5 Mets Who You Might (Or Might Not) Remember Since the Year 2000
We are now in the beginning of August and our beloved Mets are currently nine games behind the Wild Card leading Atlanta Braves. Nine games—just enough to provide a glimmer of hope to Mets fans, but also more than enough to provide a reality check that the Metropolitans are really not that close to making a playoff push. In order for the Mets to play meaningful games in September, they have to play absolutely stellar baseball over the next 50-plus games. Not an easy task for a team that's been pretty inconsistent all year.
As the Mets remain in baseball purgatory for at least a few more weeks there will inevitably be more games where Mets fans are pulling their hair out or cursing profanities at the top of their lungs.
With that said, I thought I'd offer a list of forgotten Mets from the past 11 years to take your minds off (for the time being) the frustration that is this season. Take this trip down memory lane as I discuss former players who have faded faster than Mets' playoff hopes will if they don't win this series against the Braves.
Second Baseman Danny Garcia
I start my list off with light-hitting second baseman Danny Garcia. Despite having a pretty good glove at second, it was hard to keep him in the lineup because his lack of offensive production.
Garcia had a very short-lived career in the majors, only playing 19 games in 2003. Garcia was able to get more playing time in 2004 because Jose Reyes (who was playing second base because of Kaz Matsui's arrival) had numerous stints on the disabled list that year. Danny Garcia ended up playing in 58 games for the Mets. Unfortunately for the Mets that meant he had more plate appearances.
He finished off his time in the majors with 5 HRs, 23 RBI, and a whopping .227 batting average in fewer than 200 at-bats.
Relief Pitcher Bartolome Fortunato
I wonder if former Mets general manager in 2004, Jim Duquette and current Mets owner Fred Wilpon remember who Bartolome Fortunato is.
For those of you who don't, Bartolome Fortunato was the OTHER piece in the infamous trade in the summer of '04 that sent the Mets No. 1 pitching prospect to the Devil Rays. On July 30th, 2004 the Mets traded their top prospect Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano and of course Fortunato. Everyone knows how big a bust Zambrano was, but not many people remember how Fortunato fared with the Mets.
After doing pretty well at the end of 2004, going 1-0 with a 3.86 earned run average and 20 strikeouts in 18 and 2/3 innings, Fortunato suffered a herniated disk in 2005 and was done for the year. He then pitched in two games in May of 2006 and didn’t play another game for the Mets. Fortunato then made the San Francisco Giants spring training roster in 2008, but was cut before the beginning of the year and he never made it to the majors again.
Luckily for him, he was the less important piece in one of the most controversial trades in recent Mets history because he didn't have to face all of the criticism that was directed towards Zambrano. Consequently no one remembered his major league career, or lack thereof.
Lefty Specialist Dae-Sung Koo
Who could ever forget this moment?
On May 21st, 2005 Dae-Sung Koo had his biggest moment in the majors when he hit an unlikely double against future Hall of Famer Randy Johnson. Koo would hit a shot over Bernie Williams’ head right after Tim McCarver said that it was "the biggest give-up at-bat." He would then hustle around and score on a Jose Reyes bunt. At that moment he had the Mets fans screaming "Koooooo!" That was when Koo, became a Mets legend. Well, not really.
Unfortunately for Koo, 2005 was his only season in the majors. He only pitched in a total of 33 games, and had a 3.91 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 23 innings, but at least he was able to provide Mets fans with a memorable moment from the Subway Series.
Outfielder Tsuyoshi Shinjo
Who didn't enjoy watching Tsuyoshi Shinjo when he played with the Mets in 2001? He sparked the Mets with his play on the field and bright orange hair. His high leg kick at the plate, patented crow-hop before each throw, and his timely hitting made him a fan favorite.
Shinjo, who was the second Japanese position player to play in the MLB (Ichiro being the first), had an impressive rookie season. He had 10 HRs, 56 RBIs and had a respectable batting average of .268. Along with that he had the fifth most outfield assists with 12, as well as 12 game-winning hits. He came up huge for the Mets time after time that year.
Then Shinjo and Desi Relaford were traded to the SF Giants for pitcher Shawn Estes after the 2001 season. Shinjo had a disappointing season with the Giants in 2002, but he became the first Japanese player to play in the World Series. After the year he came back to Flushing for an encore in 2003.
Despite heading back to NY, Shinjo was not the same dynamic player that he was in 2001. After three months, Shinjo was batting below the Mendoza line at .193. He was sent to the minors at the end of June and never made it back on the squad. Apparently he only had enough magic in his bat for one season.
"The Hawaiian Punch," Benny Agbayani
Every Mets fans should remember Benny Agbayani even though he was only with the team for three years. Although he made his major league debut in 1998, he didn't become a regular in the lineup until 1999.
Agbayani really became a fan favorite in 2000 when he had his best season in the majors; he batted .289 and had 15 HRs and 60 RBIs. He was admired for his clutch hitting that year, but I will personally remember him, and so will many other Mets fans, for the play he made on August 12th of that year.
In the top of the 4th inning, the Giants had the bases loaded with one out. Bobby Estalella hit a fly ball to Benny Agbayani. Agbayani, thinking that he just caught the third out handed the ball to a young fan. After realizing that it was only two outs, he then took the ball back from the kid and threw it back into play. This was certainly not one of his best moments from an overall solid season.
Even though he did quite well in 2000, he struggled in 2001. He only hit six HRs and 27 RBI and batted .277. Agbayani was then traded to the Rockies before the 2002 season where he continued to struggle. He was eventually traded in the same year to the Red Sox where he ended his career.
Despite his relatively short major league career, he will always be remembered for being a quintessential piece for the 2000 Mets team that appeared in the World Series.