Selecting the New York Mets' All-21st Century Team, Position by Position

Jason LempertCorrespondent IApril 18, 2014

Selecting the New York Mets' All-21st Century Team, Position by Position

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    Kathy Willens

    Let's face it: The 21st century has not been all that kind to the New York Mets. Sure, they made the playoffs twice, including a World Series appearance in 2000. But that's about as good as it gets for the boys from Queens.

    Since the turn of the century, the Mets have a record of 1119-1147 (.494). They have had eight losing seasons, including each of the last five campaigns. There have been epic late-season collapses and horrendous free-agent contracts. Five men have sat at the manager's desk since 2000, and there have been four general managers.

    In terms of on-field personnel, the Mets have had some standouts but have also had their share of not-so-good players. But who were the best of the best? Well, since the Mets' own ballpark, Citi Field, hosted the 2013 All-Star Game, let's take a look at the team's All 21st-Century Team. 

     

C: Mike Piazza

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    JEFF ZELEVANSKY

    Mike Piazza meant as much to the city of New York as he did to the Mets. In fact, there have been few players to wear a Mets jersey that were more influential to the Big Apple than Piazza.

    Piazza came over to the Mets in a blockbuster mid-season trade with the Florida Marlins in 1998 (after spending five games with the Marlins). During his entire tenure with the Mets, Piazza was a six-time All-Star and led the Mets to the World Series in 2000 (we won't mention that he made the final out of that Fall Classic against the Yankees…oops).

    Between 2000 and 2005, his final year in Queens, Piazza crushed 157 home runs while hitting at a very respectable .286 clip. 

    Of course, his most memorable home run came in New York's first baseball game following the tragedies of 9/11 in 2001. That single blast, at least momentarily, injected hope and a sense of "normalcy" into a city that had been devastated just 10 days earlier. 

    Ultimately, the Mets have not had a catcher that was as significant to the team and the city since Piazza. 

     

    Other consideration(s): Paul LoDuca

1B: Carlos Delgado

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    Julie Jacobson

    Sure, the Mets acquired Carlos Delgado at the latter portion of his career. But there's no questioning he gave the Mets several productive seasons as the power hitter they were expecting when they traded for him prior to the 2006 season.

    Delgado finished his career with the Mets, retiring after the '09 season. In his four seasons in Queens, Delgado launched 104 home runs, averaging 26 per season. He was a major factor in the Mets reaching the playoffs in 2006, leading the charge with 38 home runs and finishing 12th in the MVP race that season. 

    In fact, despite all of his great seasons in Toronto prior to joining the Mets, '06 was his first taste of postseason baseball, and he didn't disappoint (even though the team did). He went 10-for-37 in the NLDS and NLCS, hitting four home runs and driving in 11 runs—including three home runs and nine RBI in the NLCS against the Cardinals.

     

    Other consideration(s): Todd Zeile

2B: Daniel Murphy

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    Ross D. Franklin

    With all due respect, Daniel Murphy pretty much earns this spot by default. This writer might be tarred and feathered if either Roberto Alomar or Luis Castillo were inserted here, and no one else has spent any significant amount of time at the Mets' keystone position. 

    But hey, it's not like Murphy is a slouch. Is he a prototypical second baseman? No. But, while battling injuries along the way, the 29-year-old entered the 2014 season with a clean .290 lifetime batting average and has actually looked pretty good over at second. After trying to find a place to play on the diamond—the Mets tried him in left field and first base prior—Murphy seems to have found a home at second for the Mets. 

     

    Other consideration(s): Luis Castillo, Roberto Alomar, Edgardo Alfonzo

3B: David Wright

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    Ross D. Franklin

    Mike Piazza may have been the most influential man to wear a Mets uniform in the 21st century, but one could argue that David Wright is the most significant player of the franchise in the last 10 years or so. 

    Wright was a first-round draft pick by the Mets in 2001 and was named captain of the team prior to the 2013 season. He ranks among the best in team history for several offensive categories, including batting average (second, .301), games played (second, 1,387), hits (first, 1,570), home runs (second, 223) and RBI (first, 883).

    Wright is the Mets' franchise player now, and they made sure to keep him in town for a while. Prior to last season, Wright signed an eight-year extension worth over $130 million. He's dealt with injuries over the past few seasons, but he is still regarded as one of the better all-around players in the game today and should be a consistent threat at the hot corner for years to come.

     

    Other consideration(s): Robin Ventura

SS: Jose Reyes

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    Jeff Roberson

    It's starting to feel like an eternity since Jose Reyes was running around in the Blue and Orange, isn't it? Reyes, signed by the Mets as an amateur free agent in 1999, held down the Mets' shortstop position for nine seasons before heading to Miami as a free agent before the 2012 season.

    During his time in Queens, Reyes was electric…when healthy. The four-time All-Star led the National League in stolen bases three times as a member of the Mets and won a batting crown in 2011 when he hit .337. 

