With Spring Training only a week or two away, and with the football season over, save for the dreaded Pro Bowl, I have decided to assemble the All-Time Mets team.
The Mets, unlike their crosstown rivals, the New York Yankees, aren't laden with geat all-time players. Nonethless, the bunch I've assembled are, in my opinion, a fascinating group of players who know the game.
First Base: Keith Hernandez
Not a surprise here. The greatest fielding first baseman of all-time who helped spark a turnaround in this franchise when the Mets acquired him on June 15, 1983, for Neil Allen and Rick Ownbey.
Hernandez' first game as a Met against the Montreal Expos saw him get two hits and establish his signature frequent trips to the mound to advise his pitcher as to what to throw the batting opposition.
Hernandez helped the Mets to five consecutive 90-win-or-more seasons, a World Series title and two division titles.
Second Base: Edgardo Alfonzo
One could argue that Felix Milan should get the nod, especially since Alfonzo played third base during his Mets tenure.
The choice here goes to Alfonzo because he could hit for both power and average and field his position. His best year was when he hit 27 home runs, 108 runs batted in and a .304 average.
In 1999, he was part of that dynamic infield that had made the fewest errors in the league.
Short Stop: Jose Reyes
I could have picked Bud Harrelson for his longer tenure, but Reyes' numbers are just better.
It's too bad that Reyes had such a disappointing end to his season. He regressed a bit, but his stolen base numbers were obviously very impressive given that this is the era of the home run.
Third Base: Howard Johnson
Once again, there were other candidates. Robin Ventura won a Gold Glove, but didn't have nearly enough good seasons.
Ray Knight was the 1986 World Series Most Valuable Player. David Wright had his first 30-30 season in 2007 and won a gold glove.
Nonetheless, a consistent .300 hitter, Howard Johnson is the choice. He had three 30-30 seasons, almost went 40-40 in 1989 and set a record for most runs batted in in 1991 with 117. In a year's time, Wright could be the new choice.
Catcher: Mike Piazza
A lot of other choices: Jerry Grote, John Stearns, Gary Carter, and even Todd Hundley.
Piazza's the pick here because of his eight and half years of great offense. You could break it down like this: Piazza as the greatest hitting cather in Mets history and Jerry Grote on defense.
Outfield: Mookie Wilson, Carlos Beltran, Darryl Strawberry
Wilson, the Mets all-time stolen base leader, was with the Mets in the lean times of the early 1980s through the glory years of 1984-1989. He was an underrated fielder, too.
Despite a disappointing first year in 2005, Beltran rebounded in 2006 by tying a Met record for home runs with 41. He is a marvelous outfielder who has won two consecutive Gold Gloves.
Despite all his off-the field problems, Strawberry still established the club career record in home runs with 254 to go along with numerous All-Star game appearances. Still, one has to ask: What could have been?
Starting Pitcher: Tom Seaver
What a shocker! The Franchise won three Cy-Youngs. Still the best Met ever.
Jerry Koosman, Dwight Gooden, David Cone and Al Leiter could fill out rest of staff.
Relief: Jessie Orosco and Tug McGraw
Both relievers may not have the gaudy save numbers that modern relievers have accumulated today, but Orosco and McGraw were clutch. Ya' Gotta Believe!
John Franco had a fine career, but he was more effective, in my opinion as a middle reliever.
Tommie Agee, Kevin McReynolds, Bud Harrelson, Rusty Staub, and Felix Millan.