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What if?

Johnny Dickshot
Oct 09 2005 10:55 AM

Left fielder A, 26 years old: .334/.413/.476 -- 889 (146 OPS+)

Left fielder B, 26 years old: .276/.318/.495 -- 862 (138 OPS+)

Left fielder C, 24 years old: .277./344/.466 -- 811 (121 OPS+)

* * *
The Mets went with B, better known as Kevin McReynolds, in exchange for Player C, Kevin Mitchell, while they and every other club in baseball cold-shouldered Player A, Tim Raines, in the Winter of 1986.

With the benefit of hindsight, or perhaps the courage of foresight, the Mets may have been better served to ignore the pressures of collusion and sign free agent Raines, rather than trade Mitchell for McReynolds.

Of the players screwed over by collusion, Raines was one of the worst cases. He'd made $1.5 million in 1986, led the league in hitting and OBP, stole 70 bases at 88% efficiency, switch-hit, and like McReynolds, was an above average player defensively. The only area where he trailed McReynolds was in HRs (9 vs. 26) but he helped take the edge off that deficiency by out-doubling him 35 to 32; out-tripling him 10 to 5; and out-stealing him 70 to 14 (88% to 55%).

But that winter the best he received were offers of 2 years/ 2.2 million and/or 1 year, 1.2 million+ incentives (Padres); 1 year, 1 million (Astros) and 1 year/~1.5 million (Mariners).

He of course rejected these insulting deals and had to wait until May 1 when he finally settled with the Expos again for a modest raise of 3 years/4.8 million

The Mets were hot after McReynolds ever since the World Series ended. While Raines had well-publicized drug problems previously, McReynolds was available in part because he'd clashed with Padres management -- he was bitter over an arbitration loss the year prior and Beltran-like, pumped his value on a late-season barrage of HRs after being criticized by GM Jack McKeon for a lack of them.

McKeon was anxious enough to deal him to take a package long on potential but short on names, then turn around and offer more $$ for Raines than was due McReynolds.

McReynolds was due arbitration at the time of the trade and the Mets management won, paying $625K vs. McReynolds request of $825. He'ds eventually earn Raines-like scratch in 1989. Mitchell of course was the bargian here, not earning big buxx till 1990.

1987:
McReynolds 29-95 276/318/495 742 (117 OPS+)
Raines 18-68 330/429/526 (149 OPS+)
Mitchell 22-70 280/350/474 (143 OPS+) -- includes SD & SF

1988:
McReynolds 27-99 288/336/498 (142 OPS+)
Raines 12-48 270/350/431 (120 OPS+) Raines played 109 games -injury
Mitchell: 19-80 250/319/442 (121 OPS+)

1989:
McReynolds 22-85 272/326/450 (125 OPS+)
Raines 9-60 286/395/418 (132 OPS+)
Mitchell: .291/.388/.635 (192 OPS+)

Edgy DC
Oct 09 2005 01:27 PM

McReynolds was probably an above-average defensive leftfielder at that point. He had sneaky-high assist totals and saw a lot of time in center.

The Mets also entertained offers for Harold Baines that offseason --- eventually rejecting a White Sox offer of Baines and Ozzie Guillen for a huge package of what were pretty much their top five prospects: I think Gregg Jefferies, Keith Miller, Dave Magadan, David West and somebody else. Maybe Myers. Could the Sox have had that much gall?

Raines would've been a mind-blower.

Frayed Knot
Oct 09 2005 09:37 PM

Also to consider:

- I think McR was a much better defensive LFer than Raines (not that that entered into the decision much in all probability). I remember Raines and being somewhat tentative out there which ruined the one great asset he had; his speed.

- The one who was really hot after K-Mac was McIlvane. He had scouted him years earlier and described him as "the best amateur player I ever saw" (he wasn't around when Straw was being scouted). He was sort of Joe Mac's white whale, the kind he envisioned as a 40/125/300 guy w/30+ steals and a glove.

- that getting rid of Mitchell was a part of the plan also - although maybe not as much as many fans believe.

Johnny Dickshot
Oct 09 2005 10:04 PM

Yeah, no doubt the Mets got who they wanted and the trade was a success from their standpoint. I was just exploring the idea that collusion was bad not only for players but for fans because it affected things in ways we'd never know.

If free agency were truly free in 1986, Tim Raines might have changed the fortunes of a lot of teams.

Frayed Knot
Oct 09 2005 10:14 PM

]I was just exploring the idea that collusion was bad not only for players but for fans because it affected things in ways we'd never know.


Oh hell yeah it was bad for teams and fans.
Those who want to return "to the good old days" when FA-gency didn't exist (like it didn't for those few years due to collusion) don't know what the F they're talking about.

I had forgotten that Raines was available that year.
Whatever "penalty" the club owners had for one another in order to keep the collusion thing from springing a leak must have been a doozy because no one - not even the league mavericks - ever breached that wall even a little bit.
That was the argument at the time that they couldn't possibly be guilty of collusion; that there was no way that disparate group could all agree on lunch much less a conspiracy on free agents.

Edgy DC
Oct 09 2005 10:24 PM

Who calls the pre-Messersmith era the good old days?

Frayed Knot
Oct 09 2005 10:29 PM

Here? -- no one I know of.

Baseball fans in general? -- shit, it happens all the time.