Al Leiter – His New York Mets Career 1998-2004

 

Al Leiter
Al Leiter 

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

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Pete Walker – His New York Mets Career 1995,2001,2002

Pete WalkerAfter 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

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Mo Vaughn – His New York Mets Career 2002,2003

Mo VaughnAs a member of the Anaheim Angels Mo Vaughn missed the entire 2001 season with an injury and many thought that he was washed up and could no longer be a useful Major League ballplayer.  But Mets General Manager Steve Phillips along with Manager Bobby Valentine liked what they saw when they witnessed Vaughn take batting practice during the off-season.   Based on that the Mets thought Vaughn was ready to return to the form that won him an MVP with the Boston Red Sox in 1995 and traded Kevin Appier to the Angels to acquire his services.  But it didn’t work out that way as Vaughn never returned to his old form. Instead he became the poster child for Met futility in the early 2000’s. 

In his second game as a Met in 2002 he hit his first home run of the season; it was also the 300th of his career.  By the end of the month he was hitting .311 but with very little power.  As the season wore on he struggled at the plate and would end up leading the Mets in strikeouts with 145. He did manage to finish the season with 26 home runs, many of the moon-shot variety, but only drove in 72 runs for the season.  A far cry from the 100 or so RBIs he used to accumulate while with the Angels and Red Sox.  His lack of range as the team’s first baseman also didn’t help matters as the fans and the press began to regularly get on his case.  The only time the fans really embraced him was when he hit a game winning three run home run against the hated Yankees on June 16th.

Mo Vaughn entered the 2003 season looking for a fresh start but a knee injury at the beginning of May not only sidelined him for the season it also ended his career.  At the time, he was hitting just .190 with 3 home runs and 15 RBIs.

In 166 games for the Mets Vaughn hit .249 with 29 home runs and 87 RBIs.

While with the Mets Vaughn wore number 42.

Mo Vaughn also played for the Boston Red Sox from 1991-1998 and the Anaheim Angles in 1999 and 2000.

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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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Raul Gonzalez – His New York Mets Career 2002,2003

Raul GonzalezOutfielder Raul Gonzalez was acquired from the Cincinnati Reds along with Pedro Feliciano Brady Clark and Elvin Andujar in exchange for Shawn Estes on August 15, 2002.  He got off to a strong start going 2 for 3 against the San Francisco Giants in his Mets debut on August 21st.  He followed that up with a 2 for 4 performance the next day.  He finished out the 2002 season strong hitting .259 with three home runs and eleven RBI’s.  Two of his home runs came in one game on August 25th against the Colorado Rockies.

Gonzalez started the 2003 season in the minors with the Norfolk Tides, the Mets triple A affiliate, and got off to a strong start.  Based on his strong showing in the minors Gonzalez was brought back to the Mets on April 23rd.  In his first at bat of the season against the Houston Astros Gonzalez hit a home run.   Gonzalez would finish out the season with the Mets but could never gain any consistency hitting a disappointing .230 in 107 games with just two home runs and 21 runs batted in. 

Gonzalez started the 2004 season with the Norfolk Tides but after hitting .262 in his first 18 games he was released by the Mets on May 17th and signed with the Cleveland Indians. 

In 137 games with the Mets over two seasons Gonzalez hit .238 with five home runs and 32 RBI’s.

While with the Mets Gonzalez wore number 21.

Raul Gonzalez also played for the following teams:
Chicago Cubs – 2000
Cincinnati Reds – 2001,2002
Cleveland Indians – 2004

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Pat Strange – His New York Mets Career 2002,2003

Pat StrangeThe New York Mets selected Pat Strange out of Springfield Central High School in Massachusetts in the second round of the 1998 amateur draft.  Strange a hard throwing right handed pitcher would work his way up through the Mets minor league system, mainly as a starter, and was one of their top pitching prospects. 

After winning 10 games for the Triple A Norfolk Tides in 2002, Strange was brought up to majors for a cup of coffee in September.  He made his Major League debut on September 13th, pitching a scoreless 8th inning in the Mets 11-8 loss to the Montreal Expos.  Strange would finish out the 2002 season with the Mets pitching in five games all out of the bullpen posting a 1.13 ERA in 8 innings. 

