New York Mets: The 2000s All-Decade Team
Last but not least, we come to the 2000s in Mets history.
It got off to an amazing start as the Mets went to the 2000 World Series, despite the fact that they ended up losing to the Yankees. After a subpar 2001 and an unexpected second-half collapse in 2002, the Mets really began to underachieve in 2003 and 2004 as the front office went through chaos and the team struggled with key injuries. In 2005, new management came in, cleaned house and rejuvenated the team. A year later, the Mets were back in the postseason but barely missed a trip to the World Series that the NL champion St. Louis Cardinals ended up winning. The Mets then went through two historic back-to-back collapses in 2007 and 2008 before almost the entire team got injured and tanked in 2009.
All in all, the 2000s were a roller coaster of a decade for the Mets and here is the 2000s New York Mets' All-Decade Team.
Catcher: Mike Piazza
One of the best hitters to ever wear a Mets uniform, Mike Piazza is by far the best catcher in Mets history.
After arriving in New York in 1998, and having two great seasons both that year and in 1999, he had an even better season in 2000 by hitting .324 with 38 home runs and 113 RBI. He led the team to its first World Series since 1986, and Piazza certainly did his part during those two postseasons by hitting clutch home runs and being the one feared hitter the Mets had at the time.
Despite the wonderful moments he had during the 2000 season, fans will also never forget about the rivalry he had with Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens. In July, during a doubleheader, Clemens threw a pitch that hit Piazza in the head, which caused Piazza to miss the All-Star game. Later, in the World Series, Clemens threw a piece of Piazza's bat at him as Piazza jogged to first base on a foul ball. Piazza picked up the piece of the bat and walked towards Clemens, but nothing happened as both benches cleared and no fights occurred.
Piazza had two more great seasons in 2001 and 2002 before injuries and his knees in particular began to affect his playing. He missed most of the 2003 season with a groin injury and played half of 2004 as a first baseman, which did not turn out as well as the Mets had hoped. At that point, his offensive numbers were down and the team realized it could no longer expect him to carry the offense as much as he used to.
His last year in 2005 was bittersweet because he was such a fan favorite, but the fans also knew that he would not be the feared hitter he was ever again, and Piazza spent his last two seasons in San Diego and Oakland, respectively, before retiring.
Countless home runs and clutch hits will forever remain etched in the minds of Mets fans that were fortunate enough to watch him play, none more significant than the home run he hit against the Braves in 2001 during the first sports game in New York after 9/11.
First Base: Carlos Delgado
Although he was not around for an extended period of time, Carlos Delgado was nonetheless one of the best first basemen the Mets have ever had.
Delgado spent the bulk of his career with the Blue Jays from 1993 to 2004. During that time, he was one of the most feared left-handed sluggers in baseball.
He was an All-Star in 2000 and 2003, and during his Blue Jay years, and he hit at least 30 home runs in 10 consecutive seasons and drove in at least 100 RBI in seven of 10 full seasons. He also led all of baseball in RBI in 2003 with 145.
After the 2004 season, the Blue Jays decided not to pursue Delgado. As a result, Delgado signed a four-year deal with the Marlins. He had a solid 2005 season with the Marlins before getting traded after the season to the Mets in one of the Marlins' many "fire sales." The Mets sent a young Mike Jacobs and two pitching prospects to Florida for Delgado.
Delgado's transition to New York was quite successful in 2006. He batted .265, hit 38 home runs and drove in 114 RBI as the feared cleanup hitter the Mets needed. He also had a .548 slugging percentage.
Along with career seasons from Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes, plus the continued growth of David Wright, the Mets had one of the most explosive offenses that year. Unfortunately, the season came to a bitter end with an NLCS series loss to the Cardinals.
2007 was not as good for Delgado. He slipped to a .258 average, hit just 24 home runs and only drove in 87 RBI. He struggled mightily in the early portion of the season and never seemed to really get it going throughout the year.
Delgado's 2008 season started off similarly to what 2007 was for him. He was batting just .235 by May, but all of a sudden, in the middle of June, Delgado's bat simply woke up. The turning point of his season was on June 27 when he set a new Mets record by collecting nine RBI in a single game.
From June to September, Delgado hit 30 home runs. He also collected 65 RBI in a 65-game span. Delgado was a huge reason as to why the Mets were still contending for the postseason, which ultimately failed as the Mets didn't earn a bid.
Delgado finished the season with a .271 average, 38 home runs and 115 RBI. He finished ninth in the NL MVP voting.
Thanks to his 2008 resurgence, the Mets picked up Delgado's $12 million option for 2009. With the Mets playing in a brand new stadium, Delgado was expected to continue being a productive slugger, but that all came to an end when Delgado was placed on the disabled list with a hip injury. He was supposed to be out for around 10 weeks, but he never played again with the Mets.
In 2010, Delgado had another hip surgery and did not play in a major league game despite signing a minor league deal with the Red Sox. However, he only had 13 at-bats in this brief stint.
On April 13, 2011, Delgado announced his retirement. He finished with 473 career home runs, the most ever for a Puerto Rican born player.
Carlos Delgado's Mets tenure only lasted slightly over three seasons, but he was still one of the best players to ever play the position for the franchise.
Second Base: Edgardo Alfonzo
By far the best second baseman for the Mets in the 2000s is the same person that would best fit the description of the Mets' greatest second baseman ever. That person would be Edgardo Alfonzo.
After a breakout season in 1997, another strong season in 1998 and an even better year in 1999, Alfonzo entered the 2000s as one of the best, yet one of the most underrated second baseman in the league.
