New York Mets GMs: Can't Have Any Miracles Without a Few Flops
Sandy Alderson is the 12th General Manager in New York Mets' history. What are the notable and famous (or infamous) legacies of his predecessors? A quick review does reveal that putting together miracles doesn't come easy and flops apparently do. In any case the evolution of Casey Stengel ("the only thing worse than a Mets' game is a Mets' doubleheader") to Terry Collins (we'll be prepared...I'll tell you that!) the GM's have made the decisions, pulled the strings on trades and have been goats and heroes. Take a look!
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George Weiss was the first general manager of the New York Mets from 1962-1966. He hired Casey Stengel and that had an immediate impact. Stengel created an atmosphere that generated fans that had generational adoration for the "Mutts" that "had to learn how to stay out of triple plays" as quoted by Stengel.
Every game and misadventure was "amazing". Weiss also drafted "The Franchise" to be: Tom Seaver. In Mr. Weiss's tenure the Mets only finished out of the basement in his last year. Notables on the roster included: Roger Craig, Choo Choo Coleman, Joe Pignatano, Gil Hodges, Ed Kranepool, Marv Throneberry, Don Zimmer, Richie Ashburn, Gus Bell and Frank Thomas
Jerry Koosman and Nolan Ryan
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Bing Devine was the general manager in 1967 resigning in the same year to return to the Cardinals from whence he came. Devine had a successful career developing champion teams in two stints with the Cardinals (before and after the Mets) in 1964 and 1967. Devine laid the foundation for the World Series Champion Mets drafting the likes of Jerry Koosman, Nolan Ryan, Gary Gentry and Jim McAndrew and more. In Devine's short term with the Mets, he lost 101 games. Devine was noted for his aggressive signing of Black and Latino players during a time when there was still dust settling over Jackie Robinson.
Berra, Staub(?), Grote, Seaver, Koosman, Dyer of the 69 Mets. Staub must have cooked something.
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Johnny Murphy resided at Shea Stadium as general manager from 1967-1969. Unfortunately, Murphy suffered a life ending heart attack three months after the 1969 Mets won the World Series. He is credited with naming beloved Gil Hodges manager having traded for him from the Washington Senators. Johnny rose through the ranks in the Mets Organization coming on board with George Weiss after 13 seasons with the Boston Red Sox. Murphy was the fortunate GM whose team featured a starting rotation of pitchers extraordinaire. Adding Tug McGraw to the mix of Seaver, Koosman, Gentry, Ryan and others the Mets rocked the baseball world sweeping the Atlanta Braves and beating the Baltimore Orioles to become champions for the first time.
Seaver and McGraw.
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Bob Scheffing served as general manager with the sudden passing of Johnny Murphy from 1969 until his retirement in 1974. The 1973 Mets were the National League Champions. Tug McGraw popularized thigh slapping with his mitt and the phrase, "YA GOTTA BELIEVE."
There was a sense of the electricity of the 1969 Mets only to fall short against the Oakland Athletics who all appeared to have mustaches or beards. Scheffing lives in infamy for the trade of Nolan Ryan to the then California Angels for Jim Fregosi. Both players went on to have vastly different futures. Felix Millan, Rusty Staub and John Milner were added to many holdovers from the '69 Mets.
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Joe McDonald also worked his way up the ranks in the Mets organization ultimately serving in the position of GM from 1975-1979 and eventually was fired in 1980. McDonald would also have his hand in the trade of "The Franchise", Tom Seaver. This was absolutely nothing less than alarming for every Met fan and to this day.
Apparently as free agency came about Seaver wanted a salary comparable to pitchers of his caliber. M. Donald Grant had free reign and would not give in to Seaver's demands. After much publicity about Tom's wife Nancy and her jealousy of Nolan Ryan surfaced in the paper, Tom Terrific opted out demanding a trade.
"The Trade" or the "Midnight Massacre" was orchestrated with the Cincinnatti Reds for Steve Henderson, Dan Norman, Doug Flynn and Pat Zachry. McDonald put together some awful and last place finishing teams in 1977 and 1978. Names in addition to the acquired Reds were Nino Espinosa, Alex Trevino, Willie Montanez, Elliot Maddox and Juan Berenguer. It was brutal going to Shea.
Johnson, Gooden, Strawberry and Cashen inducted in the Mets Hall of Fame
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Frank Cashen was the architect of a champion. Serving as the Mets GM from 1980 until stepping down in 1991. Drafting Doc Gooden and Darryl Strawberry and trading Neil Allen and Rick Ownbey to the Cardinals for Keith Hernandez, one of the oddest trades in history and the foundation for a champion.
There are clips of Keith crying by his locker. This was preceded by bringing in David Kingman and his strikeouts and home runs and George Foster, former MVP. Ultimately trading away homegrown Lee Mazilli to acquire Ron Darling and eventually Howard Johnson. Along came Davey Johnson, as manager, also celebrated for making the last out in the 1969 world series and one final piece of the puzzle. Hubie Brooks and three others were traded for ":The Kid"; Gary Carter. Competitive right away in 1985, after Cashen molded the team, the Mets narrowly missed the playoffs.
