In 1969, Tom Seaver beat Philadelphia, 5-1, to become the first Met to win 20 games.
Who remembers the day he was traded to Cincinnati and what your first thoughts were?
I remember the back page of the NY Daily News ran a picture of Seaver in the Met dugout sitting by himself with his head in his hands. It was a very sad day in Met history. Then I remember reading the names of the players they received in return…Steve Hendersen, Pat Zachary, Doug Flynn, Dan Norman…and saying to myself (I was only 11)”what, we couldn’t get Joe Morgan or George Foster?”
I was 13. I kinda was expecting it. I remember getting more upset when Seaver pitched his last game in Houston and Stearns hugging him after the last out cause he knew that Seaver was going to be traded. I called sportsphone the night of the deadline and still couldn’t believe it. I still can’t.
I remember hearing rumors about Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, and my head was filled with visions of Dan Driessen and John Candelaria in blue and orange.
I didn’t begrudge the Mets the opportunity to rebuild an aging team—I just think they picked the wrong players from the Reds system. They would have done better had they aimed for guys like Ray Knight and Bruce Berenyi, rather than Doug Flynn and Dan Norman.
They figured it out a year later when they dealt Koosman to the Twins for a class A pitcher who ended up making more appearances than anyone in MLB history.
JESSIE OROSCO!!!! I’m still waiting for his glove to come down after the last out of the ‘86 WS!
Don’t hold your breath. It’s in orbit around the planet.
It was a train wreck in slow motion. It was almost prevented from happening by Linda DeRoulet but then Dick Young had to write a column on how Nancy Seaver was jealous over the money Nolan and Ruth Ryan were making. Since Dick Young’s son-in-law worked in the Mets front office, Seaver figured it was a plant by M Donald Grant.
Several years later Ed Kranepool said the front office had turned down a trade for Don Sutton and minor leaguer Pedro Guerrero because Guerrero had just broken his ankle.
At a time when there was no 24 hours news TV stations, the trade even made the evening news of Cronkite on CBS, Chancellor on NBC and the 4 heads on ABC. Really big achievement in those days.
I was 8 years old, and I remember crying while I read the Daily News….. My Dad promised to bring to Tom’s 1st game back at Shea, which I remember, was the one time I rooted for the Mets at Shea!!! Dick Young may you rot in hell!!!!!!!
I remember it very well. I was 11…He was my ‘idol’I cried and wouldn’t acknowledge the trade.
In fact when Tom pitched against the Mets I rooted for him.
Billy: If I were an 8-year-old kid rooting for the Mets back then, I would have cried, too.-JD
When that happened there was a hush in the school yard. i was 13 as well :-(
say it aint so is all we could say..
M Donald Grant had to have been one of the stupidest people ever to run a sports franchise. Right up there with Donald Sterling of the Clippers and Wicked Stepmother Teresa Earnhardt.
I think Steve Phillips got the grand prize. he ruined us for how long?
What, exactly, did Steve Phillips ruin?
Steve Phillips was part of a reign of bad GM’s we had that was only broken when we got lucky/smart and got Omar who by the way we turned down several years ago.
Poor Steve Phillips, the only GM to lead the Mets to back to back Playoff appearances and a World Series appearance in the last 20 years.(Until Omar let’s hope and pray) He gets too much grief for A-Rod and Mo Vaughn even though we all know it was the Wilpons who wouldnt splurge for A-Rod and the Vaughn deal did nothing to hold anyone back. Letting Hampton go turned into David Wright and Olerud wasn’t going to resign anyway. And I defy anyone here to tell me that they weren’t in favor of the Alomar trade when it happened. All in all I think SP takes way too much grief from Met fans. Not me, I appreciate what he did. I do not like him on ESPN though. ;-)
Phillips actually did a pretty amazing job, in that he inherited a team featuring the likes of Steve Bieser, Barry Manuel and Toby Borland, and turned them into a World Series contender within three years—and then left the organization, particularly the minor leagues, in better shape than when he found it.
