#ThrowbackThursday Mets Edition: Bernard Gilkey

Born in St. Louis, Missouri on September 24th, 1966, Otis Bernard Gilkey, a right handed outfielder went un-drafted but would sign with his hometown Cardinals as an amateur free agent on August 22nd, 1984.

Gilkey would go on to make his Major League debut at 23 years old on September 4th, 1990, against the New York Mets in which he went 0-4. However, he’d have a successful little run that first season, slashing .297/.375/.484/.859 in just 64 at-bats as a September call-up.

The hometown kid would spend six years in his hometown with the Cardinals, hitting .282/.354/.431/.785 with 126 doubles and 52 home runs in 2133 at-bats (593 Games).

On January 22nd, 1996, he’d eventually get traded to the Mets in a deal for Yudith Ozorio, Erik Hiljus, and Eric Ludwick. I’d imagine that this trade was possibly the highlight of these three youngsters professional careers.

Stacked in a lineup that included speedy center fielder Lance Johnson, catcher Todd Hundley, and even a 28 year old Jeff Kent, Gilkey was set up for success and found it.

While Gilkey didn’t stay with the Mets long, that first season with the team was quite impactful. In 153 games, the outfielder hit .317/.393/.562/.955 with 30 home runs and 117 RBI’s, all career-highs.

Production like that will quickly have anyone become a fan favorite and that’s exactly what happened with Bernard.

The Mets’ beloved left fielder would even find himself making his Hollywood debut with a small cameo in the hit film Men In Black with Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones.

YouTube: Midas Fury

A season highlighted with so much offensive coming from the middle of the lineup, below is a clip of Gilkey taking the Mets home with a walk-off bomb against the Montreal Expos.

He also had 44 doubles while being walked 73 times, and a handsome 155 OPS+, also career highs to wrap up the epitome of a career year.

He would spend only another year and a half in Queens before being traded alongside Nelson Figueroa (Wow!) to the Arizona Diamondbacks during the ‘98 season.

In return the Mets received right handed swingman reliever Willie Blair and backup catcher Jorge Fabregas.

Looking at Gilkey’s career stats after a 12 year career, nothing really jumps off the page except for that 1996 season with the Mets. It was absolutely magical.

After calling it a career after his final season in 2001, Gilkey would be inducted into his home state’s Hall of Fame in 2018.

Credit to St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame

#ThrowbackThursday Mets Edition: John Olerud

Wait, wait, wait… so fan favorite John Olerud was actually originally drafted by the New York Mets in the 27th round of the 1986 June Amateur Draft out of Interlake High School in Bellevue, Washington. However, the first baseman opted not to sign with the Orange & Blue and instead re-entered in 1989 in which he was drafted in the third round by the Toronto Blue Jays.

Insanely enough, Olerud saw Major League action that very year as he made his debut on September 3rd and picked up a base hit in a pinch hit appearance. He ended that ’89 season with eight at-bats and picked up three hits at the young age of just twenty years old.

Olerud would officially find himself in a New York Mets uniform before the start of the 1997 season when he was traded away from the Toronto Blue Jays for pitcher Robert Person. The deal would eventually work out tremendously for the Mets for the three short years Olerud suited up in Orange & Blue.

John Olerud played a lot, I mean, it was almost impossible to take him out of a game due to not only his incredible ability to hit the ball to all fields, but also his impeccable defensive capabilities over at first base. In his three years as a New York Met, Olerud played in 476 games, appearing in no less than 154 games.

In his first season as a Met, 1997, Olerud hit .294/.400/.489/.889 with an OPS+ of 135 (100 is League average). The slick fielding first baseman hit 34 doubles, one triple, and 22 home runs while scoring 90 times and driving in 102 RBI’s.

He would hit 22 home runs again in ’98 along with 36 doubles and drove in 93 runs while batting .354/.447/.551/.998 with a 163 OPS+ in 160 games and 557 at-bats. The 1999 season would end up being his third and final season in Flushing, Queens. Olerud would play in all 162 games, where he accrued 581 at-bats and hit .298/.427/.463/.890 with a 129 OPS+ with 39 doubles, 19 home runs while scoring 107 times and driving in 96 RBI’s.

