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Before long, pieces began filling in around Big George. Young bucks. Free agents. The Mets became a force.
NOW that the Mets are about to turn 21 years old, their batting order finally has grown up. On the assumption that George Foster will soon arrive in a trade with the Cincinnati Reds, the Mets will have obtained the best hitter they've ever had. Shea Stadium archeologists will shout that the Mets had Willie Mays and Yogi Berra and Duke Snider, each a Hall of Famer, but each swung for the Mets in the sunset of his career. George Foster will be swinging his black bat in the early afternoon of his career. [...]
But the most significant aspect of the Mets' apparently imminent acquisition of George Foster is that Nelson Doubleday, the club chairman, did not shy away from investing more than $5 million in the best player available. When the new owners purchased the franchise two years ago for $21.3 million, they understood that they had just begun to spend. To keep faith with their fans, and to keep the Yankees from monopolizing baseball interest in New York, they had to do something big. And now apparently they have.
Hernandez, who made plans yesterday to fly out of St. Louis this morning, will wear his Met uniform for the first time tonight when New York plays at Montreal. And, if all goes the way the Mets would like, Hernandez could finish out the decade as the club's first baseman.
The question remains, however, what would Hernandez like? The 29-year-old hard-hitting and slick-fielding first baseman was unavailable for comment yesterday as he was attempting to close out his life in St. Louis, thinking about tonight's starting Montreal pitcher and planning a new beginning for himself, his wife and their two young daughters. [...]
The Mets' franchise could not be structured around Allen, however, the way they feel it might be around Hernandez.
A Building Block for Mets
The Mets need many things, but first a building block, at least as a first step. Strong, contending teams often have the basic structure: a 20-game winner, a good-hitting, strong-armed catcher and a couple of .300 hitters who can break open games. Relief pitching, speed and defense are all important but usually attain little if the basic formula is not there.
''We haven't had much of anybody the last two years who can come in and blow a game open,'' said Jim Frey, the Mets' batting instructor. Hernandez is the kind of player who could begin to change that.
I was really surprised to learn that Darling's career ERA+ was only 95. Some of that is dragged down by his last few crummy years with the A's, but he only had two seasons with the Mets where his ERA+ was over 100.
Agreed. I'm kind of amazed. He was a stalwart of one of the best rotations in baseball. In hindsight he looks like, I dunno, Mike Leake.
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