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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Tom Martin – His New York Mets Career 2001

Tom MartinThe Mets acquired left-handed pitcher Tom Martin from the Cleveland Indians on January 11, 2001.  He made his Met debut on April 26 against the Milwaukee Brewers; he pitched 3 innings and allowed 2 runs (1 earned) in the Mets 12-8 loss.  On May 1 against the Houston Astros, he threw 2 2/3 innings and allowed 1 run and was the winning pitcher.  He appeared in 8 games before being demoted to the minors in the May.  At the time of his demotion his ERA was 10.95

Martin returned to the Mets when rosters expanded in September.  He appeared in 6 more games but with little success.  He finished the season with a 1-0 record and 10.06 ERA in 14 games and 17 innings. 

Following the season, he signed as a free agent with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

He would return to the Mets as a free agent in 2009 but was released during Spring Training.

While with the Mets Martin wore number 34.

Tom Martin also played for the following teams:
Houston Astros – 1997
Cleveland Indians – 1998-2000
Tampa Bay Devil Rays – 2002
Los Angeles Dodgers – 2003,2004
Atlanta Braves – 2004,2005
Colorado Rockies – 2006,2007

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Mark Corey – His New York Mets Career 2001,2002

Mark CoreyRight-handed pitcher Mark Corey was acquired from the Cincinnati Reds on February 4, 1999 in exchange for infielder Ralph Milliard.  He made his Major League debut on October 2, 2001, in just one inning of work he allowed 3 runs and 4 hits.  Corey made one more appearance three days later with better results; he allowed no runs in 2/3 of an inning.

Corey started the 2002 season in the minors before getting the call to join the big club in the middle of May. He made his 2002 debut on May 13 against the Los Angeles Dodgers and suffered the loss by giving up the winning run in the bottom of the 13th inning.   Following the game, he was shipped back to the minors only to return a month later. He remained with the Mets before being traded to the Colorado Rockies at the trading deadline along with Jay Payton and Robert Stratton for John Thomson and Mark Little.  With the Mets in 2002 Corey appeared in 12 games and posted a 0-3 record with 4.50 ERA. 

In 14 appearances for the Mets over two seasons Mark Corey went 0-3 with a 6.17 ERA in 11 2/3 innings.

While with the Mets Corey wore number 27.

Mark Corey also played for the following teams:
Colorado Rockies – 2002
Pittsburgh Pirates – 2003,2004

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Tsuyoshi Shinjo – His New York Mets Career 2001,2003

Tsuyohi ShinjoDespite marginal talent Tsuyoshi Shinjo was a very popular player in his native Japan due in large part to his bubbling personality, positive attitude and his flashy clothes.   But after ten years playing for the Hanshin Tigers Shinjo decided it was time to take his talents to the U.S. and signed with the Mets.  Much like in his native Japan Shinjo quickly became a fan favorite for many of the same reasons.  Met fans especially loved the little hop he generated after catching a fly ball. 

After hitting a home run in the Mets home opener, Shinjo went on the have a solid season at the plate while playing stellar defense in the outfield.  He finished the season with 10 home runs and 56 RBIs and was named to the Topps All-Rookie team.  But despite his popularity the Mets traded him to the San Francisco Giants along with Desi Relaford in exchange for pitcher Shawn Estes during the off-season.  He spent one disappointing season with the Giants but did manage to become the first Japanese player to appear in a World Series game.  After the season, the Giants released him and he once again signed with the Mets.

His second tour of duty with the Mets was not like the first.  He struggled at the plate and with his average at just .193 the Mets sent him down to the minors at the end of June where he finished out the season playing for the Norfolk Tides.  Following the season Shinjo returned to Japan where he finished out his playing career with the Nippon Ham Fighters before retiring after the 2006 season.

In 185 games for the Mets Shinjo batted .251 with 11 home runs and 63 RBIs. 

While with the Mets Shinjo wore number 5. 

Tsuyoshi Shinjo also played for the San Francisco Giants in 2002.