In 1986, the Mets, in a storybook season and finish, won the World Series, with a record that was the best by far of any team in the '80s. The team dissipated and the pieces were scattered rather than bringing about a dynasty.
Lenny Dykstra was traded along with Wally Backman. Heroes were granted free agency or released and the future rested with Gregg Jeffries who did not materialize as once was thought after being the MVP in the Triple A all star game preceded by a phenomenal rise in the minors. The team skidded to a fifth place finish and Cashen resigned as GM in 1991.
Vince Coleman remembered for a fireworks incident outside Shea
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Al Harazin's GM stint was short lived and glum. He served between 1992 and 1993. His strategy seemed to be to import aging players and hope for their resurgence like Frank Tanana, Joe Orsulak, Tony Fernandez, Mike Maddux, Vince Coleman and other players that never realized their old selves. Harazin was resigning in 1993. He was known to have built the "worst team money can buy." We are still paying Bobby Bonilla.
Bernard Gilkey brought some excitement to Shea
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Joe McIlvaine made a lot of moves as GM for the Mets from 1993-until his reassignment in 1997.
Some trade highlights (there were more):
- January 5, 1994 traded Vince Coleman to the Kansas City Royals for Kevin McReynolds
- November 18, 1994 traded Jeromy Burnitz and Joe Roa to the Cleveland Indians for Jerry Dipoto, Paul Byrd, Dave Mlicki and Jesus Azuaje. DiPoto was a candidate for an executive position with the Mets this year.
- November 28, 1994 traded Juan Castillo and Todd Beckermann to the Houston Astros for Pete Harnisch
- November 29, 1994 traded Quilvio Veras to the Florida Marlins for Carl Everett
- July 28, 1995 traded Bobby Bonilla to the Baltimore Orioles for Damon Buford, Alex Ochoa and Jimmy Williams
- July 31, 1995 traded Bret Saberhagen and David Swanson to the Colorado Rockies for Juan Acevedo and Arnold Gooch (just because I love the name Gooch)
- January 22, 1996 traded Erik Hiljus, Eric Ludwick and Yudith Orozio to the St. Louis Cardinals for Bernard Gilkey
Joe also hired Steve Phillips as his assistant. Drafted the "big three" Paul Wilson, Bill Pulsipher and Jason Isringhausen and they never met high expectations. He did develop Edgardo Alfonzo, Rey Ordonez and Todd Hundley. So the 2000 Mets started to take shape. He also traded a disgruntled Jeff Kent to the Indians for Carlos Baerga who never played like he did as an Indian in New York.
Seaver and Piazza closed out Shea and opened Citi.
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Steve Phillips (1997-2003) will best be remembered for his trading for Mike Piazza and having a sex scandal that cost him the a temporary suspension and probably his job. In addition for trading for Piazza, he traded for Al Leiter and Mike Hampton. Phillips also drafted David Wright, Scott Kazmir, and International free agent, Jose Reyes. He fired Bobby Valentine. His Mets team won the NL title but fell to the Yankees in a lopsided Subway Series in 2000. Also part of that team was Robin Ventura and Todd Zeile. He is seen quite often as an analyst on MLB TV and ESPN.
Manager Art Howe, Kaz Matsui, and Jim Duquette
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In another Met awful trade, Duquette moved top prospect Scott Kazmir to the then Devil Rays for Victor Zambrano who amounted to nothing but injuries. That move alone appears to have led to his reassignment in 2004. There was also the signing of Japanese all-star shortstop Kaz Matsui. All parties in the photo had very short careers with the Mets in their positions, as of 2003.
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Omar Minaya lasted from 2004 until his firing in 2010. He ushered in the "Los Mets" signing Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran. Omar had some successful drafts in Mike Pelfrry, Ike Davis, Bobby Parnell, Jon Niese and Josh Thole. All of whom have been on the 25 man roster. He wrangled Johann Santana away from the Twins. His assembled Mets won the NL East in 2006.
They lost to the Cardinals despite one of the best catches in Met history by Endy Chavez followed by a horrible strikeout to end a threat and the game by Carlos Beltran. Things started to catch up with Omar when his assistant, Tony Bernazard's, profanity laced and inappropriate actions, firing Willie Randolph, and Beltran having surgery with poor communication on both sides.
Will Sandy reel in a "Miracle"?
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Sandy Alderson comes in as the even dozen man. He has inherited a mess. Overpaid and underperforming veterans, no real money until next year and a new manager certainly is an interesting start. He has brought in J.P. Ricciardi and Paul DePodesta in an attempt to mold a team with their collective experience. Alderson has a boastful resume having served as GM and later president of the Oakland Athletics, where he previously teamed with Ricciardi from 1983 to 1997. Alderson and manager Tony LaRussa lead the A's teams of 1988-1992 with Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire and Dennis Eckersley won four division titles and reached three World Series — winning it all in '89.
One advantage that Sandy has is that if he creates a competitive team this year and ownership and the fans have some patience he will bring home a winner. Time will tell. It can't be any worse.