Sam Miller of ESPN had a great column idea. The premise is that a “fan” of all 30 teams came up with a wish for their franchise and the genie with the power to grant that wish asked for something in return. In order to grant the wish, the “fan” would have to sacrifice something of roughly equal emotional or tangible value. The example used was the Giants and Tim Lincecum. The wish was for Lincecum, who is the same age as Max Scherzer, to still be able to throw 97 mph, like Scherzer, over 200 innings. The genie’s cost for this wish? The 2014 World Series title that the Giants won. On the surface, this seems like a ridiculous ask. But, it was also San Francisco’s third title in five years. Suddenly, it’s not a slam dunk anymore.
Terrific premise and one that had multiple good dilemmas for the various teams in the league. Until we get to the Mets. Even Miller realized that he didn’t have a good one here, as he tried to list several potential wishes before unveiling the official one: No Bernie Madoff. That was a solid wish. The problem, in my mind, was that the ask didn’t come close to being a difficult thing for a real Mets fan to accept. In return for rich Mets, all the genie requested in return is that the Mets and R.A. Dickey would agree to the two-year extension they were discussing before the trade to Toronto. So, the Mets would have Dickey when he fell off considerably and no Noah Syndergaard.
Mets fans love Dickey and there’s no guarantee he falls off as much as he did if he stayed in the NL. And even if he did, it’s only two years. And while Syndergaard has been fun to watch, he hasn’t been that good. C’mon, you don’t think the Mets with a payroll in the top five could afford a pitcher as good as Syndergaard? The better ask would have been no Jacob deGrom and his back-to-back CY Award seasons. That would hurt a lot more. But my answer there would still be yes.
Before he unveiled the actual ask, Miller listed several potential wishes, including Matt Harvey staying healthy, David Wright aging gracefully and Nolan Ryan never being traded. Those were all solid ones. Here are some more that are at least as good:
Drafting Reggie Jackson when they had the # 1 pick
Keeping Amos Otis and Ken Singleton
No heart attack for Gil Hodges
Joan Payson sells the team before she dies
No substance abuse problems for Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry
A healthy Generation K for a generation
A Subway Series win in 2000
Signing Alex Rodriguez, who wanted to come here, when he was first a free agent
It’s easy to come up with the wish. The harder part is coming up with the cost of the wish. It seems that the appropriate wishes for Jackson and Hodges would be no 1969 World Series win. How confident are you that those wishes would be worth that price? My vote would be yes on Jackson and no on Hodges at that cost.
To keep Otis & Singleton, the Mets would have to trade Seaver in 1970. So, you get to keep the Word Series but lose The Franchise for the most productive part of his career. For the Mets from 1970 to his ultimate trade in 1977, Seaver amassed 51.7 fWAR. But Otis produced 37.7 fWAR in the 1970s and Singleton added 38.5 fWAR from 1972-1980. It’s hard to make the decision on this deal without knowing what they would get in return. It would almost have to be better than the ultimate return they got in 1977, right? After a big swallow, my answer here would be yes.
If Payson was to sell the team before her passing in 1975, presumably the new owners would either force out or minimize the importance of M. Donald Grant. Which would hopefully mean the team would be quick to embrace free agency and certainly would mean they wouldn’t push Seaver out the door in ’77. In return for this, the Mets would have to keep Joe McDonald as their GM for a dozen years. McDonald was the one who traded the stars from the World Series teams and got virtually nothing. And he’s the guy who drafted Butch Benton and Tom Thurberg with his first-round picks. A dozen years means no Frank Cashen. And at this point in time, ownership didn’t often circumvent their GM. With the Otis & Singleton case above, the ask was huge but the return was great. Here the ask is huge and the return is unknown. You would be asked to buy a promise. We know that the 1977-1983 period was dismal. But the 1984-1990 period was awesome. To take this might mean mediocrity in both phases. Or it might mean the complete loss of the dark ages. My answer would be to roll the dice, hold my breath and say yes.
A clean Gooden and Strawberry would be a dream. This would have to cost the ’86 title. How much better could Strawberry have been in the rest of his Mets career? And would a sober Gooden have blown out his arm with the usage he would have undoubtedly incurred? As hard as this is for me to say, my vote would have to be no.
Generation K was supposed to be the 90s version of Seaver-Koosman-Matlack. Instead, it turned into a good reliever, a mediocre starter and a bust. How confident are you that health for Paul Wilson and Bill Pulsipher would have translated into successful starters? The risk here is high so the ask can’t be what we’ve seen earlier. In return for their health, the cost is no Bobby Valentine as manager. Since the club was picking guys like Jeff Torborg, Dallas Green and Art Howe in this time period, giving up Valentine is no small thing. But as great as Valentine was in the dugout they didn’t win the World Series with him. Still, my choice is to turn this one down.
It’s always tough to lose a World Series, one that becomes even more painful when you don’t get to avenge it within a few years. It was tough for the Reds to lose in 1972. But they turned around and won in 1975 and 1976. These 2000 Mets didn’t have that opportunity. And to make it worse, the loss was to the hated Yankees. It seems only fair that if the Yankees are involved in the wish that they should be involved in the cost. In return for a win in the 2000 World Series, the cost is that the Yankees establish a new record by winning the World Series the next 10 years. Just imagine the gloating done by that fan base. It’s disgusting just to think about. I do it anyway.
From 2001 to 2008, Rodriguez put up 61.9 fWAR. He could have been sharing the spotlight with Mike Piazza early in his Mets career and leading a team with Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado in the middle of the decade. It hurts just thinking about how it should have been. The price for getting Rodriguez is that the Mets have to use Armando Benitez as their closer as long as Rodriguez is with the club. Benitez, one of the most-hated players in team history, the one famous for melting down in pressure situations. The guy who in his last four seasons put up a 4.61 ERA from 2005-2008. The cruelty of this one seems to make it a good ask. No World Series appearances for the real Mets in this time frame makes it almost impossible to reject it. My guess is that all of us would hold our nose and make the deal.
Started to wish a full career for Brian Cole but it didn’t seem appropriate