Will The 2013 Mets Outfield Out Do Some Past Mets Outfield Clunkers ?

As we wait and see if Michael Bourn will or won’t be the 2013 and beyond Mets centerfielder, a lot of the off season chatter amongst Mets fans has been the potential for the 2013 Mets outfield to be the worst in teams history. Well, for that to happen they would have to be piss poor of epic proportion.

I went on baseball reference to look at the various Mets outfields over the years. I decide to look at the four worst run scoring teams in Mets history to see what kind of production the outfielder supplied since two of the three spot in the outfield are where teams get their power numbers and in centerfield where you hope to find your offensive catalyst. I was a bit surprised by some of my findings.

The 1968 Mets scored the least amount of runs in franchise history. The 1968 team also had the lowest team ERA in franchise history. WHAT???  The offense scored a meager 473 runs for the season which averaged out to 2.9 per game. The pitching staff pitched to a stellar 2.72 team ERA in what was known as the Year of the Pitcher. The Bob Gibson led St. Louis Cardinals lead all of MLB with an astonishing 2.49 ERA.  The Mets outfield that season consisted of three of the most important players on next seasons World Champion New York Mets.

Cleon Jones played left field and had a line of .297/.341/.452 14 HR 55 RBI. Not a bad slash line and 14 HR is okay but 55 RBI is quite low but the teams collective OBP was a lifeless.281 so as well as Jones hit, most times he came up with the bags empty. Tommy Agee was downright awful. His line was .217/.255/.307 in 368 AB. The other CF’er on that team was Don Bosch who came over from the Pirates along with Don Cardwell for Dennis Ribrant who I was a big fan of for the sole reason that I  had a tumbler from the Sunocco gas station in our neighborhood that had his likeness on it (I also had a Rob Gardner and a Ron Swoboda tumbler as well) Bosh put up a line .171/.231/.261. , which for some reason the newly formed Montreal Expos were impressed by  so they purchased Bosh’ contract at the end of the 1968 season.  Ron Swoboda put 11 baseballs over the fence and drove in 59 runs to be the team leader. Let that sink in a bit Mets fans, 59 RBI led THE TEAM FOR THE SEASON!

The Mets of 1965 scored 495 runs and had the second worst win/loss record in team history at 50-112 second only of course to the 1962 team.  The outfield that year consisted of Ron Swoboda in his rookie season in RF, Jim Hickman in CF, Johnny Lewis in RF and Joe Christopher as the very active 4th outfielder spelling Swoboda and Lewis.  Swoboda had a career best 19 HR’s but put up an ugly slash line of .228/..291/.424.  Safe to say  Swoboda was no threat to Jim Lefevre and his run to Rookie of the Year. Jim Hickman hit 15 HR and drove in a paltry 40 runs he also put up an awful slash line of .236/.291/.407 If you look at Hickman’s page on baseball-reference his 1970 season leaps off the screen. If a player had a spike like that today, what do you think the scuttlebutt would be? Johnny Lewis also hit double digits in HR’s with 15 but he also had a tough time getting a Rib Eyed Steak with 45 runs batted in. The low number of RBI is attributed to an all-time Mets team record for worst OBP of .277 WOW!

The 1967 team just missed the 500 run scored mark falling short at 498 but this team had one the best players to come out of Brooklyn in Tommy Davis playing the outfield. The Dodgers sent Davis to the Mets for Ron Hunt and Jim Hickman. Davis was a star on those great Dodgers teams on the early 60’s but a broken ankle in 1965 seemed to affect Davis’ power although the power in his bat returned when he joined the Mets as he hit 16 HR in ’67.  Davis also drove in 73 runs to go with a .302 BA . Davis lasted just one season with the Mets as he was dealt to the White Sox for future major contributors to the ’69 World Championship Tommy Agee and Al Weiss.   The shame about Davis’ career was he looked like a sure superstar headed toward a trip to Cooperstown before the ankle injury but he became the definition of a journeyman playing for ten teams in his eighteen year career.  Cleon Jones struggled that year and part of the reason Davis was obtained was to work with Jones which would pay off a couple of season later but in ’67 Cleon’s line of .246/.282/.331 wasn’t good.  Ron Swoboda, who played on the top three worst run producing offenses in Mets history, had one of best years by hitting 13 HR and driving 53 runs which kept the Mets front office hoping that Swoboda would start to blossom into an consistent offensive player.

