Feb 28

Today In Mets History: Dave Kingman Signed

On this day in Mets’ history in 1975, the contract of outfielder and first baseman Dave Kingman was purchased from the San Francisco Giants. The 6-foot-6 Kingman, nicknamed Kong for his prodigious strength and power, was to give the Mets the fearsome hitter they had never had this early in their existence.

“He was going to make us a winner,’’ said Joe, a life-long Mets’ fan. “He had such awesome power. We had never had a guy like that before.’’

KINGMAN: Hit 154 homers at a Met.

KINGMAN: Hit 154 homers at a Met.

During his 17-year career, Kingman played six seasons with the Mets, more than any other team. He gave the Mets the power they wanted with 154 home runs. However, the all-or-nothing Kingman also hit .219 with a .287 on-base percentage, and with only 389 RBI and just 211 walks in comparison to 672 strikeouts. He had more strikeouts than hits (509) with the Mets.

In addition to the San Francisco and the Mets, Kingman played for Oakland, the Cubs, San Diego, the Angels and Yankees. Kingman had two stints with the Mets (1975-77 and 1981-83).

Kingman also struck out a lot in his interactions with fans and the media. Of all the things Kingman is known for, perhaps most disturbing was sending a live rat to Susan Fornoff, a female reporter covering the Athletics.

Kingman hit 30 or more homers seven times, including 48 in 1979 with the Cubs and 37 in 1982 with the Mets, when he lead the National League in homers.

Kingman also struck out 1,816 times – an average of 152 times a season – and in 14 years struck out at least 100 times, and eight times fanned at least 125 times. Only once, in 1985, did he draw as many as 60 walks.

History is filled with numerous all-or-nothing sluggers like Kingman, such as Adam Dunn, Greg Vaughn, Frank Howard, Rob Deer, Mark Reynolds and a case can also be made to lump former Met George Foster into that group.

Kingman’s 154 homers ranks fifth on the club’s all-time list, behind Darryl Strawberry, David Wright, Mike Piazza and Howard Johnson.

Kingman finished with 442 career homers and speaking at the closing of Shea Stadium, said if he played longer: “I’m sure I could have hit 500 (home runs). That’s all right. I’m very happy with (my career). I enjoyed my time in the big leagues.’’

Prior to the steroid era, 500 homers used to be an automatic ticket into the Hall of Fame, along with 300 pitching victories and 3,000 hits. Had Kingman played two more years and reached that milestone he would have been an interesting test case.

As a Hall of Fame voter, I wouldn’t give him my vote because his numbers other than homers were terribly weak and non-deserving.

ON DECK:  Mets Matters: Today’s news and notes.

Jan 30

The Playoffs Aren’t Out Of The Question

The latest issue of Baseball Prospectus projects the Mets to finish in second place in the NL East behind Washington with an 82-80 record, which would be their first winning season since 2008.

That would be good enough to be tied with Chicago for sixth place in the National League, but not make the playoffs for the first time since 2006.

Here how the publication projects the National League:

Los Angeles 97-65

Washington 91-71

St. Louis 89-73

San Francisco 84-78

San Diego 83-79

METS 82-80

Chicago 82-80

Miami 81-81

Pittsburgh 80-82

Cincinnati 79-83

Milwaukee 79-83

Atlanta 74-88

Arizona 74-88

Colorado 72-90

Philadelphia 69-93

 

Last year the Mets were tied for second with Atlanta in the division at 79-83. If the publication were correct, we would be talking of an improvement of three games with a minimum of additions with offseason.

Using the publication’s figures, the Mets need to win at least 84 games to be a wild card. To do that they must improve by five games, and are banking on that happening with the healthy returns of Matt Harvey and David Wright.

When you look at it, that’s an extra five victories a month, which isn’t unrealistic.

 

Jan 19

Gap Between Mets, Nats Wider Than You Think

The Mets finished in a second-place tie last season in the NL East 17 games behind the pennant winning Washington Nationals.

GEE: Trying to move him. (Getty)The two current storylines of these teams suggest a wider gap – much wider.

The Nationals, who won 96 games last season with the NL’s deepest rotation, will add free-agent prize Max Scherzer. Meanwhile, the Mets are taking flak for charging their players to participate in an off-season conditioning program. The Mets are also still attempting to trade Dillon Gee, and word is they don’t have to get a major leaguer in return. Shows what they think of their most reliable starter the past few seasons.

