Reese Kaplan -- That's Why They Call It Dope

When the news broke that Jenrry Mejia was found guilty of having taken a banned PED, the roar was deafening from the politically correct crowd insisting that the team sever ties with him and non-tender him at the end of the year.  Had that been the team’s stance throughout its history, then perhaps I would understand the people who felt comfy on their moral high ground.  

However, a short stroll down the path of Mets history is littered with people who were conveniently forgiven for their transgressions (sometimes even rewarded handsomely).  Some on this list were accused after their tenure in a Mets uniform, so no one can be sure if they were clean throughout their careers or if their transgressions were a late development.  

Now perhaps it is because former Mets clubhouse man Kirk Radomski was named in the Mitchell Report as a primary supplier of steroids to players that so many former players who spent time in the Shea Stadium locker room were cited for having engaged in one type or another of Performance Enhancing Drugs.  Let’s see the names of the dirty couple of dozen…

Marlon Byrd – His story is well known to Mets fans and his resurrection off the scrap heap produced huge dividends both on the field and in terms of the players the Mets received from the Pirates in his late season pennant chase trade that netted Dilson Herrera and Vic Black.  Although he served his time it does seem a little odd that the best seasons of his career occurred AFTER age 35. 

Mike Cameron – the slick fielding centerfielder is probably best remembered by Mets fans for his horrific collision with Carlos Beltran back in 2005, but his home run power may have been chemically enhanced as he served a 25 game stretch 2 years later.

Mark Carreon – a solid right handed hitter with a little power, Carreon enjoyed his best year ever while playing for the Giants in 1995 with 17 HRs, 65 RBIs and a .301 AVG.  Unfortunately he was linked to Radomski as his supplier of steroids during his years by the Bay. 

Bartolo Colon – serve a 50 game suspension and get a $20 million contract…not a bad trade-off, particularly since players were still paid during their suspensions back when Big Bart was cited.

Wilson Delgado – the diminutive utilityman played one season for the Mets and hit a commendable .292 in 130 ABs as a backup shortstop in 2004 at age 31.  The following year he was hit with a suspension and never played in the majors again.    

Chris Donnels – though well regarded in the minors he never really put it together during his eight major league seasons, finishing was a career .233 AVG.  During the Mitchell investigation Radomski produced cancelled checks from Donnels showing his PED purchases. 

Lenny Dykstra – perhaps second to Barry Bonds for physical transformation of his body during the course of his career, it came as no shock when “Nails” was nabbed for steroids (among other things). 

Matt Franco – a fan favorite as a pinch hitter extraordinaire for the Mets for a five year period before finishing up his career with 2 seasons in Atlanta, he was cited by Radomski as having purchased PEDs during his final Mets season in 2000.

Todd Hundley – when Todd slugged 15 home runs in 1996 and then followed that up with 41 HRs the following season, some eyebrows were certainly raised.  Radomski confirmed selling his steroids on multiple occasions during that breakout year.

David Justice – he gets a dishonorable mention in that the Mets traded to acquire him a year after his 2000 season in which he was shown to have purchased PEDs.  However, they turned around and flipped him to the Oakland A’s before he ever donned the uniform for Mark Guthrie and Tyler Yates.

Matt Lawton – a brief footnote to his career was a short and undistinguished stay with the Mets during 2001 season, Lawton was popped for the first time after the 2005 season.

Fernando Martinez – remember when he was the future of the franchise and the trade proposals all demanded him in return?  Well, despite a short tenure in Houston and in the Yankees organization, injuries perhaps inspired him to try PEDs and he was named by Tony Bosch in the Biogenesis scandal in 2012 when the steroids didn’t do him much good as his best season was only good for a .237 AVG. 

Gary Matthews, Jr. – remembered none too fondly by 2010 season Mets fans for his anemic .190 hitting bat, he lasted just 36 games before being mercifully cut loose.  The scary thing is that despite the chemical boost which didn’t help, he had been taking steroids since 2004 when his name appeared on the sales orders from a pharmaceutical company.   

Jenrry Mejia – he has the ignominious distinction of being the first accused player that won’t cost the Mets money as the new agreement in place has salary withheld when a player is out on PED suspension.  Given his elbow injury it actually saved the team money over what might have otherwise been a prolonged DL stint.  He’ll theoretically be back after the All Star break and will have half a season to change the front office’s mind or to prove to another team he could be useful for their late season run (though also prohibited from playing in the post-season). 