In his three seasons with the New York Mets, John Olerud slashed .315/.425/.501/.926 with a 142 OPS+ in 1662 at-bats. His leadership in that clubhouse was second to none while being an extremely quiet type of person, he lead by example on the diamond.

After a career that consisted of 17 seasons, Olerud finished the game with 255 home runs, 2239 base hits in 7592 at-bats while batting .295/.398/.465/.863 with a career OPS+ of 129 and a 58.2 WAR (Wins Above Replacement).

Below is a “full-on” scouting report of John Olerud that dates back to 1989, the year the first baseman was drafted by the Blue Jays.

“JOHN OLERUD—FIRST BASE—DESIGNATED HITTER

HITTING- This player has outstanding bat control. He has an excellent eye at the plate and will work a pitcher until he gets his pitch to hit. He hits to all fields and with power to all fields. He has a short quick stroke and virtually always makes contact. He will hit better against good pitchers because they will supply more power,they offer him more of a challenge, and they will be around the plate more often. He has excellent work habits and extreme powers of concentration. He appears to approach hitting as a science and it shows. He is confident and self assured of his ability. He makes hitting look as if it is easy in comparison to most players. ‘ He will hit with more power in professional baseball than at present in my opinion. He usually hits the ball in the sweet spot of the aluminum bat which will translate to driving the ball hard with the wood bat. He hits the ball where it is pitched and has good line drive power. When professional pitchers supply a little more mustard he will hit the ball farther. He surely has enough line drive power to drive the ball out of the ballpark and when he gets his pitch and lofts the ball he also has fly ball power. The best thing is that he does not swing to hit the long ball and sprays the ball all over the field. The long ball will come naturally. His approach in batting practice is firstly to spray the ball around and hit grounders and liners to all fields. He then will begin to loft the ball and hit it for distance. He appears to know what he is doing at all times with the bat in his hands. He will hit at the major league level. He has a chance to be an absolutely outstanding major league hitter.

FIELDING- He has good size at first base. He has very good soft hands and extremely quick reaction time. He made a great reaction on a shot (one hopper) to him while playing first in Hawaii. He also made two great reaction plays while pitching on ground shots to him and in addition caught a line shot cannon hit right back at him while on the mound in Fairbanks. 95% of guys do not get that ball. He has very soft hands and seldom drops a ball. He has sure hands and is a very good overall fielder. He throws well, throws very easily, and is very much on top of the game mentally afield. He will field well at the major league level. He has a chance to be a well above average major league fielding first baseman.

PITCHING- He is impressive here. His quiet competitive spirit shows and he gets the job done. He has a below average fastball but an above average change that acts like a screwball. His breaking stuff curve and slider is adequate and his knowiedge of pitching and know how is exceptional. It is difficult to say whether or not he can pitch at the major league level. However, I would not discount this possibility and would give him every chance to exhibit his pitching prowess at the professional level. He likes to pitch and would like to give it his best shot.

HEALTH AND DURABILITY- All doctor reports and medical reports appear to indicate complete recovery. Every aspect of any medical document that I have seen is positive with the possible exception of some type personality change taking place within the first four months after the operation. You can discount that one. John, along with LHP Jim Abbott, have the best personalities I have ever seen. He is a joy to be around and will be a great example for baseball to youngsters all over the world. His health appears to be excellent. Naturally, after the tedious travel and playing schedule his team has endured, anyone would be somewhat tired. He has done more than any other player in tenms of pitching, hitting, and the normal workouts and is just as fresh as any of them. The players also spent much time enjoying themselves on wakiki beach and snorkeling etc. which is bound to take something out of their freshness for baseball. However, after all of this plus the aforementioned travel schedule to Fairbanks, Alaska, John turned in an amazing performance in beating Fairbanks 3-2 and contributing to his cause with the bat against a very good lhp. He hit as well or better in Alaska than Hawaii which speaks very well of his durability. He is back and 100% healthy in my opinion. He feels that his strength is good and he feels good but feels he just misses balls and dips his shoulder a bit and just is not perfect mechanically yet as compared to how he hit in his sophomore year of college. This is most likely due to the layoff from the game this spring and is nothing to be concerned about. As a matter of fact, he appears to be getting better every day and is more than adequately prepared to hit right now at a very high level of professional baseball.

