The Mets traded Endy Chavez in 2001.
Let’s take a trip in the Mets time machine for a moment and go back to 2000. It was a good year, all in all—the team won 94 games, had four 20-home run hitters, two 15-game winners and it went to the World Series.
Nevertheless, they made a few, well, suspect trades in 2000, and in early 2001, that may have harmed future Mets squads down the line.
Here’s a look at four of those deals.
Luis Lopez for Bill Pulsipher
This is a trade you’ll rarely, if ever, see on another list of “worst Mets trades,” because in the long run its effect was rather minimal. However, the Mets lost more than they gained in the deal, which may have cost them a few victories during the 2000 season.
Luis Lopez was a solid utility infielder who played for the Mets from 1997 to 1999, hitting .270 in his first year with the team and .252 in his second. 1999 was abysmal for him, as he hit only .212 in 68 games.
On January 21, 2000, he was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers for former Mets blue chip prospect Bill Pulsipher.
At the time, it was a very blasé deal, but one that had the potential to benefit the Mets—the team was shedding dead weight for a pitcher who was only 26 and who, just a few years prior, was supposed to be a star.
But the deal didn’t quite work out. Lopez went on to have two very solid seasons as a reserve player for the Brewers, hitting .267 in 170 games, while Pulsipher went 0-2 with a 12.15 ERA in two starts for his new team.
Melvin Mora for Mike Bordick
Sometimes trading an unproven, 28-year-old backup for a proven veteran having one of the best years of his career works out—and sometimes, it doesn’t.
There’s a bit of a back story to this deal, however. Here’s the short version: The Mets’ starting shortstop, Rey Ordonez, broke his arm in late May 2000. For more than a month, they used reserves Melvin Mora and Kurt Abbott in his stead, but they weren’t working out.
They needed someone good.
So, on July 28, the Mets traded Mora, pitcher Leslie Brea, backup outfielder Mike Kinkade and minor leaguer Pat Gorman to the Baltimore Orioles for Mike Bordick.
Bordick, at the time of the trade, was having the best season of his career—he was hitting .297 with 16 home runs and 59 RBI, earning a spot on the American League All-Star team. At the time, it seemed like an excellent deal.
Though, unfortunately, retrospection tells us that in the long run, the Mets lost a lot and gained little.
In 56 games with the Mets, Bordick hit only .260 while slugging a meager .365 and posting a less-than-stellar OPS+ of 76. He filled in capably at shortstop while Ordonez was out, but one must wonder if handing the starting reins to Mora would have been the better idea—indeed, Bordick didn’t do any better than Mora had done in his time with the team.
Upon leaving the Mets, Mora promptly hit .291 in 53 games for the Orioles to finish out the 2000 season. He then embarked on a stretch that would see him make two All-Star teams, win a Silver Slugger and hit 165 home runs.
Bordick, on the other hand, stayed only those 56 games. Sure, technically, he was there during the playoffs, but his presence was hardly felt—he hit .167, .077 and .125 in the Division Series, Championship Series and World Series, respectively.
Nelson Cruz for Jorge Velandia
If the Mets had only known what they were losing when they traded Nelson Cruz.
When the Mets sent Cruz to the Oakland Athletics on August 30, 2000, he was but one of many unknown teenagers toiling somewhere in the Dominican Republic, with the dream of someday making it stateside to play in the major leagues.
Velandia was a good field, no hit reserve infielder without much upside, but the ability to ably fill in defensively when need be.
Mostly, it was a ho-hum deal like any other, one that gets hardly a note in a newspaper’s transactions log. It was a deal sending filler for filler, swapping two unknowns for each other.
Unfortunately for the Mets, Velandia stayed unknown, while Cruz blossomed nearly a decade after the trade.
Indeed, Velandia played in only 47 games for the Mets in parts of three seasons, hitting .149 with no home runs and eight RBI in 74 at-bats.
Cruz came out of nowhere with Texas in 2008. From 2009 to 2011, he averaged 28 home runs, 80 RBI and 15 stolen bases a season, earning a spot on the 2009 American League All-Star team.
Granted, no amount of foresight could have seen what Cruz was to become. When the trade took place, he was just some kid from the Dominican Republic, one who more than likely would never see a day in the major leagues.
And even when he reached the big leagues in 2005, he wasn’t anything stellar—in fact, from 2005 to 2007, he hit only .231 in 145 games.
However, we can now see—unfortunately—that the Mets lost a solid contributor, gaining in return someone who contributed very little.
Endy Chavez for Mike Curry
Imagine if the Mets had been graced with Endy Chavez’s smooth defense, lightning-quick speed and solid hitting since 2001, rather than since 2006. Imagine how many more wins the team could have had, how many more playoff games they could have won.
Perhaps I use a little hyperbole—but a club with Chavez would have been much better than a club without, and unfortunately the Mets had to play without him for half a decade.
On March 30, 2001, the Mets traded Chavez to the Kansas City Royals for minor leaguer Mike Curry. He then began a five-year jaunt through the majors, molding and preparing the player the Mets would eventually sign prior to the 2006 season.
In those five seasons, Chavez averaged eleven stolen bases a year, while hitting as high as .296 and swiping as many as 32 bags in a season. That’s not bad, considering what the Mets had to put up with during that stretch—remember Matt Lawton, Tony Tarasco, Raul Gonzalez, Karim Garcia and Gerald Williams?
The Mets did eventually acquire the services of Chavez and he performed well for them in three strong seasons with the squad.
That said, they were without him for far too long though, and for what? A minor leaguer who barely made it past Double-A.