Pedro Martinez – His New York Mets Career 2005-2008

Pedro MartinezAfter three straight losing seasons the New York Mets were desperate to turn things around in 2005.  New General Manager Omar Minaya decided that in order to fill the increasing number of empty seats at Shea Stadium that the Mets needed to be aggressive in the free agent market.  One of the items on his wish list was a dominating starting pitcher and it just so happened that a four-time Cy Young Award winner by the name of Pedro Martinez was available.  Martinez was coming off a 16-9 season in which he played an integral part in helping the Boston Red Sox win their first World Series title in 86 years, but there were also whispers around the league that his best days were behind him.  While many teams were interested in his services they were all weary of offering him what he wanted, a four-year contract.  In order to entice Martinez to come to New York Minaya knew he had to offer Pedro exactly that.  Determined to get his man Omar Minaya offered Pedro a four year 53-million-dollar contract and just like that the Mets had their number one starter.

Pedro Martinez took the hill on opening day 2005 with electric stuff striking out twelve batters in six innings. He left the game with a 6-3 lead but unfortunately the bullpen could not hold it, which was an all too familiar occurrence in 2005, and the Mets lost 7-6.  But it was his second start of the season where he proved to be the ace the Mets were looking for when they signed him.  The Mets were standing at 0-5 on the season and were in desperate need of a win.  Pedro took the mound and proceeded to pitch a complete game two hitter striking out nine as the Mets defeated the Atlanta Braves 6-1 to record their first win of the season.  From that point on Martinez pitched like his old Cy Young self and proved to be worth every penny the Mets were paying him. Not only was he winning games but there was electricity in the air and increased attendance each time he took the mound at Shea Stadium.  It was never more evident than on June 7th against the Houston Astros when he flirted with throwing the first no hitter in franchise history, he settled for a two hitter with twelve strikeouts.  Martinez would finish the season 15 -8 and helped the Mets to their first winning season since 2001.  He led the Mets pitching staff in wins, innings pitched (217), ERA (2.82), strikeouts (208) and complete games (4).

Martinez got off to a blistering start in 2006 winning his first five starts of the season, including the 200th victory of his career on April 17th.  But he began to struggle and finished the first half of the season with a 7-4 record.  Despite his struggles he was still named to his second straight National League All-Star team.  In the middle of the season a calf injury sidelined him for a month. When he returned he continued to struggle and after losing four straight games in September where he posted an ERA over 15, the Mets shut him down for the year when it was determined he had a torn rotator cuff.  Pedro finished the season with a 9-8 record and because of his injury did not make the Mets postseason roster.

After off-season rotator cuff surgery Pedro Martinez missed the majority of the 2007 season.  He returned to the rotation on September 3rd and won his first game in over a year.  Martinez would pitch in five games for the Mets in September and seemed to be his old self posting a 3-1 record with a 2.57 ERA in 28 innings.  But despite his efforts the Mets suffered through the worst collapse in baseball history, blowing a 7-game lead with 17 games to go in the season and missed the postseason.

Based on his strong finish to the 2007 season expectations were high for Martinez entering 2008.  With the off-season acquisition of Johan Santana, a two-time Cy Young Award winner with the Minnesota Twins, Pedro was now the Mets number two starter. But it was not meant to be, in his first start of the season Pedro pulled his hamstring and was lost for the next two months.  When he returned he was not the same pitcher as he struggled through the remainder of the season posting a disappointing 5-6 record with a 5.61 ERA. 

The Mets decided to part ways with Pedro following the season by not offering him a new contract even though he expressed interest in returning.  In his four years with the Mets Martinez won 32 while losing 23 with a 3.88 ERA.  Even though his Met career didn’t turn out exactly the way both sides had planned, New York fans showed their appreciation for Martinez by giving him a standing ovation as he left the mound in his final game at Shea Stadium on September 25th.

\While with the Mets Martinez wore number 45.

Pedro Martinez also played for the following teams:
Los Angeles Dodgers – 1992,1993
Montreal Expos – 1994-1997
Boston Red Sox – 1998-2004
Philadelphia Phillies – 2009

Pedro Martinez was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2015

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Tom Glavine – His New York Mets Career 2003-2007

Tom GlavineAfter years of tormenting them as a member of the Atlanta Braves, Tom Glavine took his talented left arm to New York and signed as a free agent with the Mets prior to the 2003 season.   Most Met fans had mixed emotions over the signing.  True they were getting a two-time Cy Young award winner and future Hall of Famer but they were also getting someone they grew to hate over the years as a member of their hated rival. 

