On this Date …..

Looking Back ....

Looking Back ....

…. In 1991, in one of their better decisions, the Mets signed Bobby Bonilla to a five-year, $29 million contract. At the time, Bonilla, a local athlete, was coming off a productive run with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Bonilla became a lightning rod in the clubhouse, some thought a clubhouse cancer. Threatening reporters didn’t help his image. I was in Baltimore when he brought his reputation to the Orioles, and sure enough, he didn’t report. He and Davey Johnson had an especially combative relationship caused by the DH rule.

Bonilla, who couldn’t field, didn’t like the DH and rebelled at being used in that slot. I didn’t have a chummy relationship with Bonilla, who was adverse to answering most questions, even simple ones, like, “how are you?”

One time, that question was answered with the, “why don’t you ask the “!@#$%%^” manager?”

ON DECK: A simple question about Roy Halladay.

14 thoughts on “On this Date …..

  1. Amazing, Bonilla was one of the worst contracts in Mets history but 5 years/29 million is almost laughably small in today’s world, I mean that isn’t even 6 mil a season, you can trade dead weight at that salary today :)

  2. However at the time of the sign it was a popular and applauded sign. Just like the Roberto Alomar trade was popular and applauded at the time.

  3. (2) Harry: I also remember that Bonilla really wanted to go to Philadelphia and gave the Phills a chance to match the Met offering and they refused. I also look at 1991/2009 being pretty comparable. Both were huge disappointments and the Mets wanting to make a splash in 91 signed Bonilla, instead of waiting till 1992 when Barry Bonds would have been a Free Agent. Like this year, they’ll probably end up overpaying Matt Holliday when bigger fish like Joe Mauer, Victor Martinez, possibly Lance Berkman, and Roy Halladay will be available as free agents at the end of the 2010 season

  4. 1. James, There have been so many contracts in Mets history, I find it hard to put this among them. He at least had a few productive years in his first go round. Bringing him back for an encore was dopey. The other big FA that year was Tartabull, so it could have been worse.

  5. John, Its nice to get these little insights from the lockerroom. It gives your blog a little more perspective than most of the others. Please keep it up.

  6. I know Ray, but come on that contract was one of the poster contracts of the 90s. It was the biggest contract at the time it was given out and it defined a bad team at that time and changed how the Mets approached FAs for a decade afterward. Heck, many people put that as one of the top 10 bad contracts of all time, not just the Mets.

    Wipe the smile from his face and all that with the worst team money could buy.

  7. Bobby Bonilla: the man who at his signing told the media they wouldn’t be able to wipe the smile off his face. Called the pressbox in a May game to complain about being given an error when the team was losing 9-0. We got the legendary Alex “Five Tool” Ochoa in return for him. And like Dave Kingman 20 years earlier, the Mets felt the need to bring him back a few years later to get rid of Mel Rojas. Isn’t the team paying him $1 million a year until 2030 because Steve Phillips thought it was better to buy him out than just pay the last year of his $5.9 million contract?

  8. Im not saying it was a good contract. It was better than Tartabull who only got slightly less money and the same years. At least Bonilla was healthy (a little too healthy, some would say.) That team had a lot of bad actors with bad contracts. Vince Coleman anybody? Saberhagen? Gooden? Most of these guys spent most of thier time on the trainers table.

  9. I looked up the stats:
    yr. HR RBI AVG.
    92 19 70 .249
    93 34 87 .265
    94 20 67 .290
    95 18 53 .325

    He got better every yr. after a rough first year (like Beltran) 1994 was strike shortend. 1995 numbers were in only 317 abs before he was traded. How about a 385 obp and .599 slg? He also changed positions to 3rd base. I have no problem with his first contract. The second one, If its true about the 1mm for 30yrs would be far worse. Can anybody verify it with a link?

  10. Looking at Bobby on paper is ignoring the problem that was Bobby Bo in real life. The reason why Bobby was SUCH a bad contract was because of his attitude, the perception of the fans and media of the deal and most importantly the reaction Mets brass took to that going into a shell for a decade and refusing to look at any player for high priced $$$.

  11. 11. James, Since numbers show you the production a player puts out. That is the main yardstick to show if a contract is worth it. The rest as you say is perception.The media in New York took his wipe the smile off as a challenge. They made him a target and nitpicked him from day one. He wasnt involved in any scandals. He produced on the field which is what he was paid to do.

  12. 11. Thanks Dan, I guess that is why Steve Phillips phone was not ringing even before his recect exploits.