Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
I Think Yer Mistaken
2008-06-30 05:38
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

I watched most of yesterday's game on the Mets' network, listening to Gary Cohen and Mex Hernandez call the game.  I like the Met guys, although Cohen gets jacked-up more now that he's on TV.  That's fine because in general, he just gets out of the way and let's the action unfold, without the need to put exclaimation points on every call.  I know Cohen grew up rooting for the Mets which is why I was puzzled at something he said yesterday. 

Ron Darling, the third guy in the Met booth, was calling the game for the TBS Game of the Week, and over at YES, David Cone and Ken Singleton were doing with the game with Michael Kay.  Cohen mentioned that the grouping of Hernandez, Darling, Cone and Singleton represented the four best trades in franchise history. 

I get the first three, but to suggest that the Mets got the better of the deal that sent Singleton, Mike Jorgeseon and Tim Foli to the Expos in exchange for Rusty Staub seems misguided at best, sentimental at worst. 

The trade took place on April 2, 1972, a few months shy of Singleton's 25th birthday.  In his second season with the Expos, Singleton played 162 games, hit .302/.425/.479, with 26 doubles, 23 dingers, 100 runs scored, 103 RBI and 123 walks, good for a 148 OPS+.  In comparison, Rusty Staub's best season with the Mets from 72-75 was 1975 when he hit .282/.371/.448 in 155 games, with 30 doubles, 19 dingers, 93 runs scored and 105 RBI, good for an OPS+ of 131.  Staub was three years older than Singleton and by 1979 he was a platoon player.  In a long, 23-year career, Staub's line is .279/.362/.431.  In a much shorter career (15 seasons), Singleton's line is .282/.388/.436.  After the trade, Singleton put up OPS+ seasons of 153, 165, 152, 155, and 142.  They were all full seasons.  Staub, put up OPS+ seasons of 131 and 137 in full seasons, and 147 as a pinch-hitter for the Mets in 1981.

Jorgensen and Foli had some productive seasons too. 

Maybe it's me.  I was too young to follow the team during the early 70s but looking at the numbers, I'd say this was one of the worst trades in Met history. 

2008-06-30 06:36:19
1.   JohnnyC
Darling is pedantic, Hernandez is woefully uninformed (by his own comic admission, he doesn't watch Mets broadcasts, much less other teams' games), and Cohen is an overgrown Mets fan -- IMHO, worse than our own overgrown fan, Michael Kay.
2008-06-30 06:36:23
2.   RIYank
Now you have me wondering who the Yankees might pick up in the off-season. (I'm assuming there won't be any significant moves this coming month.) Any guesses?
2008-06-30 06:40:53
3.   RIYank
Well, there's always this guy:

Days after Houston Astros pitcher Shawn Chacon tackled general manger Ed Wade in the home clubhouse at Minute Maid Park, the visitors clubhouse was the scene of another player-club employee altercation Saturday afternoon.

Manny Ramirez shoved Red Sox traveling secretary Jack McCormick to the ground in an argument over Ramirez' ticket allotment. Several onlookers moved quickly to separate the two.

2008-06-30 07:04:30
4.   mehmattski
So, the bizzaro world version of this for the Yankees would be broadcast booths featuring Kevin Brown, Ed Yarnell, Steve Trout, and Ken Phelps?

2 Adam Dunn, please. Carl Crawford, if the Rays magically fail to exercise his option. K-Rod is a free agent after this season, and is only 26. There's a lot more to the 2008-09 off-season than Sabathia and Teixeira.

2008-06-30 07:10:20
5.   Jay Jaffe
Speaking of Singleton, what little I saw of this weekend's series included the intro to Sunday's game, which featured a little segment on his own favorite Shea Stadium moment: a 1971 game against the Phillies ( in which he hit "a 500-foot home run" off Hall of Famer Jim Bunning while his father was in attendance. As enjoyable as I find Singleton (whose peak with the Orioles I recall quite vividly) in the booth, the segment wasn't exactly the smoothest affair -- Kenny reading from the script does not flow as smoothly as Kenny spontaneously discussing the wrath of Earl Weaver or the finer points of a three-hit night. Still, given that the segment also functioned as a skyward-gazing tribute to his late father, it was an endearing moment.