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Rick White – His New York Mets Career 2000-2001

Rick WhiteThe Mets acquired right-handed reliever Rick White along with Bubba Trammell from the Tampa Bay Devils on July 28, 2000 in exchange for Paul Wilson and Jason Tyner.  At the time, the Mets were looking to solidify their bullpen as they made a push to reach the postseason for the second season in a row.  White was the winning pitcher in his first appearance as a Met on July 29, he pitched one inning of scoreless relief against the St. Louis Cardinals.  White finished out the season with a 2-3 record and 1 save and helped the Mets win the National League Wild Card for the second year in a row.

In the postseason White won game three of the NLDS against the San Francisco Giants by pitching two innings of scoreless relief as the Mets won the game in 13 innings.  The Mets would reach the World Series but lost to the Yankees in five games. 

White returned to the Mets in 2001 and pitched to similar results. Between two stints on the disabled list he posted a 4-5 record with 2 saves and a 3.88 ERA.  Following the season Rick White left the Mets and signed as a free agent with the Colorado Rockies.

In his two seasons with the Mets he won 6 games while losing 8 with 3 saves and a 3.86 ERA. 

While with the Mets White wore number 51. 

Rick White also played for the following teams:
Pittsburgh Pirates – 1994,1995, 2005
Tampa Bay Devil Rays – 1998-2000
Colorado Rockies – 2002
St. Louis Cardinals – 2002
Chicago White Sox – 2003
Houston Astros – 2003, 2007
Cleveland Indians – 2004
Philadelphia Phillies – 2006
Cincinnati Reds – 2006
Seattle Mariners – 2007

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Darren Bragg – His New York Mets Career 2001

Darren BraggThe Mets signed Darren Bragg, a journeyman outfielder, as a free agent prior to the 2001 season.  He made his Met debut on May 16, 2001; as the leadoff hitter he doubled in his first at bat.  He would appear in 18 games for the Mets, playing all three outfield positions.  But in the middle of June the Mets placed him on waivers and he was picked up by the Mets cross town rivals the New York Yankees.  At the time he was hitting a respectable .263 with five RBIs.  Four of his five RBIs came in one game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on May 18.

The Mets resigned Bragg following the season but released him before the season started.  He played another three seasons in the majors.

While with the Mets Bragg wore number 56.

Darren Bragg also played for the following teams:
Seattle Mariners – 1994-1996
Boston Red Sox – 1996-1998
St. Louis Cardinals – 1999
Colorado Rockies – 2000
New York Yankees – 2001
Atlanta Braves – 2002,2003
San Diego Padres – 2004
Cincinnati Reds – 2004

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Gary Bennett – His New York Mets Career 2001

Gary Bennett was acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies on July 23, 2001 in exchange for fellow catcher Todd Pratt. However, he did not have time to unpack his bags before being shipped out of town once again.   He made his Mets debut the next day when he pinch hit for Kevin Appier and singled to right field.  It would be his only appearance in a Met uniform as he was demoted to the minors following the game.  After spending a month playing for the Norfolk Tides, he was traded to the Colorado Rockies.

While with the Mets Bennett wore number 7.

Gary Bennett also played for the following teams:
Philadelphia Phillies – 1995,1996,1998-2001
Colorado Rockies – 2001,2002
San Diego Padres – 2003
Milwaukee Brewers – 2004
Washington Nationals – 2005
St. Louis Cardinals – 2006,2007
Los Angeles Dodgers – 2008

Desi Relaford – His New York Mets Career 2001

Desi RekadiedDesi Relaford was claimed by the Mets off waivers from the San Diego Padres following the 2000 season.  Relaford joined the Mets as a backup utility infielder in 2001.  After a slow start, Relaford busted out in a game on April 26th against the Brewers going 4 for 4 with a homer and a double.  From that point on he became a fan favorite due in large part to his hustle and hardnosed play.  He finished the season with a .302 average, 8 home runs and 36 RBIs and even led the Mets in stolen bases with 13.   But perhaps he is best remembered for his appearance on the mound.  On May 17, 2001, the Mets were being blown out by the San Diego Padres by a score of 15-3.  Having already used five pitchers in the game Met manager Bobby Valentine gave the ball to Relaford to pitch the top of the 9th.  Relaford excited what was left of the sparse crowd pitching a 1-2-3 inning.  He even struck out a batter with a fast ball that was clocked in the low 90‘s

Despite his success with the Mets, 2001 would be his only season in New York.  Looking to solidify their starting pitching the Mets traded Relaford along with Tsuyoshi Shinjo to the San Francisco Giants in exchange for pitcher Shawn Estes following the season.  He would play another five seasons in the majors before retiring after the 2007 season.

