December 27, 2011 by Matt Musico
December 27, 2001: The Mets continue to stay busy this off season acquiring first baseman Mo Vaughn for 13-year veteran right hander Kevin Appier (11-10, 3.57) and cash. The 1995 American League MVP will join Roberto Alomar, Roger Cedeno, and Shawn Estes as newest members of the Shea Squad.
After losing the 2000 World Series to the Yankees in five games and having a lack luster 2001 season, the Mets and GM Steve Phillips decided to bring in a lot of fire power to make the 40th season in Mets franchise history a memorable one…and boy, did they ever. The front office was incredibly unhappy with the performance of the club, which finished in third place with a 82-80 record. New York was able to acquire some pretty big names in the winter of 2001, with the hopes of giving Mike Piazza some protection and extra firepower to return to the post season. The newly acquired opening day starters included Roberto Alomar, Roger Cedeno, Mo Vaughn, and Jeromy Burnitz.
Instead of returning to the postseason, the Mets were a huge disappointment, finishing last in the National League East, with a 75-86 record and led to the dismissal of Bobby Valentine. I would have to say that Mo Vaughn is by far the most disappointing pick up out of this group of under achievers. With the Boston Red Sox and Anaheim Angels, he was a force to be reckoned with at the plate. He was an important cog in the middle of both line ups, driving in 100 runs six times, hitting over 30 home runs six times, and hitting over .300 five times in the first ten years of his MLB career. Before he was traded to the Mets, Vaughn accumulate two more 30 home run, 100 RBI seasons with the Angels. So, it looked as if Steve Phillips hit the jackpot with someone to hit behind Piazza. He couldn’t have been more wrong.
Vaughn’s two years with the Mets filled with lofty expectations upon his arrival, and since he didn’t meet those expectations, he was run out of town, and out of Major League Baseball. He struggled in 2002 with a .259 average, 26 home runs, and 72 RBI, but came back in 2003 and did even worse, hitting .190 with 3 home runs, and 15 RBI, appearing in his final game on May 2nd of that year. Vaughn’s weight was also a big topic of conversation, continually coming into Spring Training over-weight and out of shape, which immediately put him in the dog house.
These poor moves by Steve Phillips were so unproductive and hand cuffed the organization so much that it took the Mets four more years to field another play off worthy team in 2006. Then, the cycle has unfortunately repeated itself after that one successful year. I remember when the Mets made the move to acquire Mo Vaughn and how excited I was because he had been so successful in his ten year prior. I can safely say that the 2002 Mets season was one of the most disappointing I have ever watched- and as a Mets fan, there have unfortunately been plenty of season to choose from. Here’s to hoping New York fans don’t have to see a deal like this happen again for a very long time.