Friday, September 22, 2006

Worst Mets' of the Past 33 Years: Part Two

Okay- before we get to part 2 of this series, a small clarificaiton. A friend of mine asked me yesterday why I only decided to pick the worst Mets' team of the past 33 years, and not in their entire existence. Well, quite frankly, if we had opened it up to all 44 years of Metsdom, we could just put the 1962 team into each category and be done with it. That would be like shooting fish in a barrel- way too easy. Also, from 1968-1973, we were good for the first time in our history, and other than an Al Weiss here or there, (and even he had some heroic moments), we had some good players who often became great in stepping up to the occasion, so to speak. Therefore, we have limited this "worst" team to the past 33 years, or post-1973. Now onto the next position- Catcher!

Part 2: Catcher

Like the Yankees of Terry to Berra to Howard to Munson, the Mets had a great catcher lineage of Grote to Stearns to Carter to Piazza, and now to Lo Duca. However, there have been gaps since Jerry Grote ended his tenure as our regular backstop in 1976 through Lo Duca's taking the reins this season. We've had many interesting back-up catchers, including the likes of Duffy Dyer, Mackey "Hitman" Sasser, Todd Pratt, Bruce Bochy, Ronn Reynolds and Ed Hearn, and we've also had some catchers pressed into full-time duty who were more suited to being a back-up. In order to qualify for "worst" catcher, you had to be considered the starter for at least one season (which eliminates all of the previously named candidates). With that in mind, here is our list of the 3 worst Mets catchers over the past 33 years:

3.) Alex Trevino: When John Stearns was hurt in 1980, the Mets' "newest" catching phenom seemed poised to take his place, one Alex Trevino. He looked like he had all the tools, both defensively and offensively, and he did knock in 37 runs in 355 at-bats in '80. However, he never came close to being the type of player we expected him to be, either behind the dish or at-bat, and the best contribution he ever made to the team was being traded to the Reds in exchange for the power-hitting George Foster, who will one-day be listed as our all-time biggest disappointment (but that's for another post on another day). Of course, Trevino never hit a homer with us, spanning 733 at-bats, and it still amazes me that the Reds chose him to succeed Johnny Bench. He came back to us in '90, but his second tenure lasted all of one month. The less said about Trevino, the better.

2.) Ron Hodges: It's hard to ever be critical of one of the longest-tenured Mets of all time, but Hodges is the perfect example of our own ineptitude as an organization. He spent most of his career as a back-up, but he was our primary catcher in 1983. In '83, he hit a whopping .260 with a whopping 0 home runs (you read that right) and 21 RBI's in 250 at-bats. His defense was passable, so don't ascribe anything more than passable to his skills behind the plate or you'll be accused of false sentimentality. He rightly should have been our worst catcher, based on 19 homers and 147 RBI's with a .240 average in 666 games (he should have played at least 1 more, don't you think?), but he is such a part of Mets' history that the worst we could place him was number 2.

1.) Barry Lyons: He was our primary catcher in 1989, although he caught less then 100 games (79, to be exact). During his 5 year career with the Mets, he hit .240, knocked in 71 runs and hit 9 homers. He was known mostly for his huge, bald head and for breaking the leg of Cards' pitcher John Tudor, chasing futilely after a foul ball in the Redbirds' dugout. It's amazing to think that Lyons once hit over 100 RBI's in the minors (yes, in a single season), but never knocked in more than 27 in the majors. He was always bitter about not getting a chance to start for us, but he was behind The Kid, Gary Carter, who later followed him to Los Angeles! Lyons was touted by the Mets as their star catcher of the future (and gee, where have you heard THAT before), but his career is now no more than a distant memory. He narrowly beats out Trevino for worst of the last 33 years! And he definitely wins "biggest head" of all-time, that's for sure!

Next: The Infield (let's just say that if Superman had his Bizzaro counterpart, then the Mets' infield of Olerud, Alfonzo, Ordonez and Ventura have met their bizzaro match!)

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