His career season occurred in 2000 when he set a career-high with a .324 average to go along with 25 home runs and 94 RBI. He also had 109 runs scored, 176 hits, 40 doubles, a remarkable career-high .425 on-base percentage and a career-high .542 slugging percentage.
He made his only All-Star team that year and was clutch once again in the postseason. Many fans would point to Mike Piazza's success as the reason why the Mets made the World Series that year, but Alfonzo's significant contributions were just as critical.
In 2001, Alfonzo failed to duplicate his 1999 and 2000 success. His average fell to just .243, and he only had 17 home runs and 49 RBI. He missed almost a month with a lower back strain.
Alfonzo shifted back to third base in 2002 to accommodate the disappointing arrival of Gold Glove second baseman Roberto Alomar. In what turned out to be his final Mets season, Alfonzo raised his average to .308, but his run production did not improve as he finished with 16 home runs and 56 RBI.
After the 2002 season, Alfonzo signed with the Giants in 2003. He played there from 2003-2005 before moving onto the Angels in 2006. After getting released in May of that year, Alfonzo caught on with the Blue Jays but got released again after just 12 games. In the end, Alfonzo was back in the Mets' minor league system on their Triple-A team trying to get back to the majors.
Since 2007, Alfonzo has bounced around and spent time with the Long Island Ducks, Yomiuri Giants and Newark Bears.
Ever since Alfonzo's departure after the 2002 season, the Mets have struggled to find a durable long-term second baseman, which shows even more how significant Alfonzo was to the Mets during his time in New York.
Shortstop: Jose Reyes
At shortstop, the clear-cut winner is Jose Reyes, who has become arguably the best shortstop in Mets history.
Reyes was originally signed by the Mets in 1999 and made his MLB debut in June of 2003. The original plan was to have Rey Sanchez, who replaced Rey Ordonez after 2002, be the Mets' shortstop that year and let Reyes develop a little more in the minors. However, Sanchez was a bust and Reyes was brought up just in time.
Reyes went 2-4 in his first MLB game and hit a grand slam for his first career home run. Unfortunately, after just 69 games, Reyes' season was cut short due to an ankle sprain. He batted .307 for the year with five home runs and 32 RBI. He also added 13 stolen bases.
In 2004, Reyes was unwisely moved to second base in order to accommodate the arrival of Kaz Matsui. This was not a fun season for Reyes, who looked awkward at second base and missed most of the season with hamstring and fibula injuries. He only appeared in 53 games that year and batted .255 with two home runs, 14 RBI and 19 stolen bases.
In 2005, Reyes was moved back to shortstop, while Matsui, who struggled in 2004, was shifted to second base. During his first full season, Reyes had a breakout year. He batted .273 with seven home runs, 58 RBI, 24 doubles, 13 triples and 60 stolen bases. The triples and stolen bases he had both led the league.
He did not show a lot of patience at the plate as he only drew 27 walks in a Mets record 733 plate appearances. In fact, Reyes appeared in all but one game that year.
Reyes had his best overall season to date in 2006. He batted .300 with a career-high 19 home runs and 81 RBI out of the leadoff spot. He also added 122 runs scored, 194 hits, 30 doubles, 17 triples, 64 stolen bases and a .354 OBP. He once again led the league in triples and stolen bases. Reyes won his only Silver Slugger award and made his first All-Star team but missed the game due to an injury. He even had a three-home run game that year, and is the most recent Met to do so.
Reyes had another solid season in 2007. His average, home runs and RBI slipped to .280, 12 and 57, respectively. But he also had 119 runs scored, 191 hits, 36 doubles, 12 triples and a career-high 78 stolen bases, which again led the league and became a new Mets record. He made his second All-Star team that year as well. Unfortunately, Reyes struggled mightily in September and was widely criticized during the Mets' infamous collapse that year.
In 2008, Reyes had yet another great season. He batted .297 with 16 home runs, 68 RBI, 113 runs scored, a career and league-high 204 hits, a career-high 37 doubles and 19 triples and 56 stolen bases. His triples total also led the league. That year Reyes broke Mookie Wilson's career triples and stolen bases records, which he still holds today.
With the Mets moving to Citi Field in 2009, Reyes' expectations were even higher. However, 2009 was a year to forget for Reyes. In early May, he was placed on the disabled list with a calf injury. He was expected to return after a few weeks, but re-injured himself while rehabbing. He, along with a good number of other Mets, missed the rest of the season. He finished the year with a .279 average, two home runs, 15 RBI and 11 stolen bases in 36 games.
More recently, Reyes showed glimpses of his past in 2010 and had a career season in 2011. He is now a free agent and it's likely that he won't be re-signing with the Mets.
Third Base: David Wright
Alongside Reyes on this team is his longtime teammate, David Wright.
Wright is the current face of the franchise and a five-tool player that may one day become the best Mets position player.
A highly-touted prospect, Wright got called up to the Mets in July of 2004 and hit 14 home runs in just 263 at-bats. He also had a .293 average and 40 RBI. That season, Mets fans realized that their third baseman of the future was here.
In 2005, Wright batted .306 with 176 hits, 42 doubles, 27 home runs, 102 RBI, 17 stolen bases, a .388 OBP and a .523 slugging percentage.
He followed up in 2006 with a .311 average, 181 hits, 40 doubles, 26 home runs, 116 RBI, 20 stolen bases, a .381 OBP and a .531 slugging percentage. He made his first of five consecutive All-Star appearances that year but struggled in the second half of that season.
Wright did not elevate himself as one of baseball's best players until 2007, when he set a career high by hitting .325 to go along with 113 runs scored, 196 hits, 42 doubles, 30 home runs, 107 RBI, 34 stolen bases, a remarkable career-high .416 OBP and a career-high .546 slugging percentage. He became only the third Met to have 30 home runs and 30 steals in a season (Howard Johnson and Darryl Strawberry were the others). He also won the first of two straight Silver Slugger and Gold Glove Awards that year.
In 2008, Wright hit .302 and set career highs with 33 home runs and 124 RBI, which tied the Mets' RBI record set by Mike Piazza in 1999. He also had 115 runs scored, 189 hits, 42 doubles, 15 stolen bases, a .390 OBP and a .534 slugging percentage.
Although 2009 was a disappointing season for Wright (10 home runs, 72 RBI), he still hit .307 to make it five straight seasons of hitting above .300. He also had 39 doubles, 27 stolen bases and a .390 OBP. However, his slugging percentage fell almost 100 points to just .447.
Wright got his hitting back together in 2010 but battled injuries and missed two months of the 2011 season. Going into 2012, Wright still remains the face of the Mets and will be expected to have a career season in the coming season.
Left Field: Cliff Floyd
One of the Mets' better outfielders in the 2000s, Cliff Floyd would have fully lived up to his expectations had injuries not limited his time as much as they did. Despite the injuries, Floyd put up some good numbers for the Mets from 2003 to 2006.
After signing a four-year deal to become the Mets' new left fielder prior to the 2003 season, Floyd batted .290 for the year with 18 home runs, 68 RBI, a .376 OBP and a .518 slugging percentage before an Achilles injury forced him to miss a month late in the season.
In 2004, Floyd missed the first month of the season with a quadriceps injury but batted .260 with 18 home runs and 63 RBI after he returned to the lineup.
Floyd finally put everything together in a healthy 2005 season. While Carlos Beltran and his new contract got the most attention of any Mets player that year, Floyd actually had one of the best offensive seasons for the team. He batted .273, led the team with 34 home runs and was second in RBI with 98.
In 2006, while the Mets ran away with the NL East title and made a deep postseason run, Floyd was once again hampered by injuries. He missed a month with Achilles tendinitis and was limited to just 12 at-bats in the postseason, including just three in the NLCS. He finished the regular season with a .244 average, 11 home runs and 44 RBI.
Floyd signed with the Cubs in 2007, which ended his time as a Met. Despite all the injuries, he was still one of the more productive Mets outfielders in the 2000s.
Center Field: Carlos Beltran
Although he had his ups and downs and recently just got traded away, Carlos Beltran is arguably the greatest center fielder the Mets have ever had.
Beltran originally came up with the Royals in 1998, and he was there until he got traded to the Astros midway through the 2004 season. He then had one of the best postseasons in MLB history. As a result, the Mets signed him to a seven-year, $119 million contract, which became the largest in team history at the time.
Beltran's 2005 season was rather disappointing. Despite making the All-Star team, Beltran batted .266 with just 16 home runs and 78 RBI. The Mets were expecting a lot more out of him than just those numbers. To add insult to injury, Beltran endured a scary head-on collision with Mike Cameron in San Diego.
Beltran made up for his 2005 struggles in 2006 by having one of the best single seasons in team history. He hit a respectable .275 with 41 homers, which tied Todd Hundley's team record set in 1996, 116 RBI, 38 doubles and a .982 OPS.
He won his first of three consecutive Gold Gloves, made another All-Star team and made one spectacular catch after another during that stretch. Beltran also proved to be clutch by hitting a few walk-off home runs. However, many people will remember Beltran freezing at an Adam Wainwright curveball, which ended the Mets' season that year in the NLCS.
Beltran proved his 2006 season was not a fluke in 2007. That year, he batted .276 with 33 home runs and 112 RBI. He also had a .353 OBP and a .525 slugging percentage. He made his fourth consecutive trip to the All-Star Game, won his second Silver Slugger award and won his second Gold Glove award that year.
In 2008, Beltran had another strong season. He raised his average to .284 and finished with 27 home runs and 112 RBI. He also had 116 runs scored, 40 doubles and a .376 OBP. He won his third consecutive Gold Glove Award as well.
Beltran also notably hit the last Mets home run in Shea Stadium history during the season's final game. Unfortunately, the Mets would lose that game and miss the postseason for the second consecutive season.
With the Mets moving into Citi Field, Beltran was expected to hit even better than he did in 2007 and 2008. He gave the fans what they were looking for and had a great first half to his 2009 season. He was batting .325 with 10 home runs, 48 RBI and a .415 OBP at just 81 games played before a painful knee injury ended his season.
Ironically, this injury trend became very familiar for almost all of the team's star players that year. He made his fourth All-Star team as a Met but did not play due to the injury.
Beltran returned from this injury halfway through the 2010 season and had a decent season before showing glimpses of his old self in 2011. However, he got traded to the Giants at the 2011 trade deadline, which effectively ended his time with the Mets.
Right Field: Mike Cameron
Mike Cameron's stay with the Mets was very brief, but he definitely made the most of his time in New York.
Cameron signed a three-year contract prior to the 2004 season to become the Mets' new center fielder. With Mike Piazza having a down year and the rest of the Mets' offense struggling for the most part, Cameron became one of the Mets' few offensive bright spots.
Despite batting just .231 for the year, he led the team with 30 home runs and 76 RBI. Not surprisingly, Cameron also led all Mets batters with 143 strikeouts, which he has always been known for. Nonetheless, the fact that Cameron was the Mets' best hitter in 2004 should not go unnoticed.
