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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Allen Watson – His New York Mets Career 1999

AAllen Watsonllen Watson was a former number one draft pick of the St Louis Cardinals who was a six-year veteran when the Mets signed him as a free agent prior to the 1999 season. The Left-handed pitcher grew up in Middle Village, Queens, a long fly ball from Shea Stadium and was a local star pitching for Christ the King High School. 

Watson earned a save in his first appearance as a Met on April 5th, pitching the final three innings in the Mets 12-3 win over the Florida Marlins.  In his second appearance on April 11th he was the winning pitcher as the Mets defeated the Montreal Expos 6-3.

But his homecoming was short-lived as he appeared in just 14 games before being traded to the Seattle Mariners on June 18.  Pitching mainly out of the bullpen Watson had pitched to mixed results.  At the time of the trade his record was 2-2 with 1 save and a 4.08 ERA.  Watson did go 1-2 in four starts for the Mets as a starter with his one victory coming on April 30 against the San Francisco Giants. 

While with the Mets Watson wore number 30.

Allen Watson also played for the following teams:
St. Louis Cardinals – 1993-1995
San Francisco Giants – 1996
Anaheim Angels – 1997,1998
Seattle Mariners – 1999
New York Yankees – 1999,2000

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Dan Murray – His New York Mets Career 1999

After spending four years in the Mets minor league system right-handed pitcher Dan Murray finally got the call to join the big club in August 1999.  He made his Major League debut on August 9th against the Los Angeles Dodgers; he pitched the final two innings and allowed three earned runs as the Mets lost 9-2.  It would be his only appearance with the Mets as he was shipped back to the minors.  On September 14th he was traded to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for pitcher Glendon Rusch.

While with the Mets Murray wore number 48.

Dan Murray also played for the Kansas City Royals in 1999 and 2000.

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Orel Hershiser – His New York Mets Career 1999

Orel HershiserIn need of a 5th starter entering the 1999 season, the Mets took a chance and signed Orel Hershiser during Spring Training.  Orel Hershiser at one time was one of the top pitchers in the game.  In 1988, he won the National League Cy Young award and set the Major League record for most consecutive scoreless innings pitched with 59.  But he is best remembered among Met fans as the pitcher who almost single handedly beat the Mets in the 1988 NLCS. Hershiser appeared in four games for the Dodgers, starting three. He won one game and saved another while posting a 1.09 ERA in 24 2/3 innings and was named the series MVP.  But most importantly he won the decisive game seven pitching a complete game shutout while scattering five hits.    But that was the old Hershiser, now he was nearing the end of his career and coming off an 11-10 season with the San Francisco Giants in which he posted a 4.41 ERA. 

The Mets were taking a chance with Hershiser but then again, they were just looking for someone who could eat up innings and perhaps serve as a mentor to some of their young pitchers. That is exactly what they got.  But his Met career did not get off to the type of start he or the Mets were hoping for as he lost his first game by allowing four earned runs in four innings and was just 4 and 5 after his first 10 outings with a 5.77 ERA.  But then Hershiser suddenly found his form and won five of his next seven starts, with the Mets winning all seven games.   In September with the Mets in the midst of a pennant race Hershiser pitched perhaps his greatest game of the year against his former team the Los Angeles Dodgers.  He allowed just two hits and one run over eight innings as the Mets won 3-1   He would finish the season with a 13-12 record with a 4.58 ERA in 179 innings helping the Mets win the National League Wild Card.   In fact, with the Mets needing to win the final game of the season against the Pittsburgh Pirates to force a one game playoff with the Cincinnati Reds to determine who would win the Wild Card, Hershiser started the game and allowed just one run over 5 1/3 innings in game the Mets would win 2-1.  The Mets defeated the Reds the next day to win the Wild Card and advance to the postseason.

In the postseason, he was relegated to the bullpen and pitched effectively especially in game five of the NLCS against the Braves.  With the Mets trailing the series 3 game to 1 and in a must win situation, he pitched 3 1/3 innings of scoreless relief in a game the Mets would win 4-3 in 15 innings to extend their season one more day.  In three appearances for the Mets in the postseason Hershiser pitched 5 1/3 innings and allowed zero runs and just one hit. 

1999 would be his only season with the Mets.  He signed as a free agent with the LA Dodgers and retired after being released in the middle of the season with a 1-5 record.

While with the Mets Hershiser wore number 55.

Orel Hershiser also played for the following teams:

Los Angeles Dodgers – 1983-1994, 2000
Cleveland Indians – 1995-1997
San Francisco Giants – 1998

 

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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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Vance Wilson – His New York Mets Career 1999-2004

Vance WilsonAfter two brief cups of coffee with the Mets in 1999 and 2000 catcher Vance Wilson was promoted to the Mets in July of 2001 and would stay with the big club for the next four seasons serving as backup to All-star Mike Piazza.   His greatest strength to the Mets was his ability to throw out base runners and he was used primarily as a late inning defensive replacement.  From 2001 to 2003 Wilson. was one of the top catchers in the league in throwing out base runners, averaging 45%.

Offensively he was no match for Mike Piazza, arguably the best hitting catcher in the history of the game, but Wilson did manage to put up some respectable numbers.  In 2003, he posted career bests with 8 home runs and 39 RBI’s. and hit a career best .274 in 2004.   

Following the 2004 season the Mets traded Vance Wilson to the Detroit Tigers in exchange for infielder Anderson Hernandez.  In 286 games with the Mets from 1999-2004 Wilson hit .254 with 17 home runs and 92 RBIs.  He also threw out 44% of would be base stealers.

While with the Mets Wilson wore number 3.

Vance Wilson also played for the Detroit Tigers in 2005 and 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

 

 

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

 

Chuck McElroy – His New York Mets Career 1999

Looking to bolster their roster for a playoff push, Mets acquired left-handed pitcher Chuck McElroy along with Darryl Hamilton from the Colorado Rockies on July 31, 1999 in exchange for Brian McRae, Rigo Beltran and Tom Johnson.  McElroy would make his Met debut the next day throwing 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief in the Mets 13 inning 5-4 win over the Chicago Cubs.  He would go on to appear in 15 games for the Mets posting a 0-0 record with a 3.38 ERA.  Even though the Mets made the playoffs, McElroy was not included on the postseason roster.

On August 8th with the Mets being pummeled by the Los Angeles Dodgers, McElroy played an inning in leftfield.

Following the season the Mets traded McElroy to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for Jesse Orosco.

While with the Mets McElroy wore number 34.

Chuck McElroy also played for the following teams:
Philadelphia Phillies – 1989,1990
Chicago Cubs – 1991-1993
Cincinnati Reds- 1994-1996
Anaheim Angels – 1996,1997
Chicago White Sox – 1997
Colorado Rockies – 1998,1999
Baltimore Orioles – 2000,2001
San Diego Padres – 2001