Wednesday, September 12, 2012

If Only This Trade Had Been Made...

In December 2009, the Mets were coming off their worst season in six years and were looking for a way to upgrade their team, especially in the power department after Daniel Murphy led the team with 12 home runs.  They needed a power-hitting outfielder and settled for Jason Bay after Matt Holliday signed with the Cardinals.

But one other option that eventually fizzled was a trade between the Mets and Brewers that would have netted the Mets the power-hitting outfielder they coveted and all it would have cost them was John Maine.  The outfielder in question was Corey Hart.

Corey Hart could have had many more high-fives at Citi Field had he been traded to the Mets in 2009.

At the time of the potential deal, the Brewers were desperately seeking a starting pitcher, as CC Sabathia was leaving behind all the bratwurst and cheese he could eat for the filet mignon of the Yankee organization.  Corey Hart was considered a trade chip since he was coming off a poor season with the Brewers.  After a two-year stretch that saw him average .280, 39 doubles, 22 HR, 86 RBI and 23 SB in 2007 and 2008, Hart suffered a dramatic dropoff in 2009 (.260, 24 doubles, 12 HR, 48 RBI, 11 SB).

With Rick Peterson in Milwaukee as the Brewers' pitching coach, it made sense that his previous relationship with Maine while with the Mets would benefit the right-hander, who was coming off an injury-plagued 2009 campaign.

But alas, the trade was never consummated and Maine remained a Met.  After the non-deal, John Maine won one more game in New York before being granted free agency at the end of the 2010 season.  Since then, he's been bouncing around the minor league systems of the Rockies, Red Sox and Yankees, hoping to get another shot in the majors.

Meanwhile, Hart proved that the 2009 season was a fluke, averaging .282, 31 doubles, 28 HR and 81 RBI per season since then.  (His steals have dropped to about half a dozen per season.)  The power-hitting outfielder the Mets signed instead still hasn't hit a total of 28 home runs in nearly three seasons as a Met.

So the next time you think of the gaping hole in the outfield for the Mets, think of the deal that never was.  The trade that brought John Maine to the Mets in 2006 was considered one of the best made by Omar Minaya during his tenure in New York.  But the one he didn't make involving Maine could have helped the team far more than the first.

The Mets will be playing against Corey Hart and the surging Milwaukee Brewers this weekend at Miller Park.  John Maine will be playing golf.  Somewhere.  If only the Mets had been able to pull off this deal...

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