In 2005, the Mets signed outfielder Carlos Beltran to a seven-year contract. As a result, Cameron was moved to right field. Although his average went up to .273 that year, his production decreased significantly as he finished with just 12 home runs and 39 RBI.
He missed the first month of the season with a wrist injury but suffered a much scarier injury in August when he and Beltran had a head-on collision in a game at San Diego. After suffering a concussion, plus fractures in his nose and both cheekbones, Cameron was forced to miss the rest of the season to recover.
Due to the collision that Cameron and Beltran had, it was clear to the Mets that they could not be in the same outfield together. As a result, Cameron got traded to the Padres after the 2005 season for short-lived Met Xavier Nady.
Filling the shoes of someone like Mike Piazza would not have been an easy task for anyone, but Paul LoDuca certainly did his part for the Mets in 2006.
He led the Mets with a .318 average, but his contributions were also bigger than his five home runs and 49 RBI may suggest. LoDuca failed to repeat his 2006 numbers. His home runs and RBI improved to nine and 54, respectively, but his average dropped to .272 and his on-base percentage slipped 44 points down to .311. He also spent a few weeks on the disabled list in August with a strained hamstring.
Jose Valentin did not even spend two full seasons with the Mets, but he was nonetheless a huge surprise for the team in 2006. In the 2005-2006 offseason, Valentin was signed by the Mets. His goal was to try to make the major league club as a utility player. However, due to the continued struggles of starting second baseman Kaz Matsui, the Mets ended up trading Matsui and gave Valentin the starting job at second base.
That year, Valentin ended up having an excellent comeback season and one of the best in his career. He batted .271 with 18 home runs and 62 RBI in a surprising role. All the offensive attention for the Mets in 2006 was focused on David Wright, Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado, but Valentin was another reliable contributor towards the Mets' playoff run that year. He also hit two home runs in the division-clinching game that year against the Marlins.
Due to his resurgence in 2006, the Mets signed Valentin to a one-year contract for 2007 with an option for 2008. However, 2007 would not be the same for Valentin. He missed a little more than a month while being on the disabled list with a partial tear of the ACL ligament in his knee. Valentin played decently when he came back, but with a .241 average, three home runs and 18 RBI, it was clear that an upgrade was necessary at second base. Then, on July 20, Valentin fouled a ball off his tibia, which ended his season.
In 2008, Valentin re-signed with the Mets on a minor league deal. In June of that year, he told the Mets' Triple A team, the New Orleans Zephyrs, that his season was over due to the wear and tear of his body. He then signed another minor league deal with the Mets in 2009 but was released after not making the team out of spring training.
One of the more significant signings the Mets made prior to the 2000 season was they signed Todd Zeile to be their new first baseman in the wake of John Olerud leaving the team in favor of the Mariners.
Zeile was not as good of a player or as much of a fan favorite as Olerud, but in 2000, he certainly held his own. His contributions that year were overshadowed by those of Mike Piazza, Edgardo Alfonzo and Robin Ventura, but Zeile still put together a solid season. He batted .268 and finished with 22 home runs and 79 RBI as a solid six hitter. He also had a respectable .356 OBP that year.
After struggling in the division series, Zeile hit well in the NLCS against his former Cardinals. He batted .368 in 19 at-bats and drove in eight runs during the series. In the 2000 World Series, Zeile was part of an unfortunate moment for the Mets in Game 1. With Timo Perez on first, Zeile hit a fly ball that Perez thought was a home run. As a result, Perez jogged slowly, but the ball bounced off the fence and Perez ended up being thrown out at home plate in what may have been a turning point in the series. The Mets ended up losing that game and eventually the series.
With the 2000 season behind, Zeile was once again counted on to be a productive hitter in 2001. However, the results this time were not as good. His average was very similar at .266, but his production fell to just 10 home runs and 62 RBI. That year, Zeile started to get booed more and it was clear that GM Steve Phillips was bound to make some personnel changes after the Mets failed to make the 2001 postseason. In the following January, Zeile got traded to the Rockies.
Zeile had planned on retiring after 2004 beforehand, and he ended up spending his last professional season with the Mets in a second stint. During his victory lap 2004 season, Zeile mostly filled in occasionally at both first and third base. He batted just .233 for the year and finished with nine home runs and 35 RBI.
On September 18, manager Art Howe let Zeile start at catcher, which was the first time Zeile had played the position in 14 years, which is currently the third-longest streak in baseball history. He also got one more start behind the plate in the final game of the season. In his final at-bat as a major league player, Zeile hit a three-run home run off Claudio Vargas and caught a pop-up during his final play.
As one of the best defensive outfielders in Mets history, Endy Chavez had to be a member of this team.
Signed by the Mets in 2006, Chavez batted .306 with four home runs and 42 RBI that year, but he made a huge name for himself during the 2006 NLCS against the Cardinals when he robbed Scott Rolen of a home run in Game 7. He then doubled off Jim Edmonds from first base. However, the Mets ended up losing that game and their chance to go to the World Series that year.
Despite missing two months of the season with an injury in 2007, Chavez had another good season by batting .287 with one home run and 17 RBI. He then batted .267 with one home run and 12 RBI in 2008 before getting traded to the Mariners in the deal in which the Mets acquired reliever J.J. Putz.
Chavez was not the best hitter the Mets had, but every fan who followed the team in 2006 will always remember the spectacular catch he made that year in Game 7 of the NLCS.
One Met that made the most of his short stay with the team at the turn of the century was Benny Agbayani.
