Off-season's haven't always been so successful or lucrative as they have been under the Minaya regime. To gain a little perspective I thought I'd start a series of recaps, as long as my memory holds up. Opening the vaults of pain, I would confront the frantic winter days when hope rested in the hands of a man named Steve Phillips, who assembled video game teams before that was cool. (No, I am not man enough to travel back to the times of the worst team money could buy in the early 90s.) After spending a few hours compiling and weeping and gnashing teeth, I checked around and found an excellent treatment of this very subject from 2005 on Mike's Mets
. He does 91-95, 96 through 2000, and 2000- 2005. Go check it out.
Though I'm not sure why you would do this, I also found you can test yourself
on the 2004-5 offseason.
Oh well. Here I review two particularly interesting Hot Stoves of the past.1999-2000:
Transactions Courtesy of Baseball Roster Central,
snarky comments courtesy of yours truly:What we dreamed of:
We wanted to see the Mets build judiciously on one of the most exciting seasons in memory. The Mets 1999 Record: 97-66 was good enough for 2nd Place and the Wildcard. The thrilling postseason was a treat and the likeable team was poised for a deeper run.What actually happened:
Basically, in Stevie's third full year of GMing, the rottisserie master's wheels had yet to spin off, and the Mets modestly picked up the Zeile-ster and Operation Shutdown himself. And of course, Traitor Mike Hampton, who more sensible people give credit to as a main cog of the Mets' postseason run, but I still loathe him for costing Dotel, and unceremoniously dumping the Mets for the rarified air of Colorado (air that would arguably ruin his career). Of course despite Hampton's struggles, I also cringed when the Rockies paid the Br*ves to take him off their hands. Would this guy ever go away?
The results of this hotstove were bittersweet; perhaps omens of things to come? Transactions (Offseason [10/4-12/31] 1999):
October 4:Announced that RHP Josias Manzanillo opted for free agency.
October 5:Announced that C Mandy Romero opted for free agency.
October 11:National League suspends Mets 3B coach Cookie Rojas for five games and fined him $500 for bumping LF umpire Charlie Williams in a game against Arizona on October 9. The Mets then named catching coach Bruce Benedict interim third base coach while Cookie served his suspension--wow offseason interim third base coach, Benedict's stock soaring!
October 16:Outrighted RHP Jeff Tam to AAA-Norfolk, making him a minor-league free agent. Tough loss to swallow.
October 28:Re-signed OF Juan Moreno and RHP Dan Pontes to minor-league contracts.
November 02:Re-assigned hitting coach Mickey Brantley to an undisclosed minor-league position. Activated C Vance Wilson, RHPs Scott McCrary and Paul Wilson, OFs B.J. Huff and Juan LeBron, and 3B Billy Martin from the 60-day DL. Outrighted Huff and McCrary to AA-Binghamton and Martin to A-Capital City. Undisclosed location? Only Vice President Cheney knows!
November 11:Announced that OF Darryl Hamilton filed a trade demand.
November 17:Purchased the contracts of RHP Eric Cammack from AAA-Norfolk and RHP Lesli Brea and OF Alex Escobar from A-St. Lucie. Outrighted 2B Maurice Bruce to AAA-Norfolk.
November 18:Purchased the contract of RHP Dicky Gonzalez from AAA-Norfolk. Re-signed C Todd Pratt to a two-year contract. Signed OF af dolfo and LHP Brian Shouse and re-signed OF Brent Huff to minor-league contracts.
December 2:Signed LHP Jim Baron, SS Orlando Miller, and OF Mike Kelly to minor-league contracts and invited them to spring training. Invited LHP Brian Shouse to spring training.
December 9:Signed OF Todd Dunn to a minor-league contract.
December 11:Signed free agent 1-3B Todd Zeile to a three-year contract. For a Firstbaseman, Todd was a great actor.
December 13:Selected RHP Jim Mann from Toronto in the major-league Rule 5 Draft. Signed 1B Ryan McGuire and re-signed RHP Johann Lopez to minor-league contracts and invited McGuire to spring training. Signed OF Todd Dunn to a minor-league contract. WOO-HOO!
December 17:Designated RHP Billy Taylor for assignment. Added 1B Todd Zeile to the 40-Man Roster.
December 20:Declined to tender a contract to RHP Billy Taylor.
December 23:Acquired LHP Mike Hampton and OF Derek Bell from Houston for RHP Octavio Dotel, OF Roger Cedeno, and minor-league LHP Kyle Kessel.2001-2002What we Dreamed of:
The Mother of All Steve Phillips' off-seasons? To remember this is like opening hell's closet door. I need to admit that I was caught up in the fever, especially to land Juan-gone
, in ways that I am not proud of now. I wanted Juan under my Xmas tree. Real bad.
I think this shame is part of why many Mets fans loathe Stevie, other than that he is a class A d-bag who won't go away. Anyhow, the Juan Gone saga is often forgotten amidst other happenings, but I remember it being a focal point. Juan played the Mets and Phillips, and Phillips played the Mets fans. It still hurts.What actually happened:
A cautionary tale.
Gary Matthews Jr.
Roberto Alomar Jr., Roger Cedeno and Mo Vaughn. Shawn Estes, Pedro Astacio, Gary Matthews Jr., John Valentin, Mark Sweeney, Darren Bragg. Catch your breath.
Mo Vaughn. Sigh. The first time I can remember screaming NOOOO at the internet. The Mets brass signed Moo based on a batting cage session. This was unconsciable, but did raise the question of whether I had a chance as I thrive in the 70-80 mph cage myself, and can bend to touch my toes without outside help. Anyway, unburdened by his disgruntled weighty presence, the Angels, of course, went on to win the 2002 World Championship. Mo has done a lot of nice charity work, especially where strippers are concerned.
Alomar. I realized that, 6 or 7 years later, I am still in disbelief over the extent of Alomar's suckiness. My daily disbelief from the time has been replaced by a cosmic era-spanning disbelief. Was it the juice?
And don't forget a classic January for Steve Phillips. Overhauling the roster, Stevie was kind enough to make trades with the league's shittiest teams. Shitty teams are shitty in part because they have shitty players. I know it's not scientific, but it seems to me a hypothesis worth exploring. Anyhow, the Mets history of interactions with the Devil Rays, Rockies, and Brewers should at least raise eyebrows. In an 11 player trade
that could be called a "blockbuster" only if you ignore the shittiness of the players involved, the Mets said goodbye to Zeile and Agbayani and landed:
*outfielder Jeromy Burnitz, righthander Jeff D'Amico and four others in a three-team transaction involving the Milwaukee Brewers and Colorado Rockies.
* infielder-outfielder Lou Collier, outfielder Mark Sweeney and minor leaguers Craig House and Ross Gload.
Shitty teams are shitty because they have shitty players.
To be continued.