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Saturday, July 31, 2004

Black Friday 

In a span of 15 minutes, Mets brass made a series of trades that obliterated the foundation of what was to be an organizational return to greatness for the short sighted purpose of playing “meaningful games in September.”

The Trades

In a three team deal, the Mets sent AAA catcher Justin Huber to the Royals in exchange for third basemen Jose Bautista, who was immediately flipped in a package with third/second/first basemen Ty Wigginton and AA right handed pitcher Matt Peterson in exchange for right handed starting pitcher Kris Benson and minor league second basemen Jeff Keppinger. In short, the Mets shipped out Wigginton, Peterson and Huber for Benson and Keppinger.

Minutes later, the Mets sent class AA starting pitchers Scott Kazmir and Jose(lo) Diaz to Tampa Bay for starting pitcher Victor Zambrano and AAA pitcher Bartolome Fortunato, who is either 24 or 30 years old, depending on who you ask.

In summary, the Mets lost Wigginton, Kazmir, Peterson, Huber and Diaz and gained Benson, Zambrano, Keppinger and Fortunato.

Weighing the Talent

Looking at the trades in isolation, it’s clear the Mets overpaid in the transaction that landed Benson and got robbed blind in the follow-up deal that netted Zambrano. Looking at the cumulative effect of both trades together, however, reveals just how truly devastating they are. In a matter of minutes, over half the starting rotation of the Mets AA Binghamton pitching staff was sent packing. The heir apparent to Mike Piazza, one of the most highly touted catching prospects in the minors, was issued his walking papers as well. In short, the Mets gutted their farm system, a system envied by other teams. And let’s not forget about Ty Wigginton, a player who wore his heart on his sleeve for this team and has shown marked improvement this year from his rookie campaign of last season. The Mets lost monumentally more than what they received. The only way these trades can be justified is if they result in a World Series championship. If not, the Wilpons, Jim Duquette, "Superscout" Al Goldis, or whoever is running things for the Mets, can consider their gamble a failure.

The Lies

While weighing the talent the Mets received versus what they gave away tips decidedly against the Mets, these trades are more than just about Kazmir and Peterson et al., they are about team management implementing a plan, selling it to the fans, then abandoning the plan, the fans and the players that bought into it. Many fans were willing to be patient if it meant the Mets would field a team of players we could call our own. Didn't Met brass take note of the genuine excitement solid home grown players generate? Did they turn their backs when the Flushing Faithful gave David Wright a standing ovation when he got his first hit recently? Do they cover their eyes when us fans gush like little girls whenever Jose Reyes smiles? For God sakes we put up with Ty Wigginton's cement shoes at third base for a year and a half just because he's a home grown kid who works his tail off and is fun to root for. The Mets are not the Yankees and we were just beginning to enjoy how the current management was forging, or should I say re-forging, our own organizational identity and philosophy - one that we could be proud of. I'm not very proud to be a Met fan today.
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