Alex is right, though, in that it wasn't a great trade for the Mets by any stretch. They made Singleton the #3 overall pick in the 1967 draft and got just two years and 600 plate appearances out of a very, very good hitter in exchange for a guy who was a certainly an icon but a bit less of a force with the stick.

2008-06-30 07:56:57
6.   mehmattski
Ah, Brett Gardner has been called up.

The new Juan Pierre era has begun! Hooray for no-power slap-hitters!

2008-06-30 07:57:18
7.   williamnyy23
Singleton was a borderline great player who was probably underappreciated in his time because he "wasted" so many ABs doing things like drawing walks.
2008-06-30 08:01:14
8.   mbtn01
Staub became such a beloved Met that it's hard for Mets fans to recognize how costly he was to acquire. All else being equal Singleton would have been the best offensive player the Mets had developed until Strawberry had they kept him (and not also traded Amos Otis). d'oh.
2008-06-30 08:03:21
9.   williamnyy23
6 With Matsui out, I'd like to see the Yankees play Gardner regularly. The plan I'd use it to go with an Gardner in LF when Damon DH's, as well as in CF when Damon is in LF and Betemit/Giambi DH's. I think a little competition might push Melky a little too.
2008-06-30 08:14:55
10.   monkeypants
6 Be fair, Pierre is a no power slap hitter who also can't get on base. Gardner may at least be able to do the latter.
2008-06-30 08:22:13
11.   williamnyy23
8 Forget about developed...Singleton would easily be one of the top 5 offensive players to ever wear a Mets uniform.

If he compiled his career numbers as a Met, here is how he'd rank on the franchise all-time list:

BA: 10th
OBP: 3rd
OPS: 7th
Runs: 1st
Hits: 1st
RBI: 1st
TB: 1st
HR: 2nd
OPS+: 5th

2008-06-30 08:28:04
12.   mehmattski
10 Yes, if Gardner can have an OBP north of .375, and steal bases at a high rate, it will balance some of the lack of power.

I just have a feeling that the media will jump all over this "old school" and "gritty" player for the Yankees and he'll be overrated like Pierre and David Eckstein. If he takes walks in the majors, he'll prove me wrong. I hope he does.

2008-06-30 08:29:47
13.   cult of basebaal
9 i think the (semi) regular lineup will be damon in LF, gardner in CF, Giambi at 1st/DH and betemit DH/1b ... i think melky's gonna get the majority of pine time ... and i think he's "earned" it
2008-06-30 08:29:57
14.   monkeypants
9 I thought of some of these combos as well, especially with Damon at DH. I actually think that he should DH more or less permanently, so long as Matsui is hurt and assuming to other personnel moves.

Assuming this is the case, other questions arise:

1. Do you keep Christian and platoon Christian/Gardner?
2. Do you demote Christian, which means still only 4 OFs on the roster? If so, do you recall Duncan as BUDH/BU1B/5thOF?
3. Can some combination of Gardner/Christian/Duncan/Betemit hit enough to make up for Matsui?

2008-06-30 08:33:01
15.   monkeypants
13 My fear, voiced in the last thread, is that Damon is more hurt than we know, although the Yankees are usually so open about player injuries.

Anyway, I have this ominous vision of Gardner in LF, Melky in CF, Betemit DH and Damon on the pine "for a day or two." Oh yeah, and Moeller as the third catcher.

2008-06-30 08:36:00
16.   ChrisS
I'm still betting on the Kazmir trade to be the worst in Mets' history.

That was a shameful trade at the time just based on Kazmir's potential, and it was made worse by Kazmir actually realizing his potential and being an ace right out of the gate.