Glavine didn’t exactly endear himself to Met fans early on as he was shellacked in his first game as Met.  On Opening Day 2003 he lasted just 3 2/3 innings while giving up 8 hits and 5 runs.  Things didn’t exactly pick up from that point as he struggled for most of the season, finishing with a 9 and 14 record and 4.52 ERA.  It was the first time since 1988 that Glavine posted a losing record and failed to win 10 games. The highlight of his first season in New York came in September when his brother Mike was brought up from the minors and they became the first brothers to play for the Mets.

In 2004, Glavine started the season pitching like his old self.  He started out with a 7-3 record with a 2.03 ERA and was named to the National League All – Star team.  Included in his fast start was a one hit shutout against the Montreal Expos on May 23rd.  However, he struggled during the second half of the season and once again finished with a losing record, this time 11-14.  It did not help matters that he was involved in a car accident while riding in a taxi and lost his front teeth.

His third season in New York turned out to be the opposite of his second.  In 2005, he started with a 5 and 7 record with a 4.93 ERA.  However, he managed to turn his season around in the second half and finished with a 13 and 13 record while lowering his ERA by nearly a run and a half. 

2006 turned out to be his best season with the Mets not only personally but for the team as well.  The Mets ran away and won the National League Eastern Division while Glavine led the team with 15 wins.  During the months of May and June, he was 8 and 0 and with his record at 11-2 was selected to his second National League All-Star team while with the Mets.  During the postseason, he won his only start in the NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers, pitching six shutout innings.  In the NLCS against the St Louis Cardinals, he won the opening game of the series once again pitching shutout baseball, this time for seven innings.  But he lost the critical game five, which would have given the Mets a 3-2 series lead.  The Mets would lose the series in seven games.

Tom Glavine’s original contract with the Mets was up following the 2006 season, but sensing the Mets had unfinished business after failing to achieve their goal of a World Series title in 2006, Glavine resigned with the Mets for another year.  But by the end of the season Mets fans had wished that Tom Glavine had never worn a Met uniform.  Things were initially going well for the Mets and Glavine.  They were cruising to their second straight division title and Glavine was enjoying another solid season.  Along the way Glavine became the 23rd pitcher and just the 6th lefthander to win 300 games.  He accomplished the feat on August 5th against the Chicago Cubs.  But then it happened, with the Mets in the midst of the worst September collapse in baseball history Glavine pitched two of the worst games of his career.  First on September 25th he allowed six runs over five innings as the Mets lost to the Washington Nationals 10-9.  Than on the last day of the season with the Mets needing a victory to either win the division or force a one game playoff against the Philadelphia Phillies Glavine completely imploded.  He lasted just 1/3 of an inning allowing 5 hits, 2 walks and 7 earned runs.  The game was over before it started and the Mets season was lost. 

At that point Met fans were willing to drive Glavine to the airport as he left town.  Glavine returned to Atlanta where he pitched a half season before an arm injury ended his career,

In five seasons with the Mets Tom Glavine finished with a 61-56 record and 3.97 ERA.

While with the Mets Glavine wore number 47.

Tom Glavine also played for the Atlanta Braves from 1987-2002 and 2008. 

Tom Glavine was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014.

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John Stearns – His New York Mets Career 1975-1984

John StearnsAcquired from the Philadelphia Phillies prior to the 1975 season along with Del Unser and Mac Scarce in exchange for Tug McGraw, Don Hahn and Dave Schneck, John Stearns would go on to catch 678 games in a Met uniform (4th most in team history) and be selected to four different All-Star teams.    The heart and soul of some pretty bad Met teams; Stearns never let the Mets place in the standings affect his play. 

After two seasons serving as backup to Jerry Grote, Stearns became the Met fulltime catcher in 1977.  He took full advantage of the situation, leading the team with 25 doubles and tying for the team lead with 12 home runs.  For his efforts, he was selected to be the Mets lone representative in the All-Star game.  He continued his strong play in 1978 and even broke the National League record for most stolen bases by a catcher in a season with 25.  Stearns would play four more season as the Mets catcher, earning three more All-Star appearances in 1979, 1980 and 1982, before a rash of injuries took their toll forcing him to cut his career short just as the Mets had turned the corner and became one of the top teams in the league.  

During his 10 years with the Mets Stearns hit .259 with 46 HR’s and 312 RBI’s.  Stearns would return to the Mets in 2000 and 2001 serving as a coach.  He also spent two seasons managing in the Mets minor league system, 2003 with the Binghamton Mets and 2004 with the Norfolk Tides.

While with the Mets Stearns wore number 16 in 1975 and 1976 and number 12 from 1977-1984.

John Stearns also played for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1974.

