Toby Borland – His New York Mets Career 1997

Toby BorlandThe New York Mets acquired Toby Borland along with Ricardo Jordan from the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for Rico Brogna on November 27, 1996.  Borland had proved to be an effective middle reliever for the Phillies over the previous three seasons winning 10 games, including a 7-3 record in 1996.  The Mets were hoping he would fill the same role for them in 1997 but things did not work out for Borland in New York and he was traded to the Boston Red Sox for Rick Trlicek on May 12,1997.

He made his Mets debut on Opening Day in 1997 and had a dreadful outing. He allowed 3 runs in just 1/3 of an inning.  He never fully recovered and had a difficult time finding the plate. In 13 games for the Mets he posted a 6.08 ERA and walked 14 batters in 13 1/3 innings.  His one shining moment with the Mets came on April 15th when he pitched four innings of relief to earn a save in the Mets 5-0 win over the Dodgers.

While with the Mets Borland wore number 43.

Toby Borland also played for the following teams:
Philadelphia Phillies – 1994-1996, 1998
Boston Red Sox – 1997
Anaheim Angels – 2001
Florida Marlins – 2002-2004

 

 

Lance Johnson – His New York Mets Career 1996-1997

Lance JohnsonThe Mets signed Lance Johnson to be their leadoff hitter and centerfielder prior to the 1996 season.  In his first season in New York, he far exceeded everyone’s expectations as he had perhaps the greatest offensive season in franchise history.  Johnson a career .285 hitter went on to rewrite part of the Met record book in 1996.  He led the Mets with a .333 average, which was also 4th best in the league and at the time the second highest in franchise history, Cleon Jones hit .340 in 1969.  He became the first player in Met history to record over 200 hits.  His 227 hits not only led the National League it also obliterated the franchise record of 191 by Felix Millian in 1975.  He also set the franchise records for triples (21), runs scored (117) and total bases (327).  He also stole 50 bases, which was just eight shy of Mookie Wilson’s club record 58.  He also drove in 69 runs, an impressive number coming from a leadoff hitter.    For his efforts, he was named to the National League All – Star team where he could easily have been the game’s MVP – he went 3 for 4 with a double and stolen base.

Needless to say, expectations were high for Johnson entering the 1997 season.  He did put up some decent numbers in 1997 but injuries, mainly shin splints, hampered him for much of the season.  He was hitting .306 when the Met brass sensing that his 1996 season was more an aberration than the norm decided to include him in a six-player trade with the Cubs in August.  The Mets acquired pitchers Turk Wendell, Mel Rojas and outfielder Brian McRae for Johnson, Manny Alexander and Mark Clark.  It turned out the Mets knew what they were doing when they traded Johnson, as he never again approached the numbers he put up in 1996.  He retired following the 2000 season.

In 1 ½ seasons with the Mets Lance Johnson appeared in 232 games and hit .326 with 10 home runs and 93 RBIs.

While with the Mets Johnson wore number 1.

Lance Johnson also played for the following teams:
St. Louis Cardinals – 1987
Chicago White Sox – 1988-1995
Chicago Cubs – 1997-1999
New York Yankees – 2000

 

 

 

 

 

Manny Alexander – His New York Mets Career 1997

Manny AlexanderThe New York Mets acquired Manny Alexander on March 22, 1997 from the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for Hector Ramirez. Alexander who was once considered the heir apparent to Cal Ripken Jr in Baltimore would play 54 games for the Mets in 1997 mainly as a utility infielder. Alexander made his Mets debut on April 2, 1997 against the San Diego Padres when he replaced 2nd baseman Carlos Baerga. In his first at bat as a Met he singled to centerfield.

Injuries hampered much of his time with the Mets and he hit just .248 with 2 home runs and 15 runs batted in before he was traded to the Chicago Cubs on August 8 along with Mark Clark and Lance Johnson in exchange for Turk Wendell, Brian McRae and Mel Rojas.

While with the Mets Alexander wore number 6.

Manny Alexander also played for the following teams:
Baltimore Orioles – 1992,1993,1995,1996
Chicago Cubs – 1997-1999
Boston Red Sox – 2000
Texas Rangers – 2004
San Diego Padres – 2005,2006

Ricardo Jordan – His New York Mets Career 1997

Ricardo Jordan was acquired along with Toby Borland from the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for Rico Brogna prior to the 1997 season.  Jordan was slated to be a member of the Mets bullpen but unfortunately it didn’t work out as planned as Jordan struggled all season.  Jordan was the losing pitcher in two of his first three appearances during which he posted an ERA of 13.50.  He settled down somewhat after his rough start but was sent down to the minors at the beginning of May with his ERA at 4.32.  He returned to New York in June but once again struggled. He did manage to win a game on June 29th.  Following that game, he was once again sent down to the minors only to return in September when the rosters expanded but he continued to struggle and finished the season with a 1-2 record and 5.33 ERA in 27 innings.

