New York Mets: The Team's 10 Best Trades Ever

Jocelyn TaubCorrespondent IDecember 20, 2011

New York Mets: The Team's 10 Best Trades Ever

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    It's obviously too early to tell if the Mets' most recent trade of Angel Pagan to the Giants for outfielder Andres Torres and reliever Ramon Ramirez was a good one. We will find out over time.

    In my last article I listed what I saw as the Mets' ten worst trades ever. To be fair I feel it is only right to also look at the positive moves the team has made over the past 50 years.

    As far as free-agents go the Mets have made some decent signings in recent years including R.A. Dickey, Carlos Beltran, Cliff Floyd and Todd Zeile. 

    For an organization that has put its fans through too many seasons of futility, the best trades the franchise has made over the years greatly impacted their most successful seasons including 1973, 1986, 1998-2000 and 2006. Here in chronological order are the Mets' ten best trades of all time:

Tim Foli, Ken Singleton & Mike Jorgensen for Rusty Staub

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    On April 6, 1972 the Mets sent Tim Foli, Ken Singleton and Mike Jorgenson to the Montreal Expos in return for rightfielder Rusty Staub. 

    Staub was already an established Major League power hitter when he joined the the Mets. He will always be remembered for his outstanding play during the the 1973 NLCS versus the Cincinnati Reds. Staub hit three homers, drove in five runs, and also made a game saving catch in the 11th inning of game 4. Despite an injured shoulder, Staub hit .423 in the World Series, which the Mets lost in seven games to the Oakland A's.

    In typical Mets fashion Staub went on to be part of one of the Mets' worst trades when they sent him to Detroit in 1975 for pitcher Mickey Lolich. He eventually returned to the Mets for the last five years of his career. In 23 seasons Staub registered 2716 hits, 292 homers and a .282 lifetime batting average.

    Tim Foli was a light hitting shortstop and utility player who retired with a career average of .251.

    Jorgenson was a young outfielder with some pop, but he never hit higher than .238 in parts of three years in Flushing. He played 17 seasons in the majors and finished with a career average of .243.

    Singleton, currently a part of the YES broadcast team, was the key piece for Montreal in the trade. He went on to have an impressive career being named an All-Star three times and totaled 2029 career hits.

Charlie Williams for Willie Mays

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    This one is a no-brainer. On May 11, 1972 the Mets sent pitcher Charlie Williams to the San Francisco Giants for 41 year-old future Hall-of-Famer Willie Mays.

    Mets owner Joan Payson had been a shareholder when the Giants were still in New York and played a significant role in bringing Mays back to the city where his career had begun. 

    Williams, from Great Neck, Long Island, pitched for parts of eight seasons and compiled a 23-22 record with a 3.97 career ERA.

    Even if Mays had done nothing but take the field, the trade was a major coup for a franchise that had endured too many losing seasons. However, despite his age, Mays played 133 games in Queens and hit 14 home runs including his 660th and last on August 17, 1973.

    Mays remained with the Mets as a hitting coach until 1979. He was inducted in to the Baseball Hall of Fame in that same year.

Various Trades for Members of the 1986 World Champion Mets

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    I'm cheating a bit here listing three trades together. However, when it comes to the 1986 World Champion Mets, there were so many important players that came together around the same time and made that team as great as it was. It would be difficult to pick one as more important than the rest.

    While Lee Mazzilli was a popular player with the Mets his trade to the Texas Rangers on April 1, 1982 brought Ron Darling to New York along with pitcher Walt Terrell.

    On December 8, 1983 the Mets sent utility infielder Bob Bailor and little used pitcher Carlos Diaz to the Dodgers in return for lefty starter Sid Fernandez and infielder Ross Jones.

    Ray Knight was acquired by the team on August 28, 1984 when the Mets sent light hitting outfielder Gerald Young, career minor-leaguer Mitch Cook, and infielder Manny Lee to the Astros in return for Knight.

    In 1986, Darling went 15-6 with a 2.81 ERA. He was the winning pitcher in Game 4 of the World Series versus the Red Sox. In total he pitched 17.2 innings with a 1.53 ERA in the seven game series.

