MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch was at the Baseball Assistance Team‘s annual dinner last night and filed a story comprised of several conversations with some of the Hall of Famers and other baseball illuminati. This one particular anecdote from former Mets manager Davey Johnson, speaking about Andre Dawson, really stood out:
“I pleaded with [GM] Frank Cashen to sign him,” Johnson said. “I said, ‘It’s not going to be expensive. I think he’ll play for $500,000 and we can really use him.’ It wasn’t in our policy. We never signed a free agent, and Frank Cashen just wouldn’t do it, as long as I was there, anyway. I really tried to get him. I really thought he was a heck of a player and I could find playing time for him.”
In 1987, coming off of a World Series victory, the manager of the Mets wanted to sign Andre Dawson. And the team wouldn’t do it. Amazing.
As Hoch writes in introducing that quotation, “suppose the Mets had acquired Dawson for the 1987 season instead of Kevin McReynolds? It could have happened, and while it might not have staved off a rash of pitching injuries in ’87, maybe those ’88 Mets could have overtaken the Dodgers and made it two World Series appearances in three years.” Wow — an outfield of Dawson, Lenny Dykstra/Mookie Wilson and Darryl Strawberry. And supposing what Hoch suggests would mean that the trade for McReynolds didn’t happen, and Kevin Mitchell would’ve remained a Met. Obviously, he wouldn’t have been a starter in the outfield with those four, but maybe he would’ve been a supersub, much like he was in ’86, or maybe he would’ve been dealt in a deal for a pitcher who would’ve strengthened that staff in ’87 and ’88.
And since we’re supposing, let’s suppose what Mets Walk-offs supposed yesterday: that Strawberry never signed with the Dodgers. Not only might the Mets have had a second World Series appearance (and title?) in 1988, but maybe they would’ve done it with two Hall of Fame outfielders manning the corners that year. Maybe Dawson still would’ve won the MVP in ’87 and maybe Strawberry follows it up with the one he just missed in ’88. And maybe a Mets championship in ’88, led by the National League’s two most recent MVPs, convinces the Mets to hold onto Strawberry when he becomes a free agent in 1990. So maybe it’s not that that big a stretch. You know, once we project Dawson as a Met in ’87.
That’s enough speculation for one day, but since it’s getting harder and harder to speculate who the Mets might actually still sign this offseason, it’s a refreshing break from reality.