Not Revisionist History: 2007 And 2008 Were Good Years For The Mets

Your intrepid columnist was recently engaging in some spirited Facebook debate with some fellow fans, who were moaning that 2006 was “our” last good year. Let us commence to differ.

2006 was a special year. The Mets got off to a super-fast start – they were 22-11 on May 10, after a 13-4 drubbing of the Phillies – behind Pedro Martinez, the biggest, brightest name on the pitching marquee, the unlikely sounding pair of eventual 15-game-winners Tom Glavine and Steve Trachsel and one of the most robust lineups Queens has ever seen. It’s still recent enough that most fans can rattle it off from memory: Paul LoDuca/Carlos Delgado/Jose Valentin/Jose Reyes/David Wright/Cliff Floyd/Carlos Beltran2006 Beltran/Xavier Nady. We fans were not used to such good fortune. Our disbelief was rewarded. A stumbling .500 stretch from May 11 through June 4 — which brought their winning percentage down 67 points — sent the Mets on a West Coast road trip with a cloud of uncertainty as a halo. The Santa Anna breeze blew that uncertainty away like so much jet lag. The Mets outscored the Dodgers and Diamondbacks 55-25 and for good measure, came back east and swept the Phillies on the road by a cumulative 23-14. That was really enough to wrap up a decidedly weak division relatively early. They cruised through the NLDS, sweeping the Dodgers and taking the eventual champion Cardinals all the way down to the last strike of the last inning of Game 7 of the NLCS.

We know how that turned out.

2007 dawned well for fans with revenge on their minds. The opener – a Sunday night ESPN affair before anybody else had played – rematched Mets/Cards, this time in St. Louis. The Mets won handily and it looked for all the world like 2007 would be the same kind of cake-walk 2006 was. With mostly the same lineup, the Mets were 34-18 on May 31. Here’s where the trouble started, and it could mostly be hung on the starting pitching, so stalwart the year before. Martinez was missing, having undergone shoulder surgery that cost him the entire ’06 post-season and the early part of 2007. Trachsel was gone, too, jettisoned in a fit of pique after some ill-timed comments after a loss in the NLCS. Their places were taken by men who could most charitably termed “inconsistent:” Oliver Perez, John Maine, Orlando Hernandez and – later — rookie Mike Pelfrey. The Mets stumbled through the rest of the summer, dropping games they shouldn’t have and looking generally listless while doing it. From June 1 through August 11, the Mets could only manage a 30-33 mark, yet the division was still so weak that they were able to cling to first place through that storm. Over the next ten days, they seemed to right themselves, taking five-of-six. Things might work out after all. Except that from August 24 to September 30, they went 17-21, a stretch that actually included them being 7 games ahead in the standings, with 17 games to play and having a Magic Number as low as 5. In a do-or-die game #162, Glavine surrendered seven runs in the first inning, and that was that. The final tally was an 88-win deal that felt like it was half that much. Not to be lost, however, is the fact that 88 wins would be most welcome in the context of 2013 and that there were some sparkling individual marks for the offense: Wright posted a .936 OPS, an 8.3 bWAR and a Gold Glove to boot. Beltran posted a fine .878 OPS himself and Delgado blasted 24 homers.

Things would be better in 2008, for sure. Surely the same kind of funk could not pervade the team again: the Baseball Gods never allow such nonsense. Besides, the Mets solved their starting pitching problem with the acquisition of Johan Santana, the best starter in all the land. The rest of the division didn’t stand a chance.

Instead, the Baseball Gods insisted on a rerun of the previous year’s foibles. From the start of the year through July 2, the Mets could barely scrape .500 – on that date they were 41-43. Nobody was hitting and this time it was the bullpen’s turn to be inconsistent. And yet… From July 3 through September 3, the Mets went a blistering 38-18 and climbed back into the division lead. Things might work out after all. Except that for September, the Mets went 10-12, again dropping game #162 – made even more painful for the fact that that was the last game before Shea Stadium shuttered. It was the definition of “awkward” that the Mets had to have a closing ceremony on the heels of the game that cemented the notion that there would not, in fact, be any more games played in the building. Again, an 89-win campaign felt like so much less. Once again, if we want to look at it through the lens of 2013, 89 wins looks golden. The offense was not as spectacular as it had been in 2007, but the lasting memory will be of Johan Santana valiantly – almost stubbornly – tossing a 1-hit shutout on one leg in game #161.

