (2005-2007) and once in hits (2008). His decade and career batting average is .286 with 301 stolen bases and 73 triples.
Jose also appeared in two All-Star games and won a Silver Slugger in 2006.
Kazuo Matsui (2004 - 2006)
Even though his rookie year was okay, he stunk in the next two. His Mets' batting average is a dreadful .256, and for all his speed he only stole 22 bases.
Every New York Mets fan complains that the Mets don't have veteran leadership. Well in 2006 they did with Cliff Floyd.
Floyd came to the Mets in 2003 and had a great '03 followed by a poor 2004, then he put together his best year of his career: In 2005, Cliff hit 34 homers, drove in 98 runs with a .273 average, and got some MVP consideration. Sadly, in 2006, Cliff suffered through injuries and only played in 97 games with a .240 average. But during the playoffs he batted .333 with a homer and two runs batted in.
Cliff then went on to play for the Cubs and then the 2008 American League Champions' Tampa Bay Rays.
Roger Cedeno (2002 - 2003)
After having a great year with the Tigers, Cedeno came to the Mets and plummeted. He batted .263 with an amazing low 39 stolen bases.
It's not even a competition: Carlos Beltran is the best center fielder this decade for the Mets, and arguably for all of baseball.
Beltran started the momentum in 2005 that resulted in a playoff berth. After signing the biggest contract in New York Mets history, he went on to have a very disappointing '05. However, he quickly rebounded in '06, tying the franchise's home run record by blasting 41 with 116 RBI and a .275 average. Carlos also hit three homers in the NLCS and collected four runs batted in and a .296 average.
The next two seasons were as successful as '06, and 2009 was looking like another great season for Beltran until he suffered an injury.
Beltran went to the All-Star game four times with the Mets and won three Gold Gloves and two Silver Sluggers; a very impressive five years.
Jeff Duncan (2003 - 2004)
"Who?" you ask. Well, Jeff Duncan played 69 games with the Mets, collecting a .182 average and one homer (which I saw in person) and he was supposed to be the next big thing. Even though Duncan didn't even play a full season, he has to be the worst, because everyone else was pretty good. From Jay Payton to Mike Cameron, they were all solid players, except Duncan.
Shawn Green! Really? He only played 164 games with the Mets, how could he be called the best?
Here's the thing, the Mets haven't had a full time right fielder who stayed longer then two years this decade.
Tim Perez and Endy Chavez played every outfield position as very solid backups. Derek Bell was in New York for one year. Xavier Nady was traded in the middle of '06. Richard Hidalgo played amazingly in his half-year with the Amazins' and the same can be said for Jeff Francoeur. Then there's Victor Diaz, Jeremy Burnitz, and Ryan Church, two of whom were traded in their second year and Diaz doing nothing special.
So that leaves Shawn Green, who in 559 at bats, batted .284 with 14 homers and 61 RBI. Green's only full year as a Met was in 2007 when he batted .291 as a veteran leader. Green also batted .313 with four runs batted in in the 2006 playoffs.
Roger Cedeno (2002 - 2003)
He played mostly right field in 2003 and was terrible, posting a .267 average while costing the Mets almost $5 million. Victor Diaz could be put here, but he didn't cost them anywhere near $5 million.
After the signings of Pedro Martinez and Johan Santana, a lot of people forget about Al Leiter.
Leiter is probably one of the most overlooked pitchers in a long time, after having four good-to-amazing seasons to end the 1990's and went on to be terrific in 2000, winning 16 games with 200 strikeouts, a 3.20 ERA, and an All-Star appearance.
Leiter then put together two solid seasons before 2003 when he won 15 games and struck out 139 batters. The next year, Al won 10 games with a 3.21 ERA and 117 strikeouts in his last season with the Mets.
Leiter's decade stats with the Mets are as follows: a 65-49 record—more wins then Martinez's and Santana's put together, a 3.34 earned run average—that's lower then Martinez's 3.88, 770 strikeouts with five complete games, and four shutouts.
And please...don't get me started on how amazing he pitched during the 2000 World Series.
I also don't want people to forget about Steve Trachsel, who has more wins with the Mets in the 2000's, with 66.
Shawn Estes (2002)
This is a hard one because there are a couple of pitchers who were terrible with the Mets. I first thought of Tim Redding, but he didn't cost as much as Estes. Then there's Kazuhisa Ishii, who cost the Mets $3.575 million for a 5.14 ERA and a 3-9 record. Then there's Mike Pelfrey, who hasn't pitched as bad as these three, but has pitched badly for a long period of time. But Estes was the worst because he cost $6.2 million which resulted in only four wins and nine losses with a 4.55 ERA. The only good Estes did for the Mets is that when they traded him they got...
Even though Pedro Feliciano isn't a setup-man, he is easily the most important arm in the bullpen when you need to fill in the gap between the starter and the closer.
Pedro is a workhorse who has led the National League in games the past two years, and in 2007 he pitched in 78 games. Feliciano has spent more years with the Amazin' Mets then any other relief pitcher this decade, making his statistics a little more impressive.
Feliciano has pitched in 367 games, collected 19 wins along with four saves, and has 285 strikeouts along with a 3.31 ERA.
J.J. Putz (2009)
Putz cost the Mets Endy Chavez and Joe Smith when he, along with Sean Green and Jeremy Reed, came to the Mets in a three-team trade. Putz only pitched in 29 games and had a 5.22 ERA while Joe Smith had a solid season with the Indians and Chavez, before he was injured, was having a good year.
Billy Wagner was the first lights-out closer the Mets had since the John Franco in the middle '90's. In three full seasons and two games in '09, Wagner collected 101 saves with a 2.37 ERA.
Billy saved 40 games in '06 with a 2.24 ERA in what is his best year as a Met. Wagner's low point is his 2006 NLCS performance. In 2.2 innings he gave up seven hits and five runs, all earned, and suffered the Game Two loss.
Braden Looper (2004 - 2005)
Even though he wasn't bad, compared to the competition, he was the worst. Looper had a really good 2004 collecting 29 saves with a 2.70 ERA. But he was absolutely awful in 2005 when he had a 3.94 ERA and a 4-7 record, though he still managed to save 28 games.