He brought in elite performers like Piazza, Leiter and Hampton—without surrendering much of any value in the process. His critics like to point to the Alomar/Vaughn debacle, but, as noted above, Alomar’s decline was a complete fluke, and Vaughn, because of the insurability of his contract, actually saved the organization money.
And what his detractors always gloss over is how Phillips left things better than he found them. Even though the team was spirraling down in the early 2000s, Phillips was growing a farm that included Reyes, Wright, Heilman, Kazmir, Milledge, Bannister, Huber—prospects a lot more promising than the Butch Huskey, Jason Hardtke group he inherited.
Was he the greatest GM in history? No. But he’s not nearly as bad as his reputation. He had an edict to produce a winner—and did so.
IMO, Phillips was average at best. Basically I think he underperformed as a GM and made too many bad decisions. He had pretty big budgets to work with so he should have made it to the World Series at least once. So I’m not going to praise him too much for 2000.
And I can only give him a tiny bit of credit for Wright since he was ready to trade him to Toronto for Jose Cruz Jr. It’s Ricciardi who we should all thank for Wright as he turned down that trade. And don’t forget Phillips also offered Jose Reyes to Cleveland for Alomar but they turned down Jose. Again thanks to Shapiro. One of the worst decisions Phillips made was to change the medical staff and that ended up resulting in a few bad cases where injuries were not diagnosed or treated properly (Grant Roberts, Jose Ryes, Mike DeJean). It was Omar who went back to the doctor they have now.
I don’t think the A-Rod decision was wrong at all and I don’t blame the Wilpons for not wanting to spend that crazy money. They made the right choice. The only criticism I have of that is Phillips could have been a little more tactful when he spoke to the press about why they weren’t going after him. Did he really have to say “24 + 1” even if it was probably true?
JK: One thing you might be forgetting about Jose Cruz, Jr. was that at the time he was one of theee top prospects in all of baseball. He just didn’t pan out.
And you see Benny, we can even agree on some things! :-)
How could Cruz have been one of the top 3 prospects in all of baseball when he was in his 6th season with Toronto putting up a mediocre year (OPS+ of 99)?
Phillips had pretty bad judgment when it came to outfielders. Payton was his favorite.
JK: I may have gotten my facts wrong, believe me I can even be wrong once in awhile..:-), but what year was SP allegedly going to make that trade? I know in 2001 , Cruz started to make good on his promise. Anyway, the trade didn’t happen. All in all though, IMO, it is hard to argue with the results. I give alot of credit as well to Bobby V who certainly shouldn’t go unmentioned.
Another example of Phillips’ blind spot when it comes to outfielders—he traded Jason Bay to San Diego for a pitcher he let walk at the end of that year. This is the same year he was trying to trade Wright to Toronto for Cruz Jr.!
Well in all fairness, Montreal traded him and so did San Diego.
steve, here’s the story:
I think one thing that GMs need to pay more attention to is makeup and intangibles. They were saying Wright’s makeup was off the charts when he was a minor leaguer. I think that’s what Bannister has going for him. He doesn’t have spectacular stuff, but he has a great mental approach to pitching. These things are often hard to discern but from what I read both these players rated highly in these areas early on in their minor league careers.
Bay was not as developed when Omar traded him, and I can’t blame him for his Montreal moves because that club had no resources and was on the verge of being disbanded. And San Diego did get back Giles for the package with Bay so it was a fair trade. But Phillips was a different story. He got back zilch.
You guys have some memory.
All I know is starting from trading away Mookie to make way for steroids user Nails who was then traded away leaving us with no CF until we got Carlos our management has made one blunder after another.
This in a market and a team that has never been stingy with $$.
I still think Phillips was bad. Not as bad as the guy after him, but 2000 was a fluke. I was happy we went to the dance, but I do not believe we deserved to be there. Just like St Louie did not deserve to be there last year.
