Just in time for the holiday season, Mets 101's Seven in Seven series returns as our gift to you. Each week, the Mets 101 staff will begin a countdown of topics related to the New York Mets (i.e. best third baseman, worst defeat, etc.). We will begin our countdowns with the number seven and work all the way to number one. This week's Seven in Seven list is a blockbuster, as we will break down the biggest off-the-field moves that stole the headlines throughout Metropolitan history. We kick off the countdown in the winter of 2001, with the multi-player deal that saw the Mets land hall-of-fame second baseman Roberto Alomar from Cleveland.
Coming off a World Series appearance in 2000 and a gut wrenching playoff run in 2001 that saw the Mets (82-80) fall short of October baseball in the wake of 9/11, then-GM Steve Phillips looked to shake things up heading into 2002 season. During the MLB's annual winter meetings on December 11, he pulled the trigger on a blockbuster deal that saw seven players change uniforms.
Heading to the Mets
2B Roberto Alomar - Fresh off a season where he led the Indians with a .336 batting average, while also belting 20 homers, 100 RBI and 30 stolen bases, Alomar was the perfect addition to the top of a Met offense that was anemic at best in 2001. Even at age 33, no one had any doubts that the 12-time All-Star would continue to have success under the bright lights of New York.
1B Danny Peoples – A 26-year old first baseman, slugged 17 homers with 46 RBI at AAA Buffalo in 2001, but hit only for a .222 average in his final year in the Indians organization.
LHP Mike Bacsik – The southpaw made his big-league debut with Cleveland in 2001, appearing in three games with the Tribe. The 24-year old was the Indians' minor league pitcher of the year going 13-6 with a 3.03 ERA between AA and AAA.
Heading to Cleveland
OF Alex Escobar – A former top prospect, Escobar struggled with injuries constantly in the Met system before breaking into the bigs for 18 games in 2001. After hitting near .300 over six seasons in the system and missing all but 3 games in 1999, Escobar hit just .200 with 3 homers in his brief Met tenure.
OF Matt Lawton – The Mets dealt popular hurler Rick Reed for the 30-year old speedster at the 2001 trade deadline but Lawton never found his stride as a Met, batting just .246 with 3 homers and 10 steals after arriving from Minnesota where he was a .300 hitter and had stolen 19 bags at the time of the trade.
RHP Jerrod Riggan – A serviceable 27-year old middle-reliever, Riggan appeared in 35 games for the Mets in '01 going 3-3 with a 3.40 ERA after several seasons on the farm
The PTBNLs – Corner infielder Earl Snyder and 2000 1st Round Pick Billy Traber were sent to Cleveland two days later to complete the deal. Snyder, 25, hit .290 between AA and AAA in 2001, with 20 homers and 78 RBI. Traber, burned through A, AA and AAA in his first season in the Met system, going a cumulative 10-9 with a 3.09 ERA and 124 strikeouts.
How the Mets fared
Alomar's Met struggles are well documented, he never appeared in another All-Star game and hit just .265 in 222 games as a Met. He was dealt for prospects to Chicago (AL) after just a year and a half as a Met. Bacsik started 12 games over two seasons, going 4-4 with a 5.77 ERA before signing in the Texas organization after the 2003 season. Peoples never played a game in the Met system, retiring prior to the 2002 season.
How the Indians Fared
The centerpiece of the deal for the Tribe, Escobar was once again injured and missed the entire 2002 season and would only see time in 74 games over two seasons in Cleveland, spending most of his time in AAA Buffalo. He would then miss the entire 2005 season with an injury and signed with Washington for the 2006 season. Lawton didn't ever reclaim the success he saw in Minny, but did start for three seasons in Cleveland, batting .257 with only 41 stolen bases in 363 games. Traber was dominant in 2002 for Cleveland's AA and AAA clubs, going 17-5 with a 2.94 ERA while fanning 115, but flamed out in his most significant big league stint in 2003. The lefty went just 6-9 with a 5.24 ERA before undergoing Tommy John surgery that kept him out all of 2004. He'd spend 2005 in the Indians minor league system before signing with Washington as a free agent.
Riggan split time between AAA and the bigs from 2002-03 just as he had with the Mets, pitching in 31 MLB games, with a 2-1 record and a 7.78 ERA. After not pitching in 2004, he returned to the Mets in 2005 on a minor league deal, never pitching higher than AA Binghamton. Snyder spent most of 2002 in Buffalo as well, getting the call for 18 MLB games, where he hit just .200 before heading to Boston on waivers, where he'd spend the next two seasons on Pawtucket (AAA).
Hindsight is 20/20
What was made out to be a massive deal between the two clubs turned out to be a monumental bust for both sides, as none of the players involved paid dividends for their new clubs. Alomar was the biggest disappointment of them all, never living up to the precedent he set prior to the deal and becoming a scapegoat for the abysmal 2002 Met season. The other players involved didn't see enough MLB time to make a difference and mostly stocked AA and AAA rosters for the rest of their careers. All in all, a major bust on both Steve Phillips and Cleveland GM Mark Shapiro's records.
Check back tomorrow as Mets 101 continues the countdown with the sixth biggest blockbuster move in Met history!
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