Following the season Jordan signed as a free agent with the Cincinnati Reds 

While with the Mets Jordan wore number 48.

Ricardo Jordan also played for the following teams:
Toronto Blue Jays – 1995
Philadelphia Phillies – 1996
Cincinnati Reds – 1998

Bobby Jones – His New York Mets Career – 1993-2000

Bobby J JonesThe New York Mets drafted right handed pitcher Bobby Jones in the first round of the 1991 amateur draft with a compensation pick they received when Darryl Strawberry signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers as a free agent. After spending three seasons in the minors where he won 25 games, Bobby Jones made his Met debut on August 14, 1993 against the Philadelphia Phillies.  He pitched 6 innings allowing just one earned run for his first major league win.  He would finish out the season 2 – 4 with a 3.65 ERA.  In his last start of the season Jones pitched 10 innings of shutout ball and struck out 9 batters against the St, Louis Cardinals, a game the Mets would win 1-0 in 17 innings.

Bobby Jones made the Mets starting rotation out of Spring Training in 1994 as their number 3 starter.  He would go on to have a solid season for the Mets winning 12 games, 2nd to Bret Saberhagen’s team best 14, in the strike shortened season.  Now firmly entrenched in the Mets starting rotation Jones was named the opening day starter in 1995, he would go on to lead the team with 10 wins, unfortunately he also led the team with 10 losses.  He followed that up with a 12 and 8 season in 1996.   

1997 would be Bobby Jones’ best season in the majors. After starting the season 3 and 2 he reeled off 8 straight victories and was named the National League Pitcher of the Month for May.  During the month, Jones won all 5 of his starts while posting a 1.15 ERA.  He would finish the season with a career best 15 wins.  Along the way, he made his first and only All-Star game appearance where he pitched one inning and retired the side in order striking out 2 including future Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr.  

After posting a 9 and 9 season in 1998, Jones suffered through an injury plagued 1999 appearing in only 12 games winning just 3.  The Mets advanced to the playoffs in 1999 but Jones was left off the postseason roster.  He returned in 2000 as the Mets number 5 starter.  Despite a 5.06 ERA he managed to win 11 games and helped the Mets reach the postseason for the second consecutive season 

In the National League Divisional Series against the San Francisco Giants, Jones was tabbed to pitch game 4 with the Mets leading the series 2 games to 1.  Bobby Jones would go on to pitch arguably the greatest game in Mets history, throwing a complete game one hit shutout. He retired the side in order in 8 of the 9 innings.  With the win the Mets clinched the series and advanced to the National League Championship Series.   Even though the Mets would eventually advance to the World Series it would be Bobby Jones’ last victory in a Met uniform.  Following the season Bobby Jones signed with the San Diego Padres as a free agent, where he pitched two more seasons before retiring.   

In 8 seasons with the Mets Bobby Jones pitched in 193 regular seasons games and posted a 74 and 56 record with a 4.13 ERA.

While with the Mets Jones wore number 28.

Bobby Jones also played for the San Diego Padres in 2001 and 2002.

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Cory Lidle – His New York Mets Career 1997

cory lidleThe Mets acquired right-handed pitcher Cory Lidle from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for Kelly Stinnett on January 17, 1996.  At the time of the trade Lidle had yet to appear in the majors having spent five seasons in the minors for both the Minnesota Twins and Milwaukee Brewers.  He would spend his first season in the Mets organization pitching for the Binghamton Mets, their double A affiliate, where he posted a 14-10 record.  He started the 1997 season with the Norfolk Tides before finally getting the call to the majors.

Lidle made his Major League debut for the Mets on May 8, 1997.  He pitched two innings of scoreless relief in the Mets 4-2 defeat at the hands of the Houston Astros.  Three days later Lidle would earn his first victory against the St Louis Cardinals, he pitched a scoreless 8th inning striking out two. 

Lidle would finish out the season as one of the Mets most effective relievers.  He appeared in 54 games and posted a 7-2 record with 2 saves and 3.53 ERA.  Lidle did start two games for the Mets but did not have much success; he failed to get past the 4th inning in each start. 