And I think we could have gotten Olerud to stay if we wanted to. Yes it was reported he wanted to go home, but if you want a guy you show the love. I think we underbid Seattle of all people and had been searching for a 1B until we got Carlos ( the other one ) last year.
Re the Wright/Cruz rumors, I don’t know how much stock to put into these things—it’s one of those woulda, coulda, shoulda scenarios that are fun to talk about, but probably not worth all that much thereafter. I mean, supposedly, the owners had to instruct Phillips to go get Piazza in ‘98: Do we grade Phillips on his actual performance in obtaining Piazza or do we discount him, based on this rumor?
I’ll say this about Jose Cruz in 2002: He was coming off a 30/30 season and might have provided a nice lift for a team running Timo Perez out there on a daily basis. Cruz was 28, and the Mets had been in first place for 37 days earlier in the season—it doesn’t seem all that far-fetched that you’d deal an A-level prospect for a guy months removed from a 30/30 season.
Re Jason Bay: I don’t buy the Expos-being-disbanded theory. They traded Bay for Lew F’ing Collier. How did that transaction help the Expos stay afloat?
I think Bay fits in alongside Isringhausen as a fluke, rather than an error in judgment. And I don’t agree that the Giles trade somehow validates Bay’s worth: Certainly, if they had projected Bay to be what he is now, there’s little reason to deal him, along with Oliver Perez, for a declining 32-yr-old outfielder.
What young players did Phillips deal that were eventually missed? Dotel? Burnett? I think he mostly dealt away the likes of Jesus Sanchez and Ed Yarnall and Geoff Goetz.
Benny i used to live next store to you in Fat City when you played in the Pelican Team in New Orleans you took me to some games in the dome Like to hear from you been a long time
Benny: Personally I do downgrade a GM when I read stories like this. In case you dodn’t know, sometimes Phillips goes around taking credit for Wright and Reyes. Sure they were obtained when he was the GM. But he tried to trade both. So it’s not as if Phillips has shown great intuition and instincts for being a GM. And I think this is what distinguishes a good GM from a poor or average one.
I’m assuming that the trade talks for Cruz occurred around July 15-30th, 2002. On 7/15 of that year the Mets were 11-1/2 games out of first, and on 7/30 they were 13-1/2 games out of first. While not insurmountable, that’s a pretty huge hill to climb. Leave it up to Phillips to try to trade Wright and to actually trade Bay when the Mets had little chance to make the postseason. And then to not retain Reed after the 2002 season was folly.
About Bay: IIRC, the Montreal Expos were one of two teams targeted for contraction when Omar took them over. With a future so uncertain, I can’t blame any GM of the Expos at that time for concentrating only on the present. Collier had major league experience at least, and the highest level Bay had played at the time was high A where he hit .195 the year before. Omar needed players for the major league level. Hence the Bay-Collier trade. So while Bay was a mistake, I can understand why Omar might have done it. I think you also have to give Omar a little bit of slack there because he was a rookie GM at the time.
By the time Phillips traded Bay later that year, he had put up very solid numbers in high A and AA ball. To trade him for a pitcher you’re not even going to keep after the year and with the team 13-1/2 games out of 1st place at the time was stupid. What was the point?
At AAA in the Padres’ system in 2003, Bay continued to put up terrific numbers and I think his status as a very good prospect was cemented by that time. So while his value was probably a little higher than when Phillips traded him, I disagree with you that SD did not get great value for him in return. Giles at the time was coming off an OPS+ season of 173, his career best and pretty phenomenal, and was in the midst of an OPS+ season of 148. He was still considered a premier player and a lot of teams were after him at the time. There were no significant signs of a player in decline.
Steve Phillips failure was in signing players who weren’t right for the team or too old, failing to develop a strong minor league system, and when he did have great prospects, either trading them for nothing or trying to trade them. Yes, I know you don’t buy into the idea that he should be downgraded for things he ended up not doing, but it just taints his whole tenure IMO. It exposes his lack of good instincts and judgment.
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