So the contention over here is that 2006, 2007 and 2008 were actually all good years…they just happened to end badly.

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4 comments for “Not Revisionist History: 2007 And 2008 Were Good Years For The Mets

  1. steevy
    September 19, 2013 at 4:39 pm

    Those lineups were light years better than what we have now.

  2. Metsense
    September 19, 2013 at 11:06 pm

    Although they were dissappointing endings, the Wilpon’s made good on their promise of meaningful games in September.I am a fan that can accept that goal because at the least you can always look to next year. The last 5 years have been brutal with no hope of the “next year”. If the Wilpon’s were men of honor they would have sold the team before abandoning their promise.

  3. John Q
    September 20, 2013 at 9:22 am

    Truth be told the 2006 Mets were kind of fluke. They were a by-product of a relatively weak division of the Marlins and Nats on the bottom with Atlanta re-tooling and Philadelphia on the rise. They were an old team with 3 big stars: Beltran, Wright and Reyes.

    Trachsel was a awful. His 15 wins were a by-product of insanely good run support. He’s a prime example of why you shouldn’t judge a pitcher by w/l record.

    A weakness of the 2006 Mets was its starting pitchers. They were relying on two 40 year old pitchers for much of the year: Glavine, and El Duque. Then you had a broken down Pedro Martinez at the end of his career. The 2007 season was lost in the 2006 off season. One of Minaya’s big mistake in the 2006 off-season is not getting a reliable starting pitcher for 2007. Minaya also made 3 horrible trades in that 2006 off season trading Heath Bell, Matt Lindstrom and Brian Bannister for nothing!

    The Mets were an old team in 2006 with Julio Franco, Glavine, Moises Alou, Jose Valentin and El Duque and then Minaya strangely added more old players in 2007: Sandy Alomar, Aaron Sele, Damion Easley, Mike Defilice and Jeff Conine. The 34-35 year olds: Carlos Delgado, Billy Wagner, Sean Green and Paul Lo Duca were relatively young on this team.

    Carlos Delgado and Paul Lo Duca also had poor seasons in 2007 which seems to get overlooked. Delgado’s .789 ops was among the lowest for an N.L first baseman in 2007. Heck, you could have gotten that out of Mike Jacobs. Also it seems a bit foolish in retrospect to expect Moises Alou and Jose Valentin to be healthy and productive in 2007.

    2008 rolled around and in true Minaya fashion he dealt with the previous year’s problem “after” the fact. So they went out and traded for the best pitcher in baseball (Santana) after the horse was let out of the barn. He would do the same thing the following year with relief pitchers.

    Minaya made 3 disasterous moves in the off season. He paid 40 year old Moises Alou and El Duque about $16 million for 2007. El Duque missed the entire year and Alou predictably was hurt early and gone for the entire season.

    Minaya also made the very bizarre signing of Luis Castillo for $24 million/4 years after the 2007. 4 years??

    Then there was the bizarre handling of Ryan Church’s concussion. As a result the Mets played the bulk of 2008 with converted utility infielders in the corner outfield positions.

    The Mets did get good starting pitching out of Santana and Pelfry and Wright, Beltran and Reyes were again the 3 big players.

    Delgado was MIA for the first 2/3 of the season and after Billy Wagner’s injury there was no one left to close out the games.

    The Mets folded at the end of 2008 and in typical Minaya fashion he went out and took care of the relief pitcher problem of 2008 two months after the fact. He traded for an injured J.J. Putz and singed Frankie Rodriguez. It’s interesting to not that the Mets lost their 2009 first round pick because of the K-Rod signing and instead the Angels selected Mike Trout with the Mets first round pick.

    The relief pitchers didn’t matter in 2009 because Beltran and Reyes and Wright were all hurt and the small little renaissance of 2005-2008 was over.

  4. September 22, 2013 at 10:06 am

    I was there for game 161 in 2008. Man o man was that magical. I felt SURE that they’d snatch up 162 and head to the post season after that game. Ugh.

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