Following the season the Mets lost Lidle when he was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 1998 expansion draft.  After leaving the Mets Lidle enjoyed an 8-year career before tragically dying in a plane crash in 2006.

While with the Mets Lidle wore number 11. 

Cory Lidle also played for the following teams:
Tampa Bay Devil Rays – 1999,2000
Oakland A’s – 2001,2002
Toronto Blue Jays – 2003
Philadelphia Phillies – 2004-2006
Cincinnati Reds – 2004
New York Yankees – 2006

John Olerud – His New York Mets Career 1997-1999

John Olerud.pngPrior to the 1997 season the Mets pulled off one of the greatest trades in franchise history when they sent pitcher Robert Person to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for first baseman John Olerud.  Though Olerud was a solid hitting first baseman he never developed into the power hitter the Blue Jays were hoping for and became expendable with the emergence of Carlos Delgado who was more of a power threat.

The Mets were more than happy to take John Olerud off the Blue Jays hands and Met fans were glad they did.  Olerud quickly became a fan favorite due to his quiet demeanor and steady bat while also anchoring the Mets infield with solid defense.

In 1997, his first season in New York, Olerud hit .294 with 22 home runs and a team best 102 RBIs.  He also became the seventh player in franchise history to hit for the cycle when he accomplished the feat on September 11.

In 1998 Olerud set the Mets single season record with a .354 batting average as well as with a .447 on-base percentage.  Also for the second straight season Olerud led the Mets in RBIs, this time with 93. 

In 1999 John Olerud hit .298 with 19 home runs and 96 RBIs as the Mets reached the postseason for the first time since 1988.   A feat that happened thanks in large part to a clutch home run by Olerud during the stretch run.  On September 29 with the Mets in the midst of a seven game losing streak and on the verge of falling out of the race for the National League Wild Card, John Olerud saved the Met season by hitting a grand slam off Greg Maddux in the bottom of the 4th inning.  It was the Mets seventh consecutive hit of the inning and broke the game open.  The Mets went on to win the game 9-2 and three of their next four games to force a one game playoff with the Cincinnati Reds. The Mets won the playoff game 5-0 to take the National League Wild Card. 

In 1999 John Olerud also anchored an infield many considered to be the best of all-time.  Olerud was joined by 2B Edgardo Alfonzo, SS Rey Ordonez and 3B Robin Ventura.  The quartet committed just 27 errors during the entire season.

In the postseason Olerud homered off Randy Johnson of the Arizona Diamondbacks in the first game of the NLDS.  He would drive in six runs and hit .438 as the Mets won the series in four games to advance to the NLCS.

In the NLCS against the Atlanta Braves he hit another two home runs and once again drove in six runs.  He also got the game winning hit in game four, the Mets first win of the series.  Unfortunately, the Mets lost the series in six games.  In ten postseason games Olerud hit .348 with three home runs and twelve RBIs.

Unfortunately for the Mets 1999 would be Olerud’s last season in New York.  In order to be closer to his family he decided to sign with the Seattle Mariners as a free agent.

In his three seasons with the Mets Olerud hit .315 with 63 home runs and 291 RBIs. 

While with the Mets Olerud wore number 5.

John Olerud also played for the following teams:
Toronto Blue Jays – 1989-1996
Seattle Mariners – 2000-2004
New York Yankees – 2004
Boston Red Sox – 2005

 

 

Carlos Mendoza – His New York Mets Career 1997

Carlos mensozaThe Mets signed outfielder Carlos Mendoza as an amateur free agent on November 10, 1992 but he wouldn’t appear in a Met uniform until 1997.  He made his Major League debut on September 3, 1997 as a pinch runner for Butch Huskey and finished out the season appearing in 15 games, mainly as a pinch hitter and pinch runner.  He hit .250 (3 for 12) with 1 RBI.  His only RBI occurred as a result of a hit by pitch during his first career start on September 24.

Following the season Mendoza was drafted by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the 1997 expansion draft.

While with the Mets Mendoza wore number 6.

Carlos Mendoza also played for the Colorado Rockies in 2000.

Edgardo Alfonzo – His New York Mets Career 1995-2002

Edgardo AlfonzoEdgardo Alfonzo made his Major League debut with the Mets on April 26, 1995 and would go on to play eight seasons with the team becoming one of the most popular players in team history as evidenced by his being voted the greatest 2nd baseman in Mets history by the fans as part of their 40th Anniversary Celebration.

