Mike Kinkade – His New York Mets Career 1998-2000

mike kinkadeThe Mets acquired utilityman Mike Kinkade from the Milwaukee Brewers on July 31, 1998 in exchange for pitcher Bill Pulsipher.  He initially reported to the minors before getting called up to Mets as a September callup.  He made his Major League debut on September 8th as a late inning replacement in the Mets 16-4 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies.  He went 0 for 2 at the plate.  He made two more appearances both as a pinch runner.

Kinkade made the Mets Opening Day Roster in 1999.  He served primarily as a pinch hitter and fourth outfielder.  He recorded his first Major League hit on April 12th, a pinch-hit double that drove in two runs in the Mets 8-1 win over the Florida Marlins.  He hit his first career home run on April 29th against the San Diego Padres, a solo shot in the Mets 8-5 win.  However, with his average at just .196 Kinkade was demoted to the minors in May. He spent the remainder of the season with the Triple A Norfolk Tides where he hit .308.  He did appear in one game for the Mets in September.

In 2000 Kinkade appeared in two games for the Mets in July, he went 0 for 2. On July 28th, he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles along with Melvin Mora in exchange for Mike Bordick.

Over three seasons with the Mets Kinkade appeared in 33 games and hit .180 with 2 home runs with 6 RBIs.

While with the Mets Kinkade wore number 33.

Mike Kinkade also played for the following teams:
Baltimore Orioles – 2000,2001
Los Angeles Dodgers – 2002,2003

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Todd Pratt – His New York Mets Career 1997-2001

TTodd Prattodd Pratt a backup catcher who had previously played for the Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago Cubs was out of baseball for a year when the Mets signed him as a free agent on December 23, 1996. After hitting .301 with the Mets Triple A affiliate, the Norfolk Tides, Todd Pratt made his Mets debut on July 4th, 1997 and supplied plenty of fireworks. In his first at bat in the majors in two years Pratt hit a two-run homer on his way to a 2 for 3 night with 3 RBIs in the Mets 6-2 victory over the Florida Marlins. He would continue his hot hitting over his first ten games batting .379 with 2 home runs and 8 RBIs. He would finish out the season hitting .283 with 2 homers and 19 RBIs.

Over the next four seasons as the Mets backup catcher Todd Pratt became a fan favorite due in large part to his timely hitting, strong defense and intensity and emotion. In his five seasons with the Mets Pratt hit .265 with 17 home runs and 87 RBIs in 276 games, with his best season coming in 2000 when he hit a career high 8 home runs.

But it was during the postseason where Pratt cemented his legacy in Met history. During game four of the 1999 National League Divisional Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Pratt started in place of the injured Mike Piazza. With the game tied in the bottom of the 10th inning Todd Pratt hit a home run over the center field wall at Shea Stadium to give the Mets the victory and the series. It was just the fourth time in baseball history that a playoff series ended on a home run. With the win, the Mets advanced to the National League Championship Series for the first time since 1988.

In the NLCS against the Atlanta Braves Pratt continued to make a name for himself in Mets postseason history. With the Mets trailing the series 3 games to 1 they pulled out all the stops in game 5 to save their season. In the longest game in postseason history the two teams battled for 15 innings in a steady rain. After the Braves took a one run lead in the top of the 15th the Mets rallied to load the bases in the bottom of the frame. Pratt stepped up to the plate and worked out a walk to force in the tying run. With the game now tied Robin Ventura stepped up to the plate and promptly hit a game winning grand slam or so he thought. Before Ventura could reach 2nd base Pratt stopped and lifted Ventura in the air preventing him from rounding the bases. Since the winning run had already scored it didn’t matter that Ventura didn’t and he was credited with a “Grand Slam Single.” Than in game six, another epic game in which the Mets battled back from a 6-run deficit, Todd Pratt drove in what appeared to be the winning run with a sacrifice fly in the top of the 10th inning, but unfortunately the Mets could not hold on to the lead and lost the game and the series in 11 innings.

With his numbers declining in 2001, he was hitting just .163, the Mets traded Todd Pratt to the Philadelphia Phillies on July 23rd in exchange for fellow catcher Gary Bennett.

While with the Mets Pratt wore number 43 in 1997 before switching to number 7 from 1998-2001.

Todd Pratt also played for the following teams:
Philadelphia Phillies – 1992-1994, 2001-2005
Chicago Cubs – 1995
Atlanta Braves – 2006

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Bernard Gilkey – His New York Mets 1996-1998

Bernard GilkeyThe Mets acquired outfielder Bernard Gilkey from the St Louis Cardinals prior to the 1996 season.  In his Met debut on Opening Day he went 2 for 4 with a home run and 2 RBIs.  It was a sign of things to come as Gilkey went on to enjoy the best season of his career.  He hit .317 with 30 home runs and 117 RBIs.  His 117 RBIs tied Howard Johnson’s single season record for most in a season.  He also hit two home runs in a game three times and set the Mets single season record with 44 doubles. 