2008-06-30 08:36:38
17.   cult of basebaal
12 yeah, but the media was utterly and totally wrong about what to do with joba and it didn't change what the yankees "did" with him.

if gardner flops, he his playing time will be reduced or (more likely) he'll be sent back to AAA until the rosters expand.

i think you're really stretching to come up with why this isn't a good move to at least try at this point.

melky's a drain on the offense right now, has been since april and with rasner and ponson (or whomever comes next) in the rotation for the foreseeable future, it's the offense that is going to need to shoulder the load.

an obp oriented 9 spot hitter that can turn the lineup over could be valuable in this offense, especially if he can maintain his 80%+ sb ratio.

2008-06-30 08:37:48
18.   ChrisS
I don't see Gardner being much more than replacement level, but at least he's getting a shot. Who knows, maybe he'll blossom at the MLB level.
2008-06-30 08:41:07
19.   monkeypants
18 Even if he is RL, he would be more valuable than the current version of Melky.
2008-06-30 08:50:14
20.   Shaun P
19 Even if he shows no more power than Melky (current SLG: .354; where have his triples gone?), all Gardner has to do is get on-base more often to be more valuable than current-Melky.

I think Gardner can manage an OBP > .312, easily.

2008-06-30 09:09:12
21.   mehmattski
17 I didn't say they shouldn't try, I'm just thinking well down the road and I probably shouldn't. I'm just trying to temper my own expectations. I don't think the offensive upgrade over Melky will offset the downgrade on defense- one I expect to exist because Melky has above average range and arm.

I hope he provides a spark; I hope his patience at the plate wears off on some of the Yankees' hitters who have forgotten that value; I hope Melky bounces back and becomes a serviceable 4th OF for a few more years.

2008-06-30 09:22:26
22.   williamnyy23
16 I've always kidded my Mets fan friends about that one. Of course, if Kazmir is leading the Rays to the playoffs over the Yankees, the last laugh will be on me.
2008-06-30 09:24:37
23.   williamnyy23
21 I really don't think Melky is going to be riding the pine. I think the plan is to play Gardner in LF against all righties, while Damon DH's. Of course, against righties, Betemit would actually be a weapon, but in that configuration, he'd be the odd man out, unless Melky does see some bench time.
2008-06-30 09:39:32
24.   JL25and3
23 They really do need to find some of that bench time for Melky. He's been absolutely atrocious for over two months now - over 200 AB - and he hasn't shown any signs of snapping out of it.
2008-06-30 09:54:09
25.   cult of basebaal
23 i based my thoughts on lineup design on the following piece of info from petey (from the piece where he documents gardner's callup):

"Girardi said today that he planned to use Wilson Betemit as the DH in place in Hideki Matsui."

i think that says "melky = pine time"

2008-06-30 10:02:00
26.   williamnyy23
25 Or, it could mean:

(1) Damon might need more "rest", which I think we all agree would be a major blow.

(2) Gardner will see limited action and serve as a pinch runner, which I think we all agree would be a waste.

If Melky does see bench time, I still would rather have him in CF against lefties because his defense is worth more than Betemit against from the right side (his bomb yesterday aside).

2008-06-30 10:36:36
27.   cult of basebaal
26 i think (1) could be a possibility, i'd bet money in vegas that (2) isn't. if (2) is what they had in mind, there's little reason to bring up gardner, they could just keep christian, who's more than adequate as a occasional 4th OF and is plenty fast. he's also right-handed, a plus (given the handedness of team), wouldn't require any 40 man machinations and it's not like he's really any sort of prospect to worry about losing development time for.

gardner's here to play. only question left to answer is where the time comes from.

2008-06-30 13:19:25
28.   cult of basebaal
26 i may owe you a coke, gardner is starting in LF tonite, with damon sitting ... though i still think that in 2 weeks, melky will be the one with the least amount of playing time ... we shall see

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