After two good yet unspectacular seasons in 1995 and 1996 Alfonzo broke out in 1997 hitting a team best .315.  But his best season with the Mets came in 1999 when he established himself as one of the top hitters in the game.  He hit 27 home runs and drove in 108 while helping the Mets reach the postseason for the first time since 1988.  He also set the Mets single season record for runs scored with 123.   On August 30th against the Houston Astros Alfonzo had a career day by becoming the first player and to date the only player in franchise history to go 6 for 6 in a game.  He hit three home runs and drove in five and became the first player since the legendary Ty Cobb to go 6 for 6 with three home runs in a game.

In 1999 Edgardo Alfonzo also established himself as one of the games best defensive players. After playing most of his career at 3rd base Alfonzo moved to 2nd base and committed just five errors for a .993 fielding percentage. Many believe he should have won the gold glove but he was beaten out by Pokey Reese of the Reds.

In order for the Mets to make the postseason in 1999 the Mets were forced to play a one game playoff against the Cincinnati Reds.  Alfonzo hit a two run home run in the first inning of the game which proved to be all the runs the Mets needed as they went on to win 5-0.

Alfonzo continued his hot hitting in his first postseason game against the Arizona Diamondback hitting two home runs including a grand slam while driving in five runs.  In all he hit three home runs and drove in six in helping the Mets defeat the Diamondbacks in the NLDS.  He continued his great hitting in the NLCS against the Atlanta Braves with another home run and five RBI’s but the Mets lost to the Braves in six games.

In 2000 he continued his stellar play and earned his first All-Star selection by hitting a career best .324 with 25 home runs and 94 RBI’s in helping the Mets reach the World Series for the first time since 1986.

Alfonzo’s production started to suffer in 2001 and 2002, due in large part to back problems and the Mets let him walk as a free agent following the 2002 season much to the chagrin of many Mets fans including this one.  But it turned out to be the right move as his production continued to decline. 

Edgardo Alfonzo did try to make a comeback with the Mets in 2006 signing with their Triple A affiliate the Norfolk Tides but the bid fell short and Alfonzo never made it back to the big leagues. 

In his eight seasons with the Mets Alfonzo hit .292 with 120 home runs and 538 RBI’s in 1086 games.

In 24 postseason games Alfonzo hit .240 with 4 home runs and 17 RBI’s.

While with the Mets Edgardo Alfonzo wore number 13 in tribute to his fellow countryman Dave Concepcion from Valenzuela.

Edgardo Alfonzo also played for the following teams:
San Francisco Giants – 2003-2005
Los Angeles Angels – 2006
Toronto Blue Jays – 2006

 

Carlos Baerga – His New York Mets Career 1996-1998

Carlos BaergaOn July 29, 1996, the Mets acquired switch-hitting All-Star second baseman Carlos Baerga from the Cleveland Indians in exchange for Jose Vizcaino and Jeff Kent, they also received Alvaro Espinoza in the trade. Though Baerga was having an off year he was still considered by many to be one of the top hitters in the game with a penchant for hitting frozen ropes, his career average before arriving in New York was .299.  It appeared that a change of scenery was just what he needed when he hit a pinch hit single to drive in the winning run in his first at bat in a Mets uniform. But following his successful start to his Mets career it was obvious that Baerga was not the same hitter, as he hit just .193 for the rest of the season, though injuries did play a part

Carlos Baerga was looking for a fresh start in 1997, hoping to return to his former All-Star self.  But he got off to a slow start, hitting just .188 after the first month of the season.  He began to find his stroke in the month of May, but he still was not the hitter he once was.  He finished the season with respectable .281 average but his power numbers were down as he hit only 9 home runs while driving in 52. Baerga produced more of the same in 1998 hitting .266 with just 7 home runs and 54 RBI’s.

Though his career numbers with the Mets were respectable, a .267 average with 18 home runs and 166 RBI’s in 306 games, they were not the numbers the Mets expected when they acquired him and with the emergence of Edgardo Alfonzo as a .300 hitter the organization decided not to resign Baerga following the 98 season. But to his credit Baerga always gave his all and always showed a great deal of enthusiasm when he played. He truly cared and it was never more evident than in his last game as a Met. With the Mets needing a win to keep their playoff hopes alive they lost to the Atlanta Braves 7 -2. After the game Carlos Baerga could be seen in the dugout practically in tears as the Mets postseason hopes were dashed. 

While with the Mets Baerga wore number 6 in 1996 and number 8 from 1997-1998.

Carlos Baerga also played for the following teams:
Cleveland Indians – 1990-1996,1999
San Diego Padres – 1999
Boston Red Sox – 2002
Arizona Diamondbacks – 2003,2004
Washington Nationals – 2005