Reese Kaplan -- It's Time to Write the Sequel


After the grueling 1992 Mets season ended with an ignominious record of 72 and 90, sportswriters Bob Klapish and John Harper penned the infamous, The Worst Team Money Could Buy which detailed the collapse of the New York Mets.  The team had a then record-setting payroll  of $45 million and great things were expected of them.

The season started off on a down note when they peddled Gregg Jeffries, Kevin McReynolds and Keith Miller to the Kansas City Royals for ace pitcher Brett Saberhagen and utility infielder Bill Pecota.  As damaged goods, Saberhagen pitched well when available, but in four years for the Mets he made just 74 starts, an average of just over 18 per year.  Jeffries, of course, went on to back-to-back All-Star appearances with the Cardinals and finished with a career .289 batting average.  The thought was he could help replace the departed Frank Viola as the stopper, but you have to stay on the field to do so.

The big acquisition, of course, was free agent Bobby Bonilla from Pittsburgh where he’d made four straight All Star appearances and seemed to have the combination of high batting average and power that would propel the Mets’ offense.  His first year in New York was not good by his standards -- .249/19/70 -- but he bounced back in the second year to provide .265/34/87.  Everyone is well aware of how the team eventually bought him out of his deal with deferred money and we all “celebrate” Bobby Bonilla Day when his $1.19 million payment is due now and every year through 2035. 

The right side of the infield was new in 1992 as well, with future manager Willie Randolph and future Hall of Famer Eddie Murray both acquired to shore up the offense.  Like Bonilla, Murray took a year to fully adjust to his new team, providing  .261/16/93 but improved to deliver .285/27/100 the following year.   Randolph was a grave disappointment after a .327 campaign in Milwaukee the previous year he only hit .252/2/15 in his last (and only season) with the Mets. 

The rest of that 1992 team was mostly forgettable, with Dick Schofield at SS, Daryl Boston in LF, Howard Johnson in CF, Dave Magadan at 3B and a pre-PED Todd Hundley behind the plate.  Bench players included a malcontent 2nd baseman by the name of Jeff Kent, a future 24 home run hitter in Kevin Elster, and the guy who couldn’t throw the ball back to the mound, Mackey Sasser.  Other pitchers included  Sid Fernandez, Doc Gooden, David Cone and Pete Schourek.  John Franco missed much of the year due to injury, so closing duties went to Mets legend Anthony Young, buttressed by side armer Jeff Innis and former starter Wally Whitehurst. 

Fast forward to 2017 and it may be time for the gents to write a sequel.  Baseball inflation grossly outpaced normal inflation as $45 million in 1992 dollars would be a mere $78 million today.  The Mets payroll on Opening Day was estimated to be almost double that at $152 million.  Considering how much more they invested to win, you could argue that this team is even worse between cost and expectations.

So what did the Wilpons get for their investment?  Well, David Wright hasn’t played a game.  Jeurys Familia has played in just 11 games.  Noah Syndergaard has been in 5.  Matt Harvey has been in 13.  Steven Matz has been in 15.  Neil Walker has missed 40 games.  Yoenis Cespedes has missed 45.  Assorted others have suffered injuries as well, including Juan Lagares, Brandon Nimmo, T.J. Rivera, Asdrubal Cabrera, Zack Wheeler and Robert Gsellman. 

If you extrapolate the team’s record over the course of 162 games they’re neck and neck with the 1992 crew.  Right now they would round up to 73 wins, one full game better than Jeff Torborg’s squad.  Yes, the Mets are sinking to THAT level.  Considering that the team was officially “All-in” to win in 2017, I’d have to say that this team is a greater disappointment than the 1992 squad.  Then again, the 1992 team did at least attempt to improve over the course of the winter, something the Mets did not do. 

So, which team deserves the “Worst Team Money Can Buy” crown of thorns?


vtmet said...

Bill Pecota...haven't heard that name in awhile...didn't they name a series of baseball statistics after him?

Reese Kaplan said...

I believe it stands for Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm. One of the baseball publications/websites uses it to evaluate player performance.

Mack Ade said...

I like the one that was "Mets Evaluation Simulation System"... MESS

Peter Hyatt said...

Great article; it brought back some interesting memories for me.

The contrast in personalities of Murray v Bonilla was strong. Murray was quiet, sometimes brooding, but always demanding of himself.


Well, let's just say how someone, somewhere, negotiated the greatest contract in the history of employment contracts.

Thanks, Reese.

Thomas Brennan said...

Murray was really clutch with the bags full then...my only positive memory of those days. We invested in bums when we should have invested in BONDS.

Reese Kaplan said...

No one answered the question? Which team deserves that title?

Mack Ade said...

Reese -

That's easy.

It doesn't matter how much or how little was spent.. $1 would have been too much for...

1962 Mets

Reese Kaplan said...

Perhaps...but in 7 years they were world champions. After seven years of Alderson/Collins where are we?

Thomas Brennan said...

The 1992 team in my book - the pitching injuries crippled this year's team - too many, out too long

Reese Kaplan said...

I go with this year. Despite publicly stating you were all in they did nothing to improve the roster and had inflation-adjusted twice as much invested.

Gary Seagren said...

This year's team because its more than triple the payroll and much more was expected but at least I can sleep easier at night knowing Bobby B. won't have to look for work anytime soon.

Mack's Mets © 2012