While with the Mets Relaford wore number 8.

Desi Relaford also played for the following teams:
Philadelphia Phillies – 1996-2000
San Diego Padres – 2000
Seattle Mariners – 2002
Kansas City Royals – 2003,2004
Colorado Rockies – 2005
Texas Rangers – 2007

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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.

 

 

 

 

Todd Zeile – His New York Mets Career 2000,2001,2004

Todd ZeileOver the course of his 16-year career Todd Zeile played for 11 different teams including two stints with the Mets.   When the Mets initially signed Todd Zeile prior to the 2000 season it came as a surprise to many not because he wasn’t a solid major league player but because he was signed to play first base to replace the departed John Olerud.  The problem was that Todd Zeile was not a first baseman.  He had played sporadically at the position during his career but played mainly third base after starting his career at catcher.    Nevertheless, Zeile proved to be a steady defensive first baseman, not flashy but got the job done, while putting up solid offensive numbers.  In his first year in New York Zeile hit .268 with 22 home runs and 79 RBIs, including a 13-game hitting streak in June, and helped the Mets reach the World Series for the first time since 1986.

In the postseason Zeile had a horrendous NLDS against the San Francisco Giants, he hit just .071.  However, in the NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals he caught fire.  He hit .368 with a home run while driving in a team best eight runs as the Mets defeated the Cardinals in five games.  His eight RBIs were the most by a Met player in postseason series in franchise history.

He continued his hot hitting in the World Series against the Yankees.  Zeile hit .400 but only drove in 1 run as the Mets lost the series in five games. In game one Todd Zeile hit what appeared to be a two-run home run that would have given the Mets an early lead, but the ball bounced off the top of the wall, though replays showed it might have been interfered with by a fan.  Zeile was only credited with a double and base runner Timo Perez was thrown out at the plate.  Instead of being up 2-0, the game remained scoreless and the rest as they say is history.

Zeile returned for the 2001 season, but his power numbers dipped dramatically. He hit only 10 home runs while driving in 62 and led the team in strikeouts with 102 as the Mets struggled for most of the season.  Based in large part to his power deficiency the Mets decided to trade Zeile to the Colorado Rockies in the off-season along with Benny Agbayani in exchange for Alex Ochoa, Ross Glad and Craig House.

Zeile would play one season in Colorado before moving on to play for the Yankees and Expos in 2003.  The Mets than decided to give Zeile another chance and signed him as a free agent prior to the 2004 season, in what proved to be his last season as a player.  Zeile played in 137 games in 2004 but hit just .233 with 9 home runs and 33 RBIs as the Mets suffered through a terrible season.  However, Zeile did manage to reach a significant milestone in his final season by recording his 2000th career hit.  In his last game as a professional on October 3rd, the last game of the season, the Mets allowed Zeile to play one final game as a catcher.  In his last at bat of his career, he hit a three-run home run.

In three seasons with the Mets Zeile appeared in 441 games and hit .259 with 41 home runs and 176 RBIs.

While with the Mets Zeile wore number 9 in 2000 and 2001 and number 27 in 2004.

Todd Zeile also played for the following teams:
St. Louis Cardinals – 1989-1995
Chicago Cubs – 1995
Baltimore Orioles – 1996
Philadelphia Phillies – 1996
Los Angeles Dodgers – 1997,1998
Texas Rangers – 1998,1999
Florida Marlins – 1998
Colorado Rockies – 2002
New York Yankees – 2003
Montreal Expos – 2003

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