THE 9th BEST TRADE IN METS HISTORY: A Bat for the Heart of the Order

THE 9th BEST TRADE IN METS HISTORY

* November 24, 2005: New York Mets trade Grant Psomas, Mike Jacobs and Yusmeiro Petit to the Florida Marlins for Carlos Delgado.

 

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Jimmy:

This trade almost didn’t make our Top Ten, and there are arguments against it, I suppose, but the more I thought about this deal, the more I’ve come to admire it.

Mike:

One of the things that always comes to mind with Delgado is that the reason we had to trade for him was because we couldn’t close the deal a year earlier. That unsuccessful Delgado courtship prior to the 2005 season was painful, as Pedro was dealing that year and with one more bat like Delgado’s we would have been a very dangerous team.

But a year later the Mets got anther shot at Carlos and the fact is they made a great trade. This trade paid immediate dividends in 2006.

Jimmy:

You can look at what the Mets gave up and shrug, nothing. But at the time, those fellas were getting a lot of love from the prospect mavens. Mike Jacobs was organizational player of the Mike Jacobs Cardyear in 2003. In 2005, the converted catcher swatted 11 HRs in only 112 PAs — a monstrous .710 SLG. This was his first taste of the big leagues, an auspicious debut! Meanwhile, we’d been watching Yusmeiro Petit rise through the system with ease. He was widely considered the Mets #1 prospect. His WHIP at A-ball: 0.83. At A+: 0.93. At AA in 2005: 0.92. Even better, he struck out 130 and walked only 18 in Binghamton. But there were whispers from the scouts, concerns that the “stuff” wasn’t outstanding, that he was getting by with a deceptive delivery. The numbers on the page said he’d be great, but there were doubts from the stands (see: Ynoa, Gabriel). Lastly, Grant Psomas was touted as a hard-hitting 3B stuck behind David Wright. At Hagerstown in 2005, his slash line was .300/.403/.551 with 19 HRs. Obviously, three stars in the making. There’s a lesson in this, I think.

Just for fun, here’s a 2005 Baseball America rating of the Mets top 10 prospects. If only Omar had held on to all those guys and waited for the good times to come! I had a 2007 rotation penciled in of Humber, Petit, Hernandez, Bannister, and Soler!

1. Lastings Milledge, of
2. Yusmeiro Petit, rhp
3. Gaby Hernandez, rhp
4. Mike Jacobs, c/1b
5. Philip Humber, rhp
6. Carlos Gomez, of
7. Fernando Martinez, of
8. Anderson Hernandez, ss/2b
9. Brian Bannister, rhp
10. Alay Soler, rhp

Mike:

As we also saw with the Clendenon deal, one of the benefits of young prospects is the ability to trade some to rebuilding teams when you are in position to win. To win you need a great deal of core talent together at the same time. After the 2005 season the Mets already had Pedro Martinez, Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes, and David Wright in place. It was not a moment to be timid, and this was a bold deal. The players traded for Delgado were very highly rated. Because they never accomplished much this trade now looks one-sided, but it looked very fair when it was consummated.

Delgado metsBut it paid off. Delgado had an even 100 home runs in the three years that followed the trade. The Mets won 274 games with only 212 losses. Shea rocked nightly, with paid attendance going all the way to over 4 million customers in 2008. All Mets fans know how disappointing the final games of the season were in each of those years. What now gets glossed over is how much fantastic baseball, winning baseball, we witnessed at that time.

Delgado was in the middle of much of it. That includes the 2006 postseason, as Delgado was a force in the sweep of the Dodgers, and again in the seven games with the Cardinals. Lost in the heartbreak that came from Beltran taking strike three, was that Delgado’s had a great NLCS with a slash line of .304/448/.826.

Jimmy:

The bitter endings to 2007 and 2008 have marred our appreciation of the Mets in that era. When it ends in heartache, it’s hard to look back and think, “Gee, those were good times.”

I played with some numbers recently. The 2006-08 three-year stretch ranks right there with the great 1998-2000 stretch (279 wins), and trumps the 1969-71 era (266 wins). The only period in Mets history that was appreciably better was any three-year period from 1985-90, take your pick. The all-time best was 1985-87 with 298 wins (a 108-win season really helps those three-year averages).

Mike:

The idea is to make the postseason, and those teams did it only once. So I’m the first guy not to get totally misty eyed about the era. But the recent narrative that discusses the time period as one big fail is an interesting rewrite of history. The last three years we keep hearing about sustained success. Between 2006 and 2008 we actually experienced it.