    Fernandez had an impressive 15 year career. In 1986, his record was 16-6 and after a 12-2 start he was selected to participate in the All-Star Game. During the World Series Fernandez pitched out of the bullpen and successfully relieved Darling in the deciding Game 7. He retired seven batters in a row with 4 strikeouts with the Mets trailing 3-0. The Mets went on to win the game and the series.

    Knight hit .298 in 1986 and was named the National League's Comeback Player of the Year. During the World Series, Knight was part of that remarkable comeback in Game 6, singling and scoring the winning run. He hit .391 and was named the MVP of the series.

Neil Allen & Rick Ownbey for Keith Hernandez

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    If the Mets hadn't made this next trade, today's Met fans would not get to enjoy the Keithisms so commonly heard these days during Mets' broadcasts on SNY.

    On June 15, 1983 the Mets traded right handed pitchers Neil Allen and Rick Ownbey to the St. Louis Cardinals in return for star first baseman Keith Hernandez

    Ownbey pitched in only 39 Major League games, while Allen was a journeyman picking up 58 wins with six different clubs over an 11 year career.

    In seven seasons with the Mets, Hernandez hit for a .297 average with 80 home runs. In the 1986 championship season his average was a very healthy .310. He was also named a starter in the All-Star Game and won his ninth straight Gold Glove Award.

    In 1987 he was named the team's first ever captain by manager Davey Johnson.

    Hernandez has been a a part of the SNY broadcast team doing play by play for the Mets since 2006.

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Hubie Brooks, Mike Fitzgerald, Herm Winningham & Floyd Youmans for Gary Carter

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    Another major piece of the 1986 championship team was catcher Gary Carter. He was already an established star with the Montreal Expos, but the franchise was going nowhere and decided to trade Carter to begin rebuilding their team.

    On December 10, 1984 Carter was traded to the Mets in return for four players; third baseman Hubie Brooks, catcher Mike Fitzgerald, outfielder Herm Winningham, and pitcher Floyd Youmans. Of the four, Brooks was the biggest name, but regardless, the deal was a major win for the Mets.

    In his first season in New York, Carter hit .281 with 32 homers and 100 RBI.

    In Game 4 of the 1986 World Series, Carter hit two home runs at Fenway Park in Boston. He will forever be remembered for his single that started the Mets' come-from-behind rally with two outs in the tenth inning of Game 6.

    Carter was inducted in to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2003.

    Sadly, Carter is currently battling brain cancer

Randy Myers & Kip Gross for John Franco & Don Brown

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    Brooklyn born lefty John Franco is so associated with the Mets that it's easy to forget he began his career as a reliever for the Cincinnati Reds.

    On December 6, 1989 the Mets traded reliever Randy Myers and pitching prospect Kip Gross to the Reds and received Franco and minor leaguer Don Brown.

    In reality it was a pretty even trade, as Myers was a solid reliever who secured 347 saves over 14 seasons. However, he only pitched two seasons for the Reds before moving on to five other teams.

    Meanwhile, Franco spent the next 14 seasons in New York recording 276 saves with a 3.10 ERA. 

    Franco was named to the All-Star Game in his first season with the Mets and was also voted the National League Rolaids Relief Man of the Year.

    Franco pitched in the post season with the 1999 and 2000 Mets. His ERA for 14.1 post season innings is 1.88.

    Franco was named team captain in 2001.

A. J. Burnett, Jesus Sanchez & Robert Stratton for Al Leiter & Ralph Milliard

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    I didn't realize that A.J. Burnett was drafted by the Mets in 1995. He was, but never pitched for the franchise. On February 6, 1998 he was packaged along with pitcher Jesus Sanchez and prospect Robert Stratton and sent to the Florida Marlins in return for Al Leiter and second base prospect Ralph Milliard.

    While Sanchez, Stratton, and Miliard came and went, Burnett and Leiter became the main talking points of this trade.

    Burnett is still active and currently pitches for the Yankees. His career has been up and down, with a number of good seasons with both the Marlins and the Toronto Blue Jays. Since joining the Yankees as a free agent following the 2008 season, he has often been unreliable and his numbers have been steadily declining.

