Improving Sam Miller’s wish for the Mets

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

11 comments for “Improving Sam Miller’s wish for the Mets

  1. Chris F
    November 23, 2019 at 11:01 am

    Eduardo Perez (our almost manager) and Steve Phillips (our ex-GM) talked about this very article on MLB radio the other day. Like you, I thought it was a fantastic idea and for me it clicked that it very separates the two main types of fans. For the Mets, the postulate was the Mets keep Mike Hampton and win the 2001 World Series, in exchange for never having David Wright on the Mets.

    The discussion was quite interesting, and so were call in comments. Perez was clear, take the 2001 WS win. Phillips thought that Wright was so much Mr Met that Mets fans would forfeit a 2001 WS so that we could revel in his career in Queens. He was shocked to think *any* Mets fan would take a WS win over Wright.

    My immediate answer was “David who?”. I dont recall the proportion, but call ins expressed string feelings for both sides of the postulate. And it hit me, there are 2 main kinds of fans: (1) name on the front, (2) name on the back.

    As far as Im concerned, the only thing that matters is the name on the front and winning world series’. Id trade all the personal hardware thats been accumulated since the Dickey CY just to have the 2015 WS win.

    • November 23, 2019 at 11:33 am

      It’s a huge jump to think that keeping Hampton means a win in the ’01 World Series. They finished six games behind the Braves and 11 behind the Wild Card team in 2001. Besides that, keeping Hampton means that the Mets can’t get Wright, since they took him with a compensation pick they got for losing Hampton. Wright was pick #38 and the Mets didn’t pick again until #70 – extremely unlikely he’s still on the board at that point.

      That Steve Phillips take has to be a pre-arranged thing for the bit, right?

      • Chris F
        November 23, 2019 at 2:55 pm

        The proposal was totally hypothetical, not that Hampton meant the Mets would win, more that the Mets win the WS with Hampton on the team, and the city never knows David Wright. It was an exchange for the 2001 WS win while giving up the career of DWright as a Met.

        As for Phillips take I can say, but he was definitely taken aback when Perez said I’ll take the 2001 WS and let Wright be a hero on some other team. I’m in the same boat.

  2. Mike W
    November 23, 2019 at 1:24 pm

    How about the Wilpon’s selling the team.

    • November 23, 2019 at 1:37 pm

      And what’s the cost for that wish?

  3. Chris F
    November 23, 2019 at 2:56 pm

    Yeah, that cost might be not winning a WS for 100 years.

    • Mike W
      November 24, 2019 at 12:31 am

      It has already been 33 years. 67 to go.

  4. November 24, 2019 at 7:42 am

    Nice list. I agree with all of your choices except for Generation K. I’d trade a manager for three upside pitchers any day of the week.

  5. steevy
    November 24, 2019 at 9:34 am

    About Nolan Ryan there is this line from his SABR bio
    “The young pitcher told his wife, Ruth, after the close of the 1971 season that if the Mets failed to trade him over the winter, he would quit the game.”

  6. Rob
    November 26, 2019 at 5:05 am

    Great article but Mets failed to unleash Ryan. Someone taught him control and he was monster. Another issue always had in this era is Seaver,matlock and kooseman and only return was Jessie Orosco. Was that really your best package for Seaver

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: