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Reunions Don’t Always Go Well

By Mike Silva ~ February 19th, 2011. Filed under: Mike Silva, New York Mets.

One of the biggest surprises the first week of spring training was the Mets signing former phenom Jason Isringhausen to a minor league deal. It’s been eleven years since Izzy last pitched for the Mets. Of course, he was part of a deadline deal in 1999 when then GM Steve Phillips sent him to Oakland for closer Billy Taylor. This isn’t the first time the Mets have tried to reunite with a member of their past. Over the years numerous players have made their return to New York with mixed results.

The most famous reunion was Tom Seaver in 1983. Six years after he was dumped by the miserly M. Donald Grant, Seaver was dealt back to the Mets by Cincinnati. Coming off the worst season of his career (5-13, 5.50) he rebounded to give the Mets a solid 231 innings, going 9-14 with a 3.55 ERA. His emotional return yielded six shutout innings against the Phillies on Opening Day.

The other half of the “midnight massacre,” Dave Kingman, returned in 1981 and was still the same player that left: Long home runs, low batting average, and tons of strikeouts. Unfortunately, the Mets were so bad this type of performance was considered a success for their anemic offense.

Two other famous reunions were Rusty Staub and Lee Mazzilli. Both came back to New York no longer as starting players, but top pinch hitters. Mazzilli left on a very sour note when Frank Cashen dealt him to Texas for two kid pitchers- Ron Darling and Walt Terrell- but played a key role off the bench, with Darling, for the ’86 championship team.

Some don’t always go well as the team brought back Bobby Bonilla, David Cone, Kevin McReynolds, and Jeromy Burnitz.

Bonilla, for all the hate, was a very productive player during his first stint (1992-1995), and the trade with Baltimore yielded their top prospect at the time, Alex Ochoa. When Steve Phillips brought Bonilla back in 1999 it was to dump the disappointing Mel Rojas. They figured Bonilla was a decent offensive corner outfielder that could hit 20 homers, drive in 80 runs, and hit .280. None of that happened as he lost his job to Benny Agbayani and was more known for playing cards with Rickey Henderson during Game 6 of the NLCS.

Cone was supposed to be a great story. A true New York pitcher that saw success with both the Mets and Yankees tried a comeback in 2003 after a sitting out the prior season. He made the rotation out of spring training, but it was clear he didn’t have the velocity or stamina to pitch in the big leagues anymore. By June he announced his retirement, admitting his body could no longer take the pounding.

McReynolds was dealt for the petulant Vince Coleman, but it was 1994, not 1988, and he was a shell of his former self. He served as a backup in his second stint, hit .256 with 4 homers, and no one has heard from him since the strike.

Burnitz was acquired to provide the Mets some corner pop, but had a miserable season in 2002 (.215 with 19 homers), playing a modern day Dave Kingman. He rebounded in 2003 and eventually was dealt to Los Angeles for prospects mid-season.

So what does fate hold for Jason Isringhausen? Who knows, but based on history it could be widely successful or an utter failure. The fun part will be the story in between.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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4 Responses to Reunions Don’t Always Go Well

  1. Russ

    An interesting piece would be to look at the track record of the king of the reunion move, Mr. Brian Cashman.

    Cashman just loves making reunion moves.

    Look at the list during his tenure…

    Roger Clemens
    Andy Pettitte
    Tino Martinez
    All 3 of the vaunted Nelson/Stanton/Mendoza troika
    Nick Johnson
    Javy Vazquez
    Jim Leyritz
    El Duque
    David Wells
    Does Strawberry count?
    Charlie Hayes
    Dwight Gooden
    Gerald Williams
    Rueben Sierra
    Luis Sojo
    Brian Boehringer
    Homer Bush
    I think Shane Spencer
    Randy Velarde (a personal favorite)
    Sterling Hitchcock
    The Legendary Drew Henson
    Miguel Cairo

    It seems like 1/2 the guys from 1995-2000 were re-acquired at some point and most didn’t do much in their second time around.

  2. Stu B

    Every team does this at one time or another…

  3. Michael Maggi


    You are forgetting Mike Stanley, Rey Sanchez, Marcus Thames, Sidney Ponson, Roberto Kelly, attempting it with Luis Vizcaino this offseason before cutting him, Ruben Rivera (until he stole Jeter’s glove), Tim Redding (never pitched in majors the second time), Luis Polonia, almost did it with Carl Pavano again (I know, the pain), Chad Gaudin….and I’m sure the list goes on

  4. Russ

    Completely forgot about Roberto Kelly & Rey Sanchez having 2nd stints.

    If you want to go way back, there were a ton with the Yanks and the KC A’s in the 50′s & early 60′s.

    In the 80′s (some sequels from the 70′s & into the 90′s) there were a ton of odd ones too like Claudell Washington, Doyle Alexander, Goose, trading for Brad Gulden 3 times, bringing Rick Cerone back 3 times, Bobby Murcer, Oscar Gamble, Rudy May, Tommy John, Steve Balboni and Al Leiter.

    Then there are MLB’s reunion kings Ricky Henderson with Oakland and Bobo Newsome (5 stints with Washington, 3 with the Browns)

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