    Leiter spent seven seasons with the Mets and in his first year had a 17-6 record and a 2.47 ERA. 

    In 1999 Leiter was the starter in a one game, winner-take-all meeting with the Reds for the last post season spot. Unlike recent Mets pitchers in similar situations (2007 and 2008), Leiter threw a complete game shut out while only allowing two hits.

    Leiter was voted to the NL All-Star team in 2000 and put up great numbers in the 2000 Subway Series despite the Mets losing to the Yankees in five games.

    Leiter retired with 162 wins and a 3.80 career ERA.

Preston Wilson, Geoff Goetz & Ed Yarnall for Mike Piazza

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    One of the best trades ever made by the Mets took place on May 22, 1998 when the Marlins traded the recently acquired Mike Piazza to New York. In return, the Mets sent centerfielder Preston Wilson (Mookie Wilson's nephew) and pitching prospects Geoff Goetz and Ed Yarnall to Florida..

    Wilson was a decent outfielder over ten Major League seasons and retired with a .264 career batting average.

    Piazza, as every Mets fan knows, was one of the best players to ever wear the blue and orange of the Mets.

    During eight years in Flushing, Piazza belted 220 home runs, drove in 655 runs, and hit for a .298 average. He was named to the National League All-Star team every season and won the Silver Slugger Award five times as a member of the Mets.

    Piazza was a major part of the 1999 and 2000 Mets teams that went to the post season. Although the Mets lost the 2000 series to the Yankees in five, Piazza hit two homers and drove in four runs. He was also involved in an infamous incident during the series when Roger Clemens threw a broken piece of Piazza's shattered bat at the player as he headed to first base.

    Piazza will forever be remembered for his game winning home run over the Braves in the first post-September 11th sporting event held in New York on September 21, 2001.

    Piazza hit 427 career home runs and holds the Major League record for the most home runs ever by a catcher.

Shawn Estes for Pedro Feliciano, Raul Gonzalez, Brady Clark & Elvin Andujar

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    This one wasn't a blockbuster and didn't garner a ton of headlines. However, in retrospect it is definitely one of the best deals the Mets ever made.

    Lefty Shawn Estes spent one mediocre half season with the Mets before he was traded to the Reds on August 15, 2002 for pitcher Pedro Feliciano, outfielders Brady Clark, and Raul Gonzalez and prospect Elvin Andujar.

    Estes finished 2002 with the Reds pitching to a 7.71 ERA. He would pitch five more seasons and finish his career with a 4.71 lifetime ERA.

    Both Clark and Gonzalez made little impact in New York. Feliciano, however, became a mainstay out of the Mets bullpen.

    Over eight seasons Feliciano appeared in 459 games and is second to John Franco on the Mets all time list. He threw 372.1 innings of relief and was one of the most reliable pitchers out of the bullpen with a career ERA of 3.31.

    Feliciano signed with the Yankees following the 2010 season but missed all of 2011 with shoulder trouble.

Carlos Gomez, Philip Humber, Kevin Mulvey & Deolis Guerra for Johan Santana

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    The most recent major impact trade that the Mets have made took place on February 2, 2008. In return for outfielder Carlos Gomez and pitching prospects Philip Humber, Kevin Mulvey, and Deolis Guerra the Mets received left handed pitcher Johan Santana from the Twins.

    Gomez has since moved on to Milwaukee and has never put up an average over .258.

    Mulvey was designated for assignment by the Diamondbacks last August, while Guerra is a minor leaguer in the Twins' organization.

    Humber has put up some decent numbers, but has been unable to stick with one team. He is currently a member of the White Sox.

    Santana missed all of 2011 due to shoulder surgery and the Mets are hoping that he will be back in time for the start of the 2012 season.

    Even with this setback, Santana has put up great numbers with the Mets despite the team's lack of success. His record in New York is 40-25 with a 2.85 ERA. He led the National League in ERA in 2008 at 2.53 and was named to the NL All-Star Game in 2009.

    Hopefully Santana will recover and regain his old form. Regardless of what happens, Santana's presence on the mound gave the Mets some needed credibility and allowed Mets fans to see one of the best pitchers of the last decade.

    Let me know if there are other trades that you would have included over the ones listed here.