After winning the 1997 World Series the Florida Marlins conducted a fire sale and traded off all their high-priced stars. One of the beneficiaries of sale was the New York Mets who acquired left-handed pitcher Al Leiter. For the next seven seasons Al Leiter was a workhorse who served as the ace of the Mets pitching staff.
In his first season with the Mets in 1998 Leiter posted a 17-6 record with a 2.47 ERA, the third best in the National League. He also led the Mets with 174 strikeouts.
During the 1999 season he won just 13 games but won the most important game of the season. In a one game playoff against the Cincinnati Reds to determine the National League Wild Card Leiter pitched a complete game two hit shutout to send the Mets to the postseason for the first time since 1988.
In 2000 Leiter started the season 10-1 and was named to the National League All-Star team. Along the way he was also named the National League pitcher of the month for June. He finished the season with a 16-8 record and once again led the team with 200 strikeouts as the Mets returned to the postseason. The Mets made it all the way to the World Series where they faced the New York Yankees. Leiter started games 1 and 5 and pitched effectively but the Mets lost both games and the series. In 15 2/3 innings he struck out 16 and posted a 2.87 ERA. In game five, with the Mets one loss away from losing the series, Leiter gave it everything he had and left it all on the field. He pitched into the 9th inning yielding just two runs, but finally ran out of gas and lost the game.
After back to back .500 seasons Leiter posted a 15-9 record in 2003 and then won another 10 games in 2004.
2004 would be his last season with the Mets. The Mets sensing that he was nearing the end of line allowed him to leave as a free agent. The Mets were proven right as Leiter struggled in 2005 pitching for the Florida Marlins and New York Yankees.
In his seven seasons with the Mets Leiter posted a 95-67 record with a 3.42 ERA and 1,106 strikeouts. He currently ranks 6th in franchise history with his 95 victories.
While with the Mets Leiter wore number 22.
Al Leiter also played for the following team:
New York Yankees – 1987-1989, 2005
Toronto Blue Jays – 1989-1995
Florida Marlins – 1996,1997,2005
The Mets acquired outfielder Matt Lawton from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for pitcher Rick Reed on July 30, 2001. He made his Met debut the next day as the starting right-fielder against the Houston Astros. He singled in his first at-bat and went 1 for 4 in the game as the Mets lost 3-2. The next day he went 2 for 4 and drove in his first run as a Met in their 8-2 victory over the Astros. Lawton would go on to appear in 43 games for the Mets and batted .246 with 3 home runs and 13 RBIs. His best game occurred on September 27 against the Montreal Expos, he went 3 for 5 with two doubles and one RBI in helping the Mets win 12-6.
Following the season Lawton was traded along with Alex Escobar, Jerrod Riggan, Billy Traber and Earl Snyder in exchange for Mike Bacsik and future Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar.
While with the Mets Lawton wore number 23.
Matt Lawton also played for the following teams:
Minnesota Twins – 1995-2001
Cleveland Indians – 2002-2004
New York Yankees -2005
Pittsburgh Pirates – 2005
Chicago Cubs – 2005
Seattle Mariners – 2006
After spending 5 seasons in the Mets minor league system right-handed pitcher Pete Walker made his Major League debut with the Mets on June 7, 1995 against the San Francisco Giants. Walker pitched 1 1/3 innings of relief and allowed 1 earned run 2 hits as the Mets lost 9-8. He would go on to pitch in 13 games for New York, all out of the bullpen, and posted a 1-0 record with 4.58 ERA in 17 2/3 innings. His won win came on the last day of the season when he pitched a scoreless 11th inning in the Mets 1-0 victory over the Atlanta Braves.
Following the season Walker was traded to the San Diego Padres. He returned to the Mets as a free agent on December 28, 2000. He spent the 2001 season in the minors before getting called up to New York in September. He appeared 2 games and posted a 2.70 ERA in 6 2/3 innings. Walker appeared in 1 game for the Mets in 2002 before being picked up off waivers by the Toronto Blue Jays. In his one appearance, he allowed he allowed 1 run in 1 inning of relief in the Mets 7-5 loss to the Montreal Expos on April 20.
In 16 total appearances for the Mets in part of 3 seasons Walker posted a 1-0 record with a 4.26 ERA.
While with the Mets Walker wore number 49 in 1995 and number 43 in 2001 and 2002.
Pete Walker also played for the following teams:
San Diego Padres – 1996
Colorado Rockies – 2000
Toronto Blue Jays – 2002,2003,2005,2006
After spending 5 years in the minors right-handed pitcher Dicky Gonzalez finally made his Major League debut with the Mets on May 1, 2001. As the starting pitcher against the Houston Astros he allowed 3 runs in 4 1/3 innings to earn a no decision in the Mets 7-5 victory. He earned his first victory in his next start, allowing 5 runs in 5 1/3 innings as the Mets beat the Colorado Rockies 10-9. He appeared in 10 more games, splitting time between the starting rotation and bullpen, before being sent back to the minors at the end of June. At the time, his record was 2-2 with a 5.59 ERA.
Gonzalez returned to New York in September appearing in 4 games. Overall, he would appear in 16 games for the Mets, 7 as a starter and 9 out of the bullpen, and finished with a 3-2 record with a 4.88 ERA.
Gonzalez was traded to the Montreal Expos in a multi-player deal on April 5, 2002.
While with the Mets Gonzalez wore number 39.
Dicky Gonzalez also played for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2004.
Acquired from the Colorado Rockies on March 27, 2001, right-handed pitcher Brian Rose lasted just three games for the Mets. He was the losing pitcher in his Mets debut, giving up three earned runs in 2 2/3 innings of relief. He would appear in two more games before being claimed on waivers by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
In his three appearances Brian Rose was 0-1 with a 4.15 ERA in 8 2/3 innings.
While with the Mets Rose wore number 23.
Brian Rose also played for the following teams:
Boston Red Sox – 1997-2000
Colorado Rockies – 2000
Tampa Bay Devil Rays – 2001
Todd 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
The 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
Right-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
Despite 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.
The 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