As bad as the 1963 Mets were when it came to scoring runs, just 501 on the season, the outfield made  up of Frank Thomas, Jim Hickman and back to New York for one season, 36 year old Duke Snider was not awful. Snider at the end of career, hit 14 HR but again something of a pattern with these bad offensive Mets teams, drove in just 45 runs due to a bad team OBP of .285. Slugger Frank Thomas hit 15 homers and drove in 60 runs which when you look at this overall team dismal effort is outstanding. Jim Hickman hit with power, 17 HR and drove in 51 runs but his OBP of .291 was head shaking bad.

So how bad can the Mets 2013 outfield be? Is Lucas Duda a modern day Jim Hickman? Can the right field platoon of Mike Baxter/Andrew Brown/Collin Cowgil produce better than a Ron Swoboda or an aging Duke Snider? Can a Kirk Nieuwenhuis/Marlon Byrd be as productive as Tommy Davis?

I guess its questions like these that have Sandy Alderson weighing the pros and cons of signing Michael Bourn compared to keeping the 11th pick in the entry draft and more importantly the slot money they’d lose as well. This not exactly an inspiring bunch of fly ball catchers. Every day we get closer to full squad workouts at St. Lonesome the tougher the decision is for the Mets GM.

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THIS COULD BE THE WILDEST OFF SEASON OF OUR METS FANS LIVES

While I was riding the Staten Island Ferry on my way home from the Mets finale at Citi Field yesterday, I was reading over the notes I took during the game. I decided to invoke my “sleep on  it before writing” rule because it was quite an emotional day and even after “sleeping on it” I’m still having a tough time deciphering where this organization is headed, positive or negative. It’s the most confused and befuddled I’ve ever been in my 47 years of Mets fandom.  

Before my stream of semi-conscience begins please turn to page 1986 in your Mets Missalette to read the words of fellow Mets blogger/fan/Staten Islander by way of Brooklyn, Ed “Rusty Jr.” Marcus who lays out the events of yesterday quite eloquently.

Usually when I ride the 7 train to Citi Field, it’s filled with a full platoon of uniformed Mets fans excited to be headed to see their beloved Metropolitans. Yesterday on an 11AM 7 train out of Times Square, I was the lone infantry man in the car. If there was an invasion of Loyal Order of Red Legs. I’d have fought a losing battle.

I spent the time on the train reading this outstanding book, I had no real emotion about the day. It wasn’t until we left the 111 St station and Citi Field was on the horizon, I stared having flashbacks to Mets games of yore, good days, days when you could not get to the ball park fast enough. Games I went to that Tom Seaver pitched in, for some reason the game he struck out Manny Sanguillen for his 200 K back in 1975 to become the first pitcher to K 200 batters in eight straight seasons, popped in my head, another obscure game I was at that flashed in my mind was the walk off home run by Steve “Hendu” Henderson against the Giants in 1975. What sticks out for me in that one is, my friends and I bet on the Mets in this game for the sole reason we had hung out at a bar in Bay Ridge with Pete Falcone the weekend before and he was the games starting pitcher. I have to come clean and let you know we didn’t stay for the whole game, and we didn’t know the outcome until we got back to the neighborhood when we were informed of our “busted ass” luck.

When I got off the train at Citi Field-Willets Point the depression set in. The weather didn’t help that grey muggy one second it’s warm, the next it’s chilly temps, just like our Mets. After a summit on the Shea Bridge that Ed reported on, I headed to the Shake Shack for a burger (the line was long but not the usual four wraparounds) and then made my way to my $2 (Stub Hub-a Hub-a) buck seat in Section 519, just in time to see Jose Reyes’ first at bat of the day. Little did I know it would be his only at bat of the day.

This is why I invoked “my sleep on it rule” because at the moment Reyes came out of the game I was one ornery fucker. What bother me the most and still does was THE WAY he came out of the game. Reyes should have gone to his shortstop position and have Bastia step off and call time and then let Turner enter into the game. Would I have liked to see Reyes play the whole game? Of course, but his coming out of the game to protect a batting title is not unprecedented.

What also conflicts me with Reyes is the fact I really like him as a player and a person and I hope he’s back as a Met next year but if he signs elsewhere I’m not going to be sad or heartbroken. I still feel that Jose wants to stay a Met but I’m sure there will be One Dumb Owner who will make an offer that Sandy Alderson can refuse.

It’s time for us Mets fans to face facts, and the to face those facts we are fortunate to have someone like Howard Megdal to report the facts as he does here in his piece for New York Magazine which lays out the awful truth about the Skill Sets, their finances and the direction the club his headed due to money that would have been funneled into the baseball team will instead go to lawyers, creditors and maybe the Madoff Trust.

If you don’t have the stomach for some tough times in Flushing, it may be time for you to find another rooting interest in baseball because it looks like a very rocky road here for a couple of years. The team in the Bronx may have some openings, especially after the Mowtown Cats sweep them in the ALDS.

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