MAKEUP- Outstanding! John Olerud is a first class kid in every respect. In addition to be an outstanding ballplayer he is a leader on a team by example and a credit to himself and the game of baseball. He will be the type player that fellow team members will look up to and he will be an inspirational leader by example. He is not beyond listening and appears to welcome constructive criticism if it will help him be a better player.

AFTER HAVING SPENT 10 DAYS WITH JOHN OLERUD AND THE PALOUSE COUGARS, I HAVE cams: TO THE FOIWING CONCLUSIONS: 1—JOHN CAN HIT PERIOD. 2—JOHNS HEALTH AND STRENGTH AND DURABILITY ARE EXCELLENT 3—4—JOHN ONLY NEEDS PRO EXPERIENCE TO BE A GREAT MAJOR LEAGUE PLAYER.

#ThrowbackThursday Mets Edition: Jeff Kent

On August 27th, 1992, the New York Mets traded away the beloved David Cone, who won 20 games in 1988 to Toronto for 2nd Basemen Jeff Kent. Toronto also included OF’er Ryan Thompson in the deal with the Mets.

However before he was a Met, Kent was drafted by the Blue Jays as a shortstop in the 20th round as the 521st overall pick in the 1989 amateur draft. But the Blue Jay’s didn’t plan to use Kent at shortstop (rightfully so), & already had Roberto Alomar at 2nd Base. So they opted to trade him for the previous 20 game winner, David Cone, who was in a contract year & was the bigger name of the 3 (at the time) involved in the trade.

Also read: #ThrowbackThursday Mets Edition: Jeff Kent

The Mets acquired Kent as an upgrade at second base over the 37 year old Willie Randolph, who was at the tail end of his career. But the Mets didn’t see any success that year as they would go on to lose 90 games but with Kent, the Mets had high hopes for the future.

Kent spent four years with the Mets putting up good numbers but not good enough for New York to stick with the right handed infielder. He also built himself a reputation within the clubhouse that distanced him from his teammates when he refused to participate in a annual Rookie Hazing, feeling that he left his rookie days in Toronto.

In 1996, he was traded to the Cleveland Indians along side with Jose Vizcaino for Alvaro Espinosa & Carlos Baerga. Kent would later on win the MVP award while with San Fransisco in 2000 & is the all time leader in home runs amongst his peers at second base. From 1997 to 2005, Kent has driven in 90 or more runs & is 21st on the all time doubles list at 560 as well as being a 5 time all-star.

In 498 games with the Mets, Kent has 510 hits, 98 doubles, 10 triples, 67 HR’s, 267 RBI’s, & 110 BB’s & his slash line at .279/ .327/ .453/ .453/ .780, an OPS+ of 107 and a 55.4 career WAR. Jeff Kent is currently not in the Hall of Fame however that’s just one of the travesties concerning Cooperstown & the BBWAA when it comes to letting in players of this caliber. 😬

#FlashbackFriday: The Time a Met was traded for himself

So I never knew of this story but once I randomly stumbled upon it, I decided to do some more looking into it. In 1962, Cleveland and the Mets struck up a deal that would send the right handed catcher Harry Chiti over to New York.

At the time of the trade, the Mets sent over cash to cover Chiti’s contract. The catcher would appear in 15 games for the Metropolitans and in 41 at-bats, he would own a .195/.233/.220/.452 slash line. He hit just one double with 0 home runs or RBI’s that year, which would also end up being his final year of Baseball.

While I’m not sure if this was literally just a rental for 15 games or the Mets just said “we’re not doing this anymore”, the Mets would end up sending Chiti back to Cleveland however would never make a Major League appearance with the club.

Try to keep in mind that 1962 was the inaugural season for the New York Mets, so I’m sure the team was trying their hand at a ton of players just to keep their head afloat. Of course they lost like a million games, but you know what I mean.

Chiti never had any kind of claim to fame on the diamond but he will forever be known as the first Major League Baseball player to be traded for himself.

Photo: Historic Images Outlet

#FlashbackFriday Mets Edition: Happy Harper Day!

Originally composed on December 6, 2018.

By Thomas Hannon

Brodie Van Wagenen has already made quite a splash in grabbing two all-stars and trading away players who many fans believe were past their prime.  While I personally do not think that Cano is the answer and acquiring Diaz is the bigger piece of the puzzle in regards to our long term needs. Mentioning long-term needs, Bryce Harper needs to play in Flushing, Queens. The reasoning for this is simple, we have great pitching, young talent and we only have to pay while not having to trade off any top tier prospects for him. 

