Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
June 1, 2011
BASEBALL: Honor the Kid

Now is definitely the time for the Mets to retire Gary Carter's and Keith Hernandez' numbers.

UPDATE: Here is Carter's batting line over his most explosive RBI stretch as a Met, from late August 1985 through just before the 1986 All-Star Break: 111 games, 31 HR, 103 RBI.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:58 PM | Baseball 2011 | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

Gary Carter is one of the top ten catchers of all-time. His blend of offense and defense has been rare throughout the history of baseball.

I grew up watching Keith Hernandez when he was with the Cardinals. He does not get his due because he did not produce the power numbers associated with a corner infielder, but he is the best gloveman at firstbase I have ever seen.

Posted by: maddirishman at June 2, 2011 8:21 AM

Irish, he was the best defensive first baseman anybody ever saw. You're right, he never got his due, since first is supposed to be a power position, putting stiffs who couldn't move there. So when you got a Mattingly or a Hodges, who could actually field, they were considered great. Keith was to first what Willie was to center. He probably saved (based on his assists to home and third numbers) 25-30 runs a year over a good first baseman, and 40 or so over a mediocre one (who was considered good because he hit more homers). So add 40 rbis a year to Keith, and realize he was an enormous clutch hitter (remember his triple to start the ninth in game six against the Astros in 1986?), and you have a great player.

Posted by: Daryl at June 2, 2011 9:25 AM

If you retire Carter's number than you have to retire thnot only Keith Hernandez's number, but also those of Jerry Koosman, John Matlack, John Franco - hell even Strawberry and Gooden, and then down the road Beltran, Reyes and Wright. And of course Piazza, but that's indisputable.

Carter was an unquestioned Hall-of-Famer who provided a number of memorable moments as a Met. But his greatness as a player was accomplished with another franchise. All of the players mentioned above made greater contributions to the organization. Unlike Piazza, who played the bulk of his career with the team and also continued to put up Hall-of-Fames stats for the majority of his time in a Mets uniform, Carter really only had two great seasons as a Met.

I love the Kid, but he should not have his number retired.

Posted by: Paul Zummo at June 2, 2011 10:24 AM

Beltran, Reyes and Wright have not earned the honor of have a number retired yet. They may at some point, but not so far. Straw probably should, but not Gooden. Just not enough great year, but his fire did burn bright for a while.

Posted by: maddirishman at June 2, 2011 11:46 AM

Interesting topic. When does/should a team retire a player's number? The Mets have 1 position player number retired (Tom Seaver). Gary Carter played 4+ years for the Mets and hit 89 HRs and drove in 347 runs. Kevin McReynolds outstrips him in both categories and no one thinks McReynolds should have his number retired. Daryl's number is not retired and he is arguably the best offensive player in franchise history as the career leader in HRs and RBIs as well as being in the Top-10 in several other categories. They both played significant roles on the 1986 World Series team and they both had significant roles as pillars of the franchise at 1 point (Straw for providing hope and star power to a dismal franchise and Carter for being the final piece of a Championship team). Clearly Daryl's off-field issues have a tremendous role in how he is viewed by the team and Mets' fans in general. I am not comparing the 2 necessarily but pointing out that if you start retiring the numbers of the Gary Carter's of your team you open yourself up to an onslaught of "why isn't this guy's number retired?" sort of stuff. Perhaps Daryl's numbers don't warrant being retired (he barely had over 1,000 hits for the Mets but then again no Met has ever cracked 1,500) and with the off-field stuff he doesn't make the cut but it will be a lot harder keeping his number off the wall if you put Carter's on it.

The Sox, someday will face the same thing. Are they going to retire Manny Ramirez's number? He's one of the greatest hitters ever in a franchise with some big names. They likely will just keep his number out of rotation for awhile but not retire it. Big Papi? No brainer. Tim Wakefield. I bet someday he will have 43 on the monster. Was he as good as Manny or contribute as much? Of course not. Maybe he's the Sox' Gary Carter though.

I would be interested in such a sabermetrics guy make an argument for Carter.

Posted by: jim at June 2, 2011 11:56 AM

Daryl - Lenny opened the 9th with a triple off Knepper. Keith hit a double later in the inning after a Mookie single and Mitchel out.

Love the Kid, not sure about retiring the # for the reasons of the short stay and even shorter amount of prolific numbers.

One thing in the stats you gave Crank - I am old enough to remember the unbalanced schedule, when there were 2 trips to the coast - one in spring, one in late summer. They were generally miserable affairs. Look at Kid's stats for that west coast swing in late 85. 18 for 38, 9 hrs, 15 rbi's. Amazing! (that was also the trip where Doc lost after 16 straight wins) And in the middle of a pennant race (they went 7-3). Another reason 85 was my favorite year.

Posted by: DS at June 2, 2011 12:49 PM

Thanks for the correction DS. We getting older guys just can't recall the way we used to. The Yankees started the retired numbers stuff, and I do think it should be reserved for the super notable players who did things extra special for the franchise. Here is my list:

the 1969 Mets. These guys are special, and if you weren't around, you just don't understand, but believe me, they were special.

41 Done, and it's a no brainer.
36 Jerry Koosman (does he get bailed out for this?)
3 Buddy Harrelson (a really good shortstop and fearless in fighting Rose--a very important figure if you were there).


Between the WS winners:

45 Tug, because we HAD to believe

1980s teams. This was a great team. And also one of the all time low life teams, but still:

17 Keith

8 Carter...the final piece, the Dave DeBusschre of
the 1986 Mets, and if you don't get that hint, then you are no use to NY sports. And yes, it harks back to 1969 again.

16 and 18: Gooden and Straw: I can't do it. They were amazing, they were halfway to the Hall but they also hurt the team and fans in ways that's hard to get over. I forgot Davey Johnson's number, and I think there were some hard feelings, but this guy was an amazing manager. Yes to Davey.

And after that, yes you do it for Mike Piazza. Frankly I would do it for Bobby V, because the two teams he brought to the playoffs were really more smoke and mirrors than talent.

Also Choo Choo Coleman, because nobody epitomized the Amazins' when they were like any other Little league team you saw. And I always loved his nickname.

Posted by: Daryl at June 2, 2011 2:05 PM

Keith Hernandez is among the most over-rated palyers of all time. He was a good hitter and an exellent fielder, but he was a first baseman, not a catcher, shortstop or center fielder.

Fot all the poetic waxing about his impact on defense, it was mostly the product of NY hype.

Gary Carter ws the heart and soul of those Mets teams, well-deserving of having his number retired.

Posted by: Magrooder at June 3, 2011 9:00 PM
Site Meter 250wde_2004WeblogAwards_BestSports.jpg