July 30, 2004, is a date that lives in infamy for the Mets, thanks to the Scott Kazmir trade. But the Mets made another deal that day, and that trade may turn out to be even worse.
Toronto's Jose Bautista is currently tied with the White Sox's Paul Konerko for the major league lead in homers with 14. Baltimore's Ty Wigginton is one behind them with 13 homers. No one else has more than twelve. Both Bautista and Wigginton are former Mets, and the Mets, who could use some home run punch, let them go in the same regrettable trade.
At the 2004 trading deadline, the Mets packaged Wigginton and Bautista along with pitching prospect Matt Peterson to acquire Kris Benson and Jeff Keppinger.
The biggest name in this trade was Benson, who won four games the rest of the way in 2004 and ten games in 2005. But Benson - and his controversial wife Anna - were traded to Baltimore in January 2006 for reliever Jorge Julio and a pitching prospect. Julio got off to a disastrous start with the Mets before he was traded to Arizona four years ago today for Orlando Hernandez.
The Mets could use Keppinger now – he became the Astros’ starting second baseman earlier this season (replacing Kaz Matsui!) and is batting .292 with 15 runs and 17 RBI. Meanwhile, Mets second baseman Luis Castillo is batting .250 with 10 runs and 11 RBI - and facing a possible trip to the DL. But Keppinger was traded in 2006 for Ruben Gotay, who was later waived.
Wigginton, who had 12 homers in 86 games at the time of the trade, went on to average 23 homers a year from 2006-2008.
Bautista has never hit more than 16 homers in a season, but as ESPN's Buster Olney points out, Bautista's homer pace began accelerating at the end of last season, when he hit 10 after September 7.
Bautista was only a Met for a few hours - he had been acquired earlier in the day from Kansas City for catching prospect Justin Huber. And it has taken Bautista years to come into his own. Wigginton is generally regarded more as a utility player.
But if Bautista and Wigginton end up each hitting 25-30 homers this season (and they are halfway there in late May), the Mets will have nothing to show for what they gave up.
Except for one player.
For Kazmir and two of the top three sluggers in baseball this season so far, all the 2010 Mets have to show for these disastrous deals is the pitching prospect they got from the Orioles along with Julio for Benson.
That prospect was John Maine.
Some people think the Mets should try to get Roy Oswalt from the Astros. It's worth remembering how it turned out six years ago when the Mets went after veteran starting pitchers at the trade deadline.