Thanks, Yanks – It Was a Fun Two Years

As the Yankees playoff drive traveled to Citi Field this week for three games against the “hometeam” Tampa Bay Rays, and filled the stadium with Aaron Judge jerseys, I pictured Mr. Met stepping out of his office, and like any good host, welcoming them to Citi Field. Being the graciously good host that Mr. Met is, I’m sure as he departed their clubhouse, he would have said, “Thank you for loaning us the city for two years. You can have it back now.”

What a marvelous two years it was Mr. Met and company. The team made the postseason in consecutive seasons for only second time in franchise history. They made the World Series for the first time in 15 years in 2015 and taken together, 2015 and 2016 were among the franchise’s best pair of consecutive seasons.

Think about the optimism Mets fans were able to enjoy for two years. Finally they had a pitching staff worthy of comparisons to Seaver/Koosman/Matlack or Gooden/Darling/Ojeda.

Of course, who could forget the generosity of the Bronx Bombers to loan New York City to their neighbors in Queens for two WHOLE years. In contrast, back in 2000, they loaned the city to the Mets for about two innings – as in the time the Mets led Game 1 by a score of 3-2 – before the Yankees prevailed in extra innings.

They were a little more generous in 2006 when the Mets owned the city for about 10 days after the Yankees were bounced from the ALDS amidst a lot of Joe Torre dropping A-Rod to eighth in the lineup drama while the Mets fought their way to Game 7 of the NLCS before Adam Wainwright froze Carlos Beltran with a called strike 3.

It is striking though to think how quickly these two years passed. To compare September 14 statuses, the 2017 Mets would’ve trailed the 2015 version by 21 games (83-61 vs. 63-83) in addition to the fact that the 2015 team was 9.5 games up in the standings while the 2017 team is 26 games back of first place. Pitchers who were supposed to dominate for years can’t quite seem to stay healthy for one year. Two years after the Mets clinched the NLCS in four games at Wrigley Field, the Cubs swept a three game series in the Windy City by a combined score of 39-14.

Ironically, the Yankee record is about the same this year at 79-66 as it was two years ago at 79-64. However, the trajectory of the 2015 team was down as the team was aging and the trajectory for the 2017 seems to match the trajectory of an Aaron Judge Home Run Derby moonshot. They’ve managed to rebuild without plummeting.

On the other hand, the trajectory of the Mets seems to have matched the trajectory of a pop up to the catcher – straight up and straight down.

But let’s be gracious like Mr. Met. Thank you, Yankees. It was a fun two years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Great Trades Go Bad

Among the Mets unloaded during this August’s fire sale was veteran second baseman Neil Walker, who was dealt to the Milwaukee Brewers for the still unnamed player to be named later and yes, who’ll probably be another hard throwing minor league relief pitcher because it takes a lot of pitchers to get through nine innings nowadays.

Walker played well for the Mets, the only blemish being the time he missed due to injuries in 2016 and 2017.

Unfortunately for Walker, he was traded for Daniel Murphy, who never took off the Superman cape he donned during the 2015 postseason for the Mets and has since tormented his old team and really annoyed every other team since joining the division rival Washington Nationals.

But wait, Walker wasn’t traded for Murphy. He was traded for Jon Niese and Niese’s ERA for the Pirates was a two-run homer away from being above 5.00 before the Bucs sent him back to the Mets in August 2016. However, the reunion was brief and the lefthander soon thereafter ended the season on the DL. He hasn’t pitched in the majors since then.

So acquiring Walker for Niese was a great trade for the Mets. When healthy, Walker met the expectations on the back of his baseball card but sadly for the Amazins, Murphy seems to have exchanged the back of his baseball card for Wade Boggs’ baseball card since leaving the team from Flushing.

Dilson Herrera was thought to be the Mets second baseman for the next decade in December 2015 but he was traded to the Reds for Jay Bruce less than a year later. Herrera hasn’t been able to crack the Reds roster and his 2017 ended on the operating table as he had surgery to remove bone spurs in his right shoulder in July.

Yet, if Neil Walker going into his free agent walk year was only going to be a one-year place holder for Herrera, why let Murphy go in the first place if you could’ve signed him for three years like the Nats? Even if he wasn’t going to continue to be the 2015 postseason Daniel Murphy, the 2008-2015 regular season Murphy was a solid .280 – .300 hitter (albeit with a some defensive lapses and head scratching baserunning on occasion). Even if Herrera was ready to man second base in 2017, Murphy was a good insurance policy for David Wright at third base but evidently, the Mets didn’t want to pay the premiums on that policy.

When the Mets “traded” Murphy for Walker in December 2015, I’d say the consensus was Walker had been a better overall player over the course of their careers. It’s not Walker’s fault that Murphy has defied the odds and re-made himself after the age of 30. It happens sometimes. Look at Justin Turner. Oh wait, the Mets let him go, too.