Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Jon Matlack Trade Tree and His Legacy on the 2011 Mets

By The Commmon Man

This went over very well last week, when The Common Man put up the transactional family trees of Chuck Knoblauch and Glenn Davis, so it’s going to become a regular feature here on The Platoon Advantage. Today, we reach far back into baseball history to find a Mets draft pick that is still incredibly important to the team today.

In 1967, with the 4th overall pick in the amateur draft, the Mets chose a big, 17-year old, Pennsylvania lefty named Jon Matlack. Matlack worked his way up through the system and debuted in July of 1971, throwing seven innings of two-run ball in a Mets loss. That was the first of 199 starts that Matlack would ultimately make for the Mets, for whom he’d win 82 games with a 3.03 ERA and 27.0 Wins Above Replacement. That’s good value. But Matlack wasn’t done.

The Mets slowly deteriorated through the mid-1970s, until they finally caved in to a proper rebuilding effort and sent away Tom Seaver and Dave Kingman on June 15, 1977, in what became known as the Midnight Massacre. As The Common Man has previously written, it actually wasn’t all that bad of a day for the Mets in the long run. After the season was over, the Mets continued to purge, and dealt away their only real remaining players of value in Matlack and John Milner in a complicated four-team deal. They really didn’t get back a lot. Willie Montanez was a former Wunderkind who was a pretty bad 1B, Ken Henderson was a former star on his last legs, and Tom Grieve (Ben’s father) was a decent 4th outfielder. But from that deal would spring forth an abundance of players, some of whom would lead the Mets to glory, some to ruin, and one of whom is still leading the team today. Observe:

Click to embiggen

Pete Falcone was considered a good swingman when the Mets let him walk via free agency after the 1982 season. As compensation, they received Atlanta’s 1st round pick and a sandwich pick, which they used on Stan Jefferson and Calvin Schiraldi. Schiraldi was packaged and sent to Boston for a package of players that included Bobby Ojeda, who would win 18 games for the World Champion Mets. As an added bonus, Schiraldi became a trusted member of the Sox bullpen down the stretch and was hung with the loss in both games 6 and 7 of the Series. He was on the mound in Game 6 when Gary Carter, Kevin Mitchell, and Ray Knight hit consecutive singles to chase him from the game, and gave up three runs in the 7th inning of Game 7 to give the Mets a three-run lead, which they never surrendered.

Jefferson was included in a megadeal with the San Diego Padres that brough in Kevin McReynolds. McReynolds was traded with Gregg Jeffries and Keith Miller after 1991 for Bill Pecota and Bret Saberhagen, a deal that worked out horribly for the Mets, as Sabes could never stay healthy and the Mets became The Worst Team Money Could Buy. He was unload to the Rockies in 1995 for a couple of prospects, Arnold Gooch and Juan Acevedo.

Acevedo led to Darryl Hamilton and Joe McEwing who were part of the 2000 NL Champs, but Gooch (considered a top prospect) was packaged with Todd Hundley to bring in Roger Cedeno and Charles Johnson. Johnson was immediately dealt for Armando Benitez. Meanwhile, Cedeno stayed with the Mets for a year before being packaged with Octavio Dotel for Derek Bell and Mike Hampton, who both contributed mightily to that same 2000 Mets team.

Both Bell and Hampton left after 2000, but the Mets would get two compensation picks for losing Hampton to the Rockies. With the first, they took Aaron Heilman, who became a reliable set up man for a time, but has a 12.15 ERA now for the Diamondbacks. He was dealt in the big three-team trade before the 2009 season that brought in Sean Green, Jeremy Reed, and JJ Putz, none of whom are Mets today.

The other pick was used on David Wright, who as of this morning has a .303 career batting average, a 135 OPS+, 174 homers, two Gold Gloves, five All Star appearances, and 31.8 Wins Above Replacement. All as a Met. Not a bad haul for a guy who was drafted 1967, all things considered.


William Tasker - Caribou, ME said...

Very cool. Love these trees. Fascinating.

Trade Trees said...

Cool tree, it's very detailed. Our trees are much more minimalistic. Check them out, we have about 6 months worth of archives.