Guillermo Mota – the big right hander was probably more well known for Mike Piazza chasing him through the Dodgers’ clubhouse in spring training than he was for his two years as a Mets relief pitcher.  His 5.76 ERA for the 2nd Mets season was indicative that whatever he was found to be taking that resulted in his first suspension didn’t do him much good.  A slow learner, he was nailed for 100 games in 2012 as well.

Jon Nunnally – in his one season with the Mets he had a weak spring but still managed to get 74 ABs with the big club but couldn’t deliver much at all and was gone from the majors at the end of 2000.  5 years later while he was in the Phillies organization he was suspended for PED use. 

Ronny Paulino – the former Florida Marlins catcher was banned for taking a banned substance he alleged was to help him with weight loss.  Still, the Mets forgave and forgot, having his play for their club a year later in 2011. 

Todd Pratt – although “Tank” will always be known as part of Mets historical lore for his playoff-winning HR against the Diamondbacks in 1999, the big guy was named in the Mitchell report for having bought steroids from Radomski.

Cesar Puello – his tale is also well chronicled and the fact his performance nose-dived after his breakthrough season in 2013 did little to make people doubt his success was chemically enhanced.

Omar Quintanilla – Terry Collins’ favorite super sub for the past few years was nailed for 50 games for PED usage while a minor leaguer in the Rockies organization.

Grant Roberts – a double whammy, Roberts was cited both for recreational use of marijuana (as shown in the photograph above) as well as getting suspended for PED usage while trying to revive his career.

Scott Schoenweiss – the left handed reliever who pitched for the Mets during 2007 and 2008 was cited by ESPN for having received a half dozen shipments of PEDs from a mail order pharmacy in 2003 and 2004.  Again, apparently that history didn’t matter to the Mets.

David Segui – the slick fielding first baseman lasted parts of two years with the Mets in 1993 and 1994.  He admitted using HGH and buying drugs from Radomski.

Gary Sheffield – Already 40 years old by the time he made it to the Mets, it was earlier in his career he admitted that while off-season conditioning with Barry Bonds he took substances dubbed “the clear” and “the cream” which later were reported to be steroids. 

Mike Stanton – the lefty reliever logged two seasons with the Mets in 2003 and 2004.  It was then he bought drugs from Mets clubhouse man Radomski which perhaps resulted in his very solid 2004 campaign with a 3.16 ERA. 

Jorge Toca – perhaps still feeling burned by their first investment in a Cuban ballplayer, Toca played parts of three seasons with the big club before becoming a journeyman playing for various minor league affiliates around baseball.  In 2005 he put together a monster year for the White Sox AAA Charlotte club in which he hit 24 HRs, 77 RBIs and hit .302, only to be hit with a suspension for PEDs that same season. 

Mo Vaughn – Radomski was able to show the court copies of three cancelled checks from Big Mo for his PED purchases.

Jordany Valdespin – arguably the least liked player in Mets history, the now Florida Marlin 2nd baseman was cited in the Biogenesis report in 2013 which spelled the end of his Mets tenure.

Given the fact that Mejia was not too popular with management due to his showboating after collecting saves, the steroid situation gives the club a valid excuse to appear to sever ties for conduct unbecoming of a player in the Mets uniform, yet it didn’t seem to bother the team when they signed the likes of Byrd, Colon, Paulino and others who were known to have taken PEDs.  In the end it will likely be a business decision as to whether or not the $3 million or so he would likely earn in 2016 is money well spent or if they feel others like Vic Black, Jeurys Familia and people knocking on the door in the minors could provide comparable performance for less money.  


Thomas Brennan said...

Reese - great compendium of the Mets' Duane Reade Hall of Fame.

If Mejia's is good health-wise, does return and pitch well, and he's learned his lesson, I can't imagine that signing him for $3MM for next year would not make him a very attractive trade piece.

Stubby said...

If Mets fans and/or management were/are willing to overlook Keith Hernandez's ACTUAL drug use, then I don't think they have the moral high ground to criticize anybody for anything. Beyween the drunks and the popping of greenies and looking the other way on steroids for a decade, I don't think baseball has any moral standing for any of their faux outrage. None of this stuff ever bothered me. I'd still put Barry Bonds in the Hall of Fame without a second thought.

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