Many people are suggesting that Harper will probably look for a contract at around $300 million over ten years. While last year he seemed to stumble, his stats show that it may have just been a fluke and a bounce back year is in 2019 is more than likely. He’s 26 years old and entering the prime of his career while already being a multiple time all star.

During his career, Harper has a slash line of .279/ .388/ .512/ .900. in the spacious park in Washington D.C.

Those are the stats posted on MLB.com and he has done this playing in a pitchers park 81 games a season. Harper, a young and very established feared hitter, is the piece of the puzzle the Mets need to go out and pay top dollar for. 

Yes, $30 million per season is a lot of money and yet the upside could be incredible. Imagine Harper and Cespedes in the same line up as Conforto and Nimmo. Harper has also said that he is open to moving to first base if it will help the team that he signs with. 

Lets just dream for a moment and think of this as the top of the line-up. 

  1. Nimmo
  2. Cano
  3. Frazier
  4. Harper
  5. Cespedes

And then fill in the rest for now. This would be an amazing top 5 lineup for any team so why not our beloved Mets? Lets see how far BVW is willing to go, and the catcher he decides to go with. Yes fellow Mets fans, I have hopes and dreams.

#FlashbackFriday Mets Edition: Mets trade for Piazza

On May 22nd, 1998, the Mets made a surprising acquisition when they got together with the Florida Marlins and pulled off a trade for All-Star catcher Mike Piazza. The Mets traded off outfielder Preston Wilson, pitcher Geoff Geotz, and pitcher Ed Yarnall for one of the most elite catchers in Major League Baseball history.

The Marlins had just acquired Piazza from the Dodgers, 7 days prior to the deal with the Mets. When Piazza was asked about the trades he had this to say “I have gone from a player who thought he would spend his whole career with one organization to a player who’s been with three organizations in a week.”

“I just want to be in one place for more than a week and settle down” Piazza told reporters. “I’ll be with three teams in a week. Isn’t that bizarre? It’s like rotisserie baseball”

“I’m very excited to be with the Mets and playing in New York City.”, Piazza said. I’m enthusiastic about helping the Mets get into the playoffs anyway I can”

Steve Phillips had this to say, “Certainly, we are ecstatic… He will instantly give credibility to the lineup and he will instantly give credibility to Mets fans that the organization is committed to making the playoffs and advancing toward the World Series.”

#ThrowbackThursday Mets Edition: Marlon Anderson

Originally drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the second round of the 1995 June Amateur Draft out of the University of Southern Alabama, Marlon Anderson ironically would make his Major League Baseball debut on September 8, 1998 against our beloved New York Mets. The middle infielder would go 1-1, hitting a two-run home run in his first MLB at-bat.

The Mets would eventually get their palms on Anderson in 2005 as the middle infielder signed a one-year pact with the boys in Orange & Blue as a veteran presence and solid left-handed bat coming off of the bench.

In 2005, Marlon Anderson, the Montgomery, Alabama native accrued 260 plate appearances, 235 at-bats in 123 games played. His slash line during his first tenure in Queens looked like .264/.316/.391/.708 while hitting nine doubles and seven home runs. The utility-man also drove in 19 runs while crossing the plate 31 times with runs scored.

A top moment during that 2005 season for the scrappy infielder would come in the form of Anderson hitting a game tying inside-the-park home run against the Anaheim Angels on June 11th. The home run would come off of would be Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez.

Anderson would make his way to the Washington National during the following off-season before he would eventually make his way back to Flushing during the middle of the 2007 campaign after being released by the Los Angeles Dodgers.

In 43 games, Anderson had 69 at bats and slashed .319/.355/.551/.906 with seven doubles, three home runs while driving in 25 RBI’s during his time with the Mets in the 2007 season. However, his 2008 and 2009 seasons didn’t pan out like his previous years with the Orange & Blue.

In 2008, the veteran would make use as a utility man and accrued 138 at bats in 87 games. Anderson would slash .210/.255/.275/.530 with just 10 doubles, 1 home run and RBI’s. In 2009, Anderson saw his last days as a Major Leaguer as he had just four at bats in four games and did not collect hit. He would later get released on April 13th.