After failing to make the Mets staff out of Spring Training in 2003, Strange once again started the season with the Norfolk Tides before being recalled to Queens in May.  He would make six relief appearances for the Mets posting an 11.00 ERA in 9 innings before being shipped back to Norfolk following his appearance on June 5th.

His June 5th appearance would be his last in the majors.  After pitching the entire 2004 season with the Norfolk Tides, where he posted a 10-9 record with a 5.25 ERA in 29 games, he was granted free agency.  Pat Strange side with the Minnesota Twins in the off-season, but developed elbow trouble in spring training which effectively ended his pitching career.

In 11 appearances with the Mets Pat Strange threw 17 innings posting a 6.35 ERA with a 0-0 record.

While with the Mets Strange wore number 38.

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Tyler Walker – His New York Mets Career 2002

The Mets drafted Tyler Walker in the second round of the 1997 amateur draft.  But the right-handed pitcher would not make it to the majors until 2002.  He made his debut on July 2 pitching the ninth inning in the Mets 12-6 victory over the Phillies.  Following the game he was sent back down to the minors. 

Tyler WalkerTyler Walker returned to the Mets in September and made his first big league start on September 7.  He pitched five innings and allowed three runs and earned his first win.  He made three more appearances out of the bullpen and finished the season with a 1-0 record and 5.91 ERA.

Following the season the Mets placed him on waivers and he was selected by the Detroit Tigers. 

While with the Mets Walker wore number 46.

Tyler Walker also played for the following teams:
San Francisco Giants – 2004-2008
Tampa Bay Devil Rays – 2006
Philadelphia Phillies – 2009
Washington Nationals – 2010

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Brady Clark – His New York Mets Career 2002,2008

The New York Mets acquired outfielder Brady Clark along with Pedro Feliciano and Raul Gonzalez from the Cincinnati Reds on August 15, 2002 in exchange for Shawn Estes.  However, Clark would not make his Met debut until September 11th when he pinch ran for Jason Phillips.  He would finish out the season with Mets as a late inning defensive replacement and pinch hitter.  He wound up hitting .417 in his ten games due in large part to his 3 for 3 performance in his only start with the Mets on September 28th. 

Following the season Clark was claimed on waivers by the Milwaukee Brewers where he played for the next four seasons until moving on to the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres.  He returned to the Mets in 2008 when the Mets signed him to a minor league free agent contract.  After a strong Spring Training and with Moises Alou starting the season on the disabled list, Clark made the Mets Opening Day roster.  He would appear in eight games for the Mets in the month of April before being designated for assignment when Alou returned from the DL. Clark was hitting .250 (2 for 8) at the time of his demotion.  He reported to the Mets Triple A affiliate the New Orleans Zephyrs but appeared in just six games before becoming injured. The injury shut down Clark for the season.

The 2008 season would be his last season in the Majors.  In 17 games for the Mets Clark hit .350 (7 for 20) with two RBIs. 

While with the Mets Clark wore number 15 in 2002 and 44 in 2008. 

Brady Clark also played for the following teams:
Cincinnati Reds – 2000-2002
Milwaukee Brewers – 2003-2006
San Diego Padres – 2007
Los Angeles Dodgers – 2007

John Thomson – His New York Mets Career 2002

John ThomsonThe Mets acquired right-handed pitcher John Thomson from the Colorado Rockies at the 2002 trading deadline along with Mark Little in exchange for Jay Payton, Mark Corey and Robert Stratton.  He made his Mets debut on August 3 against the Arizona Diamondbacks and was the losing pitcher in the Mets 9-2 loss; he allowed 7 runs, 3 of which were earned over 6 innings.  He would lose his first three starts for the Mets before recording his first win on August 27 against the Florida Marlins.  Overall Thomson started 9 games for the Mets and finished with a 2-6 record and 4.31 ERA. 

Following the season Thomson signed as a free agent with the Texas Rangers.

While with the Mets Thomson wore number 50.

John Thomson also played for the following teams:
Colorado Rockies – 1997-1999, 2001,2002
Texas Rangers – 2003
Atlanta Braves – 2004-2006
Kansas City Royals – 2007

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.

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