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Dave Kingman – His New York Mets Career 1975-1977,1981-1984

Dave KingmanDave Kingman was purchased from the San Francisco Giants prior to the 1975 season.   With the Mets in 1975 he quickly became a fan favorite and earned the nickname “Sky King” due in large part to his ability to hit tape measure home runs.  Kingman homered in his first game as a Met on Opening Day and would go on to set the Mets single season home run record with 36 round trippers.   But when he wasn’t hitting home runs he was striking out.  For the season, he hit just .231 while striking out 153 times but did drive in 88 runs, second most on the team to Rusty Staub.

Kingman followed up his first season with a similar one in 1976.  He bested his own home run record with 37 and was selected to his first All-Star team as the starting right fielder.  But like 1975 he hit just .238 and continued to rack up the strikeouts. 

After starting out the 1977 season with a .209 average Kingman was traded to the San Diego Padres in exchange for Bobby Valentine and Paul Siebert at the June 15th trading deadline.  It was the same day the Mets traded Tom Seaver in what became known as the “Midnight Massacre” to Mets fans.

Prior to the 1981 season Dave Kingman was traded back to the Mets from the Chicago Cubs as the organization attempted to appease their disgruntled fan base by bringing back some old fan favorites.   In his first season, back in New York Kingman hit 22 home runs but also led the league in strikeouts.  In 1982, he became the first player in franchise history to lead the league in home runs by hitting 37. But he also led the league in strikeouts with 156 and hit just .204 which was the lowest average for any single season home run leader in baseball history.  Kingman returned to the Mets in 1983 but when the Mets acquired first baseman Keith Hernandez at the trading deadline Kingman was relegated to the bench and used primarily as pinch hitter.  He hit just .198 with 13 home runs and 29 RBIs. 

The Mets released Kingman following the season.  During his Met career, he hit just .219 with 154 home runs and 389 RBIs.  At the time of his release he was the franchise’s all-time leader in home runs. 

While with the Mets Kingman wore number 26. 

Dave Kingman also played for the following teams:
San Francisco Giants – 1971-1974
California Angels – 1977
New York Yankees – 1977
San Diego Padres – 1977
Chicago Cubs – 1978-1980

Oakland A’s – 1984-1986

Pat Zachry – His New York Mets Career 1977-1982

Pat ZachryOn June 15, 1977, the New York Mets traded their most popular player in franchise history, Tom Seaver.  In return they received four players, Dan Norman, Doug Flynn, Steve Henderson and right-handed pitcher Pat Zachry. The year before Zachry had won the National League Rookie of the Year as a member of the Cincinnati Reds.  Zachry would pitch six seasons for the Mets but would never make Met fans forget Tom Seaver.

Pat Zachry made his Met debut on June 17, 1977 against the Houston Astros.  He pitched six innings and allowed four runs all but one earned and suffered the loss in the Mets 7-1 defeat.  Zachry would finish the season with a 7-6 record and 3.76 ERA in 19 starts.

In 1978 Zachry enjoyed his finest season with the Mets, he started out the season 10-4 and was named to the National League All-Star team, he did not appear in the game.  However, following the All-Star break Zachry was lost for the season when he fractured his foot.  The injury occurred on July 24 in a fit of rage.  After giving up a hit to Pete Rose to extend his hitting streak to 37 games, Zachry was pulled from the game.  When he reached the dugout he angrily attempted to kick a batting helmet but missed and kicked the dugout step instead and fractured his left foot.

In 1979, an elbow injury limited him to just 7 starts, though he did manage to post a 5-1 record.  In 1980 despite being named the National League pitcher of the month for July, a month that saw him go 4-0, he suffered through a 6-10 season though he did post a very respectable 3.01 ERA.  It would be the first of three straight losing seasons including a 1981 season in which he led the league with 14 losses.  During his final season with the Mets in 1982 he did flirt with pitching the first no-hitter in franchise history against the Chicago Cubs on April 10.  He lost his bid with two outs in the 8th inning.   It was the highlight of his season, a season which saw him lose his spot in the starting rotation.

Following the season the Mets traded Zachry to the Los Angeles Dodgers.  In his six seasons with the Mets Pat Zachry posted a 41-46 record with a 3.63 ERA.

While with the Mets Zachry wore number 40.

Pat Zachry also played for the following teams:
Cincinnati Reds – 1976,1977
Los Angeles Dodgers – 1983,1984
Philadelphia Phillies – 1985

Lance Johnson – His New York Mets Career 1996-1997

Lance JohnsonThe Mets signed Lance Johnson to be their leadoff hitter and centerfielder prior to the 1996 season.  In his first season in New York, he far exceeded everyone’s expectations as he had perhaps the greatest offensive season in franchise history.  Johnson a career .285 hitter went on to rewrite part of the Met record book in 1996.  He led the Mets with a .333 average, which was also 4th best in the league and at the time the second highest in franchise history, Cleon Jones hit .340 in 1969.  He became the first player in Met history to record over 200 hits.  His 227 hits not only led the National League it also obliterated the franchise record of 191 by Felix Millian in 1975.  He also set the franchise records for triples (21), runs scored (117) and total bases (327).  He also stole 50 bases, which was just eight shy of Mookie Wilson’s club record 58.  He also drove in 69 runs, an impressive number coming from a leadoff hitter.    For his efforts, he was named to the National League All – Star team where he could easily have been the game’s MVP – he went 3 for 4 with a double and stolen base.