Agbayani, a Hawaii native, first came up in 1998 and batted just .133 in 15 at-bats. Once he got called up again in 1999, Agbayani got off to an amazing start by hitting 11 home runs by the All-Star break, which is the second best for a Mets rookie behind Ron Swoboda's 15 home runs in 1965. He finished the season with a .286 average, 14 home runs and 42 RBI in 276 at-bats. He batted .300 in the 1999 NLDS but just .143 in the 1999 NLCS.
In 2000, Agbayani finally got an everyday job as the Mets' left fielder once the veteran Rickey Henderson got released. He batted .289 that year with 15 home runs, 60 RBI and a .391 OBP. He started off the season once again with a bang when he hit a grand slam in the second game of the season.
In Game 3 of the 2000 NLDS, Agbayani hit the biggest homer of his career when he blasted a walk-off home run in the 13th inning off Aaron Fultz of the Giants. He then went on to bat .353 in the NLCS and .278 in the World Series.
After a decent 2001 season in which he batted .277 with six home runs and 27 RBI, Agbayani got traded the following offseason, along with Todd Zeile, to the Rockies. He spent some time with the Rockies and the Red Sox before playing in Japan for six years. He made an appearance at Citi Field in 2010 as part of the 2000 Mets' 10th anniversary celebration.
Arguably the Mets' ace for the first half of the decade, Al Leiter was one of the Mets' best left-handed pitchers ever. After having two solid seasons with the Mets in 1998 and 1999, Leiter had a much better season in 2000, making his second All-Star team and his first as a Met. He went 16-8, with a 3.20 ERA as he and Mike Hampton teamed up to lead the Mets to the World Series. He pitched well in Game 1 and Game 5 of the Fall Classic, but the Mets lost both games and eventually the series, 4-1.
The Mets' offense did not give Leiter as much support in 2001 as he finished 11-11 despite a 3.31 ERA. Similarly, in 2002, Leiter finished 13-13 with a 3.48 ERA. However, in that year, Leiter became the first pitcher in baseball history to defeat all 30 current MLB teams.
Leiter had a bounce-back year in 2003, going 15-9 with an ERA just under 4.00. However, despite his strong season the Mets played poorly and lost 95 games. His last season with the Mets was in 2004, and he was 10-8 that year with a 3.21 ERA on another underachieving team.
After 2004, Leiter's option was declined and he spent 2005 with the Marlins and Yankees before retiring after the 2006 World Baseball Classic.
Although he spent just one year with the Mets in 2000, Mike Hampton's contributions that year were critical for the Mets as they made their most recent trip to the World Series.
That year, Hampton had a very solid season with the Mets. He went 15-10 with a 3.14 ERA. In over 217 innings pitched, Hampton had 151 strikeouts and, along with Al Leiter, the lefty tandem led the Mets to the 2000 World Series. Hampton was even more clutch during the postseason.
After losing in the division series, Hampton went 2-0 and did not give up a run in the NLCS. He also pitched a complete-game shutout in the deciding Game 5 of the series. In Game 2 of the World Series, Hampton pitched well, but got out-pitched by Roger Clemens. The Mets' offense made a late comeback but fell short by one run as the Yankees ultimately won the World Series.
One former Cy Young winner the Mets are fortunate to have is Johan Santana, who despite currently being injured, is still the team's ace.
Santana got traded to the Mets in the 2007-2008 offseason in a blockbuster deal. The Mets sent Carlos Gomez, Phil Humber, Deolis Guerra and Kevin Mulvey to complete the trade. Then, the Mets signed Santana to a six-year $137.5 million contract.
In 2008, Santana pitched decently during the first half of the season but pitched even better during the second half. He finished with a 16-7 record, a 2.53 ERA and 206 strikeouts in 234.1 innings pitched. He capped his great season with a complete-game three-hit shutout on only three days' rest against the Marlins in the second-to-last game of the season.
It was then revealed that Santana had a torn meniscus in his knee, which he had surgery on after the season. Santana finished third in the 2008 NL Cy Young voting behind Brandon Webb and the winner Tim Lincecum.
In 2009, Santana got off to a great start, but suffered a tough loss in his second start of the year. It was his first loss since late June of 2008. Santana made his first NL All-Star team that year and finished 13-9 with a 3.13 ERA before missing the rest of the season in late August due to bone chips being found in his elbow.
Santana battled some injuries in 2010, but had a decent season nonetheless before missing the entire 2011 season due to more injuries.
Yet another former Cy Young winner the Mets were thankful to have was Pedro Martinez.
After winning his first and only World Series with the Red Sox in 2004, Martinez signed a four-year $53 million contract to become the Mets' new ace. His signing turned out to be pivotal, as it helped the Mets land Carlos Beltran as well during the same offseason.
In 2005, Martinez went 15-8 with a 2.82 ERA. He made his first All-Star team as a Met that year, and seventh overall. He also had 208 strikeouts and led the league with a 0.95 WHIP.
Martinez had another promising start in 2006, but in May, during a game in Florida, Martinez was told by an umpire to change his undershirt. While heading into the clubhouse to do so, Martinez slipped and hurt his hip, although this injury did not really affect him significantly until later. Martinez had started the year with a 5-1 record but only went 4-7 during the last four months of the season.
He also missed a month due to that same hip injury, as well as another two months later in the season due to a calf injury, which sidelined him throughout the postseason. Martinez finished the 2006 season with a 9-8 record and a 4.48 ERA.