Jimmy:

One last bit of date, the five worst three-year stretches in Mets history:

  • 1962-64: 144 wins
  • 1980-83: 200 wins (Note: 1981 was strike season, so I skipped it.)
  • 1991-93: 208 wins
  • 2002-04: 212 wins
  • 2011-13: 225 wins

There are so many dimensions to the Delgado deal, I have to mention another: internal Monteroscouting. When you trade big-time prospects and they don’t work out, it’s a credit to the team’s minor league evaluators. Right now, I’m sure that’s the kind of conversation the Super Friends (nickname credit: Metstradamus) are having about Syndergaard and Montero. I can imagine a scout in a room pounding a fist on the table, saying “If you trade Syndergaard, you will regret it for the rest of your life!” Another guy might be saying, “Yes, but I have my doubts about Montero.” Or vice versa, somebody is looking at Syndergaard’s delivery and saying, “Guy is going to break down.” A clear, accurate assessment of the talent is a critical ingredient to any trade.

Mike:

That is true. If you look at players as commodities, you also have insider information on the commodity. A team should have a better handle on the players in their own system than anyone else. Selling high on some of these guys can provide the greatest return they can ever give a team.

Jimmy:

Clearly, the Mets were willing to take on big salary to get this deal done. They gave up a lot, paid a lot of money, and got in exchange an outstanding player and leader. The result: a legitimate shot at the World Series.

As you pointed out, that strange war involving Delgado’s agent when he was first a free agent after the  2004 season — a sad battle of egos, and insults, and wounded pride — tainted the eventual trade in many eyes. It killed me at the time, because I kept believing that we should have had him a year sooner without giving up all those prospects. But once the water rolled under the bridge, Omar kept at it and kept at it. He knew who he wanted, he had a vision for a championship team, and Carlos Delgado was destined to be the big bat in the thick of things.

Mike:

Omar Minaya has been rightfully hammered for some terrible free agent signings. But this trade was great and led to a lot of winning baseball in New York.

As we search for a bat this offseason, we could use another deal like this one right now. As Alderson mentioned himself, it’s not like we already have one in our organization.

 

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23 comments

  1. RAFF says:

    You hit it on the head, concerning the importance of internal scouting. I wonder what Omar’s staff was telling him about the cache of players they surrendered for Delgado. I wonder what Sandy’s minions are telling him about the current prospects.

  2. Eric says:

    Correct on Player Evaluation! In Trading/signing established players, the key is to sign and trade for guys who will produce on par with or above their own history. Griping about the “PRICE” of a Free Agent who is ON THE MARKET is feeble…. the key is to sign Market Priced players who will play to their own History.

    As for outsmarting other people…it’s more about assessing your own needs and bringing people in where you have some space to allow yourself to get Lucky…SEE RA Dickey… Marlon Byrd.

  3. Patrick Boegel says:

    The fact that they could have had Delgado but bungled it then had to trade assets for him says everything about the New York Mets.

    All they had to do in order to even get Delgado interested was not show up with Tony Bernazard as the two had a bad bad history. So what do they do, show up with Tony Bernazard. Sometimes you have to respect people’s gripes no matter what.

    I think more than the collapse and the subsequent crap that is unfortunate about the teams from 2005-2008, the unfortunate but very real racism that reared itself among Mets fans about Latino players. It was poo-pooed when Andy Martino brought it up in regards to Luis Castillo, but that was simply a bad example and a somewhat awful sports writer mixing.

    It goes back to the devastating comment somewhat with the very white anglo american Tom Glavine.

    If 2007 and 2008 taught me anything, I would love to watch the Mets play 162 game season and it end badly on the final day every season from now until the day I die vs the morbid product they are trying to piece together the last several seasons.

    It stinks, but it is not devastating, and ultimately, all of those players wanted to win, they just don’t lose their minds when they don’t, because they can’t. Because they have to repeat it all again in several months. Sadly most of the story sits around a called third strike on a wicked curveball from a rookie you’d never believe had the stomach to throw it in that spot, an image of Delgado in a cast laughing after the final game of 2007, with zero context as to why, and Shea Stadium ready to be demolished, a day after Johan Santana pitched the best game I ever heard on the radio driving through the rain to New Hampshire.

    I liked the Delgado trade very much. I just wish the Mets could learn from their mistakes as an organization, if you signed a Delgado in 2005, you might not need to deplete your assets the following winter to get him. The last three wasted winters of patience have put the Mets in an even more difficult spot.

  4. James Preller says:

    That was the mental hurdle I had to overcome, moving beyond the fail free agency negotiation and forwarding to the winter of 2005. Delgado on the Marlins, and the Mets still needing a big bat. I had to analyze the trade in that context.