Needless to say, expectations were high for Johnson entering the 1997 season.  He did put up some decent numbers in 1997 but injuries, mainly shin splints, hampered him for much of the season.  He was hitting .306 when the Met brass sensing that his 1996 season was more an aberration than the norm decided to include him in a six-player trade with the Cubs in August.  The Mets acquired pitchers Turk Wendell, Mel Rojas and outfielder Brian McRae for Johnson, Manny Alexander and Mark Clark.  It turned out the Mets knew what they were doing when they traded Johnson, as he never again approached the numbers he put up in 1996.  He retired following the 2000 season.

In 1 ½ seasons with the Mets Lance Johnson appeared in 232 games and hit .326 with 10 home runs and 93 RBIs.

While with the Mets Johnson wore number 1.

Lance Johnson also played for the following teams:
St. Louis Cardinals – 1987
Chicago White Sox – 1988-1995
Chicago Cubs – 1997-1999
New York Yankees – 2000

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Richie Ashburn – His New York Mets Career 1962

Richie AshburnRichie Ashburn, a former All-Star with the Phillies, has the distinction of being the first hitter in New York Mets history, he flew out to centerfield against Larry Jackson of the St Louis Cardinals on April 11, 1962.  He would later score the first run in franchise history when Charlie Neal singled him home in the third inning of the same game.

In the Mets inaugural season, a season in which they set the record for futility by losing 120 games, Ashburn was one of the few bright spots.  In 135 games as the Mets primary leadoff hitter, he hit .306 with 7 home runs and 28 RBIs and was selected to be the team’s first All-Star. 

Unfortunately for the Mets Ashburn was at the end of his career and 1962 would be his only season with the Mets, as he retired from playing following the season. 

He would be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1995.

While with the Mets Ashburn wore number 1.

Richie Ashburn also played for the Philadelphia Phillies from 1952 to 1969 and the Chicago Cubs in 1960 and 1961.

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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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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

 

Frank Viola – His New York Mets Career 1989-1991

Frank ViolaLong Island native Frank Viola was acquired by the Mets at the trading deadline in 1989 from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for David West, Kevin Tapani, Rick Aguilera, Jack Savage, and Tim Drummond.  The left-handed pitcher known as “Sweet Music’ was the defending American League Cy Young Award winner and former World Series MVP, having won the award with the Twins in 1987. 

Viola was set to join Dwight Gooden, Ron Darling, David Cone, Sid Fernandez and Bobby Ojeda as the Mets made a push to win back to back division titles.  Viola won his first start as a Met on August 2nd against the St Louis Cardinals, pitching 8 innings allowing 2 runs and just 4 hits.  But unfortunately, it took Viola awhile to get accustomed to his new surroundings as he finished the season with a 5-5 record as the Mets fell short of their quest to return to the postseason.  On August 28th against the Dodgers Viola pitched his best game of the year.  He faced Orel Hershiser and out pitched the defending National League Cy Young Award winner.  It was the first game in baseball history featuring two defending Cy Young Award winners.  Viola pitched a complete game shutout allowing just three hits as the Mets won 1-0.

1990 would be Viola’s best season with the Mets.  He started out the season 6-2 and finished with a 20-12 record, becoming just the fifth pitcher in franchise history to win 20 games.   He led the National League in innings pitched with 249 2/3 innings and finished fourth in the league with 2.67 ERA.  For his efforts, he was named to the National League All-Star squad and finished third in the National League Cy Young voting.

Viola continued his strong pitching over the first half of 1991 starting the season with an 11-5 record and making a second All -Star appearance.  But as the Mets collapsed during the second half of the season so did Viola.  He lost 10 of his final 12 decisions to finish the season with a 13-15 record and 3.97 ERA. 

Frank Viola became a free agent following the 1991 season and signed with the Boston Red Sox.  In his two plus seasons with the Mets he finished with a 38-32 record and 3.31 ERA.

While with the Mets Viola wore number 26 in 1989 and 29 from 1990-1991.

Frank Viola also played for the following teams:
Minnesota Twins – 1982-1989
Boston Red Sox – 1992-1994
Cincinnati Reds – 1995
Toronto Blue Jays – 1996