At the end of the 2006 season, it was also discovered that Martinez had a torn rotator cuff. As a result, he was forced to miss the vast majority of the 2007 season. While rehabbing, Martinez considered retirement if the rehabbing did not go thoroughly well. However, he returned to the mound in early September of 2007 and went 3-1 in five starts with a 2.57 ERA only to see his Mets team ultimately collapse and narrowly miss the postseason in heartbreaking fashion.
When the Mets traded for Johan Santana before the 2008 season, the Mets were projected to be one of the best teams in the National League with Santana and Martinez leading the rotation. However, 2008 was a year to forget for Martinez. He got injured just four innings into his first start of the season and missed the next two months with a strained left hamstring.
When he returned, his fastball lost velocity and Martinez simply wasn't the same pitcher as before. He ended up suffering his first losing record ever at 5-6, and he finished with a career-worst 5.61 ERA.
After the 2008 season, Martinez remained un-signed through most of 2009. However, the Phillies of all teams decided to sign Pedro to a one-year $1 million contract in July.
One of the most underrated pitchers for the Mets in the 2000s decade was Steve Trachsel. Despite his very slow delivery, Trachsel was one of the better pitchers the Mets had during this time and his accomplishments should get more recognition.
After spending 2000 split between the Devil Rays and the Blue Jays, Trachsel signed with the Mets prior to the 2001 season. Unfortunately for him, he got off to such a bad start that year and got sent to the minor leagues. Once he returned to the Mets, he pitched a lot better and finished the year with an 11-13 record and a 4.46 ERA.
In 2002, Trachsel went 11-11 and lowered his ERA to 3.37. In 2003, Trachsel was one of the very few bright spots on a very underachieving Mets team. He went 16-10 that year with a 3.78 ERA. He also won his 100th career game that year. In both of these seasons, Trachsel surpassed 200 innings pitched.
Trachsel followed up his two solid seasons with a 12-13 record and a 4.00 ERA in 2004. However, he ended up having a herniated disk in his back late in the season. This injury would end up costing the vast majority of his 2005 season as well. He made it back at the very end of 2005 for six starts and went 1-4 with a 4.14 ERA.
As the Mets improved as a team in 2006, so did Trachsel. He went 15-8 that year with a 4.97 ERA. He also was the winning pitcher in the NL East-clinching game.
In the 2006 postseason, he started Game 3 of the NLDS but did not have good command and was removed midway through the game. His only other postseason start was in Game 3 of the NLCS. In that game, Trachsel gave up five runs in the first inning and was removed after getting hit by a ground ball. It was the last inning Trachsel ever threw as a Met.
With the Mets looking to improve their pitching through their minor league system, they did not re-sign Trachsel. As a result, Trachsel signed with the Orioles for 2007.
Right-Handed Reliever: Armando Benitez
After becoming the full-time closer in 1999, Armando Benitez had another great season in 2000 by going 4-4 with a 2.61 ERA and a then-Mets record 41 saves. In the NLDS that year, he gave up a game-tying home run to J.T. Snow in Game 2, but he then pitched well during the NLCS and did not give up an earned run in that series. In the World Series, Benitez failed to pick up the save in his first opportunity but got a save in the only game the Mets won.
In 2001, Benitez kept improving overall but started to hear some boos late in the season after giving up a few too many big home runs. Nonetheless, he went 6-4 with a 3.77 ERA and a new Mets record 43 saves, which still stands today.
In 2002, Benitez went 1-0, lowered his ERA to 2.27 and racked up 33 saves. However, by 2003, fans got more fed up with the late-inning meltdowns, and Benitez got traded right after the All-Star break to the Yankees. Ironically, he was the only Met that year to make the All-Star team. He was 3-3 with a 3.10 ERA and 21 saves before the trade.
Left-Handed Reliever: Billy Wagner
One of the many left-handed closers once employed by the Mets was the fire-balling Billy Wagner.
Wagner signed a four-year contract with the Mets prior to the 2006 season. In his first year as a Met in 2006, Wagner went 3-2 with a 2.24 ERA and racked up 40 saves. He also struck out 94 batters in just 72.1 innings pitched. On July 3, Wagner picked up his 300th career save. Wagner pitched well in the NLDS that year by giving up just one run and collecting two saves in three appearances. However, Wagner did not pitch as well in the NLCS, and his ERA in that series was 16.88.
In 2007, Wagner had another great season by going 2-2 with a 2.63 ERA and 34 saves. He struck out 80 batters in 68.1 innings pitched. He had a great first half, which helped him make the All-Star team, but fell apart near the end of the season as the Mets suffered the worst regular season collapse in baseball history.
In 2008, Wagner went 0-1 with a 2.30 ERA and 27 saves. He went on a profanity-laced tirade towards his teammates following a 1-0 loss in May, which did not help the team's clubhouse chemistry at all. Nonetheless, he pitched well in the first half of the season and made another trip to the All-Star game.
Wagner did not struggle down the stretch this time, compared to 2007, but this was because he ended up tearing a ligament in his elbow that would require major surgery. As a result, Wagner was forced to miss the rest of the 2008 season, plus most of the 2009 season as well. In his absence, the Mets were simply unable to find someone else to successfully close games, and it was one of the biggest reasons as to why they missed the postseason for the second consecutive year.
While Wagner recovered from elbow surgery in 2009, the Mets went out and signed Francisco Rodriguez to become the new closer and also traded for J.J. Putz to be the setup man. Those moves effectively ended Wagner's time with the Mets.
Wagner ended up making two appearances for the Mets in August 2009 before getting traded to the Red Sox for Chris Carter and Eddie Lora. He pitched a scoreless inning in each appearance and did not give up a single hit.
