Over the course of a 162-game season, fans develop a familiarity with players more than any other sport. Mets fans have seen homegrown talent grow into solid players, vanish back into the minor leagues, or get designated for assignment. The outside acquisitions over the past few years have been hit or miss, but the perception of all these players within “Met lore” is never really apparent until they reappear donning another uniform. For the upcoming season, here’s a look at few former Mets, their production while they were here, and how they will most likely be received amongst the fans when they return to Citi Field.
Fan Scale: (1-Staunch Boos to 10- Standing Ovation).
NRI: Non-Roster Invitee
|Non-pitchers||2014 Team||Mets Tenure||Slash Line||HR||RBI||Misc.||Fan Scale 1-10|
|Scott Hairston||Washington||2 yrs.||.255/.300/.495||27||81||6 PH HR||4|
|Marlon Byrd||Philadelphia||1 yr.||.285/.330/.518||21||71||4.0 rWAR||8
|Carlos Beltran||NY Yankees||7 yrs.||.280/.369/.500||149||559||K to end 2006 LCS||6|
|Mike Baxter||LA Dodgers||3 Yrs.||.232/.340/.354||4||25||No-hitter saving catch||8|
|Justin Turner||LA Dodgers
|4 Yrs.||.265/.326/.370||8||86||2011 BARISP .350||6|
|Jordany Valdespin||Florida Marlins
|2 Yrs.||.219/.271/.380||12||42||Met Season Record 5 PH HR||2|
Granted this list doesn’t bring anticipation of former players returning like Mike Piazza or Jose Reyes, but they will all garner attention from the knowledgeable Met fan base. Beltran had his return two years ago to thunderous applause, but this time around could be very different. When the Yankees come to Citi Field on May 14, he will be donning the crosstown rival’s road greys in the opposing dugout. Although the majority of the Mets fan base has appreciation for Beltran’s contributions during his seven year tenure in Queens, many will be sure to cast boos and jeers towards the aging star when the Subway Series ignites if for nothing else but being a Yankee.
As for the others returning this year, Mets fans will for the most part be welcoming and appreciative. Marlon Byrd signed last year to a non-guaranteed contract proved to be one of the best signings in all of MLB, or at least the most economically efficient. He batted cleanup most of the year for the Mets and served as top notch run producer when there was optimistic yet minimal expectations after a down year in 2012. The Mets were even able to parlay Byrd at the trade deadline for Vic Black and Dilson Herrera, two key prospects who should pay dividends in the near future. Now wearing the enemy Phillies’ jersey, expect big cheers for Byrd on his return to Citi Field on May 9, at least for his first at bat.
The Dodgers’ Mike Baxter and Justin Turner might have a difficult time cracking the 25 man Opening Day roster due to the stockpiling of talent they’ve amassed. If either of the two makes their way into the lineup for their three game series starting May 20, expect Baxter to get an eruption of applause, while Turner more of a courteous one. Baxter, of course, has given the Mets one of the most memorable plays in team history. The outfielder’s diving catch into the left field wall during Johan Santana’s no-hitter, the first ever for the franchise, will surely gain him cult status as a hero for years to come. His fearless effort rendered him a broken clavicle and a prolonged stint on disabled list, but even more respect from all who witnessed the play. More so than many greater accomplished Mets, Baxter is etched in stone in Mets lore forever.
As for Valdespin, well… at least he gets to wear that Marlins cap he loves so dearly, even when he was playing here in New York. He quickly lost support within the organization due to his immature behavior which led to isolation amongst teammates. The final straw dropped when he was suspended 50 games for being attached to the Biogenesis scandal and PEDs. If he ever makes it back to New York in Marlins garb, expect the always ready Mets fans to rain down boos unmercifully.