On June 5, 1987, General Manager Frank Cashen used the Mets’ 8th round pick, the 212th overall selection on Eastern Illinois University middle infielder Tim Bogar. Little did Cashen know at the time, but he set into motion an extraordinary chain of events which is partially responsible for landing catcher of the future Travis d’Arnaud on the Mets.
After Bogar was recalled from AAA in 1993, he stuck with the club for four mediocre seasons, posting a triple slash of .242/.297/.328 and an OPS+ of 68 in 544 PA, far too many for someone with an OBP under .300. At the end of spring training in 1997, GM Joe McIlvaine traded Bogar to the Houston Astros for Luis Lopez.
Lopez had a relatively successful three-year run with the Mets as a utility infielder from 1997-1999. His best year was his first, where he posted career highs in batting average (.270) and on-base percentage (.330) in 78 games.
In 1999, things fell apart for Lopez, and he hit a paltry .212/.308/.308. On January 21, 2000, GM Steve Phillips traded Lopez to the Milwaukee Brewers for former member of the ill-fated Generation K, Bill Pulsipher.
Pulsipher pitched 6.2 innings for the 2000 Mets, posting an 0-2 record, coupled with a 12.15 ERA and an eye-popping 8.10 BB/9. By June 2nd, Phillips had seen enough and traded Pulsipher to the Arizona Diamondbacks for professional pinch hitter Lenny Harris.
Harris was a key man of the bench for the playoff run in 2000, hitting .304/.381/.457 in 76 games after being acquired. The next year, 2001, Harris did set the all-time pinch hit record, passing Manny Mota for the top spot on the list, but the season was a disappointment; he hit just .222/.266/.274 and posted an ugly -0.7 fWAR.
Burnitz, like most of the aging veterans Phillips brought in during that offseason had a rough go of it in 2002, hitting .215/.311/.365, numbers symbolic of how big a disappointment that 2002 team was.
To say he bounced back nicely in 2003 would be an understatement. He hit .274/.344/.581 in 65 games for the Mets, slugging 18 homeruns and posting a gaudy .308 ISO. This allowed Phillips to unload Burnitz after the All-Star break to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Kole Strayhorn, Jose Diaz and Victor Diaz.
Strayhorn never reached the majors, and Jose Diaz had a few forgettable cups of coffee with Kansas City and Texas, coming after he left the Mets as a throw-in player in the Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano and Bartolome Fortunato fiasco of 2004.
Victor Diaz, on the other hand, played at an acceptable level in parts of three seasons for the Mets, hitting .260/.309/.487. Diaz’s fatal flaw was a propensity to strike out, posting K-rates of 28.3%, 26.2% and 45.5% from 2004-2006. On August 30, 2006, Diaz was traded to the Texas Rangers for catcher Mike Nickeas.
Nickeas played in 73 big-league games in three seasons as Josh Thole’s backup, hitting .180/.241/.238 before being the “non-elite prospect” that went to Toronto two months ago alongside R.A. Dickey and Thole.
For those who have lost track, d’Arnaud’s path to the Mets is as follows: Bogar for Lopez, Lopez for Pulsipher, Pulispher for Harris, Harris for Burnitz, Burnitz for Diaz, Diaz for Nickeas, Nickeas for d’Arnaud. Twenty-five years, eight transactions executed by five general managers, 24 players involved in total.
The players that I mention directly (Bogar, Lopez, Pulsipher, Harris, Burnitz, Diaz and Nickeas), collectively contributed 3.1 fWAR to the team in their tenures.
There is no reason to believe that Travis d’Arnaud, if he reaches his full potential with the Mets, could feasibly double that number in a single season at his peak. For Mets fans, that would be a satisfying ending to a very long and incredible saga.
Follow Joe Vasile on Twitter at @JoeVasilePBP.
 Complete trade included: Harris and Rusch to Milwaukee, Burnitz, Lou Collier, Jeff D’Amico, and Mark Sweeney to the Mets, Benny Agbayani, Todd Zeile, and Cash to the Colorado Rockies, Ross Gload and Craig House from the Rockies to the Mets, and Alex Ochoa going from the Rockies to the Brewers.
 ISO, for those who don’t know is Isolated Power. It measures the player’s power in terms of the frequency of the extra base hits the player gets on a batting average-like scale. It is calculated by this formula (Slugging % – Batting Average). For some context, the MLB average ISO in 2012 was .151, with Giancarlo Stanton leading qualified hitters by posting a .318 ISO.