    • Patrick Boegel says:

      Imagine if they could have traded say Petit, Posmas and Jacobs for a pitcher going into 2006. I don’t know like a Josh Beckett. Would have needed to be a Milledge vs Jacobs leading that deal, but still, the more assets the more flexible you can be.

      • . . . And Delgado’s contract was backloaded. They got his best season in 2005 for the least money. Of course, they did it again to the Mets with Reyes, totally running circles around Sandy Alderson.

  5. RAFF says:

    Inevitably, hindsight always reveals a better path. But many of us have been saying, UPFRONT – that in the current realm of things, the Mets have been waiting too long to pull the trigger on gathering REAL Big League players together into the organization. So, even if everything falls Jelly-side up with the young pitchers, and Matt Harvey returns to form – will they have done enough to get to a 2015 WS competitor? Will they be able to complete a bridge to that in 2014?

  6. I am seeing “2016” mentioned more often on the comments boards.

  7. RAFF says:

    Jimmy– 2016??? By then Sandy will be looking to get a head-start on DUMPING all the young pitchers, prior to them gaining arbitration Eligibility… OYE VEY!

  8. Michael Geus says:

    We still have a lot of work to do to be competitive by 2016.

    • Patrick Boegel says:

      Don’t worry, 2013-14 free agent prices will be far less scary in 2016, that may or may not be surprising to the man steering the boat toward the cliff.

  9. Eric says:

    The Wilpon Organization has run off almost 2 million fans and impacted viewership negatively for their own network and Major League Baseball.

    Their Flailing, Failing performance has been a NEGATIVE to MLB…. most especially disappointing as an anchor franchise for the visibility, media and product sales of MLB as a whole….with an especially negative impact on the Network TV Performance of the “MLB Business”.

    Their reward is an additional $25 Million in Broadcast revenues for NON-EXISTENT Performance…HAH!!!!!! These guys, in their own vernacular, are OVERPRICED. With all of their talk about overpriced free agents NOTHING is as Over Priced as the Mets Organization.

    • Michael Geus says:

      Totally agree.

      • James Preller says:

        Sandy is the aging veteran, long past his prime, in the fourth year of a contract with no end in sight. The most unproductive signing of the lot. The entire front office is the antithesis of everything they espouse. Except for one thing: They take a lot pitches.

  10. IB says:

    Different subject, but I wonder if 2 Guys caught this quote from Alderson yesterday, “It’s sad that a level of loyalty to a fanbase is measured in dollar signs. No fan is probably ever going to be satisfied with what his or her team is spending on players.”

    An odd, arrogant and purposefully obtuse perspective. Irks me a bit. And as far as us fans having ridiculous expectations which, by the way Sandy, are consistent with the current MLB megadeal business model, to quote the brilliant Jimmy Durante, “Deez are de conditions dat preeevail”.

    • Michael Geus says:

      Yes, IB, a spoiler alert as we speak about this some tomorrow (not this exact quote, but this sentiment). Every time he opens his mouth he makes things worse.

      This quote is complete nonsense. Fans want to see a winning team. If that can be done with a low payroll all power to the GM in charge. In three years Sandy has not shown the ability to be that GM. Trust me, if Sandy builds a World Series Champion in 2014 with a payroll of $55 million the fans will love him to death. They also would if he built one with a $155 million payroll.

      If the job is too much, if he can’t do it, he can quit and walk away from his paycheck. If he doesn’t want to do that he should stop complaining, especially about the fans.

      It’s a new round of excuses from this guy now that the expiration date on blaming the contracts he inherited has come due.

      The expression that Sandy is not getting is this one:

      Time to put up or shut up.

  11. IB says:

    Michael – Couldn’t have said it better. My sentiments exactly.

  12. RAFF says:

    And to Think -Alderson is the Front Man– HAND-PICKED by MLB to be the Polished front office exec who provides the steady knowing hand and a good public “touch” to guide them through the rough waters to their future success. This buffoonery is testament to how much wealth can be created with an iron-clad anti-trust exemption and public funding of the facilities in which to do business. Let’s see— That’s the Defense Industry, BIG OIL, Pharma, and BASEBALL…

    • Patrick Boegel says:

      I think sadly what we are seeing transpire as this all comes to a head, is that the role of Sandy Alderson and company was to simply see if it was plausible to “help” the Wilpons by getting them out of their own way as they waited for the ship to stop taking water. This seems like at least a fairly plausible outline:

      -We no longer will float you checks as you wait for the Madoff situation to potentially crush you.
      -We will put someone in your front office if you like, who might be able to take some heat off of you as you do next to nothing in terms of adding immediate impact talent to your roster.
      -By the time this is all said and done, your franchise valuation will likely be close to $2.5B, if things have not improved with the go internal strategy, we advise you sell while ahead.

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