Manager: Bobby Valentine
After bringing the Mets back into relevancy in 1997, coming within a game of making the postseason in 1998 and falling short in the 1999 NLCS, Bobby Valentine led the Mets back to the World Series in 2000 for the first time since 1986.
The Mets won 94 games that year and made the Wild Card for the second straight season. They defeated the Giants in four games in the NLDS before getting past the Cardinals in five games during the NLCS. However, the Mets fell short in the 2000 World Series to the Yankees.
By 2001, Valentine's longtime feud with GM Steve Phillips became to known to all and it only got worse. 2001 showed Bobby V leading the Mets past the events of 9/11 and he was right in the middle of it all with his many efforts to help victims. The Mets finished just 82-80 for the year.
Bobby V's last year as a Met was in 2002 when the Mets stumbled and finished in last place at 75-86. More controversy ensued as several Mets were found to be smoking marijuana during the season and the feuding with Phillips got to a climax and in the end, Bobby V was fired and replaced by Art Howe, who only made the Mets worse during his two-year stint.
Bobby Valentine is second amongst managers in team history in games managed, second in wins, the leader in losses and third in winning percentage. He is also tied with Davey Johnson for being the longest tenured manager (seven seasons).
General Manager: Omar Minaya
Omar Minaya's tenure is all too familiar with fans right now. He got the Mets back into relevance when he was first hired, but at the end, some of his decisions were simply awful. Despite some of the moves that still haunt the Mets today, the Minaya era still had plenty of good moments.
Minaya was hired immediately after the 2004 season to replace Jim Duquette, who simply did not know what he was doing. Minaya had been Steve Phillips' long-time top assistant but became the Expos' new GM in the beginning of 2002. He became the first hispanic General Manager while doing so. His brief Expos tenure was highlighted by a terrible trade that sent then-minor leaguers Cliff Lee, Grady Sizemore and Brandon Phillips, along with veteran Lee Stevens, to the Indians for Bartolo Colon, who pitched well that year, but this was clearly a loss for the Expos.
After the Mets' disappointing and very chaotic 2004 season, owner Fred Wilpon personally asked Minaya to become the Mets' new GM following the season. Minaya accepted the job and rebuilt the Mets right away.
The first thing MInaya did was hire Willie Randolph to replace Art "The Lame Duck" Howe as the new manager. Randolph had never managed before, but Minaya had confidence in him from the beginning.
Minaya's next major move was the signing of the three-time Cy Young winner Pedro Martinez. Martinez brought credibility to the Mets' rotation instantly and won 15 games to the lead Mets in 2005 before injuries limited his production in the subsequent years.
After sigining Martinez, Minaya turned to the offense and signed the best offensive free agent that year, Carlos Beltran, to a seven-year deal. Beltran struggled in 2005, but was a significant part of the Mets' offense from 2006 to 2008 before knee injuries caught up with him.
That offseason, Minaya also made a bunch of minor moves, signing Marlon Anderson, Doug Mientkiewicz, Miguel Cairo, Ramon Castro and Roberto Hernandez. He traded Jason Phillips for Kaz Ishii, both of whom did not play as well after the trade compared to before.
During the 2005 season, Minaya made more moves, signing veterans Jose Offerman and Danny Graves, as well as a very young Fernando Martinez.
Minaya was even busier in the 2005-2006 offseason. He first traded away a disgruntled Mike Cameron to the Padres for Xavier Nady, who was a fine hitter in 2006 before getting traded again to the Pirates. Minaya then made a significant trade by sending Mike Jacobs, among others, to the Marlins for the slugging first baseman Carlos Delgado. Mientkiewicz struggled throughout 2005, so Delgado replaced him and gave the Mets a solid cleanup hitter.
Five days later, Minaya signed fireballing closer Billy Wagner to a three-year deal. Wagner was an instant upgrade from Braden Looper and was clutch in the 2006 playoff run.
Soon after, Minaya made another significant trade that brought catcher Paul Lo Duca to the Mets. Lo Duca did a very good job in replacing future Hall of Famer Mike Piazza behind the plate in 2006 but did not play as well in 2007.
Minaya again made many small moves that turned out to be very good for the Mets. Jose Valentin, Julio Franco, Endy Chavez, Chad Bradford, Pedro Feliciano and Darren Oliver all played key roles in the 2006 success.
Minaya also made two small but significant trades that offseason. The first sent Jae Seo and Tim Hamulack to the Dodgers for setup man Duaner Sanchez. Sanchez pitched brilliantly in 2006 before his famous taxi accident that ended his season; he never found much success as a Met after that. The other trade sent Kris Benson to the Orioles for reliever Jorge Julio and a young John Maine. While Julio got traded a few months later for Orlando Hernandez, Maine went on to pitch well in the 2006 postseason and won 15 games in 2007.
Midway through the 2006 season, Minaya sent underachieving second baseman Kaz Matsui to the Rockies for Eli Marrero. Marrero only lasted two months with the Mets, but fans were glad to get rid of Matsui, who was one of the biggest busts of the decade. Minaya also traded Jeff Keppinger to the Royals for Ruben Gotay, who hit well in 2007.
After Sanchez's taxi accident, Minaya made his first bad trade with the Mets by bringing back Roberto Hernandez, along with the infamous Oliver Perez, in exchange for Nady. Hernandez did not pitch as well this time around, while Perez pitched well in the 2006 postseason and won 15 games in 2007.
After a decent 2008, Perez has since become the most worthless player in baseball.
