It’s a tale as old as time that the Mets are sometimes so, so bad that it’s frightening. Even more frightening is that this season, the crosstown rival Yankees missed the playoffs along with them!
We’ve already talked today about how the Yankees missing the postseason is unprecedented, perhaps even scary. The Mets, meanwhile, are no stranger to tales of horror. In fact, they’ve done a pretty good job writing their own spooky stories throughout their history.
Thus, in keeping up with the Halloween spirit, here’s the scariest New York Mets lineup imaginable.
C- Mackey Sasser (1988-92). The lefty-swinging Sasser was mostly “good enough” as a Met, batting .285 with a .712 OPS. He also managed to play for four teams in nine years. There was just one fatal problem: Sasser caught the yips and couldn’t throw the ball back to the pitcher without issues.
1B- Mo Vaughn (2002-03). We quickly forget that Vaughn missed all of 2001 with an injury before being traded to the Mets. He was also three years into an $80 million deal, but we got excited about his namesake sandwich instead. Vaughn hit .259 with 26 home runs in 2002, but an arthritic knee limited him to 27 games the following year.
To add insult to Vaughn’s mounting injuries, the Angels won the World Series in 2002.
2B- Kaz Matsui (2004-06). This switch-hitting Seibu Lions infielder was supposed to be a regular .300-or-better hitter and 30-30 threat. The Mets signed him to a three-year, $21 million deal, and he homered on the first pitch in his first game. It was sadly a short honeymoon as Matsui proved an awful fielder, injury prone, and never hit more than nine home runs in MLB.
The Mets sent him to the Rockies in 2006. After a year in Colorado and three more in Houston, Matsui played seven more years for Japan’s Rakuten Golden Eagles and one more for Saitama Seibu. He also became a coach for Seibu, and is now their manager.
SS- Mike Bordick (2000). The Mets were excited to trade for Bordick and his slick glove at the 2000 trade deadline. It helped that he was also batting .297 for Baltimore at the time. Unfortunately, Bordick hit just .260 with a .685 OPS in Flushing and vanished in the World Series. He re-signed with the Orioles in free agency, but there’s one more cruel twist.
His new teammate in Baltimore? Melvin Mora, the young infield prospect and future All-Star the Mets traded away for him.
LF- Jason Bay (2010-12). Imagine what could have been if Bay, a regular 20-30 home run threat with Pittsburgh and Boston, played at Shea Stadium instead of Citi Field. Perhaps Bay would have hit more than 26 in three Mets seasons after signing a four-year, $66 million deal.
Instead, he suddenly became injury prone and his peak was playing in 123 games in 2011. Both parties ultimately terminated the contract.
CF- Vince Coleman (1991-93). When the Mets signed Coleman to a four-year deal worth almost $12 million, they thought they were getting a leadoff man who stole 549 bases in his first six seasons. Coleman swiped 99 bags in three years in Flushing, but was always injured and averaged less than 80 games a season. Coleman also clashed with both coaches and teammates before finally being traded to the Royals in 1994.
RF- Lastings Milledge (2006-07). The Mets made Milledge their first-round pick in 2003 and he rocketed through the minors before debuting at age 21 in 2006. Unfortunately, a combination of injuries and immaturity derailed Milledge’s Mets career. He was traded to Washington in 2008 and also played for the Pirates and White Sox before taking his game to Japan.
DH- Jorge Toca (1999-2001). Here we have what might as well be a true baseball ghost story. This is because for all of Toca’s hype, we’ll never quite know what he could have been. The Cuban prospect hit a pedestrian .259 in 25 MLB games spread across three years.
But prior to that, the Legend of Toca was real. He hit .319 with 25 homers and 96 RBI in the minors in 2019. Unfortunately, that’s the best we have. There are no recorded stats for him in Cuba and after leaving the Mets, Toca split his time between the Mexican and minor leagues.
SP- Anthony Young (1991-93) & Oliver Perez (2006-10). Poor Young had a truly nightmarish Mets tenure despite his 3.82 ERA and 3.72 FIP in three years. He unfortunately got no run support and was 5-35 over that stretch, including 27 consecutive losing decisions.
Perez, on the other hand, was just a bad decision. The Pirates traded him to the Mets at the 2006 deadline and he posted a 6.38 ERA in seven starts. He pitched well enough in the playoffs and for the next two years to earn a new three-year deal from them in 2009. Perez then answered with a 6.81 ERA and multiple injuries for two years before being released.
He resurfaced as a lefty reliever in 2012 and pitched ten more years.
RP- Armando Benitez (1999-2003). In the regular season, Benitez managed a 2.70 ERA as a Met and saved 160 games. His problem was consistent inconsistency. Any given night, nobody knew which version of Benitez would enter the game. He’d either make it quick and easy or raise Mets fans’ collective blood pressure.
It was worst in the playoffs, when Benitez averaged over five walks per nine innings (BB/9). Mets fans still lament his blowing the save in Game 1 of the 2000 Subway Series, which the Yankees eventually won in extra innings.