Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Pat Burrell Retires: Who Will Be The New Met Killer?

There have been many players in history who have had good careers but turned it up a notch whenever they played the Mets.  For example, former Giants pitcher Mike Krukow had a decent career in the major leagues, going 124-117 in 14 seasons.  However, against the Mets, he pitched like Cy Young, going 22-7.  Krukow did not defeat any other team in the National League more than 13 times.  And who can forget the quiet dominance of PSSST (otherwise known as the Pitching School of Smiley, Smith and Tomlin)?

In the early '90s, the Pirates' trio of John Smiley, Zane Smith and Randy Tomlin were mediocre to poor against all other teams that didn't have blue and orange in their color scheme, but they morphed into Greg Maddux (the all-time leader in wins against the Mets) whenever New York came to town.

Smiley, Smith and Tomlin combined to go 223-237 over their major league careers against teams that didn't have Mr. Met as their mascot.  Of course, against the Mets, they were 33-19.  Tomlin was the big surprise of the trio.  Against the Mets, he was a perfect 9-0 in five years in the majors.  He won a grand total of 21 games against everyone else (against 31 losses).

As far as hitters go, all I have to say is "La-a-a-a-rry" and you know which Met nemesis I'm referring to.

That brings us to Pat Burrell.  In 12 years in the major leagues, Burrell was a decent power hitter, slugging 292 career home runs.  However, against the Mets, Burrell was Babe Ruth.  The former Phillie played exactly one full season's worth of games against the Mets, batting against them in 162 games.  In those games, Burrell socked 42 HR.  His second-favorite team to homer against was the Florida Marlins, but he only took them deep 26 times.

Earlier this week, Pat Burrell retired from baseball at the age of 35.  Although there is now one less Met killer to worry about, that doesn't mean there aren't any others waiting in the wings to take over for Burrell.  Here are the candidates that the Mets and their fans should worry about:

Corey Hart

The Bernie Brewer lookalike has never been more than a decent hitter in the major leagues, batting .277 in eight seasons.  However, against the Mets, Hart is a .317 career hitter.  Although he has only started 28 games versus the Mets, Hart has scored and driven in nearly a run per game (24 runs, 23 RBI), while launching six home runs.  Hart suffered from various nagging injuries in 2011, but in 2010, he torched the Mets for four homers and 12 RBI in only seven games, which included a walk-off homer and a six-RBI game.

Troy Tulowitzki

The Mets should count their stars that Tulowitzki plays in the NL West.  In 30 games, Tulo has bludgeoned Mets' pitching for a .328 average, six doubles, two triples and seven home runs.  His slugging percentage against the Mets (.595) is nearly 100 points higher than his career mark (.505).  And of course, despite playing half his games in the Mile High City, it was at spacious Citi Field that Tulowitzki hit four home runs in four games in 2011.  He supplied the bat while his teammates brought their brooms, sweeping the four-game series in New York.

Josh Johnson

It's a good thing Johnson is an annual candidate for the disabled list, or else his record against the Mets would be far scarier than it is.  In 14 starts versus New York, Johnson is 8-1 with a 2.68 ERA.  As hard as it is for the Mets to score against Johnson, they find it even harder to take him deep.  In 87⅓ innings against New York, Johnson has allowed a mere three home runs.  Therefore, it should come as no surprise that no other team in the National League has lost to Johnson more than the Mets have.  Just imagine how bad it could be if Johnson had more than 48 career victories.

Cole Hamels

Wait, what?  Hamels is 3-10 against the Mets in his major league career.  How could he possibly be a Met killer?  It's simple, really.  He's due.  And if he's not, he'll find other ways to kill us.  In 2010, when he realized he couldn't beat the Mets with his arm, he decided to break our hearts with his bat.  His sixth-inning single against R.A. Dickey prevented the knuckleballer from recording the first no-hitter in franchise history.  Dickey had to settle for a complete game one-hit shutout.  One year later, another Hamels-Dickey matchup took place.  This time, Dickey took a no-hitter into the seventh inning before Shane Victorino broke it up with a one-out double.  Of course, Dickey received no credit for his yeoman-like effort in the 2-1 Mets victory because Hamels matched zeroes with him.  Hamels might be an ass, but he always finds a way to kill the Mets, even in games where he takes the loss.

Jason Bay

As an opponent, he was a Met killer, banging out 16 extra-base hits, including 8 HR, in 32 games.  He also averaged nearly an RBI per game, driving in 29 runs against the Mets.  Now that he's on the team, he's finding new ways to be a Met killer.  It took Bay 32 games to hit 8 HR AGAINST the Mets.  It took him 113 games to hit 8 HR FOR the Mets.  Let's put it this way.  In two seasons, Jason Bay is still three home runs short of Richard Hidalgo's career total as a Met, and Hidalgo only played 86 games in New York.  Bay killed the Mets as an opponent.  He's doing the same thing as a Met.

Fred Wilpon

Duh.  He's the biggest Met killer of them all.  He won't sell the team.  He won't break his souvenir Sandy Koufax piggy bank to improve the team.  Basically, he's like Rachel Phelps, only worse.  For those who are not into classic cinema, Phelps was the fictional owner of the Cleveland Indians in the film Major League.  Wanting to move the team from Cleveland to Miami, she decided to put the worst players on the field so that fans wouldn't come out to see them.  Why is Wilpon worse than Rachel Phelps?  Because he's making the team worse but instead of moving to Miami, he just allowed his shortstop to relocate there.  Of course, if he could move the team to 55 Sullivan Place in Brooklyn, that would be a different story.

Pat Burrell will no longer be terrorizing the Mets and their fans, choosing to retire rather than continuing to feast on Mets' pitching.  But that doesn't mean the Mets won't have new people to fear.

The new Met killer might come from another division or might come from within the National League East.  He might be a player who finds interesting ways to break our hearts or he might be a player breaking our hearts from within.  He might even be president of the Sandy Koufax fan club.

Regardless, as long as the Mets take the field, there will always be someone out there who will not do much against other teams, but will use the Mets as his own personal chew toy.  That's the nature of the beast.  It's a shame that beast can't suit up for the Mets every once in a while to feast on another team for a change.

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