As the team was getting close to winning the division, Minaya got outfielder and former Yankee Ricky Ledee off waivers and traded for Shawn Green to be the new right fielder. Green did well that year, but struggled throughout 2007.
Another interesting trade Minaya made was to get reliever Guillermo Mota from the Indians. Mota was a revelation at the end of 2006 and had a 1.00 ERA in 18 innings. However, he was suspended for the first 50 games of 2007 as a result of performance-enhancing drugs. After he returned, he struggled badly and fans booed him mercilessly.
After the 2006 season, Minaya made a terrible trade by sending relievers Heath Bell and Royce Ring to the Padres for Ben Johnson and Jon Adkins. Johnson and Adkins did virtually nothing with the Mets, while Bell thrived and became one of the National League's best closers.
Minaya also traded away one-time closer Matt Lindstrom to the Marlins for Jason Vargas and sent Brian Bannister for Ambiorix Burgos, who made more off-field headlines than on-field. He let Bradford and Oliver sign with other teams, while bringing in veterans Damion Easley and Moises Alou. Aside from his Mets record 30-game hitting streak at the end of 2007, Alou was basically injured throughout his two Mets years.
Minaya's next four signings were all highly unsuccessful. David Newhan basically took up a roster spot in 2007, while Jorge Sosa and Scott Schoeneweis were both disastrous for the Mets' bullpen. The veteran Aaron Sele did not do much better. Minaya, though, did make two good moves in the 2007 season by signing Fernando Tatis, who would play a big role in 2008, as well as bringing back Marlon Anderson.
However, after Jose Valentin got hurt in 2007, Minaya made by far one of his worst trades by not only acquiring an aging Luis Castillo, but then signing him to an absurd four-year deal after the season. Minaya also acquired Jeff Conine to help the Mets with their ultimately failed playoff push that year.
In the 2007-2008 offseason, Minaya traded Mota to the Brewers for Johnny Estrada, who was soon traded again. He also traded one-time top prospect Lastings Milledge to the Nationals for Ryan Church and Brian Schneider. This trade ultimately worked for both sides, as all three players have struggled ever since. Church could have been a good hitter, but after a concussion midway through 2008, his hitting declined.
Minaya's decision to sign Matt Wise prior to the 2008 season was one of his worst. Wise appeared in just eight games for the Mets due to lingering arm injuries and has not pitched in the major leagues since.
However, Minaya made his best move since the Martinez and Beltran signings by acquiring Johan Santana from the Twins in a blockbuster trade. The talent the Mets gave up included Carlos Gomez and Phil Humber, but the Mets clearly won this deal, as Santana won 16 games in 2008 and pitched well in 2009 and 2010 despite a few injuries and a never-ending lack of run support.
The Mets were widely expected to win the division as a result of this trade.
In June of 2008, Minaya decided to fire Willie Randolph during the Mets' road trip in Anaheim. However, the way he handled it was poor. He let Randolph manage the first game of the series, and then decided to send him home at 3:00 AM eastern time. Pitching coach Rick Peterson and first base Tom Nieto were also fired. Although everyone wanted Randolph fired at the time, Minaya was heavily criticized for how it occurred. Minaya promoted bench coach Jerry Manuel to be the new manager.
Minaya did not do much with player moves during the 2008 season, except for acquiring Luis Ayala to be the new closer after Wagner was shut down for the rest of the season. Ayala failed miserably in this new role, as the Mets suffered their second straight collapse and missed the playoffs again.
After 2008, Minaya set his sights on improving the bullpen once and for all. And the moves he made certainly made him look very good. He signed top closer Francisco Rodriguez to a three-year deal, which outside of Rodriguez's infamous family brawl, has been pretty good. Minaya then traded for another closer in J.J. Putz to become the setup man. Putz, however, pitched poorly in June before missing the rest of the season due to injuries.
In that deal, the Mets also got Jeremy Reed and Sean Green, both of whom did not contribute much in their brief tenures.
However, in that same offseason, Minaya also made his worst decision as GM to sign Oliver Perez to a new three-year contract worth $36 million. This money has basically become dead weight as Perez's contributions the past two years have simply been meaningless.
As usual, Minaya made a bunch of small moves, leading to Tim Redding, Alex Cora, Livan Hernandez, Cory Sullivan and Elmer Dessens all becoming Mets. Right before the season started, Minaya was able to lure the veteran Gary Sheffield to the Mets in what would be his final season.
The 2009 team was an injury-plagued disaster, but because of the injuries, it's hard to pin Minaya as the only person to be blamed. He made a good trade in July by sending Church to the Braves for Jeff Francoeur, who hit well for the rest of the season and played decently in 2010 before being traded again to the Rangers.
By the end of 2009, Minaya knew his job and manager Jerry Manuel's were both on the line. He made brilliant under-the-radar move by signing R.A. Dickey to a minor-league deal. Dickey ended up getting promoted to the Mets in May 2010 and became one of their top starters by winning 11 games.
He then signed Jason Bay to a lucrative four-year deal. However, Bay struggled throughout 2010 with just six home runs before sustaining a collision that ended his season. Despite making more good pickups with Rod Barajas and Hisanori Takahashi, Minaya's signing of Ryota Igarashi backfired as Igarashi struggled with his control for most of the season. But this was not as bad as his trade to acquire Gary Matthews Jr. from the Angels for Brian Stokes. Matthews did literally nothing before finally getting released just two months into the season.
After the 2010 team finished four games under .500, Minaya and Manuel were both fired immediately after the season. Sandy Alderson is now the new general manager.