The Nationals are trying to sell the prospect of the World Series to their fan base. The Mets are still trying to sell a .500 season.

To make room for Scherzer’s contract, the Nationals are willing to trade shortstop Ian Desmond, who will become a free-agent after this year. Yes, the Mets could use Desmond to address their shortstop question, but the Nationals’ asking price would be exorbitant for a one-year rental.

Trading for Desmond could be a giant step back if he leaves, and put on the financial shackles if they signed him to an extension.

While adding Scherzer doesn’t guarantee anything, it definitely puts them in good position to be thinking deep into October.

Reportedly, San Francisco, San Diego and Colorado are interested in Gee.

The Mets would like to unload Gee before spring training, but I believe they would get a greater return if they waited until the trade deadline.

 

 

Dec 12

Wrapping Up The Winter Meetings For The Mets

Well, you can’t say the Mets didn’t do anything at the Winter Meetings. They agreed to terms with right-handed hitting outfielder John Mayberry Jr., for $1.45 million, and could make the announcement official as soon as today.

Other than that, this is pretty much the same team before San Diego, and with the same issues.

The Mets are desperately trying to deal Dillon Gee and would like to trade Jon Niese, but nothing is warm, let alone imminent.

Reportedly, Colorado, Minnesota, Texas, San Diego, San Francisco and Kansas City expressed interest. Detroit can now be added to the list after its trade of Rick Porcello to Boston.

Dealing Gee is a priority because he’s scheduled to make $5 million in 2015 and the Mets payroll is projected to drop below $100 million.

As much as the Mets want to trade Gee, Alderson admitted to reporters before leaving San Diego he never expected to make one this week.

“There really wasn’t any point during the week that we felt we were going to do something,’’ Alderson said. “You always work toward something and we’ll continue to do that. We’ll see what develops over the next few days, couple of weeks. It’s a long time between now and spring training.’’

It can also be ascertained from the meetings, the Mets will go into the season with Wilmer Flores at shortstop as they weren’t going to make a high-profile deal.

The Mets haven’t abandoned looking at South Korean Jung Ho-Kang, but reports are they aren’t overwhelmed by what they hear.

Toward their need for a lefty reliever, the Mets will bring back Scott Rice.

Spring training will be here before you know it, and while there are players still in the market, the Mets aren’t going to be players.

Nov 20

Mets Not Players For Josh Johnson

When you’re the New York Mets and have to think outside the box, it’s stuff like what happened today that drives you crazy.

Josh Johnson wanted to play close to his Las Vegas home and signed today with San Diego for an easily digestible one-year, $8-million contract. Even so, you have to wonder whether the Mets even kicked the tires on this one. Even if they had, don’t you wonder if free agents – even those who are questions – seriously take the Mets.

JOHNSON: Would have been worth the risk.

JOHNSON: Would have been worth the risk.

Once, one of the rising young stud pitchers in the National League with Miami, Johnson made the All-Star team in 2009 and 2010. However, he was taken down with triceps and forearm injuries last year with Toronto that culminated in elbow surgery to remove bone spurs in October.

Johnson was 2-8 with a 6.20 ERA in 16 games last year, but that’s not who Padres general manager Josh Byrnes was thinking about.

“Here’s a guy who led the league in ERA who has been a dominant pitcher,’’ Byrnes told San Diego reporters. “We know there’s risk in any signing but we’re very excited about the upside, what he can bring and now what our rotation can do to deliver us toward our goal.

“We want to be an October team. We really feel like the evolution of our starting pitching and bringing in Josh, we’ve taken a big step in that direction over the last 12 months.’’

At 29, Johnson is young enough to turn it around and regain the form that has earned him a career 58-45 record with a 3.40 ERA.

“I was pretty close last year, just not healthy,’’ Johnson said. “It was tough trying to throw through it and all of a sudden I’m getting these weird pains all the way up my triceps and my forearm’s getting tight because of everything going on with my elbow. Hopefully that took care of everything.’’

If it does, the Padres would have hit the jackpot, something the Mets, who have two rotation spots to fill, must do.

Because of Johnson’s location preference, the Mets weren’t players, but represents the out-of-box thinking they must utilize in the absence of making a substantial trade or major free agent signing.