    But hamstring injuries, among other ailments, kept Reyes from really reaching his full potential in New York. He appeared in just 295 games between 2009 and 2011, though he was one of the game's best athletes when he was on the field. 

    Overall, as a member of the Mets, Reyes was a .292 hitter and stole 370 bases, which is by far the most in franchise history. He was a fan favorite in New York, and many fans found it difficult to see him go. 

     

    Other consideration(s): Rey Ordonez

LF: Cliff Floyd

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    BRIAN KERSEY

    Over the years, the Mets have had a number of players manning the outfield at either the old Shea Stadium or the more modern Citi Field. Some have been better than others, and many have had their moments of glory. Recently, it seems, there haven't been many mainstays in the outfield.

    In left field, the honor of 21st Century All-Star goes to Cliff Floyd. Like many of the bigger names to play for the Mets, his more productive years were behind him by the time he came to Queens. But that's not to say he didn't enjoy some success during his time with the Mets.

    In four seasons with the Mets (2003-2006), Floyd hit at a decent .268 clip with 81 home runs, including 34 in '05. He was plagued by injuries, never appearing in more than 150 games during his Mets tenure.

    But he was instrumental in the team's NLDS victory over the Dodgers in 2006. He went 4-for-9 with a home run in the series sweep.

     

    Other consideration(s): Roger Cedeno

CF: Carlos Beltran

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    Paul Sancya

    There are some Mets fans who, when thinking of Carlos Beltran, will always picture the called third strike to end Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS. Down by two with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Beltran stood and watched the Adam Wainwright 0-2 offering for the third out. The St. Louis Cardinals went on to the World Series, and the Mets went home.

    But a player's tenure with a team can't be judged by one, albeit crucial, at-bat. During his six-plus seasons with the Mets, Beltran was a force to be reckoned with when healthy. As a Met, Beltran swatted 149 home runs, including 41 long balls in '06. He was an All-Star five times and drove in 100 or more runs in three consecutive seasons.

    He was also stellar in the outfield, claiming three Gold Gloves in center field. 

    Injuries plagued Beltran towards the latter part of his time with the Mets. He appeared in just 145 games between 2009 and 2010 due to knee problems. 

    But Beltran didn't just provide the Mets with a power bat and steady glove. Midway through the 2011 season, the Mets traded Beltran to the San Francisco Giants. In return, the Mets received prized pitching prospect Zack Wheeler, who is now entrenched as a key cog of the Mets' starting rotation.

    Hopefully Mets fans can forgive Beltran for his NLCS gaffe and appreciate all he did while a member of the club.

     

    Other consideration(s): Mike Cameron 

RF: Marlon Byrd

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    Bill Kostroun

    Marlon Byrd spent only a partial season with the Mets, but it was a renaissance for the now 36-year-old. The Mets signed Byrd to a minor league deal prior to the 2013 season, as he was coming off a rather nonexistent 2012 campaign (he split that season between the Cubs and Red Sox and only appeared in a total of 47 games that year).

    Byrd wasn't really expected to make the club in 2013, let alone provide the type of play witnessed in the 117 games he spent in Queens. Over that stretch, Byrd hit .285 with 21 home runs on his way to set a new career high in that category.

    The Mets dealt Byrd to the Pirates during the season, and he has since signed with the Phillies

    Note, even though Byrd doesn't technically qualify based on the minimums, the only other player to have enough playing time in right field for the Mets since 2000 was Jeff Francoeur, and his time in Queens was forgettable. 

SP: Al Leiter

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    KATHY WILLENS

    Al Leiter spent seven of his 19 big league seasons with the Mets, and for the most part, he was very successful in blue and orange. His 96 wins rank sixth in club history, and he also ranks seventh in strikeouts and innings pitched.

    In particular, his 21st century tenure with the team (2000-2004) was impressive. During that stretch, the durable left-hander went 65-49 with a 3.43 ERA and struck out 7.3 batters per nine innings. He averaged 31 starts over those seasons and helped lead the charge for the team as they marched into the World Series in 2000. 

     

    Other consideration(s): Johan Santana, Pedro Martinez, Tom Glavine, Steve Trachsel, Mike Pelfrey

RP: Armando Benitez

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    FRANK FRANKLIN II

    Playing in a big-market city like New York is certainly not an easy task. It seems fans are more inclined to remember the bad and forget the good; a very "what have you done for me lately" approach. 

    Armando Benitez can probably attest to this philosophy. Benitez was, more times than not, a very good closer for the Mets from 1999-2003. During his time in Queens, Benitez recorded a total of 160 saves with a clean 2.70 ERA. 

    Did he cough up his share of games in the ninth? Sure. But who hasn't? From 2000-2002, the right-hander recorded at least 30 saves and led the league in games finished with 68 in '00. 

    But most fans typically neglect the positives from Benitez's tenure with the Mets and look at him as a goat. After all, he did blow the save in Game 1 of the 2000 World Series against the Yankees. But ultimately, Benitez was a stud closer for several years with the Mets.

     

    Other consideration(s): Francisco Rodriguez, Billy Wagner