A “2 Guys” Tip of the Hat to Old Man Hawkins

We've enjoyed watching LaTroy Hawkins pitch for the Mets this year.

We’ve enjoyed watching LaTroy Hawkins pitch for the Mets this year.


One clear bright spot this year, at the age of 40, has been pitcher LaTroy Hawkins. He has been solid all year, and when closer Bobby Parnell went down and David Aardsma faltered in that role, LaTroy stepped in and pitched admirably.


For a cool million, I had no problem with the signing. But I didn’t expect this kind of solid season. My bad. It’s been very much in line with his 2009, 2011, and 2012 seasons.


It has been a long career for Hawkins at this point, and as much of it was in the AL, a lot of Mets fans missed a great deal of it. He came up with Minnesota as a starter, in fact, he made 98 starts with the Twins beginning in 1995. He was, frankly, awful at it; his lowest ERA during that period was the 5.25 he posted in 33 starts during the 1998 campaign. When he followed that up with a 6.66 ERA in another miserable 33 starts, the Twins finally moved him to the bullpen. He had some success there in 1999, and was given some closing opportunities. In 2000 he became a full-time closer, and it went as well as his earlier period as a starter.


LaTroy shared a clubhouse with Kirby Puckett i 1995.

LaTroy shared a clubhouse with Kirby Puckett i 1995.


I know, looking at his career from today’s vantage point, his brutal beginning surprised me. Six of his first seven seasons were borderline awful — and yet the Twins stuck with him. Of course, the club was just as bad, until finally turning it around in 2001, about the same time LaTroy found his feet.


Yes, people forget how bad it was in Minnnesota back then. Contraction of the franchise was bandied about for a while.

He eventually lost the job to Everyday Eddie Guardado, and just when it looked like LaTroy could be done as a major leaguer he flourished in 2001 and 2002 as a setup man. Free agency beckoned after that, and Latroy became a typical relief pitcher nomad, with stops in Chicago (NL), San Francisco, Baltimore, Colorado, New York (AL), Houston, Milwaukee, Los Angeles (AL), and now the Mets. As Hawkins has clearly pitched well enough to earn a major league contract for 2014 the question becomes: Should the Mets offer one?


Oh yes, definitely. It’s so hard to tell from here about the clubhouse stuff, and character issues, but everything I’ve seen and heard portrays him to be a dignified, respectful ballplayer. A graceful, almost elegant presence. There’s no guarantee that he’ll keep it up, but the terms of the deal couldn’t be better. Supposedly he wants to live in NY with his family for another year. Give him a slight raise, say thank you, and move on to bigger problems.

Dr. James Andrews.

Dr. James Andrews.

By the way, it only feels like he’s been around forever. He was never actually a teammate of Harmon Killebrew and Zoilo Versalles. But LaTroy sat in the pen with Rick Aquilera and watched Kirby Puckett in his final trip around the bases. A sad end. You have to appreciate these guys who have been around. Coincidentally, yesterday I read an excellent feature article on Dr. James Andrews in ESPN Magazine, written by Scott Eden.¬†Toward the end of the long article, Andrews, 71, dodged the idea of retirement. And he had a great line about it, “I never met an athlete who didn’t want two more years.”


That is true, and let’s be honest, it’s all about the money. Before player salaries exploded guys actually retired. Now you have to rip the uniform off of them.

And ultimately it ends badly, and someone is stuck with the last year of Julio Franco. So when it comes to Hawkins, the dollar amount has to come into play too. But at about a million again, sure, why not?


hernandez26As a Mets fan, there’s a lot of players on other teams that I don’t see much. And it’s often a treat to finally get a look at these guys. I remember how much I enjoyed El Duque, just watching him work a batter; I came away with a whole new appreciation of the guy. LaTroy Hawkins fills that bill, too. I’m glad — as a fan — to have gotten a close view of a real gentleman ballplayer. Can you think of anyone else like that for you, Mike?


Getting Orel Hershiser in 1999 when he was half-finished seemed like cruel timing when I first heard that we signed him. By the end of his season with the Mets I was really glad to have had a chance to see him pitch with us. Nothing was left but the bulldog demeanor which earned him his nickname, yet he was very effective.


On the other hand, there was Roberto Alomar. Wow, I was thrilled when the Mets got him, mostly for the same reasons. I’d finally get a chance to watch him, a future Hall-of-Famer, on a consistent basis. What a disappointment that was. Like stale gum.


After Carlos Baerga, and then Alomar, if the Mets never bring in another Cleveland second baseman it would be fine with me.


Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS


  1. Brian Joura says:

    I’m in the bring back Hawkins camp, too.

    My only request is that between now and the end of the year he teach his “quick pitch” move to Daisuke Matsuzaka.

  2. Eric says:

    I’d prefer he teach Dice the ” QUICK Pack and LEAVE Move”.

    • Patrick Boegel says:

      I get that he is horrendously slow at pace, but I’d keep an eye on him before completely stating him done. The guy pitched decently his last two games, and his first three not good results, but he has not pitched regularly against major league teams in two years, and only had 18 games under his belt at AAA this year.

      Somewhere along the line they are going to have to till the soil for some starts from guys like this.

  3. Eric says:

    I like Harang Better…he’s ALWAYS been a Grinder. Dice was a bad ride with great stuff in the mid and high 90’s—at 88-91 he’s a dud. The most recent start versus Miami does not qualify as a start versus a Major League Lineup.

    • Patrick Boegel says:

      Two starts ago was a against Cleveland 6th best offense in the American League, 7th best in MLB, even if we ran a regression to adjust for DH they’d still be in the top 10 overall and likely remain 6,7, or 8 as all AL teams would drop down.

      Not suggesting the Mets roll out the carpet for a long term deal, but he continues to be worth watching. He is at a point where he evolves his game or his big league career does not continue.

      • Michael Geus says:

        When I think about picking between Harang and Dice-K, all my mind wants to do is make jokes. But I will surprise myself and be serious. You need guys like them, I would not be upset at all if both are in a camp. The key is that they are there on Day One as depth, potential sixth or seventh starters, because, well, things happen.

        When they come into camp as even a number five, by July they could be in your top three. That isn’t going to work.

        • All I can say is, either Montero or Syndergaard — one or the other — must be in starting rotation in April. If they Super 2 both of these guys, and give us Dice-K or whomever, I might cry. Montero has nothing left to prove. Syndergaard is ready to make the jump. I can accept one as a Super 2, not both, not in 2014 when winning is supposed to be a consideration.

  4. RAFF says:

    I’m with Jimmy on this, Kind-of… I’m not committed to Syndergaard or Montero for Day 1 Pitching roster, but I think that if they’re ready, or if Some OTHER minor league talent is ready to get some Major League Work, they need to get it- And the sooner the better. Maybe this means some spot-starts and some relief work- like the Sox and others are doing with their key Pitching Prospects over this year and over Many years— Work them in, feed them slowly- maybe see what happens. Over the years, we’ve seen guys like Schilling, Dempster, Masterson and others who have rotated between roles and found their “spot” in the Major League lineups of their respective teams. The point is- The Mets have some good young arms- let’s work them in, let’s not get them too far over their heads, and let’s see what develops. But first and foremost- If their READY- let’s get them in the Show. As far as the SUPER 2– I’m with Jimmy, 100%– I’m sick and tired of hearing about it, thinking about it, and seemingly having it as a major Factor which directs what the Mets do with their prospects. As all have stated- the decisions which management makes in both player acquisition and promotion will provide all of us with a clear signal as to this management’s intention to implement a plan for success.

Leave a Reply