In parts of four seasons with the Mets, the utility man hit .253/.301/.377/.678 with 22 doubles and 11 home runs while driving in 54 RBI’s over the span of 446 at bats.

Anderson was widely considered one of the top pinch-hitters in his era by many writers as well as his peers amongst the diamond. His last job served as the Brooklyn Cyclones hitting coach however due to cut backs in the MiLB and COVID, it’s unclear what his role is amongst the organization.

Also read: #ThrowbackThursday Mets Edition: Daniel Murphy

OTD in Mets History: Franco heads for Houston

Born on this date:

• Bob Moorhead (1938)

• Charlie Greene (1971)

• Robert Carson (1989)

Died on this date:

• Ed Bouchee (2013)

Transactions:

New York Mets released Rich Sauveur on January 23, 1992.

Philadelphia Phillies signed Yorkis Perez of the New York Mets as a free agent on January 23, 1998.

Houston Astros signed relief pitcher John Franco of the New York Mets as a free agent on January 23, 2005.

New York Mets signed free agent relief pitcher Ricardo Rincon on January 23, 2008.

Cleveland Indians signed relief David Aardsma of the New York Mets as a free agent on January 23, 2014.

Source: MetsUnlimited.com

OTD in Mets History: Cora joins Beltrán

Born on this date: Wayne Kirby (1964)

Died on this date: Tommie Agee (2001)

Transactions:

New York Mets trade Mark Carreon and Tony Castillo to the Detroit Tigers for Paul Gibson and Randy Marshall in 1992.

New York Mets trade Yudith Ozario, Erik Hiljus, and Eric Ludwick to the St. Louis Cardinals for Bernard Gilkey in 1996.

New York Mets sign free agent infielder Alex Cora, previously of the Boston Red Sox, in 2009.

New York Mets trade Brian Stokes to the Los Angeles Angels for Gary Matthews jr. in 2010.

New York Mets sign free agent outfielder Yoenis Cespedes in 2016.

New York Mets sign free agent reliever Antonio Bastardo, previously of the Pittsburgh Pirates, in 2016.

#ThrowbackThursday Mets Edition: Jeremy Hefner

Newly named pitching coach Jeremy Hefner was drafted by the New York Mets on two separate occasions during the 2004 and 2005 MLB June Amateur Drafts (46th & 48th rounds), the right hander would not sign till he was drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 5th round of the 2006 draft.

The Perkins, Oklahoma native would eventually make his way to the Mets organization after the Pittsburgh Pirates placed Hefner on waivers prior to the 2012 season (December 12, 2011). He would make his Major League debut early on during that 2012 campaign on April 23rd against the San Francisco Giants with 3 scoreless innings.

The righty would finish 2012 going 4-7 with an ERA of 5.09 while striking out 62 batters in 93.2 innings pitched. He pitched in 26 games, exactly half of which were starts. In 2013, Hefner required his first Tommy John surgery after posting a 4.34 and a 4-8 win/loss record after pitching in 24 games and tossing 130.2 innings while striking out 99.

He managed to injure himself again and require his second Tommy John surgery in 2014 subsequently Hefner was released after that same season in early November. While he would eventually sign with the St. Louis Cardinals, he would never see Major League action again after pitching for the Mets.

Hefner finished his career going 8-15 with an ERA of 4.65 with 161 strikeouts in 224.1 innings pitched throughout 50 games, 36 of which were starts.

After hanging up the cleats and calling it quits in 2016, Hefner joined the Minnesota Twins the following season as an advance scout. Hefner held that position within the organization for two years, assisting to establish game strategies for pitchers, while also using his experience as a recently retired player to best boil down the statistical data from the team’s analytics department for the players and coaching staff. The Twins eventually made Hefner their assistant pitching coach for the 2019 campaign, and that marks his sole year of experience on a Major League coaching staff.

With the drama surrounding current New York Mets manager Carlos Beltrán, I suspect that Jeremy Hefner’s job as Pitching Coach is likely safe for at least the start of the 2020 campaign. However, it’ll be interesting to see how long of a leash he’ll get if the pitching staff gets off to a rough start.

Also Read: #ThrowbackThursday Mets Edition: Daniel Murphy