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 follows last week's biggest blockbusters with the complete opposite: the biggest busts in Met history. Today we take a look at the second biggest bust in Met history, Bobby Bonilla
All Time Mets Stats
515 games, 481 hits, 264 runs, .270 batting average, 95 home runs, 295 RBI, .356 on base percentage, .495 slugging percentage
Analysis: Bobby Bonilla gets the top spot on this list because not only was he dreadful during his two tenures in Flushing, but he also continues to haunt our beloved franchise for decades to come.
Bonilla came to New York in 1992 amid much fanfare and expectations as he signed a then lucrative five-year, $29 million contract. Before coming to New York, he had put up huge numbers in Pittsburgh. He was a four-time all star and finished second in the 1990 NL MVP voting. His contract year, 1991 was just as impressive as he hit .302 with 18 homers, 100 RBI and 44 doubles and came in third in the place in the NL MVP voting.
Bonilla was expected to supply the bulk of the Mets production in the middle of the lineup and allow the team to try and stay competitive until Generation K came to the show. He quickly learned, however, that an aging Eddy Murray and Howard Johnson did not provide him the same protection as Barry Bonds and Andy Van Slyke did in Pittsburgh. Bonilla’s first season in New York was a rough one as he saw his average drop over fifty points to .249 and he hit 19 homers with 70 RBI. The team lost 90 games and was dubbed “The Worst Team Money Could Buy.”
Bonilla bounced back in 1993, earning a spot in the all-star game and finishing with a team-high 34 home runs and 87 RBI. The team struggled mightily again, losing 103 games en route to a last place finish. Throughout his first tenure with the Mets, Bonilla had several run-ins with members of the media and drew the ire of Met fans everywhere. Midway through the 1995 season, the Mets shipped Bonilla off to the Baltimore Orioles for Damon Buford and Alex Ochoa. Met fans thought the nightmare was over.
Not so fast. The Mets reacquired Bonilla in 1999 in a trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for Mel Rojas. This tenure lasted only one season that included several clashes with then-manager Bobby Valentine over playing time. In only 60 games, Bonilla hit .160 with 4 homers and 18 RBI.
The Mets wanted to dump his remaining $5.9 million remaining on his contract when they released him in 2000. Instead of just releasing and paying the struggling former star, the Mets decided to defer his payment in the form of a 25-year, $29.8 million payment plan. Why didn’t the Mets just pay him the $5.9 million when they released him? Well, the money went into an account ran by one Bernie Madoff. The Madoff account was supposed to collect a double-digit interest rate over the lifetime of the agreement and since only about an 8 percent return would have been needed to pay Bonilla his $1.2 million a year from 2011 to 2035, the Mets were in line to turn a $60-70 million profit on the arrangement. We all know what happened with Madoff and the money from that agreement. Today, the Mets are pretty much broke and are stuck paying Bonilla $1,193,248.20 each July 1 until 2035.
It is because Bonilla not only sucked for the Mets twice, but he also continues to haunt the franchise over the twenty plus years that earned Bobby Bonilla as the biggest bust in New York Mets history.
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