Big things were expected of Gilkey in 1997 but he was not able to duplicate his 1996 success.  He did hit 18 home runs with 78 RBIs but only managed to hit .249.  His struggles continued in 1998.  He was hitting just .227 with 4 home runs and 28 RBIs when the Mets traded him to the Arizona Diamondbacks on July 31 along with Nelson Figueroa in exchange for Jorge Fabregas and Willie Blair.

In three seasons with the Mets Gilkey hit .273 with 52 home runs and 223 RBIs.

While with the Mets Gilkey wore number 23.

Bernard Gilkey also played for the following teams:
St. Louis Cardinals – 1990-1995
Arizona Diamondbacks – 1998-2000
Boston Red Sox – 2000
Atlanta Braves – 2001

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Craig Paquette = His New York Mets Career 1998

Craig PaquetteThe Mets signed utility player Craig Paquette as a free agent on December 23, 1997.  He would start the 1998 season in the minors before making his Met debut on April 28, 1998 as their starting leftfielder.  He doubled in his first at-bat as the Mets defeated the Houston Astros 4-3.    Paquette played another six games before being sidelined with a sprained ankle, an injury that would end his season.  At the time of his injury he was hitting .263.

Paquette spent the 1999 season with the Norfolk Tides, the Mets AAA affiliate, before being traded to the St Louis Cardinals on July 31 for Shawon Dunston.  At the time of the trade he was hitting .272 with the Tides. 

While with the Mets Paquette wore number 18. 

Craig Paquette also played for the following teams:
Oakland A’s – 1993-1995
Kansas City Royals – 1996,1997
St, Louis Cardinals – 1999-2001
Detroit Tigers – 2002,2003

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Rich Becker – His New York Mets Career 1998

Rich BeckerAcquired from the Minnesota Twins for fellow outfielder Alex Ochoa prior to the 1998 season, Rich Becker was slated to be a fourth outfielder for the 98 squad.  He was considered a solid defensive outfielder with a decent bat; he was a .267 career hitter at the time of the trade.  Becker got off to a fast start with the Mets driving in six runs in his first four games.  But from that point his bat was basically nonexistent, plus he had a penchant for striking out.  In 100 at bats for the Mets he struck out 42 times.  The Mets had finally scene enough and with his average at .190 they placed him on waivers in the middle of June.  He finished out the season with the Baltimore Orioles.

In 49 games for the Mets Becker batted .190 with 3 home runs and 10 RBIs.

While with the Mets Becker wore number 6.

Rich Becker also played for the following teams:
Minnesota Twins – 1993-1997
Baltimore Orioles – 1998
Oakland A’s – 1999,2000
Milwaukee Brewers – 1999
Detroit Tigers – 2000

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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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Willie Blair – His New York Mets Career 1998

Willie blairWillie Blair was journeyman right-handed reliever when the Mets acquired him at the trading deadline in 1998.  He was acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks along with catcher Jorge Fabregas in exchange for Bernard Gilkey and Nelson Figueroa.  At the time the Mets were battling the Chicago Cubs and the San Francisco Giants for the National League Wild Card.

Blair made his Mets debut on August 3rd pitching two innings of relief against the Los Angeles Dodgers.  He would go on to pitch in 11 games for the Mets, all but two out of the bullpen.  He finished the season with a 1-1 record and 3.14 ERA.  His one victory came against the Montreal Expos on September 13th.  Blair started the game and pitched 7 1/3 shutout innings and allowed just three hits.  It was also his last appearance of the season.

Following the season the Mets traded Willie Blair to the Detroit Tigers. 

While with the Mets Blair wore number 46.

Willie Blair also played for the following teams:
Toronto Blue Jays – 1990
Cleveland Indians – 1991
Houston Astros – 1992
Colorado Rockies – 1993,1994
San Diego Padres – 1995,1996
Detroit Tigers – 1997, 1999-2001
Arizona Diamondbacks – 1998

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

 

 

Brad Clontz – His New York Mets Career 1998

Right-handed pitcher Brad Clontz was acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers along with Hideo Nomo on June 4, 1998 in exchange for Dave Mlicki and Greg McMichael.  He made his Met debut the next day pitching an inning of scoreless relief in the Mets 9-2 victory over the Boston Red Sox.  Following the game he was farmed out to the minors where he finished out the season pitching for the Norfolk Tides.  He returned to the Mets in September and made one more appearance.  On September 8 he pitched two innings and allowed three runs in the Mets 16-4 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies.

Following the season Clontz signed as a free agent with the Boston Red Sox but his place in Mets history was not quite over.  On the last day of the 1999 season the Mets were facing the Pittsburgh Pirates and needed a win to at least force a one game playoff for the National League Wild Card.  In the bottom of the 9th inning with the score tied and the bases loaded Clontz, who was now a member of the Pirates, was brought in to face Mike Piazza.  Clontz’s first pitch was wild and Melvin Mora ran home to score the winning run.   The next day the Mets defeated the Cincinnati Reds to clinch the Wild Card and advance to the postseason for the first time since 1988.

While with the Mets Clontz wore number 49.

Brad Clontz also played for the following teams:
Atlanta Braves – 1995-1997
Los Angeles Dodgers – 1